Around the Word in 365 Days

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Loving God

Loving God

Today's Message

{ Day 233 }

My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. —Proverbs 3:11-12

God does not say to the sinner, "You have sincerely repented, but look at all these unsettled issues in your life. We will see how you do. Come on in, I guess, but We will be keeping a close eye on you." We think God is this way because we ourselves are this way. People clap with excitement the day a man gets saved and testifies of his desire to leave his old ways and follow the Lord. They cheer and shout, "Praise the Lord! It's real! It counts!" But within a few months, the same crowd is ready to censure him for issues of immaturity they see in his life. Within days their theology changes, and they no longer delight over his growing faith. They turn into grumpy Pharisees, saying, "Bah humbug! Get it right. We're keeping our eye on you now." The Lord says the opposite: "I delight in you when you have zero maturity." If His gladness were based on our performance, He would be a sad God indeed!

{ PRAYER STARTER }

Father, how grateful I am that You delight in me regardless of my immaturity. You love me while You gently lead me into spiritual maturity. Help me to love others in their immaturity and to encourage them to grow instead of discouraging them with my criticism.

Remember, God can enjoy you even while
disapproving of an area of sin in your life.

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Daily Breakthroughs

Daily Breakthroughs

Today's Message

Truth and Evil Don't Mix

And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. —Acts 16:18

This slave girl performed sorcery and divination for the profit of her owners. When Paul and Silas arrived in Philippi she followed them around shouting, "These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation" (Acts 16:17).

Second Corinthians 2:11 warns us not to be ignorant of Satan's methods. What she said was true, but her source was demonic. Although this seemed like good advertising, she was only trying to expose them so they would be arrested, beaten, or run out of town.

The devil is not to expose us; we are to expose him (Ephesians 5:11). If Paul had let her go on, people would link the gospel with the things of the devil. Expose Satan at every turn. Expose him in the horoscopes and in the psychics. Expose him in the ritual and the religious. Expose him in the lies and in the deceptions. Give no place to his work in your life.

Don't allow Satan any opportunity to wreak havoc in your life, but resist the devil and he will flee (James 4:7).

Jesus, empower me to test the spirits
and expose the devil wherever he
rears his ugly head. Devil, you
are under my heel and I bruise
your head in Jesus'
name. Amen.

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By Love Transformed

By Love Transformed

Today's Message

"A Thorn Just For You"

To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. —2 Corinthians 12:7

A thorn in the flesh is not the same for every person. But if you are a Christian worth your salt, you probably have a thorn in the flesh. What may be your may not be mine. What may be mine may not be yours. For some it is a handicap or disability. For some it could be unhappy employment—or even lack of employment. It could be an enemy. It could be coping with unhappy living conditions. It could be a sexual misgiving. The list is endless.

The "thorn" may be recognizable to you but unseen by others. God may afflict you with some sort of impediment—by which you may feel He has stripped you of all self-esteem—but this could be utterly unrecognizable to anybody else. Why? Because this "thorn" is for you more than it is for them. Or it may be for them indirectly. It may be so embarrassing and humbling to you that it will make you a different person, such that others will not have an inflated opinion of you. But it is mainly for you—to keep you humble. Certainly it may end up being for others in the sense that they unwittingly do not extol you as they might otherwise have done. This is why Paul's thorn kept him from being conceited; it kept others from exalting him beyond that which was warranted. But Paul's thorn was mainly for him, and yours is mainly for you.

It is one that is not likely to go away very soon, if ever. You will ask, "Do I have to bear this forever?" Maybe not, but you could. You are probably, though, going to have it for a while. Paul said, "I prayed three times that it might go away." It's like a prison sentence. It may be a life sentence, or it may be a short period of time. Paul's thorn apparently remained. In other words, it will stay with you as long as you need it.

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

Why Faith, Hope and Love Last Forever

1 Corinthians 12:27-13:13 Most people are familiar with this passage of Scripture. It is often used in wedding ceremonies and often referred to as the "Love Chapter." Chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians has much to say about love, but because of its familiarity we often miss the rich depth of this passage. After reading this passage one day, I asked the Lord a simple question that I have always wondered about. I asked Him why faith, hope and love last forever. In response to my question, I heard with my spiritual ears the following: "Faith, hope and love last forever because they are the eternal soul of Jesus Christ. Your soul consists of mind, emotion and will. Jesus also had a soul, but His soul was without sin. He had no lusts, even though He felt what it was like for you to be tempted. He was touched with the feelings of all of your weaknesses. His mind, however, was filled with faith; His emotions were anchored by hope, and His will was controlled by love."

As I meditated on what I heard in my spirit that day, I began to recall scriptures that confirmed this Word to me. I thought about the times Jesus was moved with compassion upon the people. His will was always to do the will of the Father, and God is love. His will was always controlled by love. Jesus felt all the emotions we feel, but He never lost hope. His hope was firmly anchored in the purpose for which He had come. He knew He would provide the way when He died on the cross and was resurrected to secure permanent hope for all mankind. The moment the veil of the temple was rent, God threw out the anchor of hope from His throne room, and now we all have the hope of eternal life and fellowship with the Father always. Jesus never doubted His destiny. He had faith always that the will of the Father would be accomplished in His life. His destiny was to become sin for us. Yes, the one who knew no sin at all would become sin for our sakes that we might be delivered from the power of sin in our lives.

Daily we are being conformed to the image of Christ as we cooperate with the Holy Spirit in this process. Our destiny is to have a soul like that of Jesus. The Holy Spirit is transforming us by the renewal of our minds as we read, hear and obey God's Word. Faith is ever growing in our minds and hearts. The Holy Spirit is constantly reminding us that our hope should always be placed in Jesus. It is our hope of eternal life that provides the anchor for our emotions when the seas of life get rough. The Holy Spirit prompts us to humble ourselves and surrender our wills by casting every care upon Jesus. When we do this, the Holy Spirit is able to shed abroad in our hearts the very love of Jesus Christ. Is it well with your soul today? Are you cooperating with this marvelous transforming power of the Holy Spirit? Today is a good day to pray:

Lord, mold me and melt me. Make me after Thy will while I am waiting, yielded and still. AMEN.

READ: Esther 8:1-10:3; 1 Corinthians 12:27-13:13; Psalm 37:1-11; Proverbs 21:23-24

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Live Extraordinary

Live Extraordinary

Today's Message

You Were Expensive!

God's love for us is unconditional and unchanging. This is clearly seen in the words of Jesus' prayer the night before His crucifixion: "Then the world will know that you [God the Father] sent me [Jesus Christ] and will understand that you love them as much as you love me" (John 17:23, NLT).

Did you catch that? God loves you as much as He loves Jesus! That's almost too much to comprehend!

Scripture records that God's love "is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]" (1 Corinthians 13:7-8, AMP). His love for you can never weaken or become obsolete. It is impossible, for His love for you isn't based on your behavior but on His character of faithfulness. God's love for us is so all-encompassing that we simply cannot comprehend its scope.

He sent Jesus to die for us when we were still His enemies (see Romans 5:10). John the apostle writes, "For God so loved the world [you and me] that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

Why did God give Jesus? The answer is simple: to purchase us back. Our forefather Adam gave up himself and consequently all his offspring (including you and me) to a new lord when he heeded Satan's words in the Garden of Eden. Adam disobeyed God and separated himself and his descendants from their Creator. But since God loved humankind so much, He wasn't willing to assign us the same fate as Satan and his angels.

God needed a creative plan to purchase our freedom. He did this by sending Jesus Christ, the second person of the Godhead, who was fathered by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin. Jesus was all man and all God and lived a perfect life (the only man ever to walk the earth without sin). He went to the cross and paid the price for our disobedience to God. He took our judgment so we wouldn't have to.

The price of our soul is so expensive that nothing else could have bought us back besides Jesus Himself. Scripture states, "God bought you with a high price" (1 Corinthians 6:20, NLT). Then again it's recorded that the Father "is so rich in kindness that he purchased our freedom through the blood of his Son" (Ephesians 1:7, NLT). No person or thing is more valuable to God than Jesus. Yet God saw our value equal to that of what He prized most.

Now here is the amazing fact: If you and I had been worth one cent less to God than the value of Jesus, He would not have purchased us because God would never make an unprofitable deal. God does not make bad purchases. (Recall the above scripture, "God bought you with a high price.") A bad purchase is when you give something of more value for something of less value. In God's eyes, Jesus' value is the same as yours! Do you see how important you are to God? This is why Jesus prays, "You love them as much as you love me" (John 17:23, NLT).

That's extraordinary love!

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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