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  #81  
Old 08-15-2016, 9:37 AM
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MORNING DEVOTION - "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee..." (Psalm 63:1)

Scripture Reading: Acts 10:1-48

In our devotion time yesterday we read about Saul who had set his course to destroy those who walked in the Way of Jesus Christ, but a divine encounter with Jesus Christ Himself stopped Saul dead in his tracks and changed his course, and the course of all mankind forever, for the glory of God. Saul the persecutor had become Paul the preacher, the man chosen to carry God's message to the Gentiles. However, there was one man who had been given the keys of the kingdom of heaven (reference Matthew 16:19), and he would unlock the door for the Gentiles to enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ. Peter would be the one to break down the wall that separated the Jew from the Gentile (reference Ephesians 2:14-16) and open the way for Paul to carry on the ministry to the Gentiles.

As we journey through the book of Acts we have met men and women who were religiously devoted to God, but were not saved (you could say they were "so close, but yet so far away"); until God brought His disciples to lead them the rest of the way home. Today, we meet Cornelius, who was a centurion in the Roman army. He was part of a class of religious people who were not full converts to Judaism ("God-fearers"), but who "respected the moral and ethical teachings of the Jews." He was a devote man who prayed and gave generously to the Jewish people (reference Acts 10:2). One afternoon, during the appointed hour of prayer, Cornelius had a vision and an angel of God spoke to him: "Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God" (v.4b). Cornelius was seeking salvation and he brought a sacrifice of prayer to the Lord, and the Lord received his offering and sent him a message that the answer he sought was not far away. "The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise" (Psalm 51:17).

About thirty miles away, in the town of Joppa, Peter was praying on a rooftop, when he also received a vision from God. "He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. Then a voice told him, 'Get up, Peter. Kill and eat" (Acts 10:11-13). Peter was hungry and wanted something to eat, but these animals were impure and forbidden to be eaten by the law, so he refused. Again the voice spoke to him, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean" (v.15b). The voice spoke again and then the object was gone. Before Peter had barely enough time to contemplate the vision three men showed up to tell him that Cornelius had sent for him. The Holy Spirit had prepared him by telling him, "Behold, three men are seeking you..." (v. 19). Cornelius responded with faith by sending the messengers to find Peter, and he demonstrated his faith by gathering a group of people together in his home while he waited for the answer to arrive. He had heard from God and was already doing the work of an evangelist. When Peter arrived he told them: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear Him and do what is right..." (v.34-35); Peter was not even able to finish his message before "the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message" (v.44). Cornelius sought the Lord in prayer, Peter responded with obedience, and Cornelius and his entire household received the message and were saved. "Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ" (Romans 10:17). This would be the commission carried by every faithful servant of Christ from this point forward to bring the gospel message to "the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8).

Heavenly Father,
Even as I'm praying You are constantly
bringing to mind people I need to pray for.
You hear their cries and have burdened
my heart to intercede for them until Your answer comes.
Help me to be faithful in prayer, but also
obedient to respond when you call me to also
stand by their side.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Peter had to let go of thousands of years of tradition to be able to unlock the door for the message of salvation to be brought to the Gentiles. The "new" covenant of love fulfilled the "old" covenant law, and the hearts of all men would be open and have an opportunity to receive Jesus Christ as their Savior. Peter, by his obedience, preserved the promise given through Abraham (reference Genesis 17:3-8), who himself had believed by faith (reference Genesis 15:6); and carried forward the tradition that men would come to salvation by expressing faith in Jesus Christ. "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized unto Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Gal. 3:26-28). May we pray that we will be ready when the call comes to respond immediately to every opportunity the Lord places in our path to share Christ, in word and deed, trusting that God has already prepared the way for us to intercede and help those who are waiting to receive the help and healing we have to give.
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  #82  
Old 08-15-2016, 5:14 PM
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I Invoke and beseech Thee, O mighty Mother of all life and fertility. By seed and root, by stem and bud, by leaf and flower and fruit, by Life and Love, do I invoke Thee to descend into the body of thy servant and High Priestess .
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  #83  
Old 08-16-2016, 9:33 AM
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MORNING DEVOTION - "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee..." (Psalm 63:1)

Scripture Reading: Acts 12:5-19


Peter was sent to Caesarea to be used by God to open the door to the Gentiles. "So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life" (Acts 11:18). The first "largely" Gentile church would be in Antioch. It was there that the disciples were first called "Christians" (v.26); and it was from there that Paul would be sent on three important missionary journeys.

Meanwhile, the church was facing intense persecution, and Peter had been arrested and thrown in prison by King Herod. Unlike his other two times in prison, Peter was alone; although he was being guarded "closely" with two guards being chained to him. King Herod was not taking any chances of him "disappearing" again (reference Acts 5:19). What King Herod didn't count on, however, is that "the church was earnestly praying to God for him" (v.5). The church interceded for Peter day and night, specifically praying for his deliverance; and God heard their prayers and answered their fervent request. Peter seemed to be at ease as he slept in his prison cell; he rested confidently in God's promises and protection. "The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, both bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. "Quick, get up!" he said, and the chains fell off Peter's wrists" (Acts 12:6-7).

Once he was set free, Peter immediately went to those who helped gain his release. The believers who had gathered at the prayer meeting at Mary's house had been in continuous and fervent prayer for Peter's release; so intense in their petitioning they almost missed the knock at the door. The one who had been given the keys to unlock the doors of heaven, was locked outside the door of a prayer gathering filled with people who believed God would answer their prayers; however they expressed disbelief when the answer finally arrived (v.15). The scene is amusing, yet we might ask ourselves how many of us pray boldly and confidently, expecting God to answer, and then don't recognize the answer when it finally comes, even when it is staring us straight in the face? It is true we must persevere in our prayers; however, sometimes we need to get up and open the door to receive the answer God has for us. "Stand up! What are you doing down on your face?" (Joshua 7:10).

Heavenly Father,
Thank You for the gift of prayer
with which You enable us to fight,
not only against our enemies,
but to war for our friends who are
in the thick of the battle.
Father, we praise You for delays in answers to our prayers,
and in the hindered purposes of
evil men who are bent on destroying Your work,
that we might pray more fervently.
We are living in days of growing distress
and danger for Christians and our Religious
Liberties, but we thank You that You are
using these days to awaken a praying Church.
In these seasons where it seems, like it was
for Peter, that we are between a rock and a
hard place, and our sentence is determined,
You have positioned us purposefully
that no one, but You alone, our Rock and Refuge,
can rescue and deliver us.
Nothing is impossible for You.
Thank You for the reminder today that
You have come, and called us, to
"Proclaim liberty for the captives."
Thank You for entrusting to us the golden key of prayer
to "loose the chains of injustice", and to "set the captives free."
(Isaiah 58:6; 61:1)
In Jesus' Name. Amen.

After being rescued from the prison cell the angel told Peter to gird up his garments and put on his shoes before taking another step forward (v.8). Though it seemed like an extremely ordinary thing to do in an extremely extraordinary situation, we are reminded of our discussion of the full armor of God in yesterday's devotion. We have been set free from the bondage of sin and have been sealed by the Holy Spirit of God; however, to continue our journey and fulfill our commission we must be adequately dressed for battle. Everywhere we step as Christians in this world we are on a spiritual battlefield; we are in the midst of an ongoing holy war. Remember earlier in our journey when we talked about our prayer closet being the place we go to put on the garment of Jesus Christ. We must take time each day to put on the character, image, and nature of Jesus, if we are going to walk valiantly and victorious in this world (reference Philippians 2:5-11). By girding his clothes and putting on his shoes, Peter was prepared to move forward. God wasn't finished with Peter; there was still much work to be done. It is vital that we listen and obey the instructions, directions, and commands of God - to the smallest detail; in doing so we will be rescued, delivered, and set free to continue the work of leading other captives out of the bondage of wickedness into a life of freedom in Christ Jesus. This morning, as long as there is a battle raging, and there are prisoners who need to be set free - whether Christians in chains for their beliefs, or sinners in bondage to their sin - we must keep praying fervently and continuously until they are rescued and restored. "The LORD sets prisoners free..." (Psalm 146:7b).
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  #84  
Old 08-16-2016, 1:27 PM
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Hail to the Æsir!
Hail to the Vanir!
Hail to the gods and goddesses of my folk!
Hail to my ancestors that watch over me!
Hail to the local land wights that guard and guide!
Hail to the bounteous earth and the earth mother!
Words and wisdom give to us noble beings,
and healing hands while I live.
Hail!
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  #85  
Old 08-17-2016, 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 20:13-38

As we near the end of our journey together studying the important role prayer played in the early church, we find Paul getting ready to go onto Jerusalem and then eventually onto Rome, where his ministry will come to an end. Paul says goodbye to the elders at Ephesus, but takes time to exhort and care for the church, as was always his primary ministry. "I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches" (2 Corinthians 11:28). In his farewell address he reminds the leaders of the church of the work he had been called to do and the previous warnings he has given them. "So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears" (Acts 20:31). He exhorts them to be spiritual watchmen and to not let their guards down (reference Ezekiel 3:17). Paul then encourages them to continue the work they have been commissioned to carry forward. "Now I commit you to God and to the work of His grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified" (v.32). Finally, he called them to share all that they had with those in need. "We must help the weak" (v.35b).

Paul reminded the people of the importance of giving. At the heart of ministry is selfless, sacrificial giving which is the outflow of a heart that has experienced the extraordinary love of the Father who gives all good gifts, and a sincere desire to bless others out of the overflow of that love. He then took the opportunity to collect an offering to carry to the saints who were in need in Jerusalem. "At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need" (2 Corinthians 8:14). In our discussion yesterday, we read how Jesus met the needs of the people He was ministering to. When Jesus began His earthly ministry He read from the scroll of Isaiah in the synagogue: "The Spirit of the Lord in on Me, because He has anointed Me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" (Luke 4:18-19; Isaiah 61:1,2). Jesus had come to free mankind from the bondage of sin and death by offering Himself as our sin-sacrifice on the cross. He gave up His throne and became a servant so we could be saved (reference Philippians 2:7); He became poor so that we could become rich (reference 2 Corinthians 8:9). He set the supreme example for us to follow, so that we might experience the blessing of taking up our cross and becoming a blessing to others. "May those who bless you be blessed" (Numbers 4:9b).

The Lord bears the burdens of His people and watches over His servants so that His kingdom work can be accomplished. Throughout Paul's ministry the Lord was near Paul (Acts 23:11); he was given the strength and help he needed to complete the work he had been called to do (reference Acts 18:9; 22:18; 27:23). Paul, who understood what it meant to be weak, and in need of the Lord's help to accomplish his ministry work, boasted of his weakness, for it revealed God's provision of strength. "Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me" (2 Corinthians 12:9b). Paul encouraged the church to continue in the Lord's strength and to trust in His provision, sharing with others the blessings they had received from the Lord. Paul knew the Lord's work could only be done with the Lord's help, therefore he depended upon the prayers of the saints. When it was time to say goodbye he gathered them together to pray (reference Acts 20:36; 21:5). Of all the gifts we can give to others, our prayers provide the greatest power to meet their every need. May we pray and inquire of the Lord to show us how He would have us help meet the practical needs of the people He has brought into our lives with the time, talent, gifting, resources and spiritual blessings He has bestowed upon us.

Heavenly Father,
"Praise be to the God and Father
of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed
us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual
blessing in Christ." (Ephesians 1:3)
"We who are strong ought to bear with
the failings of the weak" (Romans 15:1).
Give us great endurance to pray fervently
for the blessings from Your hand that will
meet the many needs of the people
that You bring to our mind and place in our path today.
May I never fail to use the grace given to me
to proclaim "the unsearchable riches of Christ"
(Ephesians 3:8b).
In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Jesus accomplished His ministry with open hands, an open heart (the love of the Father poured out upon the earth), and a surrendered will. He stretched out His arms and had those tender, benevolent hands nailed to the cross that we might gain access to the infinite riches of His kingdom. He touched a multitude of people with His selfless acts of kindness and love, and blessed the whole world with His ultimate sacrificial gift. He set the supreme example for His disciples to follow. "I have set you and example that you should do as I have done for you" (John 13:15). The entire ministry of Christianity is rooted in giving. Our heavenly Father gives generously to His children who ask. What we receive from the Father we are not to keep for ourselves. What He gives to the faithful stewards of His kingdom is meant to be poured out as a blessing to others. It is our duty as His children to keep that channel of blessing clear and open through repentance, so that we can continually receive and give. "Freely you have received, freely give" (Matthew 10:8b). The destiny of the men is dependent upon the prayers of God's people. This morning let us enter our prayer closet and ask the Lord to clothe us with His power so we can pray down His blessings on the people He has placed in our lives and use us to reveal His glory on the earth.

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  #86  
Old 08-17-2016, 9:55 AM
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Helper to the King in raising the Djed pillar. Lord of the mysteries of Roseatu, of the necropolis, of Kemit, of the temple of Ptah, of the sky, of the Earth and of the underground world…
I pray to these 8 divinities and listen to their words:

Osiris, Great God, Lord of Roseatu, the first of the west, Great God who said:
- I shall give you an awe inspiring funeral

Apis Osiris, the chief of the west, the King of gods, the Eternal Lord who is the master of eternity, said:
- I shall give you all good things of the country of the gods

Isis, the Great Mother of gods, Eye of Re, Queen of the Heavens said:
- I grant that your Ba will come to your defense.

Nephthys, God's sister (of Osiris), who protects her brother, said:
- I shall make breath to come into your nose.

Harendotes said:
- I will make sure that your remains stay where they are buried.

Anubis on his Mountain, the head of the divine halls, great God and Lord of the Necropolis says:
- I will give you all the sweet odors of the Necropolis.

Imhotep, Son of Ptah, capable in all his actions, and great miracle-worker, said:
- I will give you a son who will be very healthy.

The Mother of gods of the West said:
- the dead of the West will welcome you in peace, and you will join them in joy.
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Old 08-18-2016, 9:29 AM
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MORNING DEVOTION - "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee..." (Psalm 63:1)

Scripture Reading: Daniel 9:1-19

Daniel was a devoted servant of God who was able to look and live beyond his challenging circumstances because he had his eyes and his heart fully fixed on God. In 606 - 605 B.C, when Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, laid siege to Jerusalem, Daniel and his three friends were included with the first group of Jews dragged from their homes and taken into captivity. From the very beginning of his time in exile Daniel was determined to live his life set apart to the Lord, and to resolved not to become corrupted by this pagan nation - the place God had brought His chosen people to cure them of their own idolatrous practices and covenant unfaithfulness (reference Daniel 1:8).

Daniel was a man of prayer who would not even allow the threat of being thrown into a den of hungry lions to interrupt his daily prayer meeting with the Lord (Daniel 6:10). Daniel was also a man of the Word who understood from his diligent studies that their captivity was almost over. His prayers were in accordance with God's revealed will. Therefore he prayed that God would prepare the people for their coming deliverance. Daniel became God's chosen instrument to intercede for the people of Israel as well as influence the reign of four kings. In Daniel's prayer for the restoration of his people we find a great model for our own prayers for our nation today. Before praying, Daniel prepared first by humbling himself before the Lord: "So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with Him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes" (Daniel 9:3). He then began his prayer as many of the saints in the Scripture have - with adoration and worship; and acknowledging his fear of, and faith in, God. "O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant of love with all who love Him and obey His commands" (v.4). When we fix our eyes and our hearts on how great our God is, we have no reason to fear man or believe that God doesn't want anything but His best for us. The Jewish people pointed the finger at the wicked people of Babylon for their personal woes, but Daniel recognized that they were responsible for their present circumstance. They had violated God's law and they had refused to listen to His repeated warnings through His prophets. Daniel acknowledged that it was sin that was the cause of all their trouble; therefore he confessed his sins to God, and included himself in his prayer of repentance for the sins of the nation. "We have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws" (v.5). God only needed to hear the cries of one faithful intercessor to be able to begin to work on behalf of His people (reference Exodus 32:11-14). God is always ready to pardon sin. When we come to the Lord with humble repentance in our hearts and with true confession on our lips, God will hear our prayers, forgive our sin, and bring the healing and restoration we need. Daniel reminded God of His past faithfulness, and he admitted that they deserved the punishment they were receiving, but, then he cried out for mercy; not for their sake, but that through their restoration God would be glorified. "We do not make requests of You because we are righteous, but because of Your great mercy. O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For Your sake, O my God, do not delay, because Your city and Your people bear Your name (vv. 18b, 19)!"

God heard Daniel's prayer and He answered by moving the heart and hand of king Cyrus to issue a decree the very next year, allowing the Jews to return to their land and rebuild the temple (reference Ezra 1:1-4). It was about 67 years after the conquest that Daniel discovered, through studying the writings of Jeremiah, that their captivity in Babylon would last seventy-years. Believing that God would fulfill the promises in His word, Daniel sought the Lord with fasting and prayer to prepare the people for the future. We live in our own modern Babylon, and we are called to Christ to live set apart and "holy unto the Lord" as Daniel did, and not allow ourselves to be corrupted by the world, or conformed to its patterns, but rather be transformed daily by God's holy standards (reference Romans 12:2). The Scriptures tell us to be ready, watchful and prepared for the Lord's return (reference Matthew 24:45; 25:13; Mark 13:35; Luke 12:40). If we are believing and anticipating the Lord's return we should be praying more fervently for the people of God to respond to God's call to return and repent so we can purified and prepared to finish the work that we have been called to do (reference Matthew 28:18-20). We are called to be salt and light in this dark and tasteless world (reference Matthew 5:13-16), so that many will be drawn to Christ and be saved (reference Acts 2:38).

Heavenly Father,
"I will proclaim the name of the LORD.
Oh, praise the greatness of our God!
He is the Rock, His works are perfect,
and all His ways are just.
We have acted corruptly toward Him;
we are a warped and crooked generation -
a nation without sense or discernment.
Show us how to be wise in this evil age, and give us understanding.
Judge Your people and have compassion on Your servants.
For there is no god besides You.
You put to death and You bring to life,
You have wounded and You will heal,
and no one can deliver out of Your hand.
Rejoice, O nations, with His people,
for He will avenge the blood of His servants;
He will take vengeance on His enemies
and make atonement for His land and people."
(Deuteronomy 32:3-5, 28, 36, 39, 43)
In Jesus' Name. Amen.

As we meet with the Lord this morning, as we have done for the past 40 days, let us take time to write out our own prayer following the framework that Daniel has given us: (1) Adoration and worship - our worship must be focused on God if we are to be heard (true worship includes the Word of God. Worship begins and ends with knowing who God is and praising Him for being who He is. Search the Scriptures for verses that speak of God's character; Daniel included the words from Deuteronomy 7:9 and 7:21 in his prayer); (2) Confession and repentance - when we begin to worship the Lord with all our hearts and come in contact with His majesty and holiness, we become increasingly aware of the sinful condition of our own heart. Let us lay our hearts bare before the Lord and ask Him to make us aware of any sin that is hindering our prayers from being heard and answered. Let us take time today to confess our sin by name and be willing to turn from any unholy activity or pursuit. (3) Thanksgiving - Let us then offer a prayer of gratitude to the Lord for His forgiveness, His restoration, and for His continued blessings in our lives; finally, (4) Supplication - this is where we humbly and boldly submit our requests for others before the Lord. We begin our prayers by first focusing on the One who hears our prayers and meets our needs, and Who knows our every need before we even begin to pray, and then, after emptying self in our prayers of repentance we turn our attention to the needs of other. This is where Daniel reminds God of His past faithfulness in delivering His people, and asks for the Lord to extend His hand of mercy once again, that the name of God would be glorified. "Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to Your name be the glory, because of Your love and faithfulness" (Psalm 115:1).


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  #88  
Old 08-18-2016, 9:37 AM
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Pure spiritual devotion is achieved when all desires drop away such as grief, hate, fleeting happiness or desire for personal gain. The result is the realization of ones true self. The spiritual devotee becomes intoxicated and overwhelmed with the bliss of union with the supreme. This bliss comes not from desire but from the true nature from within which is stillness. This inner stillness makes sacred the required functions that arise from one's position in life. The blissfull inner stillness is a product of a total focus on God and the successful avoidance of anything that would deflect one from that focus.
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Old 08-18-2016, 11:12 AM
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As we meet with the Lord this morning, as we have done for the past 40 days, let us take time to write out our own prayer following the framework that Daniel has given us: (1) Adoration and worship - our worship must be focused on God if we are to be heard (true worship includes the Word of God. Worship begins and ends with knowing who God is and praising Him for being who He is. Search the Scriptures for verses that speak of God's character; Daniel included the words from Deuteronomy 7:9 and 7:21 in his prayer); (2) Confession and repentance - when we begin to worship the Lord with all our hearts and come in contact with His majesty and holiness, we become increasingly aware of the sinful condition of our own heart. Let us lay our hearts bare before the Lord and ask Him to make us aware of any sin that is hindering our prayers from being heard and answered. Let us take time today to confess our sin by name and be willing to turn from any unholy activity or pursuit. (3) Thanksgiving - Let us then offer a prayer of gratitude to the Lord for His forgiveness, His restoration, and for His continued blessings in our lives; finally, (4) Supplication - this is where we humbly and boldly submit our requests for others before the Lord. We begin our prayers by first focusing on the One who hears our prayers and meets our needs, and Who knows our every need before we even begin to pray, and then, after emptying self in our prayers of repentance we turn our attention to the needs of other. This is where Daniel reminds God of His past faithfulness in delivering His people, and asks for the Lord to extend His hand of mercy once again, that the name of God would be glorified. "Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to Your name be the glory, because of Your love and faithfulness" (Psalm 115:1).
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Old 08-19-2016, 9:11 AM
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Hail Odhinn, Lord of Asgard,
Warrior and wanderer, valiant and wise,
You to whom all the gods of Asgard look,
Sky Father on the eight-legged steed,
You who traded an eye for wisdom
And ruled a turbulent realm,
Give us the wisdom to accept
The twists and turns of Fate
Even as you surrendered yourself
To the mercies of the Norns.
Protect us, All-Father,
From what harm may come to us.
Lead us through the wilderness
And bring us safely to that great hall
That you reserve only for the brave of spirit.
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Old 08-20-2016, 11:22 AM
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MORNING DEVOTION - "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee..." (Psalm 63:1)

Scripture Reading: Daniel 9:1-19

Daniel was a devoted servant of God who was able to look and live beyond his challenging circumstances because he had his eyes and his heart fully fixed on God. In 606 - 605 B.C, when Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, laid siege to Jerusalem, Daniel and his three friends were included with the first group of Jews dragged from their homes and taken into captivity. From the very beginning of his time in exile Daniel was determined to live his life set apart to the Lord, and to resolved not to become corrupted by this pagan nation - the place God had brought His chosen people to cure them of their own idolatrous practices and covenant unfaithfulness (reference Daniel 1:8).

Daniel was a man of prayer who would not even allow the threat of being thrown into a den of hungry lions to interrupt his daily prayer meeting with the Lord (Daniel 6:10). Daniel was also a man of the Word who understood from his diligent studies that their captivity was almost over. His prayers were in accordance with God's revealed will. Therefore he prayed that God would prepare the people for their coming deliverance. Daniel became God's chosen instrument to intercede for the people of Israel as well as influence the reign of four kings. In Daniel's prayer for the restoration of his people we find a great model for our own prayers for our nation today. Before praying, Daniel prepared first by humbling himself before the Lord: "So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with Him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes" (Daniel 9:3). He then began his prayer as many of the saints in the Scripture have - with adoration and worship; and acknowledging his fear of, and faith in, God. "O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant of love with all who love Him and obey His commands" (v.4). When we fix our eyes and our hearts on how great our God is, we have no reason to fear man or believe that God doesn't want anything but His best for us. The Jewish people pointed the finger at the wicked people of Babylon for their personal woes, but Daniel recognized that they were responsible for their present circumstance. They had violated God's law and they had refused to listen to His repeated warnings through His prophets. Daniel acknowledged that it was sin that was the cause of all their trouble; therefore he confessed his sins to God, and included himself in his prayer of repentance for the sins of the nation. "We have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws" (v.5). God only needed to hear the cries of one faithful intercessor to be able to begin to work on behalf of His people (reference Exodus 32:11-14). God is always ready to pardon sin. When we come to the Lord with humble repentance in our hearts and with true confession on our lips, God will hear our prayers, forgive our sin, and bring the healing and restoration we need. Daniel reminded God of His past faithfulness, and he admitted that they deserved the punishment they were receiving, but, then he cried out for mercy; not for their sake, but that through their restoration God would be glorified. "We do not make requests of You because we are righteous, but because of Your great mercy. O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive! O Lord, hear and act! For Your sake, O my God, do not delay, because Your city and Your people bear Your name (vv. 18b, 19)!"

God heard Daniel's prayer and He answered by moving the heart and hand of king Cyrus to issue a decree the very next year, allowing the Jews to return to their land and rebuild the temple (reference Ezra 1:1-4). It was about 67 years after the conquest that Daniel discovered, through studying the writings of Jeremiah, that their captivity in Babylon would last seventy-years. Believing that God would fulfill the promises in His word, Daniel sought the Lord with fasting and prayer to prepare the people for the future. We live in our own modern Babylon, and we are called to Christ to live set apart and "holy unto the Lord" as Daniel did, and not allow ourselves to be corrupted by the world, or conformed to its patterns, but rather be transformed daily by God's holy standards (reference Romans 12:2). The Scriptures tell us to be ready, watchful and prepared for the Lord's return (reference Matthew 24:45; 25:13; Mark 13:35; Luke 12:40). If we are believing and anticipating the Lord's return we should be praying more fervently for the people of God to respond to God's call to return and repent so we can purified and prepared to finish the work that we have been called to do (reference Matthew 28:18-20). We are called to be salt and light in this dark and tasteless world (reference Matthew 5:13-16), so that many will be drawn to Christ and be saved (reference Acts 2:38).

Heavenly Father,
"I will proclaim the name of the LORD.
Oh, praise the greatness of our God!
He is the Rock, His works are perfect,
and all His ways are just.
We have acted corruptly toward Him;
we are a warped and crooked generation -
a nation without sense or discernment.
Show us how to be wise in this evil age, and give us understanding.
Judge Your people and have compassion on Your servants.
For there is no god besides You.
You put to death and You bring to life,
You have wounded and You will heal,
and no one can deliver out of Your hand.
Rejoice, O nations, with His people,
for He will avenge the blood of His servants;
He will take vengeance on His enemies
and make atonement for His land and people."
(Deuteronomy 32:3-5, 28, 36, 39, 43)
In Jesus' Name. Amen.

As we meet with the Lord this morning, as we have done for the past 40 days, let us take time to write out our own prayer following the framework that Daniel has given us: (1) Adoration and worship - our worship must be focused on God if we are to be heard (true worship includes the Word of God. Worship begins and ends with knowing who God is and praising Him for being who He is. Search the Scriptures for verses that speak of God's character; Daniel included the words from Deuteronomy 7:9 and 7:21 in his prayer); (2) Confession and repentance - when we begin to worship the Lord with all our hearts and come in contact with His majesty and holiness, we become increasingly aware of the sinful condition of our own heart. Let us lay our hearts bare before the Lord and ask Him to make us aware of any sin that is hindering our prayers from being heard and answered. Let us take time today to confess our sin by name and be willing to turn from any unholy activity or pursuit. (3) Thanksgiving - Let us then offer a prayer of gratitude to the Lord for His forgiveness, His restoration, and for His continued blessings in our lives; finally, (4) Supplication - this is where we humbly and boldly submit our requests for others before the Lord. We begin our prayers by first focusing on the One who hears our prayers and meets our needs, and Who knows our every need before we even begin to pray, and then, after emptying self in our prayers of repentance we turn our attention to the needs of other. This is where Daniel reminds God of His past faithfulness in delivering His people, and asks for the Lord to extend His hand of mercy once again, that the name of God would be glorified. "Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to Your name be the glory, because of Your love and faithfulness" (Psalm 115:1).


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Old 08-22-2016, 9:13 AM
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Revive
“Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him” (Hosea 6:1–2, ESV).
When we hear the word “revival,” many of us picture tent meetings or long lines of sinners waiting to publicly air their dirty laundry. Not quite. Let’s revive the meaning of “revival.”

The Bible clearly and repeatedly teaches that God wants to revive our relationship with Him. He wants to wake us up, to refresh our faith, to fire us up again. Revival is renewed interest after a period of indifference or decline.If you feel like your faith has veered off course, then you must know that the first wrong turn is always a move away from God. If you wake up one morning and find yourself in a spiritual desert, then you must trace your steps back to where you left God’s path. You have to return to the Lord. All pain that won’t go away is rooted in a failure of faith, and all pleasure flows from unplugging the fountain of joy that’s found only in God.

Here’s what revival isn’t. It’s not the circus chicanery and religious nonsense that accompanies flesh-induced spiritual fervor. Revival is not long lines of anxious sinners waiting for a turn at the microphone to reveal their most secret, sinful something. Revival is not emotional extravagance in which people are swept up in the moment, fall to the ground, and act bizarrely, unbiblically, and out of control. That’s not revival.

The Bible does not invite us to seek a revival, ask God for a revival, or pray that revival will come. In fact, the Bible does not even use the specific word “revival,” though it frequently mentions people being revived. Throughout history, there have been some downpours of God’s blessing that people called “revival,” but we don’t have control over moves of God that affect whole cities or regions. What we can affect is the experience of being revived personally.

Here’s what revival is.

“I am afflicted very much; Revive me, O LORD, according to Your word” (Psalm 119:107, NKJV). Revival involves an increased hunger for and delight in God’s Word after a difficult season of life.

Psalm 119:37 instructs, “Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things, And revive me in Your way” (NKJV). Revival involves a disdain for sin and a renewed desire for obedience to God.

Psalm 80:18 prompts, “Revive us, and we will call upon Your name” (NKJV). Revival brings increased commitment to and interest in personal prayer.

Revival is returning to God’s path, setting our sights on the goal again, and pursuing with new passion the One who can make our lives more than we’d ever dreamed. Revival is gladly experiencing and enjoying God at the center of our lives. Revival is seeing God at work.

Maybe you can remember a time when you were fired up about the Lord, but somehow you drifted away. Maybe you’ve become the passive observer at church, showing up but missing the purpose. Maybe somewhere along the line you lost your passion for the Lord. Well, you can have it back, and God wants you to have it back! God wants to revive you. God wants to tune your heartstrings to the melody you were created to play: a dynamic, delightful, genuine relationship with Him. No matter where you are or what you’ve done, no matter what you feel or think you need, the clouds of heaven are now bursting with the favor and fullness God would shower upon the parched, dry places within you. A deluge of dangerous delight in the God who made you is ready to rain down upon you.

Do you need a revival—not in the world, not in our country, not in your church, not in your family, but in you? Do you need a personal, radical, joyful, biblical revival?

There’s only one place to find it.

JOURNAL

Consider carefully your part in revival and God’s. As you read Hosea 6:1–2, what are you instructed to do? What will God do in response?
Do you need a personal, radical, joyful, biblical revival?
PRAY

Lord God, I admit that my soul is too often weary, dry, and lifeless. I need You to revive me, to give me new life, to wake me up again. I choose to return to You; that’s my part. I ask You to revive me; only You can bring fresh life to my soul. Revival isn’t a historical relic. It’s for today, and it’s for me. Revive me, I pray, in Jesus’ name, amen.
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Old 08-26-2016, 9:58 AM
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The One You Really Need
Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength (Isaiah 40:28–29, ESV).
It’s hard enough to admit we need God; what’s even harder is to live like we need Him. Successes in life can cripple us spiritually when we begin to view ourselves as self-sufficient. When we rely on our money, talent, family, or hard work to fix everyday problems, we don’t feel like we need God.

Ask the people of Israel about this brand of pride. They had just received news that they were going to suffer incredible consequences as a discipline from God. Their crime? They forgot who He was. They lost all sense of how great God is and how much they needed Him. His presence demanded awe and they yawned. For multiple generations, they had rebelliously, willfully, happily done their own thing—and God said, in essence, “Enough!”

Facing doom, Isaiah’s audience cried out for the Lord. Isaiah answered with a moving description of God’s awesome, unchanging nature. “Have you not known? Have you not heard?” (Translation: Didn’t you get the memo?) “The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary.”

God is not like us. He’s everlasting; we have short, finite life spans. He never gets tired; we range from drowsy to sleep deprived. He never feels overwhelmed; we are drowning in demands. “His understanding is unsearchable”; our thought processes are transparent and predictable.

God is so beyond us, and we need Him. The good news is He delivers exactly what we’re desperate for in our weakest moments. “He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.” When your battery runs low, God offers power. When you are weak, He dispenses His strength.

Yet some claim they don’t need the Lord—they have their own program. “I have my act together. With a career plan and solid education, I’m heading in a good direction. My future’s bright.” They may not say they don’t need God, but they live like it. If that’s you, surrender your pride before He brings you low. Bow willingly before God now. Don’t wait for Him to force you to your knees.

Like Isaiah’s original audience, you live in decadent days among people who disdain and dilute God’s awesome character. Followers of Christ face a similar choice: flirt with your perceived self-sufficiency until disaster comes, or admit your desperation without Him.

When trouble comes, do you rely on yourself or depend on God? Do you take matters into your own hands or wait for God’s provision in His timing?

Everyone needs the Lord. The sooner you learn this, the more you experience His power and strength.

JOURNAL

Self-sufficiency is sneaky. When you face a problem, what are you tempted to rely on to fix it (such as your money, your charm, your skills)?
Do you openly admit you need God? How do you live like it?
PRAY

Lord, I need You. Sometimes I pretend I can manage on my own and try to hold my life together with my own energy and talents. Please forgive me for the sin of self-sufficiency, and help me to replace it with utter dependence on You. When I face problems today, help me to turn first to You, and remind me to wait on Your timing. I won’t manipulate or force my own agenda; I choose to wait on Yours in the strength You provide. In Jesus’ awesome name I pray, amen.
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Old 08-27-2016, 9:29 AM
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The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple (Psalm 19:7b, ESV).

God speaks to us through all He has created and all He has written. Psalm 19:7 is a prompt to consider the faithfulness of Scripture in moving us from ignorance to wisdom.
The word testimony depicts God as witnessing to Himself. While we can learn from other believers’ experiences, this is the Lord Himself taking the witness stand, testifying, This is who I am. This is what I’m like. This is what I will do. God is not required to tell us about Himself, but He does. And His love for us ensures that He reveals what we need to know.

This verse also affirms that the Lord’s self-revelation is sure—dependable, durable, and trustworthy. God’s Word is the real thing and consistent with His character.

But we all share a common setback. We aren’t just stubborn and hardhearted, we’re naïve and foolish. We’re simple. And the testimony of the Lord is so sure, it makes “wise the simple.” The word simple alludes to an open or unguarded mind—a hallmark of someone easily led astray.

A simple mind is like a house with the front and back doors wide open. An idea strolls in and is embraced without question. Then another thought blows in, and the simple person pins their hopes on the latest featured guest, acclaimed author, or self-help program. This simple mind can’t discern what matters, because it doesn’t have the capacity to feel the weight of what is wise and substantive vs. light, fluffy, and foolish.

In contrast, a wise mind opens judiciously, discerns the value of ideas, and embraces godly wisdom. The testimony of the Lord is so sure, it can transform a foolish, vacillating, undiscerning person into a wise and stable one.

We’ve all been that deer-in-the-headlights kind of person—an easy mark for worldly thinking. But when God’s Word pours wisdom into our lives, it becomes evident in our comments, insights, and understanding. Others may marvel over the transformation, but we know where it comes from: regular exposure to His powerful, life-giving Word.

Wisdom isn’t related to intelligence, academic training, or even life experience. It comes from God, and He gives it generously to all who seek and ask (Proverbs 8:17; James 1:5–8).

Pursue wisdom in the “testimony of the Lord” and leave “simple” in the rearview mirror. You won’t be disappointed.

JOURNAL

What parts of God’s Word have become more familiar to you in the past year?
How have you grown into a wiser person as a result of the truth of Scripture implanted in you?
PRAY

Lord, thank You for rescuing me from the simple darkness of not knowing You at all. Thank You that You are growing me in wisdom and that You offer me more and more as I immerse my mind in Your Word. Forgive me for placing pride in my own insights. Thank You that Your wisdom is an inexhaustible supply. I can never reach the end of knowing You and learning from You. Thank You for wisdom personified in Your Son, Jesus Christ, in whose name I pray, amen.
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Old 08-29-2016, 8:34 AM
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Faith to Kill a Giant

All the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him and were much afraid. . . . And David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God” (1 Samuel 17:24, 26, ESV)?
When you hear the name “Goliath,” you picture that hairy giant of a guy that the shepherd-boy David brought down with a slingshot, right? That whole battle scene inspires us—because we know how it ended.

But if you had said the name “Goliath” to any soldier serving under King Saul, you would have seen pure terror in his eyes. Every day for more than a month, the troops had witnessed this arrogant, bullying enemy challenge their army. “And the Philistine said, ‘I defy the ranks of Israel this day. Give me a man, that we may fight together.’ When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid” (1 Samuel 17:10–11).
Enter young David, delivering lunch to his big brothers on the battlefield, when Goliath came out for his daily taunt.

Now, David knew the same thing that Saul and his army should have known. David knew that God had promised to protect His people, and his faith in the living God flourished—even when the rest of them cowered, paralyzed with fear. When David heard Goliath’s proposition, he thought, Now let me get this straight. All I have to do is fight him, and this showdown will all be over? That’s it?

But before David did his famous slingshot routine, he had to overcome a few major obstacles. The most obvious one stood right in front of him. Was there anything, humanly speaking, that suggested he was the guy to take on Goliath? No. But David didn’t see what everybody else saw. If David had walked by sight, he would have noticed a much stronger opponent with more battle experience, more weaponry, more raw killing power.

Too often, we fail to win the victories that God would have us win because of the simple obstacle of sight. Do you see what everybody else sees, or do you see what God sees? Like Saul’s soldiers, have you been paralyzed for forty days by seeing only a giant, listening to his taunts hammer your hope and injure your heart? The problem is vision: you’ve got your eyes off the Lord and on the giant. When David looked up, he asked a bold question: “For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” His words reveal a simple fact: David had his eyes on the Lord. Everything hinged on this.

Are you facing a giant today? Forget what you see. Get your eyes back on the Lord, “for we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7).

JOURNAL

What are some “giants” you’re facing today?
Contrast what you see with your eyes to what you see by faith. How can you face your giant with your eyes squarely on God?

PRAY

Lord God, You are a warrior. You are mighty in battle, and You always win. When I face my giants in life, help me to fix my eyes on You alone. When I stare at the giant, my vision deceives me, and I feel afraid. When I look at You, my courage grows, for You are the living God, slayer of giants and sin and death. Teach me to “walk by faith, not by sight.” Thank You that because of Jesus, my ultimate, eternal victory is secure. In His matchless name I pray, amen.
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Old 08-30-2016, 9:50 AM
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Restore, Don't Destroy
Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

—Galatians 6:1

Not every person who quotes the Bible is necessarily a believer. Those who quote the Scriptures to condemn others often are the guiltiest of all. Those who are quick to find fault with others often have greater fault in their own lives. The people who are so quick to come down on someone else often are guilty of far worse.

This is exactly what Jesus was talking about when He said in the Sermon on the Mount, "And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?" (Matthew 7:3).

It's a humorous illustration, but it makes a point. Jesus was saying, "You are so quick to focus on the minutiae in another person's life, yet you are guilty of overt sin."

If we know of someone who is falling into sin, our objective should be to confront and restore them, not condemn and destroy them. Galatians 6:1 says, "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted." Our objective is to restore, not destroy.

I find it interesting that this verse goes on to say, "Considering yourself lest you also be tempted." One day it could be you. One day you could be the person who stumbles and falls. One day you could be the person who makes that mistake, who commits that sin. And hopefully someone will come along in graciousness and boldness and help you get back on your feet again.

As the old hymn says, "Prone to wander—Lord, I feel it—prone to leave the God I love." We have to constantly keep our guard up because we all have the potential to fall.
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Old 09-01-2016, 9:37 AM
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Sufficient for You
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me (2 Corinthians 12:9, ESV).
When we study Scripture, we don’t want to get buried in the details of the Hebrew and Greek texts so we miss the meaning. But every now and then, a little nuance in the original language changes everything. In 2 Corinthians 12:9, the word order in the original Greek provides us with a lightning insight we don’t want to miss. In English the verse reads, “My grace is sufficient for you.” In the original Greek, the verse reads, “Sufficient for you is the grace of Me.” Notice the subtle difference. Essentially the Lord told the Apostle Paul, “I am the grace.” He didn’t say, “I send you grace.”

“I am the grace.”


God does not dispense grace the way a pharmacist fills a prescription: “Here, take two of these, and call Me in the morning.” He is the grace. He is the strength. His presence is the power. All we need comes through intimacy with Him. No matter what we face, He is the complete answer. “Sufficient for you is the grace of Me,” He promises. He doesn’t hand us what we need and then go somewhere else, off to solve someone else’s life crisis. He comes to stay. “I am with you always” (Matthew 28:20b).

Here’s how that plays out in your life: perfectly and powerfully. “For my power is made perfect in weakness,” God explained to Paul, and to us. “Perfect” means fulfilled, accomplished, completed, finished. It’s the same as Jesus’ final word on the cross: tetelestai, “It is finished” (John 19:30b). God brings Himself to the relationship, and all His sufficient, powerful grace; all we bring is weakness. And all of this is grace, because we can never do anything to deserve what He does for us.

God’s grace is completed in your weakness. And until you realize you’re weak and you recognize the need for His grace, you can never fully experience it. Even that understanding of your own need is a gift of grace. The perfect power of Jesus’ grace can’t be fully realized until weakness is rightfully acknowledged. The moment when you’re overwhelmed by your absolute helplessness is the moment you are ready to hear Jesus say, “Sufficient for you is the grace of Me.” In other words, “I am all you need.”

If you want to live by God’s sufficient grace, you won’t catch it falling from the sky as you rush off to your next task. You won’t receive it as your mind drifts off to your plan for how to solve your own problems. You won’t get your dose in the drive-thru line at the spiritual pharmacy.

Because He is the grace, you need Him. He will go with you every step of the way. He is a faithful friend, always with you. When a trial threatens to overwhelm you, when you feel a keen sense of your own weakness and insufficiency, remember His promise: “Sufficient for you is the grace of Me.”

He is the grace you need.

JOURNAL

The perfect power of Jesus’ grace can’t be fully realized until weakness is rightfully acknowledged. In what ways are you weak?
God doesn’t send us grace, like a FedEx overnight shipment. He is the grace. Why is that such a powerful promise? How have you experienced it to be true?

PRAY

Father God, what an amazing thought that Your grace is not separate from You—I can’t experience Your grace without experiencing You. You deliver grace personally, and Your constant presence in my life is grace. I acknowledge my weakness. I need You. I’m insufficient; You are sufficient, powerful, and perfect. By faith I believe that no matter what I face, sufficient for me is the grace of You. Not “just enough” or “barely enough”—You are more than enough for me. Thank You for grace. Thank You for intimacy with You. I pray in the name of Jesus, whose power rests on me. Amen.
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Old 09-02-2016, 10:11 AM
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Heart Monitor
When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD’s anointed is before him.” But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:6–7, ESV).
God doesn’t see the same way people see.

We form all kinds of assessments about others—and all kinds of assessments about ourselves—based on how we look. Fat. Thin. Strong. Wimpy. Rich. Shabby. Cool. Nerdy.

We are far too prone to make judgments based on what we see. And because of it, we miss what we could be seeing: what God sees.

Because what God sees is all that matters.

When He instructed Samuel—spiritual leader of Israel—to go anoint a new king from among the sons of a man named Jesse in Bethlehem, the logical process seemed pretty simple: just parade them past Samuel in order of age, from oldest to youngest. In fact, if historical precedent was any indicator, Samuel could have guessed without looking that the Lord would surely tell him to select the firstborn as His choice for king. Especially a young man who gave off the striking impression of this one—Eliab, Jesse’s oldest.

But that’s not what God thinks when he looks at us. He doesn’t look at a man in the pulpit wearing a three-piece suit and say, “Now there’s a pastor.” He doesn’t look at a person who’s brimming with natural ability and say, “Now there’s somebody who can do great things.” “For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

An attraction to “tall, dark, and handsome” is what had gotten Israel stuck with King Saul—a guy who looked the part on the outside but was immensely insecure on the inside. His reign went up like a rocket and came down like a rock. He didn’t have the character underneath that compelling exterior to support the weight of his position. He didn’t have the heart of, say, the youngest son of Jesse—the one who didn’t even get invited to the king’s parade—the kid who was out in the fields, doing the slave-labor job of a shepherd. The least likely. The least expected. The most ordinary. The most forgotten. Yet God said, “I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will” (Acts 13:22).

See the difference?

The people you choose as your role models, the people whose lead you follow, the people whose awesome abilities and personalities make you feel so incapable by comparison . . .

The person you see in your mirror today who looks so bad to you, so inferior, so unworthy—or perhaps looks so good to you, so much sharper and more attractive than other people you know . . .

What baseline are you using to make those judgments?

If you want to align your life with God, stop zeroing in on what you and everybody else looks like, and start focusing instead on the heart—what your heart is like, what their heart is like.

The Lord picked a shepherd boy to be king, because nobody would’ve seen that coming. Because “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong” (1 Corinthians 1:27, NASB), so we won’t boast in what we can do, but only in what God can do . . . through a heart that’s fully His.

JOURNAL

How have you been disillusioned or disappointed by trusting what you saw in someone else’s outward appearance and demeanor?
How much effort do you invest in creating and maintaining your own appearance or reputation, and why do you think it matters so much to you?

PRAY

Father, thank You for making so clear in Your Word what You are looking for in Your people—and for making it something You can accomplish in me, even with all my flaws and limitations. Forgive me, Lord, for wasting my time trying to impress, especially when I’m painting a picture of myself that’s not fully authentic. Forgive me, too, for putting people on pedestals—as well as for putting them on scrap heaps—based almost entirely on the external image they present. Help me no longer confuse importance with appearance—mine or anyone else’s—but rather to love what You love: a heart that’s surrendered to You. I pray this 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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Old 09-05-2016, 10:03 AM
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Where Hope Grows

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.

—Romans 5:3–4

Years ago I had a friend who was very sick and asked me to pray for him. I did. He got worse. He said, "I don't ever want you to pray for me again."

In our estimation, sometimes things go the wrong way. We may pray, "Lord, heal this person. Be glorified through this."

But the Lord might say, "I will be glorified, but I'm not going to do it the way you want Me to. I'm going to do this other thing instead."

Sometimes God will remove the affliction. Sometimes God will heal the illness. Sometimes God will take away the cancer. But sometimes the person will get worse.

We don't usually like that. But it is in these times that God can be glorified. Everyone suffers in life. Christians suffer too. When a Christian is suffering and can still glorify God, that is a powerful testimony to a lost world. When non-Christians see us honoring the Lord through our suffering, it shows them how real our faith is. And guess what? It shows us how real our faith is too.

Do you think your faith would get stronger if everything were easy in life? No, your faith will get stronger through hardship. Here's something that might surprise you: You even will develop more hope through tribulation. Romans 5:3–4 says, "But we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope."

Hope grows in the garden of pain. It doesn't grow without challenges or difficulty. It grows in hard times. It's sort of like building muscle. You build it up by breaking it down. Then, as you keep working out, that muscle will get stronger. You develop strength through your weaknesses. This is true of Christians in their spiritual lives as well.
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and that by believing you may have life in His name."
(John 20:31)
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  #100  
Old 09-08-2016, 10:20 AM
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Cry for Help
When he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith” (Matthew 8:23*–26, ESV)?
Are you the kind of person who grew up thinking you’d always be able to come up with a plan to solve any concern that crossed your path? Maybe you even believed that once you’d gotten capable enough at fixing problems, the automatic pilot of the good life would take over and you’d reach a day when nothing could faze you—you’d be able to sort everything out, box it up by category, and put it neatly on the shelf.

Seems like nice thinking, right?
But as we grow up, we start to figure out that day is never coming.

We can avoid storms and upheavals in our lives about as effectively as we can divert weather patterns over our city. Despite occasional blue skies, dark clouds inevitably gather on the horizon, reminding us of our daily need for trusting God. You cannot set your hope on the illusion that you will finally reach a point where life will be nothing but smooth sailing from here on out. Just about the time you think, “I don’t really need to pray that much this week”—Wham! Reality hits. The fact is, this side of heaven, there will never be a day you won’t need to trust the God who loves you.

The professional fishermen in the boat with Jesus that afternoon on the Sea of Galilee had seen a lot of bad weather in their day. They felt comfortable on the water, pretty sure of themselves, based on a lot of past experience. But there was something about this “great storm” that blew in—this mega, seismic storm—that sent them rushing to Jesus, imploring, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.”

Their terror, as well as Jesus’ response to their desperation, should send us rushing to understand and apply what we’re seeing here.

Jesus orders the circumstances of our lives so that we will come to the place—and keep coming to the place—of crying out, “Lord, save me.” He knows we will never stop needing opportunities to grow, stretch, develop, and strengthen our faith in Him . . . because, as I’m often reminded, nothing ever has nothing to do with faith. The issue is always: Will I trust God in this? Do I believe He will care for me? Do I believe He has my best interest at heart?

Jesus knew the storm was coming. He could’ve stopped it before it started. He could’ve waited for clearer sailing before encouraging His disciples to come out on the water with Him. He knew, when He lay down to sleep in perfect calm and confidence, that He was preparing them for a teachable moment.

“O you of little faith.”

I hear Him, in questioning their faith, not rebuking them so much as tenderly saying to them something more like, “You don’t get it yet, do you?” He wasn’t mad at them; he was sad that they still weren’t convinced He could take care of them. He wanted them to realize—just as He wants us to realize—the absolute security of trusting Him.

Your future will always hold waves, and those waves will ravage you until you embrace the fact that God allows these storms for your good. He won’t let you drown. But He wants you to want Him to save you.

He wants the storm to remind you to trust Him.

JOURNAL

How did your heart change through your last storm?
Are you in a season of storm or calm right now? How are you being intentional about fixing your eyes on Jesus, regardless of the “weather” around you?

PRAY

Lord, I understand that storms are signs of Your faithfulness to me. They keep me crying out to You, they prove to me Your power, and they teach me Your lovingkindness. Though I wince at the struggle, I know You’re doing what’s best for me, and I love You for it. Forgive the arrogance I reveal so often when life is calm, thinking I’ve figured out all that I need to know, that I’ve moved beyond needing You as I once did. Lord, I am full of need. Yet by Your mercy, all I need is found in You. Grow in me the faith to live in light of this confidence every day, whether the sea is serene or stormy. I trust You, Lord. In Jesus’ mighty 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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  #101  
Old 09-12-2016, 10:12 AM
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The Most Important Choice

“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 29:13–14a, ESV).
The most important choice you will ever make in your life is to choose God. To choose to connect with the God who made you and me and everything in this twisted universe. Not that He made it twisted—He did not. He made it perfect, and we snarled it up with bad choices. But we can still have most of what we have lost just by choosing God again, on His terms.

To some people, God is just some vague, foggy notion. Have you bought into the idea that either you believe in God or you don’t and that nothing can alter your current condition? Maybe you’ve thought, I have never had faith, not genuine faith, not like my sister/friend/dad/other. Sometimes I'm drawn to a bit of the vertical in a crisis: “Oh God, save me from that truck that just swerved into my lane!” Then He does, and the feeling passes, and the spark of faith fades into numbness. Is that your experience—crisis faith for a moment and then nothing?

Perhaps you suspect that the faith-in-God thing is a trait you’re born with (or without), like blue eyes, brown hair, or a family membership at the country club. Have you concluded that belief is a characteristic you may or may not have, and that’s out of your control? God is most assuredly someone you choose, and choosing Him makes all the difference. Choosing God is less like the options on a new car and more like selecting a person to marry. Faith is for people who want it and are willing to go for it with passion. In fact, God only shows up for people who are looking, and He chooses to reveal Himself exclusively to people who really want to know Him. “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD.”

God advertises! “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge” (Psalm 19:1–2). God’s Word and God’s world are full of advertisements about Him, but as with even the best-marketed product, you still have to choose what God is offering.

Yes, you can choose God. Don’t let some stale seminarian talk you out of it. We’ve all heard the well-worn argument that we don’t choose God but that He chooses us. So which is true—do we choose God, or does He choose us? Both! Just as I chose my wife, and she chose me. There’s little point in arguing over who chooses first. Let’s go at this from the only angle we actually experience: our own. We choose God. That’s the way it feels, and that’s the way it functions, and until you climb out of your armchair or descend from your ivory tower and choose God for your own life, you will always be missing the main ingredient for human happiness.

Of course God is completely in charge. But let’s not use His original choice as an excuse for human apathy. We must not lose our sense of responsibility in the ocean of God’s sovereignty. When God planted our ancestors in the Garden of Eden, He gave them the capacity to make significant choices. Adam and Eve got to choose names for the animals and pick which of a wild assortment of fruit to eat, save one. The rest, as they say, is history. Constant choices.

So what will you choose? Will you choose to believe with your whole heart that there is a God who knows you perfectly yet loves you unconditionally? You can put your whole weight down on God’s love as your identity.

JOURNAL

Where do you find yourself at this moment—clueless about God, wondering, interested, hesitant, or ready to choose His love (for the first time or yet again)?
Why is choosing the God who loves you the foundation of your identity?

PRAY

Father, thank You for Your love. Thank You that You love me with an everlasting love. Thank You that the God of the universe—who doesn’t need me, who is not diminished by my absence or increased by my presence, who is complete in Himself—has chosen to set His love upon me. I respond to Your choice with a choice of my own. I choose to believe there’s a God who loves me, and that settles my eternity and my identity. I pray in the name of Jesus, who loved me and gave Himself for me, 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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  #102  
Old 09-15-2016, 10:08 AM
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Love Never Fails

“Love never fails” (1 Corinthians 13:8a, NKJV).
There is one word that will offer help and healing to your most important relationships: Love.

Love is relational dynamite that obliterates all obstacles in its path. Love is an action before it’s a feeling, and it leans into the work of seeing people change. Don’t be misled: making the choice to love can be the easiest part of the process. Putting it into practice will require God’s help and the best you have to offer.
And it will be worth every minute. The powerful profile of love offered in 1 Corinthians 13 closes with this confidence: “Love never fails.” But love never fails to what?

Love never fails to conquer selfishness.
We never have to work at being selfish; it’s just right there, barking for attention. And nothing brings our selfishness to the surface faster than living in close proximity with people. Love conquers this obstacle. Characteristics of selfishness are being impatient, mean, demanding, envious, boastful, unreasonable, and resentful. But love “is patient and kind . . . does not envy or boast . . . is not arrogant or rude . . . does not insist on its own way . . . is not irritable or resentful” (1 Corinthians 13:4–5, ESV).

Love never fails to conquer skepticism.
In seasons of relational discord, it’s easy to doubt that anything will ever change. But when a family member or someone you care about disappoints you and you want to bail, love holds on. Love does not sell out or run away in a crisis. And love is not skeptical. It believes the best in a person, works for their good, waits for God’s agenda to be accomplished in their life—and He uses that love to transform that person.

Loves never fails to practice flat-out persistence.
“Love bears all things, believes all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). Because love isn’t skeptical, it keeps moving forward. It doesn’t give up or keep score. Love tries again, trusts again, and finds a way to give an opportunity for God to work.

“[Love] hopes all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7c). Love can hardly wait for someone to become the person God is making her—and amazingly, it does wait. Love is always hopeful, believing the best, that the Lord’s purposes are being accomplished.

“[Love] endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7d). In our wounded moments we think, No one will ever do that to me again. But those words are not a loving statement. When we say them, we’ve forgotten how desperately we hope others will give us another chance when we fail. Love is always part of the solution.

When we choose not to love, we become an obstacle in God’s way. When we choose to love, we become a tool in God’s hands to transform the lives of those around us.

Start doing the selfless things, the persistent things, the hopeful things, the enduring things—and you will be practicing the love that never fails.

JOURNAL

When was the last time you chose the hard road of practicing never-failing love? What was the outcome?
In which of these areas—selfishness, skepticism, propensity to give up—do you sense the Lord convicting you to change the way you’ve been loving those the Lord has placed in your life?

PRAY

Lord, I know I don’t have the strength to love like this. I’m not under any illusion that my intentions alone amount to much. Father God, I know You are love, You are my capacity to love, and Your Son, Jesus, exemplifies selflessness. You demonstrate the power of giving Yourself. So I ask that Your power would be demonstrated in my life and through me. Cause Your power to be my experience and let it play a part in transforming those around me. Please teach me to love. Help me to love. Strengthen my love, I pray. In Jesus’ mighty 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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  #103  
Old 09-20-2016, 10:27 AM
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Stoned
The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say” (John 8:3–5, ESV)?
The early morning quiet was broken as a mob burst into the courtyard, dragging a barely dressed woman behind them. What filled her eyes—shame, horror, terror? What thoughts raced through her mind as she scrambled to keep her feet? How her face and neck must have burned red as neighbors stuck their heads through open windows—staring, gawking, judging.

With holy strides, the mob stormed through the city into the courtyard to confront Jesus. “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?”
Let’s pause the story for some legal analysis. Did the woman deserve to be stoned? The scribes and Pharisees were technically correct. According to the Law, adultery was punishable by stoning, and she’d been caught in the very act of adultery. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, she was guilty.

But so are we. We can’t begin to make sense of this story until we grasp this uncomfortable idea: We all deserve to be stoned.

Under the Law, adultery wasn’t the only sin that warranted the death sentence. Breaking the Sabbath—not taking one day a week to rest, per God’s instructions. Sorcery—accessing the spiritual world through a medium or wizard. Blasphemy—taking God’s name in vain. Idolatry—treating anything as more important than God. Disrespect—rebelling against one’s parents. Lust—an expansion of adultery, in Jesus’ words: “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Every one of these sins was also punishable by death.

If you’d lived under the Law, and all your attitudes and actions were openly exposed, would you have deserved to be stoned too?

We can’t understand this story until we cultivate a sense of our place in it. As we look on this dramatic scene, we don’t get to identify with Jesus. He’s the only one who’s innocent and the only rightful authority. As long as we fail to see our own guilt, we force ourselves into the corner with the religious leaders, with a harsh opinion of others and a high view of ourselves.

If we don’t relate to the sinner in this story, then we don’t yet understand the gospel. All of us are under the justifiable wrath of Almighty God for our rebellion, stubbornness, selfishness, and sinfulness. Some might argue, “I don’t believe anybody deserves to go to hell.” More accurately, nobody deserves to go to heaven.

We all deserve to be stoned.

Yet we aren’t. We’re not dragged outside the city and forced to atone for our bad choices. Jesus was taken outside the city. Jesus was wrongfully put to death for your sin and mine. And you cannot fully appreciate His sacrifice until you grasp that you’re the one who should have been stoned. You should have been on that cross. That’s the power of the gospel.

May we live every day with the humility to realize we deserve nothing; we’ve been given everything. That’s grace—God’s unmerited favor.

JOURNAL

With which character do you naturally identify in this story, and why—the woman, the religious leaders, or Jesus?
“We all deserve to be stoned.” To what extent do you agree with this statement? Why must humility precede grace?
PRAY

Father God, forgive me for my self-righteousness. Like the woman in the story, I’ve done wrong. I deserve to be punished. This bitter realization makes the gospel message all the sweeter: Jesus in my place. Jesus took my punishment, and by His wounds I am healed. Thank You. May I live today with the sense that I deserve nothing, and You’ve given me everything through Jesus. In His name, amen.
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and that by believing you may have life in His name."
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  #104  
Old 10-03-2016, 10:53 AM
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MORNING MEDITATION


"Blessings crown the head of the righteous."
- Proverbs 10:6a

The Crown: "For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,
and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority." - Colossians 2:9-10



Beloved believer, as we embark on this new 40 day journey together, we are all aware of the seriousness of the hour that is upon us. I rejoice that in this day of headache and haste we are coming together to heed our heavenly Father's invitation to closer communion with His Son, Jesus Christ. How blessed we are, as the dearly beloved of the Most High God, to be invited to sit as the honored guests at His abundant banqueting table to feast on the richest of fare. The portion He has prepared for our plate in this season is a delicacy beyond compare - the Majesty of God! May we bask in the warmth of His smile, and rest in His loving embrace, as He opens the door of His treasury and reminds us of the riches of His grace which He has stored up for us in Christ Jesus and has placed at our disposal through the channel of prayer. "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable His judgments and His paths beyond tracing out!" (Romans 11:33).

Our Savior took off His royal crown and His robe, and stepped down from His throne in glory, so that His church could be arrayed in robes of righteousness and a garment of salvation, and have the crown of glory placed upon her head. "And God placed all things under His feet and appointed Him to be head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills everything in every way" (Ephesians 1:22-23). The heavenly Father has placed the royal crown upon the church and provided her with a Head "who is over every power and authority" (Colossians 2:9). All things have been placed in our Lord's hands and under His feet. He is seated on His throne of government in the position of authority, giving motion and guaranteeing stability. "When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?" (Psalm 11:3). We can rejoice and have confidence in the knowledge that the One who holds all things is the One holding up the church! "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After He had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty of heaven" (Hebrews 1:3). The blessed Head of the church is seated at the right hand of God in the heavenly realms, and "God has raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 2:6-7). The door of the storehouse of heaven was opened up to us at salvation so that we could enter into the greatness, immensity, and infinitude of God and enjoy the fullness of Him who fills all things. May we recognize the divine responsibility we have in being raised up with Christ to that place of power and the high privilege we have been given in prayer and lay hold of heaven's blessing for a world in need.

Our Lord has infinite spiritual riches to bestow upon His Bride, but we have barely begun to scratch the surface of His vast treasury because we are so attached to the world and have allowed ourselves to become content with so little of the wealth of His Kingdom. Let us take time in this season of prayer and fasting to lay aside every fear and excuse that has kept us from entering the Holy of Holies of intimacy with Christ. Let us draw near to the Lord in His sanctuary and learn to be still in His presence as we lift up the holy and majestic name of God and bask in the beauty of all of His wonderful attributes. Charles Spurgeon has said, "when we crown the Head the whole Body gets the honor." May the glorious Head of the church be set on a high throne in all men's hearts in this season and the church be set aflame with holy love!

"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 29:11-13)

_______
__________________
"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; 10-03-2016 at 11:16 AM..
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  #105  
Old 10-04-2016, 10:02 AM
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Default CROWNED 40 Days (Day 2)

The Crown: "The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and His name the only name." - Zechariah 14:9

The call to fasting and prayer is a call to deepening intimacy with God. These protracted seasons of prayer provide us with a divine opportunity to separate from the busyness of our lives and set apart time to seek God more earnestly. God desires that we know Him personally and intimately, and there is no better way to do that than to meditate on His wonderful name. As we open up the Word of God these next 40 days and focus our attention on His majestic and sovereign name, may we experience a fresh encounter with the Lord that will rekindle the flame of holy love in our hearts and lead us to approach Him more boldly and confidently in prayer.

The Scriptures reveal over a thousand different names and titles for God, and each one provides deeper insights into His character and His love. In ancient times an individual's name summed up his whole person; however, because God is infinite, one name cannot contain all that He is. His name reveals His attributes and He shows us that He is holy, powerful, righteous, merciful, gracious, and just. We cannot exhaust all that He is and all that He has done, for "the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written" (John 21:25b). There is even more that He has not revealed. "He has a name written on Him that no one knows but He Himself" (Revelation 19:12b).

In the Old Testament, God's Name was associated with a place. "But you are to seek the place the LORD your God will choose from among all your tribes to put His Name there for His dwelling" (Deuteronomy 12:5). But in the New Testament, His name is associated with a person. "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). Our access to God is not dependent on a place, but on the person of Jesus Christ. May we recognize how privileged we are to be able to draw near to our Savior and dwell in His presence. Let us worship Him in the beauty of His holiness this morning and praise Him simply because He is. "Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, His body, and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water" (Hebrews 10:19-22).

"O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is Your name in all the earth!"
(Psalm 8:1)
_____
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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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  #106  
Old 10-05-2016, 10:06 AM
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Default CROWNED 40 Days (Day 3)

The Crown: "For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, "Abba, Father." (Romans 8:15)

Jesus is the royal crown and Head of the church, His body. In Him all the names and attributes of God are revealed more fully, and through Him we are provided the primary name God desires to be known to His followers: Father. Jesus Christ came to die for the sins of mankind and to restore the fellowship between God and man that was lost in the fall (Genesis 3). In coming as a Son, Jesus revealed God the Creator as a loving Father, and provided the way for man to experience a deeper, more intimate relationship with God. "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). When we trust Jesus Christ as our Savior, God becomes our Father, and He lovingly receives us into His family (1 John 3:1a). The promise of the Father's peace, protection, and provision are ours; and we remain safe and secure in our Father's arms. "My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of My Father's hand" (John 10:*9).

The God we pray to is our Father. As Father, we come to God with confidence and boldness, but as our heavenly Father, we approach Him with reverence and awe. Our privilege as sons and daughters of God is access to a heavenly Father who is, not only, willing to help us in our time of need, but able to help us. The fatherliness of God reveals His goodness, His tenderness, His compassion, His discipline and His love. "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like the shifting shadows" (James 1:17). He is a generous, kind and benevolent Father who knows our needs, our cares and our wants better than we do. "...your heavenly Father knows that you need them" (Matthew 6:3*). He answered our greatest need when He sent His Son into the world to reconcile the world to Himself. He extended His gracious, fatherly love even when we were far from Him. Now that we are His children, there is so much more of Himself He desires to give us. "Which of you fathers, if your sons asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!" (Luke 11:11-13). This morning let us praise our Father in heaven with our lips for all His wonderful attributes and perfections which He has given to us in Jesus Christ. Then let us honor Him with the yielding of our lives to the gift of the Holy Spirit, which He has deposited within His children to work in us the nature of His Son, so we can bring glory to His name as image-bearers of our heavenly Father. "Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work in us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen" (Ephesians 3:*0-*1).

"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!"
(1 John 3:1a)
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  #107  
Old 10-06-2016, 9:07 AM
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Default CROWNED 40 Days (Day 4)

The Crown: "I am the LORD, your Holy One, Israel's Creator, your King." - Isaiah 43:15

From the very opening words of the Holy Bible we find God declaring His name. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Genesis 1:1). God, the Creator, identifies Himself in the very first sentence, as the Creator of everything. In the New Testament, the apostle Paul begins his letters to the various churches by identifying himself as the author. "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 1:1-2). It was normal practice in letter writing to identify the writer first and then the recipient. When God began His letter (His Word) to His creatures, He identified Himself as, not only the writer of these words, but as the Author of all things.

The name, Elohim, expresses God's creative power. Elohim is the plural of El, which means God. As Elohim, God expresses that He is the God of gods, the One true, living God, the Creator of all things. "Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth" (Isaiah 40:28). When we look around our world today and focus our attention on all that man has done with his hands to cause chaos and destruction to the earth we can grow weary and discouraged, and begin to despair. Let us instead focus our attention on our Creator and the wonderful world, and earthly house, which He created for the people of earth. He is the pre-existent, self-existent One. In His awesome strength He created the world out of nothing. His Spirit moved upon the waters of the deep and set His work into motion. Without His touch the world is in chaos and disorder, but at His Word everything is brought into perfect order and form. This is true of both the world around us and His work within us. The One who created everything is still at work in the world. Our Creator, who has revealed His power over the universe and in His ability to transform the hearts of man, has power and strength available to help us in our time of need. "I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you" (Genesis 28:5).

The work of creation began by providing the light by which we can see all the wonderful works and glory of God's creative hand. The work of redemption began by revealing the light that shines into the darkness of men's souls and transforms us "into His likeness with ever increasing glory" (2 Corinthians 3:18; John 1:1-5, 14). All around us, and within us, we have evidence of the power and majesty of God to transform darkness and chaos into beauty and life. God continues to sustain the world He created with His creative power. May we look to Him and have confidence in His ability and willingness to bring order out of chaos even now. "God...has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds, who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high" (Hebrews 1:1-4). When we think less of God than who He is we dethrone Him and rob Him of His glory. Let us praise Him for who He is, all that He has done and all that He continues to do, and give Him glory and honor, by believing in the wonder and majesty of His creative and redemptive power which is at work in the world today. Let us bow down before the throne of the Majesty of heaven and worship Him with all our hearts today!

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand."
(Isaiah 41:10)
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  #108  
Old 10-07-2016, 9:24 AM
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Default CROWNED 40 Days (Day 5)

The Crown: "Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people He chose for His inheritance. From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind; from His dwelling place He watches all who live on earth - He who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do." - Psalm 33:12-15

Ever since our catastrophic fall in the garden man has been walking in a moral fog and trapped in a spiritual slumber. Without a proper connection to the Head, Jesus Christ, eyes are blind, ears are deaf, and the tongue is mute regarding spiritual matters. Man's vision is blurred and he cannot see clearly or accurately. But God, the Creator, sees everything and He knows everything, and He is always at work guiding us back to Him. He is El Roi, the God Who Sees Me. "Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, You Are The God Who Sees; for she said, "Have I also here seen Him who sees me? Therefore the well was called Beer Lahai Roi..." (Genesis 16:13-14). God sees us in our places of desolation and isolation, and has said that it is not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18). When God revealed Himself to Hagar she was in the wilderness; it was in the place of desperation and distress that she found herself face-to-face with God.

God is always watching over His creation and His creatures. Not one part of His creation falls outside of His tender care or watchful eye. "Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows" (Luke 12:6-7). Whenever we find ourselves in the place of desolation and feel alone, we can trust that God is watching over us; His eye is on us as much as it is on the sparrow. He hears our cry for help, and He will meet us in our hour of need. Sometimes it takes the desert experience to put us in a position where we begin to realize our need of God. In that place of spiritual dryness we will begin to cry out to God to come and quench our thirst. Our God, El Roi, sees His children, He knows that we need help, but He waits until we have finished fighting and struggling, and finally become willing to receive His help. It's been said you can't save a drowning man while he still has strength left in him, because he will drag you under the water with him. When we have exhausted all our energy and top putting up a fight and finally surrender and turn to back God as our only source of help, He will come and rescue us and put our feet back on solid ground. Let us begin to see our situation and circumstances through God's eyes, and then lift up our eyes and praise Him today for His wonderful watchful care. "Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God" (Psalm 691-3).

"He will not let your foot slip - He who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep."
~ Psalm 121:3-4

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  #109  
Old 10-08-2016, 9:58 AM
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Default CROWNED 40 Days (Day 6)

The Crown: "He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." (Psalm 91:1-2)

Our God is a God who wants to be known. From the moment He turned on the lights of Creation, every brushstroke of His creative hand began to speak of His infinite power and intimate care. Whenever the Lord wanted to make Himself known in the Old Testament, He made an appearance to His faithful servants. "When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, "I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless. I will confirm My covenant between Me and you and will greatly increase your numbers" (Genesis 17:1-2). The same God who met the distressed Hagar in the hour of her desolation, and revealed Himself to her as the One Who Sees her pain and recognizes her desperate circumstances, met the aging patriarch, Abram, as he was resigning himself to accept the impossibility of God's promise at so late a stage in his life. Hagar was instructed by God to go back to her painful situation she ran from, but He sent her with a renewed vision of His presence and watchful care. Abram, nearing the end of his life, was instead about to see the fulfillment of God's promise and embark on a whole new season of life, so God revealed Himself to His faithful servant as the God of the impossible, the mighty One, El Shaddai.

When all hope seems lost, and our circumstances seem beyond repair, God wants His children to know that He is the all-sufficient, all-powerful God, the Almighty One, and nothing is too hard for Him. "I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for Me?" (Jeremiah 32:27). The God who created the mountains at His word, and who can just as easily cast them into the sea, is a deeply personal God who can move the mountains out of His children's path to get them to the appointed place He has purposed them to be. There is nothing or no one who can thwart the plans of God. "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD'S purpose that prevails" (Proverbs 19:21). Our God is omnipotent; He has absolute power. He is a God of incomprehensible, limitless power. All the power in the universe is at His command. He works and moves without effort and without expending energy; not one ounce of His power does He surrender when He displays His mighty power in the world. Our God is the God of infinite power, who parted the Red Sea and reduced the walls of Jericho to rubble without the help of man, and in the same manner He opened up the womb of Sarah and changed the course of history. Let us praise Him as Almighty God this morning, and bow down in humble worship and in holy fear as the early saints did when they were confronted with God's awesome presence and power (Genesis 17:3a). "Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care" (Psalm 95:6-7).

"Our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases."
~ Psalm 115:3

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  #110  
Old 10-09-2016, 11:05 AM
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Default CROWNED 40 Days (Day 7)

The Crown: "Lord, You have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or You brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting You are God." (Psalm 90:1-2)

The eyes of the Lord are always on His children, and He desires that our eyes be fixed on Him at all times, rather than our problems. Yesterday, we were reminded that our God is the mountain God; the all-sufficient God of all power and might. He wants us to see Him as the mighty mountain in our path, so that our current circumstances will shrink in comparison to how big and how great our God is. Sadly, for many believers, the ability to trust that God is powerful enough to help with the difficulties and challenges they are facing seems more like an impossible mountain they are unable to climb. We have spent little time on the mountaintop with our God basking in the light of His presence and breathing the purified air of heaven, instead we have found ourselves weakened by the pollution of the world and our body has become filled with its toxins. Because we have surrendered our high view of God, the church is now suffering unnecessarily, and many of God's children are suffering a crisis of faith.

The time we spend on the mountain with God getting to know all we can about His wonderful nature and many attributes, will strengthen and equip us for being more serviceable to our generation. God likes to bless His children when we are in the place He has chosen to receive His blessing; and just like Abraham, people will begin to take notice that we have been with God and desire to be connected with Him too. "At that time Abimelech and Phichol the commander of his forces said to Abraham, "God is with you in everything you do..." (Genesis 21:22). Abraham had been richly blessed by God with a promise of blessing for all generations (Genesis 12:2-3). God showed Himself to His servant as the everlasting God who can keep His covenant of love to all generations. Abraham then planted a tree as a living witness of God's everlasting faithfulness. "Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the LORD, the eternal God (El Olam)." (Genesis 22:33). Our God is the eternal, everlasting God who has no beginning or end, but He knows the beginning from the end and sees everything that will happened as if it already has. "I am God...and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning" (Isaiah 46:9b,10a). Let us praise our Everlasting Father this morning, for His goodness and love which endures forever, and His faithfulness which continues through all generations (Psalm 100:5). "They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor" (Isaiah 60:3b).

"But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever,
the purposes of His heart through all generations."
(Psalm 33:11)

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  #111  
Old 10-10-2016, 10:30 AM
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Default CROWNED 40 Days (Day 8)

The Crown: "God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.' " (Exodus 3:14)


God desires that His children know Him, and while He reveals Himself through His many names He also wants us to take the time to discover all the marvelous attributes that each name represents. He calls us to Himself so that we can enjoy the blessings of deep, abiding intimacy and fellowship with Him as Father and as Friend. To do this we must learn to "be still and know that He is God" (Psalm 46:10). We must be willing to put in the necessary time and effort to cultivate our relationship with Him, if we truly expect to experience all the benefits and blessings that flow from the abiding life. When God spoke to Moses through the burning bush (Exodus 3), Moses wanted to know more than just the name of the God who spoke to him, he wanted to know what kind of God is this who can set a bush on fire and speak through it, and then choose a mere human being to be His instrument of deliverance. "What is man that You are mindful of him, the son of man that You care for him?" (Psalm 8:4). The more we know God the more we will understand His ways. God wants His children to gain more than just head knowledge about who He is, rather He longs for us to experience the deepest levels of communion with Him so that our hearts will be open to a greater understanding of His will and 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).

The longer we know God and walk with God, the greater should be our desire to know more about Him. Sadly, our problems have become our priority, and we seek God for solutions rather than simply seek Him for Himself. We satisfy ourselves with mere morsels, when He has prepared for us an abundant feast. Moses had cultivated a deep, abiding, and trusting relationship with God which gave him the boldness to ask God for greater things. He wasn't satisfied with just hearing the word of God, he wanted to see the glory of God. "Then Moses said, "Now show me Your glory" (Exodus 33:18). And God was pleased to answer His servants prayer. "Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed His name, the LORD. And He passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "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 34:5-7a). The presence of God was indispensable to Moses, and the thought of God deserting him was unfathomable. He knew the secret to his strength was God's abiding presence in his life, and so he asked the Lord for greater assurance that He would continue to guide him. "If Your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here" (Exodus 33:15). God has given His children today an even deeper sense of His presence with the promise of His Holy Spirit, and confirmed in the great commission that He will never leave us. "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:20b).

When we pray to the Lord, Yahweh, we touch the ear of the One who is always near and always present. He is the self-existent, self-sufficient, all-sufficient God who always is and always will be faithful and dependable. Let us take time this morning to praise God for the wonderful gift of His indwelling presence in our lives through the Holy Spirit. Let ask for Him to take us deeper with God each and every day, so we can lay hold of the power and blessing of the heavenly life.

"Bless the LORD, O my soul;
and all that is within me, bless His holy name!"
(Psalm 103:1)
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  #112  
Old 10-11-2016, 11:50 AM
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Default CROWNED 40 Days (Day 9)

The Crown: "All this took place to fulfill what the LORD had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call Him Immanuel" - which means, "God with us." (Matthew 1:22-23)


The most incomprehensible loss man suffered when he fell into sin in the garden, was the awesome awareness of the presence of God. The first man and woman took for granted the closeness and communion they had with their Creator. They did not fully understand the benefits of that special relationship - until it was gone. It was God's presence that made the world a paradise. "Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But His delight is in the law of the LORD, and on His law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers" (Psalm 1:1-3).

Man had defiled God's world with his sin, and as a result suffered the awful consequences of being separated from God, but God in His love provided a way for man to be restored to a right relationship with Him and enjoy the blessings of His presence again. Israel was chosen among the nations of the world to be a vessel through which God could dwell among man and reveal His presence to them. "Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle" (Exodus 40:34). Israel enjoyed the privilege of God's presence in the tabernacle in the wilderness, and then in the temple when they were settled in the promised land. "The priests then brought the ark of the LORD'S covenant to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place and put it beneath the wings of the cherubim...When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled His temple" (1 Kings 8:6, 10-11). God's presence however was not guaranteed, so when His people sinned His glory departed from the temple (Ezekiel 10). "...when the people of Israel where living in their own land, they defiled it by their conduct and their actions...and wherever they went among the nations they profaned my holy name..." (Ezekiel 36:17a, 20a). Ezekiel had the privilege of seeing a vision of the restoration of the temple and the return of the glory of God (48:1-5); and he saw the promise of the future millennial kingdom where God's presence would dwell and the land would become a paradise again. "And the name of the city from that time on will be: THE LORD IS THERE" (Ezekiel 48:35).

God's promise of His presence is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, whose name, Immanuel, means "God with us" (Matthew 1:22-23). As His children, when we pray, we pray with confidence knowing that His presence is not only with us, but also within us, through the indwelling power of His Holy Spirit. Let us praise Him this morning with reverential fear and awe for His wonderful presence which fills our lives and through us overflows to the world. May we recognize the awesome privilege and power we have been given to be a temple of the Lord where His Holy Spirit dwells. May we not take for granted God's presence in our lives, but daily seek to cultivate that holy fellowship with Him so that the people who come in contact with us each day recognize His presence in us and say of all God's children and of His church: THE LORD IS THERE! "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit" (2 Corinthians 3:18).

"The LORD your God is with you, He is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing."
(Zephaniah 3:17)

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  #113  
Old 10-12-2016, 10:14 AM
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Default CROWNED 40 Days (Day 10)

The Crown: "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After He had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty of heaven." (Hebrews 1:3)


As we journey through the wonderful names of God these 40 days, our main goal is to elevate our concept of God - we need to restore the majesty of God. With every passing generation our idea of God has slowly eroded in the church, and our modern familiarity with God has stripped Him of His majesty and power. Sometimes in our ascent to the mountaintop of God we can get so caught up in the clouds that our vision of God can become clouded. On the mountain, where Jesus was transfigured, Peter wanted to build tabernacles for the Lord, Elijah, and Moses (Mark 9:5). Peter's head was so high up in the clouds that he was content to settle in that place. He forgot that the people below needed the presence of God also. God had given his disciples a glimpse of His glory to strengthen them for the next leg of the journey. Our Sovereign God knew that the suffering and death of His Son would shake the disciples world and they would need this encounter to give them hope when all seemed lost. This divine encounter with God was meant to lead them to further obedience, not cause them to pitch their tents. The voice of the heavenly Father further confirmed why Jesus had taken them to a new spiritual level in their walk with Him: "This is My Son, whom I love. Listen to Him!' (v.7b).

Jesus is the Son of the Most High, He is the "radiance of God's glory." He humbled Himself and came to earth to reveal the glory of God to mankind. The very idea that the incomprehensible, transcendent One, who dwells in unapproachable light, confined Himself to space and time, and dwelt with sinful man, and then died on the cross for our sins, should cause us to respond in like manner as Isaiah, Daniel, Ezekiel, and Saul, when they fell to the ground in reverential, holy fear (Isaiah 6; Daniel 10; Ezekiel 1:28; Acts 9:4). When we pray to God Most High, our prayers fall on the ears of the Sovereign of the universe who possesses all knowledge, all power and all authority. Let us remember that, when we approach "our Father in heaven" with our prayers and petitions, He is holy and His kingdom, His will, and His glory should be our utmost desire. Let us bring to Him our highest praise as He continues to take us to the highest heights of the revelation of who He is, and then come down from the mountain refreshed in Him, and continue advancing His kingdom in the world. "But you, man of God, flee from all this and pursue righteousness godliness faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith...I charge you to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which God will bring about in His own time - God, the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To Him be honor and might forever. Amen" (1 Timothy 6:11-12a, 14-16).

"My shield is God Most High, who saves the upright in heart.
I will give thanks to the LORD because of His righteousness
and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High."
(Psalm 7:10, 17)
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  #114  
Old 10-13-2016, 10:26 AM
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Default CROWNED 40 Days (Day 11)

The Crown: "Such a high priest meets our need - one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the other people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when He offered Himself." (Hebrews 7:26-27)

Once a year, on the annual Day of Atonement, the high priest of Israel would enter behind the veil of the temple into the Most Holy Place to make atonement for himself and the sins of the people (Leviticus 16). The tabernacle and the ministry of the Levitical priesthood were set up by God to illustrate the only way sinners may approach holy God and find forgiveness. Day after day the priests offered sacrifices with no hope of perfection or completion. While the earthly tabernacle was imperfect and temporary, it pointed to the future priesthood and perfecting work of Jesus Christ. "The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming - not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship" (Hebrews 10:1).

As our Great High Priest, Jesus is both priest and king in the order of Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18-20). As king He gives, and as priest He blesses. "...One who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life" (Hebrews 7:16). Jesus came to the earth and united His divine nature and our human nature together in his person to provide the perfect sacrifice for sin. He, who is the only one who is "holy, harmless, and undefiled," is now in heaven in the seat of honor and power interceding as the perfect God-Man. Jesus performed His priestly work on earth when He offered Himself as the atoning sacrifice for our sins "once for all," and has since provided a permanent priesthood in heaven where "He always lives to intercede." He has established a throne of grace for us where we can approach our Great High Priest with confidence, and find His "mercy to pardon our sins" and His "grace to purify our souls." "The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduce, by which we draw near to God" (Hebrews 7:18-19). Jesus, our Advocate, is a great and gracious high priest who kindly invites us to the mercy seat to find help in our time of need. Let us come boldly before the throne of grace this morning, and declare the praises of our God and Great High Priest, who has saved us to the uttermost and who is able to sympathize with all our weaknesses. "Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens" (Psalm 68:19).

"Therefore He is able to save completely those who come to God
through Him, because He always lives to intercede."
(Hebrews 7:25)

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  #115  
Old 10-14-2016, 10:12 AM
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Default CROWNED 40 Days (Day 12)

The Crown: "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments." (Deuteronomy 5:8-10)

All the wonderful works of God reveal that He is love (1 John 4:16). The golden thread that runs through God's creative work and continues all the way through His glorious plan of redemption, is a jealous, all-consuming love which binds the heart of God and man together in perfect union. How great is the love of God that He has let His heart be bound to man forever. "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38-39).

The love of God is a protecting and perfecting love, which demands undivided attention. So all-encompassing is the love of God that He will not allow His chosen ones to have any competing affections. "Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God" (Exodus 34:14). Jesus Christ bought the exclusive deed to our heart with His precious blood, and sealed the eternal covenant with the promise of His Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14). God's love demands we forsake every other love that competes with love for Him, but He promises us that He will never forsake us; we are eternally secure in Him. "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have because God has said, "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5). How great is the love the Father has lavished on us all (1 John 3:1). As such, it should be the earnest and utmost desire of His children to give Him all the attention, devotion and love His Jealous love deserves. Let us praise the Lord this morning for the way He passionately and relentlessly pursues His children, even when our hearts begin to cool and we stray from the safety of His love. Let's continually praise Him for the many ways He has shown His love to us. "I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness" (Jeremiah 31:3).


"Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm;
for love is as strong as death, jealousy as cruel as the grave;
its flames of fire, a most vehement flame."
(Song of Songs 8:6)
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  #116  
Old 10-15-2016, 10:20 AM
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Default CROWNED 40 Days (Day 13)

The Crown: "Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave - just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:28)

Nehemiah was serving in the palace of Susa, as cupbearer to the king, when he learned of the desolation of his beloved homeland. When he heard that the holy city of Jerusalem was in ruins, that the walls were broken down, and the people were exposed to the enemy, he sat down and wept. He was heartbroken, but not without hope, because the Lord brought His servant to this royal position "for such a time as this."

We, too, can easily become discouraged and begin to feel hopeless as we look at the condition of the world we live in. There are outside forces attacking us on all sides which seek to destroy our faith, family, and freedom. But Nehemiah's humble response and prayer should inspire us to remember all is not lost, and that this is not the time to give in or give up. Nehemiah turned his attention to His God and boldly approached His throne, "O LORD, God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps His covenant of love with those who love Him and obey His commands..." (Nehemiah 1:5). Although Nehemiah was a servant in an earthly palace, he remembered whose servant he truly was and how great and mighty is his King. He chose to fix his eyes upon the majesty of His God and not on the magnitude of his problems, and went boldly before the throne of God, seeking the favor and power of the Lord in prayer. He began his prayer with praise, remembering the power, greatness and goodness of God, and then entered into a time of repentance, in which he included himself in the sins of the nation, and ended his prayer with a confident petition for God's help, reminding the Lord of His past faithfulness to His people (Nehemiah 1:5-11).

When we take the time to remember who our God is, diligently seeking Him in His Word and prayer, we will find that we no longer worry about what we are lacking, rather we become aware of how infinitely powerful He is and how rich we are as His children. "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world" (1 John 4:4). God used His servant Nehemiah to rally the troops and remind the people who God is. Nehemiah chose to live by faith and not fear, and inspired the people to do the same, and then he encouraged them to begin to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem; and even with increased opposition, they completed the wall in just fifty-two days. "Be strong, all you people of the land,' declares the LORD, 'and work. For I am with you.' declares the LORD Almighty" (Haggai 2:4b). Let us take time this morning to praise the Lord this morning for who He is and thank Him for the privilege of being called His children.


"Surely God is my help;
the Lord is the one who sustains me.
I will sacrifice a freewill offering to You;
I will praise Your name, O LORD, for it is good.
For He has delivered me from all my troubles,
and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes."
(Psalm 54:4, 6-7)

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  #117  
Old 10-17-2016, 9:39 AM
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Default CROWNED 40 Days (Day 14)

The Crown: "The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and His name the only name." (Zechariah 14:9)

Israel was one of the last kingdoms of the earth to set up a kingly rule. Their King had always been Jehovah God, until they allowed the pagan nations around them to influence them away from their separated and privileged position as the chosen people of God, and within their cooling hearts they began to cry out for an earthly king to rule over them. God first gave them their heart's desire in Saul, who turned out to be a less than desirable ruler after the initial draw of his external qualities was overshadowed by a heart that was not entirely surrendered to God. Then He gave them David, a man after His own heart, to show His people how a king should rightly rule. After the reigns of David and his son, Solomon, Israel went through a cycle of righteous and evil kings until they were finally given over into the hands of godless kingdom. By the time of the appearing of their long-awaited Messiah, Israel was growing weary of kings who had missed the mark of God's high standard, and they were ready for a righteous king to come and rule over them again. "So when they met together, they asked Him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6).

The disciples were in the presence of their resurrected Lord when they asked this question about His kingdom. Even with all that they had witnessed with their eyes, His followers still did not understand that He did not come to restore, but rather to
set up His kingdom. Because they did not have the spiritual eyes to see that His was a spiritual kingdom, Jesus told them to wait in Jerusalem until they would be given the gift of the Holy Spirit, which the Father had promised, who would come to dwell inside them and give them that necessary spiritual illumination to understand the will and workings of God's kingdom, and endue them with power to advance His kingdom in the world. Jesus Christ will one day set up His kingdom and rule on earth, but for now He is setting up His kingdom in the hearts of believing men and woman who will be His witnesses in the world and proclaim Him as king (Acts 1:7-8). "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). Jesus did not come to rule an earthly kingdom, but rather to set up His throne in the hearts of men who will yield to His rule and reign. Let us praise our King this morning for the freedom of choice He gives the world today to experience the blessings of His kingdom, which rules inwardly by the force of divine love, rather than to suffer under the external rule of the kings of the earth, who rule the world by the force of law. Let us bow before the throne our righteous King has set up in our hearts, yielding more fully to His rule, and crown Him once again as King! "...giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light" (Colossians 1:12)

"For God is the King of all the earth; sing to Him a psalm of praise.
God reigns over the nations; God is seated on His holy throne.
The nobles of the nations assemble as the people of the God of Abraham,
for the kings of the earth belong to God; He is greatly exalted."
(Psalm 47:7-9)

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  #118  
Old 10-18-2016, 9:51 AM
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Default CROWNED 40 Days (Day 15)

The Crown:
"For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this." (Isaiah 9:6-7).


The ways of God are unfathomable. The mighty warrior King, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty of heaven, in the position of power and authority over all the universe, set aside His weapons and rescued the world in an awful display of human weakness. He allowed Himself to be arrested, falsely accused, disrobed and beaten, and then crucified in an act of humility that is beyond human comprehension. God's ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:9). "But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth..." (Isaiah 53:5-7).

All creation was created by God and serves His purposes, yet He chose to lay aside these mighty weapons, including laying down His own life, so that those who believe in Him would have access to the infinite power and unlimited wealth of His kingdom. Jesus stepped down from the throne of heaven to set up His everlasting and peaceable government in the heart's of men, and rule them with the law of love. David, who was a man after God's own heart, also refused to rely on the strength of human armor (1 Samuel 17:39). The Source of his secret strength was his unyielding allegiance to the powerful name of God. "...I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts..." (v. 45). David knew whose government ruled his heart and life, and as a result he refused to submit, or even listen to, the ungodly words of a despot who profaned the name of his God. "For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled" (2 Corinthians 10:3-6). Jesus demonstrated with His life and death, the only way to have victory over the epic battle that wars within the human heart. There can be no peace in our lives, or in the world, as long as choose to ignore God's government. Let us lift up our voices and offer up a song of praise to our mighty Lord of Hosts, who has given us all the power of His kingdom to have victory over the world, the flesh, and the enemy; and who has set up within our heart a superior government whose law is love.

"You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin.
But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts,
the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied."
(1 Samuel 17:45)

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  #119  
Old 10-19-2016, 10:23 AM
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Default CROWNED 40 Days (Day 16)

The Crown: "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. Through these He has given us His very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires." (2 Peter 1:3-4)

Every name of God that we meditate on during these forty days reveals another more wonderful aspect of His character. The deeper we dig in our earnest pursuit to know Him better, the more we realize how vast and infinite our God is. His names help us to know Him better, but the more we discover about Him, the more we realize just how much we don't know about our God. It is no wonder that eternity is called just that, because it would take an eternity to know all the marvelous facets of our great God! "Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written" (John 21:25).

God desires that our discoveries of the deep and hidden things of God and His character, will lead us to experience a deeper, more abiding relationship with Jesus Christ, and be used to transform us into His holy character and image. The progress we make in our knowledge of God should lead us to progress to new levels of intimacy with Him, and also spur us onto greater levels of spiritual progress and transformation. We spend a great deal of time in our modern culture filling our heads instead of our hearts, but Jesus came to be our Head and to win our hearts. As Jehovah M'Kaddesh, holy God reveals that the burden for this amazing transformation in our lives falls on Him. "For them I sanctify Myself, that they too may be truly sanctified" (John 17:19). Let us praise our heavenly Father for His great provision: The One who calls us to be holy uses His own holiness to make us holy like Him. "But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy." (1 Peter 1:15-16).


"Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the LORD your God.
Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the LORD, who makes you holy."
(Leviticus 20:7-8)

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  #120  
Old 10-20-2016, 9:17 AM
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Default CROWNED 40 Days (Day 17)

The Crown: "God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." (2 Corinthians 5:21)

Our world today is filled with violence, corruption, turmoil, wickedness, and lawlessness. We are not unlike the people in the time of the judges of Israel, when Israel had no king, and where "everyone did as he saw fit" (Judges 21:25). The news today reads much like it did in ancient Israel, when the land was full of idolatry and ripe for political revolution and Jeremiah prophesied of a righteous ruler who would come and save His people from oppression and make them dwell in safety. "The days are coming," declares the LORD, "when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In His days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which He will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness" (Jeremiah 23:1-6).

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). There is nothing new in all of creation. In recent days alone we have even heard of a national leader calling his people to come back to their homeland, but Jeremiah prophesied thousands of years ago that there would one day be a great ingathering of God's people by a righteous King who would "reign wisely and do what is just and right and the land" (vv. 5b). Ultimately, Jeremiah's prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus Christ who has reconciled us to God through the cross. "I Myself will gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing" (vv. 3-4). God sent His Son to restore man's broken relationship with God through His life, death, and resurrection. As Jehovah Tsidkenu -The LORD Our Righteousness, Jesus Christ is the only one righteous, and therefore, He alone is able to restore sinful and rebellious man to a right standing with holy God. No matter how hard man may try, he cannot attain righteousness in and of himself. "As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one" (Romans 3:10). Jesus alone is our Source of righteousness. We have nothing to fear in this present day we live in where there are wars and rumors of wars that seek to tear everything apart, we only need to keep our eyes fixed on our righteous God who is at work, in and through His church, reconciling the world to Himself. Let us praise the Lord Our Righteousness today for He has made us righteous through the cleansing of His blood and has removed our filthy rags and given us a spotless garment to wear. "I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoiced in my God. For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness" (Isaiah 61:10a). May we be motivated in love to Him to walk in the way of righteousness He has prepared for us, and continue His work of reconciliation in the world.

"See, a King will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice.
Each man will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm,
like streams of water in the desert and the shadow of a great rock
in a thirsty land."
(Isaiah 32:1-2)

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