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Around the Word in 365 Days

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Loving God

Loving God

Today's Message

{ Day 231 }

Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one's praise will come from God. —1 Corinthians 4:5, NKJV

When we think about God revealing the dark things and the hidden counsels of our hearts, we think rebuke and immediately recoil. "Oh no, not the hidden counsels!" we say, assuming that hidden things are dark and ungodly. But God says the opposite. Hidden within our hearts are not just shameful things but many good things, like the deep cry to be totally God's. Deep inside we fight to be fully His against all opposition of the enemy. Only God fully perceives the depth of this longing of our heart. And the good news is that on the last day He will reveal it and give us praise for it. The yes in our spirit is an imperfect yes, but it is a yes. It is the very work of God Himself in us. It is His supernatural activity in our inner man. He perceives our willing spirit in the struggle. While we may define ourselves by our failures, God defines us through His grace and by the sincere movements of our hearts, which we may not even fully understand.

{ PRAYER STARTER }

I am defined by Your awesome grace, dear Jesus. You see the deep cry of my heart to be like You, and You will someday praise me for it. Thank You for Your grace and mercy to me.

God is pleased with the longings of
sincere believers to be fully His.

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Daily Breakthroughs

Daily Breakthroughs

Today's Message

Faith Comes by Hearing

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. —Romans 10:17

You have faith in what you can see, touch and understand. You did not stand in front of your chair and debate whether or not it would hold you before you sat down. Why? You trusted the chair. You had prior experience with the chair and knew the chair had always held you. Your knowledge surpassed your fear that the chair would fail. You had faith.

Faith in God comes through the study of His Word, learning who He is, how He behaves and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. As the Holy Spirit leads you into truth, you learn that God loves you and is ready to do anything for you. That knowledge produces understanding, understanding produces trust, and trust produces the faith to believe for your miracle.

Seek Him in His Word. Learn about Him. Let the Holy Spirit show you the Father's heart. Faith is simply knowing God. Faith says, "I can trust Him to be who He says He is. I can trust Him to do what He says He will do."

Hearing goes beyond listening and understanding. The faith that comes by hearing is a hearing that obeys God. Do you have ears to hear and a heart to obey?

Lord, tune my ears to hear all that You
say. Give me a new heart to obey all
that I hear from You. Amen.

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By Love Transformed

By Love Transformed

Today's Message

Severe Mercy

Because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. —Proverbs 3:12

St. Augustine said that God loves every person as though there were no one else to love. Likewise, He deals with each of us as though there were no one else to deal with. He knows all about us and therefore knows what it takes to get our attention. The way God gets our attention and brings us to a degree of humility is by manifesting His glory.

But are you ready for this: the thorn in the flesh is actually a manifestation of God's glory. If you pray for God to manifest Himself to you, you might say, "A thorn in the flesh is not exactly what I had in mind!" But there are many ways God shows up, both corporately and individually. Giving us a thorn is not the only way God manifests His glory, I am happy to say, but certainly this was one way in which He communicated with Paul and to each of us. See your own thorn as God's weighty stature in your life, the dignity of His will for you at this time.

As well as being a manifestation of God's glory, the thorn in the flesh is a severe form of chastening or disciplining. I will never forget my first introduction to the idea of being chastened. In that moment I felt an impulse to turn to Hebrews 12:6, which said, "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth" (KJV).

This verse gave me some comfort, but the pain did not go away. It was my introduction—not to the thorn in the flesh—but to the subject of chastening. I knew God Himself was behind everything that was happening. I could live with that. Can you? Just to know that the whole thing is of God.

The thorn in the flesh, then, is from God, and it is a way of making us learn. Nothing else will work for us at the time. So God, who knows this, sends the thorn. It is not unlike what C. S. Lewis calls "severe mercy."

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

Let All Things Be Done to Edify

1 Corinthians 14:18-40 As Paul was giving instructions to the church about how their services were to be conducted, he exhorted the church to let everything be done to edify. How different our lives would be if the motivation of our relationships with others was always to edify them—to build up one another in love. Our conversations would be seasoned with grace, and we would never be condescending, judgmental or critical in our words to others. We would esteem one another higher than ourselves, and we would ever be on the alert to serve and support one another in love.

I try to ask myself the following questions before I say anything:

1. Will what I have to say build up or tear down?

2. Will what I have to say add or subtract from the kingdom of God, which is righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit?

3. Will what I have to say bless or burden the person I am talking to?

4. Is what I say pure, lovely, virtuous and of good report?

If we all stopped to ask ourselves these questions before we speak, we would be men and women of few words. We would also be blessed men and women because we would be a blessing to others. We would save ourselves from many troubles if we spoke only those things that edify. Proverbs 21:23 says, "Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles."

Join me as I pray for the Lord to let the law of kindness always be upon my lips.

Lord, I have blown it so many times by saying things that were unwise. I humbly ask for Your forgiveness, and now I ask for Your supernatural ability, Your grace, to season my tongue with kindness and enable me to speak only those things that edify. Thank You.

READ: Job 4:1-7:21; 1 Corinthians 14:18-40; Psalm 37:29-40; Proverbs 21:27

 

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Live Extraordinary

Live Extraordinary

Today's Message

Love and Pleasure

We can't do one thing to make God love us any more than He already loves us, and we can't do anything to make Him love us any less. However, we are responsible for how pleased God is with us.

If you have children, it might be easier to understand. Your love for them is inexhaustible but they determine by their actions, attitudes and behavior how pleased you are with them, right?

Lisa and I have put challenges before our four sons with the promise of nice rewards for their labor. It delights us when they rise to the occasion and we're thrilled to reward them. But when they don't fulfill the tasks, we can't reward their work. We want to, but when you reward children when they don't deserve or earn it, you take away incentive—and incentive is a good thing.

God's pleasure in us is no different—it is based on our choices in life. This is why Paul writes, "We make it our aim to be well pleasing to Him" (2 Corinthians 5:9, NIV). We should be passionate in our pursuit to be fully pleasing to Him. Nothing else should take preeminence over this purpose. If we live with this supreme goal as our life standard, then two things will occur: abounding joy and complete fulfillment.

Our primary motive for pleasing God is driven by our love for Him. We adore Him because He first loved us and filled our hearts with His love! As a true child of God, your greatest satisfaction comes when you know God is pleased with me. If we walk in this knowledge, nothing can overpower that joy.

The second benefit of pursuing this supreme goal is that we'll be rewarded greatly. Earning a great reward is the exact reason Paul exhorts us to please God, and he elaborates on this in the next verse. "Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad" (2 Corinthians 5:9–10).

We are advised to please God because someday He will judge us. You may ask, "But I thought Jesus had saved me from that?" Yes, He is your Savior, but one day you'll stand before Him as Judge. Many are unaware that on some future day every believer will stand individually before Christ's judgment seat and rewards will be given based on what was done in our short time on earth. Today's English Version states, "We will each receive what we deserve" (vs. 10).

Our sins will not be judged, for the blood of Jesus eradicated the eternal punishment ascribed to sin. Rather, we will be rewarded, or suffer loss, for our labor as believers in Jesus Christ.

And it's not just a reward God desires us to possess, but a full reward! "Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully" (2 John 1:8, NIV).

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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