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Loving God

Today's Message

{ Day 296 }

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you ... ? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? —Galatians 3:1-3, NKJV

Paul wrote these words to the Galatians, who had difficulty understanding grace and who kept putting law and works back into their equation. Apparently, the Galatians had experienced a filling of the Holy Spirit and, with it, certain manifestations of spiritual gifts. Paul reminded them that just as being spiritually gifted is by grace, so justification is by grace. You can turn that idea around as well. Just as we are saved by grace, not by works of merit, we receive the gifts of the Spirit by grace, not works.

{ PRAYER STARTER }

Thank You, Father, that Your gift of grace has provided justification from my sins and has enabled me to be the receiver of Your gifts of the Spirit. May I never assume that my works enabled me to receive either of these blessings.

Just as we are saved by grace, not by
works of merit, we receive the gifts
of the Spirit by grace, not works.

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Daily Breakthroughs

Today's Message

Ignition

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. —Acts 1:8

Have you ever watched a space shuttle lifting off? While the shuttle is still on the launch pad, all kinds of supports hold it in place. When blast-off comes, if the rockets don't fire, the shuttle falls back to the ground.

When God launched the church, there were no Christian broadcasting networks—Christian television or radio. The wind of Pentecost blew away the disciples' props of religious tradition. There was nothing to hold them, and nothing for them to depend on but God and His promise. They preached the Gospel throughout the known world with a passport straight from heaven.

It is time to set aside your church committees and programs, your prayer cards and your "steps to successful prayer." Allow the Holy Ghost to ignite a fire and a passion within you that cannot be quenched and to endue you with power to tread on serpents and to overcome the enemy.

Jesus, take from me all the gimmicks, rituals,
and quick spiritual fixes. Instead, give me
Your cross and baptize me in the
fire of Your Holy Spirit. Amen.

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By Love Transformed

Today's Message

Loved by the Lord

When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren. —Genesis 29:31

Leah was unloved by her husband but was loved by the Lord, whereas Rachel was loved by her husband but was barren. The Lord did not honor Rachel in the thing that began to matter more than her beauty, her brains, and everything else she had going for her.

What is the difference between having love from someone here below and receiving love from the Lord? Earthly love is only of the here and now, but the love that is from above has the future in mind. I want to ask you this: Do you feel deprived because you haven't had a great education, you don't have a brilliant brain or good looks, you don't have a good job, and you feel unappreciated? But there's more to life than beauty or brains that make people excel.

I have this question: Are you loved by the Lord? That's what matters. You ask, "How can I know?" Well, to begin with, Hebrews 12:6 says, "The Lord disciplines those he loves." What does this mean? It means God begins to deal with you; He forces you to learn something in a way that is pretty tough. It may be the Lord who has kept you from getting that job or from getting married. It may be the Lord who has brought you to a place where everything happening around you is bad, and you wonder where God is. Are all the bad things that happen God's doing? Yes. God brings you so low that there's nowhere to look but up, and then, when you start looking at Him, He says, "Oh, good, you're coming to Me. That is what I wanted." And you begin to realize that the Lord loved you so much that He beckoned you in His direction. You see, those whom the Lord loves, He deals with, and those who are dealt with are truly His; they will go to heaven and no one else.

But one day you will find out that God loved you so much that, to get your attention, He brought you to the place where you just looked to Him.

Excerpted from All's Well That Ends Well (Authentic Media, 2005).

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Around the Word in 365 Days

Today's Message

Multiplication

Acts 12:24-13:15 This passage in Acts reveals some of the secrets of multiplying the church through the spread of the gospel. The first verse says, "But the word of God grew and multiplied."

One of the secrets to causing an increase in the spreading of God's Word and multiplying the members of the body of Christ was fasting and praying. We see this in Acts 13:2-3. "As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, 'Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.' Then having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away."

To be effective in spreading the gospel, we have to recognize that our first ministry is to the Lord, not our own ministry. We minister to the Lord through fasting and prayer, and it is at those times that we receive clear direction about what to do and when to go. This is exactly what happened in the early church. Several men gathered together and began to fast and pray, and they received clear direction from the Holy Spirit. The church today is just now coming into the understanding of how fasting affects the spread of the gospel and the coming of revival. The last revival in the United States occurred because men met together to pray and fast. We now are seeing a new interest in prayer and fasting, and many in the body of Christ are fasting and praying for revival in the United States. Jesus gave us a command to pray for laborers for the harvest. As we participate in praying for laborers for the harvest, we also become laborers because prayer is labor. No new births ever occur without the labor of prayer preceding them.

Another secret of spreading the gospel is separation. Once a person is discipled, it is time for him to separate himself from that disciple and disciple someone else. This is what happened to Barnabas and Saul. Both had a similar call, and until this time of prayer and fasting, they always worked with the other men as a group in the spread of the gospel. The Holy Spirit spoke to those praying and told them it was time to send Barnabas and Saul out on their own. They would be a gospel team no longer attached except through prayer to those other men. Barnabas and Saul could have refused to separate themselves from this fine group of prophets and teachers because they enjoyed such wonderful fellowship with them. Don't we sometimes see that attitude today in some churches? People get satisfied with their little fellowship, and no one is being sent out with the gospel. We can become so attached to the church that we forget the purpose of the church—to disciple many nations. Jesus told Peter to feed His lambs and His sheep if he truly loved Him. We have the same commission. We run the risk of becoming spiritual gluttons by not fulfilling the Great Commission.

READ: 1 Kings 20:1-21:29; Acts 12:24-13:15; Psalm 137:1-9; Proverbs 17:16


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Live Extraordinarily

Today's Message

HOLY - Defined

The word holy is from the Greek word hagios. Some words used to define it are set apart, sanctified, and consecrated, along with pure and morally blameless. The fundamental qualities of holiness are separation, consecration and devotion to the service of God, sharing in His purity and abstaining from worldly defilement.

In the Old Testament, God's people were to be literally separated as a nation. Jews were not permitted to keep company with Gentiles in all areas of life. However, in the New Testament, believers are to be separate from evil while living among and interacting with people who are not in relationship with God. We are to go into the world as lights but not be contaminated by the world. We are to not conform to this world's ways, but to the higher standard—otherwise we are no longer lights.

God says, "'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,' says the LORD. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts'" (Isaiah 55:8-9, NKJV). When God says, "Be holy as I am holy," He is actually saying, "I don't think, talk or live like you, so come up to My level of living.

"His holiness, therefore, includes more than separation and purity. If holiness just dealt with sexual purity, then the Pharisees would have been holy because they led an outwardly blameless life. Yet Jesus condemned their self-righteous ways. If holiness just had to do with separation, then the hippies of the sixties would have been very holy. It's not just purity, and it's not just separation. It's a transcendent separation and purity. It's a call to the "high life." It's a call to the realm of extraordinary living! It is to live as He lives, to imitate God as His dear children.

When we think like God, talk like Jesus, and imitate Jesus' lifestyle, we will not live like people of the world. Appetites and desires of the flesh will not drive us. We will be creative, innovative, pure in our morals, life-giving in our ways. We will be influencers and often envied by the world due to our success because we are thinking and acting at a higher level.

To walk in true holiness is to experience liberation and freedom at the highest level. It's healthy and will positively affect every area of our lives.

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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