Devotionals

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Loving God

Loving God

Today's Message

{ Day 199 }

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! —Isaiah 30:18

Our Bridegroom God burns with fiery affections. This fact is separate and distinct from His tenderness and great gladness. Most people have a hard time thinking of God as desiring or wanting anything. After all, He owns everything. His pantry is always stocked. He can create creatures and worlds and galaxies to bring Him pleasure. He could entertain Himself endlessly. But the fact is deeply rooted in Scripture that He is also full of intense desire and burning love for each of us. This God of affection is what so many are longing to encounter, even though they may not be aware that the encounter will radically transform their heart. This is what makes you great. This is what makes you special and unique in all the universe. This provides each of us with the primary definition for our lives.

{ PRAYER STARTER }

Father, You own this universe and those in the world unknown to me. You hung the stars in space and caused the oceans to stay in place. When You spoke a word, the earth came into being. Yet You know me, and You desire to have a personal relationship with me. This is far beyond my understanding.

He longs to be near each one of us personally, in the
way friends and lovers want to be together.

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Daily Breakthroughs

Daily Breakthroughs

Today's Message

He Fears You

Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the Brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) —Acts 12:1-3

Notice that Herod vexed "certain of the church." He did not launch a full-scale persecution of the Church or try to arrest every person who had become a Christian. He was only after certain ones. Anxious to carry favor with the Jewish leaders, he made himself a willing tool of the devil to attack James and Peter.

The devil chose these men because they were filled with the Holy Ghost, preaching the gospel and bringing thousands into the kingdom of God. People who love and serve the Lord are a threat to the devil, and he fights back.

You too may have suffered the sting of his fiery darts. He is not after you because of who you are, but because he knows what God can do through you. He has heard your prayers and felt the deadening blows of the Word of God coming from your lips. He is afraid of you!

Lord, I thank You that those who love
You are a threat to the enemy. Lord,
humble me so that when I resist
him, he will flee. Amen.

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By Love Transformed

By Love Transformed

Today's Message

Thank God for Unanswered Prayer

You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives... —James 4:2-3

I have lived long enough, as far as I can tell, to thank God for every unanswered prayer. That is, prayers prayed in the distant past. To be honest, I have offered prayers more recently that have gone unanswered (so far), which makes no sense to me at all. But I predict that, in the end, I will have no complaints. God is not only sovereign, but He is also loving and gracious. No good thing does He withhold from those who sincerely try to do His will in everything (Ps. 84:11).

Unanswered prayer is still an enigma—that is, puzzling in the light of Jesus' words, "You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it" (John 14:14). God does not answer prayers that are not in His will. After all, John said, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us" (1 John 5:14).

I can only conclude that asking in Jesus' name must in some direct sense relate to God's will. The enigma of unanswered prayer lies in the apparent incongruity between what seems good to us at the time and what God knows is good for us.

Sometimes our prayers, which seem so right, flow from a faulty theology. When we are in love with our theological assumptions—and can't imagine they could be wrong—we tend to presume God surely agrees with us! The disciples asked the resurrected Christ, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6). It had not crossed their minds that Jesus never once planned to do anything of the kind.

Although unanswered prayer is a mystery, there is also an explanation. It is only a matter of time before we will be given an explanation. But it comes down to this: God has a better idea than that which we asked for.

Excerpted from The Thorn in the Flesh (Charisma House, 2004).

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Around the Word in 365 Days

Around the Word in 365 Days

Today's Message

Rejoicing in Trials

Psalm 63:1-11 We talked earlier about giving thanks for trials because ultimately they work for our good; also, proven character is developed in us. This thought does not appeal to our natural mind, especially when we are in the midst of a heavy-duty trial. David sometimes buckled under his trials, but even at those times he spoke to his soul and told his soul to hope in God. Focus is the main issue in trials, and as we see in our psalm reading today, David had his focus exactly where it should be. We all can learn how to focus on the Lord in troubled times. Thank God for a psalmist like David who writes beautiful, but also very practical psalms.

In this psalm David first declares His need for the Lord. He is going through a dry time and feels like there is no water (v. 1). He thirsts to see God's power and glory in the sanctuary (v. 2). Then David turns his focus from his need onto God and begins to praise Him. He shares the fact that God's loving-kindness supercedes every trial and is better than life itself. David's lips begin to praise the Lord (v. 3). He continues steadfastly focusing on the Lord by blessing the Lord and lifting up his hands to the Lord.

Then David makes a faith statement in the midst of a dry time in his life. He says, "My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips." The feeling of joy is normally absent when we are in a desert place, but David makes a decision with his will to praise the Lord with joyful lips (v. 5). He also remembers the Lord and meditates in the night watches (v. 6). Often when we are going through a trial, it is hard to sleep, but we can use these waking hours to meditate upon the Lord. David remembers how God has helped him in the past (v. 7). We can always gain proper focus in a trial when we remember how God hid us in the shadow of His wings in the other trials (v. 7).

David makes a determination of his will not to give up because he knows God is upholding him with His right hand (v. 8). He then declares the defeat of his enemies. Sometimes it is good in the midst of a trial to declare aloud the ultimate defeat of the enemy. This is spiritual warfare. Remember, God is allowing Satan to come against you for only one reason. He believes in you and knows if you depend upon Him in the trial, you will be victorious.

David ends his psalm with this beautiful statement: "The king shall rejoice in God." I have a little saying that helps me focus on Jesus in trying times: God will always turn the gory into glory if I trust in Him and keep my mind stayed upon Him.

READ: Isaiah 30:12-33:12; Galatians 5:1-12; Psalm 63:1-11; Proverbs 23:22

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Live Extraordinary

Live Extraordinary

Today's Message

Self Image

All of us have three images: projected image, perceived image, and actual image. Your projected image is the way you desire others to see you. Your perceived image is how others see you. Your actual image is who you really are.

For so many, their perceived image is what matters most. Their reputation is of greater importance to them than the true motives of their hearts. This causes them to project themselves in the way they desire to be perceived. Their efforts are focused on appearances, status, titles, saving face and so forth.

Consider Jesus—He was rejected by many, slandered by the influential, lied about by the rulers, and viewed by the establishment as a heretic or even demon inspired. His perceived image was not favorable in the eyes of many, especially the notables. Yet His actual image was quite different, for Scripture states that He is the express image of the Father (see Hebrews 1:3).

Jesus was a person of integrity—He was the same with the people He met as He was with His Father. He did not boost His reputation and did not seek the accolades and approval of men. He only cared for what was important to His Father. That is our Father's goal for us, and it should be our goal as well.

"We must all appear and be revealed as we are before the judgment seat of Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:10, AMP). We must remember that our projected or perceived image is not what will be revealed before the entire assembly of heaven. Rather it will be our actual image, our true heart motives and intentions.

Paul continues: "It is because we know this solemn fear of the Lord that we work so hard."

(2 Corinthians 5:11, NLT). The fear of the Lord keeps us in touch with our actual image. The opposite is true as well: The more we lack the fear of the Lord, the more we lean upon our projected image.

You will serve who you fear. If you fear God, you'll obey God. If you fear man, you'll ultimately obey man's desires. For this reason, Proverbs tells us it is dangerous to be concerned with what others think of you. (see Proverbs 29:25).

Marked by boldness and passion, John Bevere delivers uncompromising truth through his award-winning curriculum and best-selling books now available in over sixty languages. His newest book is Extraordinary: The Life You're Meant to Live. More information is available at www.ExtraordinaryOnline.org.

 

 

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