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Loving God

Today's Message

{ Day 61 }

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, "Who is this?" The crowds answered, "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee." —Matthew 21:10-11

How about you? Maybe you have only seen a holy God who judges rebellion, and so you seek to walk in faithfulness as you fear God. You understand what it means to tremble. Do you rejoice in the benefits that are yours in Christ? Perhaps you do not experience much intimacy with God. The thought of kissing Christ makes you uncomfortable. It should, because David's call to kiss the Son is symbolic language that was not meant to be interpreted literal kissing. It refers to receiving God's love and then responding back to Him with wholehearted love.

{ PRAYER STARTER }

Lord, I admit that the idea of "kissing Christ" is hard for me to comprehend. But show me the joy of crawling up into Your lap, throwing my arms around Your neck, and kissing Your holy face.

The Lord wants to intertwine these three
dimensions in you. He wants to bring
them forth by His Holy Spirit.


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Daily Breakthroughs

Today's Message

A Way of Life

Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come. —Acts 3:19

Repentance is not a negative message, but one of covenant blessing. When you allow your heart to indulge in lust, pride, rebellion, or selfishness you cut yourself off from His covenant.

Sin does not destroy God's love for us. He loves us with a love that is incorruptible (Romans 5:8), but you can go to hell with God still loving you. Just as confession is more than lip service to God, salvation is more than forgiveness of your sins. It is a lifestyle in which you choose to become God's own possession. The only way you can ever enter into His covenant and stay in that covenant is to love Him with all your heart and to have no idols before Him.

If God is not first in everything, you need to change your mind about God and toward God. Then and only then will your heart be free to abandon itself to loving Him. He is a jealous God and will allow no other gods in your life. Destroy all of your idols and live totally for God.

Lord, I repent of my past sins and idols.
I turn away from the ways of the world
and seek to live solely for You. Forgive
me, cleanse me, and make me new
through the blood of Christ. Amen.


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By Love Transformed

Today's Message

Joy Is Coming

Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him. —Psalm 126:5-6

Has something ever broken your heart? Have you ever felt that because your heart is breaking, all you can do is weep? Some people can cry at the drop of a hat, but I'm not referring to that kind of tears. Some men are afraid to cry, because they feel that it is not manly. But the greatest man that ever was, Jesus of Nazareth, wept (John 11:35).

Psalm 126 refers to the end of a nightmare: "When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion, we were like men who dreamed" (v. 1). In other words, it seemed too good to be true. But while the nightmare was on, they thought it would never end.

A nightmare is an awful thing. I think that some of them may be caused by the devil. The last thing I do before I fall asleep is to pray for the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus upon my family and myself. I pray so every night, because I know the devil likes to seize upon us in our sleep, when we cannot control what is happening.

The nightmare referred to in Psalm 126 was that of Israel living in captivity in Babylon, a captivity that lasted for seventy years. Many died there, and others were born there. The whole time they lived in Babylon, all they could think about was going home.

You may be enduring a psychological or emotional nightmare, where you think you are losing your mind because the depression is so severe and the anxiety so intense.

Maybe you are facing a financial nightmare, being deep in debt. I think of those in our society who are elderly and have to survive on small incomes. It is very sad to think of them being put under that kind of pressure.

Perhaps it is a physical nightmare that you face, where something has gone wrong inside your body and the outlook is bleak.

Perhaps you are going through a social nightmare. You have been ostracized because of the color of your skin or because of your accent.

Here is a promise that is based on a condition. The promise is joy, even success, but the condition is tears.

Excerpted from Higher Ground (Christian Focus Publications Ltd., 1995).

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Around the Word in 365 Days

Today's Message

Peace in the Presence of the Lord

Psalm 32:1-11 David knew the secret of the quiet place, and he had to constantly focus to remain in this quiet place. He writes, "Thou preparest a table for me in the presence of mine enemies" (Ps. 23:5, KJV). David had many enemies. However, he knew he was not fighting against flesh and blood. He knew his true enemy was Satan. David knew the secret to overcoming Satan. When Saul chased after him to kill him, David wrote, "Where can I flee from Your presence?" (Ps. 139:7). The presence of the Lord was always much stronger than the presence of the enemy to David. No matter what difficult situation David encountered, he knew the Lord was ever before him. He wrote, "Your face is ever before me."

For over seven years David had to flee from Saul, and his favorite hiding place was Engedi. We have visited Engedi many times on our trips to Israel, and it was easy to see why David chose such a spot for his hiding place. It is an oasis in the middle of the area around the Dead Sea where flowing falls cascade from cliffs laden with lush green trees. Each cliff contains a multitude of caves. Saul knew this was David's secret refuge, and it was at Engedi that David cut the hem of Saul's garment while he was asleep. David later repented for touching God's anointed.

Could it be that as we hide ourselves in our special pavilion of God's presence the enemy is surrounding us, watching our every move? It is true that we are not only surrounded by a host of angels, but we are also surrounded by hosts of demonic spirits that seek to destroy us. Yet, in the midst of our enemies, God has prepared a feast for us, and the presence of the Lord is so bright at this table He has prepared for us that we are not even aware of the darkness that surrounds us. As long as we remain at this table where we feast on His Word and talk with the Lord, the enemy is helpless to penetrate the shield of light that surrounds us. In the presence of the Lord is joy and pleasures forever more. Even though the enemy surrounds us, we are also compassed about by the Lord's songs of deliverance. David writes, "Thou art my hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble" (Ps. 32:7, KJV).

Nothing can separate us from the love of God—neither death, nor life, neither principalities nor powers. What a comfort it is to know His presence in the midst of our enemies. We can be at peace.

Thank You, Lord, for Your abiding peace.

READ: Exodus 30:11-31:18; Matthew 26:47-68; Psalm 32:1-11; Proverbs 8:27-32

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Live Extraordinarily

Today's Message

The Kingdom of Heaven: Here or Near?

"Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons." (Matthew 10:7-8, NLT)

Jesus directed the disciples with these words after giving them power (grace) to minister (Matthew 10:1, NLT). They were to declare the kingdom. God's will was to be done on earth as it is in heaven. If there was a condition in a person's life that was not congruent with heaven's standard, it was to change. People in heaven are not tormented by demons. People in heaven do not have any diseases. People in heaven are not sick. People in heaven are not hungry. The power the apostles had received was to change what was contrary to heaven on earth!

However, we must note (see Matthew 10:7, NLT) that the disciples were to proclaim the kingdom only as near. Yet once the Day of Pentecost had come, it was no longer near but here! The kingdom is now in the hearts of men and women who are born again and filled with His Spirit, just as the kingdom was in and manifested through Jesus as He walked this earth.

In the gospels, when the apostles went forth to bear fruit, the Holy Spirit was only with them and the kingdom was only near. However, Jesus shows that after the kingdom comes, the Holy Spirit will be in us—within. This is why He instructed all of us just before His ascension to heaven, "As the Father has sent Me, I also send you" (John 20:21, NKJV). We have the power within to advance the kingdom in the hearts and lives of people exactly as Jesus did; it's all because of His amazing grace!

Once the kingdom is within, we can advance it, no matter if we are a businessperson, stay-at-home mom, doctor, schoolteacher, mechanic, student, or politician—our occupation does not matter. He commissions all of us.

I hope it's becoming clear. Grace is God's empowering presence, which gives us the ability to live godly lives in the present and to do what is required to advance the kingdom. Grace gives us the ability to go beyond our own ability in every area of life to please God—to live extraordinarily. The reason God set it up this way is simple: He gets all the glory, not us.

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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