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  #41  
Old 06-16-2016, 9:31 AM
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"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God."
- Matthew 5:8

Instead of leading the people to God, the religious leaders of Jesus' day were shutting the kingdom of heaven in men's faces; and they were not even attempting to enter into God's presence themselves (Matthew 23:13-14). They arrogantly paraded in the temple courts in their priestly attire, making themselves an obstacle, rather than standing in the gap on behalf of the people to lead them closer to God. This is the heart of the message the Lord is revealing to us during this season of restoration. He is rebuilding His body and reviving His priesthood to return to our original calling as His holy priesthood, so we can offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God and intercede on behalf of the people all around us. Our great longing should be to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to worship in His temple, and to lead others to experience the joy of seeing Him face to face in eternity. "One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in His temple" (Psalm 27:4).

Only those who have clean hands and a pure heart can enter into the Holy of Holies of intimacy with Christ (Psalm 24:3-4). He has made a way for us through the precious blood of Jesus Christ to enter into His presence and experience deep, abiding relationship with the Father and to gain access to the throne of grace to lay hold of heaven's blessings for the world (Hebrews 10:19-22). God is absolute moral perfection, and cannot look upon evil; this should move us, as His children to pursue purity so that we can see God and bring Him an acceptable sacrifice of a pure and holy life (Habakkuk 1:13a). It should be our utmost desire to honor our Lord with holy and pure lives and have Him look upon us with pleasure and delight. "Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from Your presence or take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me" (Psalm 51:10-12). God has purposed that the center of our being be entirely centered on Christ. "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life" (Proverbs 4:23). Our mind, will, and emotions are to be fully surrendered to God and connected to the Fountain, where we can be continually cleansed and purified, so that out of us will flow springs of living water to refresh this dry and weary land (John 7:38). "Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God" (1 Corinthians 7:1). Let us pray for believers everywhere to have submissive and willing hearts to surrender to the Holy Spirit's sanctifying work in our lives, so that we can be purified and made holy, and wear the distinctive mark of the God proudly upon our heads: HOLY TO THE LORD (Exodus 28:36). "And I - in righteousness I will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness" (Psalm 17:15).

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"But these are written that you may believe
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and that by believing you may have life in His name."
(John 20:31)
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  #42  
Old 06-17-2016, 10:44 AM
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"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God."
- Matthew 5:9

One of the distinctive marks of a Christian is that of a burden-bearer. In Jesus' day the religious leaders added burdens to the people, but the Spirit-led believer is one who looks for ways to relieve the burdens from others. A true Christian is one who builds others up and looks for ways to lighten their load and lead them to Christ, the One whose yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). "We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please his neighbor for his good, to build him up" (Romans 15:1-2). The mark of a true believer is one who delights to restore his brother when he has fallen. He is willing to stand in the gap as a peace-maker between relationships that are broken, and as a mediator in faithful intercession for their brother before the Lord. "Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification" (Romans 14:19).

As children of God, we are His channels through which His mercy and grace flow through to a needy world. God has committed to us His ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). We have been given the privilege of working together with the Lord as peace-makers on the earth. When we stand in the gap as a mediator, we often get caught in the middle of discord and risk suffering criticism and complaint from both sides. But peacemakers are those who love and desire peace, and who are willing to carry the burden and persevere through the pain to see that peace is restored when it is broken. "But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; than peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peace-makers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness" (James 3:17-18). As sons and daughters of the Most High, let us pray for the endurance we need to face the persecution that comes from being peace-makers on this spiritual battlefield that is our world. May we yield to the Holy Spirit's leading to help us navigate the many minefields in our path, that could result in an explosive situation if we do not rest in that deep inner peace that comes from our intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, and walk in calmness and peace, so we can bring God's peace to others.

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"But these are written that you may believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that by believing you may have life in His name."
(John 20:31)
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  #43  
Old 06-18-2016, 9:55 AM
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"Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
- Matthew 5:10

The world is at war with God. From the moment Jesus placed His holy feet on the dirt of the earth He was under attack; but that did not deter Him from doing the work that He had been sent here to do. His feet were firmly planted in the will of the Father, and no weapon formed against Him would prevail. Everything He endured was allowed by the Father's hand. "You would have no power over Me if it were not given to you from above" (John 19:11a). No matter how relentless the world fights against God, He continues His loving pursuit to reconcile the world to Himself. "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

Those who are persecuted for righteousness sake are blessed. Though they are pursued and persecuted they are happy and blessed, because they see their sufferings as an honor from God and an opportunity to glorify Him. "Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted" (2 Timothy 3:12). As ambassadors of Christ, it is our duty to carry on the work of His kingdom in this world (2 Corinthians 5:20). His kingdom work begins within His children. The battles we face each day, from within us and around us, although painful and difficult, and sometimes impossible to endure, are also part of the Lord's inner working in our life to build our character and our faith in Christ. "For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all" (2 Corinthians 4:17). All is the working of God's divine mercy and grace. "God made Him who had not sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God" (v. 21). It is God's purpose to grow within His people His righteous character, so that we will receive the blessings that come from a holy life, and out of us will flow a river of righteousness to refresh others and lead them to Christ. Let us pray that we would take advantage of seasons of peace and rest to equip ourselves for the battles that surely lie ahead.
"But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened. But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander" (1 Peter 3:13-16).


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"But these are written that you may believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that by believing you may have life in His name."
(John 20:31)
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  #44  
Old 06-20-2016, 9:18 AM
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"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you
and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.
Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven,
for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who
were before you."
- Matthew 5:11-12

The beatitude for persecution is given two times (v. 10 and v. 11); it is as if the Lord was making it clear, to those who choose the path of righteousness, that this one thing is for certain. We can expect that if we take up our cross and follow Christ, we will walk the path of suffering. We will be insulted, persecuted, and false things will be spoken about us and said against us, but our suffering will be for Jesus' sake. Our suffering is not the result of our doing any wrong, but solely because we have chosen to do good and follow after Christ, carrying the banner of His name. We do this for righteousness sake, for the honor of Jesus' name. We will be blessed because we glorified the Lord.

The persecuted will be rewarded. We may suffer evil on earth, but great is our reward in heaven. We will be rewarded in heaven for everything we lost for Jesus' sake on earth. "What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him...I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead" (Philippians 3:8, 10-11). The pathway of the persecuted is a well-worn path. We have many saints to thank for flattening the ground beneath our feet; particularly our Lord Jesus Christ. How grateful we are for the example He has given us in how to respond in the face of persecution. Persecution is the mark of distinction of the saints of Jesus Christ - it is given twice to form the cross upon our heads. Charles Spurgeon has written, "The cross of trouble should be engraved on every vessel of mercy, as the royal mark whereby the king's vessels of honor are distinguished." We must expect that we will suffer trials and persecution, but they are the very things that God will use to build our character and His kingdom. We can take comfort that God will use everything we endure for our good and His glory. May we wear the cross of suffering with humility and gratitude, for the treasure that is ours on earth today, though we may lose all in the world, we will never lose Christ. "I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain" (Philippians 1:20-21).

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"But these are written that you may believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that by believing you may have life in His name."
(John 20:31)
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  #45  
Old 06-29-2016, 10:02 AM
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Morning Devotion: Feasting in His Presence - Read John 6:22-29

Good morning! I always look forward to those tender moments of sweet fellowship with the Father as we open His Word and are drawn into the deep places of His heart; and as He unlocks those doors of revelation and understanding which allows us greater access to the blessing of His amazing grace when we pray. How great His love is toward us! I pray this morning that the knowledge and reminder of His faithful and infinite love washes over you and fills you with tremendous peace and joy as we begin our day. How He delights in our desire to seek Him.

In our reading this morning, in the Gospel of John, we find that the people came seeking Jesus, and He allowed Himself to be found by them. He even pointed out to them why they were looking for Him: "...you seek Me...because you ate of the loaves and were filled" (v.26). Jesus had met their most basic need - food - and they came to Him, wanting more. Their tummies were grumbling, and Jesus offered them fulfillment "without money and without cost" (Isaiah 55:1). Jesus, the Bread of Life, was offering them their soul's delight, and all they wanted was for Him to feed their bellies. They wanted food - a temporary satisfaction, instead of Jesus - who offered eternal satisfaction. Sadly, not much has changed in 2000 years. Matthew Henry has said, "Many follow Christ for loaves, and not for love." We are just as, if not more, worldly and fleshly today, and we are directed and controlled more by our stomach rather than our heart. How tragic it is that we allow the flesh to hold tightly the reigns of our life, rather than releasing the grip and surrendering our lives fully to the One who gave us life - and as believers, has given us eternal life!

Before we become too self-focused here, and get carried away with thinking that this journey is going to be all about us and our flesh, let us loosen the reigns for a moment, and go back to the opening chapter of the Gospel of John, and read one of the most beautiful and mysterious phrases ever uttered: "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us..." (John 1:14a). Holy, infinite, and eternal God took on all the limitations of our human flesh, and filled it with His unlimited perfection and purity. God walked among men in human flesh, demonstrating that He alone could satisfy our flesh. He came to fill us - with the only thing that could make us full - Himself. "Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him" (6:27).

This morning, as we begin our journey, let us consider our own motivation for seeking Jesus. He knows our hearts. He knows what we want, and why we want it. Deep down I believe we truly want Christ for who He is, and not just for what He can do for us, but so often the flesh just gets in the way, and the busyness and want of the world crowds out that pure pursuit of our Lord. There is a lot of noise distracting us and keeping us from being still before the Lord; and much of it comes from within us. My prayer for these next 40 days is that we can settle ourselves in the presence of the Lord, and allow the yearning for the higher spiritual life to rise from within us. May our cry be heard and answered with the matchless grace of God filling us with His fullness, so that we too can become a channel of His love, power, grace and goodness to the world around us. Let us ask our heavenly Father to help us fix our eyes on the Word who became flesh, and who crucified that flesh on the cross, so we could obtain complete victory over the flesh and become a fit vessel for the Holy Spirit to dwell. The One who came to fulfill our great need of God, declares that only one thing is needed: that we believe! "This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He sent" (John 6:29).

"Through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed,
because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.
'The LORD is my portion,' says my soul,
'Therefore I hope in Him!'
The LORD is good to those who wait for Him,
to the soul who seeks Him.
It is good that one should hope and wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD."
(Lamentations 3:22-26)

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"But these are written that you may believe
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  #46  
Old 06-30-2016, 9:31 AM
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RAISE UP THE STANDARD!

"...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1b, 2)

Morning Devotion: Feasting in His Presence - Read John 6:30-34

Our journey has barely just begun and already we have had to consider the reason why we are here. Within us is a deep desire for more of Jesus; however, as we read yesterday, the people were seeking after Him as well, only to have Jesus confront them with the true motivation of their heart - or belly for that matter. Their pursuit of Him was motivated by the flesh, and, even though Jesus pointed this out to them, they continued to ask for a further sign in order that they might believe.

We might ask ourselves this morning how much of what we pray and ask for is for our personal comfort, or for relief from pain and suffering? How much time do we spend complaining about what we don't have or criticizing others for what they do have; or how much time do we waste contemplating or striving for the things we wish we had or could do? What do we really want from God? Can we honestly say with pure hearts and clean hands that all we want is more of Him? In a world full of constant striving and gain, is Jesus truly all that we want and need - is He really more than enough?

In our Scripture reading this morning the people asked for a miraculous sign from Jesus to prove He was sent from God. They believed that the coming Messiah would be a miracle worker and provide manna to meet their physical needs, just as Moses had provided for their forefathers. Once again, however, the people missed the message (and the messenger). They failed to see that God had indeed sent fresh manna from heaven, but this time His provision was meant to satisfy their deepest and greatest need. After 400 years of silence the Lord was revealing Himself and speaking loud and clear - in a very visible and tangible way, but the people were spiritually blind; they could not see. Jesus had already done many miracles in their midst, yet they did not realize that the greatest miracle was standing in the flesh before them. God was speaking to them in human flesh and holding out to them the true bread from heaven which would satisfy them eternally. "My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world" (vv. 32b, 33). Our Heavenly Father is fully aware of our every need, however He knows that the presence of sin in our lives is robbing us of the higher spiritual life He intends for us to live - that is why He sent His Son into the world. "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). We who have trusted Christ are the recipients of His indescribable gift of eternal life, but let us not forget that it cost our dear Savior His life. He died so we could live. May we not neglect this new life we have been given, even for a single day. Let us commit to living fully surrendered to the Lord, being satisfied with the daily bread of His Word He has given us to nourish this new life within! He is all that we need!

Heavenly Father,
We praise You for opening heaven to us,
and feeding us with the true bread
from heaven which gives life to the world.
"The eyes of all look to You,
and You give them their food at the proper time.
You open Your hand and satisfy the desires
of every living thing." (Psalm 145:15-16)
Crucify the flesh in us
that desires anything else but
the fulfillment that can only be found in You.
And let Your holy life shine through us
so that others will have a purified picture
of the life You have given for the world.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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"But these are written that you may believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that by believing you may have life in His name."
(John 20:31)
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  #47  
Old 07-01-2016, 10:13 AM
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RAISE UP THE STANDARD!

"...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1b, 2)

Morning Devotion: Feasting in His Presence - Read John 6:35-40

Jesus had just finished telling the crowd that God was offering them divine bread that would provide eternal life, and they responded affirmatively: "Lord, give us this bread always" (v.34). They were expecting a miracle bread that would prolong their physical life, but what Jesus was offering them would transform their life for all eternity. He declared to them, "I am the Bread of Life." This was the first of seven names that Jesus used in His teaching as He began to reveal who He was and why He was sent. These next 40 days, as we take up our cross and follow Christ, we will be studying these "self-descriptions" of Jesus as we feast on the One Who has been sent from above to save us from our sin and fill us with His love.

When God first introduced Himself to Moses as "I AM WHO I AM" (Exodus 3:14), He revealed Himself as the dependable, trustworthy and faithful God. A person's name was vitally important to the Jews, because it was a representation of their full character. Moses was prevented from seeing the fullness of God, but he was able to hear it proclaimed: "The LORD, The LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin..." (Exodus 34:6-7a). Jesus came in the fullness of the Godhead, expressing the magnificence of God by name, and demonstrating the majesty of God as He lived and walked among the people of His day. His name encompassed all that He was, is, and ever will be, therefore the Father gave His Son the name that is above all other names.

"Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place
and gave Him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father."
(Philippians 2:9-11)

With every word He spoke, and everything He did, Jesus' life was a bold declaration that He had been sent from heaven to do the Father's will."For I have come down from heaven not to do My will but to do the will of Him who sent Me" (John 6:38). Even though Jesus was fully God, His dependence upon the Father was vital to accomplishing the work He had been sent to do. "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work" (John 4:34). As His followers, it is critical that we learn to trust God for our daily bread and become intentional about feasting on the spiritual food He has placed in our hands - the Holy Bible - EVERY DAY! The work we have been commissioned to do is a heavenly and holy assignment. As His ambassadors we can't lead others where we haven't been one ourselves. Jesus came to offer His life as spiritual food for a spiritually starved world, and we must make every effort to be nourished in the knowledge of Him so we can continue His work. Jesus provided for us the standard we are to live by, as He Himself went to the Father daily in prayer to be nourished and strengthened in the divine presence, so He could do the work He had been sent to do. If we claim to be true follower's of Jesus Christ we must be willing to do the same - for we bear His glorious and holy name!

This morning as we digest our spiritual breakfast, may we, like Ezekiel and John, savor the Word of God as sweet honey on our tongue, but let us not ignore the bitter feeling in the pit of our stomach, as we are gravely reminded of the many who remain separated from God (reference Ezekiel 3:3; Revelation 10:9-11). When we sit at our tables we offer words of grace to God for our food, however when we sit at the Lord's table He offers us grace as our food. Let us take time now to pray and ask God for the grace this spiritually starved world so desperately needs, and may we willingly dispense His grace to all those He brings across our paths today. "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need" (Hebrews 4:16).

Heavenly Father,
You have promised that "he who comes to Me
will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me
will never be thirsty."
You have sent Your Son into the world
so we could experience life to the full.
Everything good from Your hand flows
through Christ into our lives.
We praise You that we rest secure in the knowledge
that none of all that You have given
to Your beloved Son will be lost.
And we rejoice that we will indeed be
raised up with You in the last day.
Help us now to live our lives in the fullness
of Your grace and surrendered to Your
perfect will, so that Your Kingdom come
and Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Thank You for our daily bread.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.

_____
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"But these are written that you may believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that by believing you may have life in His name."
(John 20:31)
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  #48  
Old 07-02-2016, 9:38 AM
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RAISE UP THE STANDARD!

"...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1b, 2)

Morning Devotion: Feasting in His Presence - Read John 6:45-51

God dispensed His grace upon the world through His Son Jesus Christ. "The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us" (John 1:14a). This verse goes on to say, "and we beheld His glory..." (v. 14b). Up to this point the eyes of mankind could not look upon God without the fear of dying. Jesus confirmed this by telling the people, "No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only He has seen the Father" (John 6:46). We are drawn to God first by our hearing (Romans 10:17), but then, as we learn from Him, we see Him through the eyes of faith. "Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from Him comes to Me" (v. 45b). The people had boasted to Jesus about the manna their fathers had eaten, which they had seen with their eyes and picked up with their hands and ate, but this bread only preserved and supported their life. Jesus stood before them and explained that He is the "living bread" sent from heaven to save their life. "I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world" (v. 51).

How dearly the Father desires that we be nourished in the knowledge of His Son. His greatest priority for our life is a life of deepening intimacy with Him. The knowledge He wants us to glean from Him is not meant to rest in the pages of a book on some abandoned shelf, but to take root in our hearts so that we would be abandoned to Him. To truly know God is to experience God. This depth of knowledge enlists the entire body in the learning process - the heart, mind and soul. This is not merely head knowledge - but heart knowledge. The process of transferring the knowledge of God from the six inches from our head to our hearts cannot be achieved from a textbook, rather it is often accomplished through trial. Jesus showed us, from the onset of His earthly ministry, that the lessons God has for us to learn would come from a place of tribulation, testing, and temptation. At the end of His 40 day fast in the desert, when hunger and temptation set in, Jesus demonstrated to us that His Word would be our most valuable and effective weapon to achieve victory in the midst of weakness and spiritual warfare (reference Matthew 4:1-11). It is therefore vital that we feed on God's Word so that we will be prepared to face the trials that will inevitably come into our life (reference 1 Peter 4:12-13). "They are not just idle words for you - they are your life" (Deuteronomy 32:47a).

Let us take a moment today to consider the many books, magazines, articles, and newspapers we have read; all the research we have done to learn a new activity, language, or skill; all the knowledge and education we have gained to become an authority in a subject or profession. Education and knowledge may be important to achieving a successful life in this world, and while our freedom and ability to get an education should not be taken for granted, the greatest, most productive, and most impactful use of our time will come from the attention we give to knowing God - by spending time with Him in His Word, and in communion with Him in prayer. The Holy Bible is not just a book, it is a person - the person of Jesus Christ. In Him alone do we find our life; Jesus offers us abundant life. This morning, let us offer a prayer of gratitude for the privilege of owning a copy of the Holy Bible, and the freedom we have to study it and share it. That freedom came at a great cost and is being trampled on today. If we don't use it, we will surely lose it! Let us lift up our "Sword of the Spirit" and pray for those around the world who are literally laying their lives on the line every day to share the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ with the lost. May we utilize the time we have each day to study God's Word, which so many have fought to preserve; and may we "declare it fearlessly as we should" (Ephesians 6:20b), making the most of every opportunity to share this "living bread" with the spiritually hungry around us.


Heavenly Father,
"Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens,
Your faithfulness to the skies."
Thank You that we have been invited
to feast on the "abundance of Your house"
through the "living bread" You
have provide through Your Son, Jesus Christ.
You have opened our eyes to behold His glory,
and we have gazed upon perfect love and purity.
We declare with all our heart that there is nothing
in this world that will ever satisfy -
stir within us a deeper hunger
for the Eternal Word which You have
given for the life of the world.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.
__________________
"But these are written that you may believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that by believing you may have life in His name."
(John 20:31)
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  #49  
Old 07-03-2016, 9:28 AM
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RAISE UP THE STANDARD!

"...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1b, 2)

Morning Devotion: Feasting in His Presence - Read John 6:53-58

Our souls cannot live without Christ. In our reading this morning, Jesus continued His discourse on the necessity of feeding on Him as the Bread of Life. "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood you have no life in you" (v.53). Apart from Jesus Christ we have no life in us; we are as dry, dead bones wasting away, and in desperate need of revival (reference Ezekiel 37:5). I believe it was Oswald Chambers who said, "To wash and dress a corpse is a far different thing from making a man alive; man can do the one, God alone can do the other." Only God can give us life, and make us alive in Christ!

To "eat His flesh" and "drink His blood," means we are to have faith in Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2). He offers us redemption and eternal life, but we must believe in Him, so that these nourishing morsels become life to our soul. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled" (Matthew 5:6). It is not enough to just look upon Christ and Him crucified, we must also believe on Him; we must trust in Him and feed upon Him, so we will be filled with the eternal, abundant, irrepressible life He purchased for us. It is one thing to have knowledge of God, it is another thing to acknowledge Him. Our Father in heaven wants us to be completely dependent upon Him - to find our strength and support in Him. To do this we must live upon the "man"-na He has sent to us from heaven to become our life. We have no spiritual life in us if we do not hunger and thirst for the One who eternally lives.

Our spiritual life comes from faith in Christ alone. The benefit of this new life is the oneness we experience with the Lord. "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him" (v.56). Intimacy with Christ is God's greatest priority for our lives. We achieve this by responding to the Lord as He has required of us: by feeding on His eternal promises just as we would eat our bread or meat, or drink from our cup today. The Lord has come to save us from sin and this world, which is devouring our flesh, and to give us His life, so that we can live abundantly for, and eternally with, Him. "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me" (Revelation 3:20). The evidence of the spiritual life is found in a person who delights in the Lord; whose desire is for Christ alone. Fasting is a wonderful discipline of the Christian faith which affords the believer the opportunity to quiet and conquer the flesh, so that we can truly live on Christ alone and live for Him during our pilgrimage in this world. "As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me" (v.57). As we continue in our journey up the mountain to that higher standard of spiritual life, let us not be deterred when the hunger pangs take over and the flesh begins to cry out; rather than responding to the flesh as we would normally do, let us instead let the Spirit lead us to the One who said, "My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed" (v.55), and feed upon His richer and more satisfying morsels which will nourish our life with the abundance of His love, joy, peace, and grace.

Heavenly Father,
"You have filled my heart with greater joy
than when their grain and new wine abound."
(Psalm 4:7)
Thank You for stirring this spiritual appetite within,
and for silencing the cravings for the world.
I no longer live because Christ lives in me,
and His Word is all that will satisfy my soul;
they have become the joy and delight of my heart.
Awaken this hunger within Your Church
and give us the pleasure of bringing many
hungry souls to Your table where they
too can feed upon the Bread of Life
and find eternal satisfaction and nourishment.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.
__________________
"But these are written that you may believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that by believing you may have life in His name."
(John 20:31)
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  #50  
Old 07-04-2016, 9:40 AM
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RAISE UP THE STANDARD!

"...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1b, 2)

Morning Devotion: Feasting in His Presence - Read John 7:25-36

If there is anything we have gleaned from our first week together on this 40 day journey it is this: Jesus is our life! He is our necessary food; for without Him we have no life in us. His work on the cross delivered us from death unto life; and His continued work in us through the presence and power of the indwelling Holy Spirit enables us to experience the full and abundant life He has promised us (reference John 10:10). As we continue our journey let us ask the Lord to trust us with the choicest meat of His Word, and take the time necessary to digest every morsel He places on our plate. Our Father in heaven knows exactly what is necessary to nourish, satisfy, strengthen, and make us healthy. "Give me neither poverty nor riches but give me only my daily bread" (Proverbs 30:8b).

As we step into the pages of our reading this morning we find the people questioning Jesus' deity. They thought they knew God; because of their understanding of the scriptures they were sure the man before them could not be the promised Messiah. The people lacked true knowledge of God; they were ignorant of the scriptures which predicted the very place He would be born (see Micah 5:2). "Yes, you know Me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on My own, but He who sent Me is true. You do not know Him, but I know Him because I am from Him and He sent Me" (John 7:28-29).

Saul of Tarsus was a man who thought he knew God. He had been taught by the greatest teachers, and he was very zealous for God (reference Philippians 3:5-6). But it wasn't until the Lord revealed Himself to him personally that he realized he didn't really know God at all. "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?' 'Who are you, Lord?' Saul asked. 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting..." (Acts 9:4-5). All this time Saul thought he was doing the work of God, but his divine encounter with the living Lord proved that he was actually hurting God. There are some in the church even today who believe they are working for God and doing good for the kingdom while living personal lives that offend God. What they have to offer is poisonous fruit that is making the church sick; but the work is so subtle that many can't put a finger on where their lethargy and apathy are coming from. "Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophecy in Your name, and in Your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!'" (Matthew 7:22-23). Charles Spurgeon has said, "We slander God by our very eagerness to work for Him without knowing Him." If we really knew God we wouldn't stand in the pulpit, kneel at the prayer altar, or accept any position in the church without taking stock of our personal holiness. We are operating from a deficit of spiritual power in the church because we don't acknowledge the majesty and holiness of God. We have surrendered our high view of God. "These people come near to Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. Their worship of Me is made up only of rules taught by men. Therefore once more I will astound these people with wonder upon wonder; the wisdom of the wise will perish the intelligence of the intelligent will vanish" (Isaiah 29:13-14).

Saul of Tarsus was profaning the name of God by claiming to be working in God's name. He was killing the work of God, instead of contributing to God's Kingdom. When the scales finally fell of his eyes, Paul, saw clearly that the One he had been previously persecuting was indeed the promised and risen Christ (reference Acts 9:18-22). From that moment on he, "resolved to know nothing...except Jesus Christ and Him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2). Before he came in contact with the resurrected Christ, Paul was unknowingly serving Satan's purposes to destroy the work of God. The Lord radically intercepted his life and called him out to be His "chosen instrument" to carry His name to those who are blind as he himself once was.

Saul yielded to Christ, and the Lord broke the chains of the religious spirit that bound him. Saul had been living as a slave to the religious system until Jesus entered His life and set him free; and from that moment on he was sold out for Christ. Jesus came to, "Preach good news to the poor...to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed" (Luke 4:18). It is only the redeeming power of Christ's death and resurrection that sets us free. He came to break the chains that have us bound to the world, so that we can be sent out proclaiming the glorious name of Jesus Christ. "And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:32). We must be fully yielded to God ourselves before we can be of any use to His kingdom. Paul experienced the power of the cross, and it dramatically changed the course of his life. Let us lay everything down at the foot of the cross and declare with Paul, "what things were gain to me these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord..."(Philippians 3:7-8a).

Heavenly Father,
I praise You that You are at work
in the lives of the ignorant as well as the
wicked, both of whom are in opposition
to the Truth of the gospel.
Though the people in Your day sought to take You,
they couldn't even lay a hand on You,
because "Your hour had not come."
What comfort it is to know that
You tie the hands of those who
seek to chain the gospel
until the appointed hour has come.
There is no greater knowledge than the knowledge of God.
Thank You that You are watching over
Your Word to see that it is fulfilled.
"...so is My Word that goes out from My mouth;
it will not return to Me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."
(Isaiah 55:11)
In Jesus' Name. Amen.
_________
__________________
"But these are written that you may believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that by believing you may have life in His name."
(John 20:31)
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  #51  
Old 07-05-2016, 9:37 AM
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RAISE UP THE STANDARD!

"...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1b, 2)

Morning Devotion: Feasting in His Presence - Read John 1:1-14

As the sun rises on this new day, let us take a moment to praise the Lord for the light He has given to us to enjoy His beautiful creation; that which brings warmth to our day, and aids in the growth, function and production of every living thing. When God began His creative work He first brought light into the world: "Then God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light" (Genesis 1:3). As we open up the pages of God's Holy Word we will turn our attention this week to the second self-description of Jesus as "The Light of the World." In our devotional reading this morning, in the first chapter of the Gospel of John, our eyes are opened to the revelation of an even greater light, the One who "was in the beginning with God." The true Light "that gives light to every man," Who was, not only the author and creator of the world, but also, from the beginning, would be for the redemption of the world. "In Him was life, and the life was the light of men" (v.4).

Light was given to the world for our physical existence, and then Light came into the world for our spiritual existence. "...the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining" (1 John 2:8b). Our entire life is utterly dependent upon God; we need His light to live. Tragically, though many love and worship the light of the sun, they do not love and worship the Son who brings them the light. Jesus came into this dark world as a spiritual light, but sin has eclipsed His light. "...the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it" (v.5). Though the dark forces of evil resist the light of Christ, Jesus' light shines even brighter to break through the dark shadow of sin, so that hearts of men can be enlightened with revelation of Jesus Christ, and come to the light of His salvation. "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned" (Isaiah 9:2). "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work" (1 John 3:8b)

The light of God had come down, and was veiled in a garment of human flesh. God's glory, which once dwelt in the tabernacle in the wilderness and in the temple, had settled upon the earth and made a temporary home in a tent of human skin. And while many of the people saw only the human side of Jesus: "He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own received Him not" (v.10-11); there was a remnant of intimates who saw Christ's glory shining through that veil of flesh. "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." How blessed we are that our heavenly Father has given us what we so desperately need - His grace and truth - that we might know Him and make Him known in this world. As we go about our day, may our lives radiate the light of Christ with every step we take, so that the darkness of the world will be repelled and the Kingdom of God advanced!

Heavenly Father,
"You are my lamp, O LORD;
the LORD turns my darkness into light"
(2 Samuel 22:29).
"You have delivered me from death, and my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before You in the light of life"
(Psalm 56:13)
I praise You for calling me out of darkness into Your wonderful light.
(1 Peter 2:9)
Help me to be a true reflection of Your glorious light and life,
so that those around me may behold Your glory,
and be drawn into Your marvelous light.
Thank You that "Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light for my path"
(Psalm 119:105).
Guide me, Holy Spirit, into the deep recesses
of Your truth, and help me to walk in Your wisdom every day.
Be glorified in my life, Lord, I pray.
"I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify Your name forever."
(Psalm 86:12)
In Jesus' Name. Amen.
__________________
"But these are written that you may believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that by believing you may have life in His name."
(John 20:31)
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  #52  
Old 07-06-2016, 9:36 AM
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RAISE UP THE STANDARD!

"...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1b, 2)

Morning Devotion: Feasting in His Presence - Read John 3:14-21

Today, as we open our Bible, our devotional reading falls upon a high holy text (and I do hope you are using your Bible, and not just quickly reading the scriptures on your cell phone). Beloved, we are walking on holy ground. I've heard it said that the Truth of God's Word is like a multi-faceted diamond. If that is true, then John 3:16 is the Hope Diamond of the Scriptures. "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."

Let us take time to let those words fall fresh upon our palette. Let us savor their sweet flavor where they may have fallen flat because of their familiarity. "God so loved the world." God wants us to know how great His love is toward us. Not as a mass of people, but as individuals. He wants each one of us to know we matter to Him. No matter how unworthy we feel, and no matter what rotten fruit we are chewing on that feeds our thought-life with the lies of the devil who tells us no one cares about us; God says otherwise. His Word lays those lies to rest, and gives us life. And God not only told us how much He loves us, He demonstrated His great love by sending His Son to die for us. "He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life."

There is a plague of hopelessness in the world because of sin, for which there is only one remedy - Jesus Christ. He is the hope of the world. God put on a garment of human flesh to deliver His message personally; and to show us that He loves us and matter to Him. Jesus spent His ministry going from person to person to tell them of the Father's love, and to show them His love, as He touched them and transformed their lives. He wants to do that for every single person on the world today. He will not leave a single stone unturned, or a tribe overlooked, until every person has had an opportunity to hear the message of God's great love for them. Jesus went on to demonstrate the height and depth, and length and breadth of God's love when He died on the cross and paid the penalty for our sin which separated us from the Father's love. How quickly and suddenly the entire landscape of our life would change, if we would just believe the truth that falls from the heart, mouth, mind, side, nail-pierced hands of God our Savior, rather than listening to the taunts of the enemy of God, who plays his broken record of lies to convince us that we are all alone and that nobody cares about us, especially God. Let us hold this glorious diamond up to the Light of Christ, so that those all around us, who have found themselves in a pit of hopelessness, struggling in sin, and separated from God, may have the pathway that will lead them home illuminated with the glorious message that they matter to God.

Before we run out the door and get caught up with the business and busyness of the day, let us tarry just a little longer at the burning bush before us. "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." In these words we find the purpose of God, the reason He sent His Son into the world; the world They created: He sent His Son, not to judge us, but to save us. Rather than condemning the world that had become so wrought with the sickness and disease of sin, God sent His Son to heal it - to reclaim it - to reconcile it to Himself. This is His world, and we are His creation, and He is Sovereign over all! God has rescued us. He has given us the remedy we so desperately need, but still many do not believe. They are like patients who refuse to listen to their doctor who has given them the prescription that will not only ease their pain, but save their very life. And the Bible says, "but he who does not believe is condemned already." Their unbelief has kept them in the shackles of their sin, when believing is the key that would set them free. How truly dark and depraved this world is that we prefer sickness over salvation; that we would rather be slaves, instead of free. "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (v. 19). Let us pray for those who willfully and arrogantly close their eyes to the Light; who prefer to stumble around in this dark world, rather than walk securely in the glorious light of Christ; that they would allow the Light to penetrate that wall of hatred that guards their heart so it can be filled with the love of God.

Heavenly Father,
"I lift up my eyes to You,
to You whose throne is in heaven"
(Psalm 123:1)
I praise You, Lord Jesus, that I am the one You died for;
You were thinking about me; You were concerned about
my condition; and You knew that the only remedy
that could save me was found in You alone.
Forgive me for the years of chewing on the lie of unbelief.
Thank You that Your patience never wore out,
as You waited for the prodigal to realize that all that I
could ever want and need is found in You,
and to run home to Your loving, open arms.
Help me now to "do the truth," as Your Word says,
so that my "deeds may be clearly seen, that they have
been done in God" (John 3:21).
Give me the privilege of sharing
Your message of truth with the individuals
You desire to reach, and remove the blinders from their eyes
so they can see Your glorious Light and believe in Your name
and experience the gift of Your forgiveness and salvation today.
In Jesus' Name. Amen,

_________
__________________
"But these are written that you may believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that by believing you may have life in His name."
(John 20:31)

Last edited by Godbetheglory; 07-06-2016 at 9:42 AM..
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  #53  
Old 07-07-2016, 9:36 AM
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RAISE UP THE STANDARD!

"...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1b, 2)

Morning Devotion: Feasting in His Presence - Read John 8:12-18

Jesus came to the earth to bring the "true" light of heaven. "The true light that gives light to every man" (John 1:7,9). He flipped the "spiritual" light switch that allowed mankind to see their Creator in a "new" light - a purified and undiminished light. Only through Jesus Christ can we see the Father as He was meant to be seen. "He who has seen Me has seen the Father" (John 14:9b). The "spiritual" light that Jesus brought to the world works as heavenly laser eye surgery, miraculously transforming spiritually blind "natural" eyes into "spiritual" seeing eyes, when we believe. Squinting eyes, barely able to see the next step in front of them are restored to 20/20 vision - opening the eye to a world the naked eye could never hope to see and bringing the heavenly Father into view in all His glory and majesty. "One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see" (John 9:25b).

"I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness,
but will have the light of life."
(John 8:12)

We depend so much on the physical light which the sun provides, but we easily dismiss or ignore the greater spiritual light of the Son of God which has come into the world. We depend on one sun for our physical needs, and so we must depend on one Son for our spiritual needs: "Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." Jesus is the Light that we are meant to follow. If we are willing He will lead us, not only in this world, but all the way to eternity. He will walk with us straight through this life into heaven. But we must walk in His light. Jesus is the true light. He will guide our feet, where our physical eyes could never take us. "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (Psalm 119:105).

We live in a world filled with artificial lights which deceive people into believing they do not need the light which Jesus Christ brings. The devil and his cohorts parade around as "angels of light" casting their counterfeit shadows on the filth, depravity, immorality and corruption of this world; causing many to turn a deaf ear and blind ear to their own tragic condition. Jesus came as the Light of the world to expose our sin and to give us sight "and release from darkness for the prisoners" (Isaiah 61:1b).
Sadly, men continue to love darkness rather than light, "because their deeds [are] evil" (John 3:19). Praise God that though men may resist His glorious light, they cannot thwart His plans. Let us thank our Father for the "spiritual" eyes we have given through Jesus Christ His Son, which enable us to behold "His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14)! May our eyes always be "ever on the Lord," for His eyes are always upon us (Psalm 25:15). "Your eyes are open to all the ways of men" (Jeremiah 32:19).


Heavenly Father,
"Let the light of Your face shine upon us, O LORD"
(Psalm 4:6)
Thank you for illuminating my path so I can walk
in the light of life. I praise You for
opening my eyes to see the obstacles
in my path that I have stumbled over in the past
because my eyes were not fixed on You.
Your Word has become a ever-growing light
which expands its reach across my path
and enables me to see more clearly so I can
advance further in the race that has been set before me.
Holy Spirit, I depend on You to lead me
down paths of righteousness
for Your Names' sake that I may bring
glory to the Father with every step I take.
Help me to never stray from the path
You have laid out for me, even when that
path may seem long and challenging to traverse at times.
May I travel well so as to leave a straight
and unobstructed pathway behind me that will
provide other pilgrims a well-lit and identifiable road
that will lead them into Your glorious light.
In the Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

____
__________________
"But these are written that you may believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that by believing you may have life in His name."
(John 20:31)
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  #54  
Old 07-08-2016, 9:38 AM
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RAISE UP THE STANDARD!

"...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1b, 2)

Morning Devotion: Feasting in His Presence - Read John 9:1-5

Good morning, travelers. It is a joy to walk this journey with you as we draw close to our Lord in the opening of the pages of His Word, and as we follow Him along the path toward the cross. He knew our journey would be challenging as we submitted to this season of fasting, so He tenderly reminded us from the very beginning that He is the Bread of Life. As we are getting further along, I pray the cravings of the stomach are being transformed into a holy hunger for the Lord, and a new appetite is burning within your heart for more of Jesus as He is revealing Himself to us this week as "the Light of the world". May we be able to make the same declaration as the travelers on the road to Emmaus: "Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?" (Luke 24:32). My prayer for you these 40 days is for fresh revelation to fill your heart as you meditate upon these familiar scriptures. May the light of Christ continue to draw us closer into the warmth of His love and open our eyes to a deeper understanding of who He is. May He kindle the flame of passion for Him and compassion for those we pass by in our journey.

Today we join Jesus near the temple as He is drawn with compassion to a man who was blind from birth. "As Jesus passed by, He saw him..." No one escapes the watchful eye and concerned heart of our Lord. These two words should put our weary and burdened mind to rest and make our heart leap within our chest, "He saw." Beloved believer, He sees us. He knows our situation and our circumstances, and He knows why we are where we are. Our Lord knows exactly where to find us; and He comes for us even when we aren't looking for Him, or can not see Him like the blind man. Such is the sad condition of the world we live in. Many are spiritually blind, and do not even know how close the Lord is or of His great ability and willingness to heal them.

The Lord was stirred with compassion, but His disciples were moved to question: "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" They believed, as many did, that sin was the cause of the sickness; surely this pitiful man was experiencing the punishment of either his or his parents' sin. How quickly we are to judge the afflictions of others as punishment for some wickedness or evil in their lives; and consider their lack of healing as a lack of faith. Jesus declared this man to be a vessel of His mercy. "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him." The man who had caught the special attention of the Lord, and the criticism of the people, was a chosen vessel for the glory of God to be revealed. He had been selected from birth for such a time as this that the power and goodness of God might be made manifest in his healing. Jesus took the opportunity to show Himself as the one sent from God, to do the work of God. "I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day...As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

Jesus went on to heal the man; in doing so He not only cured the man, but also revealed the purpose for his condition. Jesus was sent into the world to be the light of the world and to give it spiritual sight. Jesus is the true light who reveals deep and hidden things (Jeremiah 33:3). Let us praise our Father in heaven for those seasons of affliction in our own lives where He has revealed Himself more dearly to us. When we are in the midst of tribulation it is often difficult to see clearly the purpose for it at the time, but we can look back on our trials with 20/20 vision and see the hand of God with greater understanding. May this story stir our hearts to fervent prayer on behalf of those in our path who are enduring their own difficult diagnosis, impossible illness, or time of trial and testing. May we not pass them by, but press in in prayer that they may see Jesus in the midst of them and feel His tender and compassionate touch. May they gain greater understanding of His purpose for the season they are walking through as He sheds His light on their situation. "For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).

Heavenly Father,
"Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.
The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for You."
(Lamentations 3:21-24)
Lord, I pray that You will be glorified in my life,
in times of weakness and in times of strength.
In all things and in all ways I pray
You will be able to show Yourself through me.
May nothing in me, whether it be
doubt or fear, or any other thing,
rob You of Your glory that is
meant to be revealed through my
light and momentary affliction.
May I decrease that You may increase
so Your glorious light may fill this land.
To You be all glory, honor and praise.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.
_____________________________________
__________________
"But these are written that you may believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that by believing you may have life in His name."
(John 20:31)
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  #55  
Old 07-09-2016, 10:04 AM
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RAISE UP THE STANDARD!

"...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1b, 2)

Morning Devotion: Feasting in His Presence - Read John 9:35-41

As surely as the sun rises each morning, the light of Jesus is shining upon us. His light lifts us out of gloom of doubt and despair and sets us high upon a rock where we can bask in the warmth of His eternal glow. The natural sunlight is a lamp which illuminates the glorious intricacies of God's wondrous creation. The great Artist of the universe spared no detail on His earthly canvas; in sight, in sound, in color, in texture, in movement, in order, in everything; and all of this is just a small sampling of His majestic handiwork. How blessed we are to gaze upon His creative work with our natural eyes - it is a feast for the eyes! But how much more so are we, who have believed in the One who is the "true light" of the world, to have our "spiritual" eyes open to see through eyes of faith the very One whose hand is in every brushstroke. We know, with full assurance, that this is just a taste of the promised kingdom that is to come, as our spiritual eyes and ears are awakened to hear the sound of creation groaning for that glorious day when it, too, will be "liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into glorious freedom" (Romans 8:21).

The Light of the world, Jesus Christ, opened our eyes to see the world, in which we live, in a new light. We now, having seen the Father through the light of Jesus, see our present world through the lens of eternity. The spiritual vision we have been given allows us to see all things from a kingdom perspective of which we are now heirs (reference Romans 8:17). "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!...now we are children of God, and what we will be has not been made known. But we know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. Everyone who has this hope in Him purifies Himself, just as He is pure" (1 John 3:1-3).

From the moment the blind man received sight from Jesus he was put on trial and asked to give an account of his healing. He had been blind all his life, but when confronted by the Son of God, he was able to see in a way none of the teachers of the law could see. "Now that is remarkable! You don't know where He comes from, yet He opened my eyes" (John 9:30). As Christians, we are put under the microscope of the unbelieving world who cannot understand the change that has happened to us because they don't have proper vision to see. The man who had been born blind had an eye-opening experience with Jesus Christ and no amount of questioning or criticism would cause him to deny what he knew experientially and personally. As believers we should "always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who ask you to give the reason for the hope that you have" (1 Peter 3:15). The Pharisees rejected the man's testimony and threw him out; they cast judgment on the blind man when they were the ones who were, in fact, blind. This man's testimony was meant to open their eyes to see the Christ, but they rejected God's gift and brought judgment on themselves. "For judgment I have come into the world so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind" (John 9:39).

The light of Christ reveals the true nature of men's hearts. Jesus came into the world to meet every human need, but there are some who, in their blindness, can't recognize their need no matter how much light they are exposed to. "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains" (v.41). Man is without excuse as the natural light of the creation reveals God's "eternal power and divine nature" and the light of Christ exposes their sinful nature. Jesus' presence in the world naturally divides the darkness from the light and we will all be given the opportunity to choose sides. May we radiate His light brilliantly while it is still day that all the world will be exposed to His glorious light!

Jesus pursues each one of us personally to open our eyes that we might see Him and believe. The man born blind was rejected by men who claimed to see, but was received by Christ who saw him as He purposed him to be. "...when He found him, He said, 'Do you believe in the Son of Man?' (John 9:35b). "Then the man said, 'Lord, I believe; and he worshiped Him" (v.38). When the blind man's natural eyes were opened he was able to testify to the miraculous work of God, but when his spiritual eyes were open he fell down in worship of Holy God. Jesus opens our eyes so we will testify of His love and learn to worship the Creator and not the created thing. God opens our eyes that we might see the one who loves us endlessly. May our day be spent in worship of the One who gives us spiritual eyes to see, and Who provides our every need.


Heavenly Father,
"I lift my eyes to You whose throne is in heaven"
(Psalm 123:1)
"Open my eyes that I may see the wonderful things in Your law."
(Psalm 119:18)
"Turn my eyes away from worthless things and preserve my
life according to Your Word." (v. 37).
Thank You for revealing Yourself to me
and for allowing me the privilege of gazing upon
Your beauty and holiness.
Guard my eyes and help me to daily keep them fixed
on You as I seek to spend time with You
in Your Word and in prayer.
"May the eyes of the hearts of all of Your children
be enlightened to know the hope to which they have
been called, the riches of the glorious
inheritance of the saints" that You have so
graciously bestowed upon us.
(Ephesians 1:18)
Be glorified in all that I watch, see, say, do,
entertain, and pursue - and may my
utmost pursuit and desire always be for You.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.

_____________________________________
__________________
"But these are written that you may believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that by believing you may have life in His name."
(John 20:31)
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  #56  
Old 07-11-2016, 9:37 AM
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RAISE UP THE STANDARD!

"...let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1b, 2)

Morning Devotion: Feasting in His Presence - Read John 12:37-46

Good Morning, beloved of the Most High God! How great the Father's love is towards you! "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!" (1 John 3:1, NIV). I love that the word "lavished" is used in the NIV. To lavish, as defined, means to give or bestow an abundance; to shower; characterized by or produced with extravagance or profusion - as in a lavish buffet. God's love for us is a "lavish buffet" - a feast of epic proportions! Our gracious and benevolent Heavenly Father spared nothing when He offered His Son up as the main course. For the unbelieving, blind and foolish world, that may be a tough pill to swallow; but for us, who are being saved, it is the power of God (reference 1 Corinthians 1:18). And we are only at the rehearsal dinner! Can we even begin to grasp what awaits us at the Great Wedding Supper of the Lamb when we will feast at His table and in His Presence for all eternity? Why would we ever want to dine on the carnal crumbs of the world's table? Why would we waste our time eating artificial scraps that will never satisfy? Beloved, we have been invited to dine at the table of the King of Kings, and the portion He has placed on our plate today the world does not have eyes to see, let alone the palate to digest. May way hold of what He has so thoughtfully prepared for us today in His Word; realizing that our devotional reading is just the starting point of where He wants to take us today. Let us enjoy every morsel knowing it went through His hand before it ever got to our plate. He is our eternal cupbearer. Let us take a moment and say our table grace before He continues to lavish us with His Amazing Grace today!

Jesus Christ, our glorious light, came into the world so that "the blind will see and those who see will become blind" (John 9:39b). It is a gift of God's grace that we have been given eyes to see; and as we mature in our walk with Him, and the path before us is further illuminated through the study of His Word, the lens of our spiritual eyes are open to see even more than the handiwork of God in all creation - we will see the profound way in which God works. When that spiritual light bulb turns on in our soul we begin to see that God's ways are not our ways. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:9). God purposed that the cross of humiliation would bring glory; in suffering we would receive salvation, in heartache we would experience healing, in weakness we would find strength, in poverty the greatest riches, and in death we would experience life.

The people saw with their own eyes the miracles that Jesus' performed in their presence (reference John 12:37). God's glory was radiating before them like a great neon sign flashing the message that God was with them, but they refused to believe. God in His Sovereignty knew that they would purpose in their hearts to reject His Son, but He also had planned a higher purpose for their unbelief. "He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn - and I would heal them" (John 12:40). God, in His supreme justice, chose to harden the hearts of the Jewish people, much like He had hardened the heart of Pharaoh during the Exodus, so that His purposes would be fulfilled for the whole world. God's purpose in choosing Israel out of all the peoples of the earth was that through them His glory would be revealed to the world. "I will also make you a light for the Gentiles that you may bring My salvation to the ends of the earth" (Isaiah 49:6b).

There are many things the Lord has done and continues to do that we cannot truly understand or grasp; however, He has opened our spiritual eyes so we would know that everything He does is ultimately for our good and His glory. Jesus Christ endured the most extreme rejection, humiliation, and suffering known to man. He suffered, not only the rejection of men, but also the rejection of the Father, so we would never have to face that terrible separation - unless, of course, we choose to. His suffering brought our salvation; and Israel's rejection of Christ opened the door for the rest of the world to have the opportunity to receive Christ. "I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved..." (Romans 11:25-26a). How humbled we should be that there are those who wait in darkness while we waste the Light we have been given. Are we beginning to comprehend the price of the treasure we have been given? There is so much more at stake and there is no more time to waste - the kingdom clock is ticking. Our eyes have been opened to see where we fit in to God's great kingdom plan. The light we have been given is meant to be shared. How ashamed we should be of the time we waste when so many are still in darkness. Let us pray that the Lord would give us the pleasure of leading many to Christ, and then go out in confidence and lead them to the light. Today and everyday, may we pray for the peace of Jerusalem and daily approach the throne of Grace on their behalf until the Lord "establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth" (Isaiah 62:7). They are waiting on us; what exactly are we waiting for? It's time to wake up and finish the work we have been called to do (reference Matthew 28:18-20). May we be found faithful stewards of the light we have been given and to the work of Him who called us to Himself while it is still day. "For Zion's sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem's sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch" (v. 1).

Heavenly Father,
"Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable His judgments,
and His paths beyond tracing out!
Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been His counselor?
Who has ever given to God that God should repay Him?
For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.
To Him be glory forever! Amen."
(Romans 11:33-36)
Thank You for the portion You have placed on my plate,
You knew exactly what I needed to satisfy and sustain me today.
Instill in me a deep hunger for more of You
and protect me from the temptation to fill up
on the artificial substitutes of the world before I even come to You.
Fill my heart and mind with more of You
as I sit at Your table and dine with You.
Take pleasure with how I clean my plate
and delight in how I continually come back for more.
Be glorified with my life. I desire to be just like You.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.


___________
__________________
"But these are written that you may believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that by believing you may have life in His name."
(John 20:31)
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  #57  
Old 07-12-2016, 9:47 AM
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RAISE UP THE STANDARD!

"To Him Who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious Presence without fault and with great joy - to the Only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen." (Jude 24)

Morning Devotion: Feasting in His Presence - Read Revelation 22:1-7

From the very beginning our heavenly Father purposed us to live in paradise with Him. The first paradise was between the two rivers and inhabited by only two people; but it was as heaven on earth as the Lord walked among the garden in the cool of the day and His creatures enjoyed unbroken communion with Him. The word paradise itself speaks of a heavenly and pure state of endless bliss. The first paradise was poisoned by the fruit of deception and ruined by evil, but that did not disrupt our Creators' original plan. Today we turn to the final chapter and read of God's wondrous provision for the whole world. In the new paradise the tree of life has grown into an expansive and fruitful tree that extends to both sides of the river. The tree is fed by the "pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb" (v.1). It yields an unending supply of fruit which will be for the health and healing of God's people.

Our greatest joy and delight, and absolute fulfillment of this heavenly and eternal state, will be to see our Lord face to face. "They shall see His face, and His name shall be on their foreheads. There shall be no night there: They need no lamp nor light of the sun, for the Lord God gives them light. And they shall reign forever and ever" (vv.4-5). This is where the journey of our life leads us beloved believer. The true light that has come into the world to illuminate the dark recesses of our souls with His infinite love will be for all eternity our perfect light. Jesus is the source of all our light and life in this world and in eternity to come. Apart from Him there is only darkness. How blessed we are that God's great love has been shed abroad in our hearts and we have the privilege of walking in the light of Christ. We are but a candle and Jesus is our flame and He will lead us home to the perfect paradise He has created for us. He is faithfully leading us just as He did the Israelites all those years in the wilderness: "By day the LORD went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night" (Exodus 13:21).

Today, let us thank our Father in heaven for the beautiful reminder of the eternal paradise He has prepared for us; and let us praise Him that we can enjoy this blissful state even now as He walks with us and guides us through this life. But let us not forget that the final garden is a place filled with the nations, and it is our duty to let His light shine while we are in this present sin-polluted world so we can lead others home. May our prayers be filled with gratitude for the light we have been given, and may we commit our lives to walking in the light and reflecting His glorious light in this world. May our lips drip with the fruit of words that praise His name, extol His marvelous works, and testify to His wondrous love this day. Mother Teresa has said, "Words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness." May every tender, nourishing word from God's holy Word that we feast upon each day be used to increase His light and magnify His glorious name in the earth.


Heavenly Father,
"You are resplendent with light,
more majestic than mountains rich with game"
(Psalm 76:4)
"You wrap yourself in light as with a garment"
(Psalm 104:2)
And have spread Your radiant cloak around me
as the dawn of a new day.
Thank You for delivering me from the darkness of sin and shame
so that I could walk in the freedom of Your glorious light.
May every step I take in this world fill
the pathway before me with Your wonderful light.
Forgive me for the things I do which dim Your light,
or diminish other people's view of You.
How I long for the day when there will be no more
darkness, but all who are Yours will dwell
in Your wonderful Light.
To "God, the blessed and only Ruler,
the King of kings and Lord of lords,
who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light,
whom no one has seen or can see.
To Him be honor and might forever. Amen"
(1 Timothy 6:15-16)
In Jesus' Name. Amen.
__________________
"But these are written that you may believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that by believing you may have life in His name."
(John 20:31)
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  #58  
Old 07-13-2016, 10:17 AM
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RAISE UP THE STANDARD!

"To Him Who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious Presence without fault and with great joy - to the Only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen." (Jude 24)

Morning Devotion: Feasting in His Presence - Read John 10:3-5; 25-27

Sheep are not driven like cattle, they are led. They are led by a shepherd who calls to them, and they obediently and willingly respond because they know their shepherds' voice. A single fold can hold several flocks of sheep for the night, and when the watchman opens the door and the shepherd calls to his sheep, they will respond and follow their shepherd because they recognize and know his voice. Sheep may wander off and get into trouble, but they will never follow a stranger, because they do not know his voice (reference John 10:5). "The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice" (vv. 3-4). Our good Shepherd has delivered us from sin and death and He will lead us to experience the blessed and abundant life of fellowship with Him and the Father if we follow Him. "My sheep listen to My voice, I know them, and they follow Me" (John 10:27). Sheep know the voice of their shepherd, and willingly follow where he leads them. We should know the voice of our shepherd; His is the voice of love, and He will never lead us astray. We learn to discern God's voice through His Word. This morning, and every morning, as we open up the Word of God, may we be still and listen to our shepherds' tender and loving voice as He leads, guides, and instructs us for the day. "The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears, and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back" (Isaiah 50:4-5).

Our good Shepherd desires to captivate His sheep and lead us to experience deeper fellowship and union with Him as He has with the Father. He longs to get us all by ourselves so He can have us all to Himself; He desires our full and undivided attention and affection. His greatest priority for our lives is for deepening intimacy with Him - it is the blessed and happy state of the true follower of Jesus Christ. "Blessed is the man who listens to Me, watching daily at My doors, waiting at My doorway" (Proverbs 8:34). We must become intentional about our pursuit of God. This requires more than setting aside the time each day to be alone with God in His Word and in prayer, it also requires discipline to remain still and to wait upon Him until we hear Him speak. We need to learn to cultivate the silence in which God can be heard. This can be very challenging in the time that we live in, when just turning off our cell phones can be a daily struggle. Our good shepherd is calling us to: "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). Will we listen to His still small voice in the midst of all the other voices vying for our attention today? There are so many wondrous things that we have missed or forfeited because we have been too busy or distracted to remain still long enough to hear our Shepherd's voice. How easily distracted we are. Beloved, the voice of the "Majestic Glory" will penetrate our hearts and profoundly impact our lives if we are willing to get alone with Him in the quiet and secret place and patiently wait for Him to speak (reference 2 Peter 1:17-18). "In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength" (Isaiah 30:15). The Lord calls us to these special seasons of prayer and fasting and feasting to strengthen those whose hearts are fully yielded to Him (2 Chronicles 16:9). He is always willing to share His heart with His children who long for deeper intimacy with the Father. May each step of this journey open our hearts to greater depths of God's love, increased revelation of His will, renewed fervor for His honor, and deeper love for the lost and needy. May we follow close to our Shepherd's heart each and every day. "My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest" (Exodus 33:14).

Heavenly Father,
"I want to know Christ and the power of His
resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His
sufferings, becoming like Him in His death,
and so, somehow, to attain to the
resurrection from the dead."
(Philippians 3:10-11)
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live,
but Christ lives in me.
The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave Himself for me."
(Galatians 2:20)
"I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed,
but will have sufficient courage so that now as always
Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."
(Philippians 1:20-21)
Be glorified in my life Lord as I obediently follow
Your tender and loving voice each day.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.
__________________
"But these are written that you may believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that by believing you may have life in His name."
(John 20:31)
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  #59  
Old 07-14-2016, 9:01 AM
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RAISE UP THE STANDARD!

"To Him Who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious Presence without fault and with great joy - to the Only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen." (Jude 24)

Morning Devotion: Feasting in His Presence - Read John 11:1-16

In our journey these past twenty-nine days we have walked with Jesus as He has reminded us through His Word that He has the life that we need. As the "Bread of Life" He is our Provision to nourish, sustain, and strengthen us with the portion He has provided for us; as the "Light of the world" He is our Presence to guide us as we walk the path He has prepared for us; as the "Gate for the sheep" He is our Protection to keep us safe and secure in the pasture He has presented to us; and as the "Good Shepherd" He is our Peace to lead us to the eternal life He has promised us. Now, as we begin to make our way through the final portions of our journey we discover a shift in the Lord's teachings. The subject matter moves from life to death as Jesus, Himself, moves to the final leg of His earthly ministry to fulfill the reason for His coming. The abundant life that He has promised us would come through the fulfillment of the work He was sent to do. Our life would come through His death. "The last enemy to be destroyed is death" (1 Corinthians 15:26).

In our Scripture reading this morning Jesus began to prepare His disciples for His ultimate glorification by providing them a glimpse of what was soon to come, as He allowed one of His beloved friends to experience death. "This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it" (John 11:4). It is here that our Lord reveals His power over death and receives glory through death. The disciples had already seen Jesus raise people from the dead, and they knew that He only had to give His word to accomplish it (reference John 4:50-53); now He would show undeniably that He is the Son of God and lead His disciples to a higher level of faith. When Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that Lazarus' was sick they believed He could heal their brother with just a word. Jesus declared that this sickness would not end in death, because He had a greater purpose for this miracle. He would use this opportunity to manifest His glory and reveal His deity, and also lead His disciples to a higher level of faith. "Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe" (John 11:14, 15).


With all we know about God - His provision, His presence, His protection, His peace - it is a wonder how quickly we falter in our faith when faced with the first sign of suffering or trial. We question God's love for us when we face problems and pain in this life; especially when we know from His Word that He is good and has demonstrated His power to deliver us. How quickly we begin to doubt and question God, wondering why He would allow this circumstance in our life, rather than trusting Him and believing, with reverence and awe, that He is using this opportunity to grow us in our faith. Jesus gives us His Word to stand on so that we will believe Him and trust Him no matter how difficult our circumstances may be, no matter how discouraging the trials we face, and no matter how defeated we may feel. His purpose in our pain is to reveal His power and build our faith. "I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:12b, 13).

We may not always understand why God delays His answer, but we can trust His answer will come at the appointed time and believe that there is a divine purpose behind everything He does. We can trust that He is working all things out for our good and His glory. "The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9). The Lord wants to perfect our faith, and we know from His Word that "[His] power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9). Throughout the Scriptures we see God's glory revealed through human weakness, and there is not a better nor more powerful example found than in the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. During these next seven days of our journey the Lord will open our eyes to a renewed vision of the glory of God as we tap into the resurrection power of Jesus Christ and find our strength in the "central affirmation" of our Christian faith. This morning, let us pray for those around us who could use a miracle in their life today. There may be some people who are beginning to doubt and despair because of the length of time they have been struggling, and are growing weary and discouraged because of the pain and suffering they are enduring because of their present circumstances. Let us stand in the gap for them in prayer. You know who they are - God has placed them on your heart for this purpose - to intercede for them today. May the Lord use us or someone close to them to send word of His unfailing love and faithfulness and to encourage them with a fresh Word from God that will give them the strength and hope they need to persevere. Beloved, if that is you, be encouraged that our great Mediator, Jesus Christ, is lifting you up before the throne, and He will not let go until He has accomplished all that He has purposed for your life. Grab hold of the hem of His garment until His power is poured out from on high. Stay close to the Shepherd for He has promised that His glory will be revealed in your life!

Heavenly Father,
"Praise be to You, O LORD,
God of our father Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is Yours.
Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom:
You are exalted as head over all.
Wealth and honor come from You;
You are the ruler of all things.
In Your hands are strength and power
to exalt and give strength to all.
Now, our God, we give You thanks,
and praise Your glorious name."
(1 Chronicles 20:10-13)
In Jesus' Name. Amen.

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that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that by believing you may have life in His name."
(John 20:31)
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  #60  
Old 07-15-2016, 9:36 AM
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RAISE UP THE STANDARD!

"To Him Who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious Presence without fault and with great joy - to the Only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen." (Jude 24)

Morning Devotion: Feasting in His Presence - Read John 11:17-37

We left off yesterday morning with Jesus delaying His journey to Jerusalem two days after He had received word that His friend Lazarus was deathly ill. By the time Jesus arrived in Bethany Lazarus had been in the grave four days. Martha, the sister who had on earlier occasions been so busy serving that she missed out on sitting in the presence of God, now in the midst of great pain and sorrow dropped everything and sought out Jesus, "the one that is needed" (reference Luke 10:42). She expressed her disappointment in His delay, while at the same time exhibited great faith, believing that Jesus was who He said He was and that He had the power to prevent her brother's death. "Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You" (John 11:21-22).

Beloved, how those questioning words of Martha, that were later repeated by Mary (v.32), resonate with so many of us who have prayed and waited on God to bring an answer only to have watched our hopes and dreams die right before our eyes because we didn't get the answer that we prayed for. How many of us have agonized over why God would allow us to face death (death of a loved one, death of a dream, death of a relationship) when we know that He holds the power of life in His hands? God's delays are never meant to bring disappointment, rather they are meant to develop in us a greater faith. The Lord's question to Martha cuts deep into our hearts: "Do you believe this?" Do we truly believe that God is who He says He is? Do we believe He has the power to do what He says He can do? Do we believe that He is "the resurrection and the life"? Martha affirmed her belief that Jesus was the promised Messiah, but her faith in His ability to meet her personal needs was being greatly tested. Everyone who professes to believe in Christ will be faced with a great trial of faith at some point in their journey, because God desires for His children to have an indestructible faith - in Him!

"I am the resurrection and the life.
He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies;
and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die.
Do you believe this?"
(John 11:25-26)


When Martha told Mary that Jesus had arrived and was calling for her, she went to Him and fell at His feet, as she had been known to do (reference Luke 10:39; John 12:3). "The Teacher has come and is calling for you" (v.28b). The Lord always delighted in Mary's devotion and worship; when He saw her weeping He was overcome with grief. He was deeply moved by her tears, and it is here that the tenderness and love of God was revealed on a deep and personal level. "Jesus wept" (John 11:35). The shortest verse in the Bible is also the most powerful verse in the Bible. With these two words the power and passion of God collides and touches us on a deeply personal level and preaches a silent sermon that affects our hearts like nothing else ever could. In this moment our great High Priest becomes our sympathetic friend and our hearts connect with Him on a new and profoundly deeper level. "He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering" (Isaiah 53:3a). The God who revealed His glory to Moses on the mountain of the Lord has condescended to reach down and touch us in a personal way, and has shown us He is a God who sympathizes with us in every way (reference Hebrews 4:15). "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness..." (Exodus 34:6).

Beloved, how great is His love towards us (reference Psalm 117:2a). That gaping hole in your heartbroken chest that no one else can see, those wounds that won't wear off no matter how often you plead, those scars that are a constant reminder of your humiliation and shame, and the terrible thorn that *****s and offers no hope of ever going away - Jesus sees and feels and wears all of your pain, your guilt, and your shame as a garment of flesh that has become His conquering king's robe for all eternity. Every wound, every scar, every thorn, and every heartbreak are not meant for you to wear as a badge of shame, instead they are your medal of honor as you move up of the ranks of faith. God has counted you worthy of advancing to the next level and has trusted you with the deepest place of anguish in His heart so you too can sympathize and feel His heart as He weeps over the pain of others. He has given us these painful gifts, not as a reminder of the circumstances we have faced, but as a reminder to always look to His compassionate face and trust in His constant love and endless grace. Every tear that you have shed He has shared with you!

Jesus came to conquer death and give His life for the world. He accomplished this work through great suffering, trial, and pain. He proved through the power of the resurrection that death has no hold on Him, and that He has total power over death and the grave. Jesus is the life and He offers us that life; and if we are willing to believe in Him we will never have to fear death (reference Romans 10:9). Jesus wants to put to death all our doubts, our fears, and our concerns for this life and build in us a perfect faith so we can experience the fullness of His resurrection life. The choice to believe is left up to us. Are you willing to wait on the Lord to accomplish His greater purpose in your life, and in the lives of others He is using your circumstance to bless and touch? Will you trust Him to accomplish the work He intends, or will you choose to solve your own problems and find your own answers in the world rather than in His Word? Will you run from the problem because it is too much to bear, too big to solve, too much to handle, or will you run to Him believing in His promises that there is glory and a promotion waiting for you if you will trust Him to lead you through this difficulty to the promise land other side? We have so much to gain if we are simply willing to believe. This morning confess where you have wavered in your faith because you have grown weary of the wait, and ask the Lord to do whatever it takes to make you strong in Him again. Tomorrow we will see that there are blessings and good things in store for those who are willing to believe and wait! "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24).

Heavenly Father,
"I want to know Christ and the power of His
resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings,
becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow,
to attain to the resurrection from the dead."
(Philippians 3:10-11)
"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live,
but Christ lives in me.
The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God,
who loved me and gave Himself for me."
(Galatians 2:20)
"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord
Jesus Christ, through which the world has been
crucified to me, and I to the world."
(Galatians 6:14)
"To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!"
In Jesus' Name. Amen.

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that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that by believing you may have life in His name."
(John 20:31)
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  #61  
Old 07-16-2016, 10:22 AM
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RAISE UP THE STANDARD!

"To Him Who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious Presence without fault and with great joy - to the Only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen." (Jude 24)

Morning Devotion: Feasting in His Presence - Read John 20:1-18

On the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and some of the other women went to the tomb of Jesus' and found the stone rolled away. Instead of believing that Jesus had been resurrected, Mary concluded that His body had been stolen; and she immediately went and told the disciples. When Peter and John arrived at the tomb they found it empty, just as they had been told by Mary; but they had also been told that it would be so by Jesus Himself (reference Matthew 12:40; Luke 24:46; John 2:19). While John looked in, Peter went in to the tomb and saw the Lord's grave clothes lying there. When John finally ventured in for himself, he saw the clothes and believed that Christ had indeed been raised from the dead. Then the two disciples left, but Mary returned to the tomb and stood outside weeping; overcome with grief for the one she loved so deeply. She could not leave her Lord, and she was soon rewarded for her devotion. As she peaked in to see the place where Jesus' body once laid she saw two angels, one sitting at the foot and the other at the head (just as the cherubim sit on the mercy seat in the most holy place). "Then they said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping?" (John 20:13). Even in the presence of angels, Mary Magdalene continued in her grief and sorrow. Nothing would comfort her except the sight of her Lord's body. Oh, how great is the love of God, and how rich the blessings that He has in store, for His devoted followers who continue in His presence long after everyone else has grown weary and left. " 'No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him' - but God has revealed it to us by His Spirit" (1 Corinthians 2:9-10).

Mary turned from the empty tomb to find her Lord standing there, and asking her: "Why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?" (John 20:15a). How deeply troubled she was, for she mistook her Lord for the gardener. How quickly we doubt God's presence when we face the trials of life, when in truth He is even closer than ever before. The Lord has promised us He will never leave us nor forsake us (reference Matthew 28:20b; Hebrews 13:5b). Jesus wants us to know Him, not just for what He has done for us individually, but also for who He is to us personally. He allows us to experience moments of desperation so He can show us His tender touch and personal care; to give us the assurance that He really is there for us. Jesus' appearance to Mary that Sunday morning was a compassionate reminder that, while He came to die for the sins of the whole world, He is still a personal, intimate Lord who is interested in reaching one heart at a time. God desires a personal, living relationship with each of His children. Too often, in the agony of our pain and grief, we miss hearing the voice of our Lord speaking to us; but if we will be still and wait upon Him we will find that He is right there with us, caring for us and carrying us through. When Mary heard Jesus tenderly speak her name, she immediately recognized the voice of her Shepherd, and she fell down and worshiped Him. Her sorrow was turned to joy and she was told to carry that message of joy to the other disciples. "...weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning" (Psalm 30:5b).

"He has risen!" (Mark 16:6b). He has risen, indeed! The open tomb opened heaven for us! Jesus came down from heaven to bring us life, and by laying down His life He opened the gate for us to receive His very life. Ours is the resurrected life! "In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Romans 6:11). The life we now live we live in Christ. We are now and forever intimately connected to our Lord, and the wealth of heaven's resources is our supply. We are no longer empty, but are filled with the fullness of His life! We have no reason to grieve, wail, and mourn, because we are no longer bound to the grave. The grave clothes that once bound Jesus' body were still intact, as if to send the message that as Jesus is no longer bound to the grave, so we, as believers, are no longer bound by sin and death - we have been set free! The tomb may be empty, but the message we proclaim is full of life! We have been saved from sin and death and given new life - and not just any life - the resurrected life of Christ! "But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions - it is by grace you have been saved" (Ephesians 2:4-5). If there be any mourning or crying it should be for those who have not yet come face to face with the Lord and received His extraordinary gift of eternal life. This morning, as we pray for the lost, let us also ask God to develop His resurrection life more fully in us so we can become bold ambassadors of the most extraordinary message the world is (literally) dying to know!


Heavenly Father,
"The LORD is my light and my salvation...
the LORD is the stronghold of my life..."
(Psalm 27:1)
How do I even begin to express my gratitude
for all that You are and all that You have done.
Help me to be constant in my devotion towards You
that I may have joy in Your presence,
as I look upon Your face daily and see as Mary saw,
the beauty and majesty of my risen Lord!
Wake me in the early hours to give the
best of my day to You, and fan the flame of
deep affection to stay long after others have
left the throne room.
Open my heart to more of Yours
and fill it with a deep compassion for the souls of men.
May I weep over them as You do,
and be stirred to greater fervency in prayer
so that I may find joy and comfort for
them in accessing Your abundant grace
to touch and bless their lives
in a personal and intimate way.
Keep my ear in tune to Your voice
and give me a willing heart to follow wherever You lead me.
There is no greater pursuit I have in my life
than to lose everything else that I may gain You!
Lead me to experience daily the fullness and might
of Your resurrection power that I may be a powerful
witness of Your glory, grace, and love in the lives
of those You desire to reach.
Be glorified in my life, I pray.
"Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power
belong to our God!"
(Revelation 19:1b)
In Jesus' Mighty Name, I pray. Amen.

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and that by believing you may have life in His name."
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  #62  
Old 07-21-2016, 10:32 AM
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MORNING DEVOTION - "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee..." (Psalm 63:1)

Scripture Reading: Mark 11:24-26

Jesus sweat drops of blood in the Garden of Gethsemane as He labored in prayer over the path He would have to tread in the coming hours to obey the will of the Father. This is the reason He had come: to fill that terrible gap and repair that awful breach between holy God and sinful man. It was sin that drove the dividing wedge and separated man from his once perfect union with the Father. Oh, how the Father must have loved those walks in the garden with His most beloved creatures. But then the enemy slithered in like the snake he is, and stole their innocence. That ole' deluder Satan opened their eyes to things they were never meant to see. How vile his tactics are even today as he works relentlessly to rob children of their innocence; even their lives. So back to the garden our Great Mediator had to go, to crush the serpents head under His feet, once and for all. Sweat beaded like drops of blood upon His forehead, which was now hard as flint, as He focused on the task before Him. Jesus was determined to go to the cross, and crossover to the grave, to rescue mankind from eternal separation from the Father. He alone understood the depths of that impossible separation, and nothing would stop Him from bridging the gap of that great divide.


God knew our greatest need was a restored relationship with the Father; a possibility only if our righteous Judge would pardon our case (Psalm 82:8; 2 Timothy 4:8)). We are all sinners. We all stand before Holy God guilty and unable to pay the penalty for our great debt of sin. He had every right to turn a deaf ear to our excuses, and slam the gavel of judgment on our mountain of sin. Yet He chose, instead, to pay the fine Himself; a mountain of debt so great it could only be covered by blood - the blood of innocence that had been stolen - redeemed only by One who had no sin. The Judge of the earth called forth His Son Jesus to suffer the penalty mankind deserved. In humility and obedience to the Father, Jesus laid down His life in our place. He poured out His blood in a once for all final sacrifice. Our sin debt was paid in blood, and our guilt and shame was washed away; He redeemed us from the grave, and washed us white as snow. We now stand before the Judge forgiven; sentenced to a life of love. All that is required is to humbly accept with grateful hearts this extraordinary gift we will never have to repay, and repent and receive the restoration we need; or suffer the consequences of refusing and rejecting His merciful judgment.


The choice to believe and accept "is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God" (1 Corinthians 1:18). Our Righteous Judge wielded His power and brought down His mighty gavel ruling on our behalf: FORGIVEN! How then do we withhold such mercy from others, especially those we claim, or have claimed, to love?

Heavenly Father,
Woe to me for I am a sinner,
unable to stand in Your presence.
You have lifted me out of the miry clay
and given me a firm foundation to stand upon.
Forgive me, that I, knowing how much better it is to give than to receive,
have accepted your priceless gift, and yet have at times withheld it from others.
Forgive my debts as I have forgiven my debtors
In Jesus' Name. Amen.


The Lord's command is to "love one another" (John 13:34), for "Love covers a multitude of sins" (1 Peter 4:8), and "It keeps no record of wrongs" (1 Corinthians 13:5b); however, it is not true love if one harbors unforgiveness in the heart. True love forgives again and again (reference Matthew 18:22). Our sin-debt is astronomical, we could never repay it, yet God has forgiven us an impossible debt that has grieved Him greatly. Why then do we expect others to pay for the pain they have caused us? How can we expect to receive such forgiveness from God, if we harbor an unwilling spirit of forgiveness towards others. God searches our hearts, and He knows what we are holding over others is only hurting ourselves more deeply, because it is keeping us separated from the One who loves us most (reference Psalm 7:9). Pray today for those you have harbored unforgiveness towards. Pray sincerely for those who have wounded you, whether intentionally or ignorantly, asking the Lord to reveal His love to them so that they also will learn how to love others as He loves them. Ask the Lord to give you His forgiving disposition so that you will be free from the need of protecting yourself or wanting to see the offender suffer as you have. Pray also for those you know who have been hurt deeply by others, especially by people who have professed to love them, and who live constantly in that place of pain. Ask God to penetrate their hearts with His pardoning love so that they can offer up the fullness of God's forgiveness and receive for themselves His love and blessings. Let us remember that apart from the love of God we cannot know what true love is, nor love others as we should. May we dwell in His love so we can forgive others as He has forgiven us.
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Old 07-22-2016, 10:18 AM
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MORNING DEVOTION - "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee..." (Psalm 63:1)

Scripture Reading: 1 Kings 18:20-39

When the Psalmist would offer praise to God it was rarely a private matter, instead he expressed his praise to God in public, and would call all those in the temple who hear to join in the celebration of praise for God's goodness, blessing, and deliverance. "Sing to the LORD, you saints of His; praise His holy name" (Psalm 30:4). While our personal prayer time should be spent in a private place where we can experience quiet, uninterrupted time with the Lord each day (reference Matthew 6:6), there are also times when it is beneficial and necessary to pray corporately, in public, with other believers.

In our Scripture reading, Elijah had received a word from the Lord revealing His intentions to show Himself anew to the people. "After a long time, in the third year, the word of the LORD came to Elijah" (1 Kings 18:1a). It has been said, that when God is about to move in an extraordinary way He moves the hearts of His people to respond with united, fervent prayer. In Elijah's day, God summoned all the people from all over Israel to Mount Carmel to show them that He is the One, True, Living God, and the only One worthy of their worship. The stage was being set for a showdown of prayer. The prophets of Baal shouted and danced for hours, they even cut themselves and bled, in a vain attempt to capture the attention of their false gods, but to no avail. However, when it was Elijah's turn to pray, he simply "stepped forward and prayed" (v. 36). In the presence of all of the people, who were weary and exhausted from making a public spectacle of themselves, Elijah stepped forward in faith, trusting in the promises of God's word; just as David had confidently done years earlier as he walked across that battlefield in the presence of thousands of doubtful soldiers, to take his stand against the opposing giant on behalf of God (reference 1 Samuel 17:40-47).

God calls us out of our daily private places of prayer to publicly proclaim the confidence, trust, and faith we have found in Him as we unite with other believers in times corporate prayer, so that our brothers and sisters in Christ will be encouraged, strengthened, refreshed, and revived to continue to walk by faith and boldly proclaim His gospel message. "Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that You are the LORD God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again" (1 Kings 18:37).

Heavenly Father,
We praise You for those opportunities
You give us to join You on the front line of
the battlefield with Your army of prayer warriors.
Help us to be useful reinforcements who
You can use to encourage and strengthen Your faithful,
and sometimes weary, saints who may need a word of refreshment
as they face the day to day struggles in this spiritual war.
May those who are watching catch a glimpse of
the powerful and mighty way You act on behalf of
those who love You and who have been called
according to Your purpose.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.


When we are faithful to meet the Lord in the hidden and secret place of prayer we have no reason to fear when we are given an opportunity to pray publicly. There is no better training ground for prayer than the schoolroom of prayer our faithful Teacher provides for us when we meet with Him for private lessons in our prayer closet. We have a divine opportunity to implement all that we have learned by taking advantage of every opportunity to pray with others the Lord has placed in our circle of influence. Take time this week to schedule time to pray with your spouse, your children, and with a friend; and purpose to attend the next prayer meeting at your church (you might be surprised to find out how few do). Every time we pray together corporately we gain strength and achieve unity for the Body of Christ. Seize opportunities during these 40 days to take part in a prayer group, or, as the Holy Spirit leads, start your own. The success of all that we do for the Kingdom of God depends on how faithful, or unfaithful, we have been in prayer. When we link arms together, and commit to praying with one another, there is greater accountability, agreement, and encouragement in the Body.
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  #64  
Old 07-23-2016, 9:38 AM
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MORNING DEVOTION - "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee..." (Psalm 63:1)

Scripture Reading: Exodus 4:31

When Elijah stood before the Lord and prayed in the presence of all the people of Israel the Lord's response came with fire that consumed his offering. When all the people saw this, "they fell prostrate and cried, 'The LORD, He is God! The LORD, He is God!" (I Kings 18:39). The people were immediately humbled at the sight of God's mighty display of power. Their posture in that moment revealed that they recognized that He, not Baal, is the Lord. "Answer me, O LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, O LORD, are God, and that You are turning their hearts back again" (v.37).

The apostle Paul explained at Corinth that the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. We have been given divine power "to demolish strongholds" (2 Corinthians 10:4-6). The people of Elijah's day were gripped by the stronghold of idolatry, and Elijah was called by God to attack the imposing force that was keeping all the people in spiritual bondage by employing the powerful weapon of prayer. Elijah's prayer opened heaven and fire rained down, the sacrifice was consumed, and the once proud idolatrous people fell humbly on their faces before the Lord, and were released from the stronghold that had held them captive.

In our short reading this morning, the people of Israel were so overcome by the holy visitation of the Lord that they bowed their heads in worship. The Lord had come to deliver them, and they were humbled at the word. How dearly we need this reminder that the Lord is concerned with the afflictions of His people. How much we need to hear the anguish of His heart over the condition of His people. "I have indeed seen the misery of My people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey - " (Exodus 3:7-8a). This morning may we take the time to bow with reverence and awe at the feet of the One who loves us with an everlasting love, and who will never leave us or forsake us. He came to deliver us and set us free, and He has laid within our hearts the key to unlocking the chains of those in spiritual prisons all over this land. May we go out and bring the word that will cause the people around us to declare, "The Lord, He is God!"

Heavenly Father,
There are times when I am so overwhelmed
by Your goodness and mercy
that my floor is soaked with tears of gratitude.
You reveal Yourself both in extraordinary and simple ways
to Your creation everyday. Help us to recognize Your
loving presence in our lives each day,
and to look beyond the uncertainty of our present circumstances
to see You high and lifted up, seated on Your throne,
that we find ourselves overcome with awe and reverence
for Your beauty and majesty
that we fall on our faces in worship.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.


Moses was so overcome by the evil and sin that the Israelites committed he fell prostrate before the LORD for forty days and forty nights. He had just come off the mountain of the Lord with the Law, and the intimacy that he had experienced while resting in the presence of God enabled him to feel the depths of God's anger and wrath towards the sin of the people (Deuteronomy 9:18-19). When we lay prostrate before the Lord, completely surrendered and humbled with our faces in the dust, we place ourselves in a position to experience the very heart of God. Moses was so in tune to the Lord's view of sin that he stood (laid) in the gap on behalf of all the people. May our time with the Lord these 40 days renew our view of how great and holy our God is, and how great His wrath towards wickedness and sin is, that we will be willing to prostrate ourselves in unceasing prayer until the moral and spiritual fog is lifted over this land and we can march forth as the army of God we were purposed to be to wield our mighty spiritual weapons and set the captives free! Pray this morning for those in your circle of influence who are so blinded by the world that they do not have eyes to see or ears to hear the great love of our Father in heaven who has sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to deliver them from captivity.

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Old 07-25-2016, 9:40 AM
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MORNING DEVOTION - "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee..." (Psalm 63:1)

Scripture Reading: John 14:12-13

If we have ever wondered what the purpose of prayer is - the answer is found in these ten words:
"...so that the Son may bring glory to the Father" (v.13b, NIV). The very reason Jesus hears and answers our prayer is to this end alone (v.13a). "...I seek not to please Myself but Him who sent Me" (John 5:30b). Jesus' entire ministry on earth was to bring glory to the Father by being obedient to His will. "For I have come down from heaven not to do My will but to do the will of Him who sent Me"(John 6:38). His work did not end when He ascended to the right hand of the Father; on the contrary, He continues to bring glory to the Father by making intercession for us. It glorifies the Father when Jesus hears and answers our prayers. Because of this we can rest, with confidence, that if Jesus' great purpose is to bring glory to the Father, then He will do whatever is necessary to see that His glory is our highest aim as well.

During the first part of His-story, the glory of the Lord was associated with the tabernacle and with the temple in Jerusalem (reference Exodus 29:43; 40:34). The prophet Ezekiel was given a VIP view of God's glory apart from the temple (reference Ezekiel 1:28), and again when the glory of God returned to the temple. "..and I saw the glory of the God of Israel coming from the east. His voice was like the roar of rushing waters, and the land was radiant with His glory" (Ezekiel 43:2). The Scriptures tell us that all of creation shows forth the glory of God (reference Psalm 19:1-6); but it was when Jesus was born into the world that man was invited to get up close and personal with His glory. "The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). God's creative and redemptive work shows His glory, and He continues to show forth His glory as He works through the lives of His obedient and praying children. It glorifies the Father to do what we ask. May we keep the prayer altar aflame with our fervent God-glorifying prayers until the whole earth is filled with the glory of God (Isaiah 11:9; Habakkuk 2:14).


Heavenly Father,
You are the Majestic Glory.
Just as Your servant Moses asked of You,
I make this same request, "Show me Your glory."
For Your glory is all that I want to see and know.
Teach me today how to pray and live for Your glory.
I know You won't deny my request, because it is for
Your glory to answer Your child when I call.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.


The glory of the Father must be the aim and object of all our prayers. This is what one saint called, "the chief end of prayer." We will experience the power of prevailing prayer if this is the priority of our petitions. If this was (and continues to be) Jesus' duty before the throne, then it should be our main objective as well. As we pray this morning, let us ask ourselves if the glory of the Father is the true motivation of our prayers, or if our self-interests are our main concern as we begin our day? How dearly we need to learn the proper way to pray. Every step of this journey only reveals how much more we have to learn about prayer. May we submit our times of prayer to learning from our Teacher, Who alone knows how to bring glory to the Father. "Who is He, this King of glory? The LORD Almighty - He is the King of glory" (Psalm 24:10).

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Old 07-26-2016, 10:03 AM
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MORNING DEVOTION - "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee..." (Psalm 63:1)

Scripture Reading: Exodus 3:14-15

When we meet a new person, the first thing we typically do is exchange names. Our name identifies who we are. The mere mention of a person's name is all it takes for our mind to be filled with the impression or characteristics of a particular person. In the Old Testament the name a child was given when he was born held great significance. "When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb...his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau's heal; so he was named Jacob" (meaning "he deceives"; Genesis 25:24,26a) When the Lord set Abram apart for Himself, He attached His own name to Abram's: "No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations" (Genesis 17:5); and the Lord did the same for his wife Sarai, who became Sarah (reference Genesis 17:15-16). A person's name could be a great blessing or a terrible curse that one carried with them throughout life.

We have all been given a name or names that were either family names or had a significant meaning to our parents when we were born. But we are also called more than our first name because of the many positions or functions we fulfill: father, brother, son, mother, wife, sister, friend, teacher, doctor, lawyer, athlete, even nicknames. Every name describes a different characteristic of who we are or what we do. How we identify ourselves to people helps them to understand more about us. This holds true even more so for our God, Who has revealed Himself by more than one thousand names and titles throughout His holy Word. Of particular importance is the name chosen for God's Son: "She will give birth to a son, and you are to give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21). His name was a common name for the time, but the meaning behind His name identifies the purpose for which He came into the world: "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).

Every time we uncover another name, characteristic, or aspect of our God, as we dig into His Word, the more our understanding and knowledge of Him grows, and the more intimate our relationship with Him becomes. There is no greater knowledge than the knowledge of God. From the very beginning of their relationship, Moses wanted to know Who it was that he was talking with, hearing from, and being obedient to. God gave Him the name that showed Moses he could trust Him: "I Am Who I Am...This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation" (Exodus 3:14a, 15b).

When we pray to the Heavenly Father, as Jesus has taught us to pray, we are calling upon, and identifying with, the One from whom all good things come. "The name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe" (Proverbs 18:10). When we pray in Jesus' name we tap into the authority and power of the One who is interceding for us at the right hand of the Father and who will supply all that we need to accomplish the Father's business on earth. "Then the Father will give whatever you ask in My name" (John 15:16b). Praying in Jesus' name means we are praying with a desire to see the purposes for which Jesus was sent fulfilled: the salvation of mankind. Jesus hears and answers these prayers to the glory of the Father.

Heavenly Father,
Hallowed be Your name.
"O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is Your name in all the earth!"
(Psalm 8:1)
"I will praise Your name for ever and ever.
Every day I will praise You
and extol Your name for ever and ever."
(Psalm 145:1b, 2)
"Let all who take refuge in You be glad;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread Your protection over them,
that those who love Your name may
rejoice in You." (Psalm 5:11)
In the wonderful and powerful name of Jesus. Amen.


Simply tagging "in Jesus' name" to our prayers does not provide a magic formula for answered prayer. When we pray in Jesus' name we are literally praying "according to His nature." The core of His nature is love; this is the motivation behind His creative and redemptive work throughout history. "Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and ever tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Philippians 2:9-11). May our prayers be motivated by a loving response to the Lord's command to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and an earnest desire to be so filled with His love that we can touch and impact the lives of those around us. There is power in the name of Jesus. May His great Name continue through all generations because we, like Moses, want everyone to know Who has called us, Who is leading us, and Who desires to save and deliver them.
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Old 07-27-2016, 10:07 AM
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MORNING DEVOTION - "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee..." (Psalm 63:1)

Scripture Reading: Luke 5:12-16

From the very beginning of His earthly ministry Jesus began to transform the lives of everyone He touched. Multitudes of people were drawn to Jesus everywhere He went, and were receiving healing for their sicknesses and diseases (reference Luke 4:38-40). Jesus, who had been sent into the world as an act of indescribable and unimaginable love from the heavenly Father, could not help but express that love in tangible ways to everyone He came in contact with.

The news of Jesus was spreading quickly, however many thought of Him as only a miracle worker or a healer. Truly He had come to heal them, but His concern was for more than just their temporal physical needs. Jesus' mission was much greater. He had been sent to redeem mankind from their sins and restore them to a right relationship with the Father. He knew He had limited time to accomplish His work, and to prepare a people who would proclaim His message after He was gone. The news of Jesus' power to heal drew large crowds everywhere He went, and this was beginning to hinder His ability to minister and teach the good news of the kingdom of God. He wanted people to come to Him for the spiritual healing He had to offer, and not just for the physical healing He was capable of. "Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places" (Mark 1:45b).

Jesus had come to display the glory of the Father and to complete His work. While His ability to heal displayed His divine power, it was not quite time for Him to be fully revealed. It wouldn't be long before the people would recognize Jesus as their Savior, but not as the Father intended; instead, they were looking for a deliverer who would rescue them from Roman oppression. This was not the kingdom He had come to establish. The work He came to do would greatly improve the quality of their lives, as He would ultimately deliver them from the oppression of a far greater enemy. The people were desperate for healing, they began to show up in droves to be near the One who could meet their present physical needs, "so He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed" (Luke 5:16, NKJV). It was here, in the quiet place of prayer, away from crowds, where Jesus received the strength and peace He needed for each day. His prayer life demonstrated how absolutely dependent He was upon the Father. and how vital it was that He listen to only One voice, despite all the demanding cries of the people. He would let nothing deter Him from His love relationship with the Father, nor hinder Him from sharing that extraordinary love in the way it would be most beneficial to the people. "For I have come down from heaven not to do My will but to do the will of Him who sent Me" (John 6:38).


Heavenly Father,
. There are so many people around us who are hurting
and need healing on so many levels.
There are days when the burdens can be so overwhelming.
Help us to respond affirmatively to Your call to meet You in that secret place of prayer each day
so we can lay these needs at Your feet, and in the stillness and quiet of our prayer closet listen to Your tender and compassionate voice as You give us the direction we need
to do the work You've called us to do. Teach us, Lord Jesus, to pray down the blessing, healing,
strength, and provision for those You've placed in our path that will best fulfill
Your purposes for their lives. Protect us from getting in the way of the
work You have purposed for them, because we may think we know what is
best for their lives; and help us to be obedient at the moment You
require us to act on their behalf.
Thank You for being our help and shield, our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
We praise You that we are never powerless or helpless when
we come to You in prayer.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.


We are surrounded by a world of people desperately needing help, healing, and salvation. As people of prayer, our hearts are filled with compassion to help others, just as Jesus' was, but we may feel constrained by limited time and resources. Prayer was Jesus' secret weapon to meeting the needs of the multitude while still remaining on mission; and it is ours too! The Lord has placed each of us in our own circle of influence, and has burdened our hearts to meet specific needs through our various giftings, ministries, and resources. May we pray for His wisdom and discernment to know how to best help those He has connected our lives and ministries with. Let us pray for a deeper understanding of His heart, and how He desires to reach them in the way that will achieve His higher purposes for their lives, testify to His incredible goodness, and ultimately bring glory to God. At times we may feel powerless or penniless to help those we desperately desire to reach, but if we are willing to take the time to bring them before the Lord in prayer we can be assured that the Lord will provide for them exactly what they need. As we pray for the very real physical needs of the people all around us, let us not forget that we have all the power, authority, and resources of heaven at our disposal to meet their greater spiritual need.
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Old 07-28-2016, 9:38 AM
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MORNING DEVOTION - "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee..." (Psalm 63:1)

Scripture Reading: John 15:1-8

In this morning's devotion we discover the secret to true power in prevailing prayer: The abiding life. "It you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples" (vv. 7, 8). Our intimacy with Christ, in close fellowship in the secret place of prayer, is absolutely essential to our daily walk with God. He is the vine, and we are the branches. Apart from this close union with Christ - a life of absolute dependence upon God - we are powerless. "For without Me you can do nothing" (v.5b). If there is indeed a deficit of spiritual power in the Church today, we can trace the cause back to our lack of dependence upon the Vine; where we have failed to maintain our living and vital connection. "He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow" (Colossians 2:19).

Our greatest necessity, as children of God, is to have the life of Christ working in us. It is here, in the abiding life, that we tap into all power necessary for life. The sap which flows from our True Vine is what gives us, the branches, our life, and through which all spiritual fruit is born. "This is to My Father's glory, that you bear much fruit..." A life that learns to abide in Christ is what pleases the Father. There is no greater work for the Christian than that of abiding in the Vine. So often our service and ministry for God is what robs us of spending intimate time in prayer with the Lord. But as one saint has said: "We have not been called to some great work - we have been called to Christ." The work we, as believers, are called to do is to bear fruit, much fruit; and this comes from accepting as our greatest occupation the abiding life. Our work is to simply abide in the Vine and receive from Him the spiritual sap which will produce spiritual fruit. "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit."

Heavenly Father,
What a blessed work and honor
it is to maintain this living and loving connection with You.
For only by living a life of absolute dependence upon You
will I experience Your power, peace, and rest.
Thank You that You carry for me the full responsibility of providing
the sap, Your Holy Spirit, who will produce the fruit which will glorify You
as I daily learn to rest and abide in You.
Help me to take advantage of every moment in my day
for quiet fellowship with You, so You can work in me all that
in necessary to bring glory and honor to Your name.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.


This morning let us reflect on the moments we spend alone with the Lord. Can we say with confidence that we have truly entered into the abiding life - the place of close communion with the Father - where our work is to simply rest in Him and allow Him full access to our hearts? As we carve out this precious time this morning for prayer, let us consider what is occupying our minds. Does the Lord have our full and undivided attention, or are we concerned with so many other things that we are being pulled away from our most vital connection and find that we have lost necessary power and are failing to bear much fruit? Let us attach ourselves securely to the Vine and give Him complete access to our hearts, so He can fill us with the fullness of His life through the Holy Spirit who will produce in us His spiritual fruit that will nourish and feed a hungry world with the love of Christ. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23).
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Old 08-02-2016, 6:29 AM
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MORNING DEVOTION - "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee..." (Psalm 63:1)

Scripture Reading: Matthew 14:13-21

When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist He departed to a desert place. Once again we find Jesus retiring from the multitudes to spend time alone. While He traveled by ship, the people, eager to be with Jesus, followed after Him on foot. They pursued Him, and His compassions did not fail. He came out to meet them, and He helped them, healed them, and fed them. "And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick" (v.14).

Jesus looked upon the multitude with compassion, but His disciples looked at the crowds with concern. The hour was getting late, and the disciples thought it best for the people to go home, but Jesus wasn't about to let them go away empty-handed. "They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat" (Matthew 14:16). The crowds came with their sights fixed on Jesus, knowing He could supply their need, and Jesus, the Good Shepherd, had compassion on them. The disciples however did not pity the people as Jesus did. Their eyes were fixed on their circumstances rather than Jesus. They saw an impossible situation, rather than all-sufficient Savior and Provider. Jesus saw a teachable moment, so He called the people to Himself, asked them to sit down, blessed the food, thanking His Father in heaven for the portion He had provided, and gave it to His disciples to distribute to the people. "So they all ate and were filled" (v.20a). And if that lesson wasn't enough to feed on for the day, the disciples gathered up twelve baskets more as a further lesson of the Lord's infinite, abundant, and overflowing supply for those who are His ministers and messengers in the world. "And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19).


Heavenly Father,
"Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of [Your] great love I am not consumed,
for [Your] compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.
I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for Him."
The LORD is good to those whose hope is in Him,
to the one who seeks Him;
it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD."
(Lamentations 3:21-26)
Thank You for my daily bread that
You so graciously and generously provide for me each day.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.


The portion the Lord placed in the disciples hands seemed too little compared to the multitudes of hungry people, but the disciples obeyed their Teacher never-the-less, and they were rewarded, as they took what little they had been given and shared it with those the Lord had placed in their care. How strangely, yet wonderfully higher the law of God's kingdom is - that in the giving away the supply is actually increased, rather than used up. "Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance" (Matthew 13:12a). What blessings abound when we trust our tiny offerings to His infinite, all-sufficient, all-powerful hands. How fully satisfied we are when we feast on the portion He has placed on our plate each day. Let us offer a prayer of thanksgiving for the portion He has prepared for us and entrusted to us today; receiving with gratitude what has so graciously come from His compassionate and tender hands, and willingly and obediently sharing with others so the portion will be substantially multiplied and the multitudes sufficiently fed. "Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants of His household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions" (Matthew 24:45-47)
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Old 08-03-2016, 9:44 AM
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MORNING DEVOTION - "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee..." (Psalm 63:1)

Scripture Reading: Matthew 14:22-33

In our devotional time yesterday we read how the disciple's pop quiz turned quickly into an open book test as Jesus asked them to have a seat while He demonstrated how "the bread of life" feeds a multitude of people with a simple offering of child-like faith. The disciples were then put to the task of gathering up the leftovers, each filling their own basket full, while chewing on the bitter aftertaste of humble pie. The Lord dismissed His pupils until it was time for their next lesson. They climbed into the boat and headed to the other side of the lake. One can only imagine the conversation that took place as they huddled together in the boat; or maybe the silence was thick enough to be cut with a knife as they took time to contemplate the events that just took place.

Jesus didn't let them belabor over the previous days' exam too long, for it was time to see if they truly learned anything. "During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake" (v.25). Earlier in the day the disciples had trouble believing what they could not see, now, in the early hours of a new day they could hardly believe what was before their eyes. "Jesus immediately said to them: 'Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid" (v.27). Jesus, always the faithful Teacher, had a lesson He wanted to drive home to His students. It was time for them to test the core issue that would prevent them from being useful to His kingdom building program - their faith. Peter raised his hand and stepped to the front of the class: "Lord, it it's you,' Peter replied, 'tell me to come to you on the water" (v.28). Peter had enough time to chew on his failure in the last exercise, and now he was willing to put it all on the line as he stepped onto the water. Unfortunately, this test wasn't about showing his faith, this was about knowing Who his faith was in. Peter was ready to put his faith on display, but the Lord was about to lay his heart bare and show the true motivation behind his request. "But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind" (James 1:6).

Peter needed confirmation that Jesus had called him out, but that wasn't enough to keep him afloat; he quickly lost focus, having been distracted by the wind and waves, and he began to sink. "You of little faith,' [Jesus] said, 'why did you doubt?" (v.31). Peter wanted so desperately to prove his faith, but he only proved he had much more to learn. If the disciples were going to be able to lead others down the path of faith, they had to pass this test themselves. "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" (Hebrews 11:1). Jesus wanted them to know that wherever they were He would always be with them, and whenever they cried out to Him He would be there to deliver them, and whatever they asked for He would provide for them. This is an important lesson Jesus desires all of His followers to learn. "We live by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Heavenly Father,
This morning our eyes are upon Jesus,
the Author and Perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2a).
"We fix our eyes not on what is seen,
but what is unseen.
For what is seen is temporary,
but what is unseen is eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:18).
Help us today to not lose our vision, focus,
or perspective, no matter what disruptions,
distractions, or difficulties come our way.
With each new (and expected) testing of our faith
may we prove our trust in and dependence upon You
and provide an example to the watching world
that will cause them to look upon You and call upon Your holy name.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.


Peter deserves some credit for his boldness and willingness to step out of the boat and onto the stormy sea, but he took a slight misstep when he asked Jesus, "if". How many times do we pray asking "...if it is your will, Lord?" Jesus wants us to ask with confidence realizing that every time He answers our prayers He brings glory to the Father. The more time we spend in the Word of God the better equipped we are to discern the will of God and are enabled to pray with the assurance that His will will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Before we pray we ought to take a good look at our surroundings, and then step forward believing our God is greater than our circumstances, and submit our prayers in faith. "We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon You" (2 Chronicles 20:12b). Instead of trying to show or prove our faith, we need to simply ask God to show Himself to us (reference Psalm 25:4,5); this is a prayer He delights in answering. If we are willing, He will show us "great and unsearchable things we do not know" (Jeremiah 33:3).
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Old 08-04-2016, 9:38 AM
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MORNING DEVOTION - "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee..." (Psalm 63:1)

Scripture Reading: Luke 9:18-27

It was time for another lesson, as Jesus took His students on a field trip to Caesarea Philippi; to the place where many came to worship false gods. Jesus had gone to pray, and His disciples joined Him. After preparing them in prayer, He questioned them: "Who do the crowds say I am?" (v.18b). With his feet still wet from failing his last examination Peter was a little more cautious in speaking up, so the others chimed in: "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life." (v. 19). Their Teacher, wanting to test their understanding of Him, questioned further: "But what about you? Who do you say I am?" (v.20). This time Peter was ready, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16). Peter had passed the test with flying colors, and he received his reward: "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by My Father in heaven" (v.17). The lessons were beginning to take root. How blessed we are that the Lord doesn't give up on His children, but proves His love over and over in giving us ample opportunity to learn the lessons He desires to teach us.

The disciples had been observing Jesus in prayer, and at work ministering to the many needs of the people. Up to this point they had been astounded by what they saw with their eyes. Jesus wanted them to see beyond what their limited physical vision allowed them to see, and, instead, to view the world around them through spiritual lenses. Peter looked at Jesus, all of the miracles and healing He had done flooded his mind; he had seen what everyone else had observed, but now he saw so much more; he saw the truth, before him stood the Christ, the Anointed one, the promised Messiah whom the prophets had spoken and written about. This was not just one of the prophets; this was The Prophet, the Son of the Living God. Peter had found the key, and the door of his heart had been opened to greater understanding, and the Lord opened the floodgates of heaven to him: "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (v.19). Peter opened his mouth and proved with his words that he all that he had observed penetrated his soul and became truth to him. What he spoke about Jesus in private, he would soon be proclaiming openly and unashamedly (v.26).

Heavenly Father,
"Sovereign LORD, [You], have given me an instructed
tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary,"
[You have] "wakened me morning by morning,
waken my ear to listen like one being taught.
Sovereign LORD, [You], have opened my ears,
and I have not been rebellious;
I have not drawn back." (Isaiah 50:4-5)
Help me to not waste the precious keys You
have placed in my hands, but use them
daily to unlock the storehouse of heaven
so that Your blessings can be poured out on
all those You have placed in my life.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Jesus warned His disciples to tell no one what they had just proclaimed about Him. The people would be convinced soon enough that He is "the Christ of God"; His crucifixion and resurrection would provide all the proof they would need. "But wisdom is proved right by her actions" (Matthew 11:19b). Jesus knew the sufferings He would soon endure, therefore He took this opportunity to explain to His disciples the cost of following Him. The life of a true follower of Jesus Christ would not be one of creature comforts, but rather they would be called to live the crucified life; a life of self-denial and cross-bearing. "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me" (Luke 9:23). We have been called, as His followers, to advance His Kingdom in this world; we are not to make a name for ourselves, or concern ourselves with the comforts the world has to offer. As we continue in prayer, may we be willing to deny ourselves of the pleasures of life that rob us of valuable time that we can spend in quiet devotion with the Lord. Let us remember, that with every moment of solitude we spend with the Lord, He is there with us. We are not alone. There is nothing in this world that we could sacrifice that could possibly equal the extraordinary privilege of spending time in the company of the King! May every possible discomfort or affliction be exchanged for joy as our souls learn to delight in the presence of the One who is willing to give us anything we ask of Him. Jesus has given us the keys to the kingdom of heaven and He desires for us to unlock the door to His heavenly storehouse with our prayers so He can flood the earth with His eternal blessings. Let us be willing to sacrifice our time and comfort so that others will find salvation and true happiness in the Lord. "So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful" (1 Corinthians 4:1-2).
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Old 08-05-2016, 9:21 AM
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MORNING DEVOTION - "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee..." (Psalm 63:1)

Scripture Reading: Luke 23:26-43

The love of God was imprinted on the earth in the footprints of Jesus as He made His way to the cross. From the moment His feet touched the earth, and with every step He took as He ministered to the people, up until He took those final, painful steps on the road to Calvary, Jesus' mission was to spread the love of the Father into the hearts of the people. "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, 'Your God reigns!' " (Isaiah 52:7).

The Scriptures paint a beautiful picture of our Lord's unconditional and selfless love throughout His ministry, and as it was extraordinary demonstrated in the final week of His Passion. "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep" (John 10:11). When Jesus entered Jerusalem on the first day of the week He wept over the city (reference Luke 19:41). Later, when the cross was laid upon Him the women would follow Him weeping and wailing, and He would have compassion on them and call them to instead weep for the judgment that was to come upon the city, and that they should weep for themselves and their children and for their sins which where the reason He was being put to death. "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me; weep for yourselves and for your children..." (Luke 23:28). His compassion was remarkable as He prayed His final prayers on the cross. The first being an incredible prayer of intercession calling on the Father to forgive those who were murdering Him even as they nailed Him to the cross. "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing" (v. 34 a). In the hour of great suffering our sacrificial Lamb announced the reason for His death: the forgiveness of sins. He also demonstrated for us how much we need to pray for our enemies. Our Lord was being crucified for who He is, and one of the criminals being crucified beside Jesus recognized the truth in the words written above His head: "THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS" (v. 38). A thief saw what the chief priests couldn't see, and he submitted his prayer request to be saved by one who would not even save Himself from the cross. His humble prayer exhibited great faith and hit the nail on the head, for that is exactly why Jesus was being crucified, to save sinners by the cross. And Jesus responded immediately to his dying request: "Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise" (v.43).

Jesus loved and ministered up until His final breath. His body was beaten and torn beyond recognition. He suffered excruciating pain, yet in His own agony He was able to speak words of comfort and bring hope, forgiveness of sin, and the promise of eternal life to those around Him. He had been verbally and physically abused, spat upon, mocked, tortured, and unjustly accused; yet there was nothing that could affect His love or deter Him from His mission. He willingly and obediently took everything we deserved to suffer upon Himself, and purchased through His death what we could never achieve for ourselves (reference John 3:16). His mercy and grace were passionately poured out from the cross as He prayed up until His dying breath. "But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8).

Heavenly Father,
"The LORD, the LORD,
the compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,
maintaining love to thousands,
and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin." (Exodus 34:6, 7a)
"Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous;
it is fitting for the upright to praise Him.
Praise the LORD with the harp;
make music to Him on the ten-stringed lyre.
Sing to Him a new song;
play skillfully, and shout for joy.
For the word of the LORD is right and true;
He is faithful in all He does.
The LORD loves righteousness and justice;
the earth is full of His unfailing love.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD,
the people He chose for His inheritance.
We wait in hope for the LORD;
He is our help and our shield.
In Him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in His holy name.
May Your unfailing love rest upon us, O LORD,
even as we put our hope in You." (Psalm 33:1-5, 12, 20-22)
In Jesus' Name. Amen.

It can be painfully difficult to love and minister to others when they are attacking us with vile words or abusive behavior, yet this is the example Jesus set for us. He looked beyond, or really into, their hateful (empty) hearts, and saw a great need that only He could fill. Jesus was not deterred or distracted by the reactions or responses of the people, He responded solely to the Father's heart and His extraordinary love for His creation. Sadly, it is often the people we should love the most that turn out to be the ones we struggle the most to love. When conflict and criticism arise we find ourselves more apt to respond with anger and bitterness, rather than love. As we kneel in prayer this morning, let us pray that we would respond the way the Lord has commanded, and demonstrated for, us: "As I have loved you (remember the cross!), so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another" (John 13:34 b, 35).

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Old 08-06-2016, 10:06 AM
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MORNING DEVOTION - "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee..." (Psalm 63:1)

Scripture Reading: Acts 1:1-26

Jesus cried out His last breath and surrendered to the will of the Father, giving up His life on the cross as a ransom for the sins of mankind. Three days later, having conquered the grave, He began to meet with His disciples, calling them to follow the path of perfect love. Jesus had completed the work He came to do; achieving victory over sin and death for His beloved creation and opening the doorway for them to enter into the presence of the Father. Over the next forty days He prepared His disciples to take up their cross and to carry the glorious good news of His resurrection to the utmost parts of the world. "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (v.8).

At the end of their forty days together, Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father, where He would begin the work of interceding for His followers; He commanded His followers to wait for the promised Helper, Who would guide them to become successful intercessors and fruitful workers for the kingdom: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard Me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit" (v.4b, 5). The disciples returned to Jerusalem with great joy, where they "stayed continually at the temple, praising God" (Luke 24:53). As they waited and worshiped together they prayed for guidance in filling the position for the twelfth apostle. "Lord, you know everyone's heart. Show us which of these two You have chosen..." (Acts 1:24a). While they waited, they worked; desiring to know God's will they made good use of their time during those ten days by being watchful and praying. "They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers" (v.14).

Prayer was the critical component to the success of the early church as the Holy Spirit guided them to fulfill their role of being witnesses for God's kingdom. For the next ten days we will journey with these faithful believers as they lay the foundation for the work we, too, have been commissioned to continue (reference Matthew 28:18-21). The example they demonstrated for us in prayer is an important lesson that we, as the modern church, must learn and put into practice. May God awaken our hearts to what prayer can accomplish.

Heavenly Father,
I praise You for this small remnant
of faithful followers that You
personally picked to provide an example
of the importance of unceasing prayer,
and who paved the way for Your gospel message
to reach and transform my life in this present day.
Awaken Your Church today to recognize
how great a sin our prayerlessness has been,
and revive and strengthen our hearts in Your love
to continue this holy and vital work
for the glory of Your name.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.

This morning may we heed the voice of our Beloved calling us away to wait upon Him in prayer. May we not allow the ticking of the clock or the taunting of the enemy to distract us from this blessed time of fellowship with the Father. Let our Lord have full possession of us this morning; we are His, let us surrender every second to His hearts desire. "I delight to sit in His shade, and His fruit is sweet to my taste. He has taken me to the banquet hall and His banner over me is love" (Song of Songs 2:3b, 4).

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Old 08-08-2016, 9:18 AM
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MORNING DEVOTION - "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee..." (Psalm 63:1)

Scripture Reading: Acts 2:1-47

The Church was born on the Day of Pentecost; the 50th day after the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Lord chose a feast day as the appointed day to send the promised Holy Spirit. It was the Feast of Weeks, the Firstfruits of the Harvest (reference Numbers 28:26; the Feast of the Harvest (reference Exodus 23:16)); and now it had become the firstfuits of the great harvest of the Church. The giving of the Holy Spirit came with "a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind...and divided tongues, as of fire" on the Day of Pentecost. The day of celebration for the giving of the law upon Mount Sinai, which had also come in fire, would now be the day of fulfillment of God's new government upon their hearts: "I will put My law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be My people" (Jeremiah 31:33b). The public proclamation of the gospel began as the Holy Spirit endued the disciples with power to preach in the many different languages from all the countries known at that time which were in Jerusalem for the feast (15 nations are listed); they spoke in languages they had not known as a sign from heaven of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and confirmation of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. "about three thousand were added to their number that day" (v.41).

The birth of the Church was extraordinary and miraculous. The Lord had prepared them for this blessed event because they "were all with one accord in one place" and "they all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication" (Acts 1:14a). They were united in prayer and holy love and continued in that same manner from that point on, as they "devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer" (v.42). They opened their hearts to one another and were joined together with a common interest, and they opened their hands and sold their possessions to care for those in need (v.45). They were diligent in their hearing and preaching of the Word, and their prayers were without ceasing; their love to one another increased and they were filled joy.

The "spiritual" body of Christ was birthed and built "on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone" (Ephesians 2:20). Peter laid the first stone with his inspired confession of faith, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16). Since then, God's solid foundation, the Church which upholds the truth (reference 1 Timothy 3:15), stands firm, "sealed with this inscription: 'The Lord knows who are His,' and, 'Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness" (2 Timothy 2:19). Zechariah saw this stone with the inscription on it being laid: "See the stone I have set in front of Joshua! There are seven eyes on that one stone, and I will engrave an inscription on it,' says the LORD Almighty, 'and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day" (Zechariah 3:9). The seven eyes are the seven-fold Spirit of God who will guide, direct, and fulfill the purposes of God in the Church (reference Isaiah 11:2). "I do not believe in a repetition of Pentecost, but I do believe in a perpetuation of Pentecost - and there is a vast difference between the two...Pentecost did not come and go, but...Pentecost came and stayed..." - A.W. Tozer.

Heavenly Father,
Prepare our hearts even now as
You did at the birth of Your church
to experience and appreciate
the life of Your Holy Spirit.
We are facing a great dilemma, Lord,
and only You can guide us through
these tumultuous days ahead
by the power of Your Holy Spirit.
Teach us to be still and know that
You are God. Open our hearts
and purify them so that Your Holy Spirit
can find holy ground in which to rest
His tender feet, and do the work
necessary in the inner life
so our hearts will be awakened
to advance Your kingdom and
proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Someone once wrote that, "while the early Christians lacked temporal resources, they were not short on spiritual power." The early church knew what it meant to appreciate and experience the life in the Spirit. Our modern church is lacking in necessary spiritual power because we are not united as we should be and we do not pray as we ought. The Lord revealed Himself to His early disciples and He confirmed His presence with the outpouring of His Holy Spirit. It is our duty as the church of God to continue to carry this blazing torch of truth that has been entrusted to us, and reveal God in all His holiness and majesty to this generation. We have the power to change our current course of spiritual destruction and moral decline if we will repent, return to our First Love, and pray without ceasing. Let us unite in prayer this morning with an earnest desire to return to our spiritual roots and become the Church of Acts - where the acts of the Holy Spirit were evident as believers gave their time to fellowship, prayer, and the ministry of the Word.
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Old 08-09-2016, 9:11 AM
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MORNING DEVOTION - "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee..." (Psalm 63:1)

Scripture Reading: Acts 3:1; 4:1-31

The Christians in the early Church knew how essential prayer was to the fulfillment of the great Commission. When Peter and John went up to the temple at the time of prayer (reference Acts 3:1), the Lord had scheduled them a divine appointment with a lame man who needed healing. As we discussed yesterday, the early Christians had little material wealth, but they had an abundant supply of spiritual power through the Holy Spirit, and this treasure they gave the crippled man. "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk" (v.6). Their actions amazed the people as well as caught the attention of the Sanhedrin; the same group that only months earlier had condemned Jesus to die.

The disciples' simple act of service became the springboard which gained for them the audience of the ruling authority. But the leaders, wanting nothing more than to silence the disciple's message, threw Peter and John in jail. Rather than prevent their message from being heard, their arrest only further published it, and five thousand new believers were added to their number. Praise God that His ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:9)! The next day they were brought before the council and questioned: "By what power or what name did you do this?" (v.4:7b). The Lord placed them exactly where He wanted them to be, so they could proclaim His gospel message to the most powerful men in Israel; and the Holy Spirit enabled them to speak confidently and freely. "On My account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you" (Matthew 10:18-20).

The leaders, trying to intimidate the disciples, commanded them to no longer speak or teach in the name of Jesus. While we may be called to submit to the governing authorities (reference Romans 13:1-4), there is no authority apart from God; and our obedience to man's laws should never be in violation of God's law; particularly when that ruling authority rejects God's authority. "We ought to obey God rather than man" (Acts 5:29b). Jesus had commanded His disciples to be His witnesses to all people, and had given them the Holy Spirit to make their work effectual. With power, Peter and John boldly responded, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen or heard" (Acts 4:19-20). They had been forbidden to speak the name of Jesus Christ, a reality we are experiencing today; but they refused to compromise the truth of God's message or comply with the ruling authority; "Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!" (Isaiah 30:11); and they were eventually released and joined together with the other believers, praising God and praying for further boldness to proclaim the message of Jesus Christ in the hearing of all people (vv. 23-30). The Lord heard their prayers and sent a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit to equip them for further ministry. "After they had prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly" (v. 31). What followed was an increased level of unity among the believers and greater boldness to speak the truth. The early Church carried the message of salvation to all people; this included the governing authorities: "This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4). May we pray for greater boldness for the pastors in our pulpits and the people in the pews to boldly proclaim the full counsel of the Word of God, and to come out from behind the walls of the church and into the civil arena so the glorious message of the gospel of grace can be proclaimed and bring healing to our communities, our country, and our world!

Heavenly Father,
"Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth take their stand
and the rulers gather together
against the Lord and against His anointed One."
(Psalm 2:1,2)
"Now, Lord, look on their threats,
and grant to Your servants that with all boldness
they may speak Your Word."
(Acts 4:29)
Lord, give Your people courage
to stand firm on Your holy Word and boldness to proclaim
Your truth in the face of increasing persecution towards people of faith
and rising hostility toward religious freedom in our nation today.
Our weakness in prayer is the cause of our weak witness
in the world. Help us to realize the influence we
have in Your presence, and the influence You
have given us upon the earth to secure
the peace of the world when we come boldly
before Your throne of grace on behalf of all men.
Lord, You are God, and we glorify and exalt
Your holy name.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.

The enemy has been relentless in his pursuit to silence God's people since the very beginning of the Church; but as we have just read in the book of Acts, his attempts only made the witness of the Church stronger and more effective. Today, there is a renewed effort aimed at silencing Christians, and a calculated and strategic assault from hostile groups aimed at restraining and limiting religious liberty - "our first freedom upon which all our other freedoms rest." While "there is no authority except that which God has established" (reference Daniel 2:21a; Romans 13:1), their position of power and influence is meant for the benefit of society, and for the general welfare and good of the people. We have seen a great overreach of this power in recent days which has become fuel for the fire for aggressive attacks against people of faith who hold fast to God's definition of marriage. While our nation has set itself on course for destruction, as it moves further away from our spiritual foundation, it is vital for believers to remain steadfast in the face of persecution; and to stand firm and set the example in love, gentleness, patient endurance, and faithful involvement in the public sector; and continue to pray for God's people and God's purposes to be fulfilled. We are told in the Scriptures to not be surprised at the painful trials we face (reference 1 Peter 4:12), or the hostility of non-believers to the gospel message (reference Matthew 10:22), we are to simply be faithful to proclaim the good news with our lives and our lips, understanding that God's "living and active" Word will accomplish what He has purposed (reference Proverbs 19:21; Isaiah 55:11; Jeremiah 1:12); "Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead according to my gospel, for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained"
(2 Timothy 2:8-9).
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Old 08-10-2016, 9:23 AM
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MORNING DEVOTION - "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee..." (Psalm 63:1)

Scripture Reading: Acts 6:1-7; 7:1-60

It wasn't long before the apostles found themselves back in prison. The religious leaders were jealous of their success, particularly because they were "unschooled, ordinary men" (Acts 4:13). Jesus, their faithful Teacher, had prepared them for such a time as this, telling them, "If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you also" (John 15:20b). The Lord would not allow those who opposed His purposes prevent His faithful followers from fulfilling their task (reference Proverbs 19:21): "But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. 'Go stand in the temple courts...and tell the people the full message of this new life" (Acts 5:19-20). They were flogged and beaten for disobeying the court order to stop preaching in the name of Jesus Christ; after the apostles received their punishment they went away rejoicing, "because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name" (v.41). Jesus had warned them, "They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God" (John 16:2). That time was fast approaching; and is upon us now!

Their suffering led to greater boldness in proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ, and the church experienced tremendous growth as a result. This led to increased problems within the church as the apostles attention became so focused on meeting the needs of the people and serving tables that they were neglecting the more important ministry of the Word and prayer (reference Acts 6:2). The enemy loves it when the people of God are so busy and distracted with ministry that they have little time for nurturing their relationship with the Lord, ultimately weakening them to the point they are unable to serve fully in the power they have been given. Much of the church today is spiritually starved because we have neglected giving our attention to prayer and the Word of God; we are unaware of how truly malnourished we are, and how this neglect has weakened the various members of the Body, and has tremendously impacted the health of the entire Body and the overall ministry of the church. The apostles quickly recognized their deficiency, and, with wisdom, chose seven men to handle the responsibilities within the church, while the apostles gave themselves "continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word" (v.4).

One of the men chosen, who was "full of the Spirit and wisdom", was Stephen. No one could "stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke" (v.10). He, also, found himself arrested by the Sanhedrin, but it was the Lord's divine providence that placed him in a position to preach the gospel message to these teachers of the Law; to teach them a history lesson that would take them back to their spiritual roots. Sadly their hearts were hardened and their eyes were blinded; deeply rooted in their religious traditions their ears were closed to the Truth spoken before them, and they missed a vital opportunity to express faith in the living God whom they claimed to worship. "These people come near to Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, but their hearts are far from Me. Their worship of Me is made up only of rules taught by men" (Isaiah 29:13). Even though it was plainly presented to them, the truth did not penetrate their hardened hearts, it only shed light on the wickedness of a heart that is far from God and they stoned Stephen to silence him from speaking anymore in the Name of the One they refused to accept. Stephen responded to their threats and hostility just as Jesus had on the cross, by praying for their forgiveness while they put him to death, "Lord, Jesus, receive my spirit...Lord, do not charge them with this sin" (v.59b, 60b).

Heavenly Father,
"O LORD, You have searched me and know me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
but behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.
You have hedged me behind and before,
and You laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it." (Psalm 139:1-6)
Lord, open our eyes, our ears, and our hearts
to the deep truths hidden in Your Word which You
desire Your children to learn, that we would have
the boldness of the early disciples and of Stephen,
who was full of the Holy Spirit, and whose only
desire was to please You and bring glory to
Your name through his witness and life.
May we take courage from his Words that
the leaders of his day failed to comprehend:
That You are always with us, that You are
within us, and that we can never move out
of Your Presence.
"How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they would be more
in number than the sand; when I awake, I am still with You." (vv. 17-18)
Praise Your holy name.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.

We have a responsibility, as followers of Jesus Christ, to daily pick up our Sword (the Holy Bible) and sharpen our skill with meditation and memorization, so we will be prepared for those divine appointments the Holy Spirit schedules for us throughout our day. We need to be vigilant against distractions, both good and bad, that rob us of the time we should be spending in solitude with God and in the study of His Word. We cannot expect to lead others where we haven't been ourselves, and we cannot minister effectively when we have been drained of our necessary spiritual power that is only derived from spending time with the Lord and getting our necessary nourishment from His Word. There is no greater knowledge than the knowledge of God. Let us pray this morning that we would yield to the Holy Spirit's promptings and submit to His call in the first moments of our day and allow our Teacher to take us deeper into all truth so we can be prepared at all times to give the reason for the hope that we have. "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth" (John 16:13a).

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  #77  
Old 08-11-2016, 10:00 AM
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MORNING DEVOTION - "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee..." (Psalm 63:1)

Scripture Reading: Acts 8:18-40

After Stephen was martyred the church experienced great persecution and was scattered "throughout Judea and Samaria" (Acts 8:1b). As seeds landing on prepared soil this move of God accelerated the growth of the church. When the enemy's external attempts to devour the Lord's chosen one's and destroy God's work failed, he implemented a more deceptive scheme within the church, having found a willing vessel in Simon the sorcerer, but Peter was discerning and recognized this man's faith was not genuine: "You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord" (v.21). Simon's faith was not in God's Word, but rather in the miracles that were being performed; he desired the power he witnessed in the disciples for his own self-interests and not for the purposes of glorifying God. Peter called this counterfeit to repentance. "Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps He will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart" (v. 22).

In contrast, when Philip was led by the Lord to journey down the road from Jerusalem to Gaza (v.26) he met an Ethiopian eunuch traveling on important business. This eunuch was seriously seeking to understand the faith, and God providentially placed Philip in his path to lead him to the truth. "Do you understand what you are reading?' Philip asked" (v.30). The eunuch replied, "How can I, unless someone explains it to me?" (v.31). The Lord had prepared his heart and Philip, sensitive to the Holy Spirit, was obedient to plant God's seed. "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent?" (Romans 10:14-15a). So Philip "began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus" (Acts 8:35). The Ethiopian eunuch expressed genuine faith in the Word of God and was saved that very day; confirming that it is God's Word, not miracles, that has the power to convict and bring a sinner to true repentance (reference John 12:37-43).

The Ethiopian eunuch, and the other converts in Samaria, confirmed that God was faithfully fulfilling His promise to carry His gospel message beyond Jerusalem (reference Matthew 28:19; Acts 1:8). The enemy had planted persecutors and deceivers as obstacles along the pathway in an attempt to prevent the good news from going forward, but God's purposes will always prevail, and the difficulties God's messengers encountered only helped to promote His message further (reference Acts 4:3-4). "Remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his ways will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins" (James 5:20).

Heavenly Father,
Give your servant "a wise and discerning heart"
to recognize when the enemy is
attempting to block my path and hinder your work.
Give me greater understanding to
recognize those divine appointments
that You place in my path so I can promote
Your message and share the good news
of Your salvation with others.
Help me to "show this by my good life,
by deeds done in humility that comes from wisdom."
May I not harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition.
This wisdom does not come from heaven,
but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil.
The wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure;
then peace-loving, considerate, submissive,
full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.
May Your people be "peacemakers who sow in peace"
so we will "raise a harvest of righteousness."
(James 3:13-15, 17-18)
In Jesus' Name. Amen.


This morning let us pray for the church to grow in holiness and in its' devotion to God's service. So much of the information that we are bombarded with each day is ungodly, lacking in truth, immoral, deceptive, and worldly; and so many of God's people, especially those who are young in their faith, are weak and vulnerable to temptation. May God establish us in His Word and by His Spirit, and may we all become receptive and sensitive to the Spirit so we can resist the power of Satan and walk in the fullness of the Spirit. "Now it is God who makes both of us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set His seal of ownership on us, and put His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come" (2 Corinthians 1:21-22).

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Old 08-11-2016, 10:11 AM
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I announce and carry out this Yasna for the creator Ahura Mazda, the radiant and glorious, the greatest and the best, the most beautiful to our conceptions, the most firm, the wisest, and the one of all whose body is the most perfect, who attains His ends the most infallibly, because of his Asha, to him who disposes our minds aright, who sends His joy-creating grace afar; who made us, and has fashioned us, and who has nourished and protected us, who is the most bounteous Spirit!
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Old 08-13-2016, 9:25 AM
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MORNING DEVOTION - "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee..." (Psalm 63:1)

Scripture Reading: Acts 9:1-31

In our reading yesterday the Ethiopian eunuch had his eyes open to the gospel message and he was saved. Today, we read the account of one of the greatest spiritual transformations in church history - the great persecutor Saul, who became the great preacher Paul. The church had been scattered throughout Judea and Samaria because of the persecution of this man Saul who, "began to destroy the church. Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison" (Acts 8:3). When the disciples had received their great commission from the Lord (reference Matthew 28:19), they probably did not expect that the fulfillment would come through such great persecution. But God's ways are not our ways, they are higher. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isaiah 55:9). The Lord desires that we know Him, therefore He has given us His Word so that we will grow in our understanding of His will and His ways. He desires this for all men, and on this particular day He desired to make Himself known to the man who was hurting His children and hindering His work.

Saul was on his way to Damascus, an important commercial center; he had letters from the high priest authorizing him to take the necessary action to prevent the men and women of "the Way" from propagating their "new religion" to the surrounding regions. Fortunately, his evil plans were brought into the light as he was confronted by the great Light from above: "...suddenly a light shone around him from heaven...and heard a voice saying to him, 'Saul, Saul, why do you persecute Me?...I am Jesus whom you are persecuting' " (Acts 9:3b, 4b, 5). Saul, who desired to snatch others from their new way of life, was snatched out of his old way of life; and although his spiritual eyes were opened, his physical eyes were blinded for three days. The men traveling with him led him into Damascus, where the Lord had a radically different plan for him than what he had originally purposed in his heart. Just maybe, Saul needed to sit in the dark for a few days to get a taste of his own spiritual blindness, so the eyes of his heart could be opened to see the higher more noble purposes of God. "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails" (Proverbs 19:21).

The Lord chose a man named Ananias to minister to Saul. "Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying" (Acts 9:11). Saul had been fasting and praying as he waiting on the Lord. "For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything" (v. 9). We have read of another chosen servant of God who was placed in the house of the king of Persia, who after fasting and praying for three days, saved the Jewish people from annihilation (Esther 4:14-16). This time the Lord would not only stop this man from persecuting the Jewish people, but He would promote him to be His chosen missionary to carry His light to the Gentiles. "I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man...I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ" (Galatians 1:15-16, 12b).

Heavenly Father,
"The LORD is my light and my salvation - whom shall I fear?
The LORD is the stronghold of my life - of whom shall I be afraid?"
(Psalm 27:1)
Thank you for opening my eyes and inviting me to walk in Your glorious light.
Help me to radiate Your light to those You lead me to,
whomever they may be, knowing that You desire all
men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.

God will use whomever He chooses to fulfill His purposes for His kingdom. In Saul we find a man who was filled with evil intentions, but once he was confronted by the Light of the Lord his heart was so transformed that he became one of the greatest evangelists in history. We also find another man in the story who offered himself, despite fear and concern, as a willing vessel of the Lord to go and minister to Saul. Ananias may not have been a great evangelist, but he had a willing, and obedient heart; God used him to reach this "one" person - the one that was chosen to carry the message of the gospel to the Gentiles, ultimately accomplishing a great work for the Kingdom of God. We must never underestimate the people God chooses; and we shouldn't judge or discount people because we, in our own limited understanding, put limits on God's ability to save or change their lives. Our business as Christians is to pray and to be available when God calls - you never know "who" God may radically transform and use for the kingdom because of your obedience. Pray to be a willing and obedient vessel. "The Church on its knees would bring heaven upon the earth" - E.M. Bounds.

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"But these are written that you may believe
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and that by believing you may have life in His name."
(John 20:31)
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  #80  
Old 08-13-2016, 12:01 PM
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danfinger danfinger is offline
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I announce and I will complete my Yasna to the Good Mind, and to Righteousness the Best, and to the Sovereignty which is to be desired, and to Piety the Bountiful, and to the two, the Universal Wheel and Immortality, to the body of the Kine, and to the Kine's Soul, and to the Fire of Ahura Mazda, that one who more than all the Bountiful Immortals has made most effort for our succour!

And I announce and I will complete my Yasna to the Asnya, the day-lords of the ritual order, to Hāvani the holy, the lord of the ritual order; and I celebrate, and I will complete my Yasna to Sāvanghi and to Vīsya, the holy lord(s) of the ritual order. And I announce and will complete my Yasna to Mithra of the wide pastures, of the thousand ears, and of the myriad eyes, the Yazad of the spoken name, and to Rāman Hvāstra.
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