By Love Transformed

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Loving God

Loving God

Today's Message

{ Day 234 }

The older brother became angry and refused to go in. ... "My son," the father said, "you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found." —Luke 15:28, 32

Our own patience is so insufficient. We spot one thing we disapprove of in another believer's life, and then we struggle to enjoy him. Why? Because we secretly believe that God does that to us. This is not the heart of God. When the Lord finds something about our character that bothers Him, He doesn't cut us out of His heart. Rather, He is filled with patience and is slow to anger. Luke 15 is often called the parable of the prodigal son, but it's primarily about a father who lost his son and what he did when his son returned. Jesus was teaching His church how to respond to those brothers or sisters who stumble. We all know what to do when a new convert comes into the kingdom. We rejoice and throw a party. Yet we don't easily enter into God's gladness when one of our brothers stumbles or, far worse, when we ourselves stumble. And yet our ability to enter into God's patience and loving-kindness when we stumble is determined by how much patience and loving-kindness we have toward a brother or sister who stumbles.

{ PRAYER STARTER }

Holy Spirit, empower me to exhibit Your patient love toward a fellow believer who has stumbled. Give me the courage to stand alongside and encourage and strengthen that person through Your love and power.

God does not reject us when something
awful in our character comes to light.

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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

Learn to Accept Yourself

O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you. —Psalm 84:12

Acceptance, therefore, means, you don't deny the handicap. Don't live in denial—pretending it is not there. God has allowed it, and it is there to stay. How do you get your nourishment, your strength? Accept your handicap or disability.

But there is more. Know that God loves you. Most important of all, know that you are saved. The greatest thing in the world is knowing that you will go to heaven when you die. There is only one reason you are saved: that God was good to you. He gave you the gospel; never forget that this life is not all there is.

Know that you must be special, because you are special. There is a definite reason why God has given you this thorn in the flesh. It is to drive you closer to Him, not further from Him. It is to keep you from being smug, conceited, or taking yourself too seriously. God could step in and take it away. But if He doesn't, it will stay only because God's purpose in it all is still unfulfilled.

Although I wish with all my heart that God would remove my own "thorn in the flesh," I have to say also that I have become reconciled to its permanence. What I never thought I would say to God, I now find myself praying: "Lord, I believe now that it would be wrong if You took my thorn away." I have stopped praying that it will go away, because I think it is one of the best things that ever happened to me.

I would therefore urge you, if you are waking up each morning and saying, "It's still here," to admit that, though you want it removed, there is a greater purpose in it all that God alone understands.

Whatever your handicap or disability is, if you accept it as being from God, it is only a matter of time until you see a purpose for good in it. Take your handicap from God with both hands. Why? Because He loves you, and it was His inscrutable, sovereign way of getting you to develop intimacy with Him.

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's Character

Psalm 36:1-12 The reason people do not trust God is because they do not have a complete view of His character. To trust anyone we must know that this person speaks truthfully, has no guile and has our best interest at heart. The Psalm and Proverb readings today express so beautifully God's character. In Psalm 36:1-12 we see these attributes of God's character listed:

1. God is merciful—His mercy extends to us from heaven (v. 5).

2. God is faithful—His faithfulness reaches the clouds (v. 5).

3. God is righteous—His righteousness is like the great mountains (v. 6).

4. God is just—His judgments are great and deep (v. 6).

5. God is loving and kind—His loving-kindness is excellent (v. 7).

6. God is provider, protector and preserver (vv. 6-8).

7. God is a life giver—in Him is the fountain of life (v. 9).

After listing all of these wonderful character traits of God, David speaks of the one thing that keeps us from trusting God: pride. David says, "Let not the foot of pride come against me" (v. 11).

The pride of life is trusting ourselves and our own resources more than we trust in God. We fail to trust God because we have an idol we worship more than we worship God. That idol is self.

In our Proverb reading we see how we can pull down the idol of self in our own lives. Solomon writes, "He that follows after righteousness and mercy finds life, righteousness and honor." We all want to be significant, but in God's kingdom we must lose our life to find our life. When we stop trusting in ourselves more than we trust in God, we will really begin living because His life becomes our life. Remember, He is the fountain of life. As long as we take control of our own lives rather than surrendering them to God, we are on a road that will lead to death. We are on a dead-end street. Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly, but we have to walk in His ways and allow Him to take over our wills for us to experience the abundant blessings promised to us.

Father, when I meditate on Your character, I gain confidence to put my?trust completely in You. You know what is best for me; often I do not?have a clue. Help me to always pull down the stronghold of pride in my life. The moment I feel I have everything under control, help me recognize quickly that I am headed for a fall. Pride always leads to a fall. Help me to stop trusting in myself and my own ability and surrender my will to You.

READ: Esther 4:1-7:10; 1 Corinthians 12:1-26; Psalm 36:1-12; Proverbs 21:21-22

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Live Extraordinary

Live Extraordinary

Today's Message

Reputation Is Not About You

"Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." (Philippians 2:5-8, NKJV)

Many people in the world today are fighting fiercely to climb the ladder of success. A great deal of their energy is focused and spent on building a reputation in the eyes of others in order to "make it big." In the process of their pursuit, they quickly become addicted to the approval of others.

Jesus did just the opposite—He made Himself of no reputation (see Philippians 2:7). In other words, He stripped Himself of all His kingly rights and humbled Himself to become human. The Creator literally took the form of His creation. Instead of living His entire life to build a name for Himself, He endeavored to build a name for His Father. He said, "I am not in search of honor for Myself. [I do not seek and am not aiming for My own glory.] There is One Who [looks after that; He] seeks [My glory], and He is the Judge" (John 8:50 AMP).

Having a good reputation is important; however, the motive—or driving force—behind your cause should be weighed. Are you tempted to make a name for yourself for success, or are you a person of good reputation because you long to represent your King well on earth?

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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