Thursday, January 31, 2013

Psalm 27:4-5
One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.

O Mighty King of Heaven,There is one thing I ask: that I may live in Your holy house all the days of my life and gaze upon Your beauty. I will seek You in the temple of my heart. In Your glorious presence, I will be safe from trials, tragedy and trouble. Your power and promises will divinely protect me. Securely positioned in Your presence, I will offer You a sacrifice of praise.

When I look for You at the throne of grace, I will find You. Gazing into the warmth of Your fiery eyes, I can expect You to mercifully hear my voice and gently answer me. You are tenderhearted. When my earthly friends and family cannot comfort me, You will coddle me in Your strong arms. It's Your divine guidance I'm desperately seeking. With my Bible wide open, my eyes will be fixed on You. Reveling in Your goodness and generosity, I won't be crushed by my circumstances. In the splendor of Your holiness I'll be still and wait with a calm and quiet heart while You work out the details for Your glory.

Living happily ever after with You is my only hope, peace and joy in this sad, sad world. You keep me from fainting under pain and pressure. O Lover of My Soul, I want nothing more than to live in uninterrupted intimacy with You all the days of my life. You are my Strong Man, and I simply want to stay in Your blessing where You will lift me up and be magnified. Lord, please show me what I must do to attain this desire of my heart. Amen.

If you are facing trial, tragedy or trouble, seek Him. To seek is an action that means to search for, strive for, ask for, or head for something. Open Your Bible and begin looking for Him. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. He is unchanging. He was the same yesterday as He is today. He will be there in all His glory if you take the time to search for Him. When You find Him, gaze upon His beautiful character. Write down His noticeable attributes so that you won't forget them in the midst of your crushing circumstances. In His presence You will be blessed with hope, peace and joy.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24
 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. 

Holy God of Peace,
Thank You for Your powerful promise. I'm honored that You've called me to follow You. Your faithfulness endures forever. Blessed assurance, You will make me holy and whole - sanctified through and through. Hallelujah! Thank You, Jesus!

Holy Spirit come, do Your work in me. Permeate my mind, body and soul. Change me by the Truth. O how I long to be a pure and blameless bride when You come for me. While I wait, I resolve to:

Be cheerful in all circumstances knowing You have reserved a place for me at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. Soon and very soon I am going to see the King!

Perpetually keep an open line of communication with You by living every moment of life with You.

Be grateful in the midst of misery because no matter what happens here when the role is called up yonder I'll be there!

Constantly fuel the fire in my heart with Your Word until I'm fully absorbed and blazing with Your glory.

Humbly receive instructions, exhortations, and warnings from godly men and women.

Check out everything, keep only what's good, and throw out anything tainted with evil.

Spirit of the Living God, I delight to do Your will. Keep me strong to the end so that my whole heart, mind, and soul will be blameless on the day You return. All glory to You my great God and King forever and ever. Amen.

Beth Moore writes in When Godly People Do Ungodly Things, "Our safety, joy, fulfillment, and wholeness are all found in allowing God to completely invade our through and through. Nothing withheld. Nothing off limits. No part of our lives from birth to death. No part of our beings from conscious to sub-conscious. No part of our minds. No part of our emotions. Through and through."

Can you think of any area of your life that you are withholding from God? Be honest with yourself. God already knows. Resolve to live blamelessly.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

2 Cor. 11: 3, 4, 13-15
Paul says: "I fear that somehow you will be led away from your pure and simple devotion to Christ, just as Eve was deceived by the serpent. You seem to believe whatever anyone tells you, even if they preach about a different Jesus than the one we preach, or a different Spirit than the one you received, or a different kind of gospel than the one you believed.

These people are false apostles. They have fooled you by disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. But I am not surprised! Even Satan can disguise himself as an angel of light. So it is no wonder his servants can also do it by pretending to be godly ministers."

O Wise and Honest God,
You are exalted in power and perfect in knowledge. There is no teacher like You. At the Living Word Academy in the classroom of my heart, I begin to understand the mysteries of Your Will. I learn to differentiate between right and wrong, good and bad, fact and fiction. With the Holy Spirit as my teacher, and the Holy Bible as my textbook, I learn that You are authentic, truthful, and reliable.

Lord, I urgently need more knowledge of the Holy Bible so that I can apply the Truth to all situations and circumstances in the laboratory of life. Proud people plant poisonous seeds in the soil of my soul, subtly distorting the facts with their made-up stories. Cunningly, they deflate one point while inflating another, taking Your Word out of context. Pastors and teachers artfully paint Your Word with smooth talk and flattery that sounds and feels good. Thank You for clearly warning me to avoid these kinds of people!

Please dear Lord, be gracious to me. Teach me good judgment to distinguish between truth and lies. Fill me with knowledge and wisdom so that my devotion will remain pure and sincere. Mixed messages threaten to side track my faith. Just as Eve lost her focus in the Garden of Eden by the sly and slippery serpent, things cleverly camouflaged as attractive, good and moral can fool me too. Please hide the Truth in my heart so that I will not believe their deceptive schemes.

God of grace teach me today, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Do you know God's Word well enough to separate fact from fiction? I encourage you to spend time in the classroom of your heart, learning all you can about the Truth, so that you will not be led astray by false teachers.

Always check the teaching of man against God's Word. God's Word is always TRUE.

Jesus clearly warns in Matthew 24, in the end times many false prophets will appear and deceive many people (v11, 24).

Monday, January 28, 2013

Luke 5: 17-26
One day as Jesus was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven."

He said to the paralyzed man, "I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home."

Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, "We have seen remarkable things today."

My Dear Friend-
I love the lessons you teach me when I take time to be with You. I've heard this story repeatedly, but today it has fresh meaning. I'm acutely aware of the friends who had the compassion and strength to carry me to You when I was too weak to walk. They relentlessly stuck with me until I met You face to face. Now, I'll be that friend to someone else. Many people in my church family are paralyzed from terrible tragedies, crushing circumstances, and devastating diagnoses. Crippled by crisis, they need carried to You. I resolve to be the faithful friend who lifts them up and finds a way to bring them to You.

When others are too brokenhearted to speak, I'll be the voice that persistently carries them to You in prayer. Trusting in Your promises, I'll believe You'll hear, answer and inexplicably revive them.

When others are too grief-stricken to stand, I'll doggedly transport them to the Steadfast Pillar of Strength, allowing them to lean on me. By Your mighty hand, I'll be the faithful friend who supports and upholds them, expecting You to perform a miracle.

When others are blinded by tears, I'll determinedly lead them to the stream of Living Water where they can immerse their thoughts in things that are noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. Amazingly, You'll use my faith and encouragement to restore their sight.

Hopelessness will turn to happiness when, together; we experience Your wonderful touch of greatness. We'll be in awe of You because of the remarkable things You've done in us and through us, as we carry our friends to You for healing in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Do you know someone who needs healing, physically, emotionally, or spiritually? Will you be the persistent friend who sticks with them until they encounter Jesus? Imagine the immense blessing for the men who went above and beyond to get their friend to Him. You, too, could receive an immeasurable reward, for your faithfulness.

The key to their success was their persistent faith. They believed Jesus could help their desperate friend. They developed a plan around their obstacles and went above and beyond get him in front of Jesus. Follow their example, and you too, may have a story to tell.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Isaiah 58:13-14
"Keep the Sabbath day holy.
      Don't pursue your own interests on that day,
   but enjoy the Sabbath
      and speak of it with delight as the Lord's holy day.
   Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day,
      and don't follow your own desires or talk idly.
Then the Lord will be your delight.
      I will give you great honor
   and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob.
      I, the Lord, have spoken!"

Lord of the Sabbath,
You are holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and You have spoken to me! You know that I'm stressed out, burned out and need time out! Thank You for designing a day for me to rest! Forgive me for neglecting it.

You set the pace by working hard for six days to make the entire universe. Then, You stopped and enjoyed the fruit of Your labor. The problem is my work is unending. I keep going and going and going, until all of my energy's spent and there's nothing left for You, my family or me. If You, the infinite source of energy, needed a day to rest, how much more do I need it?

Help me, by the power of Your Spirit, to intentionally make time to unwind. When I'm worn out, I make poor decisions that desecrate Your holy name, and hurt my family and me. Slow me down, Lord!

Setting aside my long to-do list, I'll deliberately spend an entire day quietly reflecting on what went well and what went wrong in my week. I'll thank You for my successes, admit my failures, and plan to do better next week. Letting go of everything, I'll concentrate on honoring You in everything I say and do. With my heart at ease and my mind clear, it will be a pleasure to praise and worship You for Who You are and what You've done.

Spending time with You, I'll discover remarkable peace and inexplicable joy. Free from obligations, my weary soul will enjoy a quiet day. My rich reward will be a revived heart, re-energized Spirit, and renewed strength. Rested, I'll consistently make right choices that bring glory to Your name. The noticeable change in my heart will draw others to You, the perfect designer of the day of rest. Amen.

The Lord has commanded, "Keep the Sabbath day holy!" Hard as that is in our current culture, it's not optional. To disobey is to dishonor the Lord of the Sabbath.

For one month, intentionally keep every Sunday open. Take a nap. Read a book. Take a walk. Play games. Visit the sick or elderly. It's very difficult, but you'll notice a remarkable difference in your demeanor and long for that day of rest each week. 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Isaiah 32:15-18
Till the Spirit is poured upon us from on high,
       and the desert becomes a fertile field,
       and the fertile field seems like a forest.
 Justice will dwell in the desert
       and righteousness live in the fertile field

The fruit of righteousness will be peace;
       the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever.
My people will live in peaceful dwelling places,
       in secure homes,
       in undisturbed places of rest.

Rushing River of Life,
Pour over me like fresh falling rain from heaven. Expose the ruins of my unresponsive heart. Dredge up the debris from my dreadful decisions. In the current of Your merciful love, sweep away my damaged reputation. Then, rise up like a cool spring in the desert. Flow over the badland of my soul and cultivate it into a fertile field.

In the center of the field, build Your home. Move onto the lush land of my heart. Plant the good seed of Your Word in the soil of my soul. Thoroughly, water it with divine wisdom and grace. Tend to me patiently, teaching me to grow Your way. Raise me up to make right choices and produce good fruit. Rooted in You, others will clearly see the beauty of Your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and restraint growing in me.

In Your presence, I'll quietly rest, knowing that I've done what's right. I'll always trust You to protect me from the prickly weeds of proud, power-hungry people that threaten to disturb my peace. Under Your tender loving care, I'll live a secure, serene and satisfied life.

Holy Spirit, rain down on me! Water the waste land of my heart with Your amazing grace, carry away the awful debris from my past and raise me up to consistently make right choices that will bless Your holy and righteous name. Amen.

Ask the Holy Spirit to search your heart and show you the damage caused by your poor choices. Humbly acknowledge where you're mistakes and resolve to live right this year.

The rewards will be rich: peace, quietness, and confidence forever.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Daniel 1: 3-4, 17, 19
Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility - young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king's palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians.

To these four young men God gave knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. And Daniel could understand visions and dreams of all kinds.

The king talked with them, and he found none equal to Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah; so they entered the king's service.

Most High King of Heaven,
I praise You for choosing and adopting me into Your royal family. Because You've made me righteous, I have no defects. All of my deformities were concealed at the foot of the cross where You turned my brokenness into beauty. You lavished me with wisdom and understanding to know the mysteries of Your good, pleasing and perfect will. Now, I'm qualified to serve You, my high and heavenly King.

This world is not my home. My home is in heaven. Like Daniel, I am a foreigner in a strange place. The wholesome language I speak is uncommon here. The Christian literature I'm familiar with is abnormal. It's imperative that I adapt to the way of life in the community where I live, work and play.

You've put me here to spread the Good News that Your kingdom is available to everyone who believes. I can only do that by earning the trust and respect of those around me. Please give me the desire to be like Daniel. I need to go beyond the pleasant walls and protection of my church and immerse myself in a corrupted culture. Clinging to my faith and trusting in Your power, I'll infiltrate people with the truth about You in words they'll understand. By developing meaningful relationships and clear communication, I'll build bridges for them to enter the kingdom of heaven.

Please dear Lord, give me a courageous heart and determined mind to follow You beyond my perceived limits. Give me extraordinary wisdom and knowledge to fluently speak to those who differ from me. Use me to connect my community to Your glorious kingdom for the praise of Your name. Amen.

You don't have to go to another land to learn a new language. Study the current culture in your community. You'll probably discover that they don't speak or act like you. In order to serve them for God, you need to know their values and traditions.

Resolve to build bridges with non-believers by asking God to give you the wisdom, knowledge and courage of Daniel to boldly live out your life in your neighborhood. Find a non-church related group and begin interacting with them.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Luke 10:30-37
Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'

"Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"

The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him." Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise." 

Jesus, You are the Perfect Teacher!
Thank you for teaching me who my neighbors are! They are the people around me who have been stripped of their dignity. Kicked by random acts of cruelty, punched by persistent problems, and knocked unconscious by bullies, their spirits have been left to disgracefully die.

Forgive me for all the times I've:
  • Hurt someone and walked away like the robber
  • Unkindly passed by someone suffering because of my arrogance like the religious leaders
  • Reasoned my lack of love by standing around and talking about it like the experts in the law
  • Tried to capitalize on a bad situation like the innkeeper

Teach me to be merciful like the Samaritan who was the smallest among all of these men, yet had the biggest heart. Please remove the scales from my eyes and show me an injured soul today - someone who is different from me in race, creed, or social background. I will stop and nurse their wounds no matter the cost.  With corrected vision, I will see interruptions as divine opportunities to show Your love to people in distress. May mercy flow like a river through me because of Your amazing love. Amen.

Open your eyes and look for someone to share the love of Christ with in a practical way today whether it's convenient or not.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Philippians 3:17
Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.

Jesus, You are the Perfect Pattern for godly living. I long to model my life after Yours.

Help me to understand and obey the rules of Your magnificent kingdom. Do not let me wander away from them. I want to reflect Your beauty in everything I say and do. In the laboratory of love, show me any aspect or activity in my life that will tarnish 
Your image. Concentrating on You, I'll accept Your gentle instruction, allowing You to polish me.

With Your Words in all their richness alive in me, I'll accurately represent the kingdom of heaven on earth. Love and patience will show my strong faith. Peace will reign in my heart. Praise and thanksgiving will always be on my lips. My kindness and humility will give others an honest impression of You.

Please send godly people into my life so that I can see Your principles in practice and apply them to my own life. Seeing others imitating You will help me to grow in Your likeness. Hearing them tell about Your work in their lives will inspire me to persevere. As I study Your Word and watch others, I'll become a living Bible, persuading and motivating others to bring glory, honor and fame to You. Amen.

What impression do people have of Christ when they see or talk with you? What changes do you need to make in your life to honor Him?

As Christians, we are to represent Christ. When those around us say, "I didn't know you were a Christian," we have failed to represent him as we should. We are not merely Christ followers; we are his representatives to others.

2 Corinthians 5:20 We are therefore Christ's ambassadors.

Friday, January 18, 2013

John 13: 4-5, 14-15
He got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

Jesus said to them, "Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you."  

Jesus, My Lord and Teacher,
You reign in power with full authority over heaven and earth. Yet You left Your heavenly kingdom and became fully human to teach me Your ways. Out of deep devotion to Your Father, You voluntarily laid aside Your own rights and privileges to model the attitude of a servant.

Thank You for stooping down to wash filthy feet in order to teach me how to humbly serve You and others. If You, the Prince of Heaven, can take on the unappealing task of washing muddy feet then who am I to stand around, watching, and waiting for someone else to do the dirty work?

Humble my heart today. Fill me with a willing spirit and power to get up and go do whatever needs done for Your glory. Full of Your power, I will ...

Shamelessly stoop down to do unpleasant tasks
Eagerly serve others even when it's untimely
Risk my reputation to reach out and touch the unattractive
Value the dignity of human life more than my power or position
Express the full extent of Your love, even to the unappreciative

Father, with all my heart I want to be more like Jesus. Open my eyes to see who I can serve today. Out of love and respect, I will do whatever You ask, anticipating the rich reward You will give me because of Jesus. Amen

Are you willing to follow Christ's example? Whom can you serve today?