Devotionals

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Loving God

Today's Message

{ Day 89 }

You have ravished my heart, My sister, my spouse; You have ravished my heart with one look of your eyes. —Song of Solomon 4:9, NKJV

What does it mean to "ravish" the heart? According to the dictionary, the word ravish means "to take away by violence; to overcome with emotions of joy or delight; unusually attractive, pleasing or striking." The bride had captured his heart, filling it with ecstasy and delight. As the maiden heard the Lord wooing and affirming her, her fears melted away, and she gained courage to follow Him. Remember: all that she has done at this point is say yes. Yet she has ravished the heart of God with her sincere desire to obey Him.

{ PRAYER STARTER }

Is it possible, dear God, that my willingness to follow You could ravish Your heart with love for me? Your love is more than I can comprehend, but it is my sincere desire to follow You wherever You ask me to go.

Did you know that your yes to Christ—your
immature but sincere commitment to Him—ravishes His heart?

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Daily Breakthroughs

Today's Message

Served by God

For the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. —Mark 10:45

Jesus came not to be served but to serve. Like the father waiting for his prodigal son to come home, the Father waited for an eternity for us to come home, back into His arms. After waiting and waiting, God could wait no more. Love seeks out that which is loved. Before we could ever turn back toward home, He came to us through His Son, Jesus. He gave us everything we asked for and more. Before we asked, He died for us, offering us His eternal gift of love—everlasting life. He wants us to live forever so that He can love us forever!

Like the prodigal son, we may run to the Father, fall at His feet, and beg to serve Him. He always refuses. Instead, He picks us up, bathes us with His tears, clothes us with a white robe of righteousness washed in the blood of Jesus, puts the ring of power and authority on our finger, and ushers us into a feast fit for the King.

Do not expect to sit under the table and grab for any crumb that may fall. No, in Christ you sit at the Father's right hand—the seat of honor. And to your surprise, when you reach out to fill His cup and serve His plate, His hand stops yours. In wonderment, you look into His eyes. Then you know the truth. He seats you at the King's table for one purpose—to serve you.

Jesus, thank You that I do not have to settle
for the crumbs of life. I rejoice in the privilege of coming to
Your table with a feast fit for a king. Amen.

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By Love Transformed

Today's Message

Forgiveness Begins in the Heart

Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God. —1 John 3:21

Total forgiveness must take place in the heart or it is worthless. If forgiveness truly takes place in the heart, one does not need to know whether one's enemy will reconcile. If I have forgiven him in my heart of hearts, but he still doesn't want to speak to me, I can still have the inner victory. It may be far easier to forgive when we know that those who maligned or betrayed us are sorry for what they did, but if I must have this knowledge before I can forgive, I may never have the victory over my bitterness.

If Jesus had waited until His enemies felt some guilt or shame for their words and actions, He would never have forgiven them.

It is my experience that most people we must forgive do not believe they have done anything wrong at all, or if they know that they did something wrong, they believe it was justified. I would even go so far as to say that at least 90 percent of all the people I've had to forgive would be indignant at the thought that they had done something wrong.


Total forgiveness, therefore, must take place in the heart. If I have a genuine heart experience, I will not be devastated if there is no reconciliation. If those who hurt me don't want to continue a relationship with me, it isn't my problem because I have forgiven them. This is also why a person can achieve inner peace even when forgiving someone who has died.


Confidence toward God is ultimately what total forgiveness is all about; He is the one I want to please at the end of the day. He cares and knows whether I have truly and totally forgiven, and when I know I have His love and approval, I am one very happy and contented servant of Christ.

Excerpted from Total Forgiveness (Charisma House, 2002).

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Around the Word in 365 Days

Today's Message

Jacob's Ladder

Genesis 28:28:1-29:35 As a child I remember singing, "We are climbing Jacob's ladder." In the song was the phrase, "Every rung goes higher, higher." Jacob experienced a divine connection between heaven and earth. In his dream he saw a ladder between heaven and earth, and he saw angels ascending and descending this ladder. The Lord stood above the ladder, and He spoke to Jacob and told him how the families of the earth would be blessed through his seed. He promised Jacob that He would keep him wherever he went, and that the time would come when He would bring him again to the land He promised Abraham, his great grandfather. When Jacob woke up, he said "Surely the Lord is in this place."

The good news is that if we never dream a dream as Jacob did, we can still experience daily the same divine connection between heaven and earth. We may not see angels ascending and descending a ladder from heaven, but we can daily say, "Surely God is in this place."

Where does God dwell? I remember asking my mother that question as she gave me a spot bath one Saturday evening in preparation for Sunday church the next day. "Mommy, where does Jesus live?" My mother wisely answered, "Jesus lives in heaven, and He also lives in your heart." Later as an adult I understood completely how correct her answer was. I now know that Jesus is seated on the right hand of God the Father. He has been raised from the dead, and He is in a glorified body, one that has the ability to defy matter. This would have been too much for a girl of seven to understand, but I could understand that He is in heaven and also in my heart. As a young child I invited Jesus to come into my heart, and He did. My picture of Him in my heart was what a child would have. I pictured Jesus sitting at a desk, and there was a list He was checking. It had two columns that said "Good and Bad." Above the columns was my name, "Linda." He was checking the list twice to see if I had been naughty or nice that day. My view of Jesus at that time was a "Santa Clause image." Unfortunately many adults still have this Santa Clause image of God—He blesses us when we are good and curses us when we are bad. Thank God I now understand more about God than I did as a child.

I don't have to climb a ladder of success now to reach heaven. I don't have to prove to God my love for Him by what I do or don't do. He loves me just as I am. He is for me, not against me, and He is not checking up on me to see if I am misbehaving. When Jesus died on the cross for my sins, and when I received this as true and asked forgiveness for my sins, there was no separation between me and my heavenly Father. The Scriptures say, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me" (Rev. 3:20).

Is heaven in your heart today? I trust that you will know for sure that God lives in the home of your heart.

READ: Genesis 28:28:1-29:35; Matthew 9:18-38; Psalm 11:1-7; Proverbs 3:11-12

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Live Extraordinarily

Today's Message

Reputation Is Not About You

"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." (Philippians 2:5-8, NKJV)

Many people in the world today are fighting fiercely to climb the ladder of success. A great deal of their energy is focused and spent on building a reputation in the eyes of others in order to "make it big." In the process of their pursuit, they quickly become addicted to the approval of others.

Jesus did just the opposite—He made Himself of no reputation (see Philippians 2:7). In other words, He stripped Himself of all His kingly rights and humbled Himself to become human. The Creator literally took the form of His creation. Instead of living His entire life to build a name for Himself, He endeavored to build a name for His Father. He said, "I am not in search of honor for Myself. [I do not seek and am not aiming for My own glory.] There is One Who [looks after that; He] seeks [My glory], and He is the Judge" (John 8:50 AMP).

Having a good reputation is important; however, the motive—or driving force—behind your cause should be weighed. Are you tempted to make a name for yourself for success, or are you a person of good reputation because you long to represent your King well on earth?

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

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