Daily Devotional

  • Bending Low before God and People - Freedom through Spiritual Healing - Friday, July 28th

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

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

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We began the week looking at the Divine solution to Naaman’s need for physical healing and his initial response to that solution. Naaman struggled with yielding to the Divine solution offered to him. In contrast to Naaman is David whose overall orientation (heart, mind, and body) to God was “yielding.” This made David a ready beneficiary of God’s solutions to all manner of life issues. Most of us are more like Naaman than David. We, too, struggle to yield to anything that comes to us from outside ourselves and does not originate with us. It is a struggle that all humanity shares and it comes into play both in our relationship with God and with the people in our lives.

    It could be that healing really is the focus of our considerations this week, but not like the physical disease from which Naaman was finally healed. Spiritual diseases (sin) of the heart, mind, and spirit cripple us in our ability to relate properly to God and the people in our lives. May we call on God for a touch upon our hearts, minds, and spirits and may we so yield to him that we are freed to be more yielding, gracious, and loving in all our dealings with the people God has placed in our lives.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

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

  • Bending Low before God and People - Choosing What Matters Most - Thursday, July 27th

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

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

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

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

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

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

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

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

  • Bending Low before God and People - Our Relentless Need to Control - Wednesday, July 26th

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

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

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

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

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

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

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

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

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

  • Bending Low before God and People - God's Orientation to the Humble - Tuesday, July 25th

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

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

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

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

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    That God uses physical infirmity to shape our lives is obvious to most people. Naaman’s condition of leprosy had already brought him to the spot where he recognized that if there was a solution for his condition it had to come from outside of himself. When Naaman heard there was a prophet in Samaria who could heal, he was off and running to catch up with the prophet. But as we see above, Naaman wanted the outcome of healing and not the method of healing the prophet prescribed. While his disease had reshaped him enough to be willing to yield to an outside source for the outcome of healing he wanted, he was still in need of some additional reshaping in order for him to be willing to yield to the specific method prescribed by the prophet for his healing. Naaman had his own expectations and he was planning on those expectations coming about – both the healing and the method of healing. 

    It is not so much the plans and expectations of Naaman that cause the trouble, it is Naaman’s attachment to them. This is revealed in his anger and rage as well as his stalking away from the provision made available to him. Naaman thinks the method of healing prescribed is beneath him; it is not fitting for “who he is” in life. To him his own expectations and plans for his healing are the only right ones; the only “fitting” ones for Him. If this is how Naaman handled the collision of Divine plans with his own personal plans, it is more than likely that his pride and need to be right played a major role in his relationships with other people as well.

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

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

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

  • Bending Low before God and People - Our Struggle to Yield - Monday, July 24th

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

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

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

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

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

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

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

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

  • Life on a Higher Plane - God Is Pouring Out His Blessing - Friday, July 21st

    I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, and He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firmHe put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; many will see and fear and will trust in the Lord. How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust, and has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood. Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders (blessings) which You have done, and Your thoughts toward us; there is none to compare with You. If I would declare and speak of them, they would be too numerous to count. Psalm 40:1-5

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Like the farmer we met at the beginning of the week, we need to withhold judgment concerning the events of our lives because God is in charge and is not through yet in regard to how He will entirely work out and incorporate that those events in the grand scheme of things. Too often, we are like the farmer’s neighbors, quick to pass judgment on the life events that come our way. God is merciful and will help us to do life right. What a great expression this Psalm gives to us and it wonderfully captures what God is calling us to at this time. With the higher plane of God’s perspective and presence coupled with the encouraging support of God’s people we will truly sing a new song, we will not fear, and we will trust in the Lord. This is truly the “blessed” life to which God is calling us.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, there really is none to compare with you and my trust is in you alone. Thanks for lifting me out of the pit and setting my feet on a rock. My footsteps are firm and I am singing a new tune. Keep me going forward on this higher plane. Thank you for pouring out your blessing in my life. I love you and worship you, Lord. Amen!

  • Life on a Higher Plane - God Is Accomplishing His Good Purposes - Thursday, July 20th

    Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a sonthen I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut. As she was praying to the Lord, Eli watched her. Seeing her lips moving but hearing no sound, he thought she had been drinking. “Must you come here drunk?” he demanded. “Throw away your wine!” “Oh no, sir!” she replied. “I haven’t been drinking wine or anything stronger. But I am very discouraged, and I was pouring out my heart to the Lord …. And in due time she gave birth to a sonShe named him Samuel, for she said, “I asked the Lord for him.” 1 Samuel 1:10-15, 20

    Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. And Jesus said to them, Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Luke 13:1-5

    As He passed by, He saw a man blind from birth. And His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” Jesus answered, It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of Him who sent Me as long as it is day; night is coming when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the Light of the world.” John 9:1-5

    Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. It was the Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. So, the sisters sent word to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.” But when Jesus heard this, He said, This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of Godso that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” John 11:1-4

    And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified. Romans 8:28-30

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The course that Hannah took as described above is one that God wonderfully unfolded for her. As a result, Hannah got out of the pit she was in and she had the so-called “misfortune” of her barrenness removed. It is important to realize that there is absolutely no way to attribute anything on Hannah’s part for why she was barren. The bad events in the Luke and John passages above are unequivocally not tied to anything that was done by the people upon whom these misfortunes came. Yes, there can be consequences for the things that we do that are wrong. However, many of the difficult events that make up our lives are solely and surely God at work accomplishing His good purposes even through bad happenings. Like the farmer in our introduction, it is advisable to place a “maybe” after each life event (both good fortune and misfortune) as a reminder that we need to withhold judgment concerning the events of our lives because God is in charge and is not through yet in regard to how He will entirely work out and incorporate that event in the grand scheme of things. God is always at work. He loves to keep us out of the pit as we trust in Him and His sovereign and loving plan. We may not have a reversal of our so-called misfortune like Hannah did, but we always have the opportunity by God’s grace to stay out of the pit or to be lifted out of the pit. May God be merciful!

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I freely admit how prone I am to interpret the events of my life solely in human terms. Help me to always include you in the equation so that I recognize more readily that the difficult events in my life are occasions in which you are solely and surely at work accomplishing your good purposes! I choose to believe that by your grace you will deliver me from the pit and elevate me to the higher plane of your sovereign and loving plan.

  • Life on a Higher Plane - God is Lifting Us Up through Others - Wednesday, July 19th

    Year after year it was the same—Peninnah would taunt Hannah as they went to the Tabernacle. Each time, Hannah would be reduced to tears and would not even eat. “Why are you crying, Hannah?” Elkanah would ask. “Why aren’t you eating? Why be downhearted just because you have no children? You have me—isn’t that better than having ten sons?” 1 Samuel 1:7-8

    Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus. Philippians 2:1-5

    But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build up one anotherjust as you also are doing. 1 Thessalonians 5:8-11

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

    Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. Hebrews 10:23-25

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    While we might be tempted to read “ego” into Elkanah’s word to Hannah, this would be a far cry from what is really happening here. In the culture of that day, Elkanah’s words could only be interpreted as words of compassion and encouragement because they fly in the face of the conventional attitude and treatment a man of that day would exhibit toward a wife who was barren. So far, we have allowed Hannah’s experience to represent our own struggle with trials and detractors that bring us into the “pit” instead of walking with God on the higher plane to which He calls us as believers. 

    And now we will let Elkanah represent the support system available to us from other believers who bring into our lives the encouragement we need to let God lift us out of the pit and on to the higher plane of faith and favor. The four New Testament passages above clearly express God’s plan for how His church takes care of its people by providing the support we need for navigating the Christian life in the midst of difficult events and people that might otherwise derail us so that we find ourselves in the “pit” so to speak. It is always God who lifts us up to that higher plane of His presence and perspective. It is the encouragement of His people that supports us in our pursuit of knowing God intimately and walking with Him victoriously in the midst of life’s obstacles.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I am committed to the pursuit of knowing you intimately and walking with you victoriously in the midst of life’s obstacles. Please connect me with others with the same commitment so that together we can support each other in living on the higher plane you have called us to. Amen!

  • Life on a Higher Plane - God Is Shaping You - Tuesday, July 18th

    There was a man named Elkanah who lived in Ramah in the region of Zuph in the hill country of Ephraim. He was the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, of Ephraim. Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah did not. Each year Elkanah would travel to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies at the Tabernacle. The priests of the Lord at that time were the two sons of Eli—Hophni and Phinehas. On the days Elkanah presented his sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to Peninnah and each of her children. And though he loved Hannah, he would give her only one choice portion because the Lord had given her no children. So Peninnah would taunt Hannah and make fun of her because the Lord had kept her from having children1 Samuel 1:1-6

    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; and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls. 1 Peter 1:6-9

    For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps. 1 Peter 2:19-21

    Who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready with an explanation for everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit. 1 Peter 3:13-18

    Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name1 Peter 4:12-16

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Like Hannah, we are all too familiar with Peninnah-like people who come up against us throughout the course of our lives. We know there is a bigger perspective (like we talked about in the introduction) but when detractors are in our face day after day, the bigger perspective can easily elude us. Our detractors contribute greatly to our struggle with letting life events define who we are. There will always be difficult life events that come our way and God does use them to shape our lives. However, what God seeks to do is very different from the shaping that happens when difficult life events are interpreted by detractors who are allowed to speak readily and frequently into our lives. Carefully go through the four passages above from 1 Peter and let God crystallize in your heart and mind the kind of “shaping” He has in mind for you through difficult life events and difficult people.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Writing out your own prayer response to God would be particularly fitting for today.

  • Life on a Higher Plane - God Is Not Through - Monday, July 17th

    Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion. But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep His covenant and remember His precepts to do them. The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His sovereignty rules over all. Psalm 103:1-4, 17-19

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    There is a story of a farmer whose horse ran away. That evening the neighbors gathered to commiserate with him since this was such bad luck. He said, "May be." The next day the horse returned, but brought with it six wild horses, and the neighbors came exclaiming at his good fortune. He said, "May be." And then, the following day, his son tried to saddle and ride one of the wild horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. Again the neighbors came to offer their sympathy for the misfortune. He said, "May be." The day after that, conscription officers came to the village to seize young men for the army, but because of the broken leg the farmer's son was rejected. When the neighbors came to say how fortunately everything had turned out, he said, "May be."

    Our story places in stark contrast the way the farmer views the events of his life and the way his neighbors do. The farmer’s neighbors immediately wrap up each event into neat little packages of either “good fortune” or “misfortune.” The farmer, however, is not willing to react so quickly and offers his “maybe” response after each event. For me, there is something about this approach by the farmer that rings true and it corresponds well with the way I think I need to view the events of my life as a Christian believer. His “maybe” after each life event reminds me that I need to withhold judgment concerning the events of my life because God is in charge and is not through yet in regard to how He will entirely work out and incorporate that event in the grand scheme of things. Too often, we are like the farmer’s neighbors, quick to pass judgment on the life events that come our way. As a result, we allow these events to define who we are: I am in the pit of despair; I am on a happiness high; or I am too numb to care (because of so many ups and downs). This week’s Devotionals seek to take the farmer’s “maybe” and put it in a framework of understanding that helps us find a higher plane (God redeems your life from the pit) on which to travel through life with its so-called “good fortunes” and “misfortunes.”

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I know I need more of the “higher plane” and less of the “pit” in my life. I am more like the farmer’s friends than the farmer in how I treat the events of my life. I want to gain a fuller understanding of what is being said and to see a lot of corresponding change in me this week. Please help my life reflect that you are in control and are not through yet with the outworking of the events of my life. Amen!

  • Treasures of the Heart - Radical Commitment that Overcomes the World Now - Friday, July 14th

    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. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the firstborn would not touch them. By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned. Hebrews 11:23-29

    For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. Titus 2:11-14

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The Hebrews passage says that by faith Moses chose 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. There is a good way to be involved with material things here in this world, but it is only by the grace of God that this “good way” becomes our experience. As seen in the Titus passage it is God who frees our affections from the evil things of this world and redirects them to Himself. Oh, that we for a moment could grasp clearly and fully the fallacy and fantasy of viewing the things of this world as treasures. And oh, that we could grasp clearly and fully the treasure that God, His ways, and the wonders of His heavenly kingdom truly are. Never again would we “romanticize” our world today and the evils that are present in it. We would truly be focused on God and the things above and not on the things that are on earth.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

     Lord, you and your ways and your heavenly kingdom are my true treasures. I am seeking you and looking to you. I am renouncing the things of earth as treasures and I am focusing on the things above. Draw me closely into the security and delight of your presence. Help me to abide there consistently and help me to always relate to material things in the “good way” of your grace and strength that allows me to overcome the world. I love you, worship you, and yield to you. Amen

  • Treasures of the Heart - Lasting Devotion to Heavenly Pursuits - Thursday, July 13th

    Then Joshua and all Israel with him, took Achan the son of Zerah, the silver, the mantle, the bar of gold, his sons, his daughters, his oxen, his donkeys, his sheep, his tent and all that belonged to him; and they brought them up to the valley of Achor. Joshua said, "Why have you troubled us? The LORD will trouble you this day." And all Israel stoned them with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stone. They raised over him a great heap of stones that stands to this day, and the LORD turned from the fierceness of His anger. Therefore the name of that place has been called the valley of Achor to this day. Joshua 7:24-26

    Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Galatians 6:7-8

    The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether. They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them Your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. Who can discern his errors? Acquit me of hidden faults. Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; let them not rule over me; then I will be blameless, and I shall be acquitted of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:7-14

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The Bible says, “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” So, if we succumb to the allure of treasure apart from God, we suffer the consequences. If our hearts are set on earthly treasure, then earthly treasure is what we get. What could be worse than starting off with God and then essentially missing out on Him? We reap what we sow. If we want God, then we must choose Him continually. If we don’t have Him, then we don’t have His righteousness. If we don’t have His righteousness, then like the Pirates of old, we are lawless and subject to sin and its consequences at every turn. Heaven may eventually be our destination but it is not the desire of our heart. Can you imagine arriving in Heaven someday and having lived a life with our affections set squarely on the things of earth – what an embarrassment and one more unnecessary consequence.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I know I don’t have all this perfectly in place in my life yet, but I do know that more than anything else I want you and all you have in mind for me. Thank you for loving me, redeeming me, and setting me on the right path. Please strengthen my devotion to you and the better things that really count. I know that through you, Lord, I am no longer lawless but one who is pursuing heavenly things. I reaffirm my commitment to you, Lord, my one and only Master. Amen!

  • Treasures of the Heart - Manifesting the Fruit of the Spirit - Wednesday, July 12th

    So Achan answered Joshua and said, "Truly, I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel, and this is what I did: when I saw among the spoil a beautiful mantle from Shinar and two hundred shekels of silver and a bar of gold fifty shekels in weight, then I coveted them and took them; and behold, they are concealed in the earth inside my tent with the silver underneath it.” Joshua 7:20-21

    But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Galatians 5:16-24

    Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” Matt 19:21

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Initial faith in Christ so identifies us with the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection of Christ that we become recipients of all that Christ accomplished through His sacrifice. Initially this means that we are declared righteous and in God’s eyes we are made a habitat fit for Him to dwell in. Ongoing faith in Christ as He dwells in us causes us to be crucified to the flesh and raised to newness of life in Him in our actual day by day experience. Our enthusiasm in life is directed away from evil “treasures” and is centered on abiding in Christ so that He is free to deliver us from evil and produce His righteousness in us in an ongoing way. We truly become dead to the flesh with its passions and desires and alive to God and his treasure-store of spiritual fruit.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I confess that the desires and deeds of the flesh prevail far too often in my life. Please keep directing my heart and life away from evil treasures and toward you and all that is heavenly. I want to be alive to you. I want to abide in you. And I want to abound in spiritual fruit. I trust that you will fill me with a passion for all that truly counts with you. Amen!

  • Treasures of the Heart - Seeking God and All That's Better - Tuesday, July 11th

    But as for you, only keep yourselves from the things under the ban, so that you do not covet them and take some of the things under the ban, and make the camp of Israel accursed and bring trouble on it. Joshua 6:18

    But the sons of Israel acted unfaithfully in regard to the things under the ban, for Achan, the son of Carmi, the son of Zabdi, the son of Zerah, from the tribe of Judah, took some of the things under the ban, therefore the anger of the LORD burned against the sons of Israel. Joshua 7:1

    Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

    The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver. Psalm 119:72

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Scripture says that it is the “love” of money that is the root of all evil. We are quick to point out that money is not evil. However, even if the word “love” were left out of this verse, it would not say money is evil. Money can do nothing apart from someone using it. People become connected to evil when they misuse money. And they misuse money because the affections of their heart become connected to money. Now there is one more thing that the verse does not spell out, but that likely lies behind the teaching of this verse. People love money because they secretly “treasure” evil things. We cannot live life in this world without being involved with money. The secret to knowing how to be involved properly with both the acquisition and use of money lies in making sure our hearts do not secretly “treasure” evil. The way we make sure we don’t treasure evil is to only treasure God, His ways, and the wonders of His heavenly kingdom. The way to make sure of this is to seek the presence of God day and night. And the way to make sure we do this is to cry out for the mercy of God because apart from His intervention, we would not seek him at all.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I cry out to you for mercy. Please intervene and help me seek you fully. I don’t want mixed devotion anymore. Deliver me from secretly treasuring evil. Steer my affections to you and to you alone. I choose the better treasure of seeking you, your ways, and the wonders of your heavenly kingdom. I am in your presence, Lord. Help me stay there day and night. Amen!

  • Treasures of the Heart - Earthly/Heavenly Patterns We Follow - Monday, July 10th

    Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself. Philippians 3:17-21

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We seem to have a knack today for romanticizing the past. Nowhere is this truer than with the subject of “Pirates.” We identify with the spirit of cutting loose from convention and being free and independent from the dictates of society. We picture ourselves aboard a sturdy sailing vessel on the glorious open seas. And we feel the allure of buried treasure and the thrill of seeking to discover it. In reality, a pirate was a lawless, murderous, thieving low-life with the life span of two or three years at the most. A person who chose a life of piracy practiced every vice imaginable. Life aboard ship was a living hell filled with treachery, filth, disease, and butchery. Pirates were outcasts with nowhere to turn but the open seas and the occasional pirate haven which were concentrated centers of everything despicable and evil in this world.

    The life of the “pirate” is the antithesis of the life we are called to in Christ and there is nothing truly compelling about the subject of pirates at all. Perhaps there is no direct danger in romanticizing this subject. However, the danger comes when our propensity to romanticize is carried over to our world today and the evils that are present in it. It is amazing that we as Christians can secretly “treasure” things in this world that are diametrically opposed to the call God has upon our lives.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, it’s true that my life is a mixed life. I do romanticize the worldly things of earth and sometimes it goes beyond just flirting and toying. Forgive me for my worldly entanglements. Forgive me for all of this when all the while I am a citizen of heaven and one who is called to follow a heavenly pattern and treasure only heavenly things. Amen!

  • How God Communicates - The Decision Maker of Peace - Friday, July 7th

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

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

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

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

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

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

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

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

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

  • How God Communicates - The Provision of Genuinely Spiritual Counsel - Thursday, July 6th

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

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

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

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

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

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

  • How God Communicates - He Reveals His Open Doors - Wednesday, July 5th

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

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

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

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

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

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

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

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

  • How God Communicates - His Presence in Scripture - Tuesday, July 4th

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

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

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

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

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

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

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

  • How God Communicates - The Foundation of Relationship - Monday, July 3rd

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

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

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

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

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

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

  • The Spiritual Boldness of Living Fully - An Irresistible Love - Friday, June 30th

    I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Ephesians 3:16-19

    But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 2 Corinthians 2:14-15

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Entering the realm of God presence and love through surrender easily eludes us. But God stands ready to help us if we are willing to call out to Him for mercy and victory. God delights to help us become empty of self and to fill us with His loving presence. The apostle John said that there is no fear in love and that perfect love casts out fear. So, surrender brings spiritual boldness to us because in our surrender we forget about ourselves and our fears through the loving transformation of God’s presence and love. The ugly attitude of – I am better because I have the truth, you don’t, I win – is gone. The boastful attitude of – I am better because I am on the winning team, you’re the enemy, you lose – is gone. The I have arrived attitude of – I am better because I have it all together, I’m at the top, you’re nowhere – is gone.

    Instead the fragrance of Christ produces an attitude of beauty so I respect the world; an attitude of humility so that I love the world; and an attitude of becoming so that I join the world. Experiencing Christ’s fragrant love, being filled with Christ’s fragrant love, and exuding Christ’s fragrant love is what living fully is all about. Living fully in Christ’s love gives us the spiritual boldness needed for reaching the world God’s way. And that my friend is exactly what we are here on earth to do! How can we resist the fragrant love of Christ?

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I surrender to your fragrant and irresistible love. I know why I am here and I give myself to you fully to that end. Adjust my attitudes toward the world and grant me a true spiritual boldness for blessing and reaching others with the fragrance of Christ. I love you, worship you, and bless you, Lord. Amen!

  • The Spiritual Boldness of Living Fully - A Shared Journey - Thursday, June 29th

    The man answered and said to them, “Well, here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where He is from, and yet He opened my eyes. We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him. Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.” They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you teaching us?” So, they put him out. John 9:30-34

    Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14

    Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. 1John 3:2-3

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    When we are not truly in step with the Spirit through self-surrender, etc., bold attempts to reach the world often exude an arrogance of one who has arrived. The arrogance of the Pharisees in our John passage gushes out in the words, “are you teaching us?” Not only do they think they have arrived, but they really don’t think others can arrive nor do they want them to. Spiritual boldness is incarnational. We are not off in the distance standing on the train station platform having already arrived at the destination. We are on the train with those around us sharing in the journey of life as ones who are in process, still traveling, still moving toward the destination. Spiritual boldness comes readily to the one who knows that His life will help others look to God for spiritual direction because those others will be able to see that he is continuing to do the very same thing.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, forgive me for the self-righteousness I so easily get caught up in. Help me always to remember that spiritual growth is a lifetime thing. I know that I am on a journey and that I am on that journey with everyone around me. No one is beneath me and I am never too good to come close to someone and share in the journey of life with them. Grant me true spiritual boldness for living fully for you in these ways. Amen!

  • The Spiritual Boldness of Living Fully - A Divine Infilling - Wednesday, June 28th

    So they said to him, “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?” He answered them, “I told you already and you did not listen; why do you want to hear it again? You do not want to become His disciples too, do you?” They reviled him and said, “You are His disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where He is from.” John 9:26-29

    For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

    For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:8-10

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    When we are not truly in step with the Spirit through self-surrender, etc., bold attempts to reach the world often are riddled with pride and boastfulness. Spiritual boldness is always humble. It is not about us. There is no room for pride and boasting. It is about God touching the lives of others through us. A vessel that is not empty has no room for being filled with something else. Those who are humble and empty of self are able to be filled with God’s loving presence. When such vessels are used to touch the lives of others, it is God’s presence that is poured out. Spiritual boldness comes readily to the one who truly knows that God’s presence will flow from their life because they know self with its pride and boasting is out of the way.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I know you don’t want me to stop being me, but you do want me to stop being in charge. So, show me how to be humble and empty so that you can fill me up and have full sway over my entire being and my entire life. Remove pride and boastfulness far from my dealings with others so that I am merely a vessel from which your presence is poured out. Amen!

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