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Posts Tagged ‘Prayers’

From the best person you know to the worst person you know, we all have one thing in common: we are sinners in need of our Saviour Jesus Christ. He loves so much that He gave His One and only begotten Son to die a shameful and horrible death on a wicked cross to take away the sins of the world. To us His free gift of His salvation He offers. Will you accept Jesus Christ into your heart today? Have a blessed day.

How does one respond to the resurrection? It doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done. You can experience the power and the presence of the risen Christ, and it’s as simple as ABCAcknowledge, Believe, and Confess.

First, you must acknowledge that you have messed up and gone in the wrong direction—away from the God who loves you. The Bible calls that repentance, which means to turn. Right now, you have the opportunity to turn back to God, ask for His forgiveness, and receive the grace and mercy Christ died to give you. When you turn back to God, He will welcome you with arms open wide.

Next, you must believe. This is more than just mental assent—it is trusting your life and eternal soul to what you know is true. You cannot earn salvation, and you don’t deserve it—that’s the bad news. But the good news is that God offers it to you as a gift because of Jesus. You must fully trust in that gift! The Apostle Paul gave simple directions: “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9–10).

After you believe, you must confess. That means to publicly attest to your faith in Christ, though you might be persecuted or rejected. Even today, many people give their lives for their witness of the risen Christ. Jesus said, “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32–33). Your faith in Jesus is not just a private matter. When you confess Him, you become His ambassador in the world. If you’re ready to acknowledge, believe, and confess, why don’t you pray right now in your own words —or you can use this prayer:

Dear Father God, I come to You a sinner, needing salvation. I have messed up and cannot save myself, so I cast myself upon Your mercy. Please forgive me. Take my sin, my shame, my addictions, and my darkness. Give me Your righteousness, Your freedom, Your light, and Your love. I accept You into my heart as my Lord Saviour. Please wash me white as snow, and use me to bring others into Your Kingdom in Heaven. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Romans 10:9‭-‬13 KJV

Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. Matthew 10:32‭-‬33 KJV

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Shepherds were considered to be of no report, the lowest of the low. Jesus, however, chose them to set an example to us that we can never do anything that He won’t forgive if we would only repent. Amazingly He has already laid down His life for us and praise God, He has defeated death by picking it back up! Today’s verses are John 10:1‭-‬21, Zechariah 13:7, Matthew 26:31, and Philippians 2:4. Have a blessed day.

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

In order to lead like Jesus, we must become shepherds. But the people of Jesus’ day did not think much of shepherds. Because of their work, shepherds were often ceremonially unclean and not permitted in the temple courts. Most self-respecting Jews considered shepherds dishonest, transient and unsavory. As a result, shepherds were often treated as outcasts. So disregarded was a shepherd, his testimony was not even admissible in a murder trial if he was the only witness.

Why then would Jesus relate his own ministry to the job of a shepherd (see John 10:1-21)? While a shepherd might not appear to be of much consequence to the world, he is the friend, protector and defender of his sheep – even to the point of death. To be more like Jesus, we must be willing to humble ourselves in order to care for those we lead.

The Good Shepherd even lays down His life for the sheep. Jesus quoted Zechariah 13:7 when He predicted His death to His disciples. He said, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered'” (Matthew 26:31). When the Good Shepherd was struck down, He ensured the safety of His sheep. He willingly sacrificed His own life to save the sheep.

It’s true that leaders must lead. Leaders must cast the vision, set the direction, inspire and motivate, and give orders. However, the leadership style of Jesus shows us that a leader does much more than that. A true shepherd-leader knows, serves, and sacrifices for the sheep.

Prayer: Dear Father God, please forgive my prideful ways. I turn to You as the right example for servant leadership. Instill Your attitude within my heart, that I may lead from Your attributes. I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

“Not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:4).

John 10:1. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. 4. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. 5. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. 6. This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them. 7. Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. 8. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. 9. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. 10. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. 11. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. 12. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. 13. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. 14. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. 15. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. 17. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.

18. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. 19. There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings. 20. And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him? 21. Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind?

Zechariah 13:7. Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.

Matthew 26:31. Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.

Philippians 2:4. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.

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We have a humble and magnificent leader. His name is Jesus, and we can learn much from His leadership style. This is a 10 day reading plan. Today’s verses are John 8:53, 5:45-46, and 4:37. Have a blessed day.

By Michael Youssef, Ph.D.

Everyone receives help from the people who have gone before, the people who stand alongside, and the people who follow. No one is a self-made man or woman, and good leaders know they can’t take full credit for their successes.

Jesus Himself had the right to take credit for everything from creation onward. Yet, He exemplified the humility of a servant. Jesus could have pointed out the flaws and failures of those who went before Him: You think Abraham was great? Remember, he had his share of failings. And Moses? Don’t forget all the times he got angry and disobeyed God. And don’t forget how Abraham feared Pharaoh so much that he lied and said Sarah was his sister! If you want to know what real greatness is, look at Me.

But Jesus was not driven, as so many leaders are today, by the need to receive credit, applause and attention. He was driven by love for the Father. Jesus acknowledged those who went before Him, including Abraham (see John 8:53) and Moses (see John 5:45-46). If we want to follow the leadership style of Jesus Christ, we must acknowledge others in the same Christ-like way He did.

Do you take time to acknowledge the contributions others make to your successes? If not, make a plan to personally and publicly thank God and these people.

Prayer: Dear precious Lord, I praise You for the group of people You have aligned me with who help me and support me. Without Your divine plan in bringing these people into my life, I would not be where and who I am. Thank You. I pray this in Jesus’ precious name. Amen.

“Thus the saying “One sows and another reaps…is true” (John 4:37).

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Discover vital leadership principles from the greatest leader of all time: Jesus Christ. If you are a leader in any area of life, your approach to leadership will be transformed by the examples from Jesus’ life outlined in Dr. Michael Youssef’s new book, The Leadership Style of Jesus. For more teachings, books, and downloadable resources from Leading The Way with Dr. Michael Youssef, visit us online at www.LTW.org.

John 8:53. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?

John 5:45. Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. 46. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.

John 4:37. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.

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This letter is about troubles we still have in churches and what to do and not do. The video is minutes long. The verses are 3 John 1:1-14. Have a blessed day.

If you watched the video, you may scroll down to See for Yourself.

What’s Happening?

John’s third letter is directed not to a group of churches, or even one church, but to Gaius, a man John deeply loves (3 John 1). Gaius is a faithful Christian whose hospitality is well known (3 John 3-5). Traveling missionaries frequently stayed at Gaius’ house and then told their home churches about his generosity and love (3 John 6). John wants Gaius to keep doing what he’s doing. For John, hospitality towards missionaries is a litmus test of inclusion in God’s Kingdom. And people like Gaius are co-workers—valuable partners in the mission of Jesus (3 John 8).

But not everyone in Gaius’s community is as humble and hospitable as he is. Diotrephes refuses to listen to John and other apostles’ calls for hospitality (3 John 9). He resents their authority, slanders their character, and refuses to welcome their missionaries (3 John 10a). Worse still, Diotrephes has some level of authority in Gaius’s church. He both threatens and excommunicates those willing to support John’s missionaries (3 John 10b).

Knowing that Gaius would read his letter to everyone in his church, John tells them to imitate the good they see in Gaius and reject the evil of Diotrephes and men like him (3 John 11). John ends his third letter the same way he ended his last, with the hope of seeing his friends face to face soon (3 John 13-14).

Where is the Gospel?

John has talked about loving one another in every one of his letters. It’s the defining mark of those who know God (1 John 4:7). And the failure to love your brothers and sisters is the defining mark of those who don’t know God (1 John 4:8). Hospitality towards missionaries is a litmus test of inclusion in God’s Kingdom.

When Jesus first sent out his disciples, the hospitality shown by a town towards them determined whether God’s peace or God’s judgment would fall (Matthew 10:13, 15). Near the end of Jesus’ life, he said that whether or not we show hospitality to “the least of these” signals our eternal destiny (Matthew 25:45-46). That’s because hospitality isn’t just serving others—but Jesus himself (Matthew 25:40). To give or withhold hospitality (especially towards those sent to proclaim the way of Jesus) is to accept or deny that Jesus was sent by God.

Fittingly, Jesus revealed himself through his own hospitality. He gave wine to a wedding (John 2:11). He hosted feasts in the desert (Luke 9:16). He offers his body and blood as a meal to be eaten (Matthew 26:26-28). And when he finally convinced his disciples that he rose from the dead, it was over a shared meal (Luke 24:35). Jesus is generous and hospitable to his people. And when his people are hospitable in kind, God shows up. Jesus reveals himself. And we become coworkers and God’s chosen partners in the proclamation of Jesus and his Gospel.

Don’t imitate the evil of Diotrephes. Don’t invite the judgment Jesus warns against. Instead, love your brothers and be hospitable to your sisters, especially those who have been sent, like Jesus, to proclaim good news.

See For Yourself

May the Holy Spirit open your eyes to see the God who is generous. And may you see Jesus as our hospitable host inviting us to a feast of his generosity and love.

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We invite you to continue seeking Jesus in God’s Word. We have lots of other reading plans available on YouVersion. Just search for “Spoken Gospel” in the reading plans section.

We hope this has helped you see Jesus in God’s Word more. We pray this final day helps you worship Jesus even more.

3 John 1:1‭ The elder unto the wellbeloved Gaius, whom I love in the truth. 2. Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. 3. For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth. 4. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. 5. Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers; 6. Which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well: 7. Because that for his name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles. 8. We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellowhelpers to the truth.

9. I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. 10. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. 11. Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good.  He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.

12. Demetrius hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true. 13. I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee: 14. But I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face. Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name.

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Do not entertain deceitful people. It will cause you harm. John is giving a refresher letter here. Today’s verses are 2 John 1:1-13. The video is 3:41 minutes long. Have a blessed day.

What’s Happening?

If you watched the video, you can skip this until you get to Bible verses of the day.

Lies have always been the greatest threat to God’s people, and in John’s second letter he warns a church he affectionately calls his chosen lady and children about them (2 John 1). In many ways it summarizes in one chapter what he spent five chapters explaining in his previous letter. 2 John is an apostolic booster shot to a church in need of care.

Like before, John reminds the church to love one another and keep God’s commands (2 John 5-6). He warns them of deceivers who deny that Jesus came in the flesh (2 John 7). He also emphasizes that those who do not live the way Jesus taught them to live do not have God (2 John 9). The gift of the Father’s power and the Son’s presence is only given to those who abide in the Gospel John preached, and the commands that Jesus prescribed. John calls this the way of living the truth (2 John 1-2).

That’s why it’s imperative that this church not welcome pastors or teachers who reject the Gospel and teach a different way to live (2 John 10). People of the truth should reject lies that are dangerous. Lies have the potential to rob this specially chosen lady and her children of their full reward of God’s truth and eternal life (2 John 8). John also warns that platforming these deceivers in their churches will make them complicit in their deceit and wickedness (2 John 11).

Where is the Gospel?

John abruptly ends his letter and hopes, like a caring father, that paper and pen will soon give way to face to face conversation (2 John 12).

Lies have always been the greatest threat to God’s people. In the garden of Eden it was a lie that convinced God’s first chosen lady, Eve, to abandon fidelity to God and his commands (Genesis 3:4, 13). Like the antichrists in John’s day, the serpent robbed her of the full reward of Eden made her complicit in the Deceiver’s evil, and forfeited eternal life with God (Genesis 3:23). The temptation to platform false gospels, tolerate false narratives, and entertain deceitful teachers is one of humanity’s original failures. And no matter how far we are removed from the world of Genesis, holding onto the truth in a world of lies is a perennial problem.

But the good news is that the Truth has already and will again win. God promised Eve that the Truth would one day crush the lie of the Deceiver (Genesis 3:15). And on the cross and by his resurrection, Jesus shows that he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:16). It’s no wonder that the defining teaching of these antichrists is to deny that Jesus came in the flesh (2 John 7, 1 John 2:22a). The best tactic the ancient Deceiver and his children have is to deny it ever happened (John 8:44).

It’s telling that the apostle John in the, book of Revelation, describes the entire history of God’s people as a conflict between a deceiving dragon and a chosen lady and her children (Revelation 12:1, 4b). And it’s even more telling that God’s people conquer the Deceiver by the blood of Jesus the antichrists deny, and the truthful testimony the deceivers cannot admit (Revelation 12:11).

By his coming and by his cross Jesus has spoken Truth to a world cursed under a lie. And the Truth is we will not surely die, but have eternal life in God alone through Jesus alone (John 3:16). And one day soon when Jesus returns, every lie will be silenced, all temptations will end, and Truth and Life will be all that’s left.

See For Yourself

May the Holy Spirit open your eyes to see the God who is Truth. And may you see Jesus as the one who defeats the lies of the Deceiver by his coming and his cross.

2 John 1:1. The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth; 2. For the truth’s sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever. 3. Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love. 4. I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father. 5. And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. 6. And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.

7. For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 8. Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. 9. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. 10. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: 11. For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

12. Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full. 13. The children of thy elect sister greet thee. Amen.

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There is eternal life in Jesus Christ through His blood which was shed on the cross. All we need to do is accept Him as Lord and Savior. We serve a mighty and awesome God. Today’s verses are 1 John 5:6‭-‬21. The video is minutes long. Today I’ve included the written version of the video in case you don’t have YouTube. Have a blessed day.

What’s Happening?

If you would prefer to watch the video, it says everything below except for the Bible verses. ☺️

John wants everybody who reads his letter to know they have eternal life in Jesus—and specifically life in Jesus’ bloody death (1 John 5:13). But this is offensive to several false teachers. They claim they’re eyewitnesses to a more “spiritual gospel” that doesn’t include Jesus’ coming in the flesh or his bloody death. In denying that Jesus came in flesh and blood, the false teachers deny there is eternal life in Jesus, and they’re calling God a liar (1 John 5:10).

But John says his Gospel has more reliable eyewitnesses (1 John 5:9). John’s Gospel is attested to by the Father, Son, Holy Spirit, and empty tomb. The testimony Jesus proclaims isn’t speculative or spiritual but actual life from the physically dead in him (1 John 5:11). That’s why, John says, Jesus came by both water and blood (1 John 5:6). They’re references to Jesus’ two baptisms: the baptism at the beginning of his ministry when the Holy Spirit landed on him like a dove and God testified that Jesus is his Son, and the baptism of blood Jesus went under on the cross where he killed our sin and God raised him the dead (Mark 10:38). Contrary to the testimony of the false teachers, the testimony of Jesus’ baptism, his death, and the Holy Spirit proclaim that God has come in a body, died a bloody death, and rose (1 John 5:7-8). And the same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, now lives in us and secures eternal life with God forever.

Where is the Gospel?

John wants everybody who reads his letter to know they have eternal life in Jesus (1 John 5:13).

And more than knowing that our life will extend indefinitely, John wants us to know that our lives will be marked by the power of God. John says if we ask anything according to his will in prayer, God will hear and will give (1 John 5:14-15). Eternal life doesn’t just mean living a long time—eternal life starts now because God lives in us and always hears our prayers.

And John doesn’t hedge his bets when he’s talking about prayer. He doesn’t say God might give what we ask, but that he will. Even our prayers for brothers and sisters who are walking towards death will be answered with the gift of resurrection life (1 John 5:16). Contrary to the false teachers, the God who died is the God of life, and through us he even gives life to others. We pray infused with the life and power of Jesus because, like Jesus, we have been born of God (1 John 5:18).

John ends his letter of encouragement by reminding us of the Truth: Jesus is both the true God and eternal life (1 John 5:20). Only in Jesus’ body is there love that covers our sin, only in Jesus’ bloody death, is there resurrection. All other gospels are inferior, they’re just man-made idols to lesser deities (1 John 5:21). There is only one place to find life and love—and that is in Jesus.

See For Yourself

May the Holy Spirit open your eyes to see the God who has come by water and blood. And may you see Jesus as the one who is eternal life and love in the flesh.

1 John 5:6‭ This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth. 7. For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. 8. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. 9. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. 10. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. 11. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 13. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. 14. And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: 15. And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him. 16. If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it. 17. All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death. 18. We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not. 19. And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness. 20. And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life. 21. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

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Just to clarify: God has many characteristics, and we are studying His love for us and how we should respond rightly in this study. Today’s verses are 1 John 4:7–5:5. The video is 3:46 minutes long. Have a blessed day.

1 John 4:7‭. Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 8. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 9. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 12. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. 13. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. 14. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. 15. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. 16. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. 17. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 18. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 19. We love him, because he first loved us.

20. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21. And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

1 John 5:1. Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. 2. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. 4. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

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There are only two families on earth since the beginning. The family of God, and the family of Satan. To which family do you belong? I am a child of the living God. Would you like to be also? Believe in your heart that Christ died for our sins, repent, accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and be saved. Yes, it’s that easy. Today’s verses are  1 John 2:28-29 and 3:1-24. Have a blessed day.

1 John 2:28. And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. 29. If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.
1 John 2:28‭-‬29

1 John 3:1‭. Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 2. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3.  And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure. 4. Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. 5. And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin. 6. Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. 7. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. 8. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. 9. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. 10. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

11. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous. 13. Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. 14. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. 15.  Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 16. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18. My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. 19. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. 20. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. 21. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. 22. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. 23. And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. 24. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

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In this study, the antichrist is referring to people who used to be members but no longer are. They deny Jesus’ deity, they kill others who believe in Him, and it is unfortunately a part of church life even now. “The good news is that John’s disciples have been anointed by God, and those who are against God’s anointed have no power (1 John 2:20).” The video is 3:11 minutes long, and today’s verses are 1 John 2:18‭-‬27. Have a blessed day.

1 John 2:18. Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. 19. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. 20. But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. 21. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. 22. Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. 23. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. 24. Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. 25. And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life. 26. These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. 27. But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.

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Today’s message is one of hope to the believers and urgency for the unbelievers. They must be reached, because Christ Jesus has already paid our sin debt in full and has overcome the world. That is why and how we can focus on Jesus rather than the things of this world. We serve an amazing God! Today’s verses are 1 John 2:12‭-‬17 KJV. (You can skip reading the context if you listen to the video.) The video is 3:06 minutes long. Have a blessed day.

What’s Happening?

Being a follower of Jesus means following him into a battle against evil. This battle isn’t a war of weapons, but of desires. Loving God means not loving the world (1 John 2:15). Not loving the world means not loving what the world loves. The world loves to invent and satisfy desires for our body, lusts for our eyes, and pride in our life (1 John 2:16). The world builds systems, economies, cultures, and religions designed to tempt and destroy us. But John says the way to overcome a world of desires is by remembering that this world and those who love it are passing away. But those who obey and love God live forever (1 John 2:17).

And to a people at war, John recites a poem. This poem shepherds and soothes a community under fire from the lies of false teachers and the condemning voice of the evil one. And John assures three different groups of people: children, fathers, and young men.

John often calls his whole community—both men and women—“children” (1 John 2:1, 18, 28). And he reminds them that their sins really are forgiven and they truly know God as Father (1 John 2:12, 13a). Despite their temptations and failures, God has already forgiven them! Then to fathers (or mature believers) he reminds them twice that their age doesn’t disqualify them, but instead brings them near the God of eternity. As they approach death in this world, they know the Eternal One has their lives in his hands (1 John 2:12-13). And finally to the young men, or those who are most active in the battle of living and working in the world, John reminds them twice that they have overcome the evil one (1 John 2:13b, 14b). John’s point is simple. Yes, we are in a battle, but we’re on the winning side.

Where is the Gospel?

Jesus has defeated the powers of evil on the cross. By his Spirit we’re strengthened against every temptation. Even when we die we will continue to live with God our Father. We overcome the world, its desires, and the evil one by remembering the Gospel. Because Jesus lives forever, evil is passing away. Because God is our Father, we will live forever with him.

Our battles with the desires of our body and eyes have been dealt a death-blow in Jesus. In love, Jesus has died, covered our sins, and been resurrected. This is the spiritual weapon we need to fight the evil one (Ephesians 6:11). The devil is on his back foot, and we’re armed to the teeth. Whether we are fathers and mothers or young and strong, we are all children of a victorious Father who only sends his daughters and sons into battle once armed with resurrection life. We don’t need to be afraid of the world. We will overcome its temptation. The good news is that the One in us is greater than the one in the world (1 John 4:4).

See For Yourself

May the Holy Spirit open your eyes to see the God who is light. And may you see Jesus as the One who has defeated the darkness of the world so that both He and we can live forever.

1 John 2:12‭. I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake. 13. I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father. 14. I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one. 15. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

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Today’s video is 3:25 minutes. “God is light” commands us to love one another as Jesus loved us. What a privilege it is to have a relationship with God. Have a blessed day.

What’s Happening?

John says the Gospel of Jesus can be summed up this way: “God is light; in him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). Just as light brought life on the first day of creation and light gives life to every green plant, Jesus brings the light and life of God even from the grave (Genesis 1:3). Like the pillar of fire led Israel through dark nights in the wilderness, Jesus guides us by his Spirit (Exodus 13:21). Just as light judges and expels darkness, Jesus judges and expels the devil and his evil (1 John 3:8, Colossians 2:13). And one day, the brightness of God’s light will even swallow up the actual night (Revelation 22:5). The message “God is Light” is the eternal good news of Jesus summed up in three words.

But John also says the good news that “God is Light,” is a command to be obeyed (1 John 2:7). The command is that we should love one another as Jesus has loved us (1 John 2:10; John 13:34). Like the fire in the wilderness or the sun in the sky, this good news and good command will lead us to life (1 John 2:10).

But several in John’s community claimed to be members of the light, while hating one another (1 John 1:6). John says this is a contradiction and a self-evident lie. True members of the light, walk in the light (1 John 1:8). People transformed by the good news that “God is Light” will act like it. These liars are so darkened by their self-deception they call their hate loving (1 John 1:9, 11).

And while the liars are busy hiding their darkness under the guise of light, Christians freely confess their darkness because they know the light (1 John 1:10). They know that forgiveness has been bought by Jesus’ blood and are willing to step towards him (1 John 2:2). John says that those who walk towards the light, even if they sin, are truly God’s people and will be forgiven (1 John 2:3, 6). But those who refuse to admit their darkness and pretend to be in the light, will soon be blinded by the same light they deny (1 John 2:11).

Where is the Gospel?

The good news is that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. The light of God has come to us in Jesus. Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12). And like the fire that led Israel through the wilderness, Jesus’ Spirit always teaches us where to go (John 14:16). Jesus has overcome both our own and the world’s evil by his loving, sacrificial death (1 John 2:2).

But how do we know we’re in the light? How do we really know that we are in the life of God? John says that assurance comes when we love one another. Love for each other is how we know that we belong to God, and experience the fullness of God’s love and light (1 John 2:5). God’s light was most clearly seen in Jesus’ love on the cross, so it makes sense that we will most clearly experience our assurance as we live and love like Jesus.

And what’s beautiful is that even when we fail to love, if we confess our sin to God in whom there is no darkness, we can fully expect the light of his forgiveness. Because of Jesus we have an example to follow, but we also have an Advocate before God who has covered our sins, takes away our guilt, and shines the light of his love on all who ask.

See For Yourself

May the Holy Spirit open your eyes to see the God who is Light. And may you see Jesus as our atoning sacrifice who covers all our sins.

1 John 1:5‭. This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

1 John 2:1‭. My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2. And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

3. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. 6. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked. 7. Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning. 8. Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. 9. He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now. 10. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him. 11. But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.

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We will now go deeper in our study of the books of 1, 2 and 3 John. Today our focus is on 1 John 1:1-4. A 2:51 minute video is provided. Jesus Christ is real, and John saw Him, talked with Him, ate with Him, heard Him, and witnessed many more miracles than were able to be put in the Bible! Have a blessed day.

What’s Happening?

John, Jesus’ disciple, writes to a community under attack from false teachers. John goes so far as to call them “antichrists” (1 John 2:22). These antichrists are pastors or church leaders who have left their churches and now claim that John and the other apostles are wrong about Jesus (1 John 2:19). They claim that Jesus did not come in the flesh (1 John 4:3, 2 John 1:7). They deny that God took on a body and they deny that God—in Jesus—bled on the cross for them.

So John begins his letter by grounding his message in what he heard, saw, and touched (1 John 1:1). John is an eyewitness, alongside the other disciples and apostles. He has firsthand experience with Jesus, with God himself. The antichrists want to spiritualize the Gospel, but John says they can’t spiritualize away his testimony.

John insists that the same God who was from the beginning was born, and the Word of Life became alive and lived in front of him (1 John 1:2). John has seen God with his eyes and heard him with his ears (1 John 1:3a). The antichrists’ spiritualized message is contrary to the facts: God has been born, the apostles have seen, heard, and touched him, and so eternal life is only found in Jesus.

Where is the Gospel?

The antichrists denied the incarnation of Jesus. And as a result, those who listened became plagued by doubts. If God didn’t join himself to humanity, how do humans know they are joined to God? If the incarnation isn’t real, how can we ever know we’re saved?

John’s answer is simple. We have real fellowship with God because God has physically joined himself to humanity (1 John 1:3)! Jesus was real. Eternal life was touched. That which was from the beginning was born to Mary. No one who trusts the good news of Jesus’ incarnation needs to fear where he or she stands with God. God has saved us just as certainly as we’ve been born of our mother.

And while it’s true that we, like John’s community, haven’t seen Jesus with our own eyes, John was an eyewitness. John ate, slept, and walked with Eternal Life in the flesh. John watched Jesus die, and John looked into his empty tomb. The antichrists have no leg to stand on. God coming in the flesh is a matter of history, and all the apostles agree. God has come in the flesh; his name is Jesus. And in him you are saved.

See For Yourself

May the Holy Spirit open your eyes to see the Word of Life who came to earth. And may you see Jesus as God in the flesh.

1 John 1:1. That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; 2. (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) 3. That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.

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1 John 1, 2, 3

Starting a new reading plan today in the book of 1 John. It is a 10 day plan, and it does get pretty lengthy. However, there is a video starting tomorrow. Today’s verses are Psalm 119:137-160, KJV. Have a blessed day.

Welcome to Jesus in All of 1, 2, & 3 John. Our prayer is that you will encounter Jesus and his Gospel in 1, 2, & 3 John like never before.

Each day, you will have the opportunity to read a short devotional or watch a short video that will walk you through the text and show you how it is fulfilled in Jesus.

Each day you will see the same three things:

1. What’s Happening?

This section explains what is going on in the text.

2. Where is the Gospel?

This section shows how this story ultimately points to Jesus and his Gospel.

3. See For Yourself

This is a short, Trinitarian prayer meant to propel you into Scripture to see the good news of Jesus for yourself.

Before jumping in, we’d ask you to prepare your heart.

Please consider starting with the passage from Psalms assigned for today. Use it like a prayer. Put the Psalmist’s words into your own words. Ask God to send his Holy Spirit to help you understand Psalms and see Jesus throughout it. Prayer is a critical part of engaging God’s Word.

We hope this journey transforms you. May the Holy Spirit open your eyes to see the beauty of Jesus in all of Scripture.

Psalm 119:137. Righteous art thou, O LORD, and upright are thy judgments. 138. Thy testimonies that thou hast commanded are righteous and very faithful. 139. My zeal hath consumed me, because mine enemies have forgotten thy words. 140. Thy word is very pure: therefore thy servant loveth it. 141. I am small and despised: yet do not I forget thy precepts. 142. Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and thy law is the truth. 143. Trouble and anguish have taken hold on me: yet thy commandments are my delights. 144.The righteousness of thy testimonies is everlasting: give me understanding, and I shall live. 145. I cried with my whole heart; hear me, O LORD: I will keep thy statutes. 146. I cried unto thee; save me, and I shall keep thy testimonies. 147. I prevented the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word. 148. Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word. 149. Hear my voice according unto thy lovingkindness: O LORD, quicken me according to thy judgment. 150. They draw nigh that follow after mischief: they are far from thy law. 151. Thou art near, O LORD; and all thy commandments are truth. 152. Concerning thy testimonies, I have known of old that thou hast founded them for ever. 153. Consider mine affliction, and deliver me: for I do not forget thy law. 154. Plead my cause, and deliver me: quicken me according to thy word. 155. Salvation is far from the wicked: for they seek not thy statutes. 156. Great are thy tender mercies, O LORD: quicken me according to thy judgments. 157. Many are my persecutors and mine enemies; yet do I not decline from thy testimonies. 158. I beheld the transgressors, and was grieved; because they kept not thy word. 159. Consider how I love thy precepts: quicken me, O LORD, according to thy lovingkindness. 160. Thy word is true from the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments endureth for ever.

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Immanuel

This is the day we set apart to celebrate the birth of our dear Savior Jesus Christ. It is a wonderful miracle and gift from God above to come into the world He created to save mankind which He also created. Thank You Lord God for such a blessing as this! I love You. Happy birthday! Today’s verses are Isaiah 7:14, Luke 1:30‭-‬35, John 14:16‭-‬17, and John 16:7. Have a very Merry Christmas and stay blessed.

What a miracle that the God of the universe chose to come to earth as a baby—such grandeur and humility all in one. It can be easy to question how this could be, and that’s exactly what Mary did when the angel Gabriel greeted her with the news that she would conceive the Son of God.

Gabriel responded in Luke 1:35 NIV,  “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy child shall be called the Son of God.”

Over 600 years before this miraculous exchange, the prophet Isaiah spoke the same news of the virgin birth, declaring that the son would be called Immanuel, which translated means, “God with us.” With that, Isaiah told us the who and what of Jesus’ birth, but it was Gabriel who brought the news of how: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you…and for that reason the holy child shall be called the Son of God.”

As we consider the miracle that is “God with us” by the power of the Holy Spirit that came upon Mary, remember to rejoice that, through Jesus, the Holy Spirit is still available to us today. When Jesus prepared His disciples for His departure from the world, He told them that it was actually good that He would leave, that they would then receive the gift and power of the Holy Spirit. You see, on earth, Jesus was fully God and fully man—He could only be in one place at a time. But through the power of the Holy Spirit, each of us has access to Him all the time, wherever we are!

The Holy Spirit who conceived Jesus in Mary’s womb, making it possible for Him to be with us on earth, is the same Spirit that Jesus said would come in His place to be with us always. When God sent His Son through the power of the Holy Spirit, He created and confirmed a lasting presence for those who call Him Lord.

This Christmas, allow the power of the gifts God set in motion long ago to resonate in your heart. Whether you’re celebrating over gifts and dinner with loved ones or if you find yourself in a place of mourning, know that Immanuel has come for you. He didn’t just come to occupy a manger, a cross, or a tomb—He came to live in your heart through the everlasting power of His Holy Spirit. The gift of Christmas was always meant for you, and He is with you always!

Prayer: Father, thank You for sending Your Son to earth and giving me such a gift to celebrate during the Christmas season. It’s humbling to know that You love me so much and that You want me to be with You always. Holy Spirit, help me to remember that no matter where I am, You are always with me. Happy birthday Lord Jesus Christ! In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

Isaiah 7:14. Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Luke 1:30. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33. And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. 34. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35. And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.

John 14:16. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17. Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

John 16:7. Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.

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Shepherd

Shepherds were of low esteem. It was hard & dangerous work. Sheep have a tendency to stray. Like sheep, we continue to go astray. That’s why Jesus is called the Good Shepherd. He laid down His sinless life for our sinridden lives. He is now living in us through His Holy Spirit. What an awesome God we serve! Today’s verses are Matthew 2:6, Matthew 18:12‭-‬14, Philippians 4:19, John 10:11, Luke 13:34, and John 10:27‭-‬30. Have a blessed day.

While the title of shepherd carried a specific meaning to the Jewish people of the time, it can be easy for us to skim over this reference and miss the magnitude of what God is saying about the nature of Jesus.

The traditional role of a shepherd was anything but glamorous. In fact, it was difficult, requiring long, dangerous hours and a complete commitment to the well-being of his flock. He led them to food and shelter, accounted for them each night, and sought out and returned any that strayed. He even protected them from thieves and predators at the expense of his own safety.

Just as sheep have no instinct for food, are prone to stray and get lost, and have trouble finding home, we too, are aimless without our shepherd. In Jesus, we find the provision, protection, and guidance we so desperately need.

Throughout the New Testament, we are reminded of Jesus’ role as our Good

Shepherd. In the Parable of the Lost Sheep, the shepherd leaves the ninety-nine to go after the one, giving us a beautiful picture of God’s heart for the lost and His commitment to bringing us home to safety.

In Philippians, we are reminded by the Apostle Paul that God will meet all our needs through Jesus, just as a shepherd cares for every need of his flock. Again, in Luke 13, Jesus speaks of His desperate desire to protect His children, if only we are willing to follow Him.

In John 10:27-30 NIV, Jesus said:

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.

What a Good Shepherd, indeed!

As we approach Christmas, remember that Jesus is our Good Shepherd and in Him we find provision, eternal life, and the promise that no one can snatch us from the safety of His care. Just as a shepherd can’t care for his flock from a distance, Jesus is always by our side. Let’s listen for His voice, having full confidence that He is close, and that He leads us to good pastures.

Prayer: Father, thank You for painting such a beautiful portrait of Jesus as my Good Shepherd, and for meeting all my needs through Him. Give me ears to hear Your voice clearly and the boldness to follow wherever You call me. I trust that You only have good things in store for me, and I will never be outside of Your care. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen

Matthew 2:6 And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

Matthew 18:12‭ How think ye? if a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? 13. And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray. 14. Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.

Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

John 10:11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.

Luke 13:34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!

John 10:27‭ My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28. And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. 30. I and my Father are one.

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We serve an amazing God. He grants us perfect peace through His Son’s death and resurrection. We should not forget that He rose again. Otherwise, He would be just another man. Thank You Lord Jesus for the Christ child,! ❤️ Today’s verses are Isaiah 9;6, John 16:33, and Philippians 4:4-8. Have a blessed day.

What a gift we have in Jesus, who set aside the glory of heaven to come to earth in order to give us light, life, and healing—He truly is a King worth glorifying!

In Isaiah 9:6, God spoke through the prophet and foretold of the coming of Jesus—that among many of His roles, He would be known as the Prince of Peace, which translates “Lord of Peace.” But how do we move from seeing and believing this truth, to truly walking in and experiencing the peace only He can provide?

In the New Testament, Jesus told His disciples, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV) It’s no accident that when God announced Jesus’ coming, He called Him the Prince of Peace. God knew the struggles His disciples would face after His departure, and He knows the struggles we still face today.

We so often try to control every aspect of our lives, placing the weight of every situation on our shoulders, but He never intended for us to carry it alone. When we choose to prioritize our relationship with Jesus and bring our cares to Him, we’re freed to receive the supernatural peace that flows directly from Him. Even before the birth of Jesus, God provided us with the answer to any and every worry we may have through the Lordship of His Son—how incredible!

This season, let’s remember the freedom and peace we have available in Jesus. Though we are all guaranteed to face difficult circumstances, through His Lordship, we have access to a rest and a peace that surpasses anything we could achieve for ourselves.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank You so much for the peace You provide me through Jesus. Help me to remember that and to rest in Your presence. No matter what I face, You are with me and You offer a peace that surpasses all understanding—thank You! In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

Philippians 4:4‭ Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. 5. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. 6. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

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Many people have had good fathers, and many people weren’t so fortunate. Either way, no one’s father was perfect. How awesome it is to know that our Heavenly Father is perfect and willing and able to love and help us always. Thank You Lord Jesus! Today’s verses are Isaiah 9:6, Matthew 7:9‭, 11; James 1:17, Hebrews 13:8, and Luke 15:11‭-32. Have a blessed day.

While we all have different experiences with our earthly fathers, we know that no relationship is perfect. Whether the name “father” brings fond memories or weighs heavily on our hearts, what a gift we have in Jesus, our perfect, Everlasting Father.

Through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, we are blessed with direct access to God. When we follow Jesus, we are adopted into God’s family, and, as His children, we enjoy all of the benefits of living under His care.

Jesus highlighted one of those benefits in the Parable of the Prodigal (or Lost) Son, showing the extent of God’s love for His children—how He never gives up on us, regardless of how far we wander! When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, He also used the moment to remind them of how willing God is to provide abundantly for His children who are bold enough to ask:

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9-11 NIV)

What an incredible blessing that, regardless of our experiences, we are invited into a relationship with an unchanging, good Father.

This season, be encouraged by this beautiful description of our Everlasting Father found in the book of James: “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” (James 1:17 NIV) In Him, we have hope, healing, and the promise of His care forever!

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, for Your perfect example of what a Father should be. Soften my heart to receive the truth of knowing that the heart of this season is You, and Your heart in this season is for me. You are a good Father! In Jesus’ precious name I give thanks and pray. Amen.

Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Matthew 7:9‭ Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 11. If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

Luke 15:11‭ And he said, A certain man had two sons: 12. And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. 13. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. 14. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. 15. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. 17. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18. I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19. And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. 20. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 21. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. 22. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: 23. And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: 24. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. 25. Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. 26. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. 27. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. 28. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him. 29. And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: 30. But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. 31.And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. 32. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

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Mighty God

We have a sovereign God who loves us so much that He chooses to use believers and give them the power and strength to share this gospel to the ends of the world. This is indeed humbling. He can use all believers in Jesus, no matter what we’ve done in our past. Thank You Jesus! Today’s verses are Isaiah 9:6, John 14:12, Acts 2:41, Acts 20:24, and Ephesians 3:20‭-‬21. Have a blessed day.

The words of the prophet Isaiah began to take shape in the form of an infant. Jesus, foretold as Mighty God, was coming to earth, and His power would change everything.

Jesus performed countless miracles—He gave sight to the blind, calmed storms with a word, and even brought the dead to life. He possesses power, strength, and wisdom beyond what we can imagine—He truly was, and is, sovereign in every detail.

But the miracle of Jesus’ power wasn’t limited to Him alone. To His disciples, Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12 NIV)

What greater works could He possibly think us capable of?

Peter, one of Jesus’ closest followers, denied knowing Him three times, yet God still used him to preach a revival at Pentecost where 3,000 were saved. Paul was one of the worst persecutors of Christians, yet God redeemed him and used him to spread the gospel to the rest of the world.

While physical miracles were incredible and are certainly still possible with God, how amazing that He has called us to the work of opening people’s eyes to the eternal hope and peace we have in Jesus. Jesus charged His disciples with the important work of spreading the gospel, and this still applies to us today.

This Christmas, let’s consider the power we have through Jesus—that He gave us eternal life, and the same power that raised Him from the dead is alive in us. Be encouraged that God not only wants to move powerfully in your life, but He also wants to move powerfully through you to reach others. How humbling that the God of the universe chooses to use us to expand His Kingdom!

Prayer: Thank You, Father for loving us so much and choosing us to help build Your Kingdom. Your Word says that Your mighty power is at work within me. Help me, Lord, to always accomplish more than I can imagine through Your mighty name and power. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

John 14:12 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.

Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

Acts 20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.

Ephesians 3:20‭ Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21. Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

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Wonderful Counselor

He loves us so much that He was willing to be tempted in every way possible to empathize and show us the right way to go. O what a Friend we have in Jesus! Today’s verses are Isaiah 9:6, Hebrews 4:15‭-‬16, Psalm 139:1‭-‬3, and Proverbs 3:5‭-‬6. Have a blessed day.

In Isaiah, Jesus is referred to as our Wonderful Counselor, and throughout the New Testament we see His ministry support this. Jesus didn’t just offer hope and healing in societally-approved places, like synagogues. He took His ministry to the streets and sought out the lost, the hurting, and the broken, especially those cast aside by society. What a blessing we have in a Wonderful Counselor who meets us right where we are.

We’re also reminded that Jesus was tempted in every way, just as we are—yet He did not sin. Knowing the pain and the scorn to come, God became human, choosing to experience every aspect of life for Himself. In Jesus, we not only have someone who can empathize with our struggles, but someone who’s always ready and willing to walk through them with us.

But just as seeking wise counsel from a mentor or friend takes a level of honesty and humility, God requires that we get honest and humble ourselves as we give our burdens to Jesus. When we do, we’ll get much more than good advice—we’ll experience growth, healing, and victory that can only be found in Him.

As we celebrate Christmas, let’s remember that we don’t have to face life alone. Spend time connecting and getting honest with Jesus, our Wonderful Counselor. Seek Him in God’s Word and rest assured that He is faithful and will draw near to you. In Him you will find wisdom, discernment, and revelation—there’s no answer that can’t be found in Jesus!

Prayer: Jesus, thank You so much for coming to earth and facing every temptation so that You can relate to what I’m facing. [And I can see it is possible to face it without sinning.] I am so grateful that I can come to You with anything. Thank You for creating and caring for my soul. Help me to lay down everything before You and to trust You as You walk with me through any situation. Thank You for being my Wonderful Counselor. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen

Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Hebrews 4:15‭ For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

Psalm 139:1‭ O Lord, thou hast searched me, and known me. 2. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. 3. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.

Proverbs 3:5‭ Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

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Jesus, Our Savior

What a wonderful message of forgiveness today. One so powerful that we cannot keep it to ourselves, but we should share it with the world. At least our part of the world anyway. Today’s verses are Luke 2:10‭-‬11, Galatians 5:1, 1 Timothy 1:15, and Matthew 18:23‭-‬35. Have a blessed day.

At the time of Jesus’ birth, the Jewish people anticipated a royal king to deliver them from oppression and establish an earthly kingdom. But what they received through the birth of a child was so much more than deliverance from circumstances and the success of a temporary reign.

Instead, God established His eternal kingdom, provided a path for salvation, reconciled us to right relationship with Himself, and brought hope to a broken world. Though many of the Jewish people didn’t fully understand or appreciate it at the time, it’s just like our God to go above and beyond our expectations.

Before Jesus, the world was enslaved to sin, and God’s people were required to make sacrificial offerings to Him as atonement. While it’s beautiful that God offered His people grace through the Old Testament Law, how incredible that He sent Jesus, who alone has freed us from the enslavement of sin and is our atoning sacrifice!

In 1 Timothy, the Apostle Paul lays out clearly just how great a gift we have in Jesus, our Savior: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.” Before his salvation, Paul persecuted Christians, yet God freely poured out His extravagant grace on him, working through him to write much of the New Testament and spread the gospel to the world.

Jesus, too, referenced the overflowing grace of God in His Parable of the Unmerciful Servant, saying, “The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.” He also took it a step further, sharing how our salvation should influence us to live a life of forgiveness and grace for those around us. Jesus echoed this in the Great Commission, where He pointed out that salvation isn’t something to be kept secret, but to be fanned into flame and shared.

This Christmas, let’s press into the incredible truth that, through Jesus, we have received the greatest gift. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done, where we’ve been, or how we think of ourselves—we are forgiven and no longer have to carry the weight of paying for our own sin and failure. We can walk confidently in the freedom of knowing that Jesus has broken the rule of sin and death off our lives and delivered us from a debt we could never pay. In Him, we have hope and the promise of eternal life—what a reason to celebrate!

Prayer: Father, thank You for loving me so much that You sent Your Son to make a way for me to have an everlasting relationship with You. This Christmas, remind me of just how much You love me and how much I mean to You, and give me a boldness to share the good news of what You’ve done in my life with those around me. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

Luke 2:10‭ And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

Galatians 5:1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

1 Timothy 1:15 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.

Matthew 18:23‭ Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. 24. And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. 25. But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his Lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26. The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 27. Then the Lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt. 28. But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. 29. And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 30. And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. 31. So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their Lord all that was done. 32. Then his Lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: 33. Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? 34. And his Lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. 35. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

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Jesus

What a precious gift this child brings with His birth, life, death, and resurrection. A message of love and obedience to God for us to follow. Today’s verses are Philippians 2:1‭-‬11. Have a blessed day.

There’s no greater example of humility than our Savior. Let the reality of what we celebrate at Christmas really sink in:

Jesus laid down His royal position to pursue you and me.

He knew we would betray Him. He knew He would die a terrible death, and He came anyway. 

Jesus gave up all of His rights to obey God and serve us.

Truth time: It’s so easy to get caught up in our “rights.”

Rights can take many forms. We can get braggy about our good deeds, how long we’ve been a Christian, a hardship we’ve endured for the cause of Christ, the work we’ve done in His name, the sacrifices we’ve made, etc., etc., etc.

But no matter what our rights are or how impressive they may be, I can assure you:  Jesus’ rights were higher. 

Son of God. The picture of ultimate power and righteousness. Yet, He humbly set His rights aside. And not because He was seeking a promotion or some form of affirmation. 

He chose humility because He loved perfectly. Love was His motivation. 

Jesus loved God, so He obeyed Him. 

Jesus loved us, so He served us. 

So, quick question for today:

What “rights” are you clinging to?

Let them go, knowing that when you lay down your rights, you get to pick up His righteousness!

There are a few lines from “Oh Holy Night” that started really standing out to me as truth I want to understand and live out each year:

“Long lay the world in sin and error pining, 

‘til He appeared and the soul felt it’s

worth.

“The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”

Our broken world is desperately seeking the hope we have in Him, for their soul to feel it’s created worth. 

Praise the Lord that Jesus’ birth means Love came down in its truest form. 

What a gift it is to follow Jesus. Merry Christmas!

Dear Father God, Your love is overwhelming. Let us never lose the wonder that You came down to save us. You could have required us to do so much more to have access to Your Kingdom, yet because of our belief in Jesus, You freely give us eternity with You since we could never earn it on our own. Oh, what a Savior! We love You. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

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Philippians 2:1‭ If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, 2. Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4. Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. 5. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6. Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7. But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10. That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11. And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

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The Shepherds

When it came time to announce the birth of Jesus Christ God could have chosen the priests, a king, someone of great reputation; but He chose instead some outcasts of society. Is this you? It fits my description. When you get down on yourself, remember that God sees you and can use you for great purposes. Today’s verses are Luke 2:8‭-‬20. Have a blessed day.

Shepherds were the lowest of the low class. In fact, shepherds were deemed so untrustworthy by society, they could not even serve as a witness in court.

So if angels were going to appear to announce the birth of the Savior, why would God choose to send them to untrustworthy shepherds? Wouldn’t a group of priests seem logically like a better choice?

But purpose trumps logic. From the very beginning, Jesus came to “save that which was lost” (Matthew 18:11 NASB). 

Seriously. It’s just so exciting to serve a God who is so intentional in the details.

First, the shepherds ran to Jesus. Then, they shared with others what they had experienced, and people paid attention. There must have been a drastic difference in these outcasts of society after they encountered Jesus. 

The Christian life is inconvenient, full of detours, and rarely simple. In fact, Dave Earley’s definition of ministry is my favorite. He says, “Ministry is getting dirty to make others clean.” 

In other words, genuine service is rooted in what we do for others, not what others can do for us.

So let’s ask ourselves this:

What have I done lately that serves another where I did not get anything in return? 

After all, it’s not really serving to serve only those who can serve us in return.

Just as the lives of those shepherds changed forever that night, we have the same opportunity with those whom God puts in our path to serve. 

As Christ-followers, we have the opportunity to be radically different in the work world. Let everyone else boast in their paychecks, fancy lifestyles, and crazy accomplishments. We get to show up every day and serve the one, true God. 

Let’s be more about what we give than what we get. 

Dear Father God, You came to seek and to save those who were lost, and to help us to do the same. It’s so easy to get caught up in the “business” way of life. But God, protect us from that. Give us Your eyes to see those who need You and Your heart to serve them. Use us as Your hands and feet. We love You Lord. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

Luke 2:8‭ And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. 10. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 12. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. 13. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, 14. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 15. And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 16. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 17. And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. 18. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. 20. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

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Wise Men

Such a valuable lesson today of worship with the right motive, to bring glory to God and not ourselves. Today’s verses are Matthew 2:1-12. Have a blessed day.

The wise men were just as their name describes: They were the intellectuals of their land. The wise men were the ones whom people of influence sought when they needed counsel. They were respected. They were leaders. They were successful.

And as they bowed down to worship Jesus, they laid what was valuable to them at His feet.

Let’s not miss this. Talk about a powerful lesson for us!

There is only one proper place for our gifts, talents, and treasures: at the feet of Jesus.

When our abilities are laid at His feet, they’re at His disposal to use however He sees fit. A posture of worship recognizes God as the One who filled us with the ability in the first place. He receives the praise. He receives the glory.

These wise men, though they’d had great worldly success, didn’t try to keep glory for themselves. They weren’t too prideful to bow before a holy God.

Success did not change them.

But that’s often not the story. It’s all too easy to get wrapped up in the whirlwind ride of earthly success. Before we know it, we’re patting ourselves on the back, rather than bowing at His feet.

How do we make sure our heart stays aligned with His? 

In the same way the wise men did: We prioritize living a life of worship. 

Worship is more than singing songs; it’s a way of life. 

Worship is a continuous, daily decision to live in a way that brings more glory to God than blessings for ourselves. 

Take an honest look at your life. Examine your actions, your thoughts, and your

motives. 

Are you more consumed with living for the things of this life and what’s in it for you right now, or are you focused on living for the eternal?

They were wise men, after all. Let’s make the wise choice, too.

Dear Father God, help me to live a worshipful life. No matter what success I have or not, God, don’t let anything of this world stand between You and me. And God, if anything even begins to threaten our relationship, I ask right now that You would strip it away from me. Do whatever it takes to keep my heart aligned with Yours. I love You Lord. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

Matthew 2:1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2. Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. 3. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6. And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. 7. Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. 8. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. 9. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. 10. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. 11. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. 12. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

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Herod

This is a deep problem and most of us can easily get caught up in it. The need for outward approval and power can make one do incredibly sinful things. Let us keep our eyes focused straight forward on Jesus Christ. Today’s verses are Matthew 2:1-12. Have a blessed day.

When we think about the particular Herod in the Christmas story (there are several Herods in the Bible!), words come to mind like: evil, deceptive, cruel and self-seeking.

Herod’s power was threatened by Jesus, and he was so consumed with his own authority, he decided to do whatever it took to eliminate the threat. Herod’s addiction to worldly power drove him to becoming a mass murderer.

Herod may be an extreme case, but the lesson for us remains: 

The desire to make a name for ourselves can lead us to sin we didn’t know we were capable of committing.

Our opportunities to bring God glory often require us to make decisions that go against the popular choice or the expected path. 

Ambition isn’t always bad, but if our ambition is for our own glory, we are likely to find ourselves entangled in a life of compromise and sin. 

Worldly power does not provide lasting peace or security. 

Herod spent his entire career in power looking over his shoulder, expecting to be overthrown, because he knew he wasn’t leading faithfully from the heart.

He couldn’t escape his own deceit or his own deception.

God is our only guarantee of lasting peace, contentment, and security. No other counterfeit solution will do.

We have to take our sin seriously.

Too often, we take our need for approval too lightly. We think because it’s a problem that a lot of people struggle with, it’s not that serious. 

But sin is sin, and sin is always serious because sin separates us from God. And when sin is left unaddressed, it can escalate quickly. 

We can’t dismiss our sin as something that is “just this once” or “not that big of a deal.” Because if we do, we’re likely to do it again… and each time, it usually progresses in the amount of damage done – to our own lives, to the lives of others, and to the cause of Christ.

Dear Father God, forgive me for the times I seek the approval of others. Every time, even if I gain the approval of others, it doesn’t satisfy me. You are the only One who can satisfy my soul. Keep my eyes fixed on Jesus. Help me to take my sin seriously. Convict me and bring me back in line with You quickly. I love You, Lord. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

Matthew 2:1‭ Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2. Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. 3. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 4. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. 5. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, 6. And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. 7. Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. 8. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. 9. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. 10. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

11. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. 12. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

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The Innkeeper

Do we make Jesus a priority in our lives? Sure, we take some time to pray, read the Bible, and even go to church; but what do we do with the rest of the day? Let us make Jesus the priority of our lives by including Him in every decision, thanking Him for each blessing during the day, etc. Today’s verses are Luke 2:7 and Matthew 6:33. Have a blessed day.

While he somehow has made it into many versions of the Christmas story, there’s not an actual innkeeper recorded in the biblical account of Jesus’ birth. We can only assume Joseph tried to get lodging for them and couldn’t. 

Many of us have probably heard the question, “Have you made room for Jesus?” 

Let’s go one step further today:

What place does Jesus occupy in your heart? Does He have the priority spot, or have you given Him a “manger?”

Let’s be clear. I’m sure your nativity set is beautiful, but a manger is a feeding trough. Not exactly a bed to brag about.

Jesus deserves the priority place in our lives. He deserves the best room we have available. 

But so many times, we give our best to less-deserving things. We dismiss reading our Bibles to scroll Facebook for the 15th time that day. We choose Netflix over

prayer or comfort over serving. 

Do you want your life to explode with joy and purpose? That’s what happens when we give Jesus our best rather than our leftovers.

Matthew 6:33 NIV has been my life verse for the last decade: 

“But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” 

This world has it backwards, friends. They try to tell us to do “all the things” and fit God in with the rest. 

If you attempt “all the things,” insert Stress. Pressure. Chaos. Failure. 

If you seek God over it all, insert Peace. Blessing. Order. Approval. 

Let’s draw some boundaries for ourselves for what we seek. If you make a commitment to live for God alone and you daily revisit and live by that decision, you will do more of what matters and less of what doesn’t.  

Let’s learn from the “innkeeper” and make sure we set ourselves up to always give Jesus the priority spot He deserves in our lives.  

Dear Heavenly Father, I know that I often get caught up with things that aren’t as important as You. But God, I don’t want to live that way anymore. I don’t want to waste my life on an inferior purpose. Speak truth in my life. Reroute me when I get caught up in the trivial. Focus me back on You. I love You. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

Luke 2:7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

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Caesar Augustus

Joseph and Mary had to travel to the land where it was prophesied that Jesus would be born. Can you imagine having to walk to your place of birth today just to be taxed? I’m grateful they did. After all, through each and every circumstance, God is actually in control. Thank God! Today’s verses are Luke 2:1‭-‬3. Have a blessed day.

Imagine if this happened today. How would you feel about having to interrupt your life to make a trip back to the city where you were born so you could register to pay taxes? 

As much as it would inconvenience us, they had even more complications back then. I’m sure many of them had crops and livestock to consider. There weren’t planes or trains. Travel meant walking…or at best, riding on an animal. 

No doubt, this wasn’t a very popular decree. But God was doing something bigger. 

Prophecy in Micah 5:2 indicated the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Because Joseph was from Bethlehem, he and Mary had to travel there for the census.

See the big picture? In God’s perfect timing, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, fulfilling the prophecy. 

God used a decree from a secular ruler to keep His promises to His people.

This isn’t a political statement but a biblical one: No one has more control than God does. 

Despite circumstances, we can trust God. Even if we can’t see the outcome, we can always trust His ways.

But let’s go just a bit beyond merely trusting God today. Hear the testimony of a recovering control freak:

Taking control of my life creates immense pressure I was never meant to bear. Giving God control of my life creates peace I can’t fully understand.

So, I have a habit that I started a few years ago. Each morning, when I get out of bed, I simply lift my hands up. 

I know it may sound silly, but it’s a physical demonstration of how I want the posture of my heart to be – total surrender to God. 

If this is a struggle for you, I’m going to encourage you to begin your day the same way. Just lift your hands up as a silent prayer to show God you’re letting go and releasing full control to Him.

Dear Father God, help us surrender everything we are to You. Help us not to fear the small worries of the world. Help us not to get wrapped up in circumstances. And even when we can’t see Your hand, help us to trust Your heart. We know that, no matter who is giving orders on earth, You are ultimately the One in control. We love You God. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen

Luke 2:1‭. And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3. And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

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Zechariah

Human logic, when it comes face to face with God’s plan, is no comparison. Yet we tend to forget this. Our faith is challenged. It happens to everyone. That’s why they call it faith. Today’s verses are Luke 1:8‭-‬23 and Luke 1:57‭-‬66. Have a blessed day.

Similar to what many of us will encounter at one time or another, Zechariah’s faith was challenged, and he chose to give more weight to his own reasoning than a promise from God.

We must remember:

God’s promises are always more credible than human logic.

We serve a God we can trust with the impossible. We have real limits, but He does not.

Be honest with yourself today: Are there any “facts” about your life that weigh heavier in your mind than what’s possible through God? 

Human logic is a tool, and it’s one that God gave us to use. But when human logic comes face to face with a promise from God, God’s Word must always stand superior over our own knowledge. 

God accomplishes His will however He pleases. 

The way God chooses to work often leaves us dumbfounded, because God’s ways are so much higher than ours. We can’t expect or predict how He will act.

But just because we can’t figure God out doesn’t mean we have to doubt Him. In fact, a God that we could completely figure out wouldn’t be God at all. 

Having a history of doubt doesn’t make you incapable of a faithful future.

When Zechariah doubted, the angel told him he would be unable to speak until the day John was born (Luke 1:20). When John was born, others were confused when Elizabeth said his name would be John because “they had no relatives by that name” (Luke 1:61). 

Zechariah took his chance to change his mind and act in faith. He scribbled on a tablet, “His name is John,” and he was able to speak again.

But not just any words. As soon as he was able to form words, he chose to praise God (Luke 1:63-64 NIV). 

Our God is a God of many chances. You can make the choice right now to begin taking God at His Word, praise Him, and get involved in His work in the world.

Dear Father God, stop me whenever I believe the lie that my way is better than Your way. Fill me with humility so I remember that You don’t owe me an explanation when You require my obedience. Reveal the blinders of my own pride. I know that You have no limits. Help my unbelief, Lord. Use me however You need to for Your glory. I love You. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

Luke 1:8‭ And it came to pass, that while he executed the priest’s office before God in the order of his course, 9. According to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. 10. And the whole multitude of the people were praying without at the time of incense. 11. And there appeared unto him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12. And when Zacharias saw him, he was troubled, and fear fell upon him. 13. But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John. 14. And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at his birth. 15. For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb. 16. And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God. 17. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. 18. And Zacharias said unto the angel, Whereby shall I know this? for I am an old man, and my wife well stricken in years. 19. And the angel answering said unto him, I am Gabriel, that stand in the presence of God; and am sent to speak unto thee, and to shew thee these glad tidings. 20. And, behold, thou shalt be dumb, and not able to speak, until the day that these things shall be performed, because thou believest not my words, which shall be fulfilled in their season. 21. And the people waited for Zacharias, and marvelled that he tarried so long in the temple. 22. And when he came out, he could not speak unto them: and they perceived that he had seen a vision in the temple: for he beckoned unto them, and remained speechless. 23. And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house.

Luke 1:57‭ Now Elisabeth’s full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. 58. And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had shewed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her. 59. And it came to pass, that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child; and they called him Zacharias, after the name of his father. 60. And his mother answered and said, Not so; but he shall be called John. 61. And they said unto her, There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name. 62. And they made signs to his father, how he would have him called. 63. And he asked for a writing table, and wrote, saying, His name is John. And they marvelled all.

64. And his mouth was opened immediately, and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God. 65. And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea. 66. And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, What manner of child shall this be! And the hand of the Lord was with him.

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Elizabeth

What a blessed opportunity. Elizabeth chose the good way, she called Mary the mother of my Lord. She was not envious of Mary’s blessing. We should all try to find ways in our daily lives to find joy in others and encourage them. Don’t miss your blessing. Today’s verses are Luke 1:5‭-‬7, Luke 1:24‭-‬25, and Luke 1:39‭-‬45. Have a blessed day.

Can you imagine Elizabeth’s joy to share with her friends and family that, after all this time, she was finally going to be a mother? And how exciting that her son was the one God had chosen to prepare the people for the coming of the Messiah!

But then her cousin has news that her Son will be even greater than Elizabeth’s. No doubt, the temptation for jealousy was there, and thankfully, she didn’t fall for it.

A few lessons from Elizabeth’s example:

Nothing good comes from allowing bitterness or envy to creep into our lives. 

Mary actually stayed with Elizabeth for three months of her pregnancy (Luke 1:56).

Just imagine what it would have been like to get to feel the kicks of your Savior inside Mary’s womb! Because Elizabeth chose the selfless response, she got that blessing.

Celebration is the only appropriate response to God at work. 

When we see God moving in someone else’s life, instead of wishing that for our own lives, let’s rejoice with them, as Elizabeth did with Mary. 

There is so much greater joy in choosing to praise God for what He’s doing in others instead of selfishly dwelling on what He’s not doing through you.

In the big picture, what’s important is that God’s work is being done, not who is chosen to do it. 

Our choice to celebrate others encourages those around us. 

Can you imagine what it must have done for Mary’s soul when Elizabeth greeted her as “the mother of my Lord” (Luke 1:43)?

I can only imagine Mary’s inner dialogue as she traveled to her cousin, unsure of her future and doubting the events of the last few days. But when Elizabeth greeted her as “the mother of her Lord,” all of those doubts transformed into sweet confirmation from God through from her wise relative.

Encouragement is never wasted words. Let’s look for opportunities for God to use us to affirm the work He is doing in the lives of others. 

Dear Father God, I confess that comparison is all too easy. I could blame social media and technology, but God, I know that my heart is the problem. Help me find joy in every way I see You at work, whether it involves me or not. I don’t want to miss the blessing of simply seeing You at work. I love You Lord Jesus. In Your precious name I pray. Amen.

Luke 1:5‭ There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. 6. And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 7. And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.

Luke 1:24‭ And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, 25. Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.

Luke 1:39‭ And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; 40. And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. 41. And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: 42. And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. 43. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44. For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45. And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.

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Joseph

Joseph chose to believe God and obey Him. Sometimes that’s very difficult. Imagine the talk around town. I’m very grateful for Joseph who stayed when it would have been easier to leave. Today’s verses are Matthew 1:18‭-‬25. Have a blessed day.

Picture how others must have spoken to Joseph when the news of Mary’s pregnancy began to spread:

“She’s lying to you! She slept with someone else, and you’re falling for it.”

“Leave her, and save your own reputation. You can take another wife.”

Thankfully, Joseph listened to the angel of the Lord who visited Him. His faith was strong enough to seek the approval of God alone. 

But let’s go even deeper:

Joseph signed up for a background role for the rest of his life. When we think about the parents of Jesus, most would acknowledge Mary as His mother and that He is God’s Son. Joseph lifts out of the story quickly.

But Joseph worked to provide for Jesus’ needs as a boy. We even see that when Jesus went missing when he was a child, Joseph was worried and frantic trying to find him (Luke 2:48). 

Fulfilling God’s call on our lives should never be about getting credit for what we do, but simply about being obedient to God. If the world never knows of our service, God sees it all and knows it all, and that’s enough.

Really think about this for a few moments today:

Have you ever given up on what God has called you to do because no one seems to care or notice? 

Do you long for the credit and acknowledgement of others? 

Because there is something so much better: 

“…Then, your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” – Matthew 6:4 NIV

Let’s be honest: It’s easier to do what’s right when recognition follows. 

This time of year, there are plenty of opportunities to do “good deeds” for others. But before we pat ourselves on the back for our generosity and sacrifice, let’s make sure we go deeper and check our motivation by asking ourselves the simple question: 

Would I still do this if God were the only one who knew about it? 

God’s rewards trump human applause every single time. Stay the course. God’s reward for humble obedience is guaranteed.

Dear Father God, forgive me when I try to take the credit, or when I think I’m owed affirmation. I know the world’s applause will never satisfy, and I know Your rewards never end. Help me fight the temptation for worldly recognition, and keep my eyes on You alone as my prize. I love You Lord! In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

Matthew 1:18‭ Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. 20. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23. Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. 24. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife:

25. And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

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Mary

Many times in life our struggles, when we look around us, don’t seem fair. Please don’t feel this way. We do not know the struggles of others. Can you imagine for a moment the struggles Mary, mother of Jesus, must have had? Remember that Jesus is with you at all times, thanks to Mary’s obedience! This is a 10 day reading plan. The title is Ten Days of Christmas Truths to Live All Year. Today’s verses are Luke 1:26‭-‬38. Have a blessed day.

Mary:

I know when I think of Mary, my mind usually drifts to the excitement in her assignment from God. But while Mary is spoken of with great respect and admiration today, it wasn’t like that 2,000 years ago.

Most historians speculate Mary was between 15-16 years old when she gave birth to Jesus. Add in the gossip and chatter that emerged since she wasn’t married. In fact, when she told Joseph, her own fiancé didn’t believe her. Before an angel appeared to him, Joseph had decided to quietly break off the engagement (Matthew 1:19). 

Then, after getting through that initial trial, she had to travel while in labor…and give birth in a stable? Ouch.

It feels a little different than the respect and admiration we feel for her today, right?

Here are two of my favorite takeaways from Mary’s life:

1) No matter what others think about you, God does not look at your earthly resume to determine your spiritual worth. 

In that day, being young, poor, and female meant there was nothing about her life that society would deem her “usable” by God. But Mary’s faith was

stronger than doubts in her mind and whispers from the crowd. 

2) If you decide to live boldly for Jesus, it won’t always be easy, but it will always be worth it. 

Ministry assignments often come with more hardships than glamour. If you look at someone else’s platform and only see the perks and benefits, know that for every “spotlight” moment you see, there are countless struggles you missed.

Mary’s final words to the angel of the Lord were simply, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled…” (Luke 1:38 NIV). 

Mary wasn’t focused on the now. Mary was focused on what she knew the Lord would do through her obedience. She chose to praise Him before she knew the outcome. 

In fact, all Mary really understood was that God had chosen her to serve Him and she willingly obeyed. And that was enough. 

Dear Father God, please help me to keep my focus on You, not the “right now.” It’s so easy to get caught up in the approval and opinions of others, but I trust You with my life. Use me however You get the most glory. Give me the same humble submission to You that I see in Mary’s life. I love You! In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

Luke 1:26‭ And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27. To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. 28. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. 29. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. 30. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. 31. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. 32. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: 33. And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. 34. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? 35. And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. 36. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. 37. For with God nothing shall be impossible. 38. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

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We don’t have to wish we could have been there, because He is here with us each and every day. Would we live differently had we had been there? If so, what is stopping us from serving Him today? Today’s verses are Luke 24:13‭-‬35. Have a blessed day.

Cleopas and his friend decided to go home to Emmaus. They had hoped Jesus would usher in the kingdom of God, but when he was crucified, their hopes died with him. What else was there to do but to go home and start over?

As they walked along the road, a stranger approached and asked what they were talking about and why they looked so sad. They stopped dead in their dusty tracks. Really? Are you the only stranger in all of Jerusalem who doesn’t know the things that have happened here?

The stranger asked, “What things?”

The two men answered, “The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth.” As they retold the story, their disappointment was evident. They were sure he was the Messiah, but then he was delivered to the Romans and they condemned and crucified him as if he were a criminal.

There was no category in their minds for a suffering and dying Savior and because of that, they had no expectation for a resurrection. They had read the Scriptures one particular way, with one particular outcome in mind their whole lives. When it didn’t work out the way they thought it would, they were devastated.

The stranger answered, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe!” Not only were the friends restrained from seeing who this stranger was, but they also couldn’t see what the law and prophets had said about him from the very beginning. It had been right in front of them all along, they just didn’t have eyes to see it…yet.

Then in what must’ve been the most amazing Bible lesson ever given, the stranger began with Moses and expounded to them all the Scriptures which spoke about the Messiah. He had to die and he had to rise again to fulfill all the law and prophets.

By now the sun was setting, and they had reached their destination in Emmaus. They begged him to stay for dinner. As they sat around the table, the stranger blessed the food, tore apart the bread, and gave them each a piece.

As they reached for the bread, they immediately recognized him. It was Jesus! Then he vanished from their sight.

When trials come and things happen that don’t align with our expectations, we can lose sight of our faith. The two foolish friends walked to Emmaus in defeat, because they interpreted what had happened through their physical eyes. But when Jesus opened their spiritual eyes, they were able to see him for who he really was.

When our hearts are broken and the road before us seems dark, we must more diligently seek to see him in his Word. It’s then that we discover that he’s been walking beside us all along, we just needed eyes to see him.

Luke 24:13‭ And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs. 14. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. 15. And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them. 16. But their eyes were holden that they should not know him. 17. And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad? 18. And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? 19. And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people: 20. And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him. 21. But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done. 22. Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre; 23. And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive. 24. And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not. 25. Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: 26. Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? 27. And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. 28. And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further. 29. But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them. 30. And it came to pass, as he sat at the table with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them. 31. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. 32. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? 33. And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them, 34. Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon. 35. And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.

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It only took one word for Mary to understand and believe that Jesus Christ is alive and calling us to Him. That word was her name. He is now calling you. Will you answer His call? Today’s verses are Mark 16:6‭-‬7 and Luke 24:1‭-‬12. Have a blessed day.

Sometimes the economy of words the Bible uses to describe miraculous events is staggering. When volumes could be written about these events, we read short phrases that pack a powerful punch like…

“Let there be light.”

“Peace, be still.“

“Lazarus, come out!”

“Mary.”

Sometimes less is more.

On one particular Sunday, one woman heard one word and it changed her life forever.

Mary Magdalene and a few other women rose before light to anoint the body of Jesus at the tomb. They had been grieving all weekend. Friday they witnessed their beloved leader and teacher, Jesus, die on a criminal’s cross.

Now the Sabbath was over and they began to do what women always do; they showed up ready to serve. On their way, they realized they had no way of getting to Jesus because no one was able to roll away the stone. But when they got there, they found the stone had been rolled away and an angel was sitting where Jesus once laid. The angel said,

“Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you” (Mark 16:6-7).

Instead of rejoicing at this good news, the women couldn’t yet comprehend it. The others ran away in fear, but Mary stayed behind and sobbed from grief, exhaustion, and confusion.

Jesus appeared and stood behind her. She didn’t recognize him and thought he was the gardener.

He said to her, “Woman. Why are you weeping?”

“Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus interrupted her grief, with one word.

Mary.”

That was all it took. He said her name with such a familiar intonation that she immediately knew it was him. With her face in her hands she suddenly stopped crying and stood upright, realizing instantly it was Jesus! He was alive and standing right in front of her! Her only response was to run into his arms and never let him go.

The empty tomb and the risen Christ changed absolutely everything for Mary at that moment. She heard her name, she believed, and she worshipped.

Today Jesus is saying your name, too. He invites you to also see him as the risen Savior and to respond like Mary did — in worship. Jesus is real, he’s alive, and he changes everything.

Mark 16:6‭ And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. 7. But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.

Luke 24:1‭ Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. 2. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre. 3. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. 4. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: 5. and as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead? 6. He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, 7. saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again. 8. And they remembered his words, 9. and returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest. 10. It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles. 11. And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not. 12. Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.

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Is it too costly to follow Jesus Christ? Do we remain silent in the land of the free when we should have spoken up to testify about what Christ has done in our lives? Are we afraid of losing social standing when He actually gave His life to redeem us? Makes one think. Today’s verses are John 19:38, John 18:14, 1 Corinthians 15:12‭-‬19, and Luke 23:50‭-‬54. Have a blessed day.

Out of fear, Joseph had been following Jesus from a distance. His position on the Sanhedrin made it complicated for him to get too close. If his views on who Jesus was were made known, he’d be ridiculed, at best, or dismissed, at worst. Joseph was looking for the kingdom of God, and he was pretty sure he’d found it in Jesus of Nazareth.

He also knew the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin saw Jesus as a threat to their power. They watched Jesus like a hawk looking for any opportunity to catch him in his words or see him break one of their many rules. Every time they spoke of him, their agenda became more evident. Caiaphas, the high priest, admitted it would be “expedient” that Jesus should die for the people. 

Being a member of the Sanhedrin had once been Joseph’s greatest honor, but now it was his greatest horror. Fear kept him silent, but when they voted to get rid of Jesus, he alone did not consent. But his resistance was too little too late. 

The Sanhedrin, who were the Supreme Court of the land, were so desperate to get rid of Jesus they proceeded to mock the very system they had pledged their lives to defend. But in the middle of so much corruption and evil, Joseph risked his position and livelihood to give Jesus a proper burial. He took courage and went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus.

Joseph disappeared from the biblical narrative after he rolled the stone across the entrance to his tomb sealing Jesus’ body inside. We don’t know what happened to him after his courageous stand, but that’s probably the way he would’ve wanted it. He wasn’t interested in fanfare. He just wanted to honor Jesus, even when everyone else ran away.   

If your devotion to Christ feels costly, remember Joseph of Arimathea. For whatever costs he incurred to his career, social standing, or bank account to honor Jesus, God amply repaid him. This once-distant admirer’s devotion is forever memorialized, and his donation was only temporary, which is the way God’s economy works. Whatever our faithfulness costs in this life God will repay, if not now, in the life to come. On this side of the cross, we see in full what Joseph only knew in part. Since Christ has been raised and Joseph’s tomb is empty, we too can be saved and counted among the faithful.

John 19:38 And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus.

John 18:14 Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.

1 Corinthians 15:12‭ Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13. But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: 14. And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17. And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.

Luke 23:50‭ And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just: 51. (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God. 52. This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. 53. And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen, and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. 54. And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on.

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This is a hard message but true. We are all responsible for the death of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This is vile. He has been faithful to His Father and to us by the sacrifice of His life. He didn’t have to die, because there was no sin in Him. He did it because He loves each one of us so much as to redeem us. Powerful message. Do you love Him enough to decide to follow Him? Today’s verses are 2 Corinthians 5:21, Luke 23:18-25, and Matthew 27:20‭-‬23. Have a blessed day.

The insurrectionists sat in their cells as they awaited their fate. They, who had once taken pleasure in creating chaos and fear, were now the ones who trembled for what was to come. Instinctively, they kept rubbing their hands and feet before the Roman spikes would be driven through them.

Barabbas heard the jailer unlock the cells of his two murderous friends. He heard the hardened men resist, cry, and curse as they were led out to the Praetorium for sentencing. The key turned in his lock now, and the soldiers lunged into the cell and grabbed him by his chains.

On the balcony, Barabbas saw Pilate and another prisoner they called Jesus, beaten and bloodied, standing across from him.

Barabbas wasn’t a smart man, but he could read people. There was something unnerving about that guy, Jesus. The way he stood, the way he looked at Pilate and the crowd through his nearly swollen-shut eye. Something about it all was very off.

Normally the prisoners pleaded for their lives, but Jesus just stood there seemingly resolved to his death sentence.

Pilate, however, was agitated and nervous. He called out to the crowd, “I find no guilt in him. But you have a custom that I should release one man for you at the Passover. So do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews” (John 18:38b-39)?

But to Barabbas’ surprise, even those religious guys with the long robes started yelling for Pilate to release him. “Give us Barabbas!” they shouted. Then their chanting became even louder and more frantic, “Crucify Jesus! Crucify him!”

Pilate knew Jesus had done nothing Pilate knew Jesus had done nothing deserving of death, and six times he declared there was no fault in him. In his effort to wash his hands of Jesus, he asked the most eternally significant question of all time:

“Then what shall I do with Jesus?”

The world chose to set a murdering rebel named Barabbas free and crucify the King of glory.

Three crosses stood on that lonely hill called Calvary. The center spot belonged to Barabbas where he should’ve hung between his two criminal friends. But Jesus willingly took his place and bore the wrath he deserved. He did that for Barabbas, and he did that for you and me.

So Pilate’s question still remains. What are you going to do with Jesus?

2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

Luke 23:18. And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas: 19. (who for a certain sedition made in the city, and for murder, was cast into prison.) 20. Pilate therefore, willing to release Jesus, spake again to them. 21. But they cried, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. 22. And he said unto them the third time, Why, what evil hath he done? I have found no cause of death in him: I will therefore chastise him, and let him go. 23. And they were instant with loud voices, requiring that he might be crucified. And the voices of them and of the chief priests prevailed. 24. And Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they required. 25. And he released unto them him that for sedition and murder was cast into prison, whom they had desired; but he delivered Jesus to their will.

Matthew 27:20‭ But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. 21. The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. 22. Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified. 23. And the governor said, Why, what evil hath he done? But they cried out the more, saying, Let him be crucified.

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Can you imagine being Peter when the cock crowed three times and Jesus’ eyes met his? Thank God Jesus had told him He would be praying for him. Do you remember the lowest point in your life? Be reassured in the knowledge that Jesus is praying for you too. Today’s verses are Luke 22:31‭-‬33, Luke 22:60‭-‬61, and 1 Peter 5:8. Have a blessed day.

The fact that God used an imperfect screw-up like Simon Peter should give us all hope. He’s a study of mountain top successes and lowest of low failures.

Jesus was with his disciples in the upper room sharing the Passover meal, and his heart was heavy. He knew Judas was about to betray him, and his arrest and crucifixion were imminent. The weight of the world was quite literally on his shoulders. It was then the disciples started to argue.

It wasn’t an argument about theology or who got to sit next to Jesus. Instead, the men who had the greatest privilege of walking with the greatest person were arguing about who among them was the greatest.

Jesus said to Peter, “Simon, Simon…Satan’s been demanding to have you. He wants to crush you and your faith. But don’t worry, I’ve prayed for you, that your faith will not fail, and when you return to me, I want you to strengthen your brothers.”

Return to me? Peter’s face must’ve fallen. How could Jesus say such a thing? Hadn’t he proved his love and devotion? He had left everything to follow Jesus. He adamantly responded, “I’ll never leave you, Lord! I’ll even go to prison and die for you.”

But sadly, after he made these claims, three times Peter denied he knew Jesus. Then as he was still speaking, a rooster crowed, and Peter remembered the signal. Peter turned and made eye contact with Jesus. Can you imagine the look he saw on Jesus’ face? What sorrow! Peter was undone and he went out and wept bitterly.

This was the lowest point in Peter’s whole life. He was so heartbroken over what he had done that if Jesus had not prayed for his faith to endure and for his future usefulness for the kingdom, it might’ve crushed his faith entirely. But did you notice that Satan had to ask permission to afflict Peter? He may be a lion prowling about to see who he may devour, but he’s a lion on a leash.

This should be a great comfort for believers. If you belong to Jesus, you’ll undoubtedly get tossed and scuffed up in the jagged holes of Satan’s sieve, but you won’t fall through. When everything else falls away, you’ll find a Savior who prays for you and holds you fast. That brings us unshakeable faith and unshiftable hope.

Luke 22:31‭ And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32. But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. 33. And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.

Luke 22:60‭ And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. 61. And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.

1 Peter 5:8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

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The new reading plan is titled “Faithful and Vile”, and it is for 6 days. In today’s familiar verses, have you ever considered the times we ourselves gave cause for Jesus to remain on that cross? Each time we knowingly commit a sin, is this not vile? Thank You Jesus for Your great sacrifice and love towards me. I’m so sorry for all the sins I’ve committed. Thank You for Your forgiveness. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen. Today’s verses are Romans 5:10, Hebrews 4:15, Luke 22:48, and Psalm 55:12‭-‬14. Have a blessed day.

The glow from the torches and lanterns snaked along the road from Antonia’s Fortress toward the Garden of Gethsemane. The speckled line of light grew brighter and the marching footsteps grew louder as they drew closer to Jesus and his disciples.

Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, knew the place Jesus liked to go to pray. Under the cover of darkness, he led a small army into the grove of olive trees to arrest Jesus.

They came with torches to apprehend the Light of the World with clubs and swords to carry away the Prince of Peace. Judas’ betrayal was thick with irony and revealed how little he understood who Jesus was. He had been looking for the right moment to hand Jesus over to the Sanhedrin, and now, being possessed by Satan, his time had come.

Judas was only following Jesus for what was in it for him. He wanted money, fame, and power. When Judas realized Jesus’ way of ushering in the kingdom was going to be through men’s hearts and not a government overthrow, he was furious. Since he had wasted three years of his life with Jesus, he might as well get something out of it, even if it was only a few bucks.

Judas’ betrayal reminds us that we can be in close proximity to Jesus and miss him altogether. We can even act as one of his disciples and fool other people, but we can never fool God. Jesus knew Judas would betray him and told him to do it quickly (John 13:27). Yet, even under the gloom of betrayal of the perfect Son of God, there is a beam of light and hope for you and me.

Greg Morse said, “Jesus absorbed the traitor’s heel so that he could heal traitors.” By his grace, he heals all traitors who come to him in repentance at the foot of the cross. It’s there that the wretched and vile place their trust in Jesus, and by his grace, become transformed into the faithful.

Romans 5:10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

Hebrews 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Luke 22:48 But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?

Psalm 55:12‭ For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: 13. But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. 14. We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.

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Finances

God knows us. That is why over 2000 verses in the Bible discuss this very topic! In America, we are very blessed. With blessings sometimes however, comes stumbling blocks. To have a proper attitude towards money, just remember that every good gift comes from God! Today’s verses are Philippians 4:19, Hebrews 13:5, and James 1:17. Have a blessed day.

Did you know that the Bible talks about money, possessions, and accumulating wealth in over 2,000 verses? In fact, 11 of the 39 parables Jesus taught are about that very subject. It’s probably safe to say that God knew that there would be a temptation and tendency to handle money poorly. 

Sadly, we do love and adore money more than we should. We often wish we had more. And we think that a possession or amount of money will bring lasting gratitude, when in reality, it’s just a temporary fix that will soon need to be satisfied once again.

James 1:17 (NIV) tells us that our God is the giver of “every good and perfect gift,” and if we’ll apply this, our mindset will change when it comes to our finances. Let’s consider these tips when it comes to growing our gratitude in this area:

  • Where you live. Whether our home is big or small, most of us have a place to live. Thank God for the gift of a place to live regardless of size or style.
  • What you possess. Many of us have clothes that we don’t wear, and have the ability to stream music or read books on a device that allows us to get any information we can find. But we still want what we don’t have. Take some time to reset your mind and thank God for the provision to have what you own.
  • At your fingertips. If you have the ability to get clean water at the turn of a faucet or buy food from a grocery store, then you are more blessed than most in the world. Thank God for the gift of these conveniences. 

No matter how much money we make, it’s wise to see our income as a gift. Chances are, there are more people in the world who might think the lives we live are amazing. Keeping our lives free from the love of money will help us be more satisfied. We do this by using money, not loving it. 

At the root of our desire to gain more money or possessions is a misunderstanding of what we truly need. Philippians 4:19 NIV says, “And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.” God cares too much about us to give us everything we want, but loves us immensely and will meet our needs.

Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Hebrews 13:5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

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Career

Whatever you prayerfully decide to do in life, thank God for the ability to do it. Even if it’s not what you’ve planned, be grateful to have have a job. Some people don’t have one. Try a different attitude if you really don’t like your job. Do all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ! Today’s verses are Genesis 2:15 and Colossians 3:17. Have a blessed day.

When God created Adam, He gave him a job. Genesis 2:15 (NIV) tells us that God put Adam in the Garden of Eden to “work it and take care of it.” So, work has been around since the beginning of time! 

All of us work at something. Before we can earn a monetary wage, we may work at school or do chores at our house. As we age, we land that first job and find a newfound self-respect as we earn our first paycheck. Into adulthood, we find a role or career that suits us, even if it’s providing full-time care for our families at home. 

No matter what each of our “careers” look like, we have the opportunity to live a life of gratitude for how God has brought us to where we are. Here are some ways to be grateful for the work God has given us to do:

  • Change your lens. Even if you’re unhappy in your current job, be thankful for the ability to be employed (or stay at home with your family), and take time to pray for those who are struggling with unemployment.. 
  • You earn something.  Regardless of your income level, you can thank God for His provision in your life. You can be grateful for what you have, instead of focusing on what you don’t.  
  • List what you love. Every job comes with things you love. It could be actual health or retirement benefits, or it could be a close friend you’ve made while working there. Focusing on the good will strengthen your heart toward gratefulness.

As we think about our work, we may have jobs that can bring more stress than we’d like. It’s also true that some of us may be without work at this time. Regardless, we can implement Colossians 3:17 NIV as a guide in our work life, which says, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” When we adjust our outlook and see the blessing in having a job or a role as a full-time caregiver, our enjoyment of our work life will increase drastically.  

Whether you’re struggling to locate work or content where you are, always keep in mind that you’re working for God first. Do every task, assignment, and duty in His name, and thank Him regularly for the ability to do so.

Genesis 2:15 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.

Colossians 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

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Health

In the four phases of health (physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental), God is in control. Thank You Jesus! While some times are harder than others, we can do our part to eat healthier, stay away from harmful habits, etc. Today’s verses are Psalm 118:24, 139:1-16, and 1 Corinthians 6:19‭-‬20. Have a blessed day.

In Psalm 139, we see a beautiful blueprint of how intimately God knows each of us. He “created our inmost beings,” “knit us together in our mother’s womb,” and “saw our unformed body.” He calls us “fearfully and wonderfully made.” How amazing is our God! 

In this fallen world in which we live, there will be struggles each of us face. Sometimes a health challenge is thrust upon us, while other times, we bring things upon ourselves.  

Regardless of where we are in these areas of our health, when we wake up each day, we have reason to thank God for our spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical health. Let’s consider these habits as we walk in gratitude for our health:

  • Honor your body. Our bodies are God’s temple; meaning, His Spirit dwells inside of us. If we’re able to exercise and eat healthy food, let’s show our gratitude to God for having the ability to be active and choose the right foods for our bodies. 
  • Strengthen your mind. Sadly, mental illness is a real threat and often keeps people imprisoned. Most of us know someone struggling with some version of it and that can be hard to navigate. If we don’t struggle with this, let’s be grateful to God for the ability to help others through their difficult season.
  • Grow spiritually. Reading the Bible, attending church, and gathering with fellow followers of Jesus is forbidden in certain parts of the world, yet many people risk their lives to do it anyway. If you have the freedom to pursue Jesus and share Him with those around you, be thankful for this amazing gift!

In this life, we’ll experience many health issues. Some seasons will be harder than others. No matter what you’re facing in the spiritual, mental, emotional, or physical health realm, start each day with Psalm 118:24 ESV, which says, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!” 

Psalm 118:24 This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 139:1‭ O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. 2. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. 3. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. 4. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. 5. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. 6. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. 7. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? 8. If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. 9. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; 10. Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. 11. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. 12. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. 13. For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. 14. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. 15. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

1 Corinthians 6:19‭ What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? 20. For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

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Relationships

All of us have different roles in life: at work, at home, at school, etc. It’s easy to complain. Let us try to compliment. Below are some tips. Today’s verses are Romans 12:9‭-‬18 and Galatians 6:9. Have a blessed day.

Relating to people is the heartbeat of our lives. We’ll rarely go a day without having interactions with other people in our many roles. We’re daughters, sons, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends, and more. As we think about the different roles we have, let’s consider our gratitude level. Are we thankful for the people God has put in our lives? Do we express our gratefulness to (and for) them?

Maybe you’re in a marriage that’s become stale. It could be that there’s tension with a longtime friend. Or perhaps, you feel there’s too much stress between you and your child. Regardless if there’s strain or not, we have clear instructions from Romans 12 about how to treat others: be devoted to each other, honor each other, practice hospitality, and live at peace with each other, to name a few. As we learn how to be grateful for the people in our lives, here are some extra tips to help us: 

  • Replace complaints with compliments. This can be a challenge, can’t it? Most of us are prone to see the things that frustrate us instead of the things that bless us. Let’s choose to see the good! 
  • Serve someone. There’s someone in your life who’s load is heavier than yours. Show your gratitude by doing something that would lighten their burden.
  • Write it down. Write down something you’re grateful for about the people in your life. Write it on a note and leave it for them to find, or have an ongoing list and give it to them when you reach 50 or 100 things. Imagine the look on their faces!
  • Just say “thanks.” When we have eyes to see the gifts and blessings in our lives, we’ll see there’s much to be thankful for. So, daily thank your spouse, your child, your closest friend, or someone else for one thing.

It’s been said that we are like the people we spend the most time with. Who we allow in our personal inner circles affects our gratitude quotient. Be mindful of who you spend time with. One of the more challenging things in our relationships is that we may be willing to change, but other people may not. Sometimes that means relational adjustments are necessary. 

No matter who’s in our lives, we can’t neglect our role in growing our gratitude. As Galatians 6:9 NIV says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” As we express our thankfulness for—and to—the people in our lives, we’ll be overwhelmed by how it changes us, and in the process, we’ll get to watch it impact them. 

Romans 12:9‭ Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11. Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12. Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; 13. Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. 14. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. 17. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

Galatians 6:9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

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The new reading plan is How To Be Grateful For Your Life. It ta 5 day plan. I love gratitude for many reasons. I am most grateful for Jesus Christ. Today’s verses are Proverbs 3:5‭-‬6, 1 Thessalonians 5:18, and Hebrews 11:1. Have a blessed day.

The secret of happiness is to count your blessings while others are adding up their trouble. — William Penn

As we read God’s Word, we can see the theme of being thankful. There are hundreds of verses telling us to give thanks or offer praise to God. Outside of the Bible, you’ll find lots of articles and research stating the benefits that come with being a grateful person. People who are thankful are known to be depressed less, get better grades in school, sleep better, stay healthy, have deeper friendships, and have a brighter outlook on life. Basically, gratitude is good for you! 

In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” Living as grateful people is God’s will for our lives. God knew before the beginning of time how positively gratitude would affect us—long before an article or book was written about the topic. So, whether your life is moving along smoothly or it feels like you’re walking in quicksand, consider adding these daily habits to your life: 

  • Create new pathways. Dr. Caroline Leaf, cognitive neuroscientist and author, said, “As you think, you change the structure of your brain.” This isn’t easy. But, we have a choice in what we think about, so let’s allow thoughts of gratefulness to fill our minds.
  • Choose five things. Make a daily habit to say or write five things you’re thankful for. You can do it any time of the day—morning or night!
  • Set a gratitude alarm. Choose different times in the day. When the alarm goes off, ask God to bring to mind the blessings and gifts in your life and thank Him for them. 
  • Tell someone. Every day, talk to someone about what you’re thankful for. Maybe it’s their friendship, the sunrise, a powerful moment with God, or an unexpected blessing you received. Saying it makes it more real.

It’s vital that we make our gratitude habitual so that when life’s storms come upon us, we know how to navigate the rough waters. And part of this is trusting God and even choosing to be grateful when we don’t understand the world around us. 

As we build this gratitude muscle, it won’t be something we have to think about—it’ll become as natural as breathing.

Proverbs 3:5‭ Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Hebrews 11:1. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

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Grace

This video is 4:39. God is so good to us. He blessed when we don’t deserve it. Praise ye the Lord! Today’s verses are Isaiah 30:18‭-‬19, John 1:11‭-‬14, Ephesians 2:8‭-‬10, and James 4:6. Have a blessed day.

https://youtu.be/ABPVVw_aw44

What does it mean for God to be gracious? Let’s take a look at the Hebrew word for grace, khen. 

One meaning of khen is “delightful or favorable.” Things or people that naturally attract delight or favor (like jewelry or kindness) can be said to have khen, but something unattractive or someone undeserving can also receive khen. For example, when someone is in debt to another and they ask for khen, they are asking for favor in spite of what they deserve. 

Extraordinary acts of khen like these require a generous spirit. And no one does this better than God himself. He shows extreme khen over and over again. In fact, this characteristic of God is so reliable that over forty times in the book of Psalms, people cry out for God’s khen when they are sick, in danger, or in exile. And biblical prophets, like Isaiah, also talk about God’s khen as they declare that God will one day show his grace by delivering all creation from death and ruin. 

When we turn to the authors of the New Testament, they describe God’s khen with

When we turn to the authors of the New Testament, they describe God’s khen with the Greek word kharis, which means “gracious gift.” When we are introduced to Jesus in the John’s Gospel, we are told that Jesus is God’s glorious kharis become human. God knew that humanity’s destructive choices would continue to spiral into chaos, so Jesus died and rose again to give humans delight and favor instead of death and judgment. And just like any gift, all one has to do is receive it. When people humbly own their failures and ask God for grace, his response is consistent, generous, and gracious.


Reflect:

1. How do the following passages portray God’s grace?

2. How are we called to respond to God’s gracious character?

Isaiah 30:18‭. And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him. 19. For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more: he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee.

John 1:11‭ He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13. Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 14. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

Ephesians 2:8‭ For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9. Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

James 4:6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

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Testify

This is the last day of this reading plan. I pray it has brought you closer to God with a better understanding of the importance of repentance. Today’s verses are Luke 5:27-32. Have a blessed day.

God sent His only son Jesus to Earth for a primary purpose: to give us new life. In Luke 5:27-32, Jesus rewords His mission this way: “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repent.” Christ came so sinners like you and I could have new life through our repentance and His forgiveness. Our lives are forever changed when we repent and seek His forgiveness. Christ’s mission is also our mission. We are called to not minister to the righteous, but rather to those who are lost and in need of forgiveness. If you have sincerely repented of your sins and God has forgiven you of those sins, then you have a story to tell to those who need repentance. Your life change can create the same change in the life of another. Who do you know that needs to repent and receive God’s forgiveness? How can your story of God’s forgiveness help someone else come to repentance?

Luke 5:27‭ And after these things he went forth, and saw a publican, named Levi, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he said unto him, Follow me. 28. And he left all, rose up, and followed him. 29. And Levi made him a great feast in his own house: and there was a great company of publicans and of others that sat down with them. 30. But their scribes and Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, Why do ye eat and drink with publicans and sinners? 31. And Jesus answering said unto them, They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick. 32. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

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Lost and Found

Sin is evil. It separates us from God. It keeps us lost, depressed, afraid, angry, and more. Oh if we would only repent and become found! Today’s verses are 1 Peter 2:11‭-‬25. Have a blessed day.

Have you ever gotten lost? It can be one of the most frustrating feelings to not know where you are going. In fact, in some situations it can be terrifying. In verse 25, Peter compares us to sheep in that when we were living in sin, we were astray and lost. We didn’t know where to go, but after repenting of our sins and receiving God’s forgiveness we have returned to the flock that is led by God our shepherd. Where do you keep going astray? Maybe you are striving to stay on God’s path, but keep getting sidetracked onto the secondary roads by some sin in your life. Confess that sin to God. Repent of it today and ask God to help you in fully overcoming it.

1 Peter 2:11‭ Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 12. Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. 13 Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14. Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. 15. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: 16. As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. 17. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king. 18. Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. 19. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. 20. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. 21. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22. Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23. Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24. Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. 25. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

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To be forgiven is an amazing state. To forgive is a very free state. To enjoy both, come to our Lord Jesus and bare your soul to Him. He loves you and will forgive you. Today’s verses are 1 John 1:5‭-‬10. Have a blessed day.

Repentance results in forgiveness. We repent and God forgives. Repentance and forgiveness are not difficult concepts. Repentance is our action and forgiveness is God’s reaction to us out of His perfect love for us. While the process is simple, the power of God’s forgiveness is unfathomable. God’s forgiveness eliminates all darkness in our lives and brings us into the light no matter what sins we have committed. God’s forgiveness covers ALL sins including yours. How has the redemptive power of God’s forgiveness changed and impacted your life?

Forgiveness never meant as much to me as it did when I was finally able to forgive the man who stabbed me in my back and almost took my life. It was at that time I realized that my forgiveness is for me! I was once again free and no longer a prisoner of fear. Thank You Lord Jesus for the freedom only You can provide. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

1 John 1:5‭ This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 7. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. 8. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

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David’s Repentance

When you hear the word repent, what does it mean to you? Do we give as much respect to it as we should? Psalm 51 is when Nathan confronts David about his deadly sin. Have a blessed day.

Psalm 51 is David’s cry to God for repentance for the pattern of sin he engaged in following his transgression with Bathsheba. You can almost picture David on his knees crying out to God at the top of his lungs in asking Him to wash away his sins. This Psalm also offers us a picture of what repentance should look like in our lives. First, David acknowledges his sin. Next, he asks for forgiveness. Then, he asks God to renew him. Finally, he asks God to help him use his sin to teach those who are engaged in sin and are in need of repentance. What does repentance in your life look like? How could following David’s example of repentance strengthen your relationship with God?

Psalm 51:1‭ Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.

2. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.

3. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.

4. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.

5. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.

6. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

7. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

8. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice.

9. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.

10. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

11. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.

12. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit.

13. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

14. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation: and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness.

15. O Lord, open thou my lips; and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

16. For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.

17. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.

18. Do good in thy good pleasure unto Zion: build thou the walls of Jerusalem.

19. Then shalt thou be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering: then shall they offer bullocks upon thine altar.

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The Bible Brings Hope

When we make time to meditate on God’s Word, He can work miracles in our lives. Today’s verses are John 14:6, Psalm 55:22, John 5:24, and Romans 15:4. Have a blessed day.

Ghana* was a devout Muslim until she discovered the life-transforming power of Jesus in 2016. But after converting to Christianity, she was abandoned, shunned, and ostracized by her community and family. At one point, her children were taken away from her and sent to a different country.

And although Ghana refused to renounce Jesus, she found herself without a solid support system to help her grow closer in her faith. Lonely and depressed, she even considered committing suicide. But eventually she met someone who downloaded YouVersion onto her phone.

At first Ghana wasn’t interested, but later she began reading the Verse of the Day at dawn so that she could meditate on its meaning and use it as a guide for her day. And over time, something unexpected happened… 

“The verses became alive and dwelt inside of me. They taught me how to deal with people in healthy ways, and they helped me recover from my depression. Even though I was abandoned, I found comfort any time I read it. Anytime I read the Verse of the Day, in some special way it lifts me up and gives me hope. It’s as if God is always directly speaking to me through the verses.”

Ghana now looks for opportunities to share the Verse of the Day everywhere she goes. She posts verses online to encourage her community, and talks about Scripture at work with her coworkers and clients. 

Her story is just one example of what God’s Word can do in all of us. Situations may shift, emotions may fluctuate, people may disappoint or abandon us—but the Word of God endures forever. And because of that, we can experience peace and hope that transcends our circumstances. Because when we allow God’s Word into our hearts, it will remain there.  

Today, ask God to bring His Word to life in you by praying this prayer: 

God, You made me and You know me. You alone have the power to transform my life. So today I am asking You to align my life with Your Word. No matter what I face, give me the boldness to remain true to Your Word so that I can proclaim Your truth and love to the people You place in my life. Make the roots of my faith grow down deep as I draw close to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

*Name has been changed to protect the identity of the person.

John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Psalm 55:22 Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.

John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

Romans 15:4 For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

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The Blessing

Jesus began His teachings with praying and as He left this world to receive His glory, He blessed and prayed. What a powerful testimony and example to live by. Today’s verses: Luke 24:50‭-‬51 and 1 Thessalonians 2:8. Have a blessed day.

What was this blessing that Jesus gave to these disciples as He ascended to heaven? Whatever He said, it caused the disciples to stop and worship Him. Then they returned to Jerusalem with great joy—not just joy, but great joy! How could these disciples, who had been through so much with Him, leave that place full of joy, even after Jesus had vanished to heaven?

The answer if simple: Jesus had all authority, and now it was going to be bestowed on them. In a short time they would engage the most powerful force in the universe—Spirit-empowered prayer. How could they not be filled with unspeakable joy?

Those of us in the teaching profession recognize that there are many ingredients that make an effective teacher. Nonetheless, no matter how many pedagogical theories or strategies emerge, the greatest and most effective method that teachers identify is example, example, and example. Jesus’s life was the supreme example of prayer. He began His ministry in prayer at His baptism. He prayed about all things. Now, Jesus was ending His time on the earth in prayer as He ascended to the Father.

My wife’s brother, Paul, lived to serve others, in particular at-risk boys. He spent a lifetime giving himself to young men. At Paul’s funeral my wife told a story about Paul’s grandson. During the last years of Paul’s life he watched his little grandson a few days a week. One of Paul’s habits was to bring a cool bottle of water out to the trash collectors when they came. A few days after Paul’s death, his grandson was in his own home with his mom. The garbage truck could be heard coming down the street. Paul’s grandson ran to his mom and insisted they get some bottles of water from the refrigerator to take out to the trash collectors. Oh, the power of example. A living example imparts its very life to others (1 Thessalonians 2:8). Jesus’s life was a living example of prayer.

Because we have many different gifts and unique parts to play in Christ’s church, we will leave a variety of legacies. However, there is clearly one great legacy open to all of us. I believe it is one to which we all should aspire. Let this be our prayer, Lord: “May the legacy of our lives be answered prayer, as was Yours.”

Luke 24:50‭. And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. 51. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.

1 Thessalonians 2:8. So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.

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In order for Christ Jesus to bear our sins and redeem us, our Father God had to turn away from His Son at that time. That is the greatest price ever paid so that we may receive the gift of salvation freely. Today’s verses are Mark 15:34 and Proverbs 16:4. Have a blessed day.

“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Have you ever felt forsaken by the Lord? Abandoned? It is a lonely feeling to find yourself in the middle of a crisis or situation you can’t explain or do anything about. Can you trust Him with all the challenging events of life and live in faith? Even in the midst of suffering and pain? We must come to the conclusion and understanding that the Lord uses all things to accomplish His purposes in our lives. The Lord even uses evil things that come from the evil one (Proverbs 16:4).

Jesus claimed God as His Father, yet He lamented that the Father was withdrawing His love and care for Him. The Father abandoned Christ while Christ bore our sins on the cross. It was the greatest price that could be paid for our sin, Christ’s suffering. Though forsaken, Christ remained faithful to His mission—redemption for those who would choose salvation through Him.

I know a couple who are the epitome of godly people—they mentor and pour their lives into others like few Christians I have ever known. Their youngest daughter was the worship leader at the Christian school where I was headmaster. She was a beautiful, talented, zealous, anointed Christian girl. The first time I saw her was in a church service when she was twelve years old and giving words of encouragement to others. After she graduated from our school, she attended a Christian college to study nursing. Shortly after her first semester of college, she was tragically killed in a car accident. Many years before the same family had lost its only son in a tragic accident and later had a stillborn child. If ever people had cause to become disillusioned and lose their faith, this couple did. Yet they are full of the Spirit of our Lord, humble, peaceable, and joyous.

There will be times in life when you feel abandoned. The burden may seem more than is humanly possible to bear. We want to ask why these events happen, but why? isn’t the right question. The right question is, will you worship and follow God even if He does not meet your expectations? Will you follow Him even when you feel forsaken? Will you still pray?

Mark 15:34. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?

Proverbs 16:4. The LORD hath made all things for himself: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil.

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Pray in the Spirit for the strength to be able to pray with endurance Heb. 12:1. Try it! Today’s verses are Matthew 26:36 and Matthew 26:38‭-‬44. Have a blessed day.

How much time in prayer is sufficient? Fifteen minutes? Thirty minutes? An hour? Jesus was distressed and troubled, and He needed the disciples to watch with Him in prayer. He had modeled prayer, and now it was time for them to support Him in prayer. But they couldn’t even pray one hour. Is prayer this tough for you?

When we pray in the flesh, we are like couch potatoes trying to run a marathon—we are winded and simply do not have what it takes to finish. When we pray, we must pray in the Spirit. It is the Spirit who provides the strength and the energy to pray. The Spirit, pneuma in the Greek, is more properly termed “breath” or “wind” (Acts 2:2). Just like the couch potato trying to run, our flesh has no strength and no breath, but the powerful wind of the Holy Spirit fills us and gives us the strength and breath we need to pray. By praying in the Spirit, we can finish the marathon of life without running out of breath. We can persevere (Ephesians 6:18). We can develop the discipline of prayer. We can “run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1).

One of the lessons about prayer our Lord repeatedly taught is we must persevere. This may be the greatest stumbling block to the prayer life of most Christians. Answers to prayers don’t come as quickly as we anticipate.

Let’s be completely honest with ourselves here—patience is not exactly something we practice a great deal in our nanosecond -response – time culture. My definition of lust is “I want it, and I want it now!” If there is a sure prescription for failure in prayer, it is the attitude of “I want my answer, and I want it now.” Our love of ease, impatience, and spiritual laziness don’t contribute to persevering prayer.

But why doesn’t God just go ahead and answer our prayers? That’s a great question. God has an end game with us—an eternal, essential purpose. That purpose is oneness with Him and being conformed into His image. Above all things, including answering our prayers, He wants to draw us deeply into Him. Persisting in unanswered prayer is the training ground for increased faith. It’s the place where God extends grace to us, and it is the perfect soil for character building. Unanswered prayer leaves us vulnerable before the Lord, the ideal place for surrender.

Matthew 26:36. Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.

Matthew 26:38‭. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. 39. And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. 40. And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? 41. Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. 42. He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. 43. And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. 44. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.

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Satan is the father of disunity amongst God’s people, and we are to fight to keep God’s people unified spiritually. Today’s verses are more this, but John 17:1‭-‬26 and 2 Corinthians 10:4‭-‬5 are declared. Have a blessed day.

We need to learn this lesson—we experience the Lord three ways: through our personal experience, through the Word and prayer, and through our fellowship with others in our community. In all three of these realms Satan is at war to destroy God’s essential purpose: unity.

Satan lies to us about our personal relationship with Christ. He constantly attacks the credibility of God’s Word and diverts our attention away from prayer. Satan does this because he knows it is through the Word and prayer that we mature as Christians and become equipped to battle against him. And the enemy schemes to create division in our fellowship with other believers because he understands that division will discredit the love of Christ. Disunity in the body of Christ will cause people to doubt if Jesus really is who He said He is, the Son of God. Much of Jesus’s prayer in John 17 addresses His plea to the Father for the unity of believers with them (the Father and Son) and with one another (vv. 11, 21-23).

The Word of God reveals that there is a furious spiritual battle taking place right now in the heavens and the unseen realms (Ephesians 6:12). Most of us are unaware of this war. And if we are aware, there is an additional rebutting that takes place with many Christians when it comes to spiritual warfare. The thought of battling demons, evil spirits, or Satan himself is overwhelming and frightening.

The truth is that we are to war against Satan. God has called us to use the weapons of our warfare to defeat the enemy and crush him underfoot (Romans 8:37-39; 16:20; 1 John 2:13-14). Everyday people such as you and me are called to put on the armor of light and cast aside the works of darkness (Romans 13:12). We are called to bring God’s kingdom of heaven to earth (Matthew 6:10).

Through prayer and the Word of God we are able to discern the strongholds of the enemy and tear down his defenses (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). The powers of darkness will be broken in our lives and the lives of others as we learn to war in the spirit. We will be God’s warriors, fully equipped to see the forces of evil destroyed and His kingdom and unity established in our midst. Christ’s prayer in John 17 will be realized in our lives.

John 17:1‭. These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:

2. As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.

3. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.

4. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.

5. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

6. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.

7. Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.

8. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.

9. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.

10. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.

11. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

12. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.

13. And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.

14. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

15. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.

16. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

17. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

18. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.

19. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

20. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

21. That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

22. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

23. I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

24. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.

25. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.

26. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

2 Corinthians 10:4‭ (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5. Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

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Remembering back to the days when trust was the norm, not the rarity, of child-like faith; this is all that is necessary to please God. Can we do it? I pray so! Matthew 19:13‭-‬15 and John 14:13. Have a blessed day.

There is no second-guessing about what we must be like to enter the kingdom of heaven. There is no test to pass to see if we have reached the right score on the righteousness scale. There is no spiritual timepiece to measure the minimum requirement for prayer and Bible study. There is only one required standard to enter the kingdom of heaven: childlike faith in Christ as Savior.

Little children are harmless and inoffensive. They are meek, free from malice, and without pride. Little children do not have ambitious ideas or desires for superiority. Where do you go to school? How much money does your parent make? These are questions that wouldn’t cross a child’s mind.

Thursday of every week is my day to take my four-year old grandson, Isaac, to a popular chicken place with a great indoor play area. It never fails—within a few minutes of playing, he has made friends with other little kids, and they are transformed into lifelong buds. Nearly every time one of the kids he is playing with leaves or we go, it is like he is having his best friend ripped out of his life. Little children don’t judge, size up, scrutinize, evaluate, or compare. Little kids only know friends, not acquaintances, colleagues, or strangers—only friends. They just play well with others. Do you play well with others?

The question you must ask yourself is: Do I really trust my heavenly Father the way a little child trusts? Your prayers will reveal your belief system when it comes to trust in the Father. You see, I really do believe my heavenly Father is loving and faithful and has my best interests at heart. I believe He hears my prayers (John 14:13). I believe God the Father looks at me as one of His little children. He calls me up close to Him and says, “Tell Me what is on your heart, son.” He says, “Get quiet and listen to what I say to you.” So simple, so conversational, so unprofessional, so real. That’s the way He teaches us to pray. He desires the honest simplicity of praying like a little child, not praying to be heard by others or attempting to impress God. Can you imagine trying to impress God with your prayers? What a waste of time.

In coming to our Lord in prayer with the spirit of childlikeness, we will realize the Fatherhood of God in our lives.

Matthew 19:13‭. Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. 14. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. 15. And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.

John 14:13. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

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The transforming miracles of God occur in our every day lives. Answered prayers for others and ourselves, safe travels, waking up, etc. Look with your spiritual eyes, and you will see so much more. Today’s verses are Luke 9:28‭-‬29 and 2 Corinthians 3:18. Have a blessed day.

Too often we believe that we must answer the call to a particular service or put forth some heroic act to elicit the miraculous. I believe what the transfiguration of Christ reveals to us is that as we pray and seek God, we are changed and the miracles of God will slip into our ordinary life (2 Corinthians 3:18).

What qualifies as miraculous in our everyday mundane lives? It is one thing for us to encounter a great injustice and stay true to God as others see our godly character.

But what about praying for a coworker’s salvation? What about the wife who works and takes care of a home and prays for the ability to keep it all together? Are answers to prayer in these situations any less than miraculous? No, they are not.

Flashes of lightning, visions, dreams, revelations, and what we typically view as miraculous aren’t daily occurrences for most of us. I believe the Lord does want us to have huge answers to prayer every day and see miracles. That is what I am contending for in my prayer life. Truthfully I am not there. But I am a holding on, and I am putting into proper perspective the miraculous events in my daily life that aren’t lightning bolts from heaven.

When we go to work every day, we are plunged into toil and worldly things. The everyday sameness or lack of spirituality at work could cause us to miss what the Lord is doing. The same is true for those who care for children and the home or an elderly parent. But there is a great breakthrough that the Holy Spirit has planned for us. He wants us to experience His miraculous power in the dailiness of life. Prayer is the key to this experience. We can indeed live in an attitude of prayer the entire day, in every conversation and through every task we undertake. And it is through this that the mundane is truly transformed into the miraculous.

But the transformation of prayer can go much deeper. As we face the world every day, we face temptations, and this is where we need the Lord to purify us. Prayer is the vehicle that frees us from the bondage of flesh. Prayer is our road to transformation. “As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning” (Luke 9:29, NIV).

Luke 9:28‭. And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. 29. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering.

2 Corinthians 3:18. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.

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Be Still. Be Quiet.

This is decision time. Turn off every electronic device you own. Sit down. Be quiet and listen. Now you are ready for “great joy, clarity, and purity to our lives.” Today’s verses: Matthew 14:23 and Romans 12:1‭-‬2. Have a blessed day.

Silence is a stranger to most of us. To discover silence, we have to be like Jesus and go off to find a place where we can turn off the cell phone and the TV, a place with no bustling businesses or chattering people to deal with. The Lord calls us to this silence as much as He calls us to be with one another. What should our times of silence and being alone before the Lord consist of? This is where the prayer life of Jesus is such a profound example for us. Jesus shows us that these times of intimacy must first center on being quiet and listening.

We cannot put God in a box and make our relationship with Him a formula. But if we are going to follow the example of Jesus, we must get alone with God and silence ourselves. The silence that He invites us into is a silence of listening, a respectful stillness before our God. This kind of silence brings great joy, clarity, and purity to our lives.

Finding stillness may be one of the greatest challenges in our relationships with Christ and our prayer lives. There are two great hindrances we face every day in our search for stillness: our busy lifestyles and the constant noise of our culture. Are you busy? Where are you on the Facebook addiction scale? Enough said.

As simple as it may seem, we find stillness by making a choice, deciding to sit down away from all the clamor of our life and technology. God bestowed on us free will; it is not an illusion. We are not victims of our culture. We have control over the way we respond to everything that comes our way.

The science of neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to reorganize itself by developing new neural connections) makes it very clear that when we make a decision, we change the matter in our brain. It is the scientific confirmation of God’s Word: “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23: 7). Every time we steal away with the Lord in quiet retreat, we transform and renew our minds and conform to the communication pathways of the kingdom (Romans 12: 1-2). And it is in the stillness that our zeal for the Lord and His ways is given the chance to grow.

Matthew 14:23. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.

Romans 12:1‭. I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

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Pray This Way

Today they are going to discuss the Lord’s Prayer. It is given during Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Verses for today: Matthew 6:9-13, Luke 11:1-4, and 2 Peter 2:9. Have a blessed day.

Of all the things the disciples could have asked of Him, they asked to be taught how to pray. As you read Jesus’s words of how to pray, ask the Holy Spirit for fresh revelation, for how you can practically respond to His instruction.

Worship is the beginning and end of prayer. “Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name, for Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” (Matthew 6: 9, 13, MEV) Jesus taught the disciples and us that in prayer we are to pay homage to the reality that this is His kingdom. God has control over everything, and He can and will answer our prayers. There is nothing impossible with God (Luke 1:37).

“Your kingdom come; Your will be done” (Matthew 6:10). He desires His kingdom to come. It is His will, His purpose. He has set before us a vision of a renewed community and people in unity. Jesus’s prayer reminds us that extending God’s kingdom is included in our decision to follow Him.

“Give us this day our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11) Can we live in this kind of simplicity and trust, like a little child? Can we be grateful for the food, how little or much, set before us today? This is one place we repeatedly allow our peace and contentment to be stolen. We compare our provision to others.

“Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” (Matt 6:12). To be forgiven, you must forgive. You must live in forgiveness daily toward everyone: your spouse, friends, enemies, children, and most of all yourself. There is great freedom in forgiveness; it is the key to the kingdom—confessing our sins, seeking forgiveness, and forgiving others.

Christ instructs us to pray a very honest prayer, “Lead us not into temptation” (Matthew 6:13). As shocking as the thought may be, the Lord tests us (Psalm 139:23-24; Jeremiah 17:10; 1 Peter 1:6-9). The Lord desires to produce pure gold out of our lives. Also, far too many of us are not in a position to face the temptations of sin and attacks of the enemy when they come. For our protection the Lord is able to chain up the roaring lion that seeks to tempt and destroy us (2 Peter 2:9).

Do you count yourself among those who need Christ to teach them to pray? I do. So let us come together and learn from the master teacher on prayer. Let’s pray for God’s purposes, provision, pardon, and protection.

Matthew 6:9‭. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10. Thy kingdom come. 10.Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11.Give us this day our daily bread. 12. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Luke 11:1‭. And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. 2. And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. 3. Give us day by day our daily bread. 4. And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

2 Peter 2:9. The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:

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The Secret Place

It is important to have a place we can go to be alone with our Father God to pray. Today’s verses: Mark 1:35‭ and Matthew 11:28‭-30. Have a blessed day.

Where do you pray? Is where you pray really that important? Evidentially it is; Jesus specifically mentioned where we should and shouldn’t pray.

Where not to pray: in a location chosen so others can see you (Matthew 6:5).

Where to pray: in private in your room (Matthew 6:6).

While Jesus was in Capernaum, Mark indicated that Simon and his companions went to look for Jesus. When they found Him, they exclaimed, “Everyone is searching for You” (Mark 1:37, MEV). Jesus often went away in seclusion to pray, and everyone was trying to find Him. Obviously He didn’t stay close, and He wasn’t easy to find.

We see this pattern of the Lord’s early-morning prayer beginning at the start of His ministry. He repeatedly departed to a solitary place, either in the hills, out of town, or in a remote garden. Here He showed us the power of prayer in a secret place.

Here’s the deal. If you don’t have a familiar place, a quiet place away from others, you probably don’t have a habit of praying often. It is the great secret to prayer—you must pray in secret.

We live in turbulent and violent times. Uncertainty seems to loom around every corner. Raising children, working, challenges in relationships, and our quest for unity in our Christian fellowship are all under assault from the world. Yet the Lord has made provision for us in this tempest. God’s Word provides a way for us. He entreats us to enter the refuge where His watchfulness leads us to a place of safety (Matthew 11:28).

The marvelous truth about the secret place is that it is not so secret. And we all are eligible for entrance. It requires but two things from us to enter: time and a love for Jesus. Put these two together, and we are given an opportunity to gain understanding into the nature of God (John 14:21).

For a moment right now take a deep breath and meditate on the enormity of what Jesus speaks to us. “If a man loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our home with him” (John 14:23, MEV). Did you see and feel that word We? The eternal God, three in one, will meet us in the secret place.

Mark 1:35‭. And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. 36. And Simon and they that were with him followed after him. 37. And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for thee.

Matthew 11:28‭. Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

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This new reading plan, 10 DAYS THROUGH THE PRAYERS OF JESUS, is a deeper study of effectual prayer. Today’s verses: Luke 3:21‭-‬22, Isaiah 50:4, and Psalm 46:10. Have a blessed day.

It didn’t matter if the issue at hand was profound or an everyday incident, Jesus began all things with prayer. While Jesus was being baptized, He prayed (Luke 3:21-22). Before setting out to preach and cast out demons throughout Galilee, He rose a great while before sunrise to pray (Mark 1:35-39). When the people rolled the stone away from Lazarus’s tomb, Jesus prayed for all to hear before raising him from the dead (John11: 4-44). And as He sat at a table for dinner with two disciples on the road to Emmaus, He simply prayed (Luke 24:30-31). Jesus’s example leads us to pray before taking that new job, before a proposal of marriage, and on the way to work every morning.

Beginning all things in prayer is a foundational discipline of the Christian life. The times of praying in stillness and solitude are when God reaches into our minds, emotions, and wills—the deepest minds, emotions, and wills—the deepest places of our souls. In the quietness of prayer we free ourselves from the constant distractions of the world and the nagging whispers of our past, dysfunctions, and sins. Beginning all things in prayer during the day and having close and continual fellowship in prayer with God will leave its mark on us. As we follow our Lord by beginning everything in prayer, we position ourselves to receive the glorious benefits that flow from this way of living. First and foremost, prayer is our path to intimacy with God. There is no other way to deeply know God apart from the stillness of prayer (Psalm 46:10).

One of the sweetest and most powerful benefits of beginning all things in prayer is that our “spiritual ears” will be trained to recognize His voice. We learn to quiet our thoughts, our educational training, and our persuasions. We become deaf to anything except His voice and will. By following Christ’s example and beginning all things in prayer, we are able to discern His voice above the cacophony of the world and the murmurs of the enemy. Learning to recognize His voice is fundamental preparation for hearing the Lord through the Word.

Beginning all things with prayer leads to right hearing. Right hearing produces right speaking. This is how we learn to speak words of life to people, to speak the language of the kingdom, and to call people to their destiny in Christ (Isaiah 50:4).

Luke 3:21‭. Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, 22. And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.

Isaiah 50:4. The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.

Psalm 46:10. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

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As this reading plan comes to the finish line, I am grateful for many things. Salvation, life, food, indoor plumbing, and on and on. Today’s verses: Psalm 103:2-5, Psalm 145:1‭-3, Psalm 119:68, and Psalm 100:5. Have a blessed day.

Just like good habits, a grateful mindset will make a huge impact on your personal satisfaction with life. A mindset of gratitude increases mental strength and is registered in the brain as optimism.  Thoughts are such powerful triggers and when repeated frequently, new neural pathways are formed—like well-worn highways in your brain. This happens with any type of repetitive thinking but can be harnessed for positivity with a regular gratitude practice. Frequent thoughts of gratitude trains the brain to choose positive thoughts.

Consistency is the key to changing your mindset and, therefore, your life. Switching your internal chatter to thoughts of gratitude and appreciation doesn’t just happen overnight.  Consider adding new action steps to cultivate a grateful mindset. Here are some suggestions:

•  Start a gratefulness journal. Record personal gratitude daily.

•  Open your eyes to see “all that which is praiseworthy.”

•  Guard your heart and mind by limiting negative input.

•  Express your gratitude to others. 

•  Share and speak about things you are grateful for with those around you

•  Ask the Holy Spirit to help you and then yield to His work.

•  Interrupt anxious moments with a good praise and worship song.

•  Break the habit of complaining with a grateful comment.

•  Start learning to see the silver-lining in circumstances.

•  Give others grace and the benefit of the doubt.

•  Imagine what eternal perspective could look like to bring good out of a situation.

•  Volunteer to serve the less fortunate.

•  Meditate every morning and evening on what you are thankful for in your life. 

•  Pause when you find yourself feeling down; think about all the good things in your life. 

•  Read God’s Word daily and with your family.

•  Model and encourage a grateful heart in your home.

•  Pray daily and also together with others you love.

•  Model a life of thoughtfulness and sacrifice for others.

Gratitude is a mindset just like ingratitude is. A grateful heart leads us to more of everything—more satisfaction, more hope, more joy, even better relationships. Gratitude turns what we have into enough. True gratitude is a daily choice that will impact your life for the better. 

Ponder these thoughts: God is completely good. God is constantly good. God is unchangeably good. God will never not be good. God could never be less than good. Everything our God does is good. God gives you a peace that passes understanding. God gives you the Holy Spirit to convict, strengthen, encourage. God gives you His Word as a guide. God gives you health to bless you. God gives you friends to love you. God gives you life to enjoy. God has never stopped being good; we have just started being grateful.

I am living proof that there is a beautiful and transforming power in a grateful heart. Won’t you consider this life-changing habit?

Ponder:

Consider reasons that you are not as grateful as you might want to be. What does gratitude look like in your life? Besides the habit of gratitude, do you have a mindset of gratitude?

Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, I need You, and I am grateful for Your unending goodness to me. Help me develop a mindset of gratitude for all You are and have given me. I want to focus on You and all that You are. Help me to serve You with a grateful heart. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

PLAN END NOTE: Roxanne’s passion is to speak life-giving truths into the hearts of others. She loves to speak at retreats and conventions. She hosts her own DEEPER Intensive and RISE UP coaching workshops and works with clients nationwide as a personal life coach. You can contact her, order her new book and get more information at RoxanneParks.com. She would be honored to connect with you. 

Psalm 103:2‭. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: 3. Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; 4. Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; 5. Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Psalm 145:1‭. I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever. 2. Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever. 3. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.

Psalm 119:68. Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes.

Psalm 100:5. For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

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Gratitude is also scientifically proven to lead a more successful life. More successful relationships, healthier both physically and emotionally, more kind, better sleep, joy in others accomplishments, and reduces stress. I want some of that! Today’s verses: 2 Corinthians 4:15, Colossians 3:15, 1 Chronicles 16:34, Psalm 69:30, and James 1:17. Have a blessed day.

Did you know that there is actually cognitive science behind the impact of gratitude? Most of us intuitively recognize that it is good to stop and smell the roses every once in a while, acknowledging all that we could be grateful for. But gratitude really changes the brain and body for the better! But did you also know that gratitude has a direct correlation to success? Gratitude affects our bodies biologically. It increases our longevity, our ability to use our imagination, and our ability to solve problems.

“Dr. Caroline Leaf is a communication pathologist and cognitive neuroscientist with a Masters and Ph.D. in Communication Pathology and a BSc Logopaedics, specializing in cognitive and metacognitive neuropsychology. Since the early 1980s she has researched the mind-brain connection, the nature of mental health, and the formation of memory. She was one of the first in her field to study how the brain can change (neuroplasticity) with directed mind input.”

Dr. Leaf, along with other professionals, has recognized the impact of gratitude on our brain. If we think differently, we can live differently. The benefits of gratitude on our hearts is astounding. Here are a few scientifically proven benefits of gratitude:

1.  Gratitude opens the door to more relationships. Not only does saying “thank you” constitute good manners but showing appreciation can help you win new friends (according to a 2014 study published in Emotion.) 

2.  Gratitude improves physical health. Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people (according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences.) 

3.  Gratitude improves psychological health. Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. Robert Emmons, a leading gratitude researcher, confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.

4.  Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression. Grateful people are more likely to behave in a prosocial manner, even when others behave less kindly, according to a 2012 study by the University of Kentucky. 

5.  Grateful people sleep better. Writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep, according to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being

6.  Gratitude improves self-esteem.  Studies have shown that gratitude reduces social comparisons. Rather than becoming resentful toward people who have more money or better jobs—a major factor in reduced self-esteem—grateful people are able to appreciate other people’s accomplishments. 

7.  For years, research has shown gratitude not only reduces stress, but it may also play a major role in overcoming trauma. Recognizing all that you have to be thankful for—even during the worst times—fosters resilience.

We all have the ability and opportunity to cultivate gratitude. Rather than complain about the things you think you deserve, take a few moments to focus on all that you have. Research proves that developing an “attitude of gratitude” is one of the biggest game-changers to improve your satisfaction with life.

Ponder:

How can you become more aware of your levels of gratitude? Ponder the thought of gratitude enhancing your satisfaction with life.

Prayer:

Dear Lord Jesus, You tell us to give thanks in all things for this is Your will for us. Help me develop a mindset of gratitude. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen

2 Corinthians 4:15. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.

Colossians 3:15. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

1 Chronicles 16:34. O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.

Psalm 69:30. I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.

James 1:17. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

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Just as a reminder, this is a reading plan. Are you feeling down? Write down each blessing you can see. Given time, we begin to see life and situations through a different lens. A grateful heart overcomes depression each time, just give it time. Today’s verses: John 10:10; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; Ephesians 5:20; 1 Chronicles 16:8; and Psalm 136:1‭-‬3. Have a blessed day.

Depression and anxiety are suffocating emotions. During a particularly difficult season in my life, I fought back the onslaught of both. To name a few of the issues: my teens were lying, my parents were dying, we were dog broke, and I was dealing with too many menopausal issues to count. I was spinning plates as fast as I could, and yet there was no peace on the horizon. Life felt extremely heavy! The burdens I carried were weighing me down into a miserable pit. But as a Christian, I even piled shame on myself for feeling this way. Wasn’t I supposed to be living an abundant life? BUT GOD! He graciously intervened. 

During that particularly difficult season, I read the book 1000 Gifts by Anne Voskamp. Desperately needing some oxygen for living, and inspired by Anne’s story, I started journaling everything that I could possibly be grateful for. I asked God to open my eyes to even the smallest gift . . . like a knuckle to help wrap my finger around my coffee cup, like heating and air conditioning, like toilet paper, like fresh air. This daily exercise didn’t lift me out of my pit immediately, but it started a rich journey toward a new type of wholeness—a wholeness birthed through the lens of a grateful heart. As I continue to diligently open my eyes and my heart to all the gifts in my life, I began to recognize them everywhere. It was like there was a whole new world to appreciate that I hadn’t taken the time to see or made the choice to notice.

Across weeks of writing down and ”naming” these gifts, a light-heartedness developed even amidst the trials of each day. My grateful heart slowly pushed out the weightiness of my days. I began to realize that a grateful heart and an anxious heart could not simultaneously reside in the same person at the same time. It was either anxiety or gratitude taking up the space of my heart. I became excited to venture into each new day with new eyes to see new gifts. Depression gave way to a gratitude, and gratitude became my best antidepressant. Not just a “one and done” type gratitude, but a consistent, diligent gratitude that almost refused to be sucked back into that pit of despair again. My life was too precious to live that way. 

I flew through 1,000 gifts within months and decided that this was a new way of life. A grateful heart had transformed my days. Even more exciting, my grateful heart began to permeate my home and my family. So many things began to change when I changed my heart. This is a battle ground worth fighting on. I celebrated this new life-giving habit. I found that there is transforming power in a grateful heart. 

Ponder:

Ponder the tension between your gratitude and depression, between joy and sadness. How can you make deliberate choices to open your eyes and journal all the gifts you have been given?

Prayer:

Lord, help me constantly and daily choose to see Your gifts everywhere. Open my eyes to gratitude and the choice to give You thanks in all things.

John 10:10. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

1 Thessalonians 5:18. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Ephesians 5:20. Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Ephesians 5:20

1 Chronicles 16:8. Give thanks unto the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people.

Psalm 136:1‭. O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. 2. O give thanks unto the God of gods: for his mercy endureth for ever. 3. O give thanks to the Lord of Lords: for his mercy endureth for ever.

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Gratitude is a powerful weapon against Satan, depression, hopelessness, and despair. It takes time, but try making gratitude a habit of yours starting today. Verses for today are Colossians 3:17; Philippians 4:6; Psalm 107:1; and Colossians 2:7. Have a blessed day.

Whatever we do repetitively, whether that’s biting our nails or making time to exercise, slowly becomes a habit. In fact, 90% of our thoughts are repetitive, so they really become a strong habit. We have to think about the things that we think about! The thoughts on the feedback loop in our mind often come out in our words. Trash in always leads to trash out. If we think about all the junk in our lives, then complaints are likely to come out of our mouths. If we think about all the things that we are grateful for then gratitude for life will be evident. 

Gratitude is a fierce weapon! It turns out that gratitude is highly correlated with well-being and life satisfaction. My new habit of recording gratitude, across time, was deeply impactful to my heart and my family. I decided that I never wanted to stop giving thanks. This was a new intimate life-giving personal habit that I could actually be in charge of myself. No one was responsible for my new habit of gratitude but me. This new habit was producing a change in my heart and my home. 

Our enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy our joy. Gratitude is a weapon against the enemy of our souls. Since life is hard, cultivating a grateful heart isn’t always an easy task, but it is well worth the effort. Our enemy wants us to give in and give up, sinking into hopelessness, depression, and despair. But if we keep noticing the good and if we keep looking toward our divine Redeemer, then our hope will never be consumed by hopelessness. Our commitment and diligence to be grateful is a life-time game changer. 

A heart becomes even more grateful when it experiences the significant love of Christ and His redeeming work in our lives. As the intimacy of our relationship with God grows, so grows our gratitude. Each day is a gift for greater glory at hand. The intertwining of relationship with God and gratitude is real.

The Bible tells us to give thanks in ALL things for this is the will of God for us. Really, ALL things? It helped me to realize that the Bible didn’t say FOR all things but IN all things. This is a reflection of our child-like and confident trust in the Trustworthy ONE. When I choose to give thanks in all things, I choose to release the reins of my control and surrender it to the One who loves me most. 

Develop the habit of having a grateful heart. Wield this weapon against your enemy. It will be a game-changer for your days.

Ponder:

Ponder your thoughts and the daily activity of your heart. Is gratitude a mental habit? How can you develop a more grateful heart?

Prayer:

Oh Lord I want to give thanks in all things. Help me develop the new habit of a grateful heart. Help me build new mental pathways of grateful thinking. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen

Colossians 3:17. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Philippians 4:6. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

Psalm 107:1. O give thanks unto the Lord, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Colossians 2:7. Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

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Happiness is fleeting, joy is a deeper sense of contentment. I choose joy. Today’s verses are John 15:11; Romans 15:13; Galatians 5:22‭-‬23; and Proverbs 17:22. Have a blessed day.

Most people are confused with the distinction between joy and happiness. The difference is substantial. Often, we move through our days performing one tedious task after another—washing clothes, cooking dinner, catering to a demanding boss, without much joy or happiness. Most people seek happiness as a life goal. The truth is the Bible never promises happiness; however, it does promise joy. It even says our joy may be full or complete . . . a better goal. 

Happiness is an emotion based upon “happenings.” It’s easy to be happy when things are going well . . . when you have freedom from suffering, financial security, and all your relationships are good. But when you have trouble with one or more of these areas in life, what happens to your “happiness?” It’s probably gone. And you feel sad. 

On the other hand, joy is a stronger, deeper, yet less common feeling than happiness. It is not dependent on circumstances. It is rooted in who God is. It is birthed out of relationship with God, and subsequently, others. His joy supernaturally sustains our souls in seasons of heartache, injustice, and sorrow. Enduring the valleys of life is nearly impossible without the life-giving fuel of joy in Christ.

Pastor Rick Warren is quoted as saying “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.” Let’s settle our hearts in this assurance and hope.

Joy can also be a by-product grounded in the idea of doing something good for someone. We have joy when—even in our suffering—we are acting for the benefit of someone else’s well-being. If you have ever selflessly given of yourself or your possessions, you are certainly familiar with this feeling of joy.

So, what motivates us in life? Is it success? Happiness? Or lasting joy? If all of our efforts are focused on trying to be happy, we are missing the point. But if our purpose is to have joy in a fulfilling life, then we have to commit to and trust the Lord and love one another in a way that seeks something better than simply personal self-satisfaction. 

What are you doing in your world that is causing you joy? Are you connecting with God and others through relationship and service? Do something good for someone else, and see how you feel. This is joy. Paul tells us that if we walk in the ways of God that joy is a resulting fruit of the Spirit. So also is love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control 

Having joy includes feeling happy. But being happy doesn’t always include joy. In its fuller spiritual form, joy involves living from God’s goodness and expressing God’s goodness to others. May the joy of the Lord be your strength as a joyful heart is good medicine for your soul. It is key to a grateful life.

Ponder:

Ponder the difference between your happiness based on happenings and your joy based on an inexhaustible relationship with Your Heavenly Father. Tether your heart to His gift of joy.

Prayer:

Dear gracious Lord, Help me recognize the difference between worldly happiness and Your gift of deep, abiding joy. Continue to develop this fruit of Your Spirit within me. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

John 15:11. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

Romans 15:13. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

Galatians 5:22‭-‬23. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

Proverbs 17:22. A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.

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He Is There

With the passing of our Mother, these words have been of great comfort. It is true that when we cling to God and cry out to Him, He does hear us and is with us. He always does and will be. The verse for today is Psalm 147:3. Have a blessed day.

The Psalmist writes of a patient God who hears His people cry out in times of stress and difficulty. He hears His people.

God hears us when we call out when we need help and comfort. The situation may not suddenly be ‘better’, but the comfort the Lord provides can bring peace and calmness to a situation where healing is needed.

There are times of grief, times of sadness, times of physical pain and suffering, times of mental anguish. We all have times when we need healing. We rightly call out to God. Sometimes the situation is resolved quickly and other times it may not be resolved in the way we had hoped. But God is there in the midst of it all. He provides comfort and that comfort can bind our wounds and all the things that afflict us.

No matter what you’re going through at this time, even if you’re not in need of specific healing, we can know and rest assured that God hears and heals and binds up wounds in a way that we can know that He is with us. Always.

Written by DAVID BARKER

Psalm 147:3. He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.

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Don’t carry the weight of the world on your shoulders. Surrender completely to Jesus, and allow Him to give you His strength and His Will. I promise it is much lighter! This is the last day of this reading plan. Here are the verses. Colossians 1:27; Romans 8:10-15; John 14:20; Galatians 2:20; and Matthew 11:29. Have a blessed day.

Our beliefs are the water we swim in. It is easy to sometimes feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders. We try our hardest to live the best life possible. Then, we try even harder. 

Years ago, I was in a very desperate place in my life. So many of life’s disappointments were piling higher and higher. It felt like I was carrying the weight of a piano on my shoulders. I was overwhelmed and exhausted. I was ready and more than willing to hear God’s whispers for newness and freedom. But I just tried harder. I was attempting to live “right” by living righteous. I was doing all the right things but often getting the wrong results. How could this be? I was running so hard, juggling so much, spinning so many plates. Don’t I get an “A” for effort?

How many of us grew up on the “performance treadmill“, trying to be “good for God?” This is truly an exercise in exhaustion. We feel empty and never quite enough. We are always enough when He lives through us for His greater purposes. We are rarely enough when we live in our own strength. His Holy Spirit is the gift in us. Christ in us is our hope for glory!

God’s work WITHIN you prepares you for Him to work THROUGH you. This transformation is 100% the work of God and 100% your yieldedness to it. The true mystery is living FROM Him instead of the exhaustion of living FOR Him. Do you know that exhausting treadmill of trying harder?

Amidst my heavy piano-weighted season, exasperation and fatigue led me to a beautiful surrender and a new freedom in Christ. I decided to let go of living from my capabilities, behaviors, environment, or even my limiting beliefs. The dear Lord wants our whole heart, our whole mind, and our whole soul so much that He is willing to rip everything away until there is nothing left but a sweet emptiness that demands that we lay at rest in His arms, finally FREE. 

This is our dying to live. This is where our weakness yields way to His strength within. This is where we actually begin to live FROM Him within instead of living FOR Him without

You want this freedom. Don’t wait until you have the weight of a piano on your shoulders to live from this freedom. Let Him carry the piano. Die to live. 

Ponder:

What would life be like if we cast all our burdens on Him and let His Holy Spirit carry us through? Do you have the weight of a piano on your shoulders? Give Him your burdens. Live FROM His strength and His call, not on the performance treadmill.

Prayer:

Oh Lord, I am exhausted by trying to spin all of the plates of performance. Save me from myself. I die to myself living FOR You and ask that You fill me “to overflowing” so that I can live FROM Your strength and purposes. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

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PLAN END NOTE: Roxanne’s passion is to speak life-giving truths into the hearts of others. She loves to speak at retreats and conventions. She hosts her own DEEPER Intensive and RISE UP coaching workshops and works with clients nationwide as a personal life coach. You can contact her, order her new book and get more information at RoxanneParks.com. She would be honored to connect with you.

Watch “Dying to Live – Day 10” on YouTube.

Colossians 1:27. To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

Romans 8:10‭. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. 12. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. 14. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

John 14:20. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.

Galatians 2:20. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Matthew 11:29. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

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Many times we may not understand what is happening in our lives, because they take such a different road than we would have chosen. This is what happens when we surrender our lives to Jesus! We must trust in the fact that God works all things together for good, Romans 8:28. Today’s verses: Proverbs 19:21; Ephesians 3:19-21; Deuteronomy 31:8; John 15:5; and Genesis 50:19-20. Have a blessed day.

Have you ever had a dream or vision that died? In the Biblical story of Joseph, we see that he had a dream of his family bowing down to him (Gen 37:5-9). But God had greater purposes than Joseph could have hoped or imagined. I had a dream, too. Maybe you did, as well. Do our dreams line up with His greater purposes?

As his story goes, starting in Genesis 37, Joseph found himself in a pit, sold as a slave, falsely accused, and more. This was not in Joseph’s original vision/dream. These events looked like the “death of the vision.” Are there things in your life that look like the “death of your vision”, too? But, GOD! He was with Joseph. He is with you. He never leaves us, fails us, or forsakes us.

The Lord’s plan is a perfect one, even when it doesn’t match up with our plans. The Lord knows all—past, present, and future—and He only wants the absolute best for His children. When you die to your SELF and let Him have control, life will become an even more beautiful journey. When we are experiencing the “death of a vision” we have to consider that the sweet Lord is beckoning us to His greater vision and purposes.

Just as the vinedresser trims the dead things off the vine so that it can bear more and greater fruit, God may have to cut away some of our self-centered dreams to make room for His bigger and better purposes for our lives. This could be called a purposeful pruning or a divine downsizing. I have experienced this personally. During an extremely challenging and heart-breaking season of my life, God birthed a new, fresh vision and compassion in my heart. He stripped away old limited visions for a grander plan. I had to die so I could live.

The Lord loves us enough to help us with our distorted priorities or superficial motives. This purifying process often strips away our ego and pride to leave a beautiful gift of a totally yielded heart for His greater call. Just like Joseph, we may experience more than one death of a visIon. God often takes away something good from our lives to create room for something better. What the enemy means for evil, the Lord can turn for good. Sometimes we have to give up what we want NOW for what we want even MORE. I ultimately want to live in the sweet center of God’s will for my life. 

If the death of our self-centered limited vision can bring us into more fulness of His purposes for our lives, then may we die so we can live. 

Ponder:

How can you yield your dreams and hopes for His greater glory? Are you willing to die to your plan if it can yield His greater purposes? Do you trust Him?

Prayer:

Dear Father God, I need to know that you are close. Whenever my plans seem to fall apart, help me trust that You will work all things together for a greater good. I want Your greater purposes for my life. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

Proverbs 19:21. There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.

Ephesians 3:19. And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. 20. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21. Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

Deuteronomy 31:8. And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.

John 15:5. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

Genesis 50:19‭. And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? 20. But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

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In life we are given many choices. Let us choose wisely, let us choose to serve the Lord. Today’s verses: 1 Peter 5:8; Philippians 4:8-9; Deuteronomy 30:19-20; Proverbs 18:21; and Colossians 3:2. Have a blessed day.

We all have choices to make daily. Yes or no? Now or later? This or that? Exercise or not? Eat healthy or not? Whine or not? Obey or not? Can we blame others for the choices that we make? 

Blaming never worked in the Garden of Eden and it doesn’t work in life, either. We also choose our thoughts and our focus. Experience has taught me that my heart was not made for the weight of anxiety, depression, and fear. I know that I thrive with life, hope, and joy. Do we have any say-so in this process? Or are we simply a victim of our lives? Can we choose to be victors instead of victims? One of the biggest game-changers for my life has been my intentional decision to “focus on that which is praiseworthy.”

When I married my husband, I focused on all that I loved about him and was delighted to say “YES”,  until death do us part. Then life happened. I found myself deeply frustrated with our relationship. How could this be? What changed? I wasn’t alert to the subtle and sneaky ways of the enemy. I found myself easily diverted and ended up focusing on the “lack” in my man. Why? My marriage was uplifting for so long and then it felt heavy and draining. Who could I blame? Of course, I wanted to blame him. My pastor reminded me that our lives will always move in the direction of our strongest thoughts and that we find what we are looking for. I was focusing on all the ways my husband wasn’t living up to who I thought he should be and all that he wasn’t doing! Even if it was true, it was killing our marriage. I began desperately looking for the things that I DID love about my husband—the reasons why I said “YES”, the reasons I choose him. 

I made a choice: to change what I was looking at. I was on a pursuit for “all that was praiseworthy” about him. It was a game-changer for our marriage. My husband hadn’t changed, but I had changed my focus which ultimately changed the environment in our home. As I spoke life-giving words from my new focus, life returned to my marriage.

The strategic choice of obedience to “focus on the praiseworthy” applies to many other areas of life, as well. As I changed my focus at my job, things suddenly got better. As I changed my focus about my children, they became more lovable. I noticed a distinct trend. My obedience was rewarded. This became a solid reality in my life. Since I don’t thrive in heaviness, ugliness, lying, deceit, or destruction, I truly limit negative things in my life. I find that trash “in” leads to trash “out.” Die to the negative truths in your life and pursue a life of focusing on that which is praiseworthy.

Ponder:

How can you focus more on the blessings in your life, your people, and your circumstances? Consider asking the Lord to help blind you to the negative, draining appearances in your life.

Prayer:

Dear precious Lord, open my eyes to that which is good, pure, and praiseworthy. Help me focus on Your daily blessings and not on those life-draining things that I cannot control. Help me choose to see Your fingerprint everywhere in my days. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

1 Peter 5:8. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

Philippians 4:8‭. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

Deuteronomy 30:19‭. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: 20. That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.

Proverbs 18:21. Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

Colossians 3:2. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

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Living on solid ground through God’s Word has changed my life. I will never be able to repay Him, and He doesn’t ask me to. His desire is for me, and all of us, to follow Him. If we would only hide His truth deep within our hearts, we would be able to smell one of Satan’s lies a mile away! At least that is my prayer. Today’s verses: 1 Peter 2:9; Romans 8:38-39; Psalm 28:7; Philippians 4:19; and Deuteronomy 31:6. Have a blessed day.

God’s Word is your solid ground for truth. It is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The truest thing about you is what God says, not what you think or feel and also not what others say, think, or project onto you. You have a new identity in Christ. You are who He says you are. 

God’s Word is true, regardless of our past experiences, our own reason, emotions, performances, experiences, or circumstances. Joy is our birthright. Hope is our birthright. Love is our birthright. The scriptures are loaded with truth about our rightful Christian identity. Memorize them!

Here are a few of the common lies we believe and some truths in scripture to combat them:

·  I am not good enough. (You are a royal son/daughter of the King: 1 Peter 2:9, I am perfect in Christ: Heb 10:14, Col 2:10, Eph 2:10)

·  I am unloved (You are very loved: John 15:9, Rom 8:38-39, Eph 2:4, 5:1-2)

·  This is impossible. There seems to be no way. (Jesus IS the WAY and makes a way: John 14:6, Ps 37:23, Jer 29:11, Eph 2:10)

·  I am a fearful, anxious person (You are free from fear: Ps 34:4, 2 Tim 1:7, 1 Peter 5:7, 1 John 4:18) 

·  I am not strong (You have God’s power and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit: Acts 1:8, Rom 8:9-11, Eph 1:18-19, Ps 28:7)

·  I do not have enough money for my needs (God is Jehovah—that means provider. He will meet all of your needs for His glory! Philippians 4:19, Ps 23:1)

·  I can’t make it. I don’t know which way to go. (Pray to God, He will show you the right path. Seek His word; it will light your way. Psalm 119:105, Ps 32:8, Jer 33:3)

·  I am alone. (The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged: Deut 31:6,  Ps 73:23, Is 41:10)

You are called and equipped to do the good works God has ordained you to do. Don’t allow the enemy to use limiting beliefs or lies to rob, steal, and destroy your joy in your destiny. Choose and memorize His truth. 

Ponder:

How much time do you spend memorizing power-filled truths to help navigate discouragement or lies in your life? Are you living on the solid ground of His truth?

Prayer:

Dear Lord, I confess to believing lies and not walking in the power of Your truths. Help me learn to hide Your truths in my heart so I can live a life which is glorifying to You. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

1 Peter 2:9. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

Romans 8:38‭. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39. Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Psalm 28:7. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.

Philippians 4:19. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

Deuteronomy 31:6. Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

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Media, parents, friends, papers, internet, social media, people’s personal agendas, etc. With so much “information,” how can we be sure we are being told the truth? If it disagrees with the Bible, it is wrong. We all have things we have believed for a long time. That doesn’t make them true! Remember from whom lies come, and put on the full armor of God each day. Today’s verses: James 4:7; John 8:44; Ephesians 6:11-17; 2 Corinthians 5:17; and Romans 6:6. Have a blessed day.

Just because you believe something doesn’t make it true. Lies can be perceived as truth if you believe them to be so. Have you ever felt in your gut that you were being lied to but couldn’t quite pinpoint it? This world has so many messages coming at us from every direction. Most are subtle lies from the prince of the world and the father of lies—Satan (John 8:44). Many lies start as simple misinformation early in our lives and then end up as ugly strongholds in later years.

The real tragedy of believing common lies is that the people of God do not follow and live in their God-given identity and destiny. We all fall into this trap in one way or another; no one is exempt. We all have been lied to by the media, by our bank account, by our past experiences, by our feelings, and even by loved ones around us. Our tendency is to allow our reason, emotions, or circumstances dictate our truth as final authority. 

How do we identify these lies so that we can live in the truth? The Bible is the Lord’s inspired Word, His holy instructions on how to combat the lies and live the BEST life of truth, love, and peace. 2 Timothy 3:16 NIV says that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness…” Psalm 119:105 NIV says, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” We invite the Holy Spirit, by a volitional act of faith, to cleanse and renew our minds so we can stand on the truth and authority of God’s word. As a child of God, we simply dare to believe that we are who HE says we are! As a Christian, we are not the same anymore. The old has gone and a new life has begun. When we become followers and believers in Jesus, we lose our identity in this world and embrace our new identity in Christ. 

Memorize His power-filled truths to combat pervasive lies in your mind. When the truth is on the forefront of your mind, you will be more cognizant of the lies, and able to call them out and dismiss them. Imagine going onto a battlefield with no sword, no shield, or helmet. That would be foolish. In the same way, we need to wear the FULL ARMOR OF GOD to conquer temptation and protect ourselves from the lies of the world. We must die to the lies so that we can walk in HIS truths over our lives.

Ponder:

Identify areas where you are living below your Christian privilege as a child of God. Research the Bible for truths to shed a light on dark areas of your life.

Prayer:

Oh Lord, shed Your light on the subtle lies that I have believed to be true. Help open my eyes to the enemy’s lies and reveal Your truths so that I may walk in them. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

James 4:7. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

John 8:44. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

Ephesians 6:11‭. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15. And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16. Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:

2 Corinthians 5:17. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

Romans 6:6. Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

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If we say we love God, we must learn to trust Him. We especially need to draw near to Him during trials (and times of joy). It is the only way for us to have that intimate relationship with Him that we desire. How though? By reading your Bible. All throughout His Word He tells us of His many promises. Let us carpe diem, seize the day. Here are a few promises to begin: 1 Peter 5:7; James 1:2-5; 1 John 4:18; Philippians 4:6-7; and Psalm 56:3. Have a blessed day.

So, how can we increase faith to help conquer our fears? Romans 10:17 NKJV says that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” As we learn more about God, our eyes are opened to how He is working in our lives and strengthening our faith. God wants a relationship with us. He desires us to know Him and completely rely on His direction in our lives. By hearing, reading, and meditating in the Scriptures, we begin to experience a strong, confident faith that rejects worry and fear. This is our secret place. Spending intimate time in prayer and quiet study develops a relationship with our heavenly Father that sees us through even our darkest nights. 

The Bible is also clear that our faith is matured and strengthened through trials. Like it or not, adversity is God’s most effective tool to develop a strong faith. But we do not go through trials or fearful situations alone. He promises to be with you. To never leave or abandon you. (Deut. 31:6) As we learn to obey God’s Word and allow it to saturate our thoughts, we find each trial becomes a stepping stone to increasing our faith. His faithfulness that sustained you in the past will strengthen, carry, and uphold you in the future.

The scripture is rich with promises that we can claim for ourselves to help us take hold of our fears as we develop our faith. Here are a few to keep in mind:

·  Financial trouble? … See Phil 4:19, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

·  Rejection?… See Rom 8:31, “If God is for us who can be against us!”

·  Personal fear?…  See Psalm 56:3, “When I am afraid, I will trust in you.” 

·  Fear about the future?… See Psalm 32:8, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”

The list goes on and on. The Scripture is full of His promises. Begin to memorize His promises. This is your solid ground. Even though we will continue to face various trials, God assures us that we can know a calm peace through every situation: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:6-7 NIV).

Ponder:

How can I develop my faith through a closer relationship with the Lord? Do I recognize lies and truth as the scripture defines them? How can I trust Him more in this area?

Prayer:

Dear precious Lord, I want to know You more intimately so that I can trust You more. I want Your truths to be my truth. Help shine a light on the limiting lies and fears that can overwhelm me, and help me to be of good courage. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

1 Peter 5:7. Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

James 1:2‭. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3. Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. 5. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

1 John 4:18. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

Philippians 4:6. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Psalm 56:3. What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.

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The difference between faith in Christ Jesus and fear is simple. Faith believes, fear does not. Faith trusts in the impossible, fear is too anxious to even get out of bed. Faith, as explained in Hebrews 11:1, is what we need to exercise each and every day! I hope you enjoy today’s reading plan by Roxanne Parks. Today’s verses: Isaiah 41:10; 2 Timothy 1:7; Psalm 34:4; Joshua 1:9; and John 14:27. Have a blessed day.

“Fear not!” is the most repeated command in the Bible. In fact, Lloyd Ogilvie in Facing the Future without Fear even said there are 366 “Fear nots” in the Bible, one for every day of the year, including Leap Year! 

God doesn’t want us to go a single day without hearing His encouragement and word of comfort: “Fear not!” Fear is so suffocating, demoralizing, and anxiety producing. It feels like a quiet death hovering over you. True faith and fear cannot exist in the same space together. But it is a real and constant tension that we must manage. So, what does the Bible say about fear versus faith?

Faith is described in Hebrews 11:1 NASB as “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” It is an absolute belief that God is present and constantly working behind the scenes in every area of our lives, even when there is no tangible evidence to support that fact. On the other hand, fear, simply stated, is unbelief. When we allow unbelief to gain the upper hand in our thoughts, fear takes hold of our emotions. Our deliverance from fear, worry, and anxiety is based on our faith, which is the very opposite of unbelief. We need to understand that faith is not something that we can produce in and of ourselves. Faith is a 100% free gift from God, but it requires our 100% surrender to receive it. In Galatians 5:22-23, faithfulness is described as a fruit (or characteristic) that is produced in our lives by the Holy Spirit. The Christian’s faith is a confident assurance in a trustworthy God who loves us, knows our thoughts, and cares about our deepest needs. Our faith continues to grow as we study the Bible and learn the attributes of God’s amazing character.

Fear has been defined as “false evidence appearing real” but there are also true scenarios that drive our fears, like financial hardships, bad medical reports, broken-heartedness, addictions, loss, etc. As we study the “fear not” passages of the Bible, we can navigate our fears and stand on our faith. The more we learn about God and see Him working in our lives, the stronger our faith grows. Fighting our fears with our faith will be the great antidote to fear ruling our lives. The fear feels so real. Our faith is real. The tension is real. Choose faith!

God promises us that we can experience peace in every situation. Philippians 4:7 NKJV says that His peace “surpasses all understanding” and “will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Choose your peace of mind. Choose faith over fear.

Ponder:

How is the tension between your fears and your faith leading you to more peace of mind? Do you need to die to your fears so that your faith can lead you with truth and peace?

Prayer:

Dear Father God, Help me increase my faith to navigate my fears. Help me to trust You when the outcome is not clear. I want to trust You as You strengthen me and hold me with Your righteous right hand. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

Isaiah 41:10. Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

2 Timothy 1:7. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Psalm 34:4. I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

Joshua 1:9. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

John 14:27. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

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The definition of a paradigm is, “a change from one way of thinking to another.” When I first realized I did not (not could I) carry the weight of the world on my shoulders c(although I tried), was the first moment I understood the meaning of true peace, God’s peace. This does not, however, mean that I don’t slip back to my old ways when I am not carefully obedient. It gets easier with time and practice and patience. For others it may even be easier to die to self and live through faith. I praise God that helps us all. Today’s verses: Proverbs 19:21; Psalm 16:11; Psalm 19:21; Proverbs 3:5-6; and Colossians 1:16-17. Have a blessed day.

A paradigm is a person’s frame of reference. Their paradigm is how they see the world based on all the information they have gathered and the beliefs they possess. A “paradigm shift” occurs when our usual way of thinking about or doing something is replaced by a new and different way of thinking or acting. Paradigm shifts often occur around what we call “AHA moments”, when we suddenly understand something in a new or different way, allowing us to see the world in a new light.

As we venture through our teenage years and mature into young adults, most of us start recognizing that we have a paradigm of control within us. I refer to this as our inner “control freak.” It is sometimes dominant, sometimes abated. In this paradigm, we often think that we are the center of our world. That we are in charge and that everything will go according to our plans. As time and age bring wisdom, we learn that we cannot control other people or circumstances. However, it is imperative to know that we can control our responses. 

The response of “letting go of control and letting God” have His way in our lives is a choice to unload the pressure of outcomes. Through faith, yielding ultimate control of the “uncontrollable things” leads to a peace of mind that brings rest. This is a dying to live. The burden is shifted. As we walk, yielded to His higher purposes, life will become a more beautiful journey. Our “control-freak” often leads us down a road full of resentment, exhaustion, disbelief, and disappointment. 

Don’t get me wrong. Life is full of choices that we do control. We can control the temperature in our house, decide what we are going to eat for dinner, etc. But there is so much beyond our control like the weather, others’ behaviors, the news, and many circumstances. We do have the personal responsibility to do all that we can do, but then to trust God with that which we cannot do. Everything in this universe belongs to the Lord. He is actually in control of all things. He even gives humans choice. He will bring glory to His children, He will protect His children, He will carry the burdens of His children. In Him, all things hold together. I am grateful that I am not in charge of the world and I can find rest in that. Someday, we will need to make a paradigm shift from wanting control to wanting the rest that comes from trusting He is in control. Is today that day?

Ponder:

How can you die to your inner “control freak” and choose to walk in a trust in our good, good Father? How can you walk in more of the peace that He offers? 

Prayer:

Dear Father God, I am so exhausted by trying to be in charge of my entire world. Teach me Your ways and give me the grace to yield to Your greater plans for my life. Help me shift my paradigm from desiring control to yielding Your perfect control. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

Proverbs 19:21. There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand.

Psalm 16:11. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.

Psalm 9:10. And they that know thy name will put their trust in thee: for thou, LORD, hast not forsaken them that seek thee.

Proverbs 3:5‭. Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

Colossians 1:16‭. For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17. And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

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It is very important that we yield our will to God’s will for our lives if we desire true joy and peace. God has a special plan for each one of us individually. No matter what the circumstance we find ourselves in, knowing it is God’s will is the greatest comfort of all. Today’s verses: Psalm 139:13-18; Ephesians 2:10; Matthew 26:39; and Isaiah 55:8. Have a blessed day.

Creators create things with reason, purpose, and intention. Things don’t just accidentally appear. Scriptures say that we were “knit together…fearfully and wonderfully…in the secret place…with days assigned to each of us.” That doesn’t sound accidental. It goes on to say that we were knit as the Creator’s “masterpiece/handiwork…to do good works that were assigned in advance for us to do.” Whoa! So, I was planned ON purpose, WITH purpose and FOR purpose? He intentionally created me with a personalized calling on my life.

When I was a little, I had big dreams of what life would be like when I grew up, much like you did. I had plans. Big plans. My will, my way, so to speak. But, somehow, my entire world didn’t cooperate with all my “big plans”. As years and experience bred greater learning and wisdom, I realized that I am not completely in charge of my world. I needed the cooperation of other humans. I had a hope to do things the “right way.” But what was that? My spouse had one opinion. My boss had another opinion. My children had another opinion, all about the right way. 

After a season of heart-breaking, life lessons I read about the grace of yielding. We have a choice of yielding to others, but I pondered the idea of yielding to God’s greater plans and purposes for my life, not just my little girl dreams. I was reminded of Jesus’ words and His example: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matt. 26:23 NIV) This statement shows the yielding or the dying of self. Jesus chose the will of the Father over his own will. This highlights a definite “dying of self to greater purposes.”

We are all self-centered creatures with a vast propensity for “my will, my way.” Consider the grace of yielding to “His will, His way.” As our creator, His original ways for our lives are higher than ours, as His thoughts and plans our higher than ours.  When you die to your self-centered way, you then discover the beauty and power within yourself that God intended. We live in the greatest fullness of life when we are in the sweet center of that purpose and that plan. 

Ponder:

How can you live a life with a grace to yield to God’s greater plans and purposes for your days? Ponder your life’s story for His greater glory.

Prayer:

Oh Lord! I need Your help to remind me that I truly do want “Your will, Your way” over “my will, my way” as Your ways are so much higher than I could think, hope, or imagine. I choose to die to myself and my ways so that I can live for Your greater purposes for my life. Lead, guide, and direct my steps! In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

Psalm 139:13‭. For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. 14. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. 15. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. 16. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. 17. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! 18. If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.

Ephesians 2:10. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Matthew 26:39. And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

Isaiah 55:8‭. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

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The title of this reading plan is Dying to Live. If that seems paradoxical, that’s because it is. Don’t worry though. Many things are, and yet they are true. This study from Roxanne Parks will teach us this day how God so gently and lovingly uses our weaknesses to strengthen us. Today’s verses: James 4:10; 2 Corinthians 12:10; Acts 20:35; Philippians 3:7-8; and John 12:24. Have a blessed day.

Life can be confusing. There are many things that I will never understand. Praise God that His Word reminds us to “lean not on our own understanding but to acknowledge Him and He will make the paths straight.” This takes faith. This takes trust. This brings freedom.

When it comes to confusion, let’s discuss Biblical paradox. A paradox is defined as an apparently self-contradictory declaration, but is, in fact, true. To some, biblical paradoxes may seem confusing, a bit absurd, even somewhat ridiculous. Yet these very words of God were written for our admonition and learning. Wrapping our minds around their truths can bring a freedom unbeknownst to this world. Today, let’s consider a few:

1.  EXALTATION THROUGH HUMILITY (James 4:10)
God has never been pleased with the proud, boastful, and over-confident. He created us for His ultimate purposes and glory, not for our own. He delights in a humble spirit. It takes real wisdom and strength to walk in true humility.

2.  STRENGTH THROUGH WEAKNESS (2 Cor. 12:10)
With all our God-given privileges and advantages; there is always the possibility of being over-confident in our own strength. God often allows a “thorn in the flesh” to keep us ever dependent on Him so that we can walk in our ultimate strength. Can we see this as a gift? 

3.  RECEIVING THROUGH GIVING (Acts 20:35)
Giving can seem quite foolish to selfish people. Some of the most miserable people on earth are those who take and take. Some of the happiest people are givers, for they manifest and reflect God in their unselfish attitude. They become His channel of blessing! When we cheerfully and willingly give our time, talent, or treasure for God’s glory, in return, we receive love, joy, peace, satisfaction, and respect from men! 

4.  GAINING THROUGH LOSING (Phil. 3:7-8)
Materialism, fame, and love of money have always been the greatest hindrances to a personal, living relationship with the Lord. You can gain the whole world but lose your own soul (Mark 8:36) or, like Paul, you can lose earthly opportunities but gain Christ and lay-up treasure in heaven! 

5.  LIVING THROUGH DYING (John 12:24)
The kernel of wheat that falls to the ground and dies also grows and becomes productive. This is an agricultural and a spiritual principle as well. Death to the old self is the first step to Christian growth. The more you die to SELF, the more CHRIST is seen in you! John the Baptist said that Christ must increase, and we must decrease! (John 3:30). 

Ponder:

How can you consider each of these paradoxes and apply them to your life in a more significant way?

Pray:

Dear Lord, Teach me the power of living Your great paradoxical mysteries. I want to live in the freedom that You offer through living in Your ways. Help me to lean not on my own understanding, but to trust in You alone. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

James 4:10. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

2 Corinthians 12:10. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

Acts 20:35. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

Philippians 3:7‭. But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,

John 12:24. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

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Today is the last day of this reading plan. Here we are reminded of God’s promises and how they are all true. We just need to wait for His perfect timing. Through this waiting, find also His perfect peace. Today’s verses: Romans 8:25; Psalm 27:13; and Psalm 46:10. Have a blessed day.

We can learn so much from the remarkable women in the Bible and their stories. We at The Kristen Collection have based our stories and collection on the women of the Bible. Sarah and Abraham were some of the great heroes of our faith. It was Sarah’s heart’s desire to have a baby. She had to TRUST God and patiently wait on Him to provide.

Even when we face pain, there is always hope for the future with God. He promises in His word that everything works together for those who love Him and are called to his name. And He promises a good future for us. “Surely I would have despaired had I not been convinced that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13)

While we wait for something that we really want, we learn to surrender to God. We also acknowledge that He is Sovereign and His timing is always perfect. In Genesis 21 we can take encouragement that God kept his promises to Sarah.

“The Lord came back to visit Sarah as he said he would, and he kept his promises to her. At exactly the time God said it would happen. Sarah became pregnant and gave birth to a son for Abraham in his old age.” (Genesis 21:1-2)

As you go about your day today: “Be still and know that He is God!” (Psalm 46:10)

Application

Write down the things you are waiting for. 

Write out God’s promises found in the Bible. 

Choose to be still and know that He is in control.

Prayer

Dear God, Thank You that I can be still and know that you are in control. I will wait on You Lord, fill my heart with Your strength and courage. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

Romans 8:25. But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

Psalm 27:13. I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

Psalm 46:10. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

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When we are serving others, we (hopefully) lose track of our focus is on them, not ourselves. We use the gifts God has blessed us with, even if we never knew we had them until then. Remembering that this is all God-centered and not me-cented is a great gift from God which I treasure. Today’s verses: 1 Peter 5:6 and 1 Peter 4:10. Have a blessed day.

Whenever something takes time it requires patience. In 1 Peter 5:6, we are encouraged to humble ourselves before God and if we are patient we will be exalted in due time.  One of the best ways to humble ourselves is to serve others with the gifts God has given us.  Our reading today reminds us that we have all been given spiritual gifts. In serving others we practice patience by using our gifts to further the kingdom of God and not our own agenda. Whether we receive recognition or not isn’t the focus of serving. It is about honoring God and serving people.  

I was taught that when you serve others, your focus is shifted and you receive a new perspective on your situation. I encourage you to patiently listen to the needs of others and to serve them with the gifts God has given you.

Application

Make a list of your talents and gifts

How can you serve others with your gifts and talents?

Prayer

Dear God, Thank You for the talents and gifts you have given me. Holy Spirit, help me to use these gifts to patiently serve others. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

1 Peter 5:6. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

1 Peter 4:10. As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

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Parenting and Patience

We are now children of God, adopted into His peculiar people. Parenting is a shadow glimpse into this. As we train up our children in the ways they should go (Proverbs 22:6), they trust us to do what is right. This is not always easy. Especially when it comes to discipline. However when we trust in our Lord Jesus Christ, it becomes easier to endure the waiting periods. We can’t have candy for dinner, but after we eat all of our dinner, oh boy! Wait, I say, on the Lord. Psalm 27:14. Today’s verses, 1 Peter 2:9-10. Have a blessed day.

We are God’s very own possession, we are His chosen people. Our reading today reminds us that before coming to know Christ we had a warped sense of identity.  Our patience matures as we grow in our understanding of our new identity in Christ. We get to know who we are, who’s we are, and also who our heavenly Father is. When we fully know that we are loved and accepted by God, we can patiently wait or endure difficult circumstances.  

Parenting can certainly test our patience, particularly when we have to discipline our children. When my children feel the affirmation of my love they grow in their trust in me as their guardian. My youngest daughter loves sweets, but I can’t allow her to have sweets for dinner. But as her trust in my leadership grows she finds it easier to respond positively to the word “No” and to wait patiently for the dessert. God loves us and we can patiently wait for His promises to be fulfilled in our lives because we trust in Him and we know we are His children. 

Application 

Do you believe that you are accepted and loved by God?

Do you trust that God has your best interest at heart?

How does this revelation challenge you in the area of patience?

Prayer

Dear Father God, Help me to believe and know that I am special to you. Thank You that I am your child and that You have given me a new identity. Help me to trust You in every situation. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen

1 Peter 2:9‭. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10. Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

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Faith and Patience

In order for our faith to grow, it takes patience. Take for example a seed. You plant it, then you wait for it’s mature fruit. Then it appears to be dead but come springtime, a new season, there is another growth. We must try not to be complacent in our growth toward God. Let’s practice each day with a family member or friend by praying to God and asking His guidance and care. Today’s verses: 2 Peter 1:5-7 and Hebrews 11:1. Have a blessed day.

For our faith to mature we need patience.  The apostle Peter exhorts us to not grow complacent but to make every effort to respond to God’s promises by supplementing or adding to our faith. Building our faith isn’t a one-off experience. Seeing our faith grow takes time and patience.  Faith is like a muscle that needs to exercise over a period of time to grow.  Our faith walk is a daily patient journey. In a culture of instant gratification, we seldom take the time to patiently and actively add to our faith. 

We face different seasons in our life. Similar to the seasons in nature: Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. The seasons of life teach us patience and very few environments teach us about the seasons of life like a farm. As I was growing up on a farm, I realized from a young age that farmers plant their crops and then they wait patiently for the harvest to come. It is a beautiful process. The potential for a plant is locked up inside the seed, in the right environment a great harvest will come forth. We have great potential locked up inside of us, wait patiently for God. 

I love springtime, it is a season filled with the reward of patience. Before springtime it is winter, and I don’t know about you but it is definitely not my favorite season because all the trees are barren with no fruit, but soon they will be lush, green, filled with pink blossoms everywhere.  In winter, the seeds sown lay dormant and there are no signs of life. But then Spring arrives! Hebrews 11:1 reminds us that God’s promises lay dormant in our lives. Just like the seasons change. We can wait patiently and have faith that His promises will come to pass!

Application

How can you practically supplement your faith today?

Ask a believing friend to pray with you in regards to growing your faith.

Prayer

Dear God, Help my patience to mature and help me daily to build my faith through your word. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen

2 Peter 1:5‭. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6. And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7. And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.

Hebrews 11:1. Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

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Pain and Patience

Today we reenforce the trust relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ as we are reminded once again that those things which we had no power to control yesterday are the same things today. Even though it is painful while we go through these times, He is with us holding onto us. He is our faithful Lord and Savior. Won’t you trust Him today? Today’s verses: 2 Corinthians 12:9 and Psalm 27:13-14. Have a blessed day.

The Lord is intimately involved in our pain and struggles. His grace is sufficient for us as He strengthens us in our difficult times. Whether it is a business failure, family calamity, relational breakdown, or crisis of faith, these mountains can make us feel faint. Don’t despair! The grace of God is sufficient to carry us through these times. When David wrote Psalm 27 he was clearly in a desperate situation.  Yet he knew that God is his strength and he patiently waited for God. 

I am a very relational person. If you are anything like me then accusation or relational conflict is very difficult to bear. In facing relational breakdown I have learned to patiently wait on God. If I have done all I can to restore a relationship then all I can do is wait on God to bring reconciliation. It isn’t always easy to face difficulties when you can’t do anything to change the situation. But these seasons help our patience to grow.  

Application

Are you facing crises or enduring a painful situation?

How can you practically access God’s grace to empower you to be patient during this time?

Prayer 

Dear Father God, Thank You for Your amazing grace that empowers me to wait patiently. Thank You for Your comfort and love during my difficult times. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

2 Corinthians 12:9. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Psalm 27:13‭. I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. 14. Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

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Today we are starting a new six day reading plan on patience. It is easy to understand why we don’t like this part of God’s plan for our lives, but it is necessary to build godly character and grow closer to Him. Today’s verses: James 1:4 and Isaiah 40:31. Have a blessed day.

To biblically persevere in a trial means that you will have to fight for your faith over a period of time. These difficult seasons produce stronger character if we are prepared to be patient. Not patient in a passive sense, but patient in knowing the battle might take a while.  It is only human to want a test to be over and done with, but God uses them to shape our lives. I find hope when reading Isaiah 40:31, God renews our strength as we hope and wait on Him. This is an amazing promise, when we wait on God we actually get stronger. 

It has been an exciting journey developing and dreaming about The Kristen Collection. Our first book in the collection teaches patience to young girls. It took us five years before we held the first copy in our hands. We are grateful that God has empowered us to patiently persevere, and we trust many families would be blessed through the collection. 

In South Africa, we are blessed with wonderful weather, and we spend a lot of our time outside. Recently we witnessed one of God’s beautiful gifts in nature–an eagle. It is such a majestic bird. And every time we see it we are reminded of the eagle God refers to as a symbol of strength in His word. 

Let’s wait patiently on the Lord and experience and see how he truly renews our strength as we wait on Him.

Application

Do you give up easily?

What is causing your biggest frustration at the moment?

Prayer

Dear God, fill me with hope and courage as I persevere in my difficult seasons of life. Thank you for making my path straight. Empower me to never give up. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen

James 1:4. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

Isaiah 40:31. But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.

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We’ve made it to the list of this reading plan. I hope this has helped you in your prayer life. I believe the next reading plan will be on patience. Today’s verses: Hebrews 5:7-8; 2 Corinthians 12:9; and James 5:16-18. Have a blessed day.

Hopefully, you’re praying more on your own, adding prayer to some daily habits, and are regularly looking for opportunities to pray with others. If you’ve followed each of these steps, you are moving toward confidence in your prayer life. But guess what? It’s still tough. After years of praying out loud, we still get nervous. We still cower and sometimes choose to remain silent. Although we feel scared, it is ok. Let’s remember that when we feel prompted, we are getting the chance to live like Jesus.

You are just about finished with prayer boot camp. Congratulations! Whether you completed all of the challenges or created a few modifications along the way, we are proud of your accomplishment. 

Now, invite someone to go through prayer boot camp with you. Send this plan to them, and do it together. Prayer will change your life. Praying with others… changes their lives, too.

While on earth, Jesus prayed. In Hebrews 5, it is stated that Jesus’ prayers were answered not because of His perfection but because of His “reverent submission.” Let’s humbly give everything we have to God.

Dear sweet Lord,

We devote ourselves to prayer. We desire to have a reverent and submissive position before You. We are at Your feet, inviting You to lead us. As You continue to provide strength, we will do our best to follow Your direction. Thank You that Your strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

We are proud of you for completing this plan. If you’d like to learn about other reading plans and resources by Chuck and Ashley, sign up here: https://www.elliottlifecoaching.com/subscribe.

Hebrews 5:7. Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; 8. Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;

2 Corinthians 12:9. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

James 5:16‭. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. 17. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. 18. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

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Set up Accountability

Through accountability, we develop deeper and more meaningful friendships. If you do not have a church yet, it is my prayer you would find one soon. I find the Baptist church to be more Bible based, and the fellowship is wonderful. Form a small prayer group. This will help you to be more accountable and grow deeper in your prayer life, closer to your friends, and most importantly, closer to God! Today’s verses: Acts 2:42 and 1 Timothy 2:1-2. Have a blessed day.

Step 14. You’ve been working to establish some new habits. Now it’s time to get some accountability to ensure that you keep praying once you finish this reading plan. 

If you’re not part of a church community, find one today. There are online and brick and mortar churches across the world; pastors and volunteers love to see others growing in their faith. Reach out and learn about opportunities to build relationships and find accountability.

If you want to create your own community, consider inviting 1-2 friends to pray.

But, be aware of some prayer group tendencies. 

Have you ever been in a group where people take turns asking others to pray for their distant family members? “Great Aunt Karen isn’t doing well”…These type of prayer moments can feel quite burdensome and difficult to remember later. Although it would be inappropriate to do so, we’ve often wanted to say, “We don’t know Aunt Karen, so it will probably be difficult for us to remember to pray for her. But we know you and care for you. How can we pray for you?”

But why do we find it easier to request prayer for others? The reasons may vary, but here are a few we’ve seen.
1) It is less vulnerable to share others’ weakness than to share our own.
2) It makes us feel more spiritual to care for others.
3) We may feel it is selfish to ask prayer for ourselves.

But remember, we are not comparing our prayers to others’ prayers. We are spending time with our Creator. He already knows our needs, and He knows we spend a lot of time thinking about our own worries.

If you begin a prayer group, ask, “How can I pray for you personally?” Spend several minutes discussing life. Share how they can pray for you as well; then take turns praying for one another. Turning on worship music will help keep your mind focused on God. Don’t feel bad if your first few sessions are 20 minutes long with 18 minutes of conversing and 2 minutes of prayer. This is boot camp. Start where you are. It is usually easier to talk than pray. Next time, determine to pray a little more than you did last time. 

God values relationship with us and with other believers. In Acts 2:42, the early church “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”

Two of the four items mentioned were friendship-based: fellowship (spending time together) and breaking bread (sharing meals). It’s in these contexts that we develop spiritual intimacy that allows us to deepen our confidence in prayer, comparing our prayers less to those around us and leaning in to our relationship with Jesus. That relationship simply becomes important enough to include in our other relationships as well. 

Dear Father God,
Help us establish accountability, developing spiritual intimacy with other believers as appropriate. We are determined to be people of prayer. We need You, Lord! In Jesus’ precious name we pray. Amen.

Acts 2:42. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

1 Timothy 2:1‭. I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; 2. For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

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Today is step 13. If you haven’t already made a video of a prayer for someone, you could do it now and then send it. Do not worry about if you are good enough, God our Father is! He can use each one of us today. Today’s verse: Acts 4:29. Have a blessed day.

Step 13. Did you record a video? If you haven’t already sent it, do it now.

If you’re doubting yourself, direct your attention toward God. Perhaps if you seek Him, He will grant you courage through His Spirit (Acts 4:29).

God will use you.

Recently, we sent out some texts, videos, and emails to encourage and pray for others. In one situation, we received a response saying, “I appreciate your words of comfort… I needed to read that Scripture, because it’s been very difficult. Thank you for your prayers.” In moments like these, we thank God for using us. We are needed. 

Look around our world. The average person is lonely, depressed, overweight, and in debt. Let’s direct our attention to the One who Saves. He is our hope; let’s take courage and do hard things.

Dear Heavenly Father,
We ask for courage to finish the hard things we begin. Help us pray for opportunities and then follow through with them. We can pray for others. Use us today. Amen. 

Acts 4:29. And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,

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Today’s focus is a doozy. They want us to make a video of ourselves praying for someone and then sending it to them! That sounds exciting and scary and everything in between. Today’s verses: Philippians 2:3 and Colossians 1:9-12. Have a blessed day.

Step 12. Ok. You signed up for boot camp. If you haven’t been challenged yet, today is the day for you.

Yep. That’s the challenge. It may be uncomfortable. But for today, you can simply record the video. You don’t even have to send it.  

Why record a video?

It’s a simple way of showing someone you are thinking of them and are willing to be vulnerable. Have you ever recorded an ordinary video of yourself?

Let today be the first of many days where you record a prayer and send it to someone you love. We haven’t ever received a video of someone praying for us, but we’re pretty sure we may get watery eyes when it happens. 

If it’s too difficult for you, modify. Maybe voice memo would be an option you could choose.

Dear Father God,
Thank You God for Your amazing power. We want You to be Lord of our technology use. Give us courage to think of others above ourselves (Philippians 2:3), thinking of how we can be vulnerable and care for them. Who should we pray for? Give us courage to send them a video of us praying for them. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

Philippians 2:3. Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Colossians 1:9‭. For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10. That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11. Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; 12. Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

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This is the 10th day, and I have been quite busy. I’m going to post the other days I missed today. My apologies. Today’s focus is on regularly praying and praying with loved ones and friends. Try setting a time to do this, if possible. Today’s verses: Matthew 6:9-13 and Matthew 18:19. Have a blessed day.

Have you ever prayed together with someone close to you?

Ask someone if they would be willing to pray. If you already pray on occasion, consider suggesting a regular time to pray for a few weeks. Remember, this is prayer bootcamp. You can tailor this exercise to meet your individual needs and abilities. Just remember, we are all pushing ourselves.

If this is new to you, pray the Lord’s prayer together. It provides a great pattern to follow and is a wonderful first step to building community with God. 

If we want to learn to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17), it is important to bring God into everything we do. As we grow in our ability to pray with others, we increase spiritual intimacy with them. We can grow more comfortable praying with our colleagues, friends, and family.

Dear precious Lord God,
We invite You to remind us to pray with our loved ones. Increase our ability to see opportunities to pray. When we are upset, we can pray. When we are happy, we can come to You. You are our strength. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.  

Matthew 6:9‭. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11. Give us this day our daily bread. 12. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

Matthew 18:19‭. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. 20. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.

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This is the 9th day, and I have been quite busy. I’m going to post the other days I missed today. My apologies. Today’s focus is on bringing God into everything we do. By saying grace, this acknowledges His blessings and authority. Today’s verses: Acts 27:35 and 17:28. Have a blessed day.

Step 9. This is prayer bootcamp, so hopefully along the journey, you’ve already taken time to pray over a meal with someone. But if not, here’s your chance to push yourself. If you typically eat alone, you can earn some bonus points. Consider asking someone to eat with you. Then, volunteer to pray.  

I’ve also witnessed people eating alone or with others who take a moment to bow their head and pray. The purpose of prayer is to connect with God, not to impress others or avoid embarrassment. I (Ashley) personally have found it easier and less embarrassing to invite people to pray by asking, “Can I pray over our meal?”

Just push yourself. You can do hard things!

We can be intentional with our thankfulness. Taking time before meals to thank God teaches our mind to direct attention to God with our daily routines. Let’s bring God into everything we do.

Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank You for providing food each day. We want to regularly express our gratitude, even when we are around others. Use moments when we are with others to remind them of Your provision, Your greatness, and Your love. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

Acts 27:35. And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat.

Acts 17:28. For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

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This is the 8th day, and I have been quite busy. I’m going to post the other days I missed today. My apologies. Today’s focus is on praying with and for others. It is easier for me to remember who and why they may need prayer if it is written down. Find what works for you. Today’s verses: Isaiah 26:3 and Joshua 1:9. Have a blessed day.

How are you doing? Are you sore from training? Don’t be too hard on yourself if you find it difficult. We are sharing these thoughts from a place of praying every day for decades. And we still struggle.

But this is prayer bootcamp. You chose to do something hard. You have grit, and you can do it.

Today’s challenge moves us from praying alone to praying with others. Are you ready for it?

Step 8:  Pray Scripture over someone via text or card.

This can be super simple. Here’s a sample you can follow. 

Dear _____, 

I have been thinking of you. I’m praying for God to give you peace.

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Isaiah 26:3 KJV

Sincerely, 

_____

How are we kept in peace? By keeping our mind… steadfast…
What does that mean? Merriam-Webster defines steadfast as being “firm in belief.” We can be firm in our belief that God will take care of us no matter what we go through. As we are determined to believe that God brings peace, we will increase in our confidence that He is enough. And we can help others find God and discover peace.

Go ahead and take a minute to send a text or write a note to someone. But don’t get distracted. Get back here and finish the plan for the day or consider writing a sticky note or setting a reminder for later.

Dear Heavenly Father God,
Continue to increase our boldness as we choose to deepen our commitment to prayer. Put someone on our hearts who needs to be encouraged today. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

Isaiah 26:3. Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.

Joshua 1:9. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

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Do You Feel Stronger?

This is the 11th day, and I have been quite busy. I’m going to post the other days I missed today. My apologies. Today’s focus is on our progress. Have you been able to pray aloud, with others, etc? Some things are easier than others. This is normal. Just keep practicing. Today’s verses: Psalm 34:18; James 4:8; Matthew 6:7; and Romans 15:13. Have a blessed day.

Take a moment and reflect upon your growth in the past week or so. Have you followed through with each of the challenges? If you’re unsure, take time to go back to the past few days and review the activities. Are you praying more on your own? Aloud? With others? Over a meal? You can do this! Even if you find that some activities do not come naturally, remember that you will get better as you train.

If you feel nervous to pray around others, remember this story. I (Chuck) committed to following Jesus at age 19 and went from partying to following God with everything inside of me. I knew I wanted to minister to others, so when I was asked to pray at church, I said yes. However, I felt quite uneasy and accidentally prayed, “Thank You Lord for this food…” 

It was not mealtime, and I felt humiliated. But people were gracious. They appreciated my passion.

Being nervous is part of the process. At some point most of us choose to do activities that increase our heart rate (i.e. asking someone one on a date, riding a bike, etc.). We push through because it is worth it. Prayer is important. God is important.

Step 11:  Pray with someone who is having a hard time.

People will be gracious. They will remember that you prayed for them. They probably will not remember the words you prayed unless they’re hurtful. Don’t try to say too many words, especially eloquent words.  If you do, you’re trying to impress them. They don’t need impressed. They need love. If you’re praying when someone is grieving, try to put yourself in their shoes. Don’t try to offer divine guidance or reassurance that their loved one is in a better place. Ask God to draw near to them (James 4:8). Thank Him that He’s near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34: 18).

Dear Heavenly Father,
Open our eyes so we can see the people who are hurting around us. Give us the courage, the words, and the Scripture to share with them. Fill us so we have the stamina to pour into others. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen. 

Psalm 34:18. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.

James 4:8. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

Matthew 6:7. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

Romans 15:13. Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.

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Today’s focus is on focusing our prayer time into four sections: adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication (asking God to fulfill our needs and requests). With the time we have to pray separated like this, we can have a more balanced prayer time. Please remember that this is only an overview of the lesson below written by someone else. Today’s verses: Gen. 1:1; Job 42:2; Psalm 51:1-13; Psalm 7:17; Phil. 4:6-7; and 1 Peter 5:7. Have a blessed day.

Step 7. Take a moment to consider the contents of your previous 2-3 prayer moments. Did you ask God for something? Did you pray for someone else? Did you honor God for His amazing attributes? Were you thankful?

Using a tool such as an acronym or prayer worksheet can help you be more balanced in prayer.
The acronym ACTS was first documented in writing back in the 1800’s to guide prayer time.

ACTS stands for:
Adoration
Confession
Thanksgiving
Supplication

How many minutes would you like to pray today? Divide that number by four and spend time on each topic. For example, if you want to pray for 8 minutes, spend 2 minutes on each topic.

Spend time adoring God; take time to contemplate His amazing qualities. He is your Creator, Father, and Friend. He holds time and is High above all things, yet He deeply cares for you.

As you move to confession, reflect upon your life and commit to turning away from sin. During this time, you may also feel compelled to make amends with those you have hurt as a result of your behavior.

Giving thanks can be so much fun. We (Chuck and Ashley) enjoy helping our toddler pray. We begin by saying, “Thank You God for ___.” He loves to look around the room and fill-in-the-blanks. Thank You God for… “mommy,” he exclaims. Thank You God for… “blanket,” he whispers as he looks around and smiles.

As our hearts are filled with gratitude, jealousy dissipates. Our mind can only actively process one thought at a time. When we choose thankfulness, we create neural pathways that make it easier to be thankful in the future.

What is supplication? Simply put, it is making requests to God. After taking time to glorify Him, repent, and thanking Him, spend some time asking God to meet your needs and the requests of people around you.

Dear Heavenly Father,
My Creator and Friend, please forgive me of our wrong attitudes and behaviors I’ve had. Thank You for Your mercy. Lead me toward the path of life in Your Son, Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

Genesis 1:1. In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

Job 42:2. I know that thou canst do every thing, and that no thought can be withholden from thee.

Psalm 51:1‭. Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. 2. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. 4. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. 5. Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. 6. Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom. 7. Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. 9. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. 10. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. 11. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. 12. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. 13. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.

Psalm 7:17. I will praise the Lord according to his righteousness: and will sing praise to the name of the Lord most high.

Philippians 4:6‭. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

1 Peter 5:7. Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

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Write Your Prayers.

Today’s focus is on tools that help us remember to pray, who to pray for and why, and God’s answered prayers. Imagine if history was never written down. So many events and lessons would be lost. Let us not do that with these prayers. Today’s verses: Psalm 103:2; Psalm 105:5; and Proverb 7:3. Have a blessed day.

Step 6. What would happen if we did not document important information? Imagine the stories in history that would be lost or distorted. 

What type of information gets penned? Typically, material that is considered very important such as contracts, stories, or certificates are documented. Many of us use social media to document important events we want to remember each year.

Since prayer, community with our Creator, is more important than nearly everything else in life, let us commit to writing down our prayers.I’ll wait while you grab a notebook.
Remember, this is prayer boot camp, not prayer “I’ll do it later” camp.

Write your thoughts and prayers to God. You can list topics, needs, and people you would like to remember to lift up in prayer. If you write down your requests, you will be able to more clearly see where He has answered your prayers.

We (Chuck and Ashley) have written our prayers in different ways. Sometimes we have used small notebooks to make lists. Other times, we have journaled. Over the years, I (Ashley) have made several prayer boards where I use craft supplies to create art that will remind me to pray for people, organizations, and topics.

Lastly, when we meet new people, we sometimes list their names in the notes section of our devices and pray for them as we try to connect on future occasions.

Remember, you don’t have to be just like us. Choose what works for you. Many of you will have more creative ideas than we do.

Dear Father God,
Help us form new habits. Change is tough. We ask for supernatural strength to create space for You in our lives. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

Psalm 103:2. Bless the Lord , O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:

Psalm 105:5. Remember his marvellous works that he hath done; his wonders, and the judgments of his mouth;

Proverbs 7:3. Bind them upon thy fingers, write them upon the table of thine heart.

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Pray Without Ceasing?

Today’s focus is on incorporating prayer into our daily activities. Are you doing laundry today? Talk to God while you are waiting for them to be finished. Washing dishes? Sing praises as you do. Find what’s right for you. Today’s verses: Romans 12:2 and 1 Thessalonians 5:17. Have a blessed day.

Paul instructs his brothers and sisters to “Pray without ceasing.” Is this even possible?
Only if we bring prayer into our daily activities.

Step 5:Incorporate prayer into your daily routine.

Have you heard of the psychological term “association”? Scientific studies have shown that we that we can build associations between activities, such as brushing our teeth and prayer. As we remind ourselves of the association we are trying to build, we develop neural connections that make it easier to continue these behaviors. We can train our bodies and our minds to behave and think in new ways. Science has confirmed what Scripture says; we can renew our minds (Romans 12:2).

Consider a few tasks you do daily. For example, when you brush your teeth, pray. If you jog, spend some time talking with God while you exercise. While giving a baby a bath, walking a flight of stairs, or commuting, you can pray. Begin a habit of praying during one of your daily routines. It’s easiest if you start with one or two places in your day where your mind is relatively free to focus. Consider putting notes around these places to help you form an association between the daily activity and prayer. 

Here’s another option to consider. If you listen to music, create a play list with songs that direct your attention to God. Commit to playing at least one song each day.

Chuck regularly plays worship music in the morning and evening while we are at home. In fact, I (Ashley) am enjoying the benefits of a calm mind as I share these words because Chuck turned on music this morning. Godly music has a way of redirecting our hearts toward The Father and prompting prayer as we listen. 

God,
Help us become more aware of places in our day where we can direct our attention to You. Lead us as we seek to grow in our relationship with You.
Amen.

1 Thessalonians 5:17. Pray without ceasing.

Romans 12:2. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

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Step 4’s focus is on opportunities for boldness. You won’t have to look for them, God will provide the opportunities. Remember, God can use each of us with our different gifts. After all, He is the one who blessed us with them. ☺️ Verses for today: 2 Corin. 10:5; Acts 4:29-31; Romans 8:31; and 2 Timothy 1:7. Have a blessed day.

As you continue with regular prayer time, ask God for boldness. Then, notice that God will provide opportunities for you to engage with neighbors, pray with friends, or invite someone to dinner. 

Some of you introverts may be rolling your eyes about now! But, God will use your unique personality to glorify His Name. We (Chuck and Ashley) are extroverts who have been praying with others and engaging in other “bold” activities for years. Yet, it is still difficult for us.

Every boot camp exercise session we attended required endurance. And that’s ok. We humans enjoy challenges. Although it should get easier, being bold will always bring about some resistance because the enemy doesn’t want us to be brave. When the next opportunity to be bold appears, and defeating thoughts approach, take them captive and make them obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Invite God’s Holy Spirit to supernaturally fill you with boldness as He did for many in the book of Acts.  

Dear Sweet Lord,
There have been times we have been too busy, too fearful, or have overlooked opportunities to reach out to people around us. “Give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word” (Acts 4:29). In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

Acts 4:29‭. And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, 30. By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus. 31. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.

Romans 8:31. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?

2 Timothy 1:7. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

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The focus today is on praying Bible verses. It is amazing at what comfort we can have when we remember to turn our eyes upon our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Our temporary situations are put into perspective. Maybe this is an opportunity to find out if your family member or friend is sure they are going to Heaven when that day comes. Something to think about instead of questioning why. Today’s verses: Phil. 4:13; Col. 3:15; & Psalm 119:11. Have a blessed day.

Are you getting a bit more comfortable praying out loud? If not, keep at it. You’ll get there. If you’ve ever done a burpee, the first time was a bit more awkward than the 1000th. 

Step 3:  Pray Scripture out loud.
Now that you’ve begun praying out loud, begin incorporating Scripture into your regular prayer time. If you’ve hidden God’s Word in your heart (Psalm 119:11), it will be easier to recall verses while you’re walking around your home, school, or workplace.

Recently, while traveling across a rainy university campus, I (Ashley) felt a bit overwhelmed by life. I began to pray, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). My confidence began to shift. I had the opportunity to stay overwhelmed by the rain and my circumstances, or I could turn my attention to the One who controls the rain. God didn’t suddenly stop the rain. But He encouraged my heart through His Word. 

Dear Heavenly Father,
Help us hide Your Word in our hearts. As we go about our days, bring the right verses to our hearts to encourage us and remind us that You are with us. Give us thankful hearts, filling us with peace and a desire for unity in our relationships. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

Philippians 4:13. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Colossians 3:15. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

Psalm 119:11. Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

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Today’s focus is on step two, praying out loud on your own. This is a good way to practice in case you are ever called to pray. It is also a confidence builder. I want you to remember this: Everyone thought their prayers were not as eloquent as most people’s. As long as you pray to God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord, it will be freeing. Please practice this daily. It is like having a conversation. I do, and the words just seem to come. Today’s verses: Luke 18:9-14 and 1 John 5:14. Have a blessed day.

Do you ever pray out loud while talking to God on your own? If not, try it today. Consider it practice. If you would like to pray out loud with others, praying aloud on your own is a great opportunity to build comfort. 

Sometimes we lack confidence, worrying that our prayers are inadequate. Typically, when we have these thoughts, it’s when we are around others who seem to pray more eloquent prayers. But in Luke 18, Jesus explains how the sinful tax collector’s prayer is more acceptable than the religious Pharisee’s prayer. Why? Because the sinful person was humble, honest, and focused on communicating with God rather than elevating himself. 

When you begin to feel nervous, remind yourself that the goal of prayer is to communicate with God, not to impress others.

But why pray out loud?

Hearing your own prayer does a couple of things.
1) It helps keep your attention focused on prayer, preventing your mind from wandering.
2) There’s something about hearing your own prayers that instills a bit more faith into your heart.

God,
Strengthen our ability to pray for others. As we pray out loud, increase our faith and confidence in You. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen. 

Luke 18:9‭. And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: 10. Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. 13. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

1 John 5:14. And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:

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This is a 15 day reading plan we are beginning. The first day’s focus is on beginning a prayer relationship with God. If it is more of a one on one between God and you, rather than a chore; you will get more out of it. Step one is praying more on our own. In all things we do, let us work toward bringing others to Christ Jesus. If I may be so bold, please pray for my Mom. She is in the hospital getting tests. She 86 years old, and we are praying she doesn’t have stomach cancer. Thank you. Have a blessed day.

Congrats! You signed up for prayer boot camp. During our time together, we’ll do some exercises that will strengthen your ability to pray more alone and with others. By the end of this plan, if you follow each of the steps, you will have a stronger relationship with Jesus and more confidence regarding your ability to lead others to Christ through prayer.

Have you ever done a bootcamp-style workout? For years, we attended an outdoor boot camp program at our local YMCA. A great friend of ours led the program, and we loved it. The diversity was great. People brought courage and determined to get better. 

The exercises were set for the group, but each person had the opportunity to perform at their fitness level. If we traveled a certain distance, some ran while others walked. If we completed an obstacle course, we competed against ourselves to see how many times we could finish the course in a set amount of time. 

In a similar way, some of the prayer exercises will be super simple. Others will take grit. We will start out easier and will increase in challenge. Consider the beginning to be the warm-up. 

So what is step 1?

Step 1:  Pray more on your own. 

If you have never planned to pray on your own, let today be the first. Consider setting an alarm to remind you to pray.
How long does it need to be? This will depend on how much you’ve been praying in the past. If you’ve never planned prayer, start with 30 seconds. If you already pray for 5 minutes at a time, try to increase it to 10 minutes or improve the consistency of your prayer, carving out daily prayer time.

Pick one or two important topics that relate to your own life. Why? We are more likely to keep praying if prayer feels less of a burden and more like a relationship. God wants you to share your life with Him. For example, pray that God will increase your desire to read His Word or spend time meditating on the amazing blessings He has brought into your life.
First, we will pray together. Then, pray on your own as you read God’s Word.

Lord,
We desire to be close to You. We choose to discipline our bodies, training them to follow You (1 Corinthians 9:27). When we look in the mirror, help us see strength like David, Elijah, and Paul. We give You our weaknesses. We give You our strengths. And we ask that You make us stronger. Make us prayer warriors.
Amen.

1 Corinthians 9:27. But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

Romans 8:26‭. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Jeremiah 29:12. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.

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I want to get there

Where sin and sorrow stops, and the song of the saint starts. Do I really want to get there? I can right now. The questions that truly matter in life are remarkably few, and they are all answered by these words— “Come to Me.” Our Lord’s words are not, “Do this, or don’t do that,” […]

I want to get there

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THE NEW JERUSSALEM

This is the last day of the The Essential 100 reading plan. I will start the 40 day reading plan, A Journey Through Luke & Acts tomorrow. Should I continue to include the text of the Bible, or is a link to them sufficient? Please comment to let me know your opinion. Thanks and have a very happy day.

PRAY Dear Lord Jesus, You’ve promised to make all things new, and I look forward to that great day when You do! In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen!

REFLECT What are you most hoping that a new heaven and earth will be like? What do you think it will be like to live in a city where God and the Lord Jesus are with you?

My hope for the new Heaven and earth is to have animals. They will no longer fear us, because the curse has been removed. Of course I am also looking forward to all of God’s promises. Peace, eternal life, worshipping Him, and so much more. Come, Lord Jesus, come!

To live in a city with God right there,? I do that today! Only I bet it would be so much more awesome. I hope I wouldn’t be so easily distracted.

APPLY When you turn on a lamp today, think of Jesus as the “lamp” and light of the new Jerusalem whose radiance and power will provide all the light that you need.

PRAY Dear holy God and Father, Please be my true light today and all the days of my life. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

READ  Revelation 21:1‭-‬27 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/rev.21.1-27.KJV and Revelation 22:1‭-‬21 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/rev.22.1-21.KJV

Rev. 21:1. And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 2. And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 5. And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. 6. And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 7. He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. 8. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

21:9. And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me, saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife. 10. And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, 11. Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; 12. And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel: 13. On the east three gates; on the north three gates; on the south three gates; and on the west three gates. 14. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. 15. And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. 16. And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal. 17. And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel. 18. And the building of the wall of it was of jasper: and the city was pure gold, like unto clear glass. 19. And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; 20. The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. 21. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass. 22. And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. 23. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. 24. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. 25. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. 26. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. 27. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Rev. 22:1. And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. 

22:2. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: 4. And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. 5. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. 6. And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done. 7.  Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book. 8. And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things. 9. Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God. 10. And he saith unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand. 11. He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. 12. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. 13. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. 14. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. 15. For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie. 16. I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star. 17. And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. 18. For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book. 20. He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus. 21. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

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HALLELUJAH!

We are coming to the end of this reading plan tomorrow, and today’s lesson is on praising Jesus and the second death. If you have repented of your sins and given your life to Jesus Christ, you do not have to worry about the second death. If you or someone you know has not done so yet, now is the time! Jesus is knocking on the door of your heart. Please let Him in! Have a blessed day.

PRAY Dear Father God, I want to thank You for Your constant care for the world which You have created. It was indeed good. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

REFLECT  What are some of the reasons that the heavenly hosts give for hailing Jesus in this way? What reasons do you have for enthusiastic worship and praise of Jesus?

The most significant one that comes to mind is because He is worthy of all praise and every good thing. I worship Him because He is the One true God. The Godhead=the Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost. I also worship Him because He redeemed my life.

APPLY   Think of a chorus or hymn of praise that you would offer to Jesus if you were in heaven today. Or maybe compose a new song of praise. Then, sing it!  Amazing Grace.

PRAY  Dear precious Lord, I can hardly think of words that are adequate to offer You the worship You deserve from my salvation and Your great love for everyone including me. Thank You. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

READ  Revelation 19:1‭-‬21 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/rev.19.1-21.KJV and Revelation 20:1‭-‬15 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/rev.20.1-15.KJV

Rev. 19:1. And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God: 2. For true and righteous are his judgments: for he hath judged the great whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication, and hath avenged the blood of his servants at her hand. 3. And again they said, Alleluia. And her smoke rose up for ever and ever. 4. And the four and twenty elders and the four beasts fell down and worshipped God that sat on the throne, saying, Amen; Alleluia. 5. And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. 6. And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. 7. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. 9. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. 10. And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. 11. And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. 17. And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; 18. That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. 

19:19. And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. 20. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone. 21. And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.

Rev. 20:1. And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 3. And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. 

20:4. And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. 6. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years. 

20:7. And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, 8. And shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. 9. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. 10. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. 11. And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 

20:12. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

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Today’s lesson is on the seven seals, the four and twenty men in white robes, four beats, and many angels. I have been in a study of Revelations. If you are interested, I will publish the notes for you. Have a blessed day.

PRAY   God in heaven, I join my spirit with all the angels in heaven to offer You my praise and worship.

REFLECT   What picture of heaven do you get from these chapters? How does it make you feel? Who is the focus of the worship taking place there?

APPLY   Take a moment to read aloud the parts of these chapters that are words of praise to the Lord Jesus. Say them slowly and reverently as your own words of praise.

PRAY   Lord, You and You alone are the One worthy of all worship, both in heaven and on earth.

READ  Revelation 4:1‭-‬11 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/rev.4.1-11.KJV, Revelation 5:1‭-‬14 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/rev.5.1-14.KJV, Revelation 6:1‭-‬17 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/rev.6.1-17.KJV, and Revelation 7:1‭-‬17 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/rev.7.1-17.KJV

Rev. 4:1. After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. 2. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. 3. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.

4:4. And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. 5. And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.

4:6. And before the throne there was a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four beasts full of eyes before and behind. 7. And the first beast was like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast was like a flying eagle. 8. And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.

4:9. And when those beasts give glory and honour and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, 10. The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, 11. Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

Rev. 5:1. And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. 2. And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? 3. And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. 4. And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.

5:5. And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. 6. And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. 7. And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne. 8. And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.

5:9. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; 10. And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. 11. And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; 12. Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. 13. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. 14. And the four beasts said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped him that liveth for ever and ever.

Eev. 6:1. And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. 2. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.

6:3. And when he had opened the second seal, I heard the second beast say, Come and see. 4. And there went out another horse that was red: and power was given to him that sat thereon to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another: and there was given unto him a great sword.

6:5. And when he had opened the third seal, I heard the third beast say, Come and see. And I beheld, and lo a black horse; and he that sat on him had a pair of balances in his hand. 6. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts say, A measure of wheat for a penny, and three measures of barley for a penny; and see thou hurt not the oil and the wine.

6:7. And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. 8. And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

6:9. And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: 10. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? 11. And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.

6:12. And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; 13. And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. 14. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; 16. And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: 17. For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

Rev. 7:1. And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. 2. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, 3. Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.

7:4. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. 5. Of the tribe of Judah were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. 6. Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand. 7. Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. 8. Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.

7:9. After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10. And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. 11. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, 12. Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. 13. And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14. And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. 16. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. 17. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

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Today’s lesson is on the seven churches. There is encouragement and warning for each church, then and now. Remember, each of us individually make up the church so when He speaks of the church of which Jesus is the Head, He does mean us. Have a blessed day.

PRAY Dear Heavenly Father, Your Word has both encouragement and warnings. Help me to listen carefully to both as I read Your Word and live my life for You. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

READ  Revelation 2:1‭-‬29 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/rev.2.1-29.KJV and Revelation 3:1‭-‬22 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/rev.3.1-22.KJV

(The reading is below. I’m trying something new.)

REFLECT These seven churches are very different and face different challenges. What does Jesus commend in them? What warnings does he give them? What lessons do you see?

The one that saved me from disaster and distress was Rev. 2:1-7. I had taken on so many earthly things concerning the Church that I had no idea I had forgotten my first love, Jesus Christ. I began to desire the approval of our earthly leaders. Thank You and Dr. Charles Stanley for bringing me back off that cliff.

As I struggle to remember not to overload myself again, I try not to become lukewarm either!

APPLY Before you next go to church, think about whether your church shares any of the characteristics or dangers of these seven. Pray about any challenges it faces.

PRAY Dear precious Lord Jesus, I am thankful for my church, and I pray that You will keep it faithful to You no matter what challenges we faces. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

Rev. 2:1. Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; 2. I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 3. And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. 4. Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent. 6. But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. 7. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. 2:8. And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; 9. I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan. 10. Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life. 11. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death. 2:12. And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges; 13. I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth. 14. But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. 15. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. 16. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. 17. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it. 2:18. And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass; 19. I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first. 20. Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. 21. And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. 22. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds. 23. And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. 24. But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. 25. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. 26. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: 27. And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father. 28. And I will give him the morning star. 29. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Rev. 3:1. And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. 2. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. 3. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. 4. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. 5. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. 6. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. 3:7. And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; 8. I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. 9. Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee. 10. Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. 11. Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown. 12. Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. 13. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches. 3:14. And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; 15. I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. 16. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. 17. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18. I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. 19. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent. 20. Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. 21. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. 22. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

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Today’s lesson is one of those which gives us glimpse of who Jesus Christ really is and the depths of His love for us. When John fell down and lay there as dead, Jesus, who is God, bent over to touch him. He can touch you too. Call upon His name and be saved today!

PRAY Thank You, Lord God, that one day everything will finally be just the way You intended it to be, the place I will call home and worship You and throw my crowns at Your feet. What an awesome day that will be! In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

READ Revelation 1:1‭-‬20 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/rev.1.1-20.KJV.

Rev. 1:1. The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: 2. Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw. 3. Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

1:4. John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne; 5. And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6. And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

1:7. Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen. 8. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

1:9. I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. 10. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, 11. Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. 12. And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; 13. And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. 14. His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; 15. And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. 16. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength. 17. And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: 18. I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death. 19.  Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; 20. The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

REFLECT   What does this passage tell you about Jesus, about who he is, what he has done and will do? Is there something new or surprising that you learned about Jesus here?

Jesus Christ is a the Son of man and the Son of God at the same time, perfect in every way. He gave His life for me on that old rugged cross at Calvary, and He will return to receive those who are His own. Yes. The more I learn the more I understand there is so much more I need to trust in my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and rely less on this world.

APPLY   Later today, write down in just a few sentences what you have learned throughout the E100 about who Jesus is and what his life, death and resurrection means to you.

PRAY Dear Father God, help me to hear, understand clearly and take to heart what You want me to know about Your holy Son, Jesus Christ. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

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LOVE ONE ANOTHER

Today’s lesson is on 1 John 3:11–4:21. We are encouraged to love one another as Christ Jesus loved us. We are also called to obey the Spirit, to walk in the Spirit and not the flesh. This way we can fulfill His commandments. I’m so glad God knows our flesh is weak and has sent His Holy Spirit for our Comforter! Have a blessed day.

PRAY Loving God, Your love is truly amazing. It never wavers, it never wanes, it never fails. Thank You.

READ  1 John 3:11—4:21

READ 1 John 3:11‭-‬24 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/1jn.3.11-24.KJV and 1 John 4:1‭-‬21 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/1jn.4.1-21.KJV

1 Jn 3:11. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12. Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous. 13. Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. 14. We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. 15. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 16. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17. But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18. My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. 19. And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him. 20. For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. 21. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. 22. And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. 23. And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. 24. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

1 Jn 4:1. Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. 2. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: 3. And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. 4. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. 5. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. 6. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. 

4:7. Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. 8. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 9. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. 10. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. 12. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. 13. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. 14. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world. 15. Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God. 16. And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. 17. Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 18. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. 19. We love him, because he first loved us. 

4:20. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 21. And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

REFLECT How do we know what the essence of true love is? How does this kind of love differ from the kind we see in our popular culture? When have you experienced love?

Read the Scriptures. Love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength; and love your brother’s and sisters as yourself. This is true love.

In today’s popular culture, there is selfishness, emptiness, anger, devoid of empathy toward one another let alone God. This is why they are so broken.

I experience love with every breath I take, be it awake or asleep. The love God has for me cannot be separated by anyone nor anything. I am so grateful to You Lord Jesus for loving me so perfectly!

APPLY  Identify a nearby family in need (in your church or at the city mission). Help meet their need and tell them you’re doing this because God and you love them.

PRAY Dear Lord Jesus, I want to love others with Your love. May my love be a reflection of Your love for me. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

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FAITH AND WORKS

Today’s lesson is on the book of James. In particular, James 1-2. Happy Resurrection Day!

PRAY  Lord Jesus, Please grow my faith, and may it always be in You.

READ James 1:1‭-‬27 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/jas.1.1-27.KJV and James 2:1‭-‬26 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/jas.2.1-26.KJV

Jms 1:1. James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. 2. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3. Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

1:5. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord. 8. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways. 9. Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted: 10. But the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away. 11. For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways. 12. Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. 

1:13. Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: 14. But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. 15. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. 16. Do not err, my beloved brethren. 17. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. 18. Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. 

1:19. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: 20. For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God. 21. Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. 22. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24. For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. 26. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. 27. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.  

Jms 2:1. My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. 2. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; 3. And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: 4. Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? 5. Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him? 6. But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats? 7. Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called? 8. If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well: 9. But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. 10. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. 11. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law. 12. So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty. 13. For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment. 

2:14. What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 15. If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16. And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17. Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? 21. Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? 22. Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? 23. And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. 24. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. 25. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? 26. For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

REFLECT  Is it really possible to consider trials and suffering “pure joy”? How? Have you had that experience? What differentiates “pure religion” from the rest?

It is possible, but I find it difficult. I do, however, try. After the trial, I can mostly see God’s hand in it and rejoice at that time. I wouldn’t have made it without Him! Trust me on that.

APPLY  Take an opportunity this week to do at least one practical thing to demonstrate the reality of your faith (helping a needy neighbor, visiting the sick, etc.).

PRAY  Dear Lord Jesus, show me how to make my faith more real and visible to those around me.

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It is Finished

This is the final day of the reading plan, It Is Finished. I pray you have enjoyed it. Much more, I pray it has touched your heart in an amazing way this year. O glorious day! May God bless you. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

The Easter Story comes to a close in this victorious scene in Matthew 28. Can you put yourself in Mary Magdalene’s shoes right before she hears the angel’s voice? In your mind, you know Jesus is dead, but your heart is holding out for the faintest of hopes that He still lives.

Then a glorious, radiant angel appears in front of you and tells you what you had hardly dared to hope.

He has risen. Just as He said.

The battle has been won. It is finished.

As you head to your Easter celebrations this weekend, I pray that hope would overflow in your heart because of the finished work of Christ. Yes, we are still building the kingdom of God on earth. Yes, we are still being sanctified. But we are not doing all of those things to get to a place of love and victory, but we are doing it from a place of love and victory. And knowing that changes everything.

It quiets the striving in my mind of proving myself. No longer do I have to wonder if I made the right sacrifices or repeated the right prayers in order to be accepted as one of God’s children.

Our victory has been secured and we can confidently share the good news, grow in Christ, and love others as we await Christ’s second coming. The ultimate Promise Keeper indeed kept His word. He is risen, just as He said.

If you haven’t accepted Christ as your savior yet and would like to do so, please pray these words along with me:

“Jesus, I acknowledge I am a sinner and I am in need of salvation. Thank you for your sacrifice on the cross. Come into my heart and make me new. Thank you for your gift of eternal life. Help me to learn to walk with you now. In Jesus’ name, amen.”

If you prayed that prayer, please let a trusted friend or pastor know so they can guide you in your next steps in your next steps in your relationship with Jesus.

It’s the best decision you could ever make.

Mt. 28:1. In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. 2. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. 3. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: 4. And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. 5. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. 6. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. 7. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. 8. And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. 9. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. 10. Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.
Matthew 28:1‭-‬10 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/mat.28.1-10.KJV

1 Cor. 15:55. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56. The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:55‭-‬57 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/1co.15.55-57.KJV

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That Jesus worked signs and wonders does not in itself prove that he was the Son of God although if he had not been able to do so, it would clearly prove that he wasn’t. 

He demonstrated both unique power and unique authority. As we have seen, he did this as a human being anointed by the Holy Spirit and power, but uniquely anointed because the Spirit was given to him without measure (John 3:34). He had no need of regular infillings as we do (Act 4:8; 7:65; Eph 5:18). Further, this was coupled with his divine authority as God manifest in the flesh. He was both Son of Man and Son of God. To take just the gospel of Matthew, we see this unique power-and-authority in at least seven areas— 

· over sickness and disease (Matt 8:1-17). It took a Roman centurion to recognise this. He clearly saw Jesus’ healing ministry as a mark of his divine authority.

· over nature (Matt 8:23-27). People were amazed that even the winds and waves obeyed Jesus. What kind of man is this?’ they asked.

· over demons (Matt 8:28-34; 12:27-28). Even a host of evil spirits cowed before him. He was infinitely stronger than the strong. This was proof that the kingdom of God had come.

· over sin (Matt 9:1-8). By healing a disabled man, Jesus showed that he had the right to forgive sins, which amounted to a claim to be equal with God. Anyone can forgive sins perpetrated against themselves, but only God can forgive sins committed against others. Even the Pharisees understood this.

· over tradition (Matt 9:9-17). Long-standing traditions were dissolved by the authority of Jesus.

· over death (Matt 9:18-26; John 11:1-44). Jesus overcame humankind’s ultimate enemy. His enemies were afraid that this would cause everyone to believe in Him (John 11:48). He simply said, ‘I am the resurrection and the life’.

· over the universe (Matt 28:18-20). This is perhaps the most extraordinary statement that Jesus ever made: ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.’ No honest human being would presume to say such a thing. Humanity cannot reach such heights. We are forced to return again to the only options: liar, lunatic or Lord. There is no trace or hint of Jesus ever demonstrating mendacity or insanity. So we are left only with deity. There is no other choice.

What next?

On a scale of one (not at all) to five (completely) to what extent do you think it is possible for us continue the ministry of Jesus? Consider Matt 28:18-20; Mark 16:20; Luke 10:18-19; 24:49; Act 1:8. Give reasons for your choice.

My answer: I state emphatically 5. I will be getting up tomorrow morning and going to my Church at 9 am. We will pray. We will walk. We will talk to people about Jesus Christ and to make sure God’s children are saved. Do you know where you are going when you leave this world? When you accept Christ Jesus into your heart, your name is written in the Lamb’s book of Life. Nothing, therefore, can separate you from the love of God. You will be in Heaven.

Mk. 16:20. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.
Mark 16:20 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/mrk.16.20.KJV

Lk. 10:18. And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. 19. Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
Luke 10:18‭-‬19 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/luk.10.18-19.KJV

Lk. 24:49. And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
Luke 24:49 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/luk.24.49.KJV

Acts 1:5. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. 6. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7. And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 8. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Acts 1:5‭-‬8 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/act.1.5-8.KJV

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Today’s lesson is on being holy. It isn’t easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is. Doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to be holy as He is holy. Have a blessed day. 

PRAY Dear heavenly Father, Please challenge me and encourage me as a read Your Word today. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

READ 1 Peter 1:21-‬25 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/1pe.1.1-25.KJV and 1 Peter 2:1‭-‬12 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/1pe.2.1-12.KJV

1 Pet. 1:1. Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2. Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. 3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4. To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5. Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7. That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 8. Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: 9. Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

1:10. Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: 11. Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. 12. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.

1:13. Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14. As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15. But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16. Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. 17. And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: 18. Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19. But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20. Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21. Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. 22. Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: 23. Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. 24. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25. But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

1 Pet. 2:1. Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, 2. As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: 3. If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. 

2:4. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, 5. Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8. And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 9. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: 10. Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. 

2:11. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 12. Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.

REFLECT   What do you think it means to be holy? Is it really possible for a regular person to be truly holy, or is that only for “super saints”?

1: exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness. 2: divine for the Lord our God is holy — Psalms 99:9 (King James Version) 3: devoted entirely to the deity or the work of the deity a holy temple holy prophets.

These are the definitions found in today’s dictionary. Pretty accurate I would say. I believe it is possible to draw closer to God each and in each way. Will this make us perfect? The simple answer is no. It does not mean you shouldn’t try.

APPLY Think of 2–3 steps you can take to grow in holiness in the week ahead. If you aren’t sure what to do, ask your pastor for guidance.

Pray, read your Bible, and listen for God to answer.

PRAY   Dear precious Lord Jesus, While things seem too incredible for me to overcome them, I know nothing is impossible for You. Please help me to be more holy and draw closer to You each day. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

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Silent Saturday

This is the sixth day of the seven day reading plan. Each day this week has been powerful. I pray you had time to rest in His peace.

The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve come to realize the gravity of Silent Saturday. The immediate trauma of Good Friday had passed, but Resurrection Sunday was still 24 hours away. And those left behind were faced with a question that we are often faced with. What do you do in the middle? In the middle of trauma and deliverance?

Those who were grieving had witnessed not only the brutal execution of Jesus, but all the other strange phenomena that accompanied Christ’s death: earthquakes, midday darkness, the tearing of the temple veil, and more. So what did they do? What do we do?

Rest.

Those who were left behind were called to rest, because it was Christ who was doing the work. Christ was at work defeating the devil in the bowels of Hell, reclaiming what was His to begin with. It was Christ with the agenda, not us. It was Christ on the warpath, not us. It was Christ who was doing, not us.

When recovering from grief and trauma, the reactions are varied to be sure, but often doing nothing (what our souls might crave) is harder to carry out. Surely there is another phone call to be made, another closet to clean out, another demand to make, another list to record. But to rest, completely?

It astounds me that God planned for the execution to take place on a Friday, knowing that the Jews, steeped in the centuries-old tradition of Sabbath would know they would have to honor this day of rest. He planned the Great Sacrifice on our day off.

Were they relieved for a moment to catch their breath? Or did they chafe under the religious traditions, wishing they could do something, anything, to undo the horror of the past 48 hours?

Whatever your “Silent Saturday” is, whatever seemingly unanswered prayers face you, whatever traumas you are trying to heal from, know that you can rest, knowing your Father is at work.

Resurrection is just around the corner.

Lk. 23:56. And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the sabbath day according to the commandment.
Luke 23:56 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/luk.23.56.KJV

To the chief Musician for the sons of Korah, A Song upon Alamoth

Ps 46:10. Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
Psalms 46:10 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/psa.46.10.KJV

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Jesus was unique in his preaching and teaching.

This was acclaimed early in his public ministry. People were well used to rabbis quoting from the Law, the Prophets and the Writings, the three sections of the Hebrew Old Testament. And they knew that there had been a time when prophets frequently declared, ‘Thus says the Lord!’ But no one spoke on their own authority. Until Jesus.

What he did was unbelievable. Knowing full well how the religious leaders would respond, he began much of his teaching with statements like, ‘You heard such and such said in times past, but I say…’

Try to imagine your pastor doing that today. He stands up in the Sunday morning service and declares, ‘Paul once said thus and thus but I say…’ Or even worse—which is the equivalent of what the Lord did—‘Jesus once said but I say…’

In the Sermon on the Mount, there are many examples. ‘You have been told you should not commit murder, but I say, don’t even be angry. It amounts to the same thing’ (Matt 5:22)’ and, ‘Moses told you not to commit adultery, but I say don’t even think about it.’ (Matt 5:28).

And so he went on, even replacing a great Mosaic command—an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth (Lev 24:17-20)—by telling people to suffer injustice without fighting back (Matt 5:38-42). Unheard of!

Sometimes his preaching and teaching simply endorsed an Old Testament precept (Prov 25:6-7; Luke 14:10), but frequently he took things much further. 

The outstanding example was his teaching on love: ‘A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another’ (John 13:34). This was revolutionary. No one in the ancient world held to such a philosophy. But it was in this way that people would recognise his disciples (John 13:35).

And so it was in the early years of the Christian era. The great North African Latin scholar Tertullian, records how Romans used to say with amazement, ‘Look how these Christians love one another!’. In fact, some of the persecution directed towards those pioneer believers in Jesus was that they must have been engaged in sexual immorality because no one could love each other as they did without there being some skulduggery somewhere.

It was no wonder that at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, people were amazed at his teaching because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law (Matt 7:38-39). And even soldiers, used to obeying authority, said in wonder, ‘No one ever spoke like this man!’ (John 7:46).

What next?

Read the Sermon on the Mount (Matt chapters 5, 6 and 7). Choose one passage that really speaks significantly to you today.

Mt. 5:1. And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 2. And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

5:3. Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. 5. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. 6. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. 7. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. 8. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. 9. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. 10. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

5:13. Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

5:14. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. 5:17. Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

5:21. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22. But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 23. Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24. Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. 25. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. 26. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.

5:27. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28. But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. 29. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 31. It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: 32. But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

5:33. Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: 34. But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: 35. Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. 36. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. 37. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

5:38. Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39. But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. 41. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

5:43. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45. That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47. And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

5:48. Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
Matthew 5:1‭-‬48 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/mat.5.1-48.KJV

Mt. 6:1. Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. 2. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 3. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 4. That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. 

6:5. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. 7. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

6:9. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11. Give us this day our daily bread. 12. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen. 

6:14. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. 

6:16. Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 17. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; 18. That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. 

6:19. Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 22. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! 

6:24. No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. 

6:25. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26. Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27. Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28. And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29. And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31. Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32. (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 

6:33. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
Matthew 6:1‭-‬34 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/mat.6.1-34.KJV

Mt. 7:1. Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4. Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5. Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. 

7:6. Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you. 

7:7. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 9. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 10. Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11. If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven1à Aww give good things to them that ask him? 12. Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets. 

7:13. Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. 

7:15. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17. Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. 

7:21. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23. And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. 

7:24. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. 28. And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: 29. For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.
Matthew 7:1‭-‬29 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/mat.7.1-29.KJV

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Today we read about the new creation we became when we received Christ Jesus into our hearts as Lord and Saviour. Have a blessed day.

PRAY Thank You Lord God for renewing my mind with new insights as I read and study Your Word. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

READ  2 Corinthians 4:1—6:2

2 Cor. 4:1. Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we faint not; 2. But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God. 3. But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: 4. In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 5. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

4:7. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. 8. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9. Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; 10. Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. 11. For we which live are alway delivered unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. 12. So then death worketh in us, but life in you. 13. We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak; 14. Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. 15. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. 16. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 17. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18. While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:1‭-‬18 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/2co.4.1-18.KJV

2 Cor. 5:1. For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2. For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: 3. If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. 4. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. 5. Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. 6. Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: 7. (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) 8. We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.

5:9. Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. 10. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. 11. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences. 12. For we commend not ourselves again unto you, but give you occasion to glory on our behalf, that ye may have somewhat to answer them which glory in appearance, and not in heart. 13. For whether we be beside ourselves, it is to God: or whether we be sober, it is for your cause. 14. For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: 15. And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. 16. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. 17. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 5:18. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19. To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. 21. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
2 Corinthians 5:1‭-‬21 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/2co.5.1-21.KJV

2 Cor. 1. We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. 2. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)
2 Corinthians 6:1-2 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/2co.6.1-2.KJV

REFLECT In what way(s) do you feel yourself to be a “new creation” as a Christian? What does it mean to you that you are now “Christ’s ambassador”? 

There are many differences between the “old” and “new” me. Mostly in attitudes and the way I see things. You could even call it a new appreciation. Being an ambassador for Christ (means to me), is a privilege, an honor, and priceless. I no longer live for myself but for Him.

APPLY Research the duties and privileges of an ambassador of your country, perhaps online. Then, decide how those may apply to you as one who is Christ’s ambassador. 

PRAY Dear precious Lord Jesus, I know You are not finished with me yet, but I am a new creation and want to be a good ambassador for You. Please guide me in everything I do. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

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Today’s lesson is filled with love. If only we could all love the way Jesus loves us, we would have Heaven on earth! Have a blessed day.       

PRAY Thank You, Father, for showing us true love is when You sent Your beloved Son into the world for our sins. Thank You Lord Jesus. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

READ  1 Corinthians 13

1 Cor. 13:1. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

13:4. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5. Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6. Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7. Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
1 Corinthians 13:1‭-‬13 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/1co.13.1-13.KJV

REFLECT   How would you describe the essence of real love? Which of the aspects of love that Paul mentions is most meaningful to you? Most challenging?

The essence of real love is selflessness. Love never fails and is kind are the two attributes of love which mean the most to me. Unfortunately, I have to admit that I am too often easily provoked. That is one of my greatest challenges.

APPLY   Choose someone you love—a spouse, child, other relative or close friend—and show them your love today through one of the aspects of love Paul mentions.

PRAY  Dear Lord Jesus, Please help me to show real love first and foremost to You and to my family and friends as well. Help me to be more like Jesus. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

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The Veil is Torn

This is day four of the seven day reading plan, It Is Finished. Have a blessed day.

Platinum elite member. VIP access. Honor rewards member. Diamond level.

In this day and age, we are obsessed with VIP access. We long to be “waved on ahead,” exempt from red tape and rules. We don’t want to jump through hoops and be held back in line. We want to be the exception.

In today’s reading in Matthew, we read about just that—how the tearing of the veil in the temple granted VIP access to God for all humans.

According to the Law outlined in the Old Testament, God’s presence resided in the Holy of Holies in the temple. This sacred section was separated from the Holy Place by a special veil and housed the ark of the covenant.

Leviticus 16 outlines the steps for atonement, the Jewish process for getting right with God before Jesus came. Depending on how you count it, there were more than 35 steps the priest must go through to make atonement for his sins and the sins of the people. Those steps included specific clothing, certain animals, and lots of washing and bathing. All of that in order to go behind the veil.

It took a lot of preparation in order to get right with God. Not just anyone could do it. In fact, there was a special day once a year set aside for it.

But Jesus’ sacrifice gained us unprecedented access to God the father. Out of all the strange happenings on Good Friday, the tearing of the veil had to shake the religious crowd to the core. God was declaring “No more.” No more separation. No more sacrifices. No more ceremonial washing. My people are free to come to me whenever and however.

We hear that and in our minds, we rejoice. But I wonder if, in our hearts, we still feel like our past (or our present) is a barrier to knowing Christ. If you only knew what I had done…if you only realized who I am…

Rest assured the veil was torn once and for all. God longs to welcome you into His arms and call you His own.

Will you open your heart to Him?

Mt 27:51. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent; 52. And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, 53. And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many. 54. Now when the centurion, and they that were with him, watching Jesus, saw the earthquake, and those things that were done, they feared greatly, saying, Truly this was the Son of God.
Matthew 27:51‭-‬54 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/mat.27.51-54.KJV

Lev. 16:2. And the LORD said unto Moses, Speak unto Aaron thy brother, that he come not at all times into the holy place within the veil before the mercy seat, which is upon the ark; that he die not: for I will appear in the cloud upon the mercy seat.
Leviticus 16:2 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/lev.16.2.KJV

Lev. 16:29. And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a stranger that sojourneth among you: 30. For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD. 31. It shall be a sabbath of rest unto you, and ye shall afflict your souls, by a statute for ever. 32. And the priest, whom he shall anoint, and whom he shall consecrate to minister in the priest’s office in his father’s stead, shall make the atonement, and shall put on the linen clothes, even the holy garments: 33. And he shall make an atonement for the holy sanctuary, and he shall make an atonement for the tabernacle of the congregation, and for the altar, and he shall make an atonement for the priests, and for all the people of the congregation. 34. And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year. And he did as the LORD commanded Moses.
Leviticus 16:29‭-‬34 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/lev.16.29-34.KJV

Rom. 5:1. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: 2. By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.
Romans 5:1‭-‬2 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/rom.5.1-2.KJV

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Jesus frequently made statements that only God has the right to make.

Often he used the expression ‘I am’ to reinforce the concept of his deity. In Greek the normal way of saying this was just one word (eimi). However, there was also an emphatic way (ego eimi) that more or less means, ‘I, even I, am.’ By using this term, Jesus was making it clear that there was no doubt about what he meant.

Furthermore, the phrase ‘I am’ was identical to part of the Name God gave to Moses: ‘I am who I am’ (Ex 3:14). It is possible that the name Yahweh was derived from this, a name so sacred that Jewish people will never utter it aloud even today. 

More than this, Jesus made a number of statements beginning with ‘I am’ that no ordinary person would even consider. The greatest was, ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’ (John 14:6). Imagine a local builder in your community one day taking to social media and make such a claim. You would naturally assume he was deranged or deluded. You would certainly not believe him. You would not believe him even if he was a lawyer or a professor or a billionaire or even a rock star.  

Seven times Jesus made such extraordinary claims. Here they are—

· I am the bread of life (John 6:35)

· I am the light of the world (John 8:12; 9:5)

· I am the door of the sheep (John 10:7, 9) 

· I am the good Shepherd (John 10:11, 14)

· I am the resurrection and the life (John 11:25) 

· I am the way the truth and the life (John 14:6)

· I am the true vine (John 15:1)

In all of these, Jesus is claiming to be able to meet any and every human need. Astonishing!

Finally, Jesus shocked his Jewish compatriots by saying, ‘Before Abraham was born, I am’ (John 8:58). Bad grammar but explosive theology.  And again, ‘If you do not believe that I am, you will indeed die in your sins (John 8:23-24). See also John 10:36; 18:6, 8.

There is no escaping the universal nature of these assertions. To implement them, you must have attributes such as omnipotence, omnipresence, omniscience and immortality. In other words, you must be God.

Jesus made many other similar statements. All authority in heaven and earth, he said, belonged to him (Matt 20:18). What a claim! Not to mention statements like, ‘I will draw all people to me’ (John 12:32). See also John 10:8; 19:11; Mark 2:20.

In a broadcast talk given in London in 1943, the great twentieth century apologist C. S. Lewis said,

‘A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God.’

What next? 

If Jesus really is Lord, what are the implication for us? Consider the ‘I ams’ of Jesus and jot down alongside each one what your response should be.

John 8:48. Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? 49. Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. 50. And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. 51.  Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. 52. Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. 53. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? 54. Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: 55. Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. 56.  Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. 57. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58. Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. 59. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.
John 8:48‭-‬59 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/jhn.8.48-59.KJV

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Today’s lesson speaks to the return of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Are ready? Are you excited? I am! Have a blessed day.

PRAY Dear Father God, My desire is to know You and to know more about You. Draw me closer to You today, Lord. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

READ  1 Thessalonians 4:13‭-‬18 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/1th.4.13-18.KJV and 1 Thessalonians 5:1‭-‬11 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/1th.5.1-11.KJV

1 Thes. 4:13. But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. 14. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. 15. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. 18. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

1 Thes. 5:1. But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. 2. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 4. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. 5. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

5:6. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. 7. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. 8. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. 9. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, 10. Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him. 11. Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

REFLECT  What do you learn here about Christ’s return? Does anything surprise you? What does it say about those who predict exactly when Christ will return to earth?

We learn that the saints who came before us shall join Jesus in the clouds first, and we shall join them upon Christ’s return. When people predict when Jesus is coming back, I don’t listen to anything else they have to say. Not even Jesus knows the day and the hour.

APPLY    Take a moment today to look up in the sky and imagine the Lord Jesus returning. Hear the trumpet blast and feel yourself caught up to meet the Lord as he returns.

PRAY Dear Lord Jesus, I can only imagine what it will be like when You return, but I want to be ready when You do! In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

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Today’s lesson is a good plan for living our lives in a pleasing manner before God. Very good reading. Have a blessed day.                                                PRAY  Dear Heavenly Father, Your Word, the Bible, is a very special gift and I am very grateful to You for giving it. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

READ  2 Timothy 3:10—4:8

2 Tim. 3:10. But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, 11. Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me. 12. Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 13. But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. 14. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 15. And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17. That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

2 Tim. 4:1. I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2. Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4. And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. 5. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. 6. For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: 8. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.

REFLECT  Do you believe the Bible is true? Why? What role does the Bible play in your life? Have you ever encountered false teaching? How did the Bible guide you?

Yes, I believe the Bible is true. Through must study and research, there is no other book with as many authors in as many countries over an extended period of time with such accuracy. The Bible is my guiding light. I wish I would have listened better when I was younger.

There will always be false teachers. If they try to tell you what the Bible says and it doesn’t match what the Bible actually says, get away from them. If they tell you that something in the Bible is not true, listen no more! Prayer is a very good way to stay strong in your relationship with God. Listen to Him.

APPLY  Make a commitment to continue Bible reading and prayer after the E100 is over.  Find a Bible reading plan to begin using on “day 101.”

Already on the One Year Bible plan.

PRAY  Dear precious Lord Jesus, Please impress on my heart again and again how important it is to know You and live by Your Word, the Bible. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

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The First Easter

This is day two of the seven day reading plan, It Is Finished. My prayer for you is draw nearer to our Saviour Jesus Christ this Easter. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

To understand the significance of the meal Jesus shared with His disciples the night before His arrest and His ultimate sacrifice, we need to travel back to the Old Testament, to another spring night centuries earlier.

The night before God delivered the Israelites out of Egypt, He gave them a special ceremony to perform. This came at the end of God sending horrible plagues upon Egypt because their ruler Pharaoh wouldn’t listen to God to free the Israelites.

That night, God struck down every firstborn of the Egyptians, but not of the Hebrews. The Hebrews were to put a mark of blood on their doors so God would “pass over” their homes and not touch their firstborn. In honor of God passing over the Hebrews, they would celebrate this special meal every year.

Centuries later, when Jesus sat down with His disciples to share The Last Supper, He was once and for all offering the precious blood that would mark us as His. If we accept Him as our Lord, He puts the mark of His blood over our hearts so that we don’t receive the punishment for our sins. 

Because of His sacrifice, we don’t have to cringe under red-tinged doors. We can approach His throne with confidence.

If you get the opportunity to partake in communion this week, take some extra time to reflect on the Lord’s supper. Rest in the ultimate Passover sacrifice. 

The price has been paid.

Ex. 12:21. Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel, and said unto them, Draw out and take you a lamb according to your families, and kill the passover. 22. And ye shall take a bunch of hyssop, and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two side posts with the blood that is in the basin; and none of you shall go out at the door of his house until the morning. 23. For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you. 24. And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever. 25. And it shall come to pass, when ye be come to the land which the LORD will give you, according as he hath promised, that ye shall keep this service. 26. And it shall come to pass, when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? 27. That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the LORD’s passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and worshipped. 28. And the children of Israel went away, and did as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they.

12:29. And it came to pass, that at midnight the LORD smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle. 30. And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead.
Exodus 12:21‭-‬30 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/exo.12.21-30.KJV

Mt. 26:17. Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover? 18. And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples. 19. And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover. 20. Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve. 21. And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. 22. And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I? 23. And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. 24. The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born. 25. Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.

26:26. And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. 27. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28. For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. 29. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.

26:30. And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.
Matthew 26:17‭-‬30 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/mat.26.17-30.KJV

Heb. 4:16. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:16 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/heb.4.16.KJV

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Jesus Christ is unique in his person. No other prophet, priest or god compares with him. This uniqueness is found in the fact that he was both God and man, fully divine and fully human.

This is clearly stated in two great early Christian hymns, which tell us plainly that in Jesus, God took human form and actually became human flesh (Phil 2:7-8; 1 Tim 3:16).

An ancient creed named Docetism (from the Greek word dokein, to seem) suggested that because human flesh was sinful, God could not possibly embrace it. Therefore, Jesus only seemed to be human. He was like a phantom, God in fancy-dress as it were. As we shall see, if Jesus was not truly human, then the whole gospel message is false.

Certainly, he displayed many human qualities: hunger, thirst, tiredness, sorrow and so on. He wept and ached and cried out to God (Heb 5:7-8). He showed two convincingly human attributes. First, limited knowledge (Mark 9:21; 13:32). As a human, he could not know everything, including the future. Second, he was subject to death (Mark 15:37). God cannot die.

Probably, as a child, like any other little one, he fell over as he learned to walk, banged his head or his elbow on things, cried when he was hurt, needed to be taught how to dress himself, tie his sandals, use a spoon and so on.

He worked as a carpenter, where presumably he often suffered bruises and cuts. If he hadn’t, surely this would have attracted attention. But there is no record of it. Quite the contrary: the Bible says he learned obedience through the things he suffered (Heb 5:8).

We know he could suffer pain because he did so on the Cross. Was it any different when he was just a kid? It is hard for us to imagine how he could be like this, but if not, he was not a real human.

The Bible says, he was tempted and tested in every way—which means emotionally, physically, sexually, mentally—just like us, but amazingly, he never once yielded (Heb 4:15).

And as we shall see, were it not so, he would have been disqualified as our Saviour. It was in his humanity that his mercy and faithfulness showed most clearly (Heb 2:17).

What next?
When you are tempted to sin, how can Heb 4:15 encourage you? Name at least two ways.

When I am tempted to sin, I try to quote Scriptures I’ve memorized for such an occasion. I find James 4:7 to be quite helpful. We can also boldly approach the throne of grace when we are tempted. Hebrews 4:15 is a great reminder that we can hold on to Him who has overcome the world.

Heb. 2:5. For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak. 6. But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? 7. Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: 8. Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him.9. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. 10. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12. Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. 13. And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. 14. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; 15. And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. 16. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. 17. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. 18. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.
Hebrews 2:5‭-‬18 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/heb.2.5-18.KJV

Heb. 4:14. Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:14‭-‬16 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/heb.4.14-16.KJV

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Today’s lesson is on Paul’s admonishing Timothy to be better in his leading the Church. Most times, we lay people just don’t understand what a heavy load to bear we put on our pastors. Take a moment today and send a text or a facebook message to your pastor, and let him know you are grateful for all he does. Also, lift him up in prayer daily. God bless you.

PRAY  Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You Father for saving me so that I could choose to be on Your side instead of demanding You be on my side. Please keep drawing me closer to the likeness of Jesus Christ every day. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

READ 2 Timothy 2:1‭-‬26 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/2ti.2.1-26.KJV

2 Tim. 2:1. Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. 3. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 4. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. 5. And if a man also strive for masteries, yet is he not crowned, except he strive lawfully. 6. The husbandman that laboureth must be first partaker of the fruits. 7. Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things. 8. Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: 9. Wherein I suffer trouble, as an evil doer, even unto bonds; but the word of God is not bound. 10. Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. 11. It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: 12. If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: 13. If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself. 14. Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. 15. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. 17. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; 18. Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. 

2:19. Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. 20. But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. 21. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work. 22. Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. 23. But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. 24. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 25. In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; 26. And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.

REFLECT   What do you think Paul is trying to teach Timothy here? What kind of person is “a workman who does not need to be ashamed”? How can you be or become that person?

I think Paul is trying to teach Timothy that he doesn’t have to be so patient as to listen to every argument, but how to be patient with those who come to him with questions about God and Jesus out of a “pure” (they don’t know the at, and really want to) heart.

“A workman who does not need to be ashamed” is anyone who is working toward the gospel of Jesus Christ being taught to every soul in the world. Are you sweeping/vacuuming the floor at your Church? You are working toward the futherance of the gospel. Not everyone can be the preacher.

However this is not all it means. In order to become like a “workman not ashamed, share the Gospel. Do you have neighbors? Invite them to church. Ask them if they know where they are going when they leave this world. Even Christians, some, are unsure. Help them to realize that when they are saved, asked Jesus into their lives, their name was written in the Lamb’s book of Life! No one is able to snatch them out of the hand of God. Amen!

APPLY   Twice Paul mentions the importance of avoiding quarrels. If you face any today, think about how you will resolve them now or avoid them in the future.

Just tell the person in a calm voice that you do not discuss things other than the foundations of your faith. If they insist on continuing the conversation, and they usually do, politely excuse yourself and walk away. Run if necessary!

PRAY Dear Lord Jesus, Please help me to grow into a person who knows how to live well, and who wisely follows Your admonitions. Thank You for caring enough to show me my weaknesses and faults, so I may grow into the woman You know I can be. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

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Prepare the Way

I wanted to provide a devotional for you during this week before we during, and after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord. This is a seven day reading plan to help us prepare our hearts for the Lord Jesus Christ. Please spend some time in prayer seeking His will each day. Have a blessed day.

As we approach Palm Sunday and the rest of Holy Week, those words from Luke echo in my mind:

Prepare the way for the Lord.

These ancient lines from Isaiah became John the Baptist’s mission statement as he prepared the hearts and minds for the coming Messiah. And his audience would’ve known exactly what he meant. Servants would travel ahead of an approaching king and fill in potholes and level bumpy roads so the king’s arrival would be as smooth as possible.

That’s what I want our goal for the next week to be: preparing the way and preparing room in our hearts to meditate on the death and resurrection of Jesus.

And we’ll start where He did: heading into Jerusalem.

As Jesus made His entrance into Jerusalem for Palm Sunday, one of the phrases the crowd shouted was “Hosanna to the Son of David! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9)

What does hosanna mean? Hosanna comes from a Hebrew word that means “save now” or “please save,” a literal cry for help. From the beginning of the world, Jesus’ plan has been to save us from our sins, and while the crowds lining the dusty streets of Jerusalem didn’t grasp the whole plan, for a moment, they were able to rejoice that a savior figure had appeared.

The Israelites may have been expecting Him to do more outward rescuing (social, political, or economical) rather than inward rescuing, by making a way for their hearts to be made new. They may have thought their immediate needs were in their circumstances: with the current-day political oppression or simmering turmoil between religious factions.

Instead, their greatest need (and our greatest need) lies within our souls.

The lines from “Joy to the World” (no coincidence how a Christmas song can make us think of Easter) come to mind as well: “Let every heart prepare Him room…”

Instead of heading into the Holy Week with expectations of what you need God to do (or not do), learn from those citizens of Jerusalem all those years ago. Lay down your expectations like the robes that lined the street. Open your heart and “let the king of Glory come in.”

Prepare Him room.

Lk. 3:1. Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, 2. Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. 3. And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; 4. As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 5. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; 6. And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.
Luke 3:1‭-‬6 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/luk.3.1-6.KJV

Mt. 21:6. And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, 7. And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. 8. And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. 9. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest. 10. And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? 11. And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.
Matthew 21:6‭-‬11 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/mat.21.6-11.KJV

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THE LOVE OF MONEY

This is a lesson I think each of need to learn at some point in our life. It is good to do so with a biblical understanding of why and how. Have a blessed day.    

PRAY Loving God, thank You for providing for me well in so many ways. I always want to have a grateful spirit. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

READ  1 Timothy 6:3‭-‬21 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/1ti.6.3-21.KJV

1 Tim. 6:3. If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; 4. He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, 5. Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.

6:6. But godliness with contentment is great gain. 7. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. 9. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

6:11. But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. 12. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. 13. I give thee charge in the sight of God, who quickeneth all things, and before Christ Jesus, who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession; 14. That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: 15. Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of Lords; 16. Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen. 17. Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; 18. That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; 19 Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. 20. O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: 21. Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.

REFLECT  What does Paul say are some of the dangers of money? Have you experienced any of them? How could you pursue “godliness with contentment” today?

Verses 4-5 and 9-10 cover this  answer about the such dangers. Of course I have suffered from these some of these myself. Now that I have accepted Christ Jesus into my heart as Lord and Saviour, I’m not as concerned about money. I put my trust in Him, and I manage my finances wisely (or so I hope).

APPLY  Get your checkbook or look at your bank account online. How have you spent your money over the past 30 days? What does it show you about your priorities? It shows tithing is my first priority, paying the HOA is second, credit card charges fully is third, and setting aside money for savings, automatic withdrawals for charges I know will be added during the month. Then I determine how much is left to save for this roof I need to purchase. God sure does bless me!

PRAY  Dear precious Lord Jesus, Thank You for teaching me how to be content with a little and a lot. As long as I have You with me, nothing else is as important. I have never been more content, and I thank You. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

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Today is day seven of the seven day reading plan, CROSS & CROWN, by Dr. Charles Stanley of In Touch Ministries. Below is a link if you would like to read more of Dr. Charles Stanley’s teachings. Have a blessed day.

Jesus told His disciples that He would rise from the dead. By actually doing so—by conquering the unconquerable—He not only proved the truth of that one statement but also validated everything else He ever said. The resurrection earned and deserves our trust for all that Christ ever claimed, promised, warned, and predicted.

Because Jesus is alive, we have the awesome certainty that our God is actively involved in our lives. In fact, we see evidence of His living through us. We pray and God answers; we watch Him work in people’s hearts and change lives; we ask Him to cleanse us from our sins, and we walk away forgiven—the guilt is gone, and we experience a profound sense of restored fellowship with our Father. Why? Because He is real. And when something is true, you don’t have to worry about defending it. You simply live it out, trusting God, and He will take care of the results.

Because Jesus died in our place and rose again, we are God’s forgiven children—and what He has done for us can never be undone. John 10:28-30 promises, “I give eternal life to [my sheep], and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” Do you hear the permanence and guarantee of that promise? No one—not even you yourself—can snatch you from the Father’s hands once you are His.

John 3:16 also promises, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life”—period. God didn’t say “except” or “if.” He said “eternal life.” That means forever, irrevocable, 100 percent sure. And He offers it to whomever will believe. Because Jesus rose from the dead, we can journey forward with the assurance that if we trust Him as Savior, we will live and reign with Him forever.

May our risen Savior remind you today and every day of the certainties of the cross and His resurrection, and may He encourage your heart deeply, abundantly, and with never-ending joy.



A Closing Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for the gift of Your Son and for the eternal life He purchased on my behalf at Calvary. If ever I doubt Your love for me, help me remember that You spared nothing—not even Jesus—to make a way for me to be with You forever. Help me live in the light of the gospel, dead to sin and raised to a new life with Christ. And with that new life, use me as Your ambassador to share the good news of salvation with others. Amen.

Click here to download an expanded copy of Cross & Crown for your phone, tablet, or e-reader.

Jn. 10:28. And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. 30. I and my Father are one.
John 10:28‭-‬30 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/jhn.10.28-30.KJV

Jn 3:16. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
John 3:16 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/jhn.3.16.KJV

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ELDERS AND DEACONS

Today’s lesson is on bishops and deacons and how they are chosen. Remember, however, that just because you aren’t a bishop or a deacon; doesn’t mean there’s no place for you in the Church. There are many opportunities for us. Come to Church and see! Have a blessed day.

PRAY Thank You, Lord, for my pastor and the other spiritual leaders for which You have blessed me. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

READ  1 Timothy 3:1‭-‬16 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/1ti.3.1-16.KJV

1 Tim. 3:1. This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work. 2. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3. Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4. One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; 5. (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) 6. Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

3:8. Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre; 9. Holding the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience. 10. And let these also first be proved; then let them use the office of a deacon, being found blameless. 11. Even so must their wives be grave, not slanderers, sober, faithful in all things. 12. Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well. 13. For they that have used the office of a deacon well purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

3:14. These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: 15. But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth. 16. And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

REFLECT   Using your own words, rephrase the characteristics Paul gives for Christian leaders. Are they realistic? Why are such high standards so important?

Bishops and deacons should be above reproach, honest, men of God, saved (born again), honorable men, married to one wife who is of the same caliber. Yes, we have many people in my Church that fit this mold.

By “above reproach” I do not imply sinless. There is only one who ever walked this earth like that. His name is Jesus Christ!

The reason it is very important to set standards so high is because these are the people entrusted to help the preachers spread the Good News of Great Joy. People are watching every move. The Gentiles need to see us set apart from the rest of the world which is corrupt and evil and fruitless.

APPLY   Schedule a time at least once each week to pray for your pastor, elders and deacons by name. Pray that God will enable them to be true and truly godly leaders.

Amen! 

PRAY Dear Heavenly Father, Please help to pray for Pastor Kirk Beard, Assistant Pastor Jason Pruitt, Pastor Fernando, and retired Pastor Rick Patterson. I lift them up to You in prayer with thanksgiving in my heart. I ask that You would put a hedge of protection about them. Hide them underneath Your wing. Grant to them Your peace which the world does not understand. And give them rest. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

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Today’s lesson is on the Supremacy of Christ. Yes, He is an awesome God, but does He rule supreme in your life? I fail at it, but I keep trying. You can keep trying as well. Have a blessed day.              

PRAY Dear Lord God Please draw me closer and closer to the knowledge of You. You are an awesome God, and there is none like You. Thank You so much for loving us that You gave us Your One and only begotten Son to take our place on that dreadful cross. I love You Lord. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

READ Colossians 1:1-23 KJV https://bible.com/bible/1/col.1.1.KJV

1:1. Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2. To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1:3. We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4. Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, 5. For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; 6. Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth: 7. As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; 8. Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.

1:9. For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10. That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11. Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; 12. Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13. Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: 14. In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15. Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16. For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17. And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

1:19. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; 20. And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. 21. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22. In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: 23. If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

REFLECT  What new or surprising thing(s) did you learn about Jesus from this passage? How does that expand your understanding of God?

APPLY   When you go outside at night look at the stars and planets. Remind yourself that Jesus created them and holds them all in place by his mighty power.

PRAY Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You again for all that You have done, are doing, and will do. This is all so magnificent. No matter where I look, I see Your handiwork. I want to thank You, Lord Jesus, for who You are. Thank You for Your great love and sacrifice toward me and each person who calls upon the name of the Lord. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

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This is day five of the seven day reading plan by Dr. Charles Stanley, CROSS & CROWN, of In Touch Ministries. I pray for you reassurance and a grateful heart. May you be blessed with a Christ-centered day.

What if Jesus Christ hadn’t risen from the dead? Where would that leave us? What assurance would we have about anything in life? Our confidence, thoughts about death, and our hopes for existence after this life would all be affected.

God knew Jesus’ resurrection would raise many questions in our minds; that’s why He led Paul to provide us with some answers. In 1 Corinthians 15:14, the apostle addresses the main issue: What if the resurrection didn’t really happen? He writes, “If Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain.”

This means if the resurrection hadn’t occurred, our faith would be empty and without foundation; we’d be false witnesses, spreading lies; all our efforts for the faith would be worthless; and reading Scripture and sharing the good news would be a total waste of time (1 Cor. 15:17). All Christ-followers who’d died believing they were destined for eternal life would’ve simply perished, their hope of heaven nothing more than a delusion (1 Cor. 15:18). Worst of all, we’d still be living in our sins (1 Cor. 15:17), still under guilt, and owing our lives as the penalty our transgressions deserved (Rom. 6:23). Paul sums it up this way: “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:19).

Thankfully, our hope extends beyond this life because Jesus truly has risen from the dead. God, in His wisdom, left us undeniable evidence. For starters, the tomb was guarded by Roman soldiers, who faced imminent death if they failed to carry out orders. Though this precaution was to prevent Christ’s followers from stealing the body and falsely claiming He’d risen (Matt. 27:62-66), the tomb nevertheless ended up empty. Another indication is that of changed lives—something significant has to have taken place for Christ’s fearful disciples to become bold proclaimers of the gospel despite violent threats (John 20:19).

Most importantly, Jesus Himself promised He’d rise from the dead (Matt. 16:21). He claimed to be one with the Father (John 10:30), so either He was and is the Son of the living God, or else He was a liar. The record shows, however, He never told an untruth (John 14:6). Everything He promised or predicted came about, just as He said it would, except for those prophecies that are still to come (such as His second coming). These, too, will one day occur exactly as He’s foretold, for there’s nothing false about the sinless Son of God (John 7:18).

1 Cor. 15:14. And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. 15. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. 16. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: 17. And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. 18. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. 19. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
1 Corinthians 15:14‭-‬19 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/1co.15.14-19.KJV.

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23 KJV

https://bible.com/bible/1/rom.6.23.KJV

Mt. 27:62. Now the next day, that followed the day of the preparation, the chief priests and Pharisees came together unto Pilate, 63. Saying, Sir, we remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive, After three days I will rise again. 64. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made sure until the third day, lest his disciples come by night, and steal him away, and say unto the people, He is risen from the dead: so the last error shall be worse than the first. 65. Pilate said unto them, Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can. 66. So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch.

Matthew 27:62-66 KJV https://bible.com/bible/1/mat.27.62-66.KJV

Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

John 20:19 KJV

https://bible.com/bible/1/jhn.20.19.KJV

From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

Matthew 16:21 KJV https://bible.com/bible/1/mat.16.21.KJV

I and my Father are one. John 10:30 KJV

https://bible.com/bible/1/jhn.10.30.KJV

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

John 14:6 KJV https://bible.com/bible/1/jhn.14.6.KJV

He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory: but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.

John 7:18 KJV

https://bible.com/bible/1/jhn.7.18.KJV

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REJOICE IN THE LORD

Today’s lesson is a short one, only eight verses. These eight verses, however, are very life changing and deeply do I cherish them. Have a blessed day.

PRAY  Dear Lord Jesus, You have blessed me abundantly. I am so grateful. Teach me to always have I want to have a grateful and joyful spirit. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

READ  Philippians 4:2-9 https://bible.com/bible/1/php.4.2-9.KJV

Phil. 4:2. I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. 3. And I entreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life. 4. Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.

4:5. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. 6. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

4:8. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. 9. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

REFLECT   What does it mean to rejoice? Is it different from being happy? Can a person with big problems “rejoice in the Lord always.”? How?  

Rejoicing is much deeper and a longer lasting state of mind, while happiness is a fleeting emotion. Yes, a person can rejoice no matter, because circumstances do not determinate who we are.

We have tools gifted to us through the fruits of the Spirit. One of them being temperance. Using this gift, we determine our attitude and actions and reactions for this day. We can serve God or not. Me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15.

APPLY   Sometime today, think of things you can rejoice about and then do it! Every time you take a break from your activities, repeat the words “Rejoice in the Lord always”.

PRAY  Dear precious Saviour Jesus, I want to thank You for reaching me from a life of sin and torment into a life with You. A life filled with Your peace, no matter what. I praise You Lord for all You have done in me and the whole world. You are a good, good God! In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen!

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THE ARMOR OF GOD

Today’s lesson is on the Armor of God. Please remember to put it on. We truly are in a spiritual war. One that God will win in the end and Christ Jesus has already won. This does not mean we can be slackers! Have a blessed day.

PRAY Dear heavenly Father, Thank You for Your Word which supplies me with wisdom on how to resist satan and his many temptations throughout my day. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

READ Ephesians 6:10‭-‬20 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/eph.6.10-20.KJV

Eph. 6:10. Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 13. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15. And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16. Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18. Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; 19. And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20. For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

REFLECT   Some people dismiss the idea of spiritual warfare as superstitious. What do you think? What evidence of it have you seen?

Those people also believe it is not necessary to go to Church, in my opinion. It is absolutely true. Have you looked at the news lately? Since I have been alive, there has been crime, poverty, injustice, and hatred spread through a deceitful world.

Did they believe what they were doing was right? You’d have to ask them. I disagree with the ends justifies the means. In any case, this is a small example of satan’s power to try to influence us. Just remember, my brothers and sisters, God is in control. Praise and thank Him!

APPLY   Make a list of the “full armor of God” listed here. Memorize the “pieces” and make a plan to “put on” or strengthen as many of them as you can in your life. 

PRAY Dear precious Lord God, I want to have the strength and maturity I need to “fight the good fight” and win. Thank You for being with me every step of the way. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen

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This is day three of the seven day reading plan, CROSS & CROWN, by Dr. Charles Stanley of In Touch Ministries. My prayer is that you enjoy and grow closer to the Lord in your faith each day. God bless you.

The Word of God alerts us that the wrath of God will rightly fall on sinful mankind (Rom. 5:8-10), but those who are justified by the blood of Christ will be saved from that dreadful punishment. Justification means that the Father accepts the death of His Son as full payment for our sin (Rom. 3:23-26). Jesus is a satisfactory substitute because He is the sinless Lamb of God.

Furthermore, we are declared righteous in the Lord’s eyes. Think of justification as a legal transaction in which Jesus placed all of our iniquities on His account and then paid it in full. Next, He took the record of His perfect life and transferred it to our account. Now when God looks at us, all He sees is Christ’s perfection. We are no longer guilty but are declared legally righteous, even if we don’t always act like it.

What an awesome privilege to be righteous in the Lord’s eyes! Now, that doesn’t mean believers can go out and do anything they want. Remember, “You have been bought with a price; therefore, glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:20). We are children of God, but if we start acting like children of the devil, our loving heavenly Father will be faithful to use discipline and bring us back to our senses. The gift of righteousness should motivate us to live a life that reflects our blameless standing before God.

When a relationship characterized by separation and alienation becomes one of acceptance and restoration, that change is known as “reconciliation.” The moment Adam and Eve disobeyed the Lord, the relationship between God and mankind was broken, but the Father took the initiative to bring restoration by sending His Son into the world. Through the blood of His cross, Christ made reconciliation possible by establishing peace between God and man. Beyond that, He presents us blameless before the Father (Col. 1:19-22). All the barriers have been removed, and an intimate relationship with the Lord is available to every believer.

5:8. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
Romans 5:8‭-‬10 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/rom.5.8-10.KJV

3:23. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; 24. Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 25. Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26. To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
Romans 3:23‭-‬26 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/rom.3.23-26.KJV

For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
1 Corinthians 6:20 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/1co.6.20.KJV

1:19. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; 20. And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. 21. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22. In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
Colossians 1:19‭-‬22 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/col.1.19-22.KJV

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Today’s lesson is on what we should and should not do and chosing to walk in the Spirit instead of the flesh. Have a blessed day.

PRAY  Dear Heavenly Father, You alone know who I am. Please search me and find all iniquity within means clean my heart so that I may be as You want me. Then make my life fruitful. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

READ  Galatians 5:16—6:10 https://bible.com/bible/1/gal.5.16-26.KJV and https://bible.com/bible/1/gal.6.1-10.KJV

Gal. 5:16. This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. 17. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

5:19. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20. Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21. Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

5:22. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23. Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. 26. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

6:1. Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

6:2. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. 3. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. 4. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. 5. For every man shall bear his own burden.

6:6. Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things. 7. Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. 9. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. 10. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

REFLECT  What habits, desires or attitudes threaten to make you a slave to sin? How can you combat them and grow a freer, more fruitful life?

I interrupt people when they’re talking when I have an idea. That’s because I usually can’t remember them if I wait. No matter! I should not interrupt our pastor or others. I have prayed for the Holy Spirit to control my thoughts and my mouth! It is a struggle, but it is working.

APPLY  Memorize the list of the fruit of the Spirit in this passage. Choose one or two that you think you most need to cultivate in your life and ask God’s help to grow them.

Meekness and self-control are two things I need the Holy Spirit’s help with.

PRAY Dear precious Lord Jesus, Please help me to understand and grow in all the ways of the fruit of the Spirit. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen!

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MORE THAN CONQUERORS

Today’s lesson is another one of my favorites. The book of Romans is chock-full of many verses for which pastors could easily write an entire service. Especially chapter 8! Remember please that the answers I give at the end of each reading are my own thoughts. They could be wrong. Always check the Scriptures to make sure. They are just to give an idea for you on how to answer the questions asked. Have a blessed day.

PRAY   Great God, I’m thankful today that there is nothing I can face that You can’t help me through.

READ   Romans 8:1-39 KJV https://bible.com/bible/1/rom.8.1-39.KJV

Rom. 8:1. There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. 2. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. 3. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: 4. That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

8:5. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. 6. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. 7. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. 8. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. 9. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 10. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. 12. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. 13. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.

8:14. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. 15. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17. And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

8:18. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. 19. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. 20. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, 21. Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 22. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. 24. For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? 25. But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it.

8:26. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. 28. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 29. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. 31. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32. He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33. Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. 34. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.

8:35. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36. As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39. Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

REFLECT   What does it mean to be “more than conquerors”? Are you one? With all the suffering around us, can we really say God works all things together for good?

When Jesus said, It is finished, the battle was won. Yes I am persuaded that I am a conqueror. Yes, even through suffering and weaknesses, that’s when He is strong.

Have you ever noticed most people have a tendency to put God in a neat little box upon a shelf until they absolutely need Him? Then they cry out to Him, and He answers. He takes the mess we have created, and He turns it into out testimony! How about that. 😊

APPLY   Think of one situation where you feel helpless or out of control. Ask God to help you be “more than (a) conqueror.”

PRAY  Dear loving Lord Jesus, Please give me the faith I need to believe that You are working all things together for my good. Thank You for all You are going to do in my life. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

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THE TRIP TO ROME

It is amazing that the most powerful tool we have is our spiritual testimony. It is our defense. It is all for Christ. Amen.

PRAY Lord, this is the day that You have made and lovingly given to me. I am very thankful for it.

READ  Acts 25:1‭-‬27 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/act.25.1-27.KJV, Acts 26:1‭-‬32 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/act.26.1-32.KJV, Acts 27:1‭-‬44 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/act.27.1-44.KJV, Acts 28:1‭-‬31 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/act.28.1-31.KJV

Acts 25:1. Now when Festus was come into the province, after three days he ascended from Caesarea to Jerusalem. 2. Then the high priest and the chief of the Jews informed him against Paul, and besought him, 3. And desired favour against him, that he would send for him to Jerusalem, laying wait in the way to kill him. 4. But Festus answered, that Paul should be kept at Caesarea, and that he himself would depart shortly thither. 5. Let them therefore, said he, which among you are able, go down with me, and accuse this man, if there be any wickedness in him. 6. And when he had tarried among them more than ten days, he went down unto Caesarea; and the next day sitting on the judgment seat commanded Paul to be brought. 7. And when he was come, the Jews which came down from Jerusalem stood round about, and laid many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove. 

25:8. While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all. 9. But Festus, willing to do the Jews a pleasure, answered Paul, and said, Wilt thou go up to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these things before me? 

25:10. Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest. 11. For if I be an offender, or have committed any thing worthy of death, I refuse not to die: but if there be none of these things whereof these accuse me, no man may deliver me unto them. I appeal unto Caesar. 12. Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? unto Caesar shalt thou go. 13. And after certain days king Agrippa and Bernice came unto Caesarea to salute Festus. 14. And when they had been there many days, Festus declared Paul’s cause unto the king, saying, There is a certain man left in bonds by Felix: 15. About whom, when I was at Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me, desiring to have judgment against him. 16. To whom I answered, It is not the manner of the Romans to deliver any man to die, before that he which is accused have the accusers face to face, and have licence to answer for himself concerning the crime laid against him. 17. Therefore, when they were come hither, without any delay on the morrow I sat on the judgment seat, and commanded the man to be brought forth. 18. Against whom when the accusers stood up, they brought none accusation of such things as I supposed: 19. But had certain questions against him of their own superstition, and of one Jesus, which was dead, whom Paul affirmed to be alive. 20. And because I doubted of such manner of questions, I asked him whether he would go to Jerusalem, and there be judged of these matters. 21. But when Paul had appealed to be reserved unto the hearing of Augustus, I commanded him to be kept till I might send him to Caesar. 22. Then Agrippa said unto Festus, I would also hear the man myself. To morrow, said he, thou shalt hear him. 23. And on the morrow, when Agrippa was come, and Bernice, with great pomp, and was entered into the place of hearing, with the chief captains, and principal men of the city, at Festus’ commandment Paul was brought forth. 24. And Festus said, King Agrippa, and all men which are here present with us, ye see this man, about whom all the multitude of the Jews have dealt with me, both at Jerusalem, and also here, crying that he ought not to live any longer. 25. But when I found that he had committed nothing worthy of death, and that he himself hath appealed to Augustus, I have determined to send him. 26. Of whom I have no certain thing to write unto my Lord. Wherefore I have brought him forth before you, and specially before thee, O king Agrippa, that, after examination had, I might have somewhat to write. 27. For it seemeth to me unreasonable to send a prisoner, and not withal to signify the crimes laid against him.

Acts 26:1.. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself: 2. I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews: 3 Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently. 4. My manner of life from my youth, which was at the first among mine own nation at Jerusalem, know all the Jews; 5. Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. 6. And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers: 7. Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope’s sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews. 8. Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead? 9. I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10. Which thing I also did in Jerusalem: and many of the saints did I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I gave my voice against them. 11. And I punished them oft in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly mad against them, I persecuted them even unto strange cities. 

26:12. Whereupon as I went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, 13. At midday, O king, I saw in the way a light from heaven, above the brightness of the sun, shining round about me and them which journeyed with me. 14. And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 15. And I said, Who art thou, Lord? And he said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest. 16.  But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; 17.  Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee, 18. To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. 

26:19. Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: 20. But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance. 21. For these causes the Jews caught me in the temple, and went about to kill me. 22. Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come: 23. That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles. 24. And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad. 25. But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. 26. For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner. 27. King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. 28. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. 29. And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds. 30. And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them: 31. And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves, saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds. 32. Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.

Acts 27:1. And when it was determined that we should sail into Italy, they delivered Paul and certain other prisoners unto one named Julius, a centurion of Augustus’ band. 2. And entering into a ship of Adramyttium, we launched, meaning to sail by the coasts of Asia; one Aristarchus, a Macedonian of Thessalonica, being with us. 3. And the next day we touched at Sidon. And Julius courteously entreated Paul, and gave him liberty to go unto his friends to refresh himself. 4. And when we had launched from thence, we sailed under Cyprus, because the winds were contrary. 5. And when we had sailed over the sea of Cilicia and Pamphylia, we came to Myra, a city of Lycia. 6. And there the centurion found a ship of Alexandria sailing into Italy; and he put us therein. 7. And when we had sailed slowly many days, and scarce were come over against Cnidus, the wind not suffering us, we sailed under Crete, over against Salmone; 8. And, hardly passing it, came unto a place which is called The fair havens; nigh whereunto was the city of Lasea. 

27:9. Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them, 10. And said unto them, Sirs, I perceive that this voyage will be with hurt and much damage, not only of the lading and ship, but also of our lives. 11. Nevertheless the centurion believed the master and the owner of the ship, more than those things which were spoken by Paul. 12. And because the haven was not commodious to winter in, the more part advised to depart thence also, if by any means they might attain to Phenice, and there to winter; which is an haven of Crete, and lieth toward the south west and north west. 13. And when the south wind blew softly, supposing that they had obtained their purpose, loosing thence, they sailed close by Crete. 

27:14. But not long after there arose against it a tempestuous wind, called Euroclydon. 15. And when the ship was caught, and could not bear up into the wind, we let her drive. 16. And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat: 17. Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven. 18. And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship; 19. And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship. 20. And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away. 

27:21. But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss. 22. And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man’s life among you, but of the ship. 23. For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, 24. Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. 25. Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me. 26. Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island. 27. But when the fourteenth night was come, as we were driven up and down in Adria, about midnight the shipmen deemed that they drew near to some country; 28. And sounded, and found it twenty fathoms: and when they had gone a little further, they sounded again, and found it fifteen fathoms. 29. Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day. 30. And as the shipmen were about to flee out of the ship, when they had let down the boat into the sea, under colour as though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship, 31. Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved. 32. Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off. 33. And while the day was coming on, Paul besought them all to take meat, saying, This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing. 34. Wherefore I pray you to take some meat: for this is for your health: for there shall not an hair fall from the head of any of you. 35. And when he had thus spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat. 36. Then were they all of good cheer, and they also took some meat. 37. And we were in all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls. 38. And when they had eaten enough, they lightened the ship, and cast out the wheat into the sea. 39. And when it was day, they knew not the land: but they discovered a certain creek with a shore, into the which they were minded, if it were possible, to thrust in the ship. 40. And when they had taken up the anchors, they committed themselves unto the sea, and loosed the rudder bands, and hoisted up the mainsail to the wind, and made toward shore. 

27:41. And falling into a place where two seas met, they ran the ship aground; and the forepart stuck fast, and remained unmoveable, but the hinder part was broken with the violence of the waves. 42. And the soldiers’ counsel was to kill the prisoners, lest any of them should swim out, and escape. 43. But the centurion, willing to save Paul, kept them from their purpose; and commanded that they which could swim should cast themselves first into the sea, and get to land: 44. And the rest, some on boards, and some on broken pieces of the ship. And so it came to pass, that they escaped all safe to land.

Acts 28:1. And when they were escaped, then they knew that the island was called Melita. 2. And the barbarous people shewed us no little kindness: for they kindled a fire, and received us every one, because of the present rain, and because of the cold. 

28:3. And when Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks, and laid them on the fire, there came a viper out of the heat, and fastened on his hand. 4. And when the barbarians saw the venomous beast hang on his hand, they said among themselves, No doubt this man is a murderer, whom, though he hath escaped the sea, yet vengeance suffereth not to live. 5. And he shook off the beast into the fire, and felt no harm. 6. Howbeit they looked when he should have swollen, or fallen down dead suddenly: but after they had looked a great while, and saw no harm come to him, they changed their minds, and said that he was a god. 7. In the same quarters were possessions of the chief man of the island, whose name was Publius; who received us, and lodged us three days courteously. 

28:8. And it came to pass, that the father of Publius lay sick of a fever and of a bloody flux: to whom Paul entered in, and prayed, and laid his hands on him, and healed him. 9. So when this was done, others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed: 10. Who also honoured us with many honours; and when we departed, they laded us with such things as were necessary. 

28:11. And after three months we departed in a ship of Alexandria, which had wintered in the isle, whose sign was Castor and Pollux. 12. And landing at Syracuse, we tarried there three days. 13. And from thence we fetched a compass, and came to Rhegium: and after one day the south wind blew, and we came the next day to Puteoli: 14. Where we found brethren, and were desired to tarry with them seven days: and so we went toward Rome. 15. And from thence, when the brethren heard of us, they came to meet us as far as Appii forum, and The three taverns: whom when Paul saw, he thanked God, and took courage. 16. And when we came to Rome, the centurion delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept him. 

28:17. And it came to pass, that after three days Paul called the chief of the Jews together: and when they were come together, he said unto them, Men and brethren, though I have committed nothing against the people, or customs of our fathers, yet was I delivered prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans. 18. Who, when they had examined me, would have let me go, because there was no cause of death in me. 19. But when the Jews spake against it, I was constrained to appeal unto Caesar; not that I had ought to accuse my nation of. 20. For this cause therefore have I called for you, to see you, and to speak with you: because that for the hope of Israel I am bound with this chain. 21. And they said unto him, We neither received letters out of Judaea concerning thee, neither any of the brethren that came shewed or spake any harm of thee. 22. But we desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for as concerning this sect, we know that every where it is spoken against. 23. And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. 24. And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not. 25. And when they agreed not among themselves, they departed, after that Paul had spoken one word, Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers, 26. Saying, Go unto this people, and say, Hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and not perceive: 27. For the heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes have they closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. 28. Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it. 29. And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves. 30. And Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, 31. Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.

REFLECT There’s a challenge that says “If you were on trial accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” What evidence would you present?

APPLY At his trials, Paul gave a “spiritual biography” and defense  of his life.  Set aside time soon to write your own, brief “spiritual biography.”

PRAY Confirm in my heart and mind, Lord, what I believe and know about You so that it can never leave me.

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Today’s lesson contains five chapters in Acts. We go through the many of the places Paul preached Christ to the Gentiles. It’s amazing how many Jews would find out and show up. What would you have done had you been Paul? Something to ponder. Have a blessed day.

PRAY Dear precious Lord, For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day. 2 Timothy 1:12. I trust it all to You. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

READ Acts 16:1‭-‬40 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/act.16.1-40.KJV, Acts 17:1‭-‬34 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/act.17.1-34.KJV, Acts 18:1‭-‬28 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/act.18.1-28.KJV, Acts 19:1‭-‬41 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/act.19.1-41.KJV, and Acts 20:1‭-‬38 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/act.20.1-38.KJV

Acts 16:1. Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: 2. Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium. 3. Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.

16:4. And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem. 5. And so were the churches established in the faith, and increased in number daily.

16:6. Now when they had gone throughout Phrygia and the region of Galatia, and were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, 7. After they were come to Mysia, they assayed to go into Bithynia: but the Spirit suffered them not. 8. And they passing by Mysia came down to Troas. 9. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night; There stood a man of Macedonia, and prayed him, saying, Come over into Macedonia, and help us. 10. And after he had seen the vision, immediately we endeavoured to go into Macedonia, assuredly gathering that the Lord had called us for to preach the gospel unto them. 11. Therefore loosing from Troas, we came with a straight course to Samothracia, and the next day to Neapolis; 12. And from thence to Philippi, which is the chief city of that part of Macedonia, and a colony: and we were in that city abiding certain days. 13. And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither.

16:14. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. 15. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.

16:16. And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: 17. The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. 18. 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.

16:19. And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, 20. And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, 21. And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. 22. And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. 23. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: 24. Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.

16:25. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. 26. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. 27. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. 28. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. 29. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, 30. And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31. And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. 32. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. 33. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. 34. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. 

16:35. And when it was day, the magistrates sent the serjeants, saying, Let those men go. 36. And the keeper of the prison told this saying to Paul, The magistrates have sent to let you go: now therefore depart, and go in peace. 37. But Paul said unto them, They have beaten us openly uncondemned, being Romans, and have cast us into prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? nay verily; but let them come themselves and fetch us out. 38. And the serjeants told these words unto the magistrates: and they feared, when they heard that they were Romans. 39. And they came and besought them, and brought them out, and desired them to depart out of the city. 40. And they went out of the prison, and entered into the house of Lydia: and when they had seen the brethren, they comforted them, and departed.

Acts 17:1. Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: 2. And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, 3. Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. 4. And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. 

17:5. But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. 6. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; 7. Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. 8. And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. 9. And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go. 

17:10. And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. 12. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. 13. But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people. 14. And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timothy abode there still. 15. And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timothy for to come to him with all speed, they departed. 

17:16. Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. 17. Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. 18. Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection. 19. And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? 20. For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. 21. (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.) 

17:22. Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. 23. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. 24. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25. Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26. And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27. That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: 28. For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. 29. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. 30. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: 31. Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. 

17:32. And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. 33. So Paul departed from among them. 34. Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

Acts 18:1. After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; 2. And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them. 3. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers. 4. And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. 5. And when Silas and Timothy were come from Macedonia, Paul was pressed in the spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus was Christ. 6. And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles. 7. And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. 8. And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized. 9. Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: 10. For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city. 11. And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them. 

18:12. And when Gallio was the deputy of Achaia, the Jews made insurrection with one accord against Paul, and brought him to the judgment seat, 13. Saying, This fellow persuadeth men to worship God contrary to the law. 14. And when Paul was now about to open his mouth, Gallio said unto the Jews, If it were a matter of wrong or wicked lewdness, O ye Jews, reason would that I should bear with you: 15. But if it be a question of words and names, and of your law, look ye to it; for I will be no judge of such matters. 16. And he drave them from the judgment seat. 17. Then all the Greeks took Sosthenes, the chief ruler of the synagogue, and beat him before the judgment seat. And Gallio cared for none of those things. 

18:18. And Paul after this tarried there yet a good while, and then took his leave of the brethren, and sailed thence into Syria, and with him Priscilla and Aquila; having shorn his head in Cenchrea: for he had a vow. 19. And he came to Ephesus, and left them there: but he himself entered into the synagogue, and reasoned with the Jews. 20. When they desired him to tarry longer time with them, he consented not; 21. But bade them farewell, saying, I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem: but I will return again unto you, if God will. And he sailed from Ephesus. 22. And when he had landed at Caesarea, and gone up, and saluted the church, he went down to Antioch. 23. And after he had spent some time there, he departed, and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order, strengthening all the disciples. 

18:24. And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. 25. This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. 26. And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly. 27. And when he was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: 28. For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publickly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.

Acts 19:1. And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, 2. He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. 3. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. 4. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. 5. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. 7. And all the men were about twelve. 

19:8. And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. 9. But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. 10. And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks. 11. And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: 12. So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them. 

19:13. Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. 14. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. 15. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? 16. And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17. And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. 18. And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. 19. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed. 21. After these things were ended, Paul purposed in the spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, After I have been there, I must also see Rome. 22. So he sent into Macedonia two of them that ministered unto him, Timothy and Erastus; but he himself stayed in Asia for a season. 23. And the same time there arose no small stir about that way. 24. For a certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, which made silver shrines for Diana, brought no small gain unto the craftsmen; 25. Whom he called together with the workmen of like occupation, and said, Sirs, ye know that by this craft we have our wealth. 26. Moreover ye see and hear, that not alone at Ephesus, but almost throughout all Asia, this Paul hath persuaded and turned away much people, saying that they be no gods, which are made with hands: 27. So that not only this our craft is in danger to be set at nought; but also that the temple of the great goddess Diana should be despised, and her magnificence should be destroyed, whom all Asia and the world worshippeth. 28. And when they heard these sayings, they were full of wrath, and cried out, saying, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. 29. And the whole city was filled with confusion: and having caught Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul’s companions in travel, they rushed with one accord into the theatre. 30. And when Paul would have entered in unto the people, the disciples suffered him not. 31. And certain of the chief of Asia, which were his friends, sent unto him, desiring him that he would not adventure himself into the theatre. 32. Some therefore cried one thing, and some another: for the assembly was confused; and the more part knew not wherefore they were come together. 33. And they drew Alexander out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defence unto the people. 34. But when they knew that he was a Jew, all with one voice about the space of two hours cried out, Great is Diana of the Ephesians. 35. And when the townclerk had appeased the people, he said, Ye men of Ephesus, what man is there that knoweth not how that the city of the Ephesians is a worshipper of the great goddess Diana, and of the image which fell down from Jupiter? 36. Seeing then that these things cannot be spoken against, ye ought to be quiet, and to do nothing rashly. 37. For ye have brought hither these men, which are neither robbers of churches, nor yet blasphemers of your goddess. 38. Wherefore if Demetrius, and the craftsmen which are with him, have a matter against any man, the law is open, and there are deputies: let them implead one another. 39. But if ye enquire any thing concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly. 40. For we are in danger to be called in question for this day’s uproar, there being no cause whereby we may give an account of this concourse. 41. And when he had thus spoken, he dismissed the assembly.

Acts 20:1. And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia. 2. And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece, 3. And there abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia. 4. And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus. 5. These going before tarried for us at Troas. 6. And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days. 

20:7. And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. 8. And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together. 9. And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead. 10. And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him. 11. When he therefore was come up again, and had broken bread, and eaten, and talked a long while, even till break of day, so he departed. 12. And they brought the young man alive, and were not a little comforted. 

20:13. And we went before to ship, and sailed unto Assos, there intending to take in Paul: for so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot. 14. And when he met with us at Assos, we took him in, and came to Mitylene. 15. And we sailed thence, and came the next day over against Chios; and the next day we arrived at Samos, and tarried at Trogyllium; and the next day we came to Miletus. 16. For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost. 

20:17. And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church. 18. And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, 19. Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews: 20. And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house, 21. Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. 22. And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: 23. Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. 24. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. 25. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. 26. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. 27. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. 

20:28. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. 31. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. 32. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified. 33. I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. 34. Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. 35. I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive. 

20:36. And when he had thus spoken, he kneeled down, and prayed with them all. 37. And they all wept sore, and fell on Paul’s neck, and kissed him, 38. Sorrowing most of all for the words which he spake, that they should see his face no more. And they accompanied him unto the ship.

REFLECT The Holy Spirit led Paul and Barnabas in their journeys. Have you ever been conscious of the Spirit’s leading? In what ways does the Holy Spirit lead you?

Yes, I have been conscious of the Holy Spirit’s leading. In many ways does He make God’s will known to me.

He puts thoughts in my head that agree with Scripture to do or not do something. If I want to do something and it isn’t within God’s will, it can be sinful or not, He puts up roadblocks. Just as when Paul tried to enter Asia.

Can you think of any? Please share them in the comments. God bless you.

APPLY If someone asked you, “What must I do to be saved?,” how would you answer? Prepare just a few sentences to use as a ready reply. You must be born again. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, that He is the Son of God, He died for your sins, was raised on the third day, as the Scriptures declare.

PRAY Precious Lord Jesus, I don’t want to live any day without the consciousness that You are leading the way. Please keep me closer each day to Your will for my life. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

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Today’s lesson is about Christians disagreeing. Oh boy. 😂😭🙏 Have a blessed day.

PRAY  Dear Lord, Please take away all distractions and quiet my spirit so I can focus on being with You. Let me hear You, Lord, as I read Your Word. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

READ Acts 15:40‭-‬41 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/act.15.40-41.KJV

Acts 15:1. And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. 2. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. 3. And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. 4. And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. 5. But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.

15:6. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. 7. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. 8. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; 9. And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11. But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.

15:12. Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.

15:13. And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: 14. Simon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. 15. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, 16. After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: 17. That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. 18. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. 19. Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: 20. But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. 21. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. 22. Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: 23. And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: 24. Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: 25. It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26. Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. 28. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; 29. That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well. 30. So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle: 31. Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation. 32. And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them. 33. And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace from the brethren unto the apostles. 34. Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to abide there still. 35. Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.

15:36. And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do. 37. And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. 38. But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. 39. And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; 40. And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God. 41. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches.

REFLECT  Have you experienced a disagreement with another Christian? What was the problem? How was it resolved? What did you learn from it?

APPLY  Think of a major disagreement you had or still have—in your church or family. Distill some principles from this passage and use them to try for a resolution.

PRAY  Lord, I want to be a peacemaker, not quarrelsome. Teach me how with each situation around me today. Thank You Lord. It is in Your precious name I pray, Jesus. Amen.

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Today’s lesson is one on missionary work for our Lord Jesus Christ. Not all of us will be missionaries, but all of us can support them. Today is as good a day as any to ask your church how you may help. Have a blessed day.

PRAY My God, life is an amazing journey every day. I thank You for allowing me to take this amazing journey with You. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

READ  Acts 13:1‭-‬52 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/act.13.1-52.KJV Acts 14:1‭-‬28 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/act.14.1-28.KJV

Acts 13:1. Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. 3. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

4:4. So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. 5. And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister. 6. And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Bar–jesus: 7. Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. 8. But Elymas the sorcerer (for so is his name by interpretation) withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. 9. Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, 10. And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? 11. And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand. 12. Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord. 13. Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem.

13:14. But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down. 15. And after the reading of the law and the prophets the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on. 16. Then Paul stood up, and beckoning with his hand said, Men of Israel, and ye that fear God, give audience. 17. The God of this people of Israel chose our fathers, and exalted the people when they dwelt as strangers in the land of Egypt, and with an high arm brought he them out of it. 18. And about the time of forty years suffered he their manners in the wilderness. 19. And when he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he divided their land to them by lot. 20. And after that he gave unto them judges about the space of four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. 21. And afterward they desired a king: and God gave unto them Saul the son of Cis, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, by the space of forty years. 22. And when he had removed him, he raised up unto them David to be their king; to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. 23. Of this man’s seed hath God according to his promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus: 24. When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25. And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose. 26. Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent. 27. For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. 28. And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. 29. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. 30. But God raised him from the dead: 31. And he was seen many days of them which came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are his witnesses unto the people. 32. And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, 33. God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. 34. And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David. 35. Wherefore he saith also in another psalm, Thou shalt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 36. For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption: 37. But he, whom God raised again, saw no corruption. 

13:38. Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: 39. And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. 40. Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; 41. Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you. 42. And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next sabbath. 43. Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. 

13:44. And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God. 45. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. 46. Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. 47. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. 48. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. 49. And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region. 50. But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts. 51. But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium. 52. And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost.

Acts 14:1. And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed. 2. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren. 3. Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands. 4. But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles. 5. And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully, and to stone them, 6. They were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about: 7. And there they preached the gospel. 

14:8. And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother’s womb, who never had walked: 9. The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, 10. Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked. 11. And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. 12. And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. 13. Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people. 14. Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, 15. And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: 16. Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. 17. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. 18. And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them. 

14:19. And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. 20. Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. 21. And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, 22. Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. 

14:23. And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed. 24. And after they had passed throughout Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia. 

14:25. And when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down into Attalia: 26. And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled. 27. And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. 28. And there they abode long time with the disciples.

REFLECT Paul and Barnabas provoked severe opposition. Why do you think that was so? Is there still a place for missionaries in this high-tech, globalized world of ours? 

As it is today, people don’t like to have their beliefs challenged. We don’t like being told we are wrong. Many times, even as Christians, we still are confronted with our own mortality and sin that comes with it.

There is as much need in our world today as there ever was! Along with the technology of today comes the hackers, the tyrants, the “book burners,” and the “scientists.” All who work, wittingly or not, for satan. The Word of God must be preached to every corner of this world! Please do your part today. 😊

APPLY Make a list of 2–3 missionaries that you know of, perhaps from your church. Write them a letter of encouragement and pray for them.

Amen!

PRAY Dear Jesus, The missionaries often have challenging times. I pray that I could be used to encourage them. I also pray You would protect them today and always. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

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The lesson for today is a testimony we each have. They are all different, but just as important. Each of us had a life changing moment when we accepted Christ Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. No turning back, Amen!

P. S. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

PRAY  Dear Heavenly Father, Thank You for all You are. I am in awe of You. I come to bow in humility before You and bask in the wonder of You. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

READ Acts 9:1‭-‬31 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/act.9.1-31.KJV

Acts 9:1. And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 2. And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. 3. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4. And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5. And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 6. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. 7. And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. 8. And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. 9. And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.

9:10. And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias; and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said, Behold, I am here, Lord. 11. And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight, and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, 12. And hath seen in a vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand on him, that he might receive his sight. 13. Then Ananias answered, Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath done to thy saints at Jerusalem: 14. And here he hath authority from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name. 15. But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: 16. For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake. 17. And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost. 18. And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. 19. And when he had received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain days with the disciples which were at Damascus. 20. And straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God. 21. But all that heard him were amazed, and said; Is not this he that destroyed them which called on this name in Jerusalem, and came hither for that intent, that he might bring them bound unto the chief priests? 22. But Saul increased the more in strength, and confounded the Jews which dwelt at Damascus, proving that this is very Christ.

9:23. And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: 24. But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. 25. Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket. 26. And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. 27. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. 28. And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. 29. And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him. 30. Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus. 31. Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.

REFLECT  Paul “saw the light” about Jesus. How did you “see the light” about him? What changes did it make? Do you think there is one special way everyone comes to Jesus? Why?

I have been privileged to experience a few different life changing moments. Yes, many things have changed. God cured my alcoholism. He changed the way I saw people. He gave me new attitudes. O thank You Jesus!

Now about a “special way” people come to Jesus. He came to me in a bar in Long Beach as I lay dieing. I was a drunk, and some guy stabbed me in the back with his knife. That is to say that God will meet you wherever you are. Just call out to Him today. The time is at hand. God bless you.

APPLY  Close your eyes and try to walk around your home or office blind. Imagine what Paul must have felt like until Ananias helped him regain his sight.

PRAY  Precious Lord, Please take away the scales from my eyes, that I may see Your plans for me and do them. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

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GOOD NEWS FOR ALL

As I read the questions for today’s lesson, I realized something. God is more “woke” than any of these so-called players! 😂 Don’t allow anyone to shake you. Stand firm on the Word of God, and allow God to search your heart and to make you more and more like His Son, Jesus Christ. Amen. Have a blessed day.

PRAY  Precious Jesus, I am grateful that You want all people to have a relationship with You. Thank You for loving us all.

READ  Acts 10:1‭-‬48 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/act.10.1-48.KJV Acts 11:1‭-‬18 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/act.11.1-18.KJV.

Acts 10:1. There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian band, 2. A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway. 3. He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying unto him, Cornelius. 4. And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. 5. And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter: 6. He lodgeth with one Simon a tanner, whose house is by the sea side: he shall tell thee what thou oughtest to do. 7. And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually; 8. And when he had declared all these things unto them, he sent them to Joppa.

10:9. On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: 10. And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, 11. And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: 12. Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. 13. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. 14. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. 15. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. 16. This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven. 17. Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate, 18. And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there.

10:19. While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee. 20. Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them. 21. Then Peter went down to the men which were sent unto him from Cornelius; and said, Behold, I am he whom ye seek: what is the cause wherefore ye are come? 22. And they said, Cornelius the centurion, a just man, and one that feareth God, and of good report among all the nation of the Jews, was warned from God by an holy angel to send for thee into his house, and to hear words of thee.

10:23 Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him. 24. And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and had called together his kinsmen and near friends. 25. And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. 26. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man. 27. And as he talked with him, he went in, and found many that were come together. 28. And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean. 29. Therefore came I unto you without gainsaying, as soon as I was sent for: I ask therefore for what intent ye have sent for me? 30. And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, 31. And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God. 32. Send therefore to Joppa, and call hither Simon, whose surname is Peter; he is lodged in the house of one Simon a tanner by the sea side: who, when he cometh, shall speak unto thee. 33. Immediately therefore I sent to thee; and thou hast well done that thou art come. Now therefore are we all here present before God, to hear all things that are commanded thee of God.

10:34. Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35. But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him. 36. The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:) 37. That word, I say, ye know, which was published throughout all Judaea, and began from Galilee, after the baptism which John preached; 38. How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. 39. And we are witnesses of all things which he did both in the land of the Jews, and in Jerusalem; whom they slew and hanged on a tree: 40. Him God raised up the third day, and shewed him openly; 41. Not to all the people, but unto witnesses chosen before of God, even to us, who did eat and drink with him after he rose from the dead. 42. And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. 43. To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.

10:44. While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 45. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. 46. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, 47. Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

10:48. And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.

Acts 11:1. And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. 2. And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, 3. Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them. 4. But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying, 5. I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me: 6. Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. 7. And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat. 8. But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth. 9. But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. 10. And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven. 11. And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me. 12. And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man’s house: 13. And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; 14. Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved. 15. And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. 16. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. 17. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? 18. When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

REFLECT   Peter had to overcome prejudice in order to welcome Cornelius. Are there  prejudices (perhaps unintentional) that exclude people from your church fellowship? 

No. The only thing I could perhaps consider would be a language barrier. Then we have a Spanish Ministry as well as a Japanese Bible Study. I sure do wish I could speak Chinese, so I could go into Chinatown and invite them to Church.

APPLY   The next time you go to church, either bring someone from a different background or make an effort to welcome someone you don’t know.

PRAY   Dear Lord God, Please show me if you any unconscious prejudices I may have and, if so, Lord please help me to overcome them right here and right now! In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

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SHARING THE WORD

Today’s lesson we learn of God’s love for an Ethiopian eunuch. He sends Philip to share the Gospel with him. I love when God allows me to help in the Kingdom building process. You should absolutely try it. Have a blessed day.      

PRAY I want to thank You, God, for the people in my life who have helped me to learn and grow in my spiritual journey to become more and more like Christ Jesus. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

READ Acts 8:26‭-‬40 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/act.8.26-40.KJV

Acts 8:26. And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert. 27. And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, 28. Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. 29. Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. 30. And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? 31. And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. 32. The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: 33. In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. 34. And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?

8:35. Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. 36. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? 37. And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 38. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. 39. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing. 40. But Philip was found at Azotus: and passing through he preached in all the cities, till he came to Caesarea.

REFLECT Phillip felt a “nudge” from God to help the Ethiopian. Have you ever felt a “nudge” from God? How would you recognize it? What did you do about it?

Yes, I have felt that nudge from God. Sometimes I recognize it as I walk away from an opportunity. Other times I recognize it before, and the opportunity arises. Yesterday I was fortnite enough that the lady whom I had walked away from was still in the parking lot when I was done shopping, so I gave her a tract and introduced myself and invited her to Church.

APPLY Prepare yourself to help someone spiritually by gathering 3–4 key Bible verses about faith in Jesus. Think through how you would best use each one in the conversation.

PRAY Dear sweet Lord, I want to be alert to Your “nudge” and ready to help someone who wants to know more about You. Here am I, Lord. Send me. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

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THE FIRST MARTYR

Today’s lesson is a hard one for me. I wanted him to live, I wanted the people to listen, I wanted things my way. That isn’t the way life is. Ever. So if we know this, and we do, what shall we do? Should we choose the “easy” way and die, or should we choose the way God has for us and live? (Eternity) Have a blessed day.        

PRAY  Dear precious Lord, I want to grow in faith and grow more faithful to You. Help me as I read Your Word now and forever. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

READ Acts 6:8-15 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/act.6.8-15.KJV
Acts 7:1-60 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/act.7.1-60.KJV Acts 8:1-‬8 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/act.8.1-8.KJV

Acts 6:8. And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.

6:9. Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen. 10. And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spake. 11. Then they suborned men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God. 12. And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, 13. And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: 14. For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us. 15. And all that sat in the council, looking stedfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.

Acts 7:1. Then said the high priest, Are these things so? 2. And he said, Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken; The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Charran, 3. And said unto him, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall shew thee. 4. Then came he out of the land of the Chaldeans, and dwelt in Charran: and from thence, when his father was dead, he removed him into this land, wherein ye now dwell. 5. And he gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child. 6. And God spake on this wise, That his seed should sojourn in a strange land; and that they should bring them into bondage, and entreat them evil four hundred years. 7. And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge, said God: and after that shall they come forth, and serve me in this place. 8. And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs. 9. And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him, 10. And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house. 11. Now there came a dearth over all the land of Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction: and our fathers found no sustenance. 12. But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he sent out our fathers first. 13. And at the second time Joseph was made known to his brethren; and Joseph’s kindred was made known unto Pharaoh. 14. Then sent Joseph, and called his father Jacob to him, and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls. 15. So Jacob went down into Egypt, and died, he, and our fathers, 16. And were carried over into Sychem, and laid in the sepulchre that Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor the father of Sychem. 17. But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt, 18. Till another king arose, which knew not Joseph. 19. The same dealt subtilly with our kindred, and evil entreated our fathers, so that they cast out their young children, to the end they might not live. 20. In which time Moses was born, and was exceeding fair, and nourished up in his father’s house three months: 21. And when he was cast out, Pharaoh’s daughter took him up, and nourished him for her own son. 22. And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds. 23. And when he was full forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren the children of Israel. 24. And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him that was oppressed, and smote the Egyptian: 25. For he supposed his brethren would have understood how that God by his hand would deliver them: but they understood not. 26. And the next day he shewed himself unto them as they strove, and would have set them at one again, saying, Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one to another? 27. But he that did his neighbour wrong thrust him away, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? 28. Wilt thou kill me, as thou diddest the Egyptian yesterday? 29. Then fled Moses at this saying, and was a stranger in the land of Madian, where he begat two sons. 30. And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sinai an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush. 31. When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him, 32. Saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold. 33. Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet: for the place where thou standest is holy ground. 34. I have seen, I have seen the affliction of my people which is in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning, and am come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt. 35. This Moses whom they refused, saying, Who made thee a ruler and a judge? the same did God send to be a ruler and a deliverer by the hand of the angel which appeared to him in the bush.

7:36. He brought them out, after that he had shewed wonders and signs in the land of Egypt, and in the Red sea, and in the wilderness forty years. 37. This is that Moses, which said unto the children of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear. 38. This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sinai, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us: 39. To whom our fathers would not obey, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt, 40. Saying unto Aaron, Make us gods to go before us: for as for this Moses, which brought us out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. 41. And they made a calf in those days, and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands. 42. Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? 43. Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Remphan, figures which ye made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon. 44. Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as he had appointed, speaking unto Moses, that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen. 45. Which also our fathers that came after brought in with Jesus into the possession of the Gentiles, whom God drave out before the face of our fathers, unto the days of David; 46. Who found favour before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob. 47. But Solomon built him an house. 48. Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, 49. Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? 50. Hath not my hand made all these things?

7:51. Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. 52. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: 53. Who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it. 54. When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth. 55. But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56. And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God. 57. Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 58. And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. 59. And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 60. And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Acts 8:1. And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2. And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. 3. As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison.

8:4. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.

8:5. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. 6. And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did. 7. For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them: and many taken with palsies, and that were lame, were healed. 8. And there was great joy in that city.

REFLECT Why do you think people get angry, even hateful, when Christians speak out about their faith? Has that ever happened to you?

People get angry because if they are honest, they will have to change the way they are living. They know instinctively that there is something missing in their lives. The sad reality is they don’t want Christians to help them. We must remember, this is a spiritual battle as well.

Of course people have become very angry with me. I remember one time I was just reading my Bible and minding my own business when a friend of mine went off on a tirade against me! It wasn’t like him at all. It was the Accuser speaking through him. I stood up for God and went back to reading my Bible.

APPLY  What would be a clear but non-confrontational way that you could share your faith with a neighbor, friend or co-worker in the next few days or weeks?

You can politely ask if may ask a question. If the door is opened, ask if the believe in God. In Jesus. In Heaven and he’ll. Let them ask you some questions.

I recommend you prepare yourself for many questions people usually have. Don’t be afraid to let someone know you don’t have all the answers.

PRAY  Dear Heavenly Father, Please lead me to someone today who is need of hearing Your Word. Let Your Holy Spirit work through me to win souls to Your Kingdom. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

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Today we start to learn about making life and death choices for being a Christian. Some of the good works we do are looked upon with suspicion. People who lack understanding assume we have a hidden agenda. Others just hate us. Either way, obey God’s Word. Have a blessed day.

PRAY Dear sweet Lord, People might look and think I have not much, but I am grateful for every blessing You have bestowed upon me including Your Word in my life. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

READ  Acts 3:1‭-‬26 KJV https://bible.com/bible/1/act.3.1-26.KJV, Acts 4:1‭-‬37 KJV https://bible.com/bible/1/act.4.1-37.KJV

Acts 3:1. Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. 2. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; 3. Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. 4. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. 5. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. 6. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. 7. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. 8. And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. 9. And all the people saw him walking and praising God: 10. And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him. 11. And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering.

3:12. And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? 13. The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. 14. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; 15. And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. 16. And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. 17. And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. 18. But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.

3:19. Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; 20. And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 21. Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. 22. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. 23. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. 24. Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. 25. Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. 26. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.

Acts 4:1. And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, 2. Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3. And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide. 4. Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.

4:5. And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes, 6. And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. 7. And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this? 8. Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, 9. If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; 10. Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 12. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

4:13. Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. 14. And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. 15. But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, 16. Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. 17. But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. 18. And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. 20. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. 21. So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done.

4:22. For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed. 23. And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. 24. And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: 25. Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? 26. The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. 27. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, 28. For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. 29. And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, 30. By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.

4:31. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. 32. And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. 33. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. 34. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, 35. And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. 36. And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, 37. Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

REFLECT  Have you ever had a conflict with authority over a matter of faith? What was the result? What principles guide the way you act in such a challenging situation?

I’m sure I have, I just can’t recall it at this moment. The result is the pastor showing me my error, lol. Oh, wait. I misunderstood.

Yes, in a college religion course at that was I told that there were many ways to get to Heaven without faith in Jesus Christ. Not being as well versed, I dropped the class. I did not want to argue the fact Jesus alone is the Way. (John 14:6.)

I follow this principal: Acts 4:19. Obey authority (the law) unless it calls upon you to disobey God. Stand on God’s righteousness.

APPLY Identify some people or groups who are being persecuted for their faith (use news sources if you need to) and then pray for God to give them courage and help.

We have missionaries who are in very dangerous parts of the world. We do Pray for them, as well as the other missionaries. They are an inspiration to me.

PRAY Dear precious Pray, Please make me aware when it’s necessary to take a public stand for my faith in You, and please grant me the courage to do it. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

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Today’s lesson should be read by every Christian. We all need to invite our friends and family members to Church. This is the least we could do in the way of Soul Winning. Just invite them. The Holy Spirit is already working on the other person’s heart. God bless you!        

PRAY Thank You, God, that You sent Your Holy Spirit into the world to teach and lead us in Your ways. May we always have our eyes and ears tuned into You that we may be those that can see and hear. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

READ Acts 2:1‭-‬47 KJV https://bible.com/bible/1/act.2.1-47.KJV

Acts 2:1. And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 6. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. 7. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? 8. And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? 9. Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, 10. Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, 11. Cretans and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. 12. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? 13. Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

2:14. But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: 15. For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. 16. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17. And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18. And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19. And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: 20. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: 21. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. 22. Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: 23. Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: 24. Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. 25. For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: 26. Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: 27. Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. 28. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. 29. Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. 30. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; 31. He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. 32. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. 33. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. 34. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 35. Until I make thy foes thy footstool. 36. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

2:37. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38. Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. 40. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

2:41. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. 42. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. 43. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. 44. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 45. And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. 46. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 47. Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

REFLECT How did people react to the coming of the Holy Spirit on that Pentecost Day? What do people you know think about the Holy Spirit today? What do you think?

Some willingly accepted the Truth, some rejected it. Those who believe in Jesus Christ as God also believe in the Holy Spirit. As do I believe in the Godhead: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Amen!

APPLY  If you, like Peter, could speak to a large crowd about the Holy Spirit, what would you say? Take a moment today to outline your key points.

I would let them know that God’s love is real, God’s judgments are righteous, Jesus Christ died for our sins, our Salvation is at hand. If you would believe in Jesus, by your faith you shall be born again and set free from sin. Hallelujah!

PRAY   Lord, help me to understand more and more about the Holy Spirit and what the Spirit means to my life.

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THE ASCENSION

O glorious day! Come, dear Jesus, come. I know You are at the right hand of our Father. Please make haste and return soon! Everyone stay ready, and have a blessed day.

PRAY  Dear precious Lord, You continue to amaze me with the wonders of Your power and Your goodness!  Thank You. Please draw me closer to You with each step I take. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

READ  Acts 1:1‭-‬11 KJV https://bible.com/bible/1/act.1.1-11.KJV

Acts 1:1. The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2. Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: 3. To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: 4. And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 5. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. 6. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7. And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 8. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

1:9. And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11. Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

REFLECT  What “convincing proofs” could you offer someone that Jesus is alive today? Do you believe Jesus will return to earth some day?  Why does it matter?

Death is the penalty for sin. Jesus was sinless. Ergo, no death could hold Him. Yes I do believe Jesus will be coming back, and I’m not too sure it will be much longer!

It matters because it is the hope of the believers! It is why I continue to live in this corrupt world with great hope and assurance that my struggle and work is not in vain. When the resurrection of us all happens, we will be with Him! O glorious day!

APPLY  Look up into the sky and imagine that you were there that day that Jesus ascended into heaven. Imagine what it must have been like to witness that event!

PRAY  Thank You, God, that Jesus is alive in heaven. Thank You also for the promise that Jesus will return for His people. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

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THE RESURRECTION

He is risen! Glory hallelujah, He is risen! Have a blessed day.   

PRAY Dear Heavenly Father, As I come to You this morning, please teach me to listen in the stillness with Your Word. Give me understanding and wisdom. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

READ John 20:1-31 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/jhn.20.1-31.KJV and John 21:1-25 KJV https://bible.com/bible/1/jhn.21.1-25.KJV

John 20:1. The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre. 2. Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and saith unto them, They have taken away the Lord out of the sepulchre, and we know not where they have laid him. 3. Peter therefore went forth, and that other disciple, and came to the sepulchre. 4. So they ran both together: and the other disciple did outrun Peter, and came first to the sepulchre. 5. And he stooping down, and looking in, saw the linen clothes lying; yet went he not in. 6. Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, 7. And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. 8. Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. 9. For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead. 10. Then the disciples went away again unto their own home.

20:11. But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre, 12. And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. 13. And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him. 14. And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus. 15. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away. 16. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master. 17. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. 18. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had spoken these things unto her.

20:19. Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 20. And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. 21. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: 23.  Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

20:24. But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25. The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe. 26. And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 27. Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28. And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. 29. Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. 30. And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: 31. But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

John 21:1. After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself. 2. There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples. 3. Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing. 4. But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. 5. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. 6. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. 7. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him, (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. 8. And the other disciples came in a little ship; (for they were not far from land, but as it were two hundred cubits,) dragging the net with fishes. 9. As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. 10. Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. 11. Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken. 12. Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine. And none of the disciples durst ask him, Who art thou? knowing that it was the Lord. 13. Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise.

21:14. This is now the third time that Jesus shewed himself to his disciples, after that he was risen from the dead. 15. So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. 16. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. 17. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

21:18. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. 19. This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me. 20. Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee? 21. Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? 22. Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. 23. Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? 24. This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true. 25. And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

REFLECT Many people say the resurrection is just a “myth” or the result of wishful thinking. What do you think? Why is it important that it’s true?

I believe it to be a fact. As it is written in 1 Peter 1:3: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

It is important that it is true for one reason and one reason alone. 1 Corinthians 15:14: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.

In other words, Jesus would not be the Christ. He would be just as the rest of us, born of sin to die in sin with no hope.

Sadly, many people are in the world today not knowing or understanding the consequences of not having a relationship with Jesus Christ our Lord. Make sure to do your part to invite a friend, relative, or a stranger to your Church today. Find out if they’re sure of where they are going after their last day here. If you would like some tools, let know in the comments. I may add the Romans Road as a quide. Have a blessed day.

APPLY When you are outside today, look for evidence of new life. How do you see examples of resurrection all around you? How do these examples remind you of Jesus? 

PRAY Dear precious Lord, it’s amazing and hard to comprehend it all, but help me to take in the wonder of Your glorious resurrection! In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Aman.

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THE CRUCIFIXION

Our precious Lord God loves us so much that He was willing to die in our place to save us from our own sins. What an amazing God we serve! Have a blessed day. 

PRAY As you pray, ask God to enable you to fully enter into this familiar but horrific account of Jesus’ death.

READ John 19:1‭-‬42 KJV https://bible.com/bible/1/jhn.19.1-42.KJV

John 19:1. Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him. 2. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, 3. And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands. 4. Pilate therefore went forth again, and saith unto them, Behold, I bring him forth to you, that ye may know that I find no fault in him. 5. Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! 6. When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him. 7. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God. 8. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he was the more afraid; 9. And went again into the judgment hall, and saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. 10. Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee? 11. Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin. 12. And from thenceforth Pilate sought to release him: but the Jews cried out, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar. 

19:13. When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14. And it was the preparation of the passover, and about the sixth hour: and he saith unto the Jews, Behold your King! 15. But they cried out, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar. 16. Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away. 17. And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha: 18. Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst. 19. And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. 20. This title then read many of the Jews: for the place where Jesus was crucified was nigh to the city: and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. 21. Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. 22. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written. 

19:23. Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took his garments, and made four parts, to every soldier a part; and also his coat: now the coat was without seam, woven from the top throughout. 24. They said therefore among themselves, Let us not rend it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be: that the scripture might be fulfilled, which saith, They parted my raiment among them, and for my vesture they did cast lots. These things therefore the soldiers did. 25. Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. 26. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! 27. Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home. 28. After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. 29. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. 

19:30. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. 31. The Jews therefore, because it was the preparation, that the bodies should not remain upon the cross on the sabbath day, (for that sabbath day was an high day,) besought Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32. Then came the soldiers, and brake the legs of the first, and of the other which was crucified with him. 33. But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs: 34. But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water. 35. And he that saw it bare record, and his record is true: and he knoweth that he saith true, that ye might believe. 36. For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken. 37. And again another scripture saith, They shall look on him whom they pierced. 38. And after this Joseph of Arimathaea, being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus. 39. And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight. 40. Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury. 41. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. 42. There laid they Jesus therefore because of the Jews’ preparation day; for the sepulchre was nigh at hand.

REFLECT In light of what Jesus did on the Cross, why do you think so many people still ignore him? Why should anyone care that Jesus died?

They still ignore Jesus today for the same reason He had to come into the world; sin. Jesus died and was raised again to be sacrificial Lamb of God.

Everyone should care that Jesus died for their sins, because He loves them. Everything He did, He did for the lost, the hopeless, the down trodden, the sick, the rejected, and more. He came to save us all by washing away our sins through His cleansing blood.

He will be coming back. There will be a Judgment Day. Every knee shall bow, every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord! Hallelujah! Come, Lord Jesus, come.

APPLY Spend a few minutes today meditating on what Jesus did for us that day. Thank Him for what He did and continues to do.

PRAY Dear precious Lord Jesus, I can’t begin to imagine what You went through on the Cross. How much You must love me! I thank You and love You.

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ARREST AND TRIAL.

They finally “caught” Jesus! He was so hard to find. He taught in those synagogues, He ate with Pharisees and sinners, He cured thousands of people; but they were afraid to arrest Him. The people loved Him and believed in Him. They had good reason to fear. So what changed?

It was Passover. They condemned Him while the people were at home observing the symbol of that fateful night long ago when God promised His people redemption by the blood of the Lamb. Have a blessed night.       

PRAY Dear Heavenly Father, When I face pressures and “trials” for my faith, help me to be strong, remembering Your teachings, and to faithful to You. Help me to do all I can and then, to stand. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

READ  John 18:1‭-‬40 KJV https://bible.com/bible/1/jhn.18.1-40.KJV

John 18:1. When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples. 2. And Judas also, which betrayed him, knew the place: for Jesus ofttimes resorted thither with his disciples. 3. Judas then, having received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees, cometh thither with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4. Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon him, went forth, and said unto them, Whom seek ye? 5. They answered him, Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus saith unto them, I am he. And Judas also, which betrayed him, stood with them. 6. As soon then as he had said unto them, I am he, they went backward, and fell to the ground. 7. Then asked he them again, Whom seek ye? And they said, Jesus of Nazareth. 8. Jesus answered, I have told you that I am he: if therefore ye seek me, let these go their way: 9. That the saying might be fulfilled, which he spake, Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none. 10. Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. The servant’s name was Malchus. 11. Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it? 12. Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him, 13. And led him away to Annas first; for he was father in law to Caiaphas, which was the high priest that same year. 14. Now Caiaphas was he, which gave counsel to the Jews, that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.

18:15. And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest. 16. But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter. 17. Then saith the damsel that kept the door unto Peter, Art not thou also one of this man’s disciples? He saith, I am not. 18. And the servants and officers stood there, who had made a fire of coals; for it was cold: and they warmed themselves: and Peter stood with them, and warmed himself. 

18:19. The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine. 20. Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing. 21. Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said. 22. And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so? 23. Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me? 24. Now Annas had sent him bound unto Caiaphas the high priest.  And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself.

18:25. They said therefore unto him, Art not thou also one of his disciples? He denied it, and said, I am not. 26. One of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, saith, Did not I see thee in the garden with him? 27. Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crew. 

18:28. Then led they Jesus from Caiaphas unto the hall of judgment: and it was early; and they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled; but that they might eat the passover. 29. Pilate then went out unto them, and said, What accusation bring ye against this man? 30. They answered and said unto him, If he were not a malefactor, we would not have delivered him up unto thee. 31. Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye him, and judge him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death: 32. That the saying of Jesus might be fulfilled, which he spake, signifying what death he should die. 33. Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? 34. Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? 35. Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? 36. Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. 37. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. 38. Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again unto the Jews, and saith unto them, I find in him no fault at all. 39. But ye have a custom, that I should release unto you one at the passover: will ye therefore that I release unto you the King of the Jews? 40. Then cried they all again, saying, Not this man, but Barabbas. Now Barabbas was a robber.

REFLECT   What do you think Peter was thinking that night? Have you ever been in a situation like that? Have you faced pressures to “deny” Jesus? What does it mean to deny him today? 

Peter may have thought he was trying to help Jesus without being captured himself. It would be hard to do so if he were captured as well.

Yes, I’ve been in some pretty sticky situations, but none where I would lose my life if I didn’t deny that Jesus’Christ is my Lord and Saviour.

If I were to deny Jesus today, He would deny me in the Judgment. Period.

APPLY   Imagine you were in this story. What pressures would you feel?  Would you defend Jesus? How? What you would say to the religious leaders and to Pilate?

Being a woman, I would have been with His Mother. If I were a man, I don’t really know. I will not second guess Peter whom Jesus redeemed. It had to be the way it was. It was prophesied.

I think I will consider more what I will answer to God rather than about something already past.

PRAY  Thank God that, unlike Pilate, you know what truth is and that you know where to find it

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THE LAST SUPPER  

Today’s lesson is chock full of strong emotions and deep meaning which even until today, from which we can learn. Let us keep watch. It is so good to be forgiven. Have a blessed day.            

PRAY Dear precious Lord, No matter what I read from Your Word today, I pray that I will attend to it well. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

READ Luke 22:1‭-‬46 KJV https://bible.com/bible/1/luk.22.1-46.KJV

Luke 22:1. Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover. 2. And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people.

22:3. Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. 4. And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them. 5. And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. 6. And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude.

22:7. Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed. 8. And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat. 9. And they said unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare? 10. And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in. 11. And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? 12. And he shall shew you a large upper room furnished: there make ready. 13. And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover.

22:14. And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. 15. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: 16. For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. 17. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: 18. For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.

22:19. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. 20. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

22:21. But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table. 22. And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed! 23. And they began to enquire among themselves, which of them it was that should do this thing.

22:24. And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. 25. And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise Lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. 26. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. 27. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth. 28. Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. 29. And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; 30. That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

22:31. And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32. But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. 33. And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. 34. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me. 35. And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. 36. Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. 37. For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. 38. And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough. 

22:39. And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him. 40. And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. 41. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed, 42. Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. 43. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. 44. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. 45. And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow, 46. And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.

REFLECT  What does this passage say to you about Jesus? What does it say to you about Peter and the other disciples? About you?

This passage reminds me that Jesus’, while being God, at the same time is also human. He felt everything we will ever feel. The disciples are not fully aware of who He is, just as we certainly do not comprehend it all.

I’m quite sure that if we did, we would drastically change our thinking and actions. He is coming back soon. Are we preparing the way? Or are we just living our lives and sacrificing those who would repent if they could only hear the Word and Truth about the Gospel of Jesus Christ through a trac. Something to think about.

APPLY The next time you prepare to take communion, say aloud, perhaps as a whisper, the words Jesus spoke over the bread and wine.

PRAY Thank You God for the Last Supper and for every “last supper” celebrated since that night. You are a Promise Keeper, and I love you.

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Today’s lesson is deep, if we apply it to ourselves. I thank God for Jesus! Have a blessed day.          

PRAY Lord God, You alone are the creator and the true source of all life. I honor and thank You. 

READ  John 11:1‭-‬57 KJV https://bible.com/bible/1/jhn.11.1-57.KJV John

11:1. Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. 2. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) 3. Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. 4. When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. 5. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. 6. When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was. 7. Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again. 8. His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? 9. Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. 10. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him. 11. These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. 12. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. 13. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. 14. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. 15. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him. 16. Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him. 17. Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already. 18. Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: 19. And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. 20. Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. 21. Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 22. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. 23. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. 24. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. 25. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26. And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? 27. She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. 28. And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee. 29. As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him. 30. Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him. 31. The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there. 32. Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 33. When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, 34. And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. 35. Jesus wept. 36. Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! 37. And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? 38. Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. 39. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. 40. Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? 41. Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. 42. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. 43. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. 44. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. 45. Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. 

11:46. But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. 47. Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. 48. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. 49. And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, 50. Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. 51. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; 52. And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. 53. Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death. 54. Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples. 

11:55. And the Jews’ passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves. 56. Then sought they for Jesus, and spake among themselves, as they stood in the temple, What think ye, that he will not come to the feast? 57. Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he were, he should shew it, that they might take him.

REFLECT What does it mean to you to know that Jesus has power even over death? How does that knowledge affect the way that you think about your own death? 

It means everything to me to know that Jesus has power even over death. Without such power, He would be as any other man. That knowledge shows me that when I die, only my broken down body dies. I will be in Heaven with Him!

APPLY Memorize Jesus’ words: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”

PRAY Dear precious Lord, When I face the death of a loved one, or my own death, help me be comforted by Your promise. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

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This is a topic many people don’t like to discuss when it gets personal. I am not excluded from this group. I do, however, acknowledge God’s healing power. Nothing is too different for Him! Praise God! Have a blessed day.                                          

PRAY  Thank You, Lord, for the many kinds of freedom You give me. I’m very grateful for all You do for me.

READ   Mark 5:1‭-‬20 KJV https://bible.com/bible/1/mrk.5.1-20.KJV

Mark 5:1. And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. 2. And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, 3. Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: 4. Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. 5. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. 6. But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, 7. And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not. 8. For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit. 9. And he asked him, What is thy name? And he answered, saying, My name is Legion: for we are many. 10. And he besought him much that he would not send them away out of the country. 11. Now there was there nigh unto the mountains a great herd of swine feeding. 12. And all the devils besought him, saying, Send us into the swine, that we may enter into them. 13. And forthwith Jesus gave them leave. And the unclean spirits went out, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the sea, (they were about two thousand;) and were choked in the sea. 14. And they that fed the swine fled, and told it in the city, and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that was done. 15. And they come to Jesus, and see him that was possessed with the devil, and had the legion, sitting, and clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid. 16. And they that saw it told them how it befell to him that was possessed with the devil, and also concerning the swine. 17. And they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts. 18. And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him. 19. Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee. 20. And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.

REFLECT  Do you believe in the existence of evil in the world today? Where have you seen or experienced it personally? How can this story help you deal with evil?

I definitely do believe in the existence of evil. However, this is one of topics I will not share publically. Thank you for understanding.

The way I deal with evil is trusting in the Lord and quoting Scripture. It works.

APPLY  If you see or experience an example of evil today or this week, stop and pray that Jesus’ power will quickly overcome and defeat it.  

PRAY  Lord, You know the evil in the world. I’m powerless against it but I’m thankful that You’re not

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This is a very good lesson. Have we any spiritual blind spots? Does pride hide them from view? Do our biases hide the true riches our Lord Jesus wants us to enjoy? I know I need to pray several times a day to stay in His will. I also pray you have a blessed day.       

PRAY Dear Lord Jesus, continue to open my eyes and heart to the wonder of who You are and all that You have done, are doing, and will do. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

READ  John 9:1‭-‬41 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/jhn.9.1-41.KJV

John 9:1. And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth. 2. And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? 3. Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. 4. I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. 5. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. 6. When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay, 7. And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing. 8. The neighbours therefore, and they which before had seen him that he was blind, said, Is not this he that sat and begged? 9. Some said, This is he: others said, He is like him: but he said, I am he. 10. Therefore said they unto him, How were thine eyes opened? 11. He answered and said, A man that is called Jesus made clay, and anointed mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to the pool of Siloam, and wash: and I went and washed, and I received sight. 12. Then said they unto him, Where is he? He said, I know not.

9:13. They brought to the Pharisees him that aforetime was blind. 14. And it was the sabbath day when Jesus made the clay, and opened his eyes. 15. Then again the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. He said unto them, He put clay upon mine eyes, and I washed, and do see. 16. Therefore said some of the Pharisees, This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day. Others said, How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles? And there was a division among them. 17. They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet. 18. But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind, and received his sight, until they called the parents of him that had received his sight. 19. And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see? 20. His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: 21. But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself. 22. These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue. 23. Therefore said his parents, He is of age; ask him. 24. Then again called they the man that was blind, and said unto him, Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner. 25. He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see. 26. Then said they to him again, What did he to thee? how opened he thine eyes? 27. He answered them, I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again? will ye also be his disciples? 28. Then they reviled him, and said, Thou art his disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples. 29. We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is. 30. The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes. 31. Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth. 32. Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind. 33. If this man were not of God, he could do nothing. 34. They answered and said unto him, Thou wast altogether born in sins, and dost thou teach us? And they cast him out.

9:35.  Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? 36. He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him? 37. And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee. 38. And he said, Lord, I believe. And he worshipped him.

9:39. And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not might see; and that they which see might be made blind. 40. And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? 41. .Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.

REFLECT Some people claim to be miraculously healed by God today. Others deny it happens. What do you think? Does God still heal miraculously? Have you seen it happen?

I happen to be one of the people He has healed, so I know it is true. Long story short.

I was an alcoholic. I was attacked and stabbed. I cried out, and He heard me. Two and a half days later I awoke in the hospital. For the first time in a very long time, I did not have to have a drink! No shakes. No DT’s. I was cured. Thank You Jesus! August 19, 1987.

APPLY The blind man, when healed, said “One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see.” Sing or read aloud the first verse of the well-known hymn Amazing Grace.

PRAY Dear Saviour Jesus, I pray that You will heal me of any spiritual blindness so I can see You more clearly today and always. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

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WALKING ON WATER

Today’s lesson we read about Peter’s faith being tested. It could apply to any of us. What would you have done? Have a blessed day.                   

PRAY  Dear Heavenly Father, You are a great God. I acknowledge You and Your Son, Jesus, as the God of all power, and the God of miracles. Please guide my steps today and always. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

READ  Matthew 14:22‭-‬36 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/mat.14.22-36.KJV

Mt. 14:22. And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. 23. And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. 24. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. 25. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. 26. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. 27. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. 28. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. 29. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. 30. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. 31. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? 32. And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. 33. Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.

14:34. And when they were gone over, they came into the land of Gennesaret. 35. And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased; 36. And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.

REFLECT  What “storms” have you faced recently? How did you cope? How did your faith help you deal with any fear or danger? What have you learned to help in future storms?

When I face a storm, I try to remember my first line of defense which is Jesus Christ. I try to remember that all they can really do is take my life. Then I would be in Heaven! When I put everything in perspective, they stop being”storms” so big that God can’t handle it.

APPLY  Think of a situation that is causing you fear or stress. With that in mind, say aloud several times, “Take courage. It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

PRAY  Precious Lord, when those inevitable storms of life come to me, help me to remember Your presence and power. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen

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LOST AND FOUND

These parables remind me of before and after I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart. What a delightful and marvelous difference! Have a blessed day.             

PRAY  Lord, I thank You that You love me so much and that You’ll always hold on to me and never let me go. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

READ   Luke 15:1‭-‬32 KJV https://bible.com/bible/1/luk.15.1-32.KJV

Luke 15:1. Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. 2. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. 

15:3. And he spake this parable unto them, saying, 4. What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? 5. And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. 7. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

15:8. Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? 9. And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. 10. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. 

15:11. And he said, A certain man had two sons: 12. And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. 13. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. 14. And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. 15. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. 17. And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18.  I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19. And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. 20. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 21. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. 22. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: 23. And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: 24. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry. 25. Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing. 26. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant. 27. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. 28. And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him. 29. And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: 30. But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. 31. And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.  32. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

REFLECT  What might these parables, especially the parable of The Lost Son, teach you about God? How does that make you feel? Does anything in these parables surprise you?

I’ve learned that God is never far away. In these parables, we get a peek into Heaven. No matter what, when one sinner who is lost turns back to God, he is welcomed with open arms. Likewise, the angels rejoice! There is tremendous love from our Father God.

APPLY  Think of something very special that you’ve ever lost and then found. Remember how you felt and then imagine how God feels when a “lost” person is found.

PRAY  I praise God for His unfailing love and care, and for all His children and for all creation. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

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When you woke up today, did you remember to thank God for another day of opportunities? Another day to help win someone to Christ? Or maybe something as simple as having food to eat? What amazing blessings the Lord has bestowed upon us! Have a blessed day.     

PRAY  Thank You Father God for the food You provide each day and more importantly, for spiritual food I eat each day from Your Word. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

READ  Luke 9:1‭-‬36 KJV https://bible.com/bible/1/luk.9.1-36.KJV

Luke 9:1. Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. 2. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick. 3. And he said unto them, Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor scrip, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece. 4. And whatsoever house ye enter into, there abide, and thence depart. 5.  And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them. 6. And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where. 

9:7. Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by him: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of some, that John was risen from the dead; 8. And of some, that Elias had appeared; and of others, that one of the old prophets was risen again. 9. And Herod said, John have I beheaded: but who is this, of whom I hear such things? And he desired to see him. 10. And the apostles, when they were returned, told him all that they had done. And he took them, and went aside privately into a desert place belonging to the city called Bethsaida. 11. And the people, when they knew it, followed him: and he received them, and spake unto them of the kingdom of God, and healed them that had need of healing. 12. And when the day began to wear away, then came the twelve, and said unto him, Send the multitude away, that they may go into the towns and country round about, and lodge, and get victuals: for we are here in a desert place. 13. But he said unto them, Give ye them to eat. And they said, We have no more but five loaves and two fishes; except we should go and buy meat for all this people. 14. For they were about five thousand men. And he said to his disciples, Make them sit down by fifties in a company. 15. And they did so, and made them all sit down. 16. Then he took the five loaves and the two fishes, and looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and brake, and gave to the disciples to set before the multitude. 17. And they did eat, and were all filled: and there was taken up of fragments that remained to them twelve baskets. 

9:18. And it came to pass, as he was alone praying, his disciples were with him: and he asked them, saying, Whom say the people that I am? 19. They answering said, John the Baptist; but some say, Elias; and others say, that one of the old prophets is risen again. 20. He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God. 21. And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing; 22. Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day. 

9:23. And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. 24. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. 25. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? 26. For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels. 27. But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God. 

9:28. And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray. 29. And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment was white and glistering. 30. And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias: 31. Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem. 32. But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him. 33. And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said. 34. While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud. 35. And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. 36. And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen.

REFLECT  Many people today are skeptical of the miracles in the Bible. What’s your perspective? How would you explain Jesus’ miracle of feeding 5,000 people to a skeptic?

My perspective of truths in the Bible is just that, they are true. Jesus is God. If God made the whole world, who’s to say He couldn’t make a loaf of bread extend to many people?!

APPLY  At each meal today, be sure to thank God for feeding you so generously. Consider making a generous donation to a local food pantry, also. 

PRAY  Dear precious Lord, I am truly thankful for Your faithfulness in feeding me. Help me to always remember You in all that I do. I love You Jesus. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

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THE GOOD SAMARITAN

This is a good lesson. Who is our neighbor? That is an interesting question. At first I would have said everyone, but in this example, there is only one true answer. The person who cares enough to help someone in need and helps them. Have a blessed day by blessing someone along the way. ❤️

PRAY Dear Lord God, As I get to know You better, I want to share more and more of Your great love and salvation. Please equip me with Your Word. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

READ Luke 10:25‭-‬37 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/luk.10.25-37.KJV

Luke 10:25. And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? 26. He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? 27. And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. 28.  And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. 29. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour? 30. And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. 33. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, 34. And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. 36. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? 37. And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

REFLECT  Who do you consider to be your neighbors? What makes one a “neighbor”? How are you exercising your responsibilities as a “neighbor” to others?

My neighbor is the person to whom I show compassion and likewise. In this situation, a neighbor is someone in need. I try to live my life by being helpful and obedient to God. In this way, hopefully, I fulfill the will of my Father as a Good Samaritan..

APPLY Identify a “neighbor” in need—whether nearby or not—and decide how and when you can be a “Good Samaritan” in a practical way. 

PRAY Dear God, Make me a good neighbor to anyone I can help. I want to be a “Good Samaritan,” too. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen

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THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN

In these verses, Jesus is speaking in parables. He explains later to His disciples. I thank God there is a Bible so I could have the benefit of understanding. Have a blessed day.

PRAY Pause to thank God now for the gift of this day and all that you’ll receive from him today.

READ  Matthew 13:1‭-‬58 KJV https://bible.com/bible/1/mat.13.1-58.KJV

Matthew 13:1. The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side. 2. And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. 3. And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; 4. And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: 5. Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: 6. And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: 8. But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. 9. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. 10. And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? 11. He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. 12. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. 13.  Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. 14. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: 15. For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. 16. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. 17. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

13:18. Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. 19. When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. 20. But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21. Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. 22. He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. 23. But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

13:24. Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: 25. But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. 26. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. 27. So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? 28. He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? 29. But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 30. Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.

13:31. Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: 32. Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof. 33. Another parable spake he unto them; The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid in three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened. 34. All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them: 35. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world.

13:36. Then Jesus sent the multitude away, and went into the house: and his disciples came unto him, saying, Declare unto us the parable of the tares of the field. 37. He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; 38. The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; 39. The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. 40. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. 41. The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42. And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

13:44.  Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.

13:45. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: 46. Who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it.

13:47. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net, that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind: 48. Which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels, but cast the bad away. 49. So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, 50. And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 51. Jesus saith unto them, Have ye understood all these things? They say unto him, Yea, Lord. 52. Then said he unto them, Therefore every scribe which is instructed unto the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old.

13:53. And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed thence. 54. And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? 55. Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? 56. And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things? 57. And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house. 58. And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

REFLECT  What do you think Jesus meant by “the Kingdom of Heaven”? What do you think it is or will be like? Why should we be concerned about it?

I think Jesus means exactly what He says when speaking about the Kingdom of Heaven. It will be just as it is described in Revelations and more.

We should absolutely be concerned about Heaven. Only those people who’s names are written in the Lambs book of Life will be allowed to enter in and stay. This is why Soul Winning is so very important.

While we are alive, it is our honor and opportunity to invite others to follow Christ. We can witness to them through our own testimonies. Even you have a testimony! Try it today, and see how much better you feel tonight.

APPLY  Take a walk outside sometime today and look at a garden and some weeds. Reflect on what they teach you about the Kingdom of Heaven. 

PRAY  Dear precious Lord, please keep my mind and spirit watchful and alert to see signs of Your Kingdom all around me today and always. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

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Today we learn not to worry, the Lord’s prayer, and other nuggets of wisdom. The Bible is filled with them! How a blessed day.

PRAY  Lord, continue to do Your good work in me as I read and study Your Word today. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

READ Matthew 6:5‭-‬34 KJV

https://bible.com/bible/1/mat.6.5-34.KJV, Matthew 7:1-29 KJV https://bible.com/bible/1/mat.7.1-29.KJV

Mt. 6:5. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. 7. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

6:9. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. 10. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11. Give us this day our daily bread. 12. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. 13. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

6:14. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

6:16. Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 17. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; 18. That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

6:19. Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 22. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. 23. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

6:24. No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

6:25. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26. Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27. Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28. And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29. And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31. Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32. (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

6:33. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

Mt. 7:1. Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. 3. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? 4. Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? 5. Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

7:6. Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

7:7. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 9. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 10. Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11. If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? 12. Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

7:13. Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

7:15. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17. Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

7:21. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23. And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

7:24. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: 25. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. 26. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: 27. And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. 28. And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: 29. For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

REFLECT  Is it really possible not to worry, as Jesus says here? What things worry you the most? How can your faith help you deal with those worries?

Yes, if you believe what He says with your whole heart, it is possible not to worry. In Philippines 4:4-8 ( https://bible.com/bible/1/php.4.4-8.KJV), we learn of the peace of God.

The one thing I can honestly say “worries” me the most is being outside of the will of God. Fortunately, I can go to the Lord in prayer. I just need to remember to do this FIRST!

APPLY  Write down on paper the things that are worrying you the most right now. Pray for God to help you trust him and then tear up the paper and “throw your worries away.”

PRAY  Pray and thank God that he is big enough to deal with anything and everything that worries you.

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Today’s reading is a familiar one, and it for that reason alone we should pay close attention rather than skipping it. Food for thought. Have a blessed day.                 

PRAY Thank God that He wants us to come and be with Him now—and that He welcomes us with love.      

READ  Matthew 5:1‭-‬48 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/mat.5.1-48.KJV, Matthew 6:1‭-‬4 KJV https://bible.com/bible/1/mat.6.1-4.KJV

Matthew 5:1. And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him: 2. And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,

5:3. Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4.  Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. 5. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. 6.  Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. 7. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. 8.  Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. 9. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. 10. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

5:13. Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.

5:14. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

5:17. Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 18. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20. For I say unto you,  That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

5:21. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: 22. But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. 23.  Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; 24. Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. 25.  Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. 26. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.

5:27. Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: 28. But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. 29. And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 30. And if thy right hand offend thee, cut it off, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell. 31. It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement:  32. But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery.

5:33. Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: 34. But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: 35. Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. 36. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. 37. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

5:38. Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: 39. But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also. 41. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. 42. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

5:43. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45. That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. 46. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? 47. And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

5:48. Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Matthew 6:1. Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. 2. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 3. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 4. That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.

REFLECT  “If you live by the Sermon on the Mount, you’ll be happy.”  Agree, disagree? Why? Is it possible to follow Jesus’ teaching completely in our modern society? 

Yes, I believe you would be happy if you lived the Sermon on the Mount, yet I understand the condition of mankind. The closer I draw myself to Jesus, the more tools I have to secure that relationship.

APPLY  There are many different attitudes and actions Jesus commends here. Choose one or two that seem difficult for you and try to begin practicing it or them today.  

PRAY  Lord, I want to live the kind of life that You commend, because I know that is Your will for my life. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen

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BAPTISM AND TEMPTATION  

When we are tempted, and we will be, God has made a way of escape. Thank You! Memorize a few verses from the Bible, so when satan and his demons or your own bad habits come to haunt you; you have a defense. God has provided it for you. What a magnificent God we serve! Have a blessed day.

PRAY  Lord, there is so much good help for me in the Bible. Help me today to learn more from it.

READ. Matthew 3:13–4:17 KJV https://bible com/bible/1/mat.3.13-17.KJV, Matthew 4:1-17 KJV https://bible.com/bible/1/may.4.1-17.KJV

Matthew 3:13. Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. 3:14. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? 3:15. And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. 3:16. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: 3:17. And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

4:1. Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. 2. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. 3. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. 4. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. 5. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, 6. And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. 7. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. 8. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9. And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. 10. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. 11. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

4:12. Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; 13. And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: 14. That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, 15. The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; 16. The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.

4:17. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

REFLECT  What can you learn from this account of Jesus’ temptation that will help you when you are tempted? What temptations affect you the most?

When I am at my weakest, I can rely on Christ when I call out to Him. Also, I can defend myself with the Word of God.

Chocolate affects very much as a temptation. I am figuring diabetes, and I never really had a problem with it until I was told I shouldn’t have any. Funny how that works. This is just an example. There are more, but too personal. 😊

APPLY  List the biggest temptations in your life. For each, jot down some practical strategies for resisting.  

PRAY  Dear precious Lord, I pray that throughout this day and the days ahead You will help me to resist temptation and honor You. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

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JOHN THE BAPTIST

John the Baptist was a devout man of God. That is a good thing. If only I could bring as many people to the Lord! Have a blessed day.

PRAY God, my Lord, I’m always eager to be with You and listen to You speak to me through Your Word and Spirit.

READ  Luke 3:1‭-‬20 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/luk.3.1-20.KJV

Luke 3:1. Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, 2. Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. 3. And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; 4. As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. 5. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; 6. And all flesh shall see the salvation of God. 7. Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8. Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. 9. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 10. And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then? 11. He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise. 12. Then came also publicans to be baptized, and said unto him, Master, what shall we do? 13. And he said unto them, Exact no more than that which is appointed you. 14. And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.    

3:15. And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not;  16. John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: 17. Whose fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable. 18. And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people. 19. But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip’s wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done,

3:20. Added yet this above all, that he shut up John in prison.

REFLECT  If John the Baptist had a message for us today, what do you think it would be? How do you think he would look, communicate, and be received by people?

REPENT for the day of the Lord is near. I think he would look different than most people. He would probably be a Vegan. I do believe many would ignore him and make fun of him; knowing the people of these times.

The people that would receive him would be those thirsting for truth and justice. People searching for meaning in their lives, and people seeking God.

APPLY  John told his listeners how to produce “fruit in keeping with repentance.” If you need to produce any or any more of that fruit, adopt one of John’s suggestions.

PRAY Dear Lord, sometimes Your Word makes me uncomfortable but I do want to hear it clearly and obey it fully. In Jesus’ precious name I pray. Amen.

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THE BIRTH OF JESUS

Today’s reading is a familiar one, yet it is vital. I love this part of the Bible. I just wish He didn’t have to die for our sins. I wish we had never sinned, in other words. Fat chance, right? We have a loving, forgiving, and merciful God! Have a blessed day.

PRAY Praise God today for the good news that the angels proclaimed when Jesus was born.

READ  Luke 2:1‭-‬40 KJV
https://bible.com/bible/1/luk.2.1-40.KJV

Luke 2:1. And it came to pass in those days, that there went out adecree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2. (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 3. And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. 4. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is