Devotionals

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Loving God

Loving God

Today's Message

{ Day 141 }

If a man would give for love all the wealth of his house, it would be utterly despised. —Song of Solomon 8:7, NKJV

Picture a young couple with five million dollars in the bank who own a five-million-dollar house. One day this couple learns that their five-year-old daughter has a terminal illness. The doctor informs them that it will cost everything they have to successfully treat their child—their entire bank account, their home, their stocks—everything. So they liquidate their home and belongings and use all ten million dollars, and their daughter is saved. The apostle Paul said that he considered his sacrifice for Christ as rubbish compared to the excellency of experiencing the beauty of Jesus. (See Philippians 3:8.) Why? Because it was the sacrifice of love. When men and women are so preoccupied with the love and beauty of Jesus, the power to respond in wholehearted love toward God is the only reward they want. Martyrs will gladly give their lives and see their act of supreme devotion as God's gift of grace to them, which enables them to operate in supernatural love under pressure. The power to love is our great reward.

{ PRAYER STARTER }

Holy Spirit, teach me to be so preoccupied with the love and beauty of Jesus that I have the power to respond to His love with wholehearted devotion to Him.

The reward of a true lover is the power to love.

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Daily Breakthroughs

Daily Breakthroughs

Today's Message

Three Crosses of Sin

Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. —John 19:18

Historians of Jesus' day tell us crucifixions were common. Hundreds at a time would be crucified when the Romans came into a new region.

But on this day in infamy there were only three-.-.-.-not the usual thirty or a hundred. Only two were sentenced to die with Jesus. The Roman guards would not even have time to finish the task before the Passover celebration began.

There were three crosses. The cross in the middle bore the One who died for sin; another bore the one who died to sin; and the third bore the one who died in sin. Although both criminals originally railed Jesus, one asked for forgiveness and Jesus promised that man a home in Paradise. The other ridiculed His choice and now is spending eternity in hell.

Jesus died for your sins, but have you died to sin for Him? If you want to live, you must die. Surrender at the Cross of Calvary today. Lay down every treasure and every burden at the foot of the Cross. Nail every sin and every expectation to the Cross.

Jesus, at the foot of Your Cross I lay down my burdens,
my expectations, my successes, and my failures.
Wash me clean with Your blood, and fill me with Your Spirit. Amen.

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By Love Transformed

By Love Transformed

Today's Message

God Is for You, Not Against You

Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. —James 5:14-15

Jesus cared about the sick. One of the first things said about Jesus in the New Testament is His care for the afflicted: "Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people" (Matt. 4:23). The sick came to Him, and healing them was much of His ministry. Even after He went to heaven, the ministry of healing continued. It is even mentioned in the very last chapter of the Book of Acts that the apostle Paul healed people on the island called Malta. The sick people came to him; he placed his hands on them and healed them, and everybody on the island was cured (Acts 28:9).

James says, "Is any of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him. ... If he has sinned, he will be forgiven" (James 5:14-15). Why did James say that? Because the healing ministry of Jesus was not over. God cares about our well-being—spirit, soul, and body. He still wants to heal you.

Sometimes sin and suffering are related. Sometimes they are so related that James actually said if one has sinned (meaning that if the illness they are praying for is traceable to sin), when the prayer of faith is offered, then the one who is healed will also have this sin forgiven. So James is showing the possibility of the connection with sin. This is why he says if one has sinned, he will be forgiven. And that's a big if, because it is implying that sin may not be the cause of illness at all. Do not let the devil accuse you or make you believe your illness is because of sin. However, if you have valid suspicion that it is, then, before God, ask for the elders of your church to pray for you.

Excerpted from The Thorn in the Flesh (Charisma House, 2004).

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Around the Word in 365 Days

Around the Word in 365 Days

Today's Message

God Is Good

James 1:1-18 I saw a bumper sticker that said "Good God; Bad Devil." This is a statement most Christians should understand, but often we give God credit for doing bad things in our lives. We have to recognize that God is not evil, neither can He tempt us with evil. Whatever God does or allows in our lives will always be good. The author of sickness, confusion, disease, misery and strife is the devil. James makes it very clear in his letter that God cannot tempt us with evil. Only the devil tempts us with evil. James says, "Do not err, my beloved brethren. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning" (vv. 16-17, KJV).

If we are seeking to walk with the Lord daily, we can rest assured that whatever He allows in our life will ultimately be for our good. God allowed Satan to tempt Job, but at the end of the testing Job had everything restored to him double over what the enemy stole. Paul tells us that all things work for the good of those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. If we are rebellious against God and refuse our call in life, we cannot expect for everything to work for the good even though we are saved.

I loved the illustration a Bible teacher gave about life. She shared that God creates our lives as a homemaker makes a cake. First the homemaker collects all the ingredients in the recipe: Baking soda, which has a salty taste; salt; flour, which has no taste at all; eggs, which are tasteless; milk, etc. are all added at different times. The cake is stirred and finally baked. Only after the cake is baked are we able to taste these blended flavors and enjoy the results. Throughout our lives we will experience the bitter with the sweet, the flavorful and the flavorless, but if our hearts are determined to serve the Lord, the end result will be good. None of us like to think about being put into a hot oven, but we all will experience fiery trials. Peter even said for us not to be surprised when this happens.

Our reading today says the man who endures temptation will receive a crown of life. It is no fun to be tempted of the devil. However, if every time we are tempted we seek the way of escape, that is Jesus, we will have the victory. The fact God allows temptation has always puzzled me. We pray in the Lord's Prayer, "Lead us not into temptation." We have to remember that the Holy Spirit, not Satan, led Jesus into a time of temptation. The reason God allowed this temptation of Jesus was so He would win the victory over the tempter for us. Now the reason that God allows us to be tempted is to prove to the enemy that we too have the victory over him because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. We can endure temptation and receive the crown of life because Jesus endured and overcame every temptation Satan presented Him. Even trials, troubles, temptations and testings will work for our good if we love Jesus and are living our days fulfilling His will and His calling on our lives.

READ: Ezekiel 35:1-36:38; James 1:1-18; Psalm 116:1-19; Proverbs 27:23-27

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Live Extraordinary

Live Extraordinary

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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