Daily Devotional

  • The Work of Living Fully - The Outcome of Our Calling - Wednesday, September 19th

    For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure …. Prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world. Philippians 2:13, 15

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    In a very general sense “work” is what we do with our lives. Each person is busy either doing the work of living for themselves or living for God. Today’s Scripture uses the word “pleasure.” So, we can say each person is busy either working for their own pleasure or for God’s pleasure. We were created for God’s pleasure but we naturally live for our own pleasure. In order to reverse this, God intervened through His Son, Jesus Christ. Isaiah 53 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.”

    Here are some thoughts that help us see how things need to unfold so that the outcome is that our lives bring pleasure to God: The first thing that brings God pleasure is our return to him (there is no one who does not need to return). As we see from Isaiah 53, it is Christ's sacrifice for our sins that facilitates our return. Our return brings us back into a full relationship with God. The second thing that brings God pleasure and glory is the intimacy of the love relationship he is able to begin sharing with us upon our return. The third thing that brings God pleasure and glory is the transformation he is able to bring about in our lives through the intimate love relationship he shares with us. The fourth thing that brings God pleasure and glory is the blessing our lives become to other people as he manifests himself through us and uses us to reach and touch other people for him.

    Today’s passage speaks of all this as the will and work of God and we must work with him and not against him. What amazing words: “For it is God who is at work in you.” So, whenever you get caught up in living for yourself and your own pleasure, you are working against God and the outcome of having a life that is truly lived for his pleasure. When you cooperate with the work of God consistently over the long haul, you will, in the words of today’s Scripture: “Prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world.”

    Here is something for you to write on a 3x5 card: RETURN + INTIMACY + TRANSFORMATION + BLESSING = GOD’S PLEASURE. Carry the card with you and review it on a regular basis. It can be a great tool to help you keep focused and stay on track. For today, think about this equation and what each part really means to you. Talk to God about where you are and where you need to head. Remember, he is at work in you. Get in touch with him and join him in all that he seeking to do in and through you. There is no greater work we can do than working toward the outcome of having a life that is truly lived for God’s pleasure.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for intervening. I am grateful for my return to you. What a wonder it is to be welcomed back into you your arms of love. Help me to abide in your presence. Continue to change me from the inside out. Use my life as a beacon of light for others to find you. I know you will help me go forward living fully for your pleasure and your pleasure alone. Amen!

  • The Work of Living Fully - The Impact of Our Calling - Tuesday, September 18th

    You are the light of the world …. 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 5:14A, 16

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    As a hospice chaplain I have many conversations with other caregivers in the facilities I visit. Some time ago, I had a conversation with a very nice lady who provides personal care for the residents in one of these facilities. She is a seeker who is less than satisfied with organized Christianity and seems to have adopted a hodge-podge of spiritual-like understandings that are less than Biblical. She spoke to me about her sister and her sister’s Biblical faith. This dear caregiver is not very impressed with the outworking of her sister’s faith. She told me that recently she said to her sister, “you are not shining.”

    She was telling her sister, who claims to know, love, and live for Jesus, that she doesn’t see Jesus shining out of her life. Repeatedly, she told her sister, “shine, shine, shine.” She saw little or no evidence for all her sister’s claims of having the truth. The overall impact of the “Biblical Christian” on her was a negative one. She would have welcomed a bit of love, joy, and care, shining out of her sister’s life and coming her way. What a commentary, but a commentary that is so often true of Bible believing Christians who claim to have the truth.

    We did not touch on the end part of yesterday’s passage where Jesus said, “While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.” In today’s Scripture Jesus says, “You are the light of the world.” You may recall from yesterday that Jesus said, “we (you and me joining Jesus) must work the works of Him (God, the Father) who sent Me (Jesus).” While Jesus was here, he was “the light of the world.” Through redemption which he secured for us while he was here, he lives in us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We are now the “light of the world.” We join Jesus in “working the works” of God by letting him shine out of us and touch the world around us. So, brothers and sisters, let’s let Jesus “shine, shine, shine.”

    Our calling from God is to let the new person we are becoming and the new life that is unfolding have an impact on the people and world around us. The work of letting who we are in Christ and what we do through Christ matters. Letting Jesus shine out of our lives so that we truly are “the light of the world” is the one and only way the people and the world around us will experience the impact of the central work to which God has called us.

    It is interesting that when we meet someone new, conversation almost always turns to the question, "what do you do (for a living)?" and not "who are you (as a person)?" So, generally what we do is very much a part of who we are. “Vocation” on the human level almost always has to do with one's career. Some people have a sense of calling to their careers, but many do not. Spiritually, we are all called to a career of serving the kingdom. Serving the kingdom is our primary vocation, just as our primary identity is who we are in Christ.

    It is important to keep in mind that it usually does not necessitate a change in career and calling on the human level to make serving the kingdom your primary vocation. As a matter of fact, God is particularly interested in showing his people how to make an impact for the kingdom right where they are in the middle of all they are already doing. Remember, our spiritual vocation is all about letting the new person we are becoming and the new life that is unfolding have an impact on the people and world around us (right where we are).

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I get it. I am to be “the light of the world” because you live in me. I see that the central “work” of my life all boils down to one simple but powerful word: “SHINE.” Thank you for the calling of my life to be one who impacts the people and the world around me by “shining”. Teach me more and more of what it means to “shine.” Continue to help me surrender. Continue to shape my identity in Christ. Continue to accomplish your purposes by making my life a blessing to the world around me as I “shine, shine, shine.” Amen!

  • The Work of Living Fully - The Urgency of Our Calling - Monday, September 17th

    We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world. John 9:4-5

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    “Living fully” – what does it truly mean? How would you explain to someone what it means to live fully? Wanting a full life is a universal desire, but what makes life full varies from person to person. For most of us we are naturally drawn to things pertaining to our own personal comfort. It ends up that gaining, maintaining, and adding new comforts becomes what “living fully” is all about. How many people get to the end of their lives and realize the life they lived included things they shouldn’t have lived for at all, things they should have lived for more fully, and things they should have lived for and missed all together? Comfort is not what “living fully” is all about. “Living fully” is all about the advancement of God’s kingdom and not the advancement of earthly life.

    Today’s Scripture is about the urgency for us to live fully for God, but it speaks of this in terms of “work.” In essence, living fully for God is “working” for God. Jesus is the one who is speaking and notice that he says, “We must work the works of Him who sent Me.” Jesus was sent by God the Father to accomplish redemption so that we could become his disciples and join him in “working the works of God.” This is our true calling in life and we will explore the connection between this kind of work and other aspects of work throughout the week.

    Notice the words “day” and “night” in our passage. “Night” refers to the end when God wraps things up and “day” refers to the time that remains before the end comes. When the end comes, we will not be able to “work” (live fully) for God. So, as long as it is still “day,” “we (you and me joining Jesus) must work the works of Him (God, the Father) who sent Me (Jesus).” The urgency of living fully for God and working for the sake of his kingdom is clear. This must become our true calling in life.

    As followers of Christ we understand the shift that comes to us through redemption. We are called to move away from the pursuit of “living fully” for ourselves to “living fully” for God. We anticipate the joy awaiting us at the end of life’s race, where we will know that we have lived fully for God when he says, “well done.” It will mean we did not settle for the lesser life of living for our own comfort and security. It will mean we chose a life of living sacrificially for God’s kingdom where people and relationships were the priority as God used us to bless them in ways that count for eternity. The “joy” of the finish line can truly help us to keep running well the race God has set before us.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I realize that when I am living for myself, I am not only not living for you, but I am not really “living fully” at all. I want to be one who joins you, Jesus, in working the works of your kingdom. Help me to let go of working for myself. Teach me how the work of my vocation goes together with the work of your kingdom. Show me the fullness of what it means to join you, Jesus, in the true calling that is mine as your follower. Amen!

  • "A Voice Behind" - A Poem for Sunday, September 16th

     A Voice Behind

    © Pearlyn

    When into sorrow, my poor soul sinks
    When a sound of despair in my heart rings
    I'm strongly pushed to do my best
    By a voice that says, "There is still hope you dare not rest."

    When chains of sorrow surround me well
    When in myself, I feel like hell
    I'm forced to face life with its tests
    By a voice that says, “There is still hope you dare not rest."

    When I just feel like crying aloud
    When all my worries rise like a cloud
    I'm guarded safe like a bird in its nest
    By a voice that says, “There is still hope you dare not rest."

    From all my fears, I now am free
    I'm good and strong, I could clearly see,
    But can anyone say, is it from east or west
    That I hear the voice, "There is still hope you dare not rest."

    With hope and courage, I just am full
    Because of the voice, that gave me a very strong pull
    It's my loving God, the unseen guest
    Who says, “There is still hope you dare not rest."

  • "Broken Pieces" - An Inspirational Poem for Saturday, September 15th

    Broken Pieces

    If you are broken by life trials
    and weary from life's defeats.
    If you have been badly battered
    and have no joy or peace.

    Give God your broken pieces
    so He will mold them back in place.
    He can make them better than before
    with a touch of His sweet grace.

    If your dreams have been shattered
    after much struggle and pain.
    Even if your life seems hopeless
    God can restore you again.

    God can take broken pieces
    and He can make them whole.
    It matters not how badly broken
    God has the power to restore.

    So we are never without hope
    no matter the shape we are in.
    God can take our fragmented lives
    and put them together again.

    So if you're broken beyond measure
    and you don't know what to do.
    God specializes in broken things
    so His glory can shine through.

    --Lenora McWhorter

  • The Work of Life and Rest - Friday, September 14th

    Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work. Exodus 20:9-10A

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Today, we wrap up our week of looking at instructions from Scripture regarding the subject of "work." At the beginning of the week we talked briefly about "rest" the counterpart of "work" and said we would come back to it at the end of the week. It seems that there are two major struggles people have with work: getting started and getting stopped. Some of us struggle with one or the other and some struggle with both. However, very few of us find the right balance between work and rest.

    In today’s Scripture we see that in the Old Testament system, God's requirements for his people provided very specifically for this balance between work and rest. In the New Testament system God employs the principle of Sabbath rest rather than the specific Sabbath day rest of the Old Testament. We see this in Hebrews 4:6-11, where it says, “Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.”

    This passage captures the shift to the New Covenant relationship God has with His people. So, the primary emphasis of Sabbath/rest for us is spiritual. God is at work in us to produce a life through us that corresponds with Who He is and all He desires for us. 1 Corinthians 3:16 deals with this shift as well: “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” We must rest from our own works and let the Spirit work in and through us. This is the Sabbath rest God has for His people today.

    This does not mean that we escape work. We will need to work hard at all of life. Notice what Colossians 3:17, 23-24 has to say, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father …. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.” It is God’s plan that we work heartily at all he gives us to do. But as temples of God indwelled by the Holy Spirit, the work we give ourselves to and the work that comes forth from us must always be God’s doing.

    In addition to the primary emphasis of Sabbath/rest we must give ourselves to the secondary emphasis of Sabbath/rest as well. Here we are looking at the concept behind the Old Covenant understanding of Sabbath/rest. While Sabbath observance is not carried forward, the concept of resting from human activity is. We should be devoted to hard work but not so devoted that we don’t build necessary rest into our lives.

    So, Sabbath/rest is first, a new covenant concept that deals with the inward spiritual reality of entering God’s rest, whereby we rest from work generated by us in favor of work generated by Him in and through us; and second, the need to rest from the human activity (the concept behind the Old Covenant understanding of Sabbath/rest). The idea of resting from human activity includes the physical rest of sleep, as well as the need for breaking away from routine responsibilities in favor of recreational rest (this is multi-faceted and includes daily breaks, days off, vacations, etc.).

    Let’s conclude with Matthew 11:28-30, where it says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Sabbath is all about rest. Jesus is the Lord of the Sabbath and the Lord of rest. Most of us are weary and heavy-laden and desperately in need of rest on all levels. We have much to learn about Sabbath rest and Jesus invites us to come and learn from Him. He is gentle and humble in heart and waiting to give rest to our souls. He will do it if we will come to Him. He really means it when He says His yoke (work) is easy and His burden is light.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Come up with your own prayer response today (for the whole week) that incorporates some "good" wisdom that has truly touched your soul.

    He who gets wisdom loves his own soul; he who keeps understanding will find good. Proverbs 19:8

  • The Work of Life and Integrity - Thursday, September 13th

    Godly people find life; evil people find death. The Lord detests people with crooked hearts, but he delights in those with integrity. Proverbs 11:19-20

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Someone has said, "integrity has no need of rules." It has also been said, "It's easy to maintain your integrity when no one is offering to buy it." And then there is this quote, "One of the truest tests of integrity is its blunt refusal to be compromised." The integration of integrity into every aspect of our work is essential and the following Scriptures from the book of Proverbs will greatly help with that. Please read through them and write down things that stand out to you. What is the one thing that resonates the most with you? Finally, identify one change you need to make in your life in regard to "integrity."

    Wealth created by a lying tongue is a vanishing mist and a deadly trap. Proverbs 21:6

    Don’t cheat your neighbor by moving the ancient boundary markers set up by previous generations. Do you see any truly competent workers? They will serve kings rather than working for ordinary people. Proverbs 22:28-29

    The Lord detests the use of dishonest scales, but he delights in accurate weights. Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. Honesty guides good people; dishonesty destroys treacherous people. Proverbs 11:1-3

    Better is a poor man who walks in his integrity than he who is perverse in speech and is a fool. Proverbs 19:1

    Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold. Proverbs 22:1

    Better to have little, with godliness, than to be rich and dishonest. Proverbs 16:8

    Those who follow the right path fear the Lord; those who take the wrong path despise him. Proverbs 14:2

    Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor. Proverbs 21:21

    “Integrity” - if there was ever a word that captures the heartbeat of what it means to be a Christian, it is the word integrity. Yes, there are all the wonderful words of our Christian faith like redemption, grace, forgiveness, salvation, etc., but without integrity they are just words. The person who has integrity is a person who is genuine; they are the real deal. The greatest trial for Christianity over the centuries has come from those who claim to be adherents but are not genuine. There have been and continue to be many for whom integrity in regard to their Christian faith is missing and so they are not to be counted among those who are the real deal.

    "Integrity" is being put before us in a rather strong manner. The purpose for this is not to make us feel guilty, but to inspire us to a "higher plane" or "higher road." There are those who have not come to genuine faith in Christ and stand in need of true salvation. Our prayer for them is that they would embrace Christ for all that he is and has done so that they become recipients of eternal redemption and are put squarely on the path of becoming all that they can become through Christ. However, our concern today is for the rest of us. We are those who have been redeemed and there are probably very few of us who do not need to be put more squarely on the path of becoming all that we can become through Christ. We need to be inspired to this higher path and the key is integrity and that is our hope and prayer for today.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, forgive me for all the ways my walk has not matched my talk. Lord, in all the nitty-gritty areas of my life and work, like those today's Proverbs put before me, help me to have "integrity" like I've never had before. I want to walk with you 24/7 and I want it to be clearly seen by all the world that I am the real deal. Amen!

  • The Work of Life and Diligence - Wednesday, September 12th

    Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper. Proverbs 13:4

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Today’s Scripture speaks to our need for diligence in our work. The Scriptures below from Proverbs include many things about "work" and “diligence.” Please read through them and write down things that stand out to you. What is the one thing that resonates the most with you? Finally, identify one change you need to make in your life in regard to “diligence.”

    Despite their desires, the lazy will come to ruin, for their hands refuse to work. Proverbs 21:25

    The lazy person claims, “There’s a lion on the road! Yes, I’m sure there’s a lion out there!” As a door swings back and forth on its hinges, so the lazy person turns over in bed. Lazy people take food in their hand but don’t even lift it to their mouth. Proverbs 26:13-15

    Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and become a slave. Proverbs 12:24

    Work brings profit, but mere talk leads to poverty! Proverbs 14:23

    Wealth from get-rich-quick schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows over time. Proverbs 13:11

    Lazy people don’t even cook the game they catch, but the diligent make use of everything they find. Proverbs 12:27

    The "now generation" term was coined sometime after World War II in the midst of an unparalleled age of prosperity that began and continues on even now. It is a term that captures a dynamic that no one in our present culture can escape entirely. Someone has said: “We live in a culture of instant gratification versus investment in activities with rewards accruing over time or in the long term. Our sense of achievement is no longer based on a goal but on quick changes to the latest and greatest things. The fact that things are more accessible than rewarding experiences is a real problem.”

    Quite insightful stuff that helps us get a handle on some of what contributes to a "now" way of thinking and approach to life. We need to know what makes us tick. We need to address the things that are true of us that interfere with our living lives that really count. Living for the "immediate" is a real problem that interferes with our ability to be diligent in our work and it carries over and gets in the way of our truly living for Christ and his kingdom. Self-centeredness, materialism, gratification, etc. must be overcome. We must become ones who are diligent in our work for the long haul in an outward, serving way. The more we become this kind of person and the more our goal is Christ and his kingdom, the more our life will count for eternity.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, teach me how to be diligent in my work. Each and every day, help me to care deeply about other people in the midst of everything you give me to do. May my life bless those around me in ways that impact them for your kingdom, Lord. Deliver me from the scourge of the "immediate" and fill my life with that which truly counts for the "long haul." Amen!

  • The Work of Life and Preparation - Tuesday, September 11th

    Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones. Learn from their ways and become wise! Though they have no prince or governor or ruler to make them work, they labor hard all summer, gathering food for the winter. But you lazybones, how long will you sleep? When will you wake up? A little extra sleep, a little more slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest - then poverty will pounce on you like a bandit; scarcity will attack you like an armed robber. Proverbs 6:6-11

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Today’s Scripture is all about accomplishing our work in a timely manner so that we are ready and prepared for what lies ahead. This is an important reality of life and includes the vital component of “planning our work.” The Scriptures below from Proverbs include many things about "work" and “planning.” To comment on all of them would be too much. Please read through the Proverbs and write down things that stand out to you. What is the one thing that resonates the most with you? Finally, identify one change you need to make in your life in regard planning and preparation.

    Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty. Proverbs 21:5

    The Lord detests evil plans, but he delights in pure words. Greed brings grief to the whole family, but those who hate bribes will live. Proverbs 15:26-27

    We can make our own plans, but the Lord gives the right answer. People may be pure in their own eyes, but the Lord examines their motives. Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. Proverbs 16:1-3

    We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9

    There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death. Proverbs 16:25

    The old adage, "plan your work and work you plan" rings true. The work to which we give ourselves is all-important. Always, we want our work, the plans we have for doing that work, the attitudes and motives we bring to our work, and the overall course of our lives to be fully aligned with God and his ways.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you that you are always at work. I sense that you are at work in my life right now in some very special ways. Where I am too lax in the management of my life, help me to be more deliberate and focused. Where I am too uptight and controlling in the management of my life, help me to be more relaxed and dependent on you. I commit myself to you, Lord, and the changes you want to make in my life. Amen!

  • The Work of Life and Instruction - Monday, September 10th

    The wages of the righteous is life, the income of the wicked, punishment. He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, but he who ignores reproof goes astray. Proverbs 10:16-17 (NASB)

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Primarily, when we think of "work," we think of our occupations. But certainly, in the broader sense, all of life is work. The Bible says, we "reap what we sow." Generally, we get out of something in proportion to what we put into it. So, yes, life is work, but we can also say, the right kind of work is life. Today’s Scripture tells us that when we do the work of living right, we earn "life." The reality is though, that a significant part of right living is right work (in the occupational sense) and so, we need to pay close attention to what the Bible says about it. We must always remember that “He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, but he who ignores reproof goes astray.”

    Throughout the week we will look at a number of instructions regarding work (in the occupational sense). We will conclude the week by looking at “rest,” the counterpart of "work." We are going to touch on “rest” today in order to establish a bigger context for our considerations on the subject of "work." It seems that there are two major struggles people have with work: getting started and getting stopped. Some of us struggle with one or the other and some struggle with both. However, very few of us find the right balance between work and rest.

    Exodus 20:9-10A says, “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work.” In the Old Testament system God's requirements for his people provided very specifically for this balance between work and rest. The New Testament system employs the principle of Sabbath rest rather than the specific Sabbath day rest of the Old Testament (We will come back to this on Saturday). So, as we move through the week considering Biblical instructions on the subject of work, we will keep the need for balance between work and rest in view.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I pray that you will help me to heed instruction and not ignore reproof. Set me more fully on the path of life in regard to "work" throughout the coming week. May it be that I become one who lives right because I learn to work right. May you be glorified through my work. Amen!

  • "Stand In Faith" - An Inspirational Poem for Sunday, September 9th

    Stand In Faith

    Stand in faith
    Even when you can’t see your way
    Stand in faith
    Even when you feel like you can’t face another day
    Stand in faith
    Even when the tears want to flow from your eyes
    Stand in faith
    Knowing that our God will always provide
    Stand in faith
    Even when you feel that all hope is gone
    Stand in faith
    Knowing that He is always there for you to lean on
    Stand in faith
    Even when you feel like giving up
    Stand in faith
    Because He is there ... saying, "Just look up"
    Stand in faith
    Even in those times you feel so all alone
    Stand in faith
    Hold on and be strong, for He is still on the throne
    Stand in faith
    Even when it’s hard to believe
    Stand in faith
    Knowing that He can change your situation, suddenly
    Stand in faith
    Even in those times you feel it’s hard to pray
    Stand in faith
    And believe that He has already made the way
    Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen
    So stand in faith
    Because you already have the victory!

    --Evangelist Johnnye V. Chandler

  • Treasure: The Word of Christ - Saturday, September 8th

    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

    Today's thoughts from today's verse:

    Today’s Scripture makes a very significant statement when it says, “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them.” Our passage calls this “the word of reconciliation.” Reconciliation comes through Christ who died on the cross to make it possible for us not to have our trespasses counted against us. Our passage says, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf.” It is because of this that we do not have or trespasses counted against us and we become reconciled to God. But these words from our passage, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf,” are immediately followed by these words, “so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

    We are reconciled to God through Christ so that Christ can live in us through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Christ then does a work of transformation in us through the indwelling of the Spirit so that we actually “become the righteousness of God in Him.” Yes, as ones who have been reconciled to God in Christ we have the word of reconciliation committed to us and are called to be ambassadors for Christ. However, we will not be taken very seriously by others, if our own reconciliation to God is not accompanied by a transformed life. The “word of reconciliation” and the “word of transformation” combine to give us the “word of Christ.”

    The “word of Christ” is the message of what Christ can do in a person’s life and the amazing difference he makes. This week’s devotionals have focused on the glorious “treasure” Christ is to us. In this week’s devotionals we have looked at the “The Face of Christ,” “The Fragrance of Christ, “The Adequacy of Christ,” “The Image of Christ,” and “The Love of Christ.” These considerations give us a lot of help with grasping all that we have in Christ and all that we can become in Christ. Remember, the more Christ does in us, the more he can do through us as ambassadors of Christ. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels.” Jesus Christ is the key to having a regret free life.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I give you the center place in my life. I commit myself to seeking your presence as the single most important activity of my life. I do not want you to be buried treasure in my life and I know this is the key to my life bringing a full return on the investment you have made in me. I want my life to count and I want it to be regret free. Your will be done O, Lord. May you be truly honored and glorified in my life. Amen!

  • Treasure: The Love of Christ - Friday, September 7th

    For the love of Christ controls us, having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died; and He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf. Therefore, from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. 2 Corinthians 5:14-16

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Today’s Scripture begins with the all-important words, “For the love of Christ controls us.” A consideration of these words requires that we sort out who is loving who. “Love of Christ” can be understood as “our” love of Christ or the love of Christ that comes from him to us. It is both and yet it is not both. It is both in that the experience of our relationship with Christ involves both his loving us and our loving him. It is just one of the two in that one is contained in the other. When the sun shines the stars disappear. If for a moment we truly experienced Christ loving us (not merely just enjoying the fact that he loves us), we would be so overwhelmed by his love (the love of Christ controls) that we would have a love for him that would strip away all our self-absorption and petty preoccupation with so many things that matter so very little.

    When we get to this spot, these words from our passage will become true of us: “He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.” When Christ and his love flood our souls, we can no longer live for ourselves. We are so liberated by the love of Christ that we love him, and him alone; and all other things in and for him. What an amazing thing it is to be liberated by the love of Christ and then to be controlled by love of Christ.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I know I am in a love relationship with you but I confess that I avail myself so little of the experience of your love. Show me how to come before you so that I am truly with you in a real and powerful way. Certainly, I want the experience of love, but more importantly I want to be set free to live fully for you and I see now that it all flows from being wrapped up in your love moment by moment. Amen!

  • Treasure: The Image of Christ - Thursday, September 6th

    Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We know that Christ lives within us through the Holy Spirit and that he is manifested to us in the personal experience of looking into his face. Today’s Scripture speaks of “beholding the glory of the Lord” which is the same thing as seeing the face of Christ. Seeing the face of Christ is the spiritual awareness that we are in his presence. When we are prayerfully aware of the presence of Christ we are in communion with him and beholding the face of Christ becomes an intimate personal experience of being with him and worshiping him. Our passage shows us what happens when we regularly behold the face of Christ. It says that we “are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord.” Beholding “the face of Christ” results in our being transformed into “the image of Christ.”

    To put it more simply: the more we spend time in Christ’s presence the more he rubs off on us and the more he rubs off on us the more we become like him through the special inner working of the Holy Spirit. But what will we look like when this inner working of the Holy Spirit to make us like Christ takes place? We can hardly do better than Galatians 5:22-23 for a clear and practical description: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” What a beautiful thing it is to be freed from trying to be like Christ (law keeping) in favor of just learning to spend time in his presence and letting the Holy Spirit do the work of changing us into “the image of Christ.” Our passage says, “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, here I am just seeking your face and believing I am in your presence. You are beautiful and wonderful beyond description. I love you, I worship you, I glorify you, I praise you, I adore you. I trust you, I rest in you, I am free in you, I abide in you. Lord, I yield my life to you and all the wonderful changes you want to make in me. I am truly blessed. Amen!

  • Treasure: The Adequacy of Christ - Wednesday, September 5th

    Such confidence we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 2 Corinthians 3:4-6

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    As believers in Christ in today’s world it is not uncommon for us to struggle with feelings of missing out on God’s best for us. When we look forward we long for a different outcome than we have known so far. When we look back we bemoan all the ways we have fallen short. Back and forth we go between the future and the past and we never really address the present. We really feel that we are inadequate to have a successful next moment in the pursuit of living fully for God. Today’s Scripture does much to restore our perspective and hope that we can successfully live fully for God in the present. Our passage begins with the recognition that we are not adequate in ourselves. Now, we already know this, but because we think it is a bad thing, our sense of inadequacy compounds our struggle with becoming ones who live fully for God. But if we truly start viewing our sense of inadequacy as a good thing, we are headed in the right direction.

    It is really hard for us to give up wanting and trying to be adequate in ourselves. Getting it right in the Christian life does not come from our own efforts to conform to the expectations we think God has for us. We will always be inadequate in succeeding and we will always end up stuck in the mire of failure. Our passage goes on to say, “our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate.” Getting it right is all about trusting Christ to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. This what the New Covenant is all about. When we trust Christ as our Savior we are cleansed, we become temples of the Holy Spirit. As such we are indwelled by the Holy Spirit who works from the inside out, powerfully helping us to become all that God desires for us to be and to fulfill through us all that He desires for us to do.

    Just like a person must give up on there being any way to be right with God except through the forgiveness and cleansing of sin through Christ, they must give up on any way to live the Christian life except through Christ by means of the Holy Spirit living it in and through them. Truly, inadequacy leads to adequacy because it causes us to pursue God who alone is adequate and who alone can make us adequate for all that he has in mind for us. Here is how it works: The more we pursue God, the more we will know and experience him. The more we know and experience God, the more his adequacy fills us. The more his adequacy fills us, the more we become adequate servants of the new covenant (vital links that successfully do their part in God’s plan of reaching the world with his provision of redemption and change through Jesus Christ by means of the Holy Spirit).

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I confess that I am inadequate in myself for becoming all you want me to become and for doing all you want me to do. Help me to fully look to you in the present so that in full faith and dependence I can confidently address each next moment and take each next step in living fully for you. Thank you for being the adequacy of my life and the true significance of my life. Amen!

  • Treasure: The Fragrance of Christ - Tuesday, September 4th

    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. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things? For we are not like many, peddling the word of God, but as from sincerity, but as from God, we speak in Christ in the sight of God. 2 Corinthians 2:14-17

    Today's thoughts from today's verse:

    Today’s Scripture uses the word, “manifest.” One dictionary renders the meaning of manifest in this way: “to show something such as a feeling or ability, so that it is easy to notice” We are in a relationship with Christ and our relationship with him should result in our lives showing forth something that is easy to notice. It is very interesting that our passage speaks of a “sweet aroma” being manifest through us in every place. We know that somehow this “sweet aroma” is connected to our relationship with Christ but our passage is more specific. We are told that it is “the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him.” What is the “knowledge of Him” referring to and in what way is it a “sweet aroma?”

    Our passage is not talking about having knowledge about Christ where we have the right understandings and doctrines associated with him. Rather our passage is talking about our “knowing Christ.” Factual knowledge is all about information. Experiential knowledge is all about relationship. Knowing and experiencing Christ in the intimate relationship he has established with us is the focus here. Evidently, the more we know and experience Christ in the intimate relationship we have with him, the more our lives give off a “sweet aroma” that is easy for others to notice.

    Think about walking into your home and smelling the “sweet aroma” of good food cooking. It makes you want to sit down and eat a delicious meal. As we grow in our relationship with Christ and get to know him better and better and experience him more and more, other people will easily notice the “sweet aroma” of our lives. They know something good is “cookin” inside of us that is manifesting a “sweet aroma” that is making them hungry for what they sense is happening to us. When our lives impact others in this way, we are a “fragrance of Christ” to them and the opportunities come to share the message of Christ as well.

    One other thought. It would seem that not everybody likes the smell of good things “cookin” through our experience with Christ. There will always be those who are repelled by what is happening to us through our relationship with Christ instead of being drawn to him. This is a reality of life although a hard reality. But we can delight that we are a “fragrance of Christ” that wonderfully benefits some. We can see why the Apostle Paul began today’s passage with these wonderful words, “thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ.”

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for your faithfulness to me and the good things that are always “cookin” in me because of my relationship with you. Help me stay close to you so that there is always a sweet aroma coming forth from my life to others. Keep using me to draw others to you. Give me opportunity to talk with others about what they “sense” is happening in my life. Please lead me in your “triumph.” Grant that my life will really count in all the days that lay ahead for me. Amen!

  • Treasure: The Face of Christ - Monday, September 3rd

    For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves. 2 Corinthians 4:5-7

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Today’s Scripture includes this sentence, “we have this treasure in earthen vessels.” What is the treasure? and what are the earthen vessels? We are the earthen vessels and the manifestation of Christ is the treasure. Christ is manifested into our hearts by God. Christ within us is manifested to us in the personal experience of looking into his face. And Christ is manifested to others as he shines out from within us to others. Christians talk a lot about how wonderful Christ is and would certainly consider him a treasure. They are thankful for the gift of salvation, his care of them, his guidance, his protection, etc. Christians speak of having a relationship with Christ and yet they often miss the treasure of having Christ fully manifested in their lives.

    What kind of relationship would you have with another person if you didn’t have an ongoing face to face experience with that person. If having a face to face relationship with Christ is what was intended and we get to the end of our lives without having really experienced him in this way, we will be filled with regret. But for many of us this kind of manifestation of Christ is rather mysterious and elusive. How do we have a face to face relationship with Christ when we cannot see him with our physical eyes. Seeing Christ with the eyes of faith is the key. Seeing the face of Christ is the spiritual awareness that we are in his presence. When we are prayerfully aware of the presence of Christ we are in communion with him and beholding the face of Christ becomes an intimate personal experience of worshiping him.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, help me be aware of your presence within me on a regular basis. Teach me to behold your face in the intimacy of communion with you in prayer. Surely the more I am with you in this way the more my life will be transformed and the more you will be honored and glorified. And surely the more I am transformed the more others will see you shining out from within me. Help me not to miss you and the closeness of your presence. I love you and worship you, Lord and I see that your face is beautiful. Amen!

  • "Life's Daily Doses" - An Inspirational Poem for Sunday, September 2nd

    Life's Daily Doses

    Life is measured in daily doses
    Of trials and pleasures each.
    Day by day grace is dispensed
    To meet our immediate needs.

    Comfort comes to the weary
    We find that which we seek.
    A bridge is built at the river
    And power is given to the weak.

    One day's load we have to bear
    As we travel on life's way.
    Wisdom is given for the occasion
    And strength to equal each day.

    We are never required to stagger
    Under tomorrow's heavy load.
    We journey one day at a time
    As we travel life's rugged road.

    God's mercy is new every morning
    And His faithfulness is sure.
    God perfects all that concerns us
    And by our faith, we will endure.

    --Lenora McWhorter

  • Endurance at Living Fully, Generates Blessing - Saturday, September 1st

    God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Earlier in the week we saw the Christian life likened to a “race’ that God sets before us. God’s race is all about the advancement of his kingdom and not the advancement of earthly life. Our redemption in Christ is all about moving away from the pursuit of “living fully” for ourselves to “living fully” for God. No longer are we to run in the “rat race” of life but we are to run in the “race set before us” by God. It is a challenge to run well in “God’s race” when all around us people are caught up in the “rat race” of life. Truly we need endurance if we are going to have fulfilled in our lives that which God has called us to.

    To help us have endurance for running the race that God has set before us, we looked at Jesus for our model. Jesus needed endurance when he was here on earth accomplishing our redemption. Here is what the Scripture we looked at said, “Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” This leads rather nicely into today’s passage. The key word is “afterward.” Jesus kept focused on what awaited him afterward and we must do the same. It is a constant challenge to go in one direction when the world is going in another. This path is filled with testing and temptation.

    There is so much that militates against our living fully for God and the advancement of his kingdom. We feel the constant pull to live for ourselves and the advancement of earthly life. Knowing that God blesses those who patiently endure is huge. This means that his favor rests on those who endure; it means that he is pleased with those who stick with living fully for him and the advancement of his kingdom. These are the ones who afterward will receive the crown of life God has promised. Salvation is a free gift that is equally distributed to all who have believed. But, rewards for the life we live subsequent to placing our faith in Christ are not equally distributed. It all comes down to running “God’s race” with endurance.

    The “crown of life” is merely an acknowledgement that we “endured” and ran well. But remember that the Christian life is a life of dependence on Jesus Christ who lives in us through the Holy Spirit. We are told in Scripture that in heaven when all is said and done we will cast our crowns at the feet of Jesus. “Looking to Jesus and keeping our eyes fixed on him” is the key to endurance. Dependence on him is how we run the race well. Knowing that rewards await that we can give back to Jesus for his glory and honor because of all that he will have enabled us to do, keeps us going steady and strong now. One last thing: living fully for God always begins and ends with loving him fully. So much awaits us as ones who love God fully and live for him fully for the long haul.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    (We are going to let “Lord’s Prayer” from Mathew 6:9-13 serve as our prayer response today)

    “Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us today the food we need, and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. And don’t let us yield to temptation, but rescue us from the evil one.” Amen!

  • Endurance at Living Fully, Discovers Gratitude - Friday, August 31st

    But thanks be to God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. 1 Corinthians 15:57-58

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Romans 1:18-32 gives to us an amazingly comprehensive account of the downward spiral of mankind that is both startling and sobering in its description. Here is some of what it says about the downward spiral of mankind: “Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused …. They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen (Romans 1:21, 25). Take the time to read today’s Scripture again, noting the contrast between the two passages and how fully opposite they are from each other.

    One of the contrasts between the two passages is in regard to gratitude. The people in the 1 Corinthian passage are ones who give thanks to God, while the people in the Romans passage are ones who refuse to give thanks to God. Where a person is in regard to being thankful to God is a great way to measure their overall response to God. The person who will not respond to God with a heart of gratitude will be someone who is not responsive to God on any level. The ungrateful person is wrapped up in themselves. They are consumed with the here and now and how they can extract from the world the best possible return for their labors. They think they are getting the world to serve them when in reality they are serving it and have become worshipers of created things.

    Those who give themselves unreservedly to working for the things of the world are worshipers of the world, while those who “work enthusiastically for the Lord,” are worshipers of God. Worshipers of God can work for God and want to work for God because they have been redeemed to do so. Living for self, the world, and the pursuit of the things of the world to satisfy self is the pathway of sin and death. The central thing worshipers of God give thanks for, is the victory he gives over the (pathway) of sin and death through Jesus Christ. Surely we are grateful for our redemption, but we can grow weary of going God’s way in the midst of a world that is going the other way. A gratitude check can make all the difference.

    Consider afresh the victory that is ours through our Lord Jesus Christ and let God fill your heart with gratitude. Then you will be able to courageously heed these words from our passage: “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable.” Do you see the wonderful connection between endurance and gratitude? Let the connection become full and the final words of our passage will become true in your life: “Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you, thank you, thank you. I am redeemed from a futile way of life and I am your worshiper. I want to grow more and more into one who can “work enthusiastically for the Lord.” Help me “be strong and immovable” in living fully for you and the advancement of your kingdom here on earth. Thanks for the gift of endurance. Amen!

  • Endurance at Living Fully, Enjoys Love - Thursday, August 30th

    Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:1-5

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Today’s passage overflows with so much of what we are considering in our devotionals this week. Literally, the bottom line of our passage is this: “For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” Truly, when it comes to endurance in our Christian experience, the bottom line is God’s love. Andrew Murray is a Christian author who has been a mentor to me. I was looking in my files for an article he wrote on God’s love when I came across an excerpt from his book: “The Deeper Christian Life.”

    I have selected a portion of it to serve as the focus of today’s devotional. We know God loves us and that knowledge helps to keep us going. But experiencing God’s love as we abide in his presence moment by moment, day after day, is a whole different ball game. The portion that follows is from a chapter on “Daily Fellowship with God” and will serve wonderfully to help move us forward in our ability to experience God’s presence and love. And that my friends will do an awful lot to increase our endurance in powerful and lasting ways.

    The following excerpt is from Andrew Murray's book:

    "Deeper Christian Life – Daily Fellowship with God"

    “The first and chief need of our Christian life is, Fellowship with God. The Divine life within us comes from God, and is entirely dependent upon Him. As every moment I need air to breathe afresh, as every moment the sun sends down its light afresh, so it is only in direct living communication with God that my soul can be strong. The manna of one day was corrupt when the next day came. I must every day have fresh grace from heaven, and I obtain it only in direct waiting upon God Himself. Begin each day by tarrying before God, and letting Him touch you. Take time to meet God.”

    “To this end, let your first act in your devotion be a setting yourself still before God. In prayer, or worship, everything depends upon God taking the chief place. I must bow quietly before Him in humble faith and adoration, speaking within my heart in this way: “God is. God is near. God is love, longing to communicate Himself to me. God the Almighty One, who is working all in all, is even now waiting to work in me, and make Himself known.” Take time, till you know God is very near.”

    “When you have given God His place of honor, glory, and power, take your place of deepest lowliness, and seek to be filled with the Spirit of humility. As a creature it is your blessedness to be nothing that God may be all in you. As a sinner you are not worthy to look up to God; bow in self-abasement. As a saint, let God’s love overwhelm you, and bow you still lower down. Sink down before Him in humility, meekness, patience, and surrender to His goodness and mercy. He will exalt you. Oh! Take time, to get very low before God.”

    “Then accept and value your place in Christ Jesus. God delights in nothing but His beloved Son, and can be satisfied with nothing else in those who draw nigh to Him. Enter deep into God’s holy presence in the boldness which the blood gives, and in the assurance that in Christ you are most well pleasing. In Christ you are within the veil. You have access into the very heart and love of the Father. This is the great object of fellowship with God, that I may have more of God in my life, and that God may see Christ formed in me. Be silent before God and let Him bless you.”

    “This Christ is a living Person. He loves you with a personal love, and He looks every day for the personal response of your love. Look into His face with trust, till His love really shines into your heart. Make His heart glad by telling Him that you do love Him. He offers Himself to you as a personal Savior and Keeper from the power of sin. Do not ask, can I be kept from sinning, if I keep close to Him? But ask can I be kept from sinning, if He always keeps close to me? And you see at once how safe it is to trust Him.”

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Since the words of Andrew Murray sought to guide us into a deeper encounter with God’s presence and love, it would be fitting for each of us to make our own personal response to God today.

  • Endurance at Living Fully, Embraces Hope - Wednesday, August 29th

    We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation …. Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance …. So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. Hebrews 6:9B, 11-12, 18-19A

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The story of God’s dealings with mankind, his promises to us, and the amazing way he brings it all together as he works everything out, is what the Bible is all about. For a simple statement of how it all relates to us as real, everyday people, we can do no better than John 10:10B, where it says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” In the middle of all that God is doing, we find these words to be his personal and practical promise to each of us. But God knows something that we would never come up with on our own. He knows that our having the full life does not come when we focus on ourselves but when we focus outwardly.

    Jesus is the one who came that we might “have life, and have it to the full.” While he was here he said, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:37-39). Do you see the outward focus of what is important to God? The full life comes from living fully for God and others. Jesus came to redeem us from living fully for ourselves. When we put our faith in Christ and his sacrifice on the cross for our sins we are redeemed so that we can love God and others fully.

    Loving God and loving others is “life” indeed and God’s promise to us is that we can “have it to the full.” Read today’s Scripture again, keeping all we have been considering in mind. We need to go forward fully loving God and loving others. This is the stuff of God’s kingdom but for this we need endurance. Our passage today wonderfully connects endurance with hope. Hope is not “hope so” but rather “know so.” It is the confident “knowing” ahead of time that God is going to fulfill his promises regarding his kingdom. Hope is more of a “knowing of the heart” than it is a “knowing of the mind.” Hope goes hand in hand with faith and together they are a great boost to our ability to keep going (endurance). With a heart full of hope we will have the full life, a life of loving God and others fully.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, deliver me from being spiritually sluggish and indifferent. Release me from living for myself. You are the refuge I flee to so that I might have great confidence that your promise of the truly full life will come about in my actual experience. Lord, I hold on to you and the hope that lies before me. The hope of my becoming one who truly loves you and others fully, is a strong and trustworthy anchor for my soul. Amen!

  • Endurance at Living Fully, Demands Faith - Tuesday, August 28th

    Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised. For in just a little while, the Coming One will come and not delay. And my righteous ones will live by faith. But I will take no pleasure in anyone who turns away. But we are not like those who turn away from God to their own destruction. We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved. Hebrews 10:36-39

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    As believers in Christ we have launched out on the path of living fully for God. We have been given a relationship with God through redemption which Jesus Christ secured on our behalf. Through our relationship with God we are learning to do his will. Today’s Scripture deals with a concern that God has for his people. God is concerned that his people continue to do his will through to the end of their lives or until Christ returns. We are told that those who continue to do God’s will for the long haul are those who will receive what he has promised. We are told that patient endurance is what we need in order for this to happen.

    The focal point of our passage, however, is faith, which means that our passage is showing us how to have “endurance through faith.” In order to discover the benefit of what our passage teaches us about “endurance through faith,” we need to pinpoint both what it is God “promised” us and what aspect of “faith” is in view here? The key to answering both these questions is found in the last part of our passage where it says, “We are the faithful ones, whose souls will be saved.” What do you think about our passage speaking of “being saved” as something that happens in the future?

    1 Peter 1:3-5 can help us with this. It says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected (kept) by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” Notice that being “born again” is something in the past and “salvation” is something in the future. Actually, it speaks of salvation being “revealed” in the last time and this just means that our salvation will be finalized.

    Here’s how it works: We are born again in the past - redemption; we obtain the inheritance of heaven in the future – glorification: and we are protected (kept) by the power of God through faith in the present (in between) – sanctification. Our Salvation is all of this: redemption, sanctification, and glorification. It is the time “in between” our new birth and our being safe in “heaven” which is in view in our passage. God has “promised” to transform our lives here and now and we must “trust” him for it. Faith in the power of God will keep us from turning away. Instead of slipping back to living for ourselves and our own comfort and security (his displeasure), we will walk with God by “faith” and steadily become all that he wants us to become (his pleasure) as we do his will by sacrificially serving him and his kingdom throughout (endurance) our lifetime (living fully).

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I put my faith in you so that I will have the endurance I need to stay on track with you. I trust you and your power to keep me from slipping back into regretful ways. I know you will help “endurance by faith” to become a greater reality in my life. It is your pleasure I live for and I am confident that I am truly among those who are “your faithful ones.” Amen!

  • Endurance at Living Fully, Anticipates Joy - Monday, August 27th

    Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Hebrews 12:1-2

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The other day I was sitting at the kitchen table and noticed a box of gluten free crackers setting there with this on the label: “live fully.” After some thought, I realized the brand was saying to gluten free people that their product was a good enough replacement for what the gluten free person has had to miss out on in their diet, that they could once again “live fully” by using this line of products. In the living of life, people everywhere pursue things they think are missing from their lives in the hope that those things will help them live fully.

    Wanting a full life is a universal desire, but what makes life full varies from person to person. What is in your life that you have worked for that is on your personal list of things that make life full? What is it that’s on your list that is still missing from your life that you yearn to add to your life to make it more full? That “dream list” that we have for ourselves is often the central culprit for why we don’t really live fully. How many people get to the end of their lives and realize the life they lived included things they shouldn’t have lived for at all, things they should have lived for more fully, and things they should have lived for and missed all together?

    As followers of Christ we understand the shift that comes to us through redemption. We are called to move away from the pursuit of “living fully” for ourselves to “living fully” for God. But even so, our “Dream List” of the past often trips us up and slows us down. We are no longer in the “rat race” of life but in the “race set before us” by God. Today’s Scripture calls us to run this race with “endurance.” We are so prone to growing weary and getting worn down and we become susceptible to defaulting back to the “dream list.” For most of us our dream lists are filled with things that have to do with our personal comfort. Gaining, maintaining, and adding new comforts is what the “rat race” of life is all about.

    Comfort is not what the “race set before us” is all about. God’s “race” is all about the advancement of his kingdom and not the advancement of earthly life. Truly, we have need of endurance and the key to endurance is found in “keeping our eyes on Jesus.” As we keep the eyes of our heart fixed on Jesus and his immediate presence in our lives we will know his strength and encouragement to keep running the race set before us. His presence will remind us of how he endured when he was here on earth accomplishing our redemption. Our passage says, “Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.”

    With our eyes on Jesus, we will anticipate the joy awaiting us at the end of the race, where we will know that we have lived fully for God when he says, “well done.” It will mean we did not settle for the lesser life of living for our own comfort and security. It will mean we chose a life of living sacrificially for God’s kingdom where people and relationships were the priority as God used us to bless them in ways that count for eternity. The “joy” of the finish line can truly help us endure so that we keep running well the race God has set before us.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I see myself in the middle of the shift from just living fully to living fully for you. Help me let go of the rat race and set my feet squarely on your kingdom track. Teach me “endurance through joy” so that I can run the race well and finish the race well. I want to live fully for you to the end. Amen!

  • "No Mistakes" - An Inspirational poem for Sunday, August 26th

    No Mistakes

    When my hopes fade
    And my dreams die.
    And I find no answer
    By asking why.

    I just keep on trusting
    And hang on to my faith.
    Because God is just
    He never makes mistakes.

    Should the storms come
    And trials I must face.
    When I find no solution
    I rest in God's grace.

    When life seems unfair
    And more than I can take.
    I look up to the Father
    He never makes mistakes.

    God sees our struggles
    And every bend in the road.
    But no mistake is ever made
    Cause He weighs every load.

    --Lenora McWhorter

  • Serving God’s Kingdom – Better Together - Saturday, August 25th

    Let us hold strong to the confession of our hope, never wavering, since the One who promised it to us is faithful. Let us consider how to inspire each other to greater love and to righteous deeds, not forgetting to gather as a community, as some have forgotten, but encouraging each other, especially as the day of His return approaches. Hebrews 10:23-25

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Today’s Scripture speaks of a promise from God. It is a promise that we need to hold on to strongly without wavering as he faithfully helps us fulfill our commitment to him and all that he has in mind for us. What is that promise?

    As for me (John the Baptist), I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. Matthew 3:11

    He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive.” John 7:38-39A

    Therefore, having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He (Jesus Christ) has poured fourth this which you both see and hear. Acts 2:33

    Peter said to them, “Repent and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself. Acts 2:38-39

    In Him (Jesus Christ), you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise. Ephesians 1:13

    We were reminded yesterday that God is at work in each of us and that he does so by means of the Holy Spirit. The life of God is in each of us because we are indwelled by the Holy Spirit of promise (verses above). Yes, we have received the Holy Spirit that was promised, but we need to hold on strong to the confession of our hope, which is that we will see the life of God fully manifested in our lives through the presence and work of the Holy Spirit. It was also said that our natural tendency is to slip away from being close to God and having his life be active and full in us. God uses the influence of his people on each other to keep this from happening. The life of God in us needs to be supported and encouraged by others who have the life of God within them.

    Ministering to each other in ways that support and encourage the life of God in each of us is the focus of today’s Scripture. But we are reminded of another natural tendency we have. In addition to our proneness to slipping away from a close relationship to God, we have the proneness of slipping away from close relationships with each other. Getting together regularly in community with other believers (small groups) is essential. Consistently meeting in ways the truly support and encourage the life of God in each other will make all the difference. Truly, we are better together when through our togetherness we are inspired “to greater love and to righteous deeds (sounds a bit like the fruit of the Spirit).”

    Earlier in the week we said this: “Staying close to God, following his ways, and serving the kingdom requires support from others who are seeking to do the same. When we each have a vital relationship with God, we will faithfully and effectively serve his kingdom and do his will on all levels, including impacting our world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A healthy church is God’s one and only means for reaching the world for Christ.”

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, may the “living waters” of the Holy Spirit bubble up out of me to encourage and inspire my brothers and sisters in Christ. May the “living waters” of the Holy Spirit bubble up in my brothers and sisters in Christ to encourage and inspire me. Lord, may a waiting and watching world be wonderfully impacted by us, your church, as they see “love and righteous deeds” flowing from your people. May they conclude that the only explanation for it is you. May they want you and respond to you as we faithfully share the reason for the hope that is within us. Amen!

  • Serving God’s Kingdom – Spirit Enabled - Friday, August 24th

    Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 1 Corinthians 12:4-7

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    “A member of a certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, stopped going. After a few weeks, the pastor decided to visit him. It was a chilly evening. The pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire. Guessing the reason for his pastor's visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a big chair near the fireplace and waited. The pastor made himself comfortable but said nothing. In the grave silence, he contemplated the play of the flames around the burning logs. After some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone. Then he sat back in his chair, still silent.

    The host watched all this in quiet fascination. As the one lone ember's flame diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and ‘dead as a door nail.’ Not a word had been spoken since the initial greeting. Just before the pastor was ready to leave, he picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it. As the pastor reached the door to leave, his host said, ‘Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I shall be back in church next Sunday.’”

    Glowing embers do not come about just because embers are in close proximity to each other. It is the fire and the fire alone that makes each ember glow. God is the fire in our lives and his life in us needs to be active and full in order for our lives to “glow” so to speak. Our natural tendency is to slip away from being close to God and having his life be active and full in us. God uses the influence of his people on each other to keep this from happening. Here’s how it works: when we see the reality of the life of God in another person glowing brightly, it encourages and challenges us to stay or get close to God so that his life in us is active and full. Conversely, when others see the reality of God in us glowing brightly, it similarly inspires them in their pursuit of the life of God.

    So, you need to surround yourself with those whose lives are glowing because the life of God is active and full within them. Without this you will become like the ember alone on the side of the hearth. With this you will have the encouragement and challenge you need from the Body of Christ (the church) to help you to live fully for God in the ways we have been talking about. You will then have a life that encourages and challenges others similarly. Today’s Scripture tells us that it is God who is at work in each of us. God works in and through us by means of the Holy Spirit. Our passage says, “To each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”

    Ministering to each other in ways that support and encourage the life of God in each of us is the main way that the Spirit manifests himself. But as our passage shows us, the Holy Spirit bestows gifts, ministries, and effects that are especially suited to each of us. When our lives glow brightly, because we are able to stay close to God and have his life be active and full in us, God will use us in some other very special ways. We can be confident that however the Spirit manifests himself in us, it will be for the common good of the Body of Christ and that it will have an awful lot to do with the amazing blessing of seeing the life of God alive and well in each other’s lives as we live fully for him day after day after day.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for the provision of your presence in my life and in other believers that helps me glow for you. I pray that you will fan the flame of your Spirit in me and fellow believers around me, so that we glow and grow more than ever before. I pray that your kingdom will be served abundantly as your Spirit enables us to experience the “common good” like never before. May a watching and waiting world be drawn to you because of it. Amen!

  • Serving God’s Kingdom – Growing Together - Thursday, August 23rd

    But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. Ephesians 4:15-16

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We have been talking about tracking well with God and the kingdom purposes he has for us. Regular involvement with others who are on the same journey where the primary focus is the exchange of ongoing mutual support and accountability is absolutely essential. However, the goal is not merely to keep from going off track, it is to track well and go forward with a full head of steam into the fullness of what God has for us. The fullness of what God has in store for us is a journey experienced in community with a set of fellow travelers. Yes, we have our own relationship with Christ and yes, there is an individual aspect involved with today’s Scripture which says, “we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ.” But it is inescapable that our passage is stressing how we grow up together into Christ our head.

    We said yesterday that being a part of a small group gives us the opportunity to surround ourselves with others who encourage, challenge, uplift, inspire, and celebrate the work of God in our hearts and lives. Today’s passage is a beautiful description of how that happens fully. If you are part of a small group, think about your small group as you read the description again: “We are to grow up into all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”

    This is a vital part of how the advancement of God’s kingdom works. Meeting with others who seek to grow up together into Christ, who look to him as their head and expect him to blend them together in just the right ways, who depend on him to orchestrate their involvement together with each other so that the contributions of the individuals in the group wonderfully benefit the whole group. When we are growing together with a special set of fellow travelers, our own relationship with Christ will blossom and we will become one whose life impacts the world around us in amazing ways.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I realize I cannot go it alone. Help me connect with a set of fellow travelers in the ways you have in mind. I am committed to growing together with others of like precious faith and I look forward to tracking well with a set of special people who go forward with a full head of steam into the fullness of what you have in store for them. Lord, Your kingdom come, Your will be done. Amen!

  • Serving God’s Kingdom – Mutually Accountable - Wednesday, August 22nd

    Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end. Hebrews 3:12-14

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    When we utter the words of the Lord’s Prayer, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done,” it is first and foremost a renewal of our commitment to pursue a life for ourselves that is aligned with God’s kingdom and will. The life God intends for us is all about serving his kingdom, but there is so much that militates against this happening as it should. The world is like a stream flowing away from God so that living for God and his kingdom is all upstream. The current of the world constantly seeks to pull us away from God and his ways. Going against the current of the world, staying close to God, following his ways, and serving the kingdom requires support from others who are seeking to do the same.

    This is what today’s Scripture is all about. Notice the words, “Take care, brethren.” We are not alone. God calls us to take care of each other. This is the central purpose for the church, the body of Christ, in today’s world. When we are committed to providing the mutual support and accountability we need, we can help each other maintain a close and vital relationship with God. When we each have a vital relationship with God, we will faithfully and effectively serve his kingdom and do his will on all levels, including impacting our world with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. A healthy church is God’s one and only means for reaching the world for Christ.

    This is why our church has a growing and developing small group ministry. It is in such settings that we can surround ourselves with others who encourage, challenge, uplift, inspire, and celebrate the work of God in our hearts and lives. We, too, help surround others in the same way. Our passage says it this way, “But encourage one another day after day” so that we “become partakers of Christ …. firm until the end.”

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for the mission you are on of permeating the world with your kingdom through your people. I am one of your people and I want to join you and serve you and your kingdom fully. Please provide the circle of support and accountability I need for staying on track. Help our church to blossom even more in becoming a “Take care, brethren” church. Amen!


  • Serving God’s Kingdom – Christ Centered - Tuesday, August 21st

    Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Colossians 3:15-17

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    You are you and I am me. You are not me and I am not you. You are nobody but you and I am nobody but me. This will never change. So, yes, your life is about you and my life is about me. But, no, your life is not about you and my life is not about me. We cannot escape ourselves and yet we are not to live for ourselves. Where are you and where am I in this whole business of living fully for God? When we come to Christ for salvation and make the choice to surrender, are we supposed to somehow disappear? No! we do not disappear. We are still very much in the picture but now so is Christ. How does all this work?

    As ones who serve God’s kingdom we must give Christ the center place of our lives and allow him to be genuinely in charge. But we are in a living relationship with Christ who is now at the center of our lives and in charge. So, we stay in the picture and there are three things we need to understand about that: 1 – It is my life that Christ has entered into and it will always be my life; 2 – Christ never bypasses me. He loves me and always desires to be close to me; and 3 – I remain in charge in one very important way. I am in charge of consistently responding to Christ by seeking his presence, yielding to his authority, and depending on his strength.

    Today’s passage is all about Christ-centeredness: “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts;” “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you;” “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.” But today’s passage is also all about you: “in your heart;” “within you;” “whatever you do.” The “Christ-Centered” life is always about Christ and you. Serving God’s kingdom is not about what you do for God. Serving God’s kingdom is not merely a partnership between you and Christ for the living of your life. Serving God’s kingdom is all about Christ living in you and through you. But Christ living in you and through you will only come about as you consistently choose to seek his presence, yield to his authority, and depend on his strength. This and only this, is the “Christ-Centered” life and it is only through a “Christ-Centered” life that you will genuinely serve God’s kingdom.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, it’s me and you and that’s pretty special. It’s me seeking you, yielding to you, depending on you, and letting you be fully in charge. It’s you living in me and through me for your glory, my good, and the advancement of your kingdom. So be it! Amen!

  • Serving God’s Kingdom – Life Reordered - Monday, August 20th

    For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then we pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another. Romans 14:17-19

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    There are many things in life that become important to us; things we give our time and energy to; things that command our devotion and become our primary focus. Far too often these things run counter to what God considers important or at least they are counter-productive to God’s will being realized in our lives. Jesus instructed us to pray in this way to our Heavenly Father: “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” A radical reordering is needed for our lives and for life over all the earth. We call this radical reordering the “kingdom of God.” Today’s passage says that “the kingdom of God is …. righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”

    When we follow the way of the world, our lives will include much that is not righteous; we will be caught up in the rat race of success that knows little of true and lasting peace; and true happiness and joy will elude us at every turn because we look for them in things that are unable to provide them. Notice our passage connects righteousness, peace, and joy to the Holy Spirit. Neither the world nor any of us in it can be reordered apart from Divine intervention. When we receive the forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ, we are indwelled with the Holy Spirit and thus begins God’s radical work of reordering our lives from the inside out.

    As we become ones who come to know true righteousness, peace, and joy through the work of the Holy Spirit, we become ones who serve Christ and the kingdom of God. Our passage says, “he who in this way serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men.” Our life in the world, including marriage, family, career, community, etc. provide the settings in which we give ourselves to the reordering work of the Holy Spirit so that those around us experience the impact of the true righteousness, peace, and joy that is increasingly taking hold of us. And so, we experience the kingdom of God and live for its advancement as it touches the lives of others through us. This is what it means to live fully and it is this that truly delights the heart of God.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, help me to be devoted to your kingdom. Fill my life with righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. Thank you for how you are reordering my life in the world. I am truly being freed from the world’s grip and the areas of my life are becoming aligned with your kingdom. May the changes in my life draw others to Christ. May others clearly see that I no longer live for myself but for the advancement of your kingdom. I choose to pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of others. Amen!

RSS Feed