Daily Devotional

  • The Full Experience of Discipleship - Support and the Journey - Monday, April 24th

    You have heard me teach things that have been confirmed by many reliable witnesses. Now teach these truths to other trustworthy people who will be able to pass them on to others. 2 Timothy 2:2

    For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. Colossians 1:9-12

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We are all familiar with the saying, “fall down on the job.” The saying simply means, “to begin and not follow through.” We are all too familiar with the problem of beginning but not following through. We see it in the lives of others and of course in our own lives as well. There is probably not a day in any of our lives where we are not exposed to situations where the saying, “fall down on the job” does not come into play. It doesn’t matter what area of our lives we pick, we do not want it to be that we “fall down on the job” in that area. It is certainly true that in our Christian lives we don’t want it to be true that we “fall down on the job.” But even though we don’t want it to be true, far too often it is true.

    Jesus addressed this problem in Luke 14 where he speaks of counting the cost before something is started so that once we begin it we are able to follow through with it. Jesus illustrates this by referring to a builder who did not count the cost and then after laying a foundation for a building was not able to finish. With the unfinished structure in full view of other people, the builder who did not follow through became subject to their ridicule and they said of him, “this person began to build but was not able to finish.” If we are Christians, we are disciples and according to Jesus, true disciples are ones who start and follow through.

    The Colossians passage above is a good description of what God wants to bring about in our lives as disciples. We are always a work in progress with the need to be going forward consistently. The 2nd Timothy passage above adds a marvelous element into the mix. We need trustworthy people around us who speak truth into our lives and we need to be one of the trustworthy people who speak truth into the lives of various other people that God brings our way. We certainly needed those people who helped us begin and if we are to follow through and not “fall down on the job” we certainly need those (small groups) who can help us continue on. Just as certainly, God has those people we will help to begin the Christian life and those we will help to continue on.

    So, we began and are on the journey of a transformed life through Christ (We call it “Living Fully”). We do not want to be ones who “fall down on the job” but rather those who follow through with what was begun. The key is a having a mix of people in our lives who speak truth and encouragement into our lives and to whom we speak truth and encouragement into theirs. As a result, our transformed lives will touch the lives of those who have yet to begin the journey and God will use us to help them come to the Master and embrace the journey He has for them. Exploring this cycle more fully and discovering the help we need for being able to go forward victoriously in the full experience of Discipleship is the focus of this week’s Devotionals.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, it is my prayer that you will grant me a full measure of spiritual “follow through” so that I fully “live fully” for you. I want to finish well. I know that gearing up is not the answer. I give myself to you in genuine commitment, surrender, and dependence. Lord, I worship you, rest in you, and count on you. Amen!

  • The Impact of the Resurrection - Christ Produces an Outcome of Righteousness - Friday, April 21st

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

    So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. Romans 5:18-19

    And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet he has now reconciled you in his fleshly body through death, in order to present you before him holy and blameless and beyond reproach. Colossians 1:21-22

    He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your uprightness as the noonday. Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him. Psalm 37:6-7A

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    An old man lived in the village. He was one of the most unfortunate people in the world. The whole village was tired of him, he was always gloomy, constantly complained and was always in a bad mood. The longer he lived, the more vile he became and the more poisonous were his words. People avoided him because his misfortune became contagious. It was very difficult and quite unnatural to be happy when near him. He created the feeling of unhappiness in others.

    But one day, when he reached eighty years of age, an incredible thing happened. Instantly everyone heard the rumor, “The Old Man is happy today, he isn’t complaining about anything, he smiles, and even his face is freshened up.” The whole village gathered together. The old man was asked, “What happened to you?”
    “Nothing special,” he answered. “Eighty years I've been chasing happiness, and it was useless. Then I decided to live without happiness and just enjoy life. That's why I'm happy.

    It would seem that having a set of expectations for our lives and trying hard to realize them would be a good thing. Unfortunately, more often than not, this approach to life becomes counterproductive. We “expect” so intensely and try so hard, but end up exhausted, frustrated, and overwhelmed. Before we come to the point where we realize the claim God has on our lives, most of us go about living life for our own benefit. Our expectations and efforts are focused on realizing the ambitions and goals we have set for ourselves. Some experience success, some experience failure, and many are somewhere in between. There are few, regardless of the level of their success, that don’t become exhausted, frustrated, and overwhelmed. When we come to the place where we realize God’s claim on our lives and we adopt a set of ambitions and goals more in keeping with our understanding of God’s intentions for His people, it is the same. There are few, regardless of the level of success, that don’t become exhausted, frustrated, and overwhelmed.

    Even though the story above is not particularly a spiritual one, there is something that happens to the old man that is quite instructive for us. Somehow life goes better when we are not going at it so intensely and trying so hard to make it happen. All too often our struggle with life has much to do with the intensity of our expectations (spiritual or otherwise) and our trying so hard to see them come about. Make no mistake, God has great and wonderful intentions for the lives of His people, but those intentions are only truly realized through the personal impact of the living, resurrected Jesus. We must be very careful not to nullify the true meaning of the resurrection of Christ by bypassing our actual relationship with Him in favor of trying to fulfill on our own the intentions we think God has for us. Christ’s impact in our lives involves the inner experience of knowing Him, resting in Him, waiting on Him, and being filled with His peaceful and powerful presence. When we allow the living, resurrected Jesus to impact us in these ways, we can be sure that everything about us will be his doing and that genuine righteousness for us will prevail in the end.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I believe a truly righteous outcome for my life is my destiny because of your resurrection and the difference you are making in my life as my living, resurrected Savior. I choose to let you be my substitute for life just as you were my substitute on the cross. I know that genuine righteousness will prevail in the end because more and more my life is your doing as I increasingly surrender to you and the wonderful impact of your loving presence in my life. Amen!

  • The Impact of the Resurrection - Christ Inaugurates a New Way of Living - Thursday, April 20th

    For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep …. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. But now Christ has been raised from the dead. 1 Corinthians 15:3-6, 16-20 

    Therefore, we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4

    I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me. Galatians 2:20

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Why is that which we call sin so big of a problem for God that it requires the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ in the first place? It is all rooted in what God is like. He is Holy and righteous and these qualities of His nature demand that sin be atoned for. He is willing to atone for sin on our behalf through the sacrifice of His Son because He loves us so much and He knows we can’t reverse the problem of sin ourselves. He made us to be in a love relationship with Himself, but we have rebelled and are cut of from Him because of sin. What a marvelous thing it is that we matter to God, and that He was willing to send His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who was both crucified and raised on our behalf.

    Once we grasp and embrace the provision of Jesus through his crucifixion and resurrection, we must be careful we do not miss the person of Jesus in the story of His suffering. His suffering took place so that He could be to us a living Savior, fully and completely available to us. When we embrace Him truly, He takes up residence in our hearts through the gift of His Spirit. Our living Savior forever becomes to us the source of “newness of life” as He dwells within us, accomplishing in us and through us that which otherwise would never come about no matter how hard we might try to live up the standards Christ alone lived by and fulfilled. Truly and surely, we learn to let it be that the life we live is His doing.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, what an amazing way of living life you have provided for me. Even though it is still my life in the sense that I responsible for it, it is no longer I who live it, but rather it is you living it through me. Help me to let you do this as freely and fully as possible. Thanks for being alive and well in my soul and making it possible for me to walk in newness of life. Amen!

  • The Impact of the Resurrection - Christ Transforms Our Inner Person - Wednesday, April 19th

    For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. Romans 5:6-10 

    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 by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:3-5

    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 1 Corinthians 5:17

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Many have come to believe in the resurrection down through the centuries, but most do so having overcome doubts and uncertainties. For the ones who struggle to believe that Jesus rose from the dead and is alive for evermore and can’t seem to overcome their doubts and believe without seeing, there is a simple way to become sure forever. Prayerfully say, “Lord Jesus, if you are there, reveal Yourself to me as my risen Savior and Lord! He will show Himself to you and you will see Him, not like the disciples of old when they saw Him with their physical eyes, but with the eyes of your heart and then you will be able to believe.  

    For those who truly believe in Christ, his death and resurrection provide eternal life. Eternal life is not just about being forgiven and ending up in Heaven someday. Eternal life includes the time in between the moment one believes and the moment one arrives in Heaven. A major focus of God’s gift of eternal life is the quality of the lives we live in this in between time. In this love relationship, we have with God through Christ, the life of Christ in us by means of the Holy Spirit, transforms us from the inside out.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for all you are doing in my heart and soul. Experiencing the touch of your presence and love within my inner being is transforming who I am and what I am actually like. You are so amazing and I am so wonderfully blessed. I worship you, love you, and praise you. Amen!

  • The Impact of the Resurrection - Christ Secures Genuine Spiritual Life - Tuesday, April 18th

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”

    John 17:1-3 – “Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, "Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You, even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

    But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved). Ephesians 2:4-5

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Jesus died for the sins of the world. The judgment of sin due to all of us was placed on Him. The judgment of sin is death and death is separation. Physical death is the separation of the spirit from the body. And spiritual death is the separation of the spirit from God. Jesus experienced both of these for us. When the sins of the world were placed on Jesus during His crucifixion on the cross, He was separated from the Father. This is why Jesus said, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” After that He said, “It is finished” and then when He, “gave up His spirit,” His double dying was completed. Through His resurrection, Jesus overcame His own death and secured victory over physical death for the rest of us, but in addition, His resurrection validated that His crucifixion truly did secure victory over spiritual death for all of us as well. So, Christ has secured spiritual life which brings a wondrous outcome for all who are willing to embrace His eternal provision.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, as a human being it is hard to grasp that I was truly spiritually dead apart from faith in your saving grace. It is equally hard to grasp the fullness of what it means to have been made spiritually alive. I grasp these realities enough to know that I am forever indebted to you for the gift of genuine spiritual life. Help me grasp even more this supreme gift you have so freely bestowed on me that makes all the difference in the world. Amen!

  • The Impact of the Resurrection - Christ Restores Our Divine Connection - Monday, April 17th

    But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing; and as the women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” And they remembered His words, and returned from the tomb and reported all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also, the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles. Luke 24:1-10

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Jesus once asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the son of Man is?” After several answers, Jesus says, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Indeed, Jesus is the Messiah, the anointed One, the Christ. After the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, the words of Peter are recorded in Acts 3:18 where he says, “But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.” The idea of a suffering Messiah was a foreign concept even though it had been announced beforehand. Peter went on to say in Acts 3:19-21, Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.” 

    So, Jesus Christ came once as the suffering Messiah, but He will return someday as the ruling Messiah when He will restore all things. But, in addition to him coming to sacrifice Himself for the sins of the world in the past and His coming again to rule and make all things right in the future, He comes in the present to those who repent and return and when they do, he wipes away their sins, he restores their Divine connection, and he refreshes them from within with His healing presence. There is a personal impact that the living, resurrected Jesus brings to those who truly experience Him and that is the focus of this week’s Devotionals.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for coming to me in the present as my suffering Messiah. I am so blessed to have my sins wiped away, to be reconnected with you, and to be refreshed from within by your healing presence. May it be that I experience the full impact of all that you have in mind for me as my living, resurrected Savior. I am here to receive all that you have for me going forward. I praise you and bless you, Lord. Amen

  • The Suffering Messiah - A Kingdom that Reaches - Friday, April 14th

    For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:13-14

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    There will come a day when Jesus will rule the realm of mankind as well as the hearts of mankind. Today is not that day just as it wasn’t when Jesus entered Jerusalem as the suffering Messiah on that first Palm Sunday so very long go. Some day he will return and become King of kings and Lord of lords here on earth. So, we must be about the business of influencing the hearts of the people God brings our way. We do this by serving them and seeking to be a blessing to them in every way possible. With this touch on their lives from us, which runs counter to a culture that dominates and exploits so many, they will want to know the God who empowers us to live so differently and so lovingly. We will then introduce them to Christ and His saving grace and we will know the joy of a person who is reached and transferred from the domain of darkness to the kingdom of the beloved Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, you are king of my heart, king of my life, and king of my world. Thank you for the miracle of being transferred from the domain of darkness to your kingdom of light, love, and blessing. May your light, love, and blessing overflow from my life to everyone around me. What a joy and privilege it is to serve you and your ever expanding kingdom. Amen!

  • The Suffering Messiah - A Kingdom that Blesses - Thursday, April 13th

    Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?” But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” Matthew 22:17-21

    For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17

    For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing.  Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor. Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, “you shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law. Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now, salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. Romans 13:6-11

    Therefore, Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” Jesus answered, “Are you saying this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?” Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?” Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” Therefore, Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” John 18:33-37

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    How easy it is for us to slip into a pattern of living that is driven by the pursuit of our rights in this world. Some people lend a hand to Caesar as a way of achieving this pursuit. Some raise the hand against Caesar in defiance when there is interference with this pursuit. Some evade Caesar by living under the radar of Caesar’s influence and interference. Christians are called to something altogether different. This world is not our home we are just passing through. Therefore, our life focus is to give to God what is His and not be in the grip of what the world offers. Salvation has been given to us in Christ. Our mission is to bless the world with the kind of love and care God gives to us as His children. When the opportunity comes, we share the message of salvation with those God is using our lives to bless. When we are wrapped up in the powerful experience of kingdom living and kingdom pursuits, we will find that we will take in stride whatever power Caesar exercises over our human lives.

    Jesus makes it clear that His Kingdom is not of this world. But this does not mean it is not operating in this world. What an exciting thing it is to be a part of a spiritual kingdom that is influencing and winning the world one person at a time as individual lives are touched and reclaimed for God. With this as our focus we seek to be good citizens in this world rendering to it that which is required. We really do have a debt of love due to God for the gift of salvation and we take care of that debt by truly loving our neighbor as ourselves.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for suffering for me that I might be redeemed and serve your kingdom. I see that it is out of the blessing of my intimate love relationship with you which I have through redemption, that I can live to bless the lives of people all around me. Lord, please help me get my eyes off of myself and onto you and everyone my life can bless day after day as I live fully for you. Amen!

  • The Suffering Messiah - A Kingdom of the Holy Spirit - Wednesday, April 12th

    Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me …. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven …. For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:10-11, 14-16, 20

    But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation. Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king. 1 Peter 2:9-17

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    What does the world see when they view those who name the name of Christ. Do they see our light shining in such a way that our good works cause them to give glory to God. As we yield to the Holy Spirit living in us so that we live for Christ and others rather than ourselves, our righteousness will exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees by a long shot. Holy Spirit living is what Christ’s kingdom is all about today. When we walk in step with the Holy Spirit we will have consistently righteous behavior and we will have an inner peace and joy that pervades our inner being and flows out and touches those around us. The impact of this kind of kingdom living on earthly kings and kingdoms must not be underestimated. God is powerfully working through His Spirit to touch the world through His people.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, you are amazing. Your plan, your provision, and what you are doing in this world is so much bigger than just me. And yet it includes me and it is a thrill to have you at work in my life through the Holy Spirit. Your kingdom is all about the Holy Spirit touching the world through my life and the lives of your people everywhere. Lord, I praise you and glorify you for who you are and all you are doing. Amen!

  • The Suffering Messiah - A Kingdom that Serves - Tuesday, April 11th

    A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!” Matthew 21:8-9

    Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse …. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:14 & 21

    For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. 1 Peter 2:21-25

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Christ’s spiritual kingdom operates from a dynamic that is foreign to human kings and kingdoms. Christ and His followers operate from a position of being under rather than over. We offer ourselves to others in order to be able to support and hold them up rather than to dominate them so they will do our bidding. Mistreatment is just further opportunity to bless those who need Christ’s touch the most. It is interesting that such a display of honor when Christ entered Jerusalem was followed so soon by the ultimate mistreatment of a person. Certainly, Jesus freely offered Himself up for us and all the while He did not curse but blessed. The sacrifice of Christ on the cross was the ultimate act of overcoming evil with good. We have been called to overcome evil with good and so follow in His steps.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I choose the path of humility and service. Help me truly follow in your footsteps by living sacrificially for others. It is hard to bless and not curse. It is difficult to return good for evil. I will trust you, Lord. I know you will give me the victory. Thank you for sacrificing yourself for me. I love you and worship you. Amen!

  • The Suffering Messiah - A Kingdom of the Heart - Monday, April 10th

    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. Romans 14:17-18

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We will be celebrating communion this week as a church body. The inaugural communion took place in an upper room many, many years ago as Jesus gave His disciples the bread and the cup as a Divine object lesson of the sacrifice He was about to make. Christ’s sacrifice for our sins and subsequent resurrection formulate the culminating point of the difference Jesus came to make. Jesus prefaced His giving the cup to His disciples with these words: “Drink from it, all of you; for this is My blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. But I say to you I will not drink of this fruit on the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.” I want to combine covenant and kingdom in this passage with kingdom and the Holy Spirit mentioned in our opening passage. It is the new covenant (Jeremiah 31, Ezekiel 37, Hebrews 8) that is being referred to here and this covenant focuses on the role of the Holy Spirit. Through the forgiveness of our sins God comes to dwell in us by the Holy Spirit and works to produce the righteous life in us that was not possible through the old covenant.

    All those who enter into this Divine enterprise are members of God’s kingdom. Kingdom in our opening passage is referring to the features of God’s kingdom that are of a spiritual, inward, and personal nature – that is, the heart. This is the kingdom in view from His first coming until His second coming. The use of kingdom by Jesus in the upper room speaks of a future kingdom that will include added features that are of an earthly, outward, and universal nature. As we move through this week’s Devotionals we will see Christ’s triumphant entrance into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday) both as a peak at the future when He will rule and reign on earth as King and as a hint of the more immediate rule over the hearts of willing people that will become available through the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I am a willing person who has experienced the forgiveness of sins. You live in my heart through the Holy Spirit and I am learning to let you rule over my heart. Thank you for coming and being our Suffering Messiah. Thank you for sacrificing yourself on the cross and rising from the dead to become our living Savior and Lord. May your people everywhere let you rule fully over their hearts and lives. Amen!

  • Our Refuge from Stress and Anxiety - God, Our Source of Goodness and Hope - Friday, April 7th

    How great is Your goodness, which You have stored up for those who fear You, which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You, before the sons of men! You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man; You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues. Blessed be the LORD, for He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me in a besieged city. As for me, I said in my alarm, “I am cut off from before Your eyes;” nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications when I cried to You. O love the LORD, all you His godly ones! The LORD preserves the faithful and fully recompenses the proud doer. Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the LORD. Psalm 31:19-24

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Focusing on God’s purpose for our lives, choosing God and His peace over the pressure of people, and pursuing a faith that proclaims that we will trust God whether He delivers or delivers up will have an amazing impact on us and the people around us. We will find that God has wonderfully helped us with anxiety as we learn to trust Him in all circumstances no matter what. God loves us right where we are in our lives today and He waits to take us by the hand and help us go forward linked with Him more fully than ever before in the exciting and challenging journey of life.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, how great is your goodness. My hope is in you and you alone. Surely, I can be strong with courage in my heart as you deliver me from fear and anxiety in midst of stressful circumstances. I choose to trust you, Lord, no matter the outcome. Yes, you are good and my hope is in you. May the people of my world be blessed by the difference you are making in my life. Amen!

  • Our Refuge from Stress and Anxiety - God, Our Prince and Savior - Thursday, April 6th

    If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up. Daniel 3:17-18

    He said, “Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the fire without harm, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!” Daniel 3:25

    When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man's blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.” Acts 5:27-32

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    When we are in the midst of stressful circumstances our trust must be in the Lord alone and not in the outcomes which we hope He will bring about for us. This is what true faith is all about and this is what should be proclaimed to those around us. People need to hear, regardless of whether God delivers or not, that we will trust Him. For Daniel’s friends, deliverance was God’s way of impacting the people who surrounded them. He showed His power and even His actual presence in the middle of their desperate situation.

    Consider the desperate circumstance of our Savior in the garden of Gethsemene as He faced the cross. If the Father had delivered His Son in response to His prayer to have the cup of suffering removed, where would we be. All of us are a part of that great multitude of sinful people who surrounded our Lord Jesus as the Fathered delivered Him up on the cross. Where would we be if He had been delivered instead of delivered up. There would be no “cross” and no “resurrection.” But Jesus Christ our “Prince” and “Savior” was hung of a cross, was raised from the dead, and was exalted to the right hand of God. Hallelujah!

    We must trust in the Lord at all times no matter the outcome of things and then be ready to proclaim that trust to those around us. This is exactly what we see in the example of the early church above. When it came to the proclamation of the Gospel and its message of the cross and the resurrection, “we must obey God rather than men” was the hallmark of the early Church. God will glorify Himself by delivering or not delivering. In either instance, if we walk in trust and obedience, our faith will impact those around us and He will be glorified even further.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I want my life to glorify you in every way. Help me to trust you fully and always, regardless of whether you deliver me or not from the tough spots of life. I choose obedience to you in proclaiming the message of the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I choose to walk in the power of the Holy Spirit. I love you and worship you, Lord. Amen!

  • Our Refuge from Stress and Anxiety - God, Our Peace and Comfort - Wednesday, April 5th

    Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego replied to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to give you an answer concerning this matter. Daniel 3:16

    The fear of man brings a snare, but he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted. Proverbs 29:25

    Into Your hand, I commit my spirit; You have ransomed me, O LORD, God of truth. I hate those who regard vain idols, but I trust in the LORD. I will rejoice and be glad in Your lovingkindness, because You have seen my affliction; You have known the troubles of my soul, and You have not given me over into the hand of the enemy; You have set my feet in a large place. Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress. Psalm 31:5-9A

    But as for me, I trust in You, O LORD, I say, “You are my God.” My times are in Your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me. Make Your face to shine upon Your servant; save me in Your lovingkindness. Let me not be put to shame, O LORD, for I call upon You. Psalm 31:14-17A

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The pressure from the people around us can feel quite intense at times. Obviously, Daniel’s friends were experiencing unbelievable pressure from the people surrounding them. In the Psalm, David describes the influence of the people around him. Often, David’s experiences, recounted in the Psalms, foreshadow the coming Messiah’s experience of suffering at the hands of the people who would surround him. And of course, we now know what it was that Jesus Christ experienced at the hands of people – the Cross of Calvary. Daniel’s friends, David, and Jesus our Messiah were all impacted by those around them, but in the midst of it all, they chose to go forward in the peace and comfort of God’s presence. All the while they trusted Him for the help they needed to be victorious.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, it is very comforting that you see my afflictions and know the troubles of my soul. Thank you for caring and thank you for how you are at work on my behalf. Right when I need it most, Your lovingkindness shines upon my face like the warmth of the sun and I am at peace. I know you will deliver me from those who misuse me. “You are my God” and “my times are in your hand.” “Into your hand, I commit my spirit.” Amen!

  • Our Refuge from Stress and Anxiety - God, Our Object of Worship and Service - Tuesday, April 4th

    Then Nebuchadnezzar in rage and anger gave orders to bring Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego; then these men were brought before the king. Nebuchadnezzar responded and said to them, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the golden image that I have set up? Now if you are ready, at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery and bagpipe and all kinds of music, to fall down and worship the image that I have made, very well. But if you do not worship, you will immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire; and what god is there who can deliver you out of my hands? Daniel 3:13-15

    But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth. John 4:23-24

    For we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh. Philippians 3:3

    Today's thoughts from today's verses: 

    Daniel’s friends were worshipers of the one true God and were being forced to worship a substitute. This was no doubt a stressful moment in their lives and an occasion for great anxiety. We don’t know whether they experienced anxiety or not. We do know that they were being asked to forsake the Lord and bow down to an idol in exchange for their lives. Put yourself in that setting and consider what your level of anxiety would have been. We also know that they were focused on their ultimate purpose in life – being true worshipers of God Almighty. Anxiety or not, in an act of worship they stayed focused on their purpose and resolved to continue to disobey the king’s command. When we faithfully worship God in the midst of life’s troubles and challenges, He has a way of seeing us through them and minimizing their negative impact on our inner person.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for seeking me out to be your worshipper. What a blessing to have you at the center of my life. I know there is no greater purpose than to exist for your honor and glory. It is my desire to be faithful to you no matter what and I know you will help me serve you fully. I choose to forsake all idols in favor of trusting you with all my troubles and challenges and the stress and anxiety they bring. Amen!

  • Our Refuge from Stress and Anxiety - God, Our Rock and Fortress - Monday, April 3rd

    Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, the height of which was sixty cubits and its width six cubits; he set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon …. For this reason at that time certain Chaldeans came forward and brought charges against the Jews. They responded and said to Nebuchadnezzar the king: “O king, live forever! You, O king, have made a decree that every man who hears the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, and bagpipe and all kinds of music, is to fall down and worship the golden image. But whoever does not fall down and worship shall be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire. There are certain Jews whom you have appointed over the administration of the province of Babylon, namely Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego. These men, O king, have disregarded you; they do not serve your gods or worship the golden image which you have set up.” Daniel 3:1, 8-12

    In You, O LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be ashamed; in Your righteousness deliver me. Incline Your ear to me, rescue me quickly; be to me a rock of strength, a stronghold to save me. For You are my rock and my fortress; for Your name's sake You will lead me and guide me. You will pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me, for You are my strength. Psalm 31:1-4

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Daniel’s and his friends faced many stressful situations in Babylon. The situation of Daniel’s friends in our passage above was certainly packed with stress. They had come face to face with the king’s decree to worship the golden image and experienced the stressful trial of whether they would bow or not. They had made the decision to stay true to God Almighty and were under the stress of the impending consequences for their refusal. And now they have been turned in for disregarding the king’s decree and have come under the extreme stress of facing the king and the promised punishment that awaits them. The words of David in our Psalm above could easily be the words of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. Most certainly they need to become our words as we grow in our faith and reliance on God.

    It does not matter how big the troubles and stresses in our lives become, God stands ready to address our need through the ministry of His gracious Spirit and His powerful Word. Anxiety from stress in today’s world is a widespread problem that affects many people significantly enough to interfere with their quality of life. There are many stressful things that come at us from the world around us that play a major role in the anxiety we experience. When we encounter stressful things, it is not always clear whether they create the anxiety or simply reveal a condition of our inner being from which the anxiety springs. Probably for most of us it is mixture of both rather than one or the other. Regardless, we can stand tall in this troubled world when we handle well the stress and anxiety in our lives by making God our refuge as we exercise faith and reliance on Him, our rock and fortress. Providing help so this comes about more fully in our lives is the focus of this week’s Devotionals.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, there are so many wonderful things that are true of you that impact my life in amazing ways. Help me to experience you more fully than ever before. I desperately need you to be the true refuge of my life. May you truly become more real to me than the stress and anxiety of my troubles. Thank you, Lord being my Rock and Fortress. Amen!

  • On Top of the World - A New Hope - Friday, March 31st

    This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I have hope in Him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man that he should bear the yoke in his youth …. Who is there who speaks and it comes to pass, unless the Lord has commanded it? Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both good and ill go forth? Why should any living mortal, or any man, offer complaint in view of his sins? Let us examine and probe our ways, and let us return to the Lord. We lift up our heart and hands toward God in heaven. Lamentations 3:21-27, 37-41

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

     What a great declaration of hope by Jeremiah in the Lamentations passage above. And what a great description of how to live life “On Top of the World” when you are in the middle of having your world turned upside down. God is our portion and His lovingkindness and compassions are new every morning. We can join Jeremiah in saying emphatically, “great is Your faithfulness” Lord God. With fullness of hope, let’s lift up our hearts and hands toward God in heaven and “just keep peddling.”

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

     Lord, I lift up my heart and hands to you. Thank you for your faithfulness to me. You are truly my hope. I trust you in every way. Right now, in the middle of everything, I reaffirm my commitment to living my life in an “On Top of the World” kind of way. I am going to “just keep peddling” as we go forward in tandem. You are my portion, Lord. I am filled with hope and your amazing love and compassion. Who could ask for anything more. Amen!

  • On Top of the World - A New Focus - Thursday, March 30th

    At the end of the ten days, Daniel and his three friends looked healthier and better nourished than the young men who had been eating the food assigned by the king. So after that, the attendant fed them only vegetables instead of the food and wine provided for the others. God gave these four young men an unusual aptitude for understanding every aspect of literature and wisdom. And God gave Daniel the special ability to interpret the meanings of visions and dreams. Daniel 1:15-17

    For I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.  I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:11-13 Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ …. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith. Galatians 6:2, 9-10

    You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. 2 Corinthians 9:7-8

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

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The “On Top of the World” lifestyle we have been talking about so far readily leads to an additional feature becoming true of us. We become ones who focus on the needs of others and doing good towards them. It all comes back to living fully: love God fully and love others fully. Initially, we look inward at ourselves in order to be in touch with God and His indwelling Spirit. Being fully connected to God’s presence, His ways, and how He is at work in our world, frees us from a selfish focus on ourselves and allows us to have an outward focus on others. God’s Spirit helps us bless those around us with a generosity of spirit and resources. What a blessing is ours when we live to bless others. Talk about being on “Top of the World” and having a life that counts regardless of what circumstances come our way.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, strengthen my connection with you today so that I am fully aware of your loving presence. Establish me more fully than ever in your ways so that I am truly living in a godly manner. Fill me with the Holy Spirit to such a degree that I readily see you at work in my everyday world and I become one who is devoted to blessing others in selfless and generous ways. Amen!

  • On Top of the World - A New Endurance - Wednesday, March 29th

    Daniel spoke with the attendant who had been appointed by the chief of staff to look after Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. “Please test us for ten days on a diet of vegetables and water,” Daniel said. “At the end of the ten days, see how we look compared to the other young men who are eating the king’s food. Then make your decision in light of what you see.” The attendant agreed to Daniel’s suggestion and tested them for ten days. Daniel 1:11-14

    But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either. If we have food and covering, with these we shall be content. 1 Timothy 6:6-8

    But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way. For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Hebrews 6:9-12

    But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings, partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated. For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one. Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised. Hebrews 10:32-36

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Often it is hard to keep going with God and His ways because we get tired of sticking with solid patterns of Godly living and the limitations and difficulties of life. Perhaps we need to take a fresh look at the tried and true components of Godly living that we have known and let God help us get in better shape in regard to these Godly ways. Getting and staying in good spiritual shape in those areas that have been a part of our Christian walk all along, requires endurance and perseverance. In addition, facing the challenge of trials and the suffering of mistreatment, calls for significant endurance and perseverance as well. Such spiritual fitness results in godly contentment with the resources we have for our physical lives here on earth, godly living in the midst of an ungodly world, godly acceptance of the hard stuff that comes at us from time to time. Yes, spiritual fitness will go a long way toward our having the endurance and perseverance we need to pursue and maintain an on “Top of the World” kind of life.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, it is hard to keep going, but I know you will help me to have the victory. I want to keep going with all that you have for me and I know that you will make the difference as I trust you moment by moment in the face of all that comes my way. Amen!

  • On Top of the World - A New Power - Tuesday, March 28th

    But Daniel was determined not to defile himself by eating the food and wine given to them by the king. He asked the chief of staff for permission not to eat these unacceptable foods. Now God had given the chief of staff both respect and affection for Daniel. But he responded, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has ordered that you eat this food and wine. If you become pale and thin compared to the other youths your age, I am afraid the king will have me beheaded.” Daniel 1:8-10

    But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,  that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death. Philippians 3:7-10

    So, this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness. But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Ephesians 4:17-24

    Therefore, consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them. But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him. Colossians 3:5-10

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Through our redemption in Christ, God has taken up residence within our human spirit. The more the Spirit of God becomes established in us, the more we learn to walk by the Spirit so that the “new self” predominates over the “old self.” That sounds like an “On Top of the World” kind of thing, doesn’t it? It really is all about our lives lining up with God’s desires for us and not how we fit in or compare with others. God is in the business of ordering our lives from the inside out through the ministering work of His Spirit. Daniel was able to say “yes” to God and “no” to the pressure he was facing. Notice in the passages above all the things God enables us to say “no” to when we continually say “yes” to him and the work He wants to do in us and through us. This is very much a part of having an “On Top of the World” kind of life.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I know that my new self is you living in me by means of the Holy Spirit. Help me to say “yes” to you over, and over again and “no” to the sinful tendencies of my old self. For your sake and that of your kingdom, I want to abide in your strength so that like Daniel of old I can be on top of the world. I love you and worship you, Lord. Amen!

  • On Top of the World - A New Understanding - Monday, March 27th

    During the third year of King Jehoiakim’s reign in Judah, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it …. Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, his chief of staff, to bring to the palace some of the young men of Judah’s royal family and other noble families, who had been brought to Babylon as captives. “Select only strong, healthy, and good-looking young men,” he said. “Make sure they are well versed in every branch of learning, are gifted with knowledge and good judgment, and are suited to serve in the royal palace. Train these young men in the language and literature of Babylon.” The king assigned them a daily ration of food and wine from his own kitchens. They were to be trained for three years, and then they would enter the royal service. Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were four of the young men chosen. Daniel 1:1, 3-6A

    When Moses was born, he was lovely in the sight of God, and he was nurtured three months in his father’s home. And after he had been set outside, Pharaoh’s daughter took him away and nurtured him as her own son. Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds. Acts 7:20-22

    By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict. By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. Hebrews 11:23-26

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We are going to begin with a story entitled, “How To Ride A Bicycle”.

    First I saw God as my observer, my judge keeping track of the things I did wrong, so as to know whether I merited heaven or hell when I die. He was out there, sort of the President. I recognized His impact when I saw it, but I didn’t really know Him.

    Later on, when I got to know Him better, it seemed as though life was rather like a bike ride... but, it was a tandem bike, and I noticed that God was in the back letting me peddle. I don’t know just when it was that he suggested to me we change places, but life has not been the same since... life with God out in front makes life exciting.

    When I had control, I knew the way. It was rather boring, but predictable. It was the shortest distance between two points. But when He took the lead, He knew insightful long cuts, up mountains, and through rocky places and at breakneck speed. It was all I could do to hang on, even though it looked like madness, He said, "have faith."

    Feeling worried and anxious I asked, "Where are you taking me?" He laughed and didn’t answer, and I started to learn to trust.

    I let go of my boring life and entered into the adventure, and when I said, "I’m scared." He’d lean back and touch my hand. He took me to people with gifts that I needed, gifts of healing, acceptance and joy. They gave me their gifts to take with me on my journey... our journey. God’s and mine and we’re off again. He said, "Give the gifts away; they’re extra baggage, too much weight." So I did, to the people I met, and found that in giving, I received, and still my burden was light.

    I did not trust Him at first, in control of my life, I thought He’d wrecked it, but He knows bike secrets. He knows how to make it bend to take sharp corners, jump to clear high passes, and fly through shorter scary passages.

    I am learning to shut up and peddle in the strangest places, and I’m beginning to enjoy the view, and the cool breeze on my face, with God as my pure light, as my constant source of inner strength.

    When I’m sure I just can’t do any more, He smiles and says, "just keep peddling".

    It is amazing how well life can go when life isn’t going so well. Think about that for a moment. Here is what I mean. When our connection to God is solid and our inner person is spiritually secure and well oriented to God’s presence, His ways, and how He is at work, we are able to go with the flow of whatever comes our way in life. If what is happening in our life situation is all important to us, then most of the time “our world will be on top of us” because that’s how we usually end up when we try to control the uncontrollable. But if God’s Spirit is ordering and maintaining the inner world of our human spirit, “we will be on top of our world” no matter what is going on with it. We will be free from our tendency to try to control it and our tendency to be conformed to it. I think this is the idea of the bicycle story.

    The story of Daniel and his friends combines nicely with the bicycle story. These young men had been uprooted from the world of their own people and placed at the center of a foreign culture. Things were truly out of their control and they would have to go with the flow of letting God be in charge of navigating the course their lives would take. Also, they would have to negotiate living a Godly life in the midst of a culture that was not compatible with their faith in the One true God of the universe. Sounds similar to what life is like for Christian believers in our world today. You can be sure that these young men had the kind of developing faith and walk with God that put them “On Top of the World” in such a way that they had a greater impact in shaping the world in which they lived than the world had in shaping their lives. They found freedom from the tendency of trying to control the world they faced and freedom from the tendency of being conformed to the world they faced. Being “On Top of the World” in this way is the focus of this week’s Devotionals.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, take hold of me with the gentle touch of your hand. With you holding on to me I believe I am letting go of my world and I believe the world is letting go of me. Thank you for how you are changing me and redirecting my life. Amen!

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