Daily Devotional

  • Our Eternal Well-being – Protected Always by God’s Power - Tuesday, September 17th

    Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant, so he explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” John 10:6-10

    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 (kept) by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:3-7

    Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting … Oh let those who fear the LORD say, “His lovingkindness is everlasting.” From my distress I called upon the LORD; the LORD answered me and set me in a large place. The LORD is for me; I will not fear; what can man do to me? The LORD is for me among those who help me …. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in princes. Psalm 118:1, 4-7A, 8-9

    The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread? When evildoers came upon me to devour my flesh, my adversaries and my enemies, they stumbled and fell. Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear; though war arise against me, in spite of this I shall be confident. Psalm 27:1-3

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We are told that God’s love leaves no room for fear and yet the Psalmist speaks of God’s unending lovingkindness being for those who fear Him. There are two important meanings of the word fear. The first has the idea of being afraid while the second has the idea of reverence. When we fear in the first way, we consider ourselves in danger and we are afraid that bad things will come to us from the thing we fear. When we fear in the second way, we are worshipping God. We reverence Him by acknowledging Him to be the centerpiece of the universe and of our lives. He is the One to Whom our allegiance, devotion, and total surrender are due. When we truly fear the Lord in this way, we have no need to fear anything or anyone in the other way. And certainly we need never be afraid of God.

    Jesus Christ became our substitute so that God’s holiness and righteousness were completely satisfied through Christ’s sacrificial death on the Cross. Those who believe in and receive Christ are given the right to be called children of God forever. We can be confident as the children of a loving heavenly Father, that nothing will ever come our way that does not come through the filter of his unconditional and unending love. Truly in Christ we are protected (kept) by the power of God through faith from the moment we first believe to the moment we receive the inheritance of Heaven. This is why Jesus came.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, my trust is in you, but I need to admit that there are times it seems like somehow I missed out on your protection. How else could what has happened to me have come about? But then again, do I really believe you took a break in your caring for me and protecting me. I do not believe this. I believe your provision for me in Christ is full and complete so that even in my hardest experiences, in my darkest moments you were there with me working on my behalf. Yes, you are using even the worst stuff for my ultimate good. Truly, I am always kept in your love and protected by your power. Amen!

  • Our Eternal Well-being – Redeemed to Live Fully Now - Monday, September 16th

    I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10B

    In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. John 1:1-4

    And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. John 1:14-16

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    God is the creator of the universe and that includes us. Since He is the one who made us, He knows us best. And since He knows us best, He is able to take care of us better than anyone or anything else. God has a great concern for our eternal well-being. The area of our well-being He concentrates on the most is our inner well-being, the state of our mind and heart because everything else flows from there. God has an unbelievably great desire to pour out His unconditional and unending love and acceptance into everyone’s inner being in order for us to be whole and complete and able to live life fully for Him. Our need for a sense of well-being that comes from being loved and accepted is a driving force in our lives. 

    Unfortunately, our looking to other sources for love, acceptance, and well-being, makes it difficult for us to receive it from God in the full and complete way that we need. The heartbeat of God is for more and more people, who are seeking something better than they have known in regard to life, to encounter Jesus Christ and be helped to exchange the life they have known for the life of fullness that comes from Him and Him alone. Looking closely at Christ and the fullness of what He does to bring about our living fully for Him is the focus of this week’s Devotionals.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for redeeming me. I am so glad that I am increasingly grasping and entering into the full life you redeemed me for. I know that through my redemption and all it includes, you are providing for my eternal well-being. Thank you for your loving and caring ways toward me. I am so blessed to have you dwelling in my heart where you are always tending to my inner well-being and helping me to live fully for you. Amen!

  • "Let Go" - An Inspirational Poem for Sunday, September 15th

    Let Go

    By Charissa K. Cheuk

    "Let go," He says. "Let go."
    But my heart is stubborn, so I do not let go.
    "What if it hurts?" I say.
    "I know it will hurt," He says.
    "What if I fall?" I say louder.
    "I know you will fall," He says.
    "But what if I can't get up?
    What if I can't go on?
    What if my heart breaks into a thousand pieces?"
    "It's all right; just let go."
    "No. I can't. I want to, but I can't."
    "Let go."
    "How? My heart will break. It is breaking already."
    "So it will break. Let go."
    "I can't. It hurts."
    "Don't you know, my child?
    If you fall, I will pick you up.
    If you can't go on, I will carry you.
    Don't you know, my child? Don't you know?
    It is when it breaks that I can make you whole again.
    It is when it breaks that I can pick out these broken pieces that are hurting you.
    It is when it breaks that you can truly learn to love.
    You can rise again.
    You will rise again.
    Let go."

  • "Perceptions" - An Inspirational Poem for Saturday, September 14th

    Perceptions

    By Abimbola T. Alabi

    First impressions can be strong
    About those we see around.
    Yet how often are they wrong?
    That is the truth I've found.

    Not all who cry are weak.
    Not everyone who looks can see.
    Not all who are quiet are meek.
    Not all who nod agree.

    Not all who snarl are cruel.
    Not everyone generous is just.
    Not everyone clumsy is a fool.
    Not all who wander are lost.

    We never know people's character.
    In just a single instance.
    We never know who people are
    By judging from a distance.

    But whether we like it or not,
    We'll always be around people.
    Is it better to know a few people a lot
    Or a lot of people a little?

    I'd rather know a few people a lot
    Than a lot of people a little.

  • True Greatness - Fruitfulness and Rewarding Sacrifice - Friday, September 13th

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

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

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

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

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

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

  • True Greatness - Fruitfulness and Regarding the Lowly - Thursday, September 12th

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

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

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

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

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

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

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

  • True Greatness - Fruitfulness and Forsaking Honor - Wednesday, September 11th

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

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

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

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

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

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

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

  • True Greatness - Fruitfulness and Choosing Humility - Tuesday, September 10th

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

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

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

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

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

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

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

  • True Greatness - Fruitfulness and Dying to Self - Monday, September 9th

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

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

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

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

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

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

  • "The Country that Had No Onions" - An Inspirational Story for Sunday, September 8th

    THE COUNTRY THAT HAD NO ONIONS

    Once upon a time there lived a young man who was looking for a more prosperous life. While he was exploring what business might best support his family, he met a very well-traveled man. The man told the young man great tales of his travel and then talked about a country that had no onions.

    “No onions!” exclaimed the young man. In all his life, he had never heard of such a thing. “How can anyone enjoy the true pleasure of food without onions?”

    Without any further thought, he bought onions, filled his cart and set out on his journey towards this whimsical land of no onions. After several days he arrived in the onionless country. He made his way to the palace where the guards were fascinated enough by the weird cargo that they allowed him to meet the king.

    “I bring you a great gift from my country,” the young man proudly announced. “The plant is native to my country but new to yours. It has the unique ability to enhance the flavor of any food. It would be great if I could offer you this magnificent plant which you in turn could introduce to your people.”

    The emperor was a little cautious toward the weird plant at first but he later allowed the young man to prepare some delicacies using the onions.

    The young man used all his culinary skills to prepare the feast using the onions. All the empire’s ministers, the nobility, and senior officials were invited to the dinner that night. After the young man did the initial tasting, the feast commenced. Everyone in the room started eating the food.

    It didn’t take long for the hall to lapse into a great noisy fit of excitement. The smell and the taste of the food was praised by all.

    The king thanked the young man profusely and demanded the entire batch of onions and paid him its weight in gold.

    On his journey back home the young man met a trader. He shared his magnificent story about the country. For hours that night the young man recounted the splendor and magnificence he had seen in that far-away land where gold was worth less than onions. He also told the trader that he had learned that the country did not have garlic. The trader was excited to learn this and thought he could replicate the success of the young man by introducing garlic to the country. “Garlic is infinitely more tasty and aromatic! If they were giving gold for onions there, he could expect diamonds for garlic,” he thought.

    The enterprising trader carried huge bags of garlic on his journey to the country without garlic with the riches he was sure to receive jingling merrily in his mind. Since the land was recently overjoyed by the introduction of the onions, they were more open to the idea of trying his garlic. The royal guards took the man with the new herbs to the king.

    The king asked him to prepare a feast using the garlic. The trader was very excited and made several tasty dishes using garlic. As he had expected the garlic received even more praise than the onions. The Emperor discussed with his ministers for a long time about the reward for their noble guest who introduced them to garlic. After some discussion, they all agreed that gold was not enough for such a delicious food. So they decided to reward him with the most precious thing they had to offer. What can be more precious than gold? Onions!

    That night the trader returned home with bags full of onions.

    .... Do not fix your hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. ....Do good .... be rich in good works .... be generous and ready to share, store up for yourselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that you may take hold of that which is life indeed. 1 Peter 6:17-19 (customized rendering)

  • "The Stone Cutter" - An Inspirational Story for Saturday, September 7th

    THE STONE CUTTER

    Once upon a time there lived a stone cutter who was dissatisfied with his life. One day, on his way to work, he passed by a beautiful mansion. It belonged to a rich merchant. He paused in mere amusement simply glaring at the beauty of human creation.

    From where he stood, he saw fine possessions, renowned guests, and plenty of workers and servants all set to work. He became envious and deeply wished to have everything the wealthy and powerful merchant did.

    Suddenly, the stone cutter swept into the merchant taking over his mind and body. He was aware of the merchant’s innermost feelings, thoughts and memories. He felt the joy of owning all the luxuries in the world money could buy. He knew the pleasure of holding such a respectable position in the society. Many honored him while many more envied him.

    After a few days of enjoying the merchant’s life, he saw a Sultan being carried in a sedan chair accompanied by attendants, soldiers and servants. Everyone, despite of their power and wealth, was obliged to bow before this figure that was worshiped as God.

    After seeing this, he knew he had been mistaken about the merchant’s power and status. In a split second, he moved into the body of the Sultan; mighty and feared. Then he knew what it felt like to be exalted and glorified by the entire kingdom, to hold the power to pardon or take a man’s life; what it was like to be respected by sultans and kings from other lands. And with all this power came exclusive luxury as a bonus, more than anyone could ever dream of.

    One day, on a hot summer noon, he was at extreme unease. His overweight body made the heat even more intolerable. He looked up at the sun and thought about how it was absolutely unaffected by his presence. He then swiftly became the sun, blazing with glory; the source of life and strength of every living creature on the planet.

    He continued to radiate until a massive storm gathered below him hindering the strength of his rays. The storm then burst into pouring rain. Seeing this, he became the cloud. He felt the incredible power of its existence as it swept along the sky flooding everything it wished to. There was nothing that could beat the storm.

    However, he soon realized that the entire root of his power was yet another force- wind; the strength of the rain was negligible without the wind. And so he became it; blowing off the roofs of houses, uprooting trees and everything else that came in its way.

    There was yet another force that strangled his ego- a huge towering rock. The wind would blow against it with a velocity and force of ultimate magnitude. The rock would stand still, unmoved and indispensable.

    He then became it; a solid, dense, immortal and powerful existential factor on earth. After a while, he heard a familiar sound; the sound that is heard when a rock is stricken by a set of tools.

    “…chink, chink, chink…”

    “…chink, chink, chink…”

    He then felt himself being chiseled– cut into, re-formed. He looked down at the artist, the figure of a stone cutter!

    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. But those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a snare and many foolish and harmful desires which plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called. 1 Timothy 6:6-12A

  • The Way of Love – Genuine, Brotherly, and Humble Regard for Everyone - Friday, September 6th

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

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

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

    Today ‘sprayer response from today's thoughts:

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

  • The Way of Love – Valuing Others Regardless of Merit - Thursday, September 5th

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

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

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

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

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

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

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

  • The Way of Love - Christ Produces the Real Deal - Wednesday, September 4th

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

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

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

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

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

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

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

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

  • The Way of Love – Extended to All Equally - Tuesday, September 3rd

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

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

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

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

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

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

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

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

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

  • The Way of Love – Surrendered, Filled, and Overflowing to Others - Monday, September 2nd

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

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

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

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

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

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

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

  • "Monkeys and the Ladder"- An Inspirational Story for Sunday, September 1st

    MONKEYS AND THE LADDER

    A group of scientists placed five monkeys in a cage. In the middle of the cage, they placed a ladder with bananas on the topmost stair.

    Every time a monkey climbed up the ladder, the scientists poured cold water over the other monkeys. After a while, every time a monkey made an attempt to climb, the others would pull it down and beat it up.

    As a consequence, in disregard of the temptation to do so, no monkey dared to climb the ladder.

    The scientists then replaced one of the monkeys. The first thing this new monkey did was climb the ladder. Immediately, the others pulled him down and beat him up.

    After several beatings, the new monkey learned that he wasn’t supposed to climb the ladder, even though there was no evident rational reason not to do so.

    A second monkey was substituted with another new one and the same result was observed. The first monkey participated in the beating of the second monkey. A third monkey was changed and the same thing repeated. One by one all the monkeys were replaced.

    The cage then had a group of five entirely new monkeys without ever having received a cold shower. The group continued to beat up any monkey who attempted to climb the ladder.

    If it was possible to ask the monkeys why they did so, their most likely answer would be “I don’t know. It’s just how things are done around here.”

    Does that statement sound familiar to you?

    Source: This story is a modern day fable and was inspired in part by the experiments in “Cultural acquisition of a specific learned response among rhesus monkeys“ by G.R. Stephenson and experiments with chimpanzees conducted by Wolfgang Kohler in the 1920s. Over the years, the story was pieced together to form the urban legend as it now stands.

    The one who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. Those who walk alone are likely to find themselves in places no one has ever been before.

    And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:

    ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me.

    ‘But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’

    Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.” Mark 7:6-8

  • "The Cracked Pot" - An Inspirational Story for Saturday, August 31st

    THE CRACKED POT

    A young woman worked for a merchant who lived on top of a hill. She worked as the merchant’s laundress and every day she had to walk down the hill to collect water from a stream. She had two pots to carry water, which she hung upon a pole she could carry over her shoulders. With time one of her pots got a slender crack along its side. She observed the crack on the pot and decided she could still use it.

    Every day the woman carried those pots down the hill to the stream, filled them to the brim, and walked back up the hill, balancing the pole across her shoulders. By the time she reached the house, the cracked pot would be only half full while the other pot delivered a full portion of water.

    The cracked pot glanced at the other pot and saw water filled to the top, and it began to feel desolate. The full pot was proud of its accomplishment while the cracked pot felt ashamed and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it was meant to.

    After a few years of what the cracked pot perceived to be a failure, it spoke to the lady. “I apologize for my flaw. The crack on my side has made me useless. I spill half of the water. I’m of no good!,” the pot said.

    The lady felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and she said, ”But pot, you don’t understand. You haven’t been paying attention. Look around you. As we return to the master’s house, I want you to look at the path we traverse”.

    When the lady carried the water up the hill, the pot carefully observed the path along the way. For the first time the pot stopped looking inward and instead looked outward. On his side of the trail the pot noticed beautiful flowers growing in abundance. While the other side had no flowers.

    As the women reached the top of the hill, she asked, “Did you notice the beautiful flowers on the path? They are only on your side of the path. I had always known about your crack and I took advantage of it. From time to time I scattered seeds on your side which you have watered over and over again. Without you being just the way you are, the path uphill would not have this beauty. ”

    The cracked pot was overjoyed. All its sadness was gone. He understood that the very thing he thought to be his flaw turned out to be the blessing of flowers along his side of the path.

    Every one of us is unique and we have our own flaws. And it is our little quirks and faults that make us so interesting and a blessing to the world.

  • The Way of Forgiveness – The Only Means for Heaven on Earth - Friday, August 30th

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

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

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

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

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

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

  • The Way of Forgiveness – The Open Door to Living Fully - Thursday, August 29th

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

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

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

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

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

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

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

  • The Way of Forgiveness – The Sure Cure for Self-Absorption - Wednesday, August 28th

    When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” John 8:9-10

    This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world. 1 John 1:5-2:2

    In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace. Ephesians 1:7

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Just as people who walk in the kingdom move away from inflicting pain on others (throwing stones), they stop inflicting pain on themselves as well. They are not offended at their own sin, they are just plain sorry for it. They do not get upset that they need forgiveness, they gratefully receive it. They do not hold grudges against themselves for they know they have no personal goodness apart from Christ’s indwelling and the righteousness He brings to their lives. What a blessing it is to be transparent and current with God. When God is allowed consistently to wash through the hearts and lives of His people they are able to go about living life feeling fresh and clean with a wonderful sense of spiritual vitality. These are gifts that come to those who embrace surrender and dependence on the God who dwells in the hearts and lives of his people.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, how very much I get caught up in myself. I can see that getting more and more to where I need to be will come about as I am less absorbed in myself and more absorbed in you and your kingdom purposes. Teach me how to be transparent and current with you. Grant me a spiritual vitality that comes from feeling fresh and clean from your forgiving and healing presence. Amen!

  • The Way of Forgiveness – The Healing Balm of All Relationships - Tuesday, August 27th

    But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. John 8:7-8

    And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matthew 6:12

    But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, “As I live, says the lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.” So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore, let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this--not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother's way. Romans 14:10-13

    So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Colossians 3:12-14

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    People who walk in the kingdom do not throw stones. They understand the New Covenant and what it means to abide in God’s grace. They are quick to look to themselves and their own need for confession and forgiveness and are therefore quick to offer grace and forgiveness to those around them. They understand the high standard that God has for His people but they do not wield it like a sword in their relationships with others. With the understanding that any correspondence of their life to the high standard of God is His doing and the outworking of His grace, they are able to extend mercy and grace to others and forsake being easily offended, withholding forgiveness, and holding grudges. They know when this gets turned around, they are not walking in the kingdom and they cut themselves off from the grace and forgiveness of God.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I am sorry for how prone I am to throw stones or at least want to. Help me forsake being easily offended, withholding forgiveness, and holding grudges in favor of extending mercy and grace to others. May I look to myself and my own shortcomings and may I always remember that all spiritual advancement on my part is your doing. Amen!

  • The Way of Forgiveness -The Powerful Pulse of God’s Kingdom - Monday, August 26th

    Pray, then, in this way: Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:9-10

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    God’s kingdom is present whenever there are people present who are committed to being surrendered to God and His kingdom purposes. These are the ones who genuinely pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” If God’s will were being done entirely on earth just like it is in heaven, then His kingdom would be manifest everywhere and it would be heaven on earth. Those who make the commitment of surrender to God and His kingdom purposes are ones who walk in God’s presence and whose lives as a result become connecting points between heaven and earth. The more connecting points there are, the more His kingdom comes. Kingdom people are not perfect but they are those who are in touch with the King and allow Him to help them to keep open and current in his forgiveness and focused on having lives that advance the spread of His kingdom on earth. For them confession and forgiveness are God’s means for keeping them on track with their commitment to being surrendered to Him and His kingdom purposes. 

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I am getting more fully what it means to pray, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” I want to get it even more and become a truly effective “connecting point” for the advancement of your kingdom and for the sake of your honor and glory. Through ongoing confession and forgiveness keep me on track with my commitment to being surrendered to you and your kingdom purposes. Amen!

  • "The Hands of a Warrior" - An Inspirational Poem for Sunday, August 25th

    The Hands of a Warrior

    By Pat Fleming

    Purple veins strain against the skin.
    Pale, translucent, paper thin.
    Skinny fingers clawed in monstrous shapes,
    Brown spots from years that she can't erase.

    Now wrinkled and fragile, weak and sore,
    So many things she can't do anymore.
    Some days she feels she's been betrayed
    By the cruelty of her advancing age.

    She rubs her hands to ease the ache
    And recalls the life they helped to make.
    She looks at them and feels the loss,
    Living a life bears a very high cost.

    These hands that held her children near,
    That gently dried their salty tears.
    Hands that held her husband's tight,
    That never let go against the fight.

    Miraculous hands that protected and soothed.
    Hands, they conveyed her every mood.
    Hands so strong they could carry the weight,
    That would never give up and never forsake.

    Those hands that took little but always gave,
    Hands that applauded each achievement made.
    Those soft, sweet hands that gently cared,
    For those sick or lost in dark despair.

    Hands that fussed and fumbled that day
    Her husband gave their daughter away.
    Those hands holding tight as he slowly died,
    Caressing his brow as she stood by his side.

    Hands that rocked her grandson to sleep,
    That gladly took over when others grew weak.
    Hands that once held everyone that she loved,
    And prayed for strength to our God above.

    Hands that were always so willing to give,
    Hands that reveal a life fully lived.
    Small, feeble hands, now empty and cold,
    These hands that each day will keep growing old.

    These hands she now tends to hide away,
    These hands that at times make her feel ashamed.
    Grotesque and useless in her eyes,
    They rest in her lap as she quietly cries.

    But I see the hands of a hero so true,
    A woman who survived what this life put her through.
    A woman whose heart still shimmers like gold,
    With the hands of a warrior who made her mark on this world.

  • "The Beauty of the Ocean" - An Inspirational Poem for Saturday, August 24th

    The Beauty of the Ocean

    By Pat Fleming

    Seagulls soar above her surf,
    The sun reflects and gleams,
    While people come from miles around
    To stroll upon her beach.

    Her touch conveys an icy chill
    Through her stinging, foamy spray,
    While her thunderous waves rush to the shore,
    Then gently roll away.

    Her blue horizon meets the sky,
    The end cannot be seen
    While her salty fragrance fills the air
    And floats upon the breeze.

    She safely cradles in her arms
    The boats that bounce upon her tides
    And plays coy with all the surfers
    Who beckon for another ride.

    She can distract us from our worries.
    She can lure and hypnotize.
    With the rhythm of her movement
    And her beauty in our eyes.

    She's a force that can't be reckoned with,
    A power to revere.
    She's a lovely, sweet seductress
    Who we long to settle near.

    There are no words that truly tell
    The splendor of her face
    Or recreate that feeling,
    Of such a warm and peaceful place.

    The ocean is a lovely gift.
    She's God's great Masterpiece.
    A miracle we can behold
    That gives us reason to believe.

  • The True Nature of Christ’s Church – Giving the Lord First Place in Everything - Friday, August 23rd

    Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:1-6

    He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. Colossians 1:18-20

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The overall picture of what God has called us to as His people is quite clear. and the passages above give us a fitting way to wrap things up. May God graciously help us walk as fully as possible in the manner to which He has called us. May the Lord Jesus Christ be honored, exalted, and genuinely looked to as the true head of the church at all times and in all ways. The Lord having first place is not a theoretical nicety. My prayer is that at this time in history God will have His way more than ever before with each of us, our church, and His people all around the world. God bless you and keep you!

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I give you first place in my life. Show me and your people everywhere how to actually give you first place as the one and only head of the church. Deliver us from valuing too much, buildings, programs, numbers, income, human leaders, etc. I lift you up, Lord, in worship with a heart filled with desire to exalt and honor you alone. Have your way, Lord. Amen!

  • The True Nature of Christ’s Church – Growing into a Supernatural Force - Thursday August 22nd

    As a result, Joshua overwhelmed the army of Amalek in battle. Exodus 17:13

    Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Philippians 2:3-5

    We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you. 1 Thessalonians 1:2-4

    We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater; therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure. 2 Thessalonians 1:3-4

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    If the church of Jesus Christ will give herself fully to the supernatural dynamics of God’s presence as we have talked about them so far, we, like Joshua and his army, will overwhelm anything and everything that might stand in our way of being all and fulfilling all that God has called us to. Affirmations of gratitude to God for all that He is doing and to each other for all the cooperation and participation we see taking place in each other’s lives should become a significant hallmark of who we are as God’s people and how we operate in the mission of His glorious kingdom. The more we understand and embrace the true nature of Christ’s church, the more we will delight in and wrap ourselves up in seeing her become a powerful team that increasingly experiences God’s presence individually and collectively while learning truly to be the Body of Christ.

    Earlier in the week we said it this way: “Our job is to stay in close contact with God (like a branch abiding in the vine) so that He can freely manifest Himself in us and through us according to His purposes and in the way in which He has gifted us. As ministry in the body of Christ flows freely, individual Christians are helped to stay close to the Lord. As individual Christians stay close to the Lord, they grow in God’s strength and then ministry within the Body of Christ is strengthened.” This is how Christ’s church blossoms into the fullness of all she was meant to be and this is how Christ’s words, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” come true.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, in a spirit of full cooperation with what you are seeking to do, help us get out of the way and let you build your church supernaturally. Move in my life and the life of your people everywhere like never before. May mutual ministry to each other so prevail that we become a force of love that blesses and meets the true needs of the hurting world all around us. Amen!

  • The True Nature of Christ’s Church – Encouraging God’s Life in Each Other - Wednesday, August 21st

    Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset. Exodus 17:12

    Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. 1 Corinthians 12:14-15

    Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord …. Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Romans 12:9-11, 16

    Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Galatians 6:2-3

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The church becoming a powerful team begins with each of us putting a significant focus on letting God manifest His strength in us and through us according to His purposes and the way in which He has gifted us. But as we focus on ministering to others and giving of ourselves to them, we must also focus on letting others minister and give of themselves to us. This requires that we recognize and admit our areas of weakness and need and that we commit ourselves to being open to the ways other people can minister to us and then readily receive the help they offer. It is easy to have an estimation of ourselves that causes us to think of ourselves as more than we are. We are not super people in and of ourselves. We are normal people who are connected with a supernatural God who need the help and support of others for getting and staying close to Him Who fills us with the strength of His might and enables us to live fully for Him.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, help me to be willing to receive as well as give. I need to be encouraged to let God’s life be unleashed in me just as much as I need to encourage the unleashing of God’s life in others. Set us free, Lord, to be the body of Christ in full so that your people everywhere come to live fully for your kingdom and glory. Amen!

  • The True Nature of Christ’s Church – A People Indwelled by God’s Presence - Tuesday, August 20th

    Moses commanded Joshua, “Choose some men to go out and fight the army of Amalek for us. Tomorrow, I will stand at the top of the hill, holding the staff of God in my hand.” Exodus 17:9

    For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly. Romans 12:3-6A

    As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:10-11

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Of all the components that come into play in the story of Israel’s battle with the army of Amelek, it is God’s presence (represented by the staff of God) that is most crucial. Look at the centrality of God in the New Testament passages above: God allots a measure of faith to each believer; He makes us to be one body in Christ; He gives us special gifts; the gifts are the manifestation of His grace; the ministries of communicating and serving are His work in us and through us; it is all for His glory, the One Who has dominion forever and ever. Our job is to stay in close contact with God (like a branch abiding in the vine) so that He can freely manifest Himself in us and through us according to His purposes and the way in which He has gifted us. As ministry in the body of Christ flows freely, individual Christians are helped to stay close to the Lord. As individual Christians stay close to the Lord, they grow in God’s strength and then ministry within the Body of Christ is strengthened. This is how Christ’s church becomes a powerful team that increasingly experiences God’s presence individually and collectively while she learns truly to be the Body of Christ with each person ministering and giving of themselves through the strength and enabling which God supplies.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, you are the centerpiece of everything. I want to live in full dependence on you. My frequent independence, and that of your people, must grieve you. Show us more fully what it means to be the body of Christ and deliver us from relegating you to a mere figurehead. Draw us close, manifest yourself in us and through us, and glorify yourself wonderfully. Amen!

  • The True Nature of Christ’s Church – A God Empowered Team - Monday, August 19th

    While the people of Israel were still at Rephidim, the warriors of Amalek attacked them. Moses commanded Joshua, “Choose some men to go out and fight the army of Amalek for us. Tomorrow, I will stand at the top of the hill, holding the staff of God in my hand.” So Joshua did what Moses had commanded and fought the army of Amalek. Meanwhile, Moses, Aaron, and Hur climbed to the top of a nearby hill. As long as Moses held up the staff in his hand, the Israelites had the advantage. But whenever he dropped his hand, the Amalekites gained the advantage. Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset. As a result, Joshua overwhelmed the army of Amalek in battle. Exodus 17:8-13

    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:

    We begin this week’s Devotionals with a story: “It was the coldest winter ever. Many animals died because of the cold. The hedgehogs, realizing the situation, decided to group together to keep warm. This way they covered and protected themselves; but the quills of each one wounded their closest companions. After a while, they decided to distance themselves one from the other and they began to die, alone and frozen. So they had to make a choice: either accept the quills of their companions or disappear from the Earth. Wisely, they decided to go back to being together. They learned to live with the little wounds caused by the close relationship with their companions in order to receive the heat that came from the others. This way they were able to survive.”

    Whether it is hedgehogs facing the coldest winter ever, Israel’s army facing the warriors of Amalek, or the church facing the challenges of its mission, each individual contributing to the “common good” of the group is a vital part of what is necessary for survival. With the church of Jesus Christ, however, there is much more that comes into play than mere “group dynamics.” God Almighty, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is at work in her midst in ways that elevate her individual and collective nature into something that is truly supernatural and amazing. Christ’s church will become a powerful team as she increasingly experiences God’s presence individually and collectively while she learns truly to be the Body of Christ. This is the focus of this week’s Devotionals.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I confess that because I am so used to organizations with their human leaders and structures, I easily forget the supernatural nature of your church. It is always supposed to be you in our midst empowering us in amazing ways so that we are used in mighty ways as the church of Jesus Christ. Please take away any conditioning in my life and that of your people everywhere, that hinders what you alone can do in us and through us as the true body of Christ. Amen!

  • "My Credo Of Life" - An Inspirational Poem for Sunday, August 18th

    My Credo Of Life

    By Pat A. Fleming

    Let me live within the moment.
    Let me feel all that I can.
    Let me cherish life for all it's worth,
    With everything I am.

    Let me see what's right in front of me,
    With vision crystal clear.
    And face what's waiting there for me,
    With no hesitance or fear.

    May I wake each day with gratitude,
    For all my life may be.
    And always feel that wonderment
    At the world surrounding me.

    May I welcome any strangers
    With an open heart and mind.
    And always stand for what is right
    With all the strength that I can find.

    Let me forgive myself for my mistakes,
    While forgiving others theirs.
    And never grow indifferent
    But always strive to care.

    Let me not forget what matters
    In the scheme of every day,
    To live each precious moment
    In a kind and loving way.

    For this moment now is everything,
    Nothing matters but today.
    So I'll willingly embrace it
    And not let it slip away.

    For it passes all so quickly,
    And one chance is all we get.
    And a life of wasted moments
    Is a life filled with regrets.

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