Daily Devotional

  • The Upward Call of God – Going Forward in Confidence and Victory - Friday, October 19th

    I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14

    Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:29-32

    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. Colossians 3:12-13

    But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life …. Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. Jude 1:20-21, 24-25

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Oh, how much we need to let the words of these Scriptures soak into our souls! The problem of anger and rage really is greater than we think and runs deeper than we know. God’s provision of his wisdom and his Spirit should overwhelming convince us of the unequivocal desire and commitment he has for us to be delivered from anger and rage. Our subject this week, as they say, is not rocket science. God expects something different from us and we must come to Him, fall at His feet and let Him produce the difference he is waiting to bring about in our lives. This is the life he has called us to and now and always going forward we must heed the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for the encouragement of your Word. I want to reach higher and take hold of what you expect for my life. I choose to heed your upward call by coming to you, falling at your feet, and trusting you to make the difference that will give me the victory of compassion and gentleness instead of anger and rage in my life. Amen!

  • The Upward Call of God – Managing Your Anger the Right Way - Thursday, October 18th

    Later Cain suggested to his brother, Abel, "Let’s go out into the fields." And while they were there, Cain attacked and killed his brother. Genesis 4:8

    But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another. Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity. Ephesians 4:20-27

    Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled. Hebrews 12:14-15

    This you know, my beloved brethren. But everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger; for the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God. Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls. But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does. James 1:19-25

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    It is interesting that God tells us through Paul, not to let the sun go down on our anger. If Cain had followed this prescription history may have been very different. This time frame from God for dealing with anger is a profoundly simple solution. If when the sun goes down each day, there is no anger present we will be in good shape day by day by day. If we ignore this prescription, we will carry anger with us and we will become increasingly subject to feelings and outbursts of rage. The simple practice of coming before the Lord at the close of day can make all the difference. There in His presence we ask Him to reveal any anger we are not already aware of and then by faith we give it all to Him and we go into the night resting in the assurance our anger has been replaced by His peace and comfort.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I do not want to be a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer. Help me to follow your prescription for managing anger. I am committed to leaving behind the old life and forsaking the old self. I choose to put on the new self in my pursuit of the new life you have called me to. I choose to walk in your grace and leave anger and rage behind. Amen!

  • The Upward Call of God – Countering the Tactics of the Devil - Wednesday, October 17th

    You will be accepted if you respond in the right way. But if you refuse to respond correctly, then watch out! Sin is waiting to attack and destroy you, and you must subdue it. Genesis 4:7

    Be careful!! Watch out for attacks from the Devil, your great enemy. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for some victim to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

    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, Who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in his mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. 1 Peter 2:19-25

    To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. For, “The one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit. He must turn away from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 1 Peter 3:18-12

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We know that anger and rage are not good and often make for messy situations and relationships. But they help make things happen and they help get us to where we want to go. We really don’t know how to live without them. We are convinced that life won’t work any other way. We need to look further ahead, as well as more closely, at what really is happening in our lives when the spirit of the world permeates us. Both examinations will reveal that we are not really achieving good results. Down the line, we will reach a destination of ruin and all along the way we will leave a wake of pain and turmoil. And in such living the enemy of our souls takes delight. You can be sure that when Lucifer rebelled against the Most High, his rebellion was fueled by anger and rage about not being in charge and having to submit to the authority of someone over him. And now as the arch enemy of God and instigator of sin, rebellion, and havoc, he is devoted to and delights in bringing others into his circle of anger and rage. We desperately need to comprehend the folly of our error and become tuned into the tactics of our enemy. At the same time, however, there is great hope because, “greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.”

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I really do want to “give a blessing instead” of that which comes so naturally to me in my dealings with others. I really do want to live supernaturally so that the tactics of the devil are actually overcome in my life. Lord, I bow before you in surrender and reliance for the power and victory you are waiting to give. Amen!

  • The Upward Call of God – Renouncing Our Personal Will - Tuesday, October 16th

    Why are you so angry?” the Lord asked him (Cain). “Why do you look so dejected? You will be accepted if you respond in the right way. But if you refuse to respond correctly, then watch out! Sin is waiting to attack and destroy you, and you must subdue it. Genesis 4:6-7

    Therefore, since Christ has suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same purpose, because he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for the lusts of men, but for the will of God. 1 Peter 4:1-2

    Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Therefore, be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Ephesians 5:11-17

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    We are called to live for the will of God. He does not want us to follow in the way of Cain. So, first of all, God’s will has to do with our having lives that overcome anger and rage. You can call anger and rage whatever you want (mad, upset, frustrated, irked, irritated, annoyed, etc.) but still this type of stuff is not what God wants in our lives. Even God’s will as it unfolds around us day by day is often the very impetus for our anger and rage. We are so accustomed to being in charge and making things happen. How frequently we overpower and manipulate the situations and people in our lives to affect the outcomes we want and how often these moments are permeated by our spirit of anger and rage. Then, if our efforts are thwarted by others, circumstances, or unknown forces, our anger and rage become full blown. God is always at work seeking to affect His will in the situations of our lives. We are not in charge. We must walk in a spirit of submission to Him and His will. As we do so, He will replace the spirit of this world, anger and rage, with the fruit of the Spirit, love, kindness, gentleness, etc.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I know how extremely important it is to have your will come about in my life. I also know how easily my will gets in the way and how easily it leads to anger and rage. Help me to want what you want more than ever before so that your will truly becomes my will. I know your wisdom calls me to be filled with the Spirit and to yield to the power of the Holy Spirit who will manifest the fruit of the Spirit in me and through me. So be it. Amen!

  • The Upward Call of God – Battling the Spirit of this World - Monday, October 15th

    Later she (Eve) gave birth to a second son and named him Abel. At harvest time Cain brought to the Lord a gift of his farm produce, while Abel brought several choice lambs from the best of his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his offering, but he did not accept Cain and his offering. This made Cain very and angry and dejected. Genesis 4:2-5

    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

    Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain. Jude 1:11

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The apostle Paul, speaking for himself and his ministry companions, says in 1 Corinthians 2, “Yet we do speak wisdom … a wisdom, however not of this age … we speak God’s wisdom … a wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” What a paradox. God gave His Son to deliver mankind from the “way of Cain” and the “way of Cain” was instrumental in bringing about Christ’s crucifixion which in turn is God’s means of conquering the “way of Cain.” It was anger and rage that led to Cain murdering his brother Abel. It was the anger and rage that led to the rulers of this age crucifying Jesus. This is the spirit of the world; the spirit of anger and rage. Jesus said, that our anger and rage toward another person constitutes murder. 

    Paul says further on in 1 Corinthians 2, “Now we have received, not the spirit of this world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God … But a natural man does not accept the things of God, for they are foolishness to him.” Anger and rage are natural. As Christians, we are no longer to live naturally according to the spirit of this world and yet we do and of course we all know how troublesome the presence and power of anger and rage in our lives really are. However, the problem is greater than we think and runs deeper than we know. The provision of God’s wisdom and God’s Spirit point strongly to God’s desire for us to be delivered from anger and rage and such deliverance is the focus of this week’s Devotional.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, how readily I live in ways that come naturally. Forgive me for the unchecked anger and rage in my life. I know you have given me the Holy Spirit, Lord. You have freely given everything I need to battle the spirit of the world and win. Help me truly live supernaturally so that anger and rage are conquered. Thank you for your upward call. Amen!

  • The Most Beautiful Flower - An inspirational poem for Sunday, October 14th

    The Most Beautiful Flower

    The park bench was deserted as I sat down to read Beneath the long, straggly branches of an old willow tree. Disillusioned by life with good reason to frown, For the world was intent on dragging me down.

    And if that weren’t enough to ruin my day, A young boy out of breath approached me, all tired from play. He stood right before me with his head tilted down And said with great excitement, “Look what I found!”

    In his hand was a flower, and what a pitiful sight, With its petals all worn – not enough rain, or too little light. Wanting him to take his dead flower and go off to play, I faked a small smile and then shifted away.

    But instead of retreating he sat next to my side And placed the flower to his nose and declared with surprise, “It sure smells pretty and it’s beautiful, too. That’s why I picked it; here, it’s for you.”

    The weed before me was dying or dead. Not vibrant of colors, orange, yellow or red. But I knew I must take it, or he might never leave. So I reached for the flower, and replied, “Just what I need.”

    But instead of him placing the flower in my hand, He held it mid-air without reason or plan. It was then that I noticed for the very first time That weed-toting boy could not see: he was blind.

    I heard my voice quiver, tears shone like the sun As I thanked him for picking the very best one. “You’re welcome,” he smiled, and then ran off to play, Unaware of the impact he’d had on my day.

    I sat there and wondered how he managed to see A self-pitying woman beneath an old willow tree. How did he know of my self-indulged plight? Perhaps from his heart, he’d been blessed with true sight.

    Through the eyes of a blind child, at last I could see The problem was not with the world; the problem was me. And for all of those times I myself had been blind, I vowed to see beauty, and appreciate every second that’s mine.

    And then I held that wilted flower up to my nose And breathed in the fragrance of a beautiful rose And smiled as that young boy, another weed in his hand About to change the life of an unsuspecting old man.

    -Author unknown

  • “I Wish" And "I Will" - An inspirational poem for Saturday, October 13th

    “I Wish" And "I Will"
    Poet: Nixon Waterman

    "I Wish" and "I Will," so my grandmother says,
    Were two little boys in the long, long ago,
    And "I Wish" used to sigh while "I Will" used to try
    For the things he desired, at least that's what my
    Grandma tells me, and she ought to know.

    "I Wish" was so weak, so my grandmother says,
    That he longed to have someone to help him about,
    And while he'd stand still and look up at the hill
    And sigh to be there to go coasting, "I Will"
    Would glide past him with many a shout.

    They grew to be men, so my grandmother says,
    And all that "I Wish" ever did was to dream--
    To dream, and to sigh that life's hill was so high,
    While "I Will" went to work and soon learned, if we try,
    Hills are never so steep as they seem.

    "I Wish" lived in want, so my grandmother says,
    But "I Will" had enough and a portion to spare:
    Whatever he thought was worth winning he sought
    With an earnest and patient endeavor that brought
    Of blessings a bountiful share.

    And whenever my grandma hears any one "wish,"
    A method she seeks, in his mind to instill,
    For increasing his joys, and she straightway employs
    The lesson she learned from the two little boys
    Whose names were "I Wish" and "I Will."

  • The Unchanging Love of God – Resting Fully in Its Indescribable Vastness - Friday, October 12th

    Praise the Lord, all nations; laud Him, all peoples! For His lovingkindness is great toward us, and the truth of the Lord is everlasting. Praise the Lord! Psalm 117:1-2

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    What a great description of God’s love in the verse below from the song, “The Love of God” by Frederick M. Lehman:

    “Could we with ink the ocean fill,
    And were the skies of parchment made,
    Were every stalk on earth a quill,
    And every man a scribe by trade,
    To write the love of God above,
    Would drain the ocean dry.
    Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
    Though stretched from sky to sky.”

    To know God is to know His love. His love is not a commodity he parcels out for us to possess and utilize. God never separates himself from his love in this way. Coming to know God and the “unchanging love” He has for us is crucial. God is as close as can be and we need to become intensely aware and vitally moved by His presence. May it be that God graciously fosters an awakening in us that helps us consistently see Him and the magnificent love He has for us, His children. God is ready and willing to do His part to help us know him and experience his love more fully. This will involve our overcoming our orientation to conditional love that makes it so difficult for us to receive and experience his vast love. And it will result in our becoming absolutely assured and resting in the marvelous reality that we can never be separated from the unconditional, unfailing, unending, and unchanging love of God.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, wow! Your love is wonderfully overwhelming. My relationship with you truly is a goldmine of Divine love that I treasure above all else. Thank you for loving me fully and always. I love you, trust you, praise you, and worship you. I truly rest in your vast unchanging love. Amen!

  • The Unchanging Love of God – Responding Fully to Its Magnetic Power - Thursday, October 11th

    But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope. She will give herself to me there, as she did long ago when she was young, when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt. When that day comes,” says the Lord, “you will call me ‘my husband’ instead of ‘my master.’ O Israel, I will wipe the many names of Baal from your lips, and you will never mention them again. Hosea 2:14-17

    But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy statement; and concerning these things I want you to speak confidently, so that those who have believed God will be careful to engage in good deeds. These things are good and profitable for men. Titus 3:4-8

    What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:31-39

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    There is a mystery to God’s love. We are so oriented to human, conditional love. God’s love is such that He waits patiently for all to come to Him even if they never will. And He waits patiently for those who are already His to return when they stray from Him. Even though His love is missed so to speak by those who don’t know Him yet and by those who have strayed, it remains available to them and that is what makes it mysterious. Hosea’s stance toward unfaithful Gomer is that of seeking to “win her back.” What a beautiful picture of God’s stance toward us. He is always seeking to “win us back” by drawing us to himself with the chords of his unchanging love. Perhaps we are not one who has never believed, and perhaps we are not one who has been unfaithful. Still the image here is that of a loving God seeking to draw His people ever closer to Himself in order to pour out His unchanging and unconditional love into their lives more than ever before. So often we know Him as something other than a loving husband because we don’t know Him in the way He wants and waits for us to know Him. Romans 7:4 says that we have been married to another and that is Christ instead of the law. What a great way to look at it!

    God’s love both initially and ongoing is according to His mercy. It is not based on deeds which we have done. Just as nothing we do causes Him to love us, there is nothing that can separate us from the love He has for us which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Truly, God’s love for us is unchanging and unconditional. God’s love is like a powerful magnet that not only draws us to him but keeps us forever closely and inseparably connected to him.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, what an absolute sense of security comes from the way you draw me to yourself and love me. You are love. You have me and I have you. When I experience you, I experience your love. Help me to know you better and more consistently so that I experience you and your love more fully than ever. Amen!

  • The Unchanging Love of God – Recognizing Fully Its Enduring Availability - Wednesday, October 10th

    When the Lord first began speaking to Israel through Hosea, he said to him, “Go and marry a prostitute, so that some of her children will be conceived in prostitution. This will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the Lord and worshiping other gods.” So Hosea married Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she became pregnant and gave Hosea a son. Hosea 1:2-3

    As it is written, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one. Their throat is an open grave, with their tongues they keep deceiving, the poison of asps is under their lips; whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness; their feet are swift to shed blood, destruction and misery are in their paths, and the path of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes …. But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed; for the demonstration, I say, of His righteousness at the present time, so that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Romans 3:10-18; 21-26

    Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God …. because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:1-2, 5B-8

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Because God’s love is unchanging and therefore not subject to influence, we can always count on it. The story of Hosea and Gomer lets us see a love that is unchanging and unconditional. This in turn helps us see more clearly the unchanging and unconditional love God has for His people. We are told that God loves the world but we must realize that everyone does not benefit from that love equally. God’s love is a gift that must be received. There are those who will not believe (they will not respond to His proposal of marriage) and there are those who believe but are not faithful (they go after other lovers). God’s people Israel were married to Him so to speak, but they were unfaithful. It is pretty tough for a wife to benefit from the love of her husband if she is giving herself to other lovers. Similarly, it is tough for us to benefit from God’s love if we give ourselves to substitutes for Him. Because God’s love for us is unchanging and unconditional, He waits for our return so that He can pour out His love into our lives.

    This is the kind of love Hosea had for Gomer. The unfaithfulness of Gomer depicts how Israel has acted toward God. Hosea depicts God Who in His unchanging and unfailing love waits constantly for Israel to return. God is always waiting with unchanging and unconditional love for those who yet need to respond to His salvation (proposal of marriage) and those (believers) who have been unfaithful (gone after substitutes) and need to return (forsake substitutes) to Him. It is hard for the unbeliever and the believer alike to recognize and admit the failings of sin. We fall short and only God can bridge the gap through His Son, Jesus Christ. God’s love, by which he gave us Christ and the provision of grace that takes care of our sin, was given while we were yet sinners with nothing to offer but failure. Therefore, His love continues to be available to us freely in our ongoing brokenness and failure.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you that you were there with your love all the time I paid no attention to you. Thank you for waiting for me and never giving up on me. Thank you for a love that saved me from my sins and established me in a forever relationship with you. Thank you for making your love available to me no matter how far astray I went or how long it took for me to respond. I am truly blessed. Amen!

  • The Unchanging Love of God – Grasping Fully Its Uninfluenced Nature - Tuesday, October 9th

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

    He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God …. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life. John 3:18; 5:24

    We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this, love is perfected with us, so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; because as He is, so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. We love, because He first loved us. 1 John 4:16-19

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    “For God so loved” – How so? That is the million-dollar question and in gaining an understanding of the answer we will at least be helped to understand (if not experience) God and His love more fully. The quote that follows is from the writings of A. W. Pink and is taken from a work of his on the attributes of God where he deals with the love of God: “Because He loved us when we were loveless, it is clear that His love was uninfluenced. It is highly important if God is to be honored and the heart of His child established, that we should be quite clear upon this precious truth. God’s love for me, and for each of "His own," was entirely unmoved by anything in them. What was there in me to attract the heart of God? Absolutely nothing.”

    Understanding and embracing the truth of this quote is absolutely essential for grasping the “unchanging” nature of God’s love. If God’s love for us is somehow based on our influencing Him to love us then the opposite is true: we can influence Him not to love us. God’s love is uninfluenced and the depth of assurance and gratitude this truth about His love invites and inspires is astounding. A bit of meditation (concentrating on God) and worship (responding to Who He is) is called for at this point.

    Let’s say it again, we do not influence God to love us. If His loving us was subject to our influencing Him to bestow it, then we would be in trouble. Our influence would only invite His judgment. God’s love provided Christ who was judged for us and satisfied completely God’s holiness. The one who entrusts himself to God and His redemptive provision does not come into judgment and does not perish. Those who believe have eternal life and become recipients of God’s amazing love.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, thank you for freely and fully bestowing your amazing love upon my heart and life. Continue your work of overcoming in me my natural bent of wanting to earn and deserve your love. I see that it cannot be anything but a gift of grace. I bow in worship and surrender. I love you, bless you, and rest in you. Amen!

  • The Unchanging Love of God – Awakening Fully to Its Delightful Existence - Monday, October 8th

    Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in unchanging love. Micah 7:18

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The story is told of a man who owned a small ranch that had fallen on hard times. The man was facing bankruptcy and the loss of his ranch and the only solution he could see was to sell it and give up everything he had dreamed of and worked toward over the years. Shortly before the sale was finalized the man walked to an outcropping where he often sat and looked out over his ranch. He sat upon a rock of the outcropping for a long time taking it all in and grieving over what might have been. The sale went through and he managed to cover his debts but had very little left for going forward with his life. About a year later, so the story goes, a rich vein of gold was discovered on that land and wouldn’t you know, it was just beneath that rock on the outcropping from which the man used to sit and look out over his ranch. The image conveyed is striking: poverty and ruin loom while wealth and prosperity remain hidden close at hand. Of course, we want the storybook ending where discovery at the last possible second produces the drastic reversal from disaster to happily ever after. 

    The storybook ending, while it may serve the conclusion of this week’s study, does not serve what is needed in our introduction. From the image of this man and his ranch we need to see ourselves and our relationship with God. How often we do “life” in a way that speaks loud and clear that we do not know God for the gold mine that He is. To know God is to know His love. For most of us, we have hardly scratched the surface of what it means to know God and the “unchanging love” He has for us. Any yet there He is as close as could be and we remain so unaware and so unmoved by His presence. My hope and prayer for you and for me is that this week’s Devotionals will foster an awakening in us as we are helped to see Him and the magnificent love He has for us, His children.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, my relationship with you really is a goldmine of Divine love. Awaken every part of my being to you and your unchanging love for me. Deliver me from my orientation to conditional love and the damage it has caused in my life. Help me not to allow this conditioning to keep me from experiencing your love to the fullest. Thank you for loving me, Lord. Amen!

  • "The Paradoxical Commandments" - An inspirational poem for Sunday, October 7th

    The Paradoxical Commandments

    By

    People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered.
    Love them anyway.

    If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
    Do good anyway.

    If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
    Succeed anyway.

    The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
    Do good anyway.

    Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
    Be honest and frank anyway.

    The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women with the smallest minds.
    Think big anyway.

    People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs.
    Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

    What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
    Build anyway.

    People really need help but may attack you if you do help them.
    Help people anyway.

    Give the world the best you have and you'll get kicked in the teeth.
    Give the world the best you have anyway.

  • "Forgiveness Is Divine" - An inspirational poem for Saturday, October 6th

    Forgiveness Is Divine

    ©

    Some people view forgiveness,
    As a virtue for the weak.
    An act of Mercy undeserved,
    That serves no useful need.

    They stand firmly in their judgment,
    And won't consider a mistake.
    They prefer to hold a senseless grudge,
    Than accept amends when made.

    They feel they have some Godly right,
    To reject and criticize.
    They're possessed by righteous anger,
    And consumed by pointless pride.

    They're focused on how they've been wronged,
    And won't be made the fool again.
    So they feel they must avenge themselves,
    By refusing to give in.

    They will sacrifice their family,
    Or forsake a long, time friend.
    Do anything they have to do,
    To be the winner in the end.

    Or perhaps it's that they can't resolve,
    The depth of all their hurt.
    Caused when someone that they've trusted,
    Left them questioning their worth.

    But no matter why the struggle,
    Out of pride or out of fear.
    Not being able to forgive,
    Can cause the loss of ones most dear.

    Yes, forgiveness is a virtue,
    They even say it is divine.
    But more than that it sets you free,
    From what weighs you down inside.

    The best way to approach this life,
    Is to ask forgiveness and to forgive.
    There's a balance to this crazy world,
    So live and just let live.

  • Conquering Love – Finding True Victory - Friday, October 5th

    But if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part; but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:8B-13

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Being ones who live fully for God is a great calling and a great challenge for us as God’s people. Devoting everything we have to a great vertical connection with God and great horizontal connections with others is absolutely essential to overcoming wrong ways of relating to others. Nowhere is this more essential than in our dealings with those people we find hard to like. When we really get serious about all of this and begin to experience victory in this area, it just may be that we will no longer have room for the description “people we find hard to like” in the collection of categories we have for people and this will truly be part of the victory of becoming ones who God uses through unconditional love to conquer the hearts of those who need him desperately.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I make your expectation of victory my expectation. I know that the spirit of the world is not naturally one of love but rather selfishness and self-determination. I confess that the spirit of this world has done a number on me. I believe I can overcome what comes naturally and that I can love all others unconditionally through your amazing Spirit living in me and through me in powerful and wonderful ways. I bow before you, Lord, in worship and surrender. To you be the glory forever and ever. Amen!

  • Conquering Love – Persevering Toward the Goal - Thursday, October 4th

    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. Ephesians 3:17-18

    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. Romans 12:9-13

    Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8A

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The kind of love people need from us is unconditional love. How do we actually become ones who are adequately prepared to bring unconditional love into our relationships with others? Our starting point is always our relationship with God. We must let Him lead us fully into the relationship of unconditional love He desires for us to have with Him. As we experience His unconditional love more and more fully, we will be transformed so that we have unconditional love to extend to others. As we extend this love to others, God will use it to help them respond to Him in ways that are needed so that they become properly aligned with His unconditional love. It may be that in relationships with those people we find hard to like, we must repeatedly bestow unconditional love on them while in return we receive anything but that from them. The goal is for unconditional love to win out and not only have them know the unconditional love of God, but for them to become dispensers of that love so that in our relationship with them we experience the joy of unconditional love reciprocated.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, help my spiritual roots to grow down deep into your amazing love. Truly make your home in my heart so that every bit of who I am is permeated by your loving presence. I want to be the real deal with no hypocrisy at all so that the love that flows out of me to others will wonderfully draw them to you. Help me believe that even those very people I find so hard to love; the very ones who don’t like me and mistreat me, will respond to the overflowing love that comes from you to them through me. I give myself fully to you and your conquering love right here and now. I know you will help me persevere toward the goal of seeing unconditional love reciprocated. Amen!

  • Conquering Love – Giving Up Unloving Ways - Wednesday, October 3rd

    Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14

    But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another. We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-15

    Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved. I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord. Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Philippians 4:1-5

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    The impact of unloving people in the world in which we live is not something that we can escape. The spirit of the world is not naturally one of love, but rather one of selfishness and self-determination. And so apart from God’s intervention we are both the recipients and dispensers of unloving actions in an arena where people unlovingly clash again and again as each one pursues his own ends and purposes. While we cannot escape being on the receiving end of unloving behavior, we can become ones who exchange the dispensing of unloving actions for the dispensing of loving actions toward others, particularly toward those people who don’t like us and we find hard to like in return. 

    But this requires preparation, a re-tooling of our hearts and minds, if you will. We must be prepared ahead of time for the encounters we will have with such people. Have we really embraced being agents of God’s love in our relationships with all people? Are we willing to drop our preferences, dump our hurts, abandon our fears, forsake our own ends and purposes and put on a garment of love on behalf of people we have previously not wanted to love? The way of love is truly a choice, but one that is made ahead of time and allows us both to give up the unloving ways of ugliness, pain, and harm and to engage with others truly prepared to bestow beauty, love, and healing in a free and abundant way.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I recognize how vital it is for me to renounce selfishness and self-determination in my own life in favor of surrender and dependence in my relationship with you. I know this is the only solution for giving up unloving ways in all my relationships. I devote myself to being prepared and I promise to count on you for the transformation I need for forsaking the dispensing of ugliness, pain, and harm in favor of bestowing beauty, love, and healing. Amen!

  • Conquering Love – Becoming Agents that Bless - Tuesday, October 2nd

    But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. Luke 6:27-28

    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. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:14-21

    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. Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord. 1 Peter 1:22-23

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    There are those people in the sphere of our lives who are hard to like: they rub us the wrong way, they are hard to relate to them, their likes and dislikes are different from ours, they just make us feel uncomfortable. Then there are those people who are “really” hard to like. This is because they have hurt us in the past and we are sure that to be around them will mean being hurt some more. These are the ones who, when they are around, seemingly come up against us with ill will and malice in a clear demonstration that they really don’t “like” us. So, our overall stance toward them is really a reactionary stance, a posture of defense. We try to stand clear of them or be ready to do battle when being engaged with them is unavoidable. 

    But, as ones who are seeking to live fully for God is this what we should settle for in our relating to such people? Should our emotions and fears be the predominating factors of how we relate to them? We are told not to be overcome by evil and that is exactly what behaving in this way comes down to. We are to overcome evil by doing good and we are not to return evil for evil. We are also told to put aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and slander. Jesus really meant it when He told us to love our enemies, to do good to those who hate us, to bless those who curse us, and to pray for those who hurt us. If we avoid such people or hurt them in return when we can’t avoid them, how will we ever be the agents of love and blessing that Jesus calls us to be in the lives of these people who desperately need Him?

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I confess that I am so much more prone to “curse and not bless” than I am to “bless and not curse.” Help me not to settle for this. Help to believe that I can genuinely do good to those who hate me. Help me to really believe that evil can be overcome by good. Teach me how to pray for them. Teach me how to take a posture of love and blessing before them and all people. I choose to launch out with you in the amazing journey of being an agent of love and blessing. Amen!

  • Conquering Love – Choosing to Make a Difference - Monday, October 1st

    If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    Living Fully for God is the central focus of our church. This means that we seek to love God with our entire being and to yield ourselves entirely to Him for all that He has in mind to accomplish in and through us. As our vertical connection with God becomes more and more what it should be, our horizontal connections with others become more and more what they should be. There are wrong ways to relate to others that we can easily enter into. Often we have to deal with people in moments when relating to them in loving ways is particularly difficult. Not missing love in our dealings with others is a lifetime challenge. The challenge to love is hard enough with those we like and care about, let alone with those we find it hard to love and care about it. As Christ-followers, we are called to love all others with unconditional love. This is what the kingdom of God and its advancement is all about. Exploring how to spread the unconditional love of God to all others so that their hearts and lives are conquered is our focus this week. This is the difference God expects our lives to make in the world we live in throughout our entire lifetime.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, it is obvious that my vertical connection with you and my horizontal connections with others could stand some significant improvement. Allowing myself to be caught up in unloving ways happens so easily. I want to be one who extends unconditional love significantly and consistently to the people around me. I understand that the key to this happening is my own significant and consistent experience with the unconditional love you are always extending to me. Conquer my heart and life so that you can conquer the hearts and lives of others through me. Amen!

  • A Psalm of Life - An Inspirational Poem for Sunday, September 30th

    A Psalm Of Life

    By 

    Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
    Life is but an empty dream!—
    For the soul is dead that slumbers,
    And things are not what they seem.

    Life is real! Life is earnest!
    And the grave is not its goal;
    Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
    Was not spoken of the soul.

    Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
    Is our destined end or way;
    But to act, that each to-morrow
    Find us farther than to-day.

    Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
    And our hearts, though stout and brave,
    Still, like muffled drums, are beating
    Funeral marches to the grave.

    In the world's broad field of battle,
    In the bivouac of Life,
    Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
    Be a hero in the strife!

    Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant!
    Let the dead Past bury its dead!
    Act,—act in the living Present!
    Heart within, and God o'erhead!

    Lives of great men all remind us
    We can make our lives sublime,
    And, departing, leave behind us
    Footprints on the sands of time;

    Footprints, that perhaps another,
    Sailing o'er life's solemn main,
    A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
    Seeing, shall take heart again.

    Let us, then, be up and doing,
    With a heart for any fate;
    Still achieving, still pursuing,
    Learn to labor and to wait.


  • "Don't Judge" - An Inspirational Poem for Saturday, September 29th

    Don't Judge


    Pray, don’t find fault with the man who limps
    Or stumbles along the road
    Unless you have worn the shoes he wears
    Or struggled beneath the load
    There may be tacks in his shoes that hurt
    Though hidden away from view
    For the burden he bears placed upon your back Might cause you to stumble too


    Don’t be harsh with the man who sins
    Or pelt with words or stones
    Unless you are sure, yes doubly sure
    That you have no sins of your own
    For you know perhaps that the tempter’s voice
    Should whisper soft to you
    As it did to him when he went astray
    And would cause you to stagger too

    Don’t sneer at the man who’s down today
    Unless you have felt the blow
    That caused his fall, or felt the shame
    That only the fallen know
    You may be strong, but still the blows
    That were his, if dealt to you
    In the self same way, at the self same time
    Might cause you to stagger too

  • Kingdom People – Radiate Spiritual Vitality - Friday, September 28th

    Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:1-5

    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, may your presence and the wonders of your heavenly touch be so evident in me that I am readily and regularly a connecting point for you to touch the earth with your splendor and glory. May my life so radiate spiritual vitality that others are powerfully drawn to you. I humble myself before you in complete surrender and dependence so that I truly and fully become the kingdom person you have called me to be. Amen!

  • Kingdom People – Go Forward Clean and Fresh - Thursday, September 27th

    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

    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 His forgiveness 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 realize that you and you alone are the difference between a life lived well or not lived well. I know that everyone needs saving forgiveness just as much as anyone else because we are all equally sinful and lost. Please build this as fully as possible into my mind, heart, and life. As your redeemed child help me never to be slow about coming to you for the forgiveness and cleansing I need in my relationship with you along the way. May I always go forward day by day clean and fresh. Amen!

  • Kingdom People – Welcome Forgiveness - Wednesday, September 26th

    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

    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, I confess that I desire to achieve righteous on my own and to get personal credit for it. I admit that when I sin, I am more concerned about me and having messed up my good track record than I am about you and my not having allowed you to produce the righteousness needed instead of sinning. Teach me all about godly sorrow, simple forgiveness, and absolute surrender and dependence on you and your pure and amazing grace. Amen!

  • Kingdom People – Don’t Throw Stones - Tuesday, September 25th

    But when they (those who brought a woman caught in adultery before Jesus) 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. 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. John 8:7-9

    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, forgive me for the stones I have thrown at others because of my own self-righteousness. Help me to live as a kingdom person who values other people as ones who can be reached by your grace. I put on a heart of compassion and love and as you have forgiven me I choose to freely and readily forgive others. Amen!

  • Kingdom People – Bring Heaven to Earth - Monday, September 24th

    But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. 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. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. Matthew 6:6-15

    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 keep focused on having lives that advance the spread on 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 do genuinely pray, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is heaven.” I pray that it would come from you to the whole world through your people everywhere. I know that means me, too. Transform me and make my life a true connecting point between heaven and earth. Make me clean, keep me close, use me to touch my world today with a bit of heaven. Amen!

  • "A Gift To Share" - Sunday, September 23rd

    A Gift To Share

    © Alora M. Knight

    I was given a smile the other day
    From someone who passed me on their way.
    I wasn't sure what I should do.
    Perhaps, I'll leave it up to you.

    If I should keep it for myself,
    Put it on the kitchen shelf.
    Then it would be a certainty
    To bring some happiness to me.

    Somehow that doesn't feel just right
    For me to keep it in my sight
    When there were others who might need
    A waft of warmth, oh yes indeed.

    It doesn't take so very much,
    A cheerful smile, a gentle touch,
    To lift the cloud another bears,
    To help them feel somebody cares.

    There is one thing we all should know.
    A smile is like the candle's glow.
    No matter how many candles share
    That light, its fullness still is there.

    So when I go out on the street,
    No matter whom I chance to meet,
    If I share with them my precious smile,
    Do you think that will be worthwhile?

    For hopefully, they too, will understand
    That a smile is like a helping hand.
    I'm hoping that you will agree
    And someday share a smile with me.

  • "God Will Make A Way" - Saturday, September 22nd

    God Will Make A Way

    © Lydia Preston

    Society seems in a mess
    Mothers cry, while Fathers stress
    to be polite is a disgrace
    as children mock you to your face

    every day the papers show
    that crime and rape did upward go
    the things done in laboratories
    are stashed away in lavatories

    drugs and sex aren't hard to find
    it seems as if the worlds gone blind
    for what the people fail to see
    is messing up society

    as Dads no longer head their home
    and kids all sit, and chat by phone
    what once to all has been a home
    is looking like a war torn zone

    no longer do you find that kids
    are playing in the park
    for it's become a hideout place
    for gangsters after dark

    what once was right now seems so wrong
    no more joy and no more song
    as what this all was meant to be
    lies buried in a cemetery

    by telling you these things my aim
    is not to make you mad
    it's just to tell another truth
    which soon will make you glad

    amidst the chaos of this world
    of hurt, despair and pain
    and hate along with treachery
    all done for selfish gain

    there's this one thing I know of
    believe with all my heart
    that when I bend my knees to pray
    my God will make a way

  • The Work of Living Fully - The Completion of Our Calling - Friday, September 21st

    But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

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

    In today’s Scripture, the Apostle Paul speaks of finishing his course and his ministry. He is not just talking about coming to the end of his course and ministry but he is talking about “finishing well.” We need to make this our goal too. When Paul was called to ministry, it was a full change of career for him (although he did some literal “tent making” on the side). We must not think his words in today’s passage are okay for him but not us.

    For most of us our vocation of ministry is right in the middle of our everyday life which includes our vocation of regular work. “Finishing well” the course of your life and the ways God has for you “to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God," must be a driving force in your day to day life. As we all know this is easier said than done. Why is it so hard for us get on track and stay on track with serving God and his kingdom?

    The "now generation" term was coined sometime after World War II in the midst of an unparalleled age of prosperity that began and continues on even now. It is a term that captures a dynamic that no one in our present culture can escape entirely. We need to know what makes us tick. We need to address the things that are true of us that interfere with our living lives that really count. Living for the "immediate" is a real problem that interferes with our ability to be diligent in our work and it carries over and gets in the way of our truly living for Christ and his kingdom. Self-centeredness, materialism, gratification, etc. must be overcome. We must become ones who are diligent in our work for the long haul in an outward, serving way. The more we become this kind of person and the more our goal is Christ and his kingdom, the more our life will count for eternity.

    In today’s passage the Apostle Paul says, “But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself.” He makes it very clear that this is the key for being able to go forward “doing” well and “finishing well” in living for that which counts for eternity. We can clearly see that this did happen for the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4:6-8, where it says, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

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

    The “crown of life” is merely an acknowledgement that we “endured” and ran well. But remember that the Christian life is a life of dependence on Jesus Christ who lives in us through the Holy Spirit. We are told in Scripture that in heaven when all is said and done we will cast our crowns at the feet of Jesus. “Looking to Jesus and keeping our eyes fixed on him” is the key to endurance. Dependence on him is how we run the race well. Knowing that rewards await that we can give back to Jesus for his glory and honor because of all that he will have enabled us to do, keeps us going steady and strong now.

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I want to finish my course and the calling you have for me to fulfill. Teach me how to do this diligently, right in the middle of my everyday life and work. May the work of your kingdom in the lives of the people around me be more dear to me than the “comforts and securities” of my own life. May everything you give me to do reflect this. May my life bless those around me in ways that impact them for your kingdom. Lord, fill my life with that which truly counts for "eternity." May I “finish well” my course and calling, as I await the day when you will say to me, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” Amen!

  • The Work of Living Fully - The Source of Our Calling - Thursday, September 20th

    Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 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 …. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples …. You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain. John 15:4-5, 8, 16A

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    When it comes to things that grow in the soil, we might say that the fruit is the product of the plant. Fruit is a good word for capturing all that comes forth from our lives that is beneficial and worthwhile. You may recall the expression: “the fruit of your labors.” In a broader sense, then, fruit is the good product our lives yield from the work we put into living life well. So, good fruit is the outcome we want from the lives we live and work is what we do to achieve that outcome. But the question must asked, “Where does it all come from? To put the question another way, “What is the source of the work we put into our lives that yields a successful outcome?”

    The answer to this is super significant; way, way more than might strike us at the outset of considering what the answer is for us. In reality, the meaning of life hinges on our answer. In a previous Devotional, a story was used that employed another metaphor. There is lesson from that metaphor that will help us grasp the central issue that is involved here. The metaphor was about glowing embers and what happened when one of the embers was separated from the others. The glow of the ember gradually faded until it grew cold and stopped glowing altogether. While the main lesson of the metaphor focused on the need for embers to stay close to each other, a more fundamental lesson was drawn from the metaphor.

    Here is what was said: Glowing embers do not come about just because embers are in close proximity to each other. It is the fire and the fire alone that makes each ember glow. God is the fire in our lives and his life in us needs to be active and full in order for our lives to “glow” so to speak. Our natural tendency is to slip away from being close to God and having his life be active and full in us.

    Being close to God and totally dependent on him as the source our lives is absolutely essential. Today’s Scripture is all about the close dependent relationship we need to have with Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. The universal problem of mankind is the delusion of “independence.” This is particularly true in our western culture. In other words, we want to be our own source, utilizing whatever resources we need to achieve the outcomes we want for our lives through own skill and hard work. To use the terminology of our passage, we cannot accept that we are branches and nothing more. We are trapped in the delusion of independence, because we think we are the whole kit and cabuddle. In reality, we were made for “dependence” on God so that the product or fruit of our lives is rooted in him and not us. God is not a resource but the one and only source that can truly make our lives count for eternity.

    Here is today’s passage again. Read it, meditate on it, and let God move in your mind, heart, and life like never before. May you be moved in such a full way that you are forever settled on the reality that you are a branch, Christ is your vine, and apart from him there will be no lasting fruit from your life. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 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 …. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples …. You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain.”

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

    Lord, I am so prone to self-reliance and independence. I want to get close to you and stay close to you. Show me how to depend on you for the work I put into living my life. May the fruit of my labors be the outworking of your life in me and through me. You are my vine (source) and I am your branch. I choose to abide in you. I believe you will make my life count for eternity. Amen!

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

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

    Today's thoughts from today's verses:

    In a very general sense “work” is what we do with our lives. Each person is busy either doing the work of living for themselves or living for God. Today’s Scripture uses the word “pleasure.” So, we can say each person is busy either working for their own pleasure or for God’s pleasure. We were created for God’s pleasure but we naturally live for our own pleasure. In order to reverse this, God intervened through His Son, Jesus Christ. Isaiah 53 says, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on him.”

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

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

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

    Today's prayer response from today's thoughts:

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

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