Daily Devotional

  • The Tale of the Soul – Totally at Christ’s Disposal - Thursday, May 24th

    Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction. You yourselves know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; but even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs. Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit that which increases to your account. Philippians 4:14-17

    Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of you righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God. Because of the proof given by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all, while they also, by prayer on your behalf, yearn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! 2 Corinthians 9:10-15

    Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed. 1 Timothy 6:17-19

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    In consideration of the level of surrender, dependence, and intimacy in our relationship with Christ we have been talking about, the availability and use of our money and other material resources becomes a moot point. If we are having trouble in this area it is because we have not been broken deeply and profoundly. And of course that is where the work needs to be done. We will understand little of the focus of all these Scriptures, particularly the ones from Philippians. As a matter of fact the promises contained in them are routinely seen throughout the greater Christian Community through the lens of personal concern and interest rather than the mission of the Gospel. When God does His work in the depths of our being and He moves us beyond personal concern and interest, He will not only have our money and our material resources, but He will have us and will freely be able to call us to whatever “mission” business he has in mind for us. 

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, you gave it all and so will I. Everything I am and have is yours to use in whatever way you choose. Forgive me for thinking that what I have is mine for whatever use I see fit. I want to live sacrificially for your mission of redemption. Show me exactly how you want to use me and my material resources. Continue to increase my level of surrender, dependence, an intimacy in my relationship with you. Amen!

  • The Tale of the Soul – Revolutionized to the Core - Wednesday, May 23rd

    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. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity. Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:6-13 

    Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves. Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, ‘The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on Me.’ For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 15:1-6

     Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:4-5

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Letting our light shine before men is all we are called to do, but it must be Christ shining out from within us. I like to say it this way: In an intimate love relationship with Christ, He fills us up with Himself and transforms our very being. With lives that are constantly being transformed as a result of our ongoing love relationship with Him, we daily join Him in the adventurous mission of letting our lives touch the world around us with His light. When we shine in this way frustration and weariness are minimized and Christ has little difficulty orchestrating where and before what people He wants our light to shine. Recognizing and embracing the reality that the life we live must be the result of Christ’s presence allows Him to become the means for God’s redemptive mission being properly carried out in our lives. This requires a great work of God in our inner person, whereby we are broken deeply and profoundly. Only in this way will we have the level of surrender and dependence needed for experiencing Christ as the true means of our mission. The passages above are filled with expressions of being done with ourselves and alive to Christ and a world of “others” that need Him desperately. When “others” see that we are ones who live our lives desperately in need of Christ and are intimately involved with Him, our light will truly be shining before men in the most effective way possible. 

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, open the eyes of my heart so fully that I see my desperate need for you. Help me genuinely to hunger and thirst for you to such an extent that I seek you relentlessly. Help me to know you intimately. So revolutionize the core of my being that I am changed forever. May there be no explanation for the life I live but you. I want to shine, shine, shine as you burn brightly in the depths of my being. Hallelujah! Amen!

  • The Tale of the Soul – Radiating Christ’s Light Fully - Tuesday, May 22nd

    I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

    You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    When we speak of Christ being the means of our mission, we are saying that what we do must be done by Him living through us. Christ is not merely a resource that we include in our efforts to serve him. He is our source. This means that we have nothing within ourselves that is of any use in the mission of His reaching the world through us. As our source, His life in us and through us becomes the hallmark of how our mission is carried out. This is seen very clearly in the Matthew passage where Jesus says we are the light of the world whereby we let our light shine before men. Jesus does not strengthen our light but rather He is our strength and all light that shines out from us is His light (John 1). Our connection with him in this matter is like that between the Sun and the Moon. The moon has no light of its own. The only light we see from the moon is the light of the sun reflecting off the moon. We do see the moon and people do see us. But what they see needs to be the light of Christ shining out from the depths of our being.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thanks for making your home in my heart and life. You are the light of the world and because you live within me you can be light to the world through me. That’s my desire and that’s my prayer. Please grant that nothing about me would interfere with you shining brightly from me for all to see and be drawn to. May you truly and fully be glorified through me. Amen!

  • The Tale of the Soul – Becoming a Vessel of Redemption - Monday, May 21st

    I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now. Philippians 1:3-5

    You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and 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 1:6-8

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    There is a poem that goes something like this: “Only one life, will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ, will last.” It is a tremendous thing when a person comes to the spot where they want the message of this poem to be true for their life. However, if we could somehow search out the truth, I think we would find that almost everyone that gets to this spot gets to another spot, a spot of frustration and weariness. Living life “for” Christ becomes a real burden at first until there is a transformation of our understanding of the word “for” that God brings about. The problem lies in limiting our thoughts about living “for” Christ to simply the “mission” He has for us. It is absolutely essential that in our understanding of “for” we include the “means” as well as the “mission” we seek to pursue. When we try to fulfill the “mission” God has for us without using the “means” He has for us, frustration and weariness are inevitable. We need the poem as it is to remind us of our “mission” in life, but the following rendering of the poem brings the “means” of our mission more clearly into view: “Only one life, will soon be past. Only what’s done “by” Christ will last.” Our “mission” is a redemptive one whereby people come to Christ but Christ must be the one and only “means” of our mission. This is the focus of this week’s Devotionals.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I do want to become the redemptive vessel you have in mind for me to become. Please, show me what this is really all about. Keep me going further and further in this journey of living fully for you. It is all about you, through you, and for you. Thank you for redemption and the awesome adventure of joining you in sharing it with the world. Amen!

  • Our Divine Connection - Preserved by the Lord - Saturday, May 19th

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    Guard my soul and deliver me; do not let me be ashamed, for I take refuge in You. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for You. Psalm 25:20-21

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Psalm 25 (which we have been looking at all week) was written by David, king of Israel in Old Testament times. He was preceded by King Saul, the first king of Israel, who was anointed with the Holy Spirit to help him serve well as Israel’s king. Because of great disobedience the Holy Spirit was removed from him and given to David. The anointing of the Holy Spirit was a unique thing to king Saul and king David. David did not want to end up like king Saul and have the Holy Spirit removed from him. After a time of great moral failure king David said to God (as recorded in Psalm 51), “create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence and do not take your Holy Spirit from me.”

    Today’s Scripture is a prayer of David asking God to preserve him as the Holy Spirit anointed king of Israel. King Saul and king David being anointed by the Holy Spirit is similar to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that is ours as Christians under the New Covenant. The Holy Spirit was removed from Saul, but this will not happen to us as Christians. Ephesians 1:13 says, “having also believed (in Christ for salvation), you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.” The Holy Spirit could have been removed from David, but God answered his prayers (like in Psalm 51 and here) and preserved him as the Holy Spirit anointed king of Israel.

    While we cannot lose the Holy Spirit, we still need to pray that God will preserve us to the end so that his purposes are fulfilled in us. The same Holy Spirit who anointed king David and accomplished amazing things through him is the same Holy Spirit who can accomplish amazing things through us. The same Holy Spirit that transformed, led (Acts 13), and empowered those early disciples in the book of Acts so that they impacted their world in amazing ways, is the same Holy Spirit who is at work transforming, leading, and empowering us to impact our world in similarly amazing ways.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, “Guard my soul and deliver me; do not let me be ashamed, for I take refuge in You. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for You.” Here I am. Take me and do amazing things with my life through the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. Grant that all the way to the very end (preserved), I “live fully” for you, for the sake of the Gospel, and for the advancement of your kingdom. Amen!

  • Our Divine Connection - Intimacy with the Lord - Friday, May 18th

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    The intimacy of the Lord is for those who fear Him, and He will make them know His covenant. My eyes are continually toward the Lord, for He will pluck my feet out of the net. Psalm 25:14-15

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Jesus likened the relationship between himself and one who is truly his disciple, to that of a vine and a branch. It doesn’t get much closer than that. It is this kind of closeness that today’s Scripture has in view when it speaks of “the intimacy of the Lord.” “Intimacy” is a great word for capturing the closeness of the connection that exists between a vine and a branch. The vine is the source of all the resources the branch needs to be vitally alive and fruitful. It is the close, intimate connection the branch has with the vine that make it possible for the life giving resources of the vine to flow into the branch. Experiencing “the intimacy of the Lord” is essential for the life giving resources of God to flow into us so that we are vitally alive and fruitful.

    But “the intimacy of the Lord” is more than just the spiritual life we receive from God, it is also what God receives from us. We minister to God when we take our rightful place before him with a soul filled with exaltation, adoration, and praise to him, and in doing this we are giving to him as well. But “the intimacy of the Lord” is even more than mutual giving, it is also communion with God. Communion with God is just our being with him and him being with us. This is what Psalm 46:10 is focusing on when it says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Knowing and experiencing God in this way requires spiritual discipline and practice. Our passage says that “the intimacy of the Lord is for those who fear Him.”

    The reason intimacy with God is the experience of those who fear God, is because it is those who fear God who are willing to give themselves to the spiritual discipline and practice necessary for becoming good at being still before God to the point of truly knowing him and experiencing him. Remember that “fear” means reverencing God to the point where we absolutely surrender to him and give him the center place in our lives. When we surrender to him and he has the center place in our lives, we will want what he wants for us more than anything else. We will give up what we want for what he wants - and God wants an intimate and close relationship with us that is continuous (my eyes are continually toward the Lord).

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I am making the commitment to spend time each day just being still before you. I am counting on you to teach me all about being intimate with you. Help me to be faithful to the spiritual discipline and practice of seeking you so that I will become one who truly knows you and experiences you. I give myself to you and the intimate and close relationship you desire for us to have with each other. Amen!

  • Our Divine Connection - Prospering in the Lord - Thursday, May 17th

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    Who is the one who fears the Lord? He will instruct him in the way he should choose. His soul will abide in prosperity, Psalm 25:12-13A

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Today’s Scripture speaks of prosperity. Some brands of Christianity today make “prosperity” a central theme, but the prosperity emphasized is an economical prosperity rather than a spiritual prosperity. An emphasis on economical prosperity is much more compatible with the experience of God’s people under the old covenant of the Old Testament than it is with the experience of God’s people under the new covenant of the New Testament. But even at that, the prosperity spoken of in our passage is a spiritual prosperity. The Psalmist is talking about the one whose “soul will abide in prosperity.”

    For both the Old and New covenant or both the Old or New Testament, the prosperity of the soul is a very wonderful and necessary thing. Rest assured that God is absolutely committed to the prosperity of our souls. Psalm 25 begins with the words, “To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.” Picture baby birds in a nest craning their necks toward their mother above with mouths open wide. This is a very helpful image. We are like baby birds craning our souls toward the Lord above in anticipation for all that he will pour in so that our souls prosper spiritually. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6).

    There is a lot in between the “lifting up of the soul” in verse one of Psalm 25 and the “soul abiding in prosperity” in our passage today. Take some time to read Psalm 25:1-13 and notice all the things that go into a person being “one who fears the Lord.” For as our passage says, it is the “one who fears the Lord” whose “soul will abide in prosperity.”

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I am learning to “lift up my soul to you.” Help me hunger and thirst for you. I am seeking to put you at the center of everything (fear and reverence of the Lord) by becoming one who ministers to you, waits on you, and yields to you. Lord, Grant that my soul will truly abide in prosperity. Amen!

  • Our Divine Connection - Yielding to the Lord - Wednesday, May 16th

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    He leads the humble in justice, and He teaches the humble His way. All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and truth to those who keep His covenant and His testimonies. Psalm 25:9-10

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The main point of today’s Scripture is this: only those who are truly humble will truly yield to God properly. The pathways that God lays before the humble are in perfect accord with his love and his truth. When we keep the arrangements (covenant and testimonies) that exist between God and us, we experience his love and truth in fullness. The arrangements God has in mind for us involve, first, establishing us in a relationship with himself and then in having our relationship with him result in our lives becoming all he desires them to become. These arrangements are accomplished for us and in us through Jesus Christ.

    The key word is keep. It is the yielded person who keeps God’s covenant and testimonies (the arrangement that exist between God and us for our redemption and sanctification). Both redemption and sanctification are a work of Christ and it is incumbent upon every one of us to yield to Christ for both of them. Why are there so many people who won’t allow Christ to redeem them? Why are there so many redeemed people who won’t allow Christ to sanctify them? The answer is the same for both questions: pride. The “leadable” and “teachable” person is the humble person. The humble person is the person who does not let pride stand in the way being totally available to the God of the universe for whatever he wants and commands.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I can see that pride is “me getting in the way” and humility is “me getting out of the way.” You are God and I am not. Forgive me for following so readily in the sin that started all the trouble back at the very beginning of time – the sin of wanting to be in charge; the sin of usurping the place of authority and power in my life that is reserved for you and you alone.” Lord, I humbly bow, yield, and surrender. Amen!

  • Our Divine Connection - Waiting on the Lord - Tuesday, May 15th

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; for You I wait all the day. Psalm 25:5

    Today's thoughts from today's verse:

    Prayer is our relationship with God. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, the Apostle Paul says that we should, “Pray without ceasing.” In addition to the kind of praying where we stop, fully focus on God, and become deeply engaged in communion with him, there is an “on the go” kind of praying. The Psalmist in today’s Scripture, says to God, “for You I wait all the day.” Being alone with God in concentrated prayer is not something we can do all day. But, we can “wait all the day” on God. “Waiting on God” is “on the go” praying. “Waiting on God” is maintaining an “attitude of prayer.”

    Maintaining an attitude of prayer is something we can do all day long. It involves having an ongoing sense of God’s presence and a confidence that he is always at work leading the way and unfolding the life he as for us. This was the Psalmist’s approach to life and it is reflected in his words, “Lead me in Your truth and teach me.” If you are one who joins the Psalmist and says to God, “You are the God of my salvation, you must also join him in saying to God, “for you I wait all the day.” Truly prayer is our relationship with God.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, “lead me in your truth and teach me” in regard to having and maintaining a constant “attitude of prayer.” Guard me from running ahead of you and without you. May it be that today I truly “wait for you all the day.” Amen!

  • Our Divine Connection - Ministering to the Lord - Monday, May 14th

    (This week’s Devotionals run Monday through Saturday)

    To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in You I trust …. Make me know Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Psalm 25:1-2A, 4

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    You know that something very special has transpired if you overhear someone say to their friend, “Thank you so much, you have really ministered to me, you have touched my soul. Today’s verses speak of lifting up one’s soul to God. It is the lifting up of one’s soul to God that really ministers to him and touches him deeply. You see God made us to be in intimate communion with him – soul to soul, so to speak. To initiate special times of intimacy with God, we must lift up our soul to God. Lifting up the soul can be described as coming before God in worshipful surrender in order to focus on all that God is with all that we are.

    We minister to God when we take our rightful place before him with a soul filled with exaltation, adoration, and praise to him and empty of ourselves and what we want from him. This is what touches, blesses, and delights God more than anything. Being empty of ourselves and wrapped up in God is what communion and intimacy with God is all about. Ministering to God in this way allows God to be God to us and frees him to minister to all that we are with all that he is and we are touched, blessed, and delighted in return. It is out of such communion and intimacy with God that we are able to trust him with every bit of our lives. Through a close and trusting relationship with God, we come to know his ways and learn his paths and the life we live becomes his doing.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, to You I lift up my soul. O my God, in You I trust. Make me know Your ways, O Lord; teach me Your paths. Amen!

  • Loving the Lost – Celebrating Coming Home - Friday, May 11th

    “Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.’ The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him, but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends. Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’ His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours. We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’” Luke 15:25-32

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    While the father leads his household in the celebration of the full return of his younger son, his older son will have none of it. Filled with anger he reveals a heart not only closed to his brother but to his father as well. The older brother did not abandon his father as the younger brother had nor did he live in ways that were inconsistent with the character and conduct of his father as the younger brother did. And yet even though he had always stayed with his father, he evidently had not enjoyed his father in the fullness and openness of a father’s loving heart that declares, “everything I have is yours.” How often our relationship with our Heavenly Father is depicted by what we see here in the older brother. Not only do we miss the fullness and openness of the heart of our Heavenly Father but we contribute to others missing it as well. 

    Unfortunately, in our profession of being ones who are connected to our Heavenly Father, our lack of experiential connection to Him and subsequent joylessness and obligatory approach to the Christian life proclaim to the lost that being connected to the Heavenly Father is not a very good place to be. When we experience the fullness and openness of our Heavenly Father’s heart we will be joyful and overflowing with His life. Our lives will reveal His heart and the lost will know that being with the Heavenly Father is a good place to be. They will see the “desire” of His heart to have them return and the “willingness” of his heart to welcome them into a full and wonderful relationship with Himself when they do. 

    So, we have a Heavenly Father who desires our return, willingly allows us to enter into a full and open relationship with Himself when we do, and rejoices abundantly that what He has longed for all along has come to be. And we have the joy of a full and complete relationship with our Heavenly Father and a wonderful impact on the lost who see the loving, compassionate, welcoming, accepting, gracious, forgiving, restoring heart of our Heavenly Father revealed in us. May God awaken us and His church everywhere to the wonderful adventure of living fully for Him as ones who have the heartbeat of God within them in full measure.

    Jesus said, “As the Father has sent Me, so send I you.” So, since when Jesus came to earth, His prevailing purpose was to seek and to save the lost, we must do the same. How readily and passionately we can look at others and critically see the presence of things that shouldn’t be and the absence of things that should be. Why do we concern ourselves with things that are missing from the lives of unbelievers when they are without Christ. Oh that we would be burdened with the fact that they are missing from the family of God and that we would become passionate about being the kind of people that unbelievers are drawn to because there is a climate of welcome, acceptance, and love in our presence individually and corporately that is inescapable.

    We need to hang out with other Christians (small groups) in ways that strengthen us to live effectively in the world. How often believers hang out with each other in ways that do not contribute and even hinder their effectiveness at reaching the lost. Sometimes in hanging out with other believers we do so to the exclusion of associating with those who need to be reached. God is waiting to produce in us the love, acceptance, and passion we need for reaching the lost if we will let Him.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, you are my home. Thanks for welcoming me back home to yourself. I truly wish that everyone would come back home to you. I join you in celebrating those who come home. I celebrate your people everywhere who are passionate about being ones that unbelievers are drawn to because there is a climate of welcome, acceptance, and love in their presence individually and corporately. Thank for using your people in what you are doing to bring the lost back home. Your grace, mercy, and love are truly amazing. Amen!

  • Loving the Lost – Fostering Joyful Restoration - Thursday, May 10th

    “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’ But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet. And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast, for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.” Luke 15:20-24

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The response of the father at the return of his son reveals that his son’s return has been the desire of his heart all along. The desire of the son’s heart has been revealed by the fact that he returned, but now he takes it to the next level by showing his heart further through the words of repentance he utters to his father, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.” The father then goes to the next level in showing his heart. This is pivotal: the Father wants to receive his son back as a son and now he can because his son’s repentance reveals that he knows that he caused the loss of the father/son connection and it reveals that he is ready for this connection to be restored in full. So, the father knowing for sure that that which was lost is truly found, immediately launches a full scale joy-filled demonstration that his lost son is again his son fully and completely. The parallels between this restoration of this human father and his son and our restoration to our Heavenly Father are wonderfully helpful and freeing. Our relationship with our Heavenly Father is meant to be full and complete right from the start. It is all about joy and we must not let anything interfere with our experiencing our relationship with our Heavenly Father in the full and complete way that he intends for it. We are talking about the joy of our return to our Heavenly Father, the joy of or relationship with our Heavenly Father, and the joy fostered around us that helps the lost move toward restoration with God as well.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for the great joy you have when someone repents and returns to you. How amazing it to think that the angels in heaven rejoice each time as well. Help me also to value this more than anything and everything. I want to be caught up in the joy of your kingdom spreading one person at a time. May everything about me and my life be about fostering joyful restoration to you. I love you, praise you, and worship you, Lord. Amen!

  • Loving the Lost – Offering Unfettered Compassion - Wednesday, May 9th

    And He said, “A man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the estate that falls to me.’ So he divided his wealth between them. And not many days later, the younger son gathered everything together and went on a journey into a distant country, and there he squandered his estate with loose living. Now when he had spent everything, a severe famine occurred in that country, and he began to be impoverished. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would have gladly filled his stomach with the pods that the swine were eating, and no one was giving anything to him. But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.’” Luke 15:11-19

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We started with a lost sheep, then moved to a lost coin, and now finish with a lost son. In each instance we see the heart of the one receiving back that which had been lost. However, with the lost son, there is a reciprocal connection in that we see the heart of that which has been lost as well. In addition, we see the heart of a second son who was not lost and of course the condition of his heart reveals the central reason Jesus shared these three parables in the first place. So, we have the cry of the heart of the lost son who wants to come back to his father, we have the cry of the heart of the father who wants his son back, and we have the cry of the heart of the older brother who is appalled with what happens in the hearts of his brother and his father. We must see these three heartbeats very clearly so we can discover how our own heartbeat needs to be impacted.

    From the moment his younger son left, this father desired for him to return. The father did not know if his younger son would ever return, but regardless, it would always be his desire to have it be so and it would always be up to the son to do so. Unknown to this father, his younger son comes to the spot where he desires to return to his father and he then acts on that desire and returns home. While this is what the father and the younger son both desire, we can be sure that the desire of the older brother is for his younger brother never to return. The lost son does not know what response his father will have at his return. He knows he deserves nothing, but hopes for the bare minimum of at least being received as a hired servant. Our Heavenly Father does not desire that anyone remain lost, but rather He desires that all be found. Like the earthly father in our story, our Heavenly Father’s response to anyone who returns to Him is to welcome that one with love, compassion, an embrace and a kiss. How could He do anything less for one who returns when there are so many who remain unwilling to return.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, there are so many people that are just out there on their own caught up in their choice to go it alone. I really want a heart like yours that longs for their return. Help me care more than ever before. Give me such a heart of compassion for them that it freely spills over into all my involvements with them. Forgive me for all the times I haven’t cared about those who are out there. Forgive me for letting bad stuff spill out of my heart toward some who are out there because I have been bothered by them and have taken offense at them. I want my heart and life to help them return to you and not hinder them in any way. Amen!

  • Loving the Lost – Seeing Unmerited Value - Wednesday, May 8th

    “Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Won’t she light a lamp and sweep the entire house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she will call in her friends and neighbors and say, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.” Luke 15:8-10

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Everyone wants to be “alright.” The usual course for achieving this involves pursing personal merit which we think will produce a sense of personal worth which in turn we think will produce a sense of personal well-being. This is an exercise in futility and self-deception. Having a sense of personal well-being that is properly hinged to a sense of personal worth is appropriate. However, if the pursuit of personal merit is in the equation, these things will never be what we think they are or want them to be. There isn’t a person who will ever walk the face of the earth who is not absolutely sinful, absolutely cut off from God, and therefore absolutely lost. This is our condition and when God’s provision in Christ for reversing this condition is made known and we believe, the degree to which we truly grasp our condition makes all the difference going forward in both our relationship to God and to the lost. To whatever degree our grasp of our condition is not complete, to that degree personal merit will taint our view of ourselves before God and our need for absolute dependence on Him as well as our view of ourselves before the lost and our need for compete humility. Our struggle with a spirit of independence in relationship to God and a spirit of superiority in relationship to the lost will be an ongoing dilemma for us. God looks out over the whole of His creation with a heart of love that is devoted to restoring us to Himself. Looking out and seeing that which is lost in the way God does is essential and this is precisely the lesson of today’s passage as seen in the woman’s words, “Rejoice with me because I have found my lost coin.”

    We are valuable to God but there is nothing we have done or can do to merit our being valuable to Him. If a human parent valued his child only because he or she merited it we would be aghast. If our value to God was based on merit, then our value to Him would be reduced or would cease if we failed in any way to merit it. How wonderful it is to know that God loves us unconditionally and values us completely apart from all merit. He will never stop loving us or valuing us. How freeing it is to know we can be honest about our condition without fear of becoming less loved or valued by God. Similarly we are free to appropriate for ourselves God’s redemptive provision in Christ in a more full and complete way. In all actuality, it is this freedom that draws us more and more deeply into the wonderful experience of being loved and valued by God and makes it possible for us to increasingly relate to the lost in genuine humility and without a superior sense of ourselves. Our being lost is totally the result of the fact that we are trapped in the condition of having a sinful nature that cuts us off from God and makes us helpless to do anything about it. We may be less practiced than some in the sins of the flesh or even in the sins of the spirit, but that does not reduce the reality of our sinful condition and standing before God apart from the redemption provision of Christ.

    This is where grace comes into play. By grace God finds us, redeems us, and restores us. The amazing love and value God bestows on each of us apart from all merit is what grace is all about. Seeing ourselves properly is the key to viewing the lost properly. How readily we slip into a wrong view of ourselves and a wrong view of the lost. Every person must be viewed as someone that God is seeking to find, redeem, and restore. We must not view anyone as beyond the reach of God’s grace nor must we ever believe that in some way we merited our having been reached by the grace of God. What an oxymoron! And yet, we do allow ourselves to have these tainted views and often they lead to ugly attitudes and behaviors that alienate us from the very ones God desires to reach by His grace. We must forsake such corruption and let God fill our hearts with love and mercy for the lost. The message is clear concerning our need to “look” at the lost the way God does. How to have it truly come about is another matter. Please meditate on the following verse and ask God to transform your life according to the realities that are contained within this wonderful statement. May our transformation translate into lost people experiencing the true grace of God who otherwise might not: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).”

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for the amazing love and value you have bestowed on me apart from anything I am or have to offer. Forgive me for thinking I deserved in anyway what you have freely bestowed on me. Help me to enter into the fullness of dependence that your gracious provision in Christ requires and help me as a result to be entirely free of any superior sense of myself. Thank you for redeeming me from my sinful condition which I was totally helpless to do anything about. Grant me a depth of humility that keeps merit out the equation for others just as surely as you keep it out of the equation for me. Amen!

  • Loving the Lost – Rejecting Self-righteousness - Monday, May 7th

    Tax collectors and other notorious sinners often came to listen to Jesus teach. This made the Pharisees and teachers of religious law complain that he was associating with such sinful people—even eating with them! So Jesus told them this story: “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!” Luke 15:1-7

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Pursuing righteousness for ourselves without demanding it of others is a very difficult thing but is essential to effective kingdom work. Others need to feel there is a climate of welcome, acceptance, and love in our presence. Similarly, others need to feel there is a climate of welcome, acceptance, and love in our corporate presence (church). This is the key to reaching the lost. When others know we really care about them they become receptive to the message of Christ and the life of righteousness He wants to bring to them. When we are offended by unrighteous lifestyles, convey our displeasure, and impose our values, we unnecessarily alienate the very people that need us and the message of Christ the most. The lost desperately need to be rescued but how we go about it makes all the difference.

    Certainly, there was nothing wrong on Jesus’ part that resulted in the unrighteous people in our passage associating with Him nor was there anything wrong with Jesus associating with them. Granted there can be things that are wrong in having certain people associate with us and in turn our associating with them. Being a safe haven for a searching unbeliever is much different than running with them and participating in their sinful behavior. The Lord can so ground us in our relationship with Him that we become ones who do not waver in pursuing righteousness for ourselves as we, while not demanding that righteousness of others or being offended at their lack of it, welcome them, accept them, love them, and reach them with the message of Christ.

    In 1 Corinthians 1:30 Paul says, “By His doing you are in Christ Jesus.” Our association with Christ is totally His doing. There is nothing we could be or do that would make it possible for us to warrant our relationship with Him. This is because no one is more sinful than anybody else and all thoroughly need the forgiveness and cleansing He offers on the basis of the sacrifice of Himself on the Cross for all. Often the reason we find it difficult to associate with unbelievers and are offended at their behavior is that we harbor within ourselves some measure of personal merit for our being connected to Christ. This is self-righteousness and it is the very stuff that made hypocrites of the scribes and Pharisees and us if we do not let the Holy Spirit deliver us from it. Such a work of the Holy Spirit is crucial if we are going to be ones who effectively reach the lost.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I want to be one who truly loves the lost and welcomes them into the sphere of my life in anticipation of their return to the Lord. Deliver me from self-righteousness and mold me into a reaching, loving person who delights and rejoices in the salvation of the lost. Thank you for your amazing love that reached me and brought me home to you forever. Amen!

  • God as Our Source – Wonderfully Aligned with His Divine Order - Friday, May 4th

    Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became his counselor? Or who has first given to him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. Romans 11:33-36

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Psalm 100:3 says, “Know that the Lord himself is God; it is he who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.” Isaiah 53:6 says, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on him.” And in John 10:11 Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Consider for a moment the contrast between “the sheep of his pasture” and “each of us has turned to his own way.” In this contrast we see the fundamental problem of mankind: we mess with the Divine order of things by usurping God’s role and making ourselves the authority and master of our own lives.

    The Scriptures speak of our relationship with God in terms of Creator/creature, Father/children, and Shepherd/sheep and the truth that comes to us with each of these is that God is in charge and we are not. We have usurped the place of God in our own lives and we need a Savior big time. Hallelujah, Jesus is the good shepherd who did lay down his life for the sheep. Once again we can “know that the Lord himself is God.” This is what today’s Scripture is all about. What a beautiful statement of the Divine order of things between God and mankind that boldly and wonderfully declares that God is God and we are not. Thank you Jesus for restoring the Divine order of things in our lives so that we can truly and fully live for God’s glory and his alone.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, it really does all come down to trust and surrender. I surrender my life to you so that my ultimate aim is to exist for your honor and glory. Lord, may it be that you are freely able to utilize my life fully for your Divine purposes. Help me stay in the place of trusting you before trials come, when they come, and throughout them. May I always remember that whatever I go through for the cause of Christ you will be with me, your amazing peace will be mine, and it will be worth it. Grant that I may always live in the reality that there is no higher calling than to be fully aligned with you as the author and master of my life. Amen!

  • God as Our Source – Supernatural Peace for the Journey - Thursday, May 3rd

    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

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Today’s Scripture speaks about our being “anxious.” To be anxious is to be troubled. To be troubled means that either the prospect of a trouble or the actual experience of a trouble has affected the condition or state of our hearts and minds. So, anxiety is all about the negative impact of troubles (trials) that produce a condition or state of heart and mind that is anxious. It is God’s supernatural peace that guards (or restores) our hearts and minds from the negative impact of anxiety in regard to the troubles and trials of life.

    Jesus said, “Do not be anxious about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? …. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:25, 32B-33).” The needs associated with physical life here on earth can be a significant contributor to anxiety. It can be really hard for us when troubles and trials come our way that disrupt the flow of physical resources that we count on for our lives or keep us from the physical resources we would like to have in our lives.

    Sometimes the troubles and trials that come our way are more associated with negative reactions that come with living for the “cause of Christ.” Seeking first God’s kingdom and righteousness lessens the importance we place on physical resources, but it increases the likelihood of troubles and trials coming our way from those who react to our walk with Christ. While God encourages us to focus on the good he will bring about through our troubles and trials, he does care about what happens to us as we experience them. Whether it is anxiety over physical resources or anxiety from the fallout of kingdom living, God genuinely cares about what we are going through.

    It is God’s supernatural peace that guards (or restores) our hearts and minds from the negative impact of anxiety in regard to the troubles and trials of life. God is in the business of guarding our hearts and minds from the ravages of anxiety. He knows how to bring about the exchange of anxiety for his supernatural peace we so desperately need. It all comes down to seeking God in prayer where we lay it all before him openly and honestly and we let him do his miraculous work of replacing our anxiety with his peace that surpasses all comprehension.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I come to you in prayer right now. You know the condition and state of my heart. I trust you to so flood my heart and mind with your supernatural peace that all my anxiety is swept away. Make your presence and your peace so much more real to me than the troubles and trials of my life, that I truly become anxious for nothing. Amen!

  • God as Our Source – Fully Living for His Glory - Wednesday, May 2nd

    Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name. I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and will glorify Your name forever. Psalm 86:11-12

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    In today’s Scripture the Psalmist tells God that he will glorify his name forever. God would be delighted if everyone would join the Psalmist in his resolve. Can you imagine what life here on earth would be like if everyone’s purpose for life was to live for God’s glory. If everyone was living for God’s glory, it would make it easier for each of us to live for God’s glory. There would be innumerable examples of people all around us to show us how and there would be no one to react to us as ones who have chosen to live our lives for God’s glory.

    Welcome to the real world, however. Welcome to the arena where God continues to accomplish amazing things for the sake of his name and the good of mankind. We must join the Psalmist in letting God teach us his way, help us walk in his truth, and give us a heart wholly centered (fear/reverence) on him and a life lived for the sake of his name. Those who let God help them in these ways will become ones who give wholehearted thanks to him and glorify his name forever. If we identify with and are aligned with the message of today’s passage, it means we are ones who have discovered that God is the source of life and that we are a resource for God to utilize for his Divine purposes.

    All of this is easier said than done, particularly when it comes to trusting God for whatever happens as he fulfills his Divine purposes in our lives. There is an all-important truth that makes all the difference when we grasp it and embrace it. It is this: God has a special devotion to those who have entered into the kind of devotion to him that we have been talking about today. God loves to give himself fully to the welfare and care of those who give themselves fully to living for God’s glory forever (living fully). We do not need to be afraid of “whatever happens” as we go forward in living for God’s glory and letting him freely fulfill his divine purposes in our lives. God has our backs (and everything else as well). There need be no fear in being totally devoted to the almighty God of the universe who is totally devoted to us.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, grant that I might grasp fully and embrace fully a truly “God centered” view of life and reality. Release me from the fears in my heart and mind that hold me back from full surrender and from trusting you fully with all the “whatever comes” that lie before me. I lift up my soul to you, Lord, in full devotion and trust. Amen!

  • God as Our Source – We are His Resource - Tuesday, May 1st

    Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Until we discover that God is the source of life and that we are a resource for him to utilize for his Divine purposes, not only will we not be able to grasp today’s Scripture, we will (if we are truly honest) considerate it ludicrous. Our passage is telling us that God uses trials to test our faith. It is telling us that it is to the degree that we exercise faith that we are able to endure trials. It is telling us that enduring trials by faith results in our spiritual growth and maturity. God is committed to our spiritual growth and maturity because the greater the spiritual growth and maturity we experience, the greater the resource we are for him to utilize for his Divine purposes.

    If we say our ultimate aim in life is to exist for God’s honor and glory, then we will want to have it be that God is freely able to utilize our lives fully for his Divine purposes. If God is just a resource for helping us achieve the purposes we have for our lives, then we will just give lip service to living fully for God and the aim of our life truly being his honor and glory. But when surrender and faith take hold, we will get on board with God’s use of trials in our lives. You see there is great joy in living fully for God and actually seeing honor and glory come to him as a result.

    So, when trials come we will be able to consider it all joy as well, because we know that the end result is God’s honor and glory. Remember, God uses trials to test our faith; exercising faith enables us to endure trials; enduring trials by faith results in our spiritual growth and maturity; and spiritual growth and maturity increases the resource we are for God to utilize for his Divine purposes. Yes, indeed, this is how God is honored and glorified.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I understand that this is the process you are committed to have come about in my life. Help me to be on board with it. May I be so committed to what you are doing that I let you give me the courage and boldness I need to face victoriously whatever comes my way. May the life I live be the outworking of your power and grace and for your honor and glory. Amen!

  • God as Our Source – Absolutely Trusting and Surrendering - Monday, April 30th

    Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Proverbs 3:5-7

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We are all in the middle of this thing called life but we don’t all tackle it in the same way. Some people have no room at all for God. They say, “God is a crutch for the weak.” They go it alone and tackle life all by themselves. Then there are those people who recognize that they need an assist sometimes to get through the tough spots. They say, “God helps those who help themselves.” They utilize God as a resource for tackling life when it really gets tough. Finally, there are those who have discovered that God is the source of life and that they are a resource for God to utilize for his Divine purposes. The say, I’ve only one life, will soon be past, only what’s done “for” and “by” God will last (1 Corinthians 3:10-15).

    Today’s Scripture tells us all about this final kind of person. This is the person who does not make a life path for themselves but rather they let God lay out the path of his choosing straight before them. Their life is not their own, it is God’s. He not only sets the path for their life, but he operates within them and through them so that all that comes to them on the path of life is faced and tackled victoriously by his power and grace and for his honor and glory. They are able to do this because they trust in the Lord with all their heart, they do not lean on their own understanding, they acknowledge him in all their ways, they are not wise in their own eyes, and they fear the Lord and turn away from evil (following their own path either alone or with God merely as a resource).

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, it seems that life all comes down to trust and surrender. If I really trust you, I will be able to surrender all to you and if I really surrender all to you, I will be able trust you for whatever happens as you fulfill your Divine purposes in my life. So, not my will, but your will be done, dear Lord. Amen!

  • The Freedom of Unconditional Love – The Risk of a Hand Extended - Friday, April 27th

    A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35

    Each of us is to please his neighbor for his good, to his edification. For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, “the reproaches of those who reproached you fell on Me” …. Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God. Romans 15:2-3,5-7

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Life is filled with both opportunities to take the hand of another extended to us and to extend our hand to someone else. Holding the hand of another always involves risk. But it is only those who take the risk who experience the blessing of shared unconditional love. God can heal us from the conditioned love experiences of the past, protect us from them as we go forward, and position us for optimal unconditional love connections with others if we are willing to let Him.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I know that the life you have called me to is not about me but about blessing others through the overflow of my relationship with you. Help me to live for the sake of others in ways that abound with love, acceptance, forgiveness, giving, and sacrifice. I choose to go forward with the extended hand of unconditional love. I assume the risk of relating to others in the same way you have related to me. Thank you for taking a risk with me. What a blessing it is to know you and your unconditional love. You have set me free to extend the hand of unconditional love to anyone and everyone. Amen!

  • The Freedom of Unconditional Love – The Power of Humility - Thursday, April 26th

    But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, “O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.” I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. Luke18:13-14

    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. 1 Peter 1:22-23

    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. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Colossians 3:12-14

    Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results. James 5:16

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    So, we have looked at becoming disconnected from the ravages of conditional love, but how do we connect with unconditional love in our relationships with others? Our starting point is always our relationship with God and being humble before him. As we seek to be humble before him, he will lead us fully into the relationship of unconditional love he desires for us to have with Him. As we experience His unconditional love more and more fully, we will be transformed so that we have unconditional love to extend to others. As we extend this love to others, God will use it to help them respond to Him in humility so that they become more properly aligned with unconditional love. The outcome is unconditional love reciprocated. As we have opportunity to connect with new people we can test the waters by being open and honest with them about our struggles, failures, and sin. We will then discover whether they are a source of supportive unconditional love or ones that we simply reach out to with unconditional love whether they reciprocate or not. This humble way of living opens us up to a world of unconditional love that we could otherwise easily miss.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, your spiritual world of unconditional love is so very different than the world of conditional love in which we live. Thank you for including me in the adventuresome mission of helping impact this world with your unconditional love. You have taught me humility and I am grateful. Without this humility I would not have taken hold of the hand of unconditional love which you extended to me. Without this humility I would not be able to navigate victoriously the world of conditional love all around me. Without this humility I would not extend the hand of unconditional love to others. Amazing! Amen!

  • The Freedom of Unconditional Love – The Destructiveness of a Critical Spirit - Wednesday, April 25th

    Therefore you have no excuse, every one of you who passes judgment, for in that which you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? Romans 2:1-4

    Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand …. But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God …. Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this--not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way …. So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another …. The faith which you have, have as your own conviction before God. Happy is he who does not condemn himself in what he approves. Romans 14:4,10,13,19,22

    Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, “Let me take the speck out of your eye,” and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not hrow your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. Matthew 7:1-6

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Making the inner disconnect from the powerful impact of negative people in our lives is vital, but there is another disconnect that is very important as well. The words and messages of others with their negative impact often become a part of our own vocabulary of self. Our view of ourselves is filled with the verbiage of these negative people. If we only had a “spell check” like function that could search out and delete all such words and messages wherever they have become lodged in the recesses of our minds and hearts. Ah, but we do – the Holy Spirit of God is willing and waiting to lead the way and to help us root out and jettison these terrible, harmful, unwanted tools of destruction.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I give to you all the hurt I have experienced from others and I express my sorrow for all the hurt I have inflicted on others. So much unnecessary hurt and it is all rooted in our failure to abide in your unconditional love. I realize how prone we are to operating from a basis of conditional love which leads to critical, judgmental spirits and extremely harmful words and messages. Holy Spirit come to me and root out every destructive thing that has become lodged in the recesses of my mind and heart. Wash over me with your unconditional love so that I am healed and so that I no longer pass along my hurt to others. Amen!

  • The Freedom of Unconditional Love – The Trap of Superiority - Tuesday, April 24th

    Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: “I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.” Luke 18:9-12

    There are “friends” who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24

    Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you, so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need. 1 Thessalonians 4:9-12

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The negative impact of people who love conditionally is powerful. There are none who escape of the touch of spiritually superior self-righteous people, but there are many who learn to counter their negative influence and move forward. Unfortunately, we must at times disconnect inwardly with those who have powerfully influence us in this way. Their connections to us become more like chains than supportive hands or arms. With some of these people we can minimize our involvement, but often this is not a possibility because of the close nature of these relationships. As we learn to live fully connected to God and His unconditional love, He will protect our hearts and minds from being penetrated by the negative influence that comes our way from certain people and He will help us to extend unconditional love to them at the same time. This inner disconnect is very important for us and for them. The Scriptures clearly spell out the supportive, helpful, accepting, caring, loving relationships to which God has called us. By moving forward in this way and holding ourselves and others to the standard of unconditional love we break the chains that imprison our hearts and minds.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for how you are strengthening my connection to you and your unconditional love. You really are protecting me from the impact of conditional love the comes my way. Forgive me for all the ways I have loved conditionally. Help me to go forward in ways that avoid the trap of superiority and self-righteousness. Your unconditional love for me leaves no room for such negative and wasteful ways. Thank you for holding my hand and loving me so freely and wonderfully. Amen!

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