Devotionals

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Loving God

Today's Message

{ Day 205 }

What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. —Philippians 3:8-9

Are you surprised at this new approach to holiness? It will change the very face of Christianity. It's nothing like the legalistic straitjackets of yesterday. It's rooted in strong desire, not shame; beauty, not bashing. By understanding that God desires us as His bride, our generation will arise in beauties of holiness yet unknown, with hearts ripe and sweet with passion and love. We will gladly choose Him over everything else that competes for our attention. We will deny our flesh not primarily because of fear but out of the overflow of lovesick hearts, captured by the Man Christ Jesus, beauty incarnate. This intimacy will be motivated most of all by the astonishing revelation that He wants to marry us and have us share His gladness, pleasure, and beauty for time and beyond.

{ PRAYER STARTER }

God, the knowledge of Your desire for me causes me to desire to be holy as You are holy. Your love captures my heart and causes me to long to share Your gladness, pleasure, and beauty forever.

We will count all things lost for the excellence of
knowing Jesus Christ our Lord.

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Daily Breakthroughs

Today's Message

God's Order

And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the first-born. —Genesis 29:26

Everything in the Bible is given to show us God's order and purpose. Jacob tried to cut corners. He wanted to circumvent repentance and holiness in his quest for joy and happiness. Too often we want the reward without the labor, the honor without the fight. We desire gain without pain and victory without sacrifice.

We serve a God of plan and purpose, not one of short-cuts. Laban told Jacob he would have to marry the older sister, Leah, before he could marry Rebecca, the one he truly loved. It is easy to fall in love with happiness and joy, but there is a Leah of holiness our soul must learn to love first. We will never wear the crown if we do not first carry the cross.

Labor as Jacob did, in willing service to our Lord, as we await the wedding supper of the Lamb. When the time for the wedding feast arrives, Jesus will wash away the pain and toil of our labor.

Lord, You desire for certain things to
happen in my life that I know I am
resisting. Teach me to accept
whatever You want from me
so that I may know You and
Your will completely. Amen.

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By Love Transformed

Today's Message

Fiery Trials Now Are Better Than Later

If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. —1 Corinthians 3:14-15

What are the differences between the fiery trial below and the one which is coming, when the Day will be revealed by fire?

First, the trial below may be hidden from others. You can be in a trial and nobody know it, but God's fire on that Day of days will bring us out into the open.

The second difference: the trial below is usually brought on by earthly pressures—people or perhaps our own stupidity. It may be persecution, it may be financial difficulty. But on that day the fire will be God's fire, without the need of earthly pressures to show where we are.

The third difference: the trial below sometimes comes by way of satanic attack. If you are in a fiery trial now, the devil is not far away. The fiery trial may be the devil attacking you, but on the Day of the Second Coming it will be entirely the intervention of God sending His Son with fire and glory. The devil will have no part in that trial.

The fourth difference, and perhaps the ultimate point that needs to be made, is that the trial below exposes where you are in our progress, but there's hope that when you fail, God will come a second time around and you will do better. But on that Day, it is final; there will be no repeats; that is it.

Do you see why James said, "Consider it  pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds" (James 1:2)? It lets us know how we are doing. It is preparation for the Day of days. It shows where we are spiritually, and it is showing that God is still working to get our attention. Our work will be tested.

Excerpted from When God Says "Well Done!" (Christian Focus Publications Ltd., 1993).

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Around the Word in 365 Days

Today's Message

Rejoicing in Trials

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Live Extraordinarily

Today's Message

The Delight of God

You and I have what it takes to bring delight to our heavenly Father! Take a look at what the scripture says about this...

"Everything that goes into a life of pleasing God has been miraculously given to us" (2 Peter 1:3, The Message).

"We have everything we need to live a life that pleases God. It was all given to us by God's own power" (2 Peter 1:3, CEV).

I know the next question: "What is the power that has been given to us, enabling us to please God?" The answer is grace. Much has been communicated about grace in recent times, yet it still isn't fully understood. Grace is, without a doubt, one of the most important truths a New Testament believer should grasp because it's the very foundation of our salvation and life in Christ.

We must always remind ourselves that it is by grace we are saved, and by grace we continue to receive the benefits of salvation. You see, grace goes beyond forgiveness. Grace is also God's empowerment. This is how we can live like Christ.

"Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did" (1 John 2:6, NIV).

Notice the apostle doesn't say should but must. We must walk as Jesus did! This is not a suggestion or goal; it's what God expects. The good news is that God never gives a command in the New Testament without supplying the power to keep it. So we can conduct ourselves as Jesus through the power of grace. It's this aspect of grace that many overlook, largely because it's not taught with the same emphasis. For this reason, believers struggle in their Christian walk and don't live an extraordinary life.

Strong's Greek dictionary brings to light the power of grace by defining it as "the divine influence upon the heart and its reflection in the life." Notice the words "reflection in the life." It's obvious that there is more to the meaning of grace than being heaven-bound.

Grace is not just God's favor but also His empowering presence that gives us the ability to do what thrills Him. Grace gives us the ability to exceed our own ability. It gives us the ability to live extraordinarily!

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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