Devotionals

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Loving God

Loving God

Today's Message

{ Day 98 }

I opened to my beloved, but my beloved had turned away and had gone! My heart went out to him as he spoke. I searched for him, but I did not find him; I called him, but he did not answer me. The watchmen who make the rounds in the city found me, they struck me and wounded me; the guardsmen of the walls took away my shawl from me. I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if you find my beloved, as to what you will tell him: for I am lovesick. —Song of Solomon 5:6-8, NAS

Now comes the maiden's ultimate twofold test: the Lord withholds His presence, and even His people reject her. The first test is the loss of the conscious presence of God that so satisfies her soul. This is a temporary test. This withdrawing of His presence is not due to disobedience but rather because of her obedience and desire for full maturity. It is as if the Lord is saying, "Let Me ask you, My bride: Am I only the source of your satisfaction, or am I the consuming reason for your very life? Am I a means to your end, or am I the very end goal of your life? Will you serve Me if there are no spiritual feelings? When My discernible presence is gone, will you still say, 'I am Your loving bondservant'?"

{ PRAYER STARTER }

Lord, in the seasons of my life when You seem far away, there have been times when I've also felt the rejection of people around me. Help me to remember in those times that I am Your inheritance and that You will keep me secure and safe in Your love.

Sooner or later, you and I will also
confront this twofold test.

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Daily Breakthroughs

Daily Breakthroughs

Today's Message

Our Seed Protector

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land. —Deuteronomy 8:7

God promised the children of Israel He would bring them into a new land, but the land was not all lush valleys. The settlers also had hills to contend with and rocky fields to till. They had to plow across inclines and deal with soil erosion when the rains came. They had to remove many rocks from their land before they could sow seed. Life in the Promised Land had many ups and downs.

Circumstances are part of God's process that brings us into His Promised Land. We are all going to experience both good times and bad.

Expect opposition, for it will surely come. Any farmer knows that after he plants his crop, the birds will be after his seed, the rabbits will be after the tender young leaves, and both will be after the fruit of the vine.

Keep your mind renewed in what God has to say about your seed, and nothing will be able to threaten your harvest—not people, not opinions, not fear, not greed, nor doubt. God says when we sow in faith, He will stand on the edge of our land and rebuke the devourer for our sakes. Sow abundantly, and trust God for your harvest.

Lord, I will sow Your Word regardless of the difficulties
or trials. Teach me to sow faithfully and trust You
for the harvest. Amen.

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By Love Transformed

By Love Transformed

Today's Message

God's Inflexible Impartiality

God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right, is welcome to Him. —Acts 10:34-35, NAS

I find it interesting that in 1 Corinthians 9:25 Paul refers to strict training and in verse 27 to the body being tamed: he says, "I beat my body and make it my slave." So our bodies are given to us as a trust from God. Our bodies are also a spiritual temple (1 Cor. 6:19). They are also referred to as "instruments of wickedness" (Rom. 6:13). And last, the source of the tongue (James 3:6), which is considered "a world of evil among the parts of the body."

The Corinthians were in danger of missing out on the prize. The question is: Are we? What grips me, and I pray it will grip you, is that Paul believed in God's ruthless impartiality. Let that grip you. At the judgment seat of Christ Paul knew that his own present intimacy with God did not mean that he could tell God what to do. Paul's intimacy with God did not result in an over-familiarity with Him, whereby he says, "Well, it can't happen to me." Paul did not have indemnity because he was an apostle; preachers do not have indemnity because they seek conversions; high-profile Christians have no indemnity; your years of Christian service are not going to guarantee that you get the prize.

Martin Luther said, "When I get to heaven, I expect to be surprised three times. There will be those in heaven I thought wouldn't be there, and there will be some missing I thought would be there, but the greatest surprise will be that I am there myself." But could I paraphrase that one more time? I suspect there will be three surprises: some will receive the prize I thought would not, some will not be rewarded that I thought would, but the greatest surprise will be if I receive it.

And I pray that we all do.

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

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Around the Word in 365 Days

Around the Word in 365 Days

Today's Message

Called to Excellence

Psalm 148:1-14 From the time our three sons were very young until this day I prayed this prayer for them: "Father, I pray our sons will have the same excellent spirit Daniel had. Daniel was filled with Your Spirit, and Your Spirit is excellent."

This psalm declares that only the name of the Lord is excellent. The word excellent is usually attached to the attributes of the Lord. In the love chapter of 1 Corinthians 13 Paul speaks of a more excellent way. Whenever we allow God's Spirit to flow through us and demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit (God's love), we are walking in the most excellent way.

Several years ago I was partaking of communion in church when my eyes were drawn to Vladimir, our Russian son. I heard the Lord speak to my heart, "I have called Vladimir to excellence."

I shared this with Vladimir after church, and I was blessed to know the Lord had inspired me to extend my prayer for my three natural sons to this fine young Russian who is like a son to us. Then my mind flashed back to the time when Vladimir first came to us as an exchange student. At that time he was not a Christian. I was driving him to register him for school when out of my mouth came these words: "Vladimir, you have an excellent heart, and God will use you."

This was prophetic as Vladimir one year later accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior. We have rejoiced as we have seen his growth over the seven-year period he has lived in our home.

Do you want to live an excellent life? Then allow the excellent love of Jesus Christ to be shed abroad from your heart daily by the power of His Holy Spirit.

Lord, help me to remember that the most excellent thing I can do today is to love others as You love them. Empower me by Your Spirit to do this today and every day.

READ: Zechariah 14:1-21; Revelation 20:1-15; Psalm 148:1-14; Proverbs 31:8-9

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Live Extraordinary

Live Extraordinary

Today's Message

The Road of Holiness

God has given us the resources we need to live a holy life that pleases Him! There's no need to ever fall short. Consider what the writer of Hebrews tells us: Pursue…holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God. (12:14–15, NKJV)

The main point here is clear: We need the grace of God to walk in true holiness. Again we might ask, "If, as we've been taught, grace is only about forgiveness, then what does 'fall short' mean in this verse?" The Greek word here is hustereo. Strong's Concordance defines it as "to be inferior, to fall short (be deficient), come behind, be destitute, fail." Thayer's Lexicon goes into more depth by stating that this word's meaning is "to be left behind in the race and so fail to reach the goal, to fall short of the end."

Hear the prophet Isaiah's words: There will be a highway there, called "The Road of Holiness." No sinner will ever travel that road; no fools will mislead those who follow it. No lions will be there; no fierce animals will pass that way. Those whom the LORD has rescued will travel home by that road. They will reach Jerusalem [heaven] with gladness, singing and shouting for joy. They will be happy forever, forever free from sorrow and grief. (35:8-10, TEV)

God says that when we walk in the power of the grace of God, bearing true fruits of holiness, we are invincible because of Him. Isaiah says that no fierce animal, such as a bear or lion, will be able to take us out! (This includes our supreme enemy, Satan, who walks about as "a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour" [1 Peter 5:8].)

We have no reason to fail when producing fruits of holiness through the power of God's grace—not because of us but because of Him. Grace gives us the power to walk the highway of holiness, which secures for us the promise of finishing the race well.

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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