Devotionals

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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

The Perfection of Love

But when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. —1 Corinthians 13:10

Paul is not talking about the perfection of a Christian, but about the love that enables the Christian not to fear. John wrote: "There is no fear in love. But perfect loves drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The man who fears is not made perfect in love" (1 John 4:18).

If this glimpse of love we are given now is only in measure, how can it be called perfect? I answer: if you were to go to the ocean and dip a glass into the water, you would then have a glass of water that is taken from the ocean, and what is in it is the pure ocean. In quantity, it is nothing compared to the vastness of the ocean, but everything that is true of the ocean is there. And so, the perfection that Paul and John are talking about is a taste of the pure love of God. It doesn't make us perfect, but it enables us to experience, that is, taste, perfect love.

When the pure love of God emerges in the heart, our world is turned upside down. There will be no grudging, no envy, no lust, no need to be seen or to be recognized. It is more wonderful than fulfilled ambition, more wonderful than the adulation of thousands. The pure love of God just wants the Father's glory.

But what happens when our experience of this love fades? When it fades, envy returns, fear returns, panic returns, the need to prove ourselves returns. So we may ask, what's the use of having it if it is going to fade? The answer: it is to let us know what to pray for, this most excellent way. Choose the route of perfect love, and do not be surprised if the charismata emerge stronger than ever!

Excerpted from Just Love (Christian Focus Publications Ltd., 1997).

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Around the Word in 365 Days

Around the Word in 365 Days

Today's Message

Cleansing the Chambers

Nehemiah 12:27-13:31 Have you ever been in a home where the garbage has not been emptied for days, the dishes are stacked a mile high, and bed sheets have not been changed for months? When my son was on drugs and living with two other boys in a rental house, I went to visit him. No one answered the door, but the door was opened, so I thought maybe Ray was sleeping. I opened the door, and what faced me was unbelievable. It was just like the home I described above. When I discovered no one was home, I set about to straighten things out as best as I could. After two hours of work and a spray of room deodorizer, the house was in much better order.

We may never neglect our own home this way, but we can neglect our own temple. Our bodies are the home of the Holy Spirit, and often we need to cleanse the chambers of this home. The garbage of unconfessed sin and the wrong attitudes that keep us from serving God with our whole heart can cause quite a stench in the our personal temples. Confusion can clutter the chambers of our mind, and doubt and unbelief can soon gain a foothold.

In our reading today we see where Nehemiah had to cleanse the chambers where Tobiah lived. Tobiah had taken the things that belonged to the priests and had hidden them in his chambers. Tobiah was an enemy of Israel and Nehemiah. He had scorned Nehemiah as he set about to rebuild the walls of the city. Eliashib prepared a chamber in the house of the Lord for this enemy of Israel to live. When Nehemiah found out about this, he said, "And it grieved me sore: therefore I cast forth all the household stuff of Tobiah out of the chamber. Then I commanded, and they cleansed the chambers: and thither brought I again the vessels of the house of God, with the meat offering and the frankincense" (Neh. 13:8-9, KJV).

Tobiah, an enemy of God, had been enjoying all the things that belonged to the priests. We too have an enemy who loves to rob us of the things of God that belong to us as priests. Jesus calls Satan a thief and a liar who is out to destroy us. If we allow Satan to house himself in one of the chambers of our temple (our mind, soul or body, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit), we will begin to stink with sin. Make no mistake. Satan wants to take over not just one chamber in your holy temple, but he wants to take over your entire body and use it for his dirty work. If we fail to cleanse the chambers of our home where the Holy Spirit lives, then before you know it, the dirt and filth of Satan will spread into more chambers. We will find ourselves far away from the sweet aroma of the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are holy vessels that contain the Holy Spirit. I am challenged by this reading, and I hope you are challenged also to do a house cleaning daily through confession and repentance of sins.

READ: Nehemiah 12:27-13:31; 1 Corinthians 11:3-16; Psalm 35:1-16; Proverbs 21:17-18


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Live Extraordinary

Live Extraordinary

Today's Message

The Plan

??"No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him" (1 Corinthians 2:9, NLT).

These words paint a picture of an extraordinary existence. You might hear these words and relate them only to heaven's glory, but in actuality they were penned for the here and now!

The apostle Paul continues, "But we know these things because God has revealed them to us by his Spirit" (verse 10, NLT). Paul was divinely moved to bring into the open what had been previously hidden to our eyes, ears and imagination.

God has a unique plan for your life, and He longs for you to connect with Him in intimacy to discover it. God planned an extraordinary life for you. He is a Father who delights in His children. And nothing will please Him more than seeing you reach your highest.

How can you tap into the infinite wisdom of the One who created the heavens and the earth? Through a close, ongoing relationship with Him. He loves you with an everlasting love and wants to be a part of every area of your life. As you read His Word and spend time with Him in prayer, He will reveal to you His will for your life.

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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