“And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” (Hebrews 4:13)
It is our human tendency to make excuses and to place blame. Near the beginning of time Adam tried to excuse his transgression by blaming Eve; then Eve blamed the serpent (Genesis 3). Saul blamed the people and offered other explanations for his disobedience (1 Samuel 13). Felix trembled at the truth but made the excuse that another time to repent would be more convenient (Act 24).
Jesus told a story on many people being invited to a great supper. But those invited began to make excuses. One declared that he needed to see a piece of property he had purchased. Another thought it was more important to first go and try out his new yoke of oxen. Still another said he had married a wife, and therefore could not come. Consequently they missed their only opportunity (Luke 14). That illustration typifies the many who come up with excuses for refusing the great invitation of Christ to come unto Him for rest, peace, and redemption of their souls (Matthew 11:28), thereby barring themselves from the great supper of the Lamb.
In our own lives, are we making excuses to justify our neglect, disobedience, or defeat? We may blame our ancestry, environment, human weakness, or unfair treatment. Indeed, we may have had some sad, difficult experiences. But regardless of our circumstances when we stand before the judgment bar of God, all excuses for sinful conduct or wrong responses will be invalid and unacceptable. We will each be held accountable for our actions and choices.
God knows our needs, and His grace is sufficient to meet those needs. His provisions for victory are abounding and adequate. Through Christ and His transforming power we can be “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37).
By Mark Kropf
Read: Romans 1:18-20, 2:1-16
“So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God“. (Romans 14:12)
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5, NIV )
Have you ever thought about the relationship between the branch and the vine? We don’t use these kinds of word pictures very much anymore, but think about it–if the branch is not attached to the vine, it withers and dies. The branches’ very life depends on being attached to the vine. The same thing happens if we try to operate in this life without Jesus. Without Him, we can do nothing. We are cut from our life source. But when you remain in Him, by daily connecting with Him through prayer, worship and study of the Word, then your life will be fruitful. You’ll walk in joy and blessing. I love that this verse says “much fruit,” which means you will have an abundant harvest in your life. God doesn’t want you to just barely get by. He wants to overwhelm you with His goodness. Remain in Him today. Choose to make Him top priority, and you’ll see His hand of blessing operating in every area of your life!
“Heavenly Father, thank You for being my source of life. Thank You for Your hand of blessing that is leading and guiding me. I choose to make You the number one priority in my life. Let my heart hunger only for You today, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
By Joel & Victoria Osteen
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2, NIV)
Our minds work like a computer. The way you program it is the way it’s going to function. You can have the most powerful computer made, but if you put the wrong software in it, it’s not going to function like it was designed. We’ve all had to deal with these computer viruses. All these problems occur not because the computer is defective, but because somebody contaminated the software.
In the same way, when God created you, He stepped back and said, “Another masterpiece.” Your hardware is perfect. From the very beginning, He programmed you to be victorious, healthy, strong and creative. He programmed, “Whatever you touch will prosper and succeed.” He programmed, “The head and not the tail. Lend and not borrow. Victor and not victim.”
That’s how your Creator designed you. But the reason we don’t always experience this abundant life is because we’ve allowed viruses to contaminate our software. Because our software is infected, we go around with low self-esteem, negative and doubtful. It’s time to reprogram your mind with the Word of God! Meditate on what He says about you, delete the viruses, and get back to your original software!
“Father, thank You for making me in Your image. Help me to see any areas where my thinking is contaminated. I choose to meditate on Your Word daily so I can live the life You’ve prepared for me, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
By Joel & Victoria Osteen
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8)
Years ago, an aged brother related this true account, from his childhood, that vividly illustrates the grace of God. A father and son were traveling up a hill with a team pulling a wagon full of corn. Partway up, the incline became so steep that the horses stalled and were unable to continue. Along came a neighbor with a small tractor, who hitched it to the wagon and helped the team finish pulling the wagon to the top. “This,” he said “is like the grace of God.” Grace takes the seemingly impossible and makes it possible. When we reach the end of our endurance and surrender to God, His grace is the vehicle that takes us through.
Grace has been described as divine favor completely undeserved by man. This is verified by our key verse. The Old Testament is not without grace, Genesis 6:8 says, “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” But only in the New Testament do we see the complete manifestation of God’s favor in freely offering salvation by grace. Mercy is closely related to grace; man needs both to be saved. We might say that grace takes away the guilt and mercy takes away the misery. From that viewpoint, grace precedes mercy. We must accept God’s grace through faith before we can have our misery removed.
Grace also precedes peace. We cannot have peace until we have experienced the forgiveness of sins through God’s unmerited favor to us – His grace. God’s grace does not remove the ability to sin; it gives us the power not to sin. The grace of God is evident in us as it daily flows out in gracious deeds to others. Are we experiencing God’s grace.
By Denver Yoder
Read: Ephesians 2:1-10
“He that strives to draw himself from obedience,
withdraws himself from grace.” – Thomas Kempis
“Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3)
“Men love power” – that is common knowledge. Diesel engines are recognized for the power they provide. Owners of pickup trucks appreciate their persuasive response pulling heavy loads. Many farmers are fond of powerful tractors because of increased productivity. Even chores such as mowing grass and pressure washing concrete around home are more easily accomplished when we utilize the powerful equipment that is at our disposal.
Have we ever stopped to think who provided all this power? God did! In the beginning when God created the solar system, the atmosphere, the plants, and the animals, He crowned it all by creating man. He gave man dominion over everything on earth (Genesis 1:26). Man extracts coal and oil from deep in the earth and uses them to produce various fuels that provide power for many people. Man has also learned to harness power from water, the sun, and the wind. These power sources have given us the ability to accomplish many notable things, but the ultimate source of all power is God.
How can we harness spiritual power so Christ is glorified more? Do we need to become like the apostles somehow, so we can cast out devils and perform miracles of healing? Do we need a special ordination and an audience of millions as popular evangelist have today? No, God calls most of us to fill our place doing ordinary things in a quiet, humble way. Through Christ we have the power to be loving and kind to those around us. Godly power is also displayed as we honor our leaders, even when they do dishonorable things. Peter wrote that “if, when you do well, and suffer for it, you take it patiently, this is acceptable with God” (1 Peter 2:20). This is also a display of true spiritual power!
By Timothy Yoder
Read: Matthew 17:14-21, 18:1-10
“He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.” Proverbs 16:32)
“Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.” (Acts 10:34-35, NIV)
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom! And God’s freedom is free for everyone. It doesn’t matter what your nationality or heritage is, or who your family is. It doesn’t matter how much money you have or don’t have. God wants you free from everything that would hold you back in this life. He wants to pour out His abundant blessing on all who honor Him and choose His ways.
It says in Galatians that in Christ, there is no Jew or Greek or even male or female. That means God’s not judging you based on physical conditions; He’s looking at your heart. He’s looking at the gifts He’s placed inside of you.
Don’t let the enemy lie to you and tell you that God is blessing everyone else but you. Look for the ways He is pouring out blessing in your life. Thank Him for His acceptance, love and freedom today. Focus on honoring Him and doing what is right. Receive His favor and blessing because it is a free gift for all!
“Father in heaven, thank You for loving and accepting me today. I choose to do what is right and honor You with my attitude, words and actions. Holy Spirit, show me if there is any area that isn’t pleasing to You and help me live as an example of Your goodness all the days of my life, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
By Joel & Victoria Osteen
“The law of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.” (Psalm 19:7)
When I moved to Tennessee, I found myself a new occupation. I wasn’t working many days until I realized that I would be wise to carry a tape measure in my pocket all the time. Without it, I would only be able to guess the measurements of lengths and widths. As anyone knows, without the conformation of a measuring tape, it is most likely that our estimation of perceived measurements will be incorrect.
God’s Word is the most accurate and perfect measuring device. God has set a standard that we must meet if we wish to be called His children. Measuring ourselves by ourselves and comparing ourselves among ourselves will result in an inaccurate measurement (2 Corinthians 10:12). Without God’s Word, we can only guess at the measurement needed to arrive at God’s standard. Just as an estimated perception of a length without a measuring device will result in inaccuracy, likewise our own righteousness will fail to meet the accurate measurement of God’s standard. As filthy rags in God’s sight, our righteousness is not sufficient (Isaiah 64:6).
It is only because of Christ’s redemptive work for us that we can measure up to God’s standard. We deserve no credit for what we do to conform ourselves to God’s measuring stick. Our good works which follow faith must be credited to Christ, who made it possible for us to comply with God’s measure.
In measurements, a foot is always twelve inches. It is not eleven inches one time and thirteen inches the next time. Likewise, God’s Word never stretches of shrinks to conform to human reasoning. God’s measuring standard never changes.
By Joshua Zimmerman
Read: Psalm 119:129-152
A just weight and balance are the Lord’s:
all the weights of the bag are His work.
“In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave, or free…” (Colossians 3:11, NLT)
When God looks at mankind, He doesn’t see us as different races. He doesn’t see different social standings. He doesn’t see color or creed. God looks past all the superficial things that our culture seems to magnify—what we wear, what we drive and what we look like—and He sees us all the same; not black or white, just His beautiful creation. Not upper class or lower class; just one big family.
Sometimes people make the mistake of judging a whole race by a few people. We make sweeping generalizations, and it keeps us from enjoying the people God places in our lives. Today, if you’ve been looking at others through the traditions of the world, why don’t you open the eyes of your heart and see others the way God sees them? We are all here by His design and called according to His purposes. When we see others through His eyes, we can come together in unity and receive the blessing He has prepared for us!
“Father, today I release every prejudice and judgmental attitude to You. I ask You to fill my heart with Your love and help me to see others the way You see me. Thank You for doing a work in my life and opening doors of blessing and increase before me, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
By Joel & Victoria Osteen
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26, NIV)
In life, we all have negative things that happen to us. We go through situations that are unfair. I know people who were raised in an unhealthy environment. Their parents had issues, and now it’s making life much more difficult on them.
But here is the truth: when you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, He gives you a new heart. In other words, your bloodline changes. No longer are you subject to your earthly heritage; you become subject to your heavenly heritage! His spiritual blessing always overrides the curse in the natural realm. When you understand who you are and what God has already done, then no matter what someone else did, no matter how unfair it was, no matter how you were raised, you won’t get bitter. You won’t live with a chip on your shoulder. You realize that nothing can stop you from fulfilling your God-given destiny!
Today, remember you came from Almighty God. He gave you life. When you choose Him, you are choosing your heavenly heritage of blessing and eternal, abundant life!
“God in heaven, thank You for sending Your Son, Jesus, so that I may be saved. Today I surrender every area of my life to You. Have Your way in me; let Your will be done in my life. Thank You for making me new, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
By Joel & Victoria Osteen
“But if the watchman sees the sword coming and does not blow the trumpet and the people are not warned, and a sword comes and takes a person from them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood I will require from the watchman’s hand.” (Ezekiel 33:6)
Road signs vary in color and shape according to their messages. They give direction and are intended for the good of the motorist. Red, octagonal stop signs mean what they say. Circular signs saying Do Not Enter are intended to keep us from travelling where we should not go. Triangular signs saying Yield warn us that we must defer to others. Many physical casualties have resulted when these signs were ignored.
One red sign in particular gives an urgent warning to drivers who are already in serious danger. It screams “Wrong Way!” from its elevated position, as it states adamantly in the face of the erring driver. Other motorist become greatly alarmed when they see someone driving on the wrong side of the road. If such a driver persist in his course, horns will blare and headlights will flash. Or perhaps a siren will wail and blue lights will demand the offender’s attention. Most people dread the consequences of a head-on collision.
A greater threat faces those traveling the wrong way on the road of life. Whether it be the result of ignorance, rebellion, or deception, the consequences will be real and devastating. What is our response when we see a person living his life the wrong way? Are we alarmed for the safety of that person and others around them? We may consider it none of our business, but eternity is too long a journey for anyone to go the wrong way unwarned. Let’s be the “signs” that say Stop. Do Not Enter the broad way. Yield to Jesus. Even scream “Wrong Way!” if need be. Multitudes fail to recognize the tragic end of a wrong way of life. We must warn them.
By Gary Miller
“Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.” (Psalm 24:3-5, NKJV)
God wants you to receive every blessing that He has in store for you. In His Word, He tells you about His wonderful blessings, but He also tells you how to receive His blessings—by having clean hands and a pure heart.
How are we made pure and clean? By the blood of Jesus! We receive Him as our Lord and Savior and choose to live for Him. Most of the time, it’s not the big things that keep us from God’s best; it’s the small things. Maybe it starts with an offense that turns into unforgiveness. Maybe you watch something on TV or the internet that you know you shouldn’t, and it becomes a bad habit that steals your time and pollutes your mind.
Today, make the decision to let go of anything that would keep you from His blessings. Be a person of excellence and integrity. Treat others with respect and kindness and look for ways to be a blessing. Be determined to live a life that pleases God so that you can receive the abundance He has in store for you!
“Father, thank You for the blood of Jesus that cleanses and renews me. I choose to turn away from anything that displeases You so that I can live righteously before You, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
By Joel & Victoria Osteen
“If you believe, you will receive…” (Matthew 21:22, NIV)
All through the Bible, there are so many promises of what God has already done for us. It says in Ephesians that “God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing.” It says in Colossians that “God has made us worthy.” There is mercy for any mistake we will ever make. It’s already been taken care of. He paid the ultimate price through the death, burial and resurrection of His Son, Jesus. He’s done His part. Now it’s up to us to do our part. We have to start believing it so we can receive.
In the natural, when someone gives you a gift, what’s the first thing you say? “Thank you.” When you give thanks, it’s a sign that you are receiving the gift. Today, receive what God has given you by saying, “Father, thank You for Your mercy. Thank You for supplying all of my needs. Thank You for Your goodness in my life.”
As you learn to give Him thanks, you are learning to receive from Him. Open your heart by faith today and thank Him for all of the blessings He has in store for you!
“God, I come to You today giving You thanks and praise for Your faithfulness in my life. I receive Your Word which is life and strength to my soul. Help me to keep my heart focused on You, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
By Joel & Victoria Osteen
“Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and because of Your will they existed, and were created.” (Rev. 4:11)
“And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” The Creation account is striking for its simplicity. Even a child has no problem understanding it. There was no need for God to assemble a multitude of angels to help Him, no need to concoct a set of fantastic elements and mysterious energies, and no need to allow several million years for just the right chemical reactions to occur. Eight verses in the Creation begin with the expression “And God said,” and eight times it invariably follows that it was so.
The natural world gives irrefutable evidence of the truth of these words. Even secular scientists acknowledge that the universe is so finely tuned that the whole thing had to originate at the same time, or everything would fall apart. Regardless of whether or not we accept this account in Genesis, it is still so. The same applies to God’s words about the future. In Revelation 22:20 our Lord stated “Surely I come quickly“; and that also is so, no less than the account of Creation. Our belief or disbelief does not alter the fact. Between the first chapter of Genesis and the last chapter of Revelation are 66 books recording what God has said. Every word is true, for God has said it, and God is truth, and it is so.
In the Old Testament, the light from God at Creation was given so that man would not live in physical darkness. In the New Testament, “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9) has been given to deliver man from spiritual darkness. That Light is still available to all who will earnestly seek it with their whole heart. God has said it, and it is so.
By Pete Lewis
Read: Genesis 1:1-25
“I am the bread of life” (John 6:35, 48, 51)
“I am the light of the world” (John 8:12).
“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, 5)
By Jesus Christ
“For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun!…” (Isaiah 43:19, NLT)
Can you see the “brand new thing” God is doing in your life? Sometimes it’s easy to see the hand of God moving, and sometimes the storms of life can cloud our vision. But no matter where you are in life today, meditate on this truth that God is working even when you can’t see Him. Like a seed buried deep in the ground, it may seem dark and lonely and there may be dirt all around, but that is place where life springs forth. Trust that God is doing a new thing! You can trust Him because He is faithful!
His plan for you today is blessing. His plan is to give you a future and a hope. His plan is to do a new thing in your life. Let go of the thoughts of the past and open your heart to what God is doing today. Ask Him to show you what He’s doing. Ask Him to reveal it to your heart. Seek Him and you will find Him and see the brand new think He’s doing in you!
“Heavenly Father, thank You for doing a work in me, even when I don’t see it. Thank You for the brand new thing You have. I open my heart and put my faith and trust in You in Jesus’ name! Amen.”
By Joel & Victoria Osteen
“For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel: By waiting and by calm you shall be saved, in quiet and in trust shall be your strength. But this you did not will.” (Isaiah 30:15)
We do not read that the kingdom of God came with pomp and show. It was not proclaimed with a lot of noise or emotion. If fact, many of the people whom Jesus healed were asked to tell no one what had taken place. But some were so overjoyed that they told everyone they met.
It is amazing how few were the times that Jesus even lifted up His voice. Today’s Bible reading indicates that Christ, like a lamb to be killed, opened not His mouth. His strength was expressed in quietness and confidence; even to the very end, He stood patiently before Pilate. Jesus’ spoken words, recorded in the Gospel of John, can be read in a few hours. His quiet life and confidence in His Father’s will are His greatest and most powerful testimony.
Words are important, even though Christ’s spoken words were few. While we are certainly called upon to proclaim the Gospel message with our lips, there is an equally demanding need for a life lived in quietness and confidence. People today are too often deprived of such an example. They do not want so much to be told as to be shown by living example. We must display that the Gospel works by demonstrating how it is relevant in today’s world. The strength of the Gospel is its proven ability to change a man or woman from a loud, insecure sinner into a quiet, confident saint.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). As the way, He shows us how and where to walk. As the truth, He gives us a correct worldview. As the life, He shows us how to live. This truth will enable the Christian to display a quiet and confident testimony for God, just as our Savior did.
By James Baer
Read: Isaiah 53
Be a beacon upon the top of a mountain, be an ensign on a hill.
“You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.” (John 19:11)
It is not too difficult to refrain from showing off power that we do not have. If we are unable to dunk a basketball, buy a brand-new pickup, or bake a perfect pie, we are not tempted to use that ability or power in ways that bring glory to ourselves. But what if we really are gifted in certain abilities of have high financial capabilities? Can we keep from flaunting or misusing our gifts, and use them only for the glory of God?
The life of Jesus is the perfect example of ultimate power being used only for the glory of the Father. Jesus had access to limitless power throughout His ministry. But He utilized His miraculous power and divine authority only when it brought glory to God and furthered the kingdom of Heaven. While Jesus was in the wilderness, Satan tempted Him to deliberately abuse His power as the Son of God, but Jesus refused. Can we resist such temptations as He did, or do we use God’s gifts for selfish purposes and fleshly gratification?
The Gospel of Matthew paints a beautiful picture of Christ’s willingness to surrender Himself to the evil hands of jealous men so God’s perfect plan of redemption could be fulfilled. Jesus had all the power of Heaven at His disposal. He could have called down legions of angels for an instant rescue at any time. However, He chose the way of the cross for the glory of God and the salvation of men. The very power that raised Jesus from the dead is still available, making it possible for us to use our abilities and gifts for the glory of the Father and the furtherance of His kingdom. May we do so today!
By Joshua Gingerich
Read: Matthew 26:39-64
Meekness in power under control.
“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace…” (Isaiah 55:12, NIV)
The word “enthusiasm” comes from the Greek word “entheos.” “Theos” is God. When you’re enthusiastic, it simply means you are full of God. When you get up in the morning excited about your future, recognizing that day is a gift and go out with a spring in your step, pursuing your goals and passionate about life, then God will breathe in your direction. Studies even tell us that people who are enthusiastic get better breaks. They’re promoted more often. That’s not a coincidence. When you’re full of passion, you have the favor of God.
Remember, God didn’t breathe His life into us to drag through the day. He didn’t create us in His image, crown us with His favor, and equip us with His power to just go through the motions of life. You may have had some setbacks, the wind may have been taken out of your sail, but this is a new day! God wants to breathe new life back into you. If you’ll get your fire back, get your passion back, the wind will start blowing once again. When you’re in agreement with God, He can cause the winds of favor to shift in your direction!
“Heavenly Father, thank You for another sunrise, another day, another opportunity to praise You and pursue the dreams You’ve given me. Help me to stay filled with Your joy which is strength so I can serve You with my whole heart in everything that I do in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
By Joel & Victoria Osteen
“God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you.‘” (Exodus 3:14, NIV)
We serve a great and mighty God! He is the Creator of the universe, the one who spoke the worlds into existence. He’s called the Great I AM, and He’s saying today, “I am everything you need. I am your strength. I am your wisdom. I am your protection. I am your provider. I am your way maker. I am your problem solver. I am your dream giver. I am your victory!
David put it this way in Psalm 138, “Though I am surrounded by troubles, You will bring me safely through. Your fist is clenched against my enemies. Your power will save me.” Maybe you feel like David today. You’re surrounded by all kinds of difficulties. You’re tempted to just settle right where you are. You need to get your fire back! Instead of focusing on how big your problems are, focus on how big your God is! He is everything you need. He is the Great I AM, and He is the one leading and guiding you into victory in every area of your life!
“Father, I choose to focus on Your greatness today. Thank You for being the I AM—everything that I need to live the life of victory, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
By Joel & Victoria Osteen
“Is it not true, though you were little in your own eyes, you were made the head of the tribes of Israel?” (1 Samuel 15:17)
Something about leaders and leadership captivates us. Maybe it is an inherent desire for power or control. For men, maybe it is because we are called to lead, and we look up to successful leaders who have made lasting impressions on the hearts of their subjects. We admire a leader who displays humility and concern toward those of lower rank, without an attitude of superiority.
God has always used leaders for His purposes, both in civil government and in His kingdom. Some civil leaders have impressed us with their clear stand on certain principles – such as George Washington, who had no interest in being a king, and Abraham Lincoln, who maintained that slavery is wrong. But there are others who are considered great leaders because of conquest and power, despite their tyranny and cruelty. Think Alexander the Great. What is great about ruthlessly conquering the known world and wanting to be recognized as a god? Similar questions could be asked about leaders like Charles the Great and Frederick the Great.
Truly great leadership is found in the person and mission of Jesus Christ. He deserves to be recognized as the greatest Leader in history, yet He stooped to wash His disciples’ feet. Instead of riding a white horse, He entered town on a lowly donkey. Instead of demanding that meals be brought to Him on a platter, He provided food for thousands. Jesus led by example, and all truly great leaders do the same. “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus demonstrated that a great leader is not one who rules others but one who serves others.
By Nathan Wanner
Read: Matt: 20:20-28, 23:1-12
“The king that faithfully judgeth the poor,
his throne shall be established for ever.” Proverbs 29:14
“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19, NKJV)
When the people of Israel were in the desert on the way to the Promised Land, God gave them manna to eat. That was good. It sustained them for a while, but it wasn’t permanent provision. Eventually, the manna stopped coming. The people had to move forward, and then God gave them quail. They were so excited. That fed them for a while, but it was also temporary.
See, God gave the Israelites temporary provision on the way to the Promised Land where they would have permanent provision. The fact that God had something much greater in store for their future is what kept them moving forward. God could have sustained them with manna or quail, but God is a god of increase. He works in seasons, and He always has something better in store.
Don’t get stuck in a rut and think that one way is going to last forever. Instead, stay open and be willing to change, make adjustments, make corrections or try something new. If the “manna” stops coming, don’t get upset. Just keep moving forward and be on the lookout for the new provision God has in store for you!
“Father God, You alone are the just and faithful God! Thank You for always providing for me. Thank You for leading and guiding me. I trust that You have good things in store for my future and choose to keep my eyes on You in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
By Joel & Victoria Osteen
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for My sake and the Gospel’s, the same shall save it.” – (Mark 8:35)
What did Jesus’ life consist of? From today’s Bible reading we could conclude that Jesus poured Himself into the work of His Father’s kingdom. He spent much of His time unselfishly teaching the people, healing the sick, and instructing His disciples. One day Jesus revealed to them the rejection, suffering, and death He would soon face. The disciples were surely listening intently, but something seemed terribly wrong with what Jesus was saying.
Peter spoke up. “Jesus, don’t think such things!” he said in effect. “You are our King and Master. You can’t let evil people kill You before You’ve even started Your kingdom!” Exactly how Peter spoke we don’t know, but it must have been with passion. However, Jesus turned around and said, “Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.” With his vision limited by the flesh, Peter had not yet grasped the true nature of Christ kingdom.
We can fail in the same way. Like Peter, we can miss the real focus of Christ’s kingdom because worldly things are crowding our sight. We may get so encumbered with earthly cares that Christ’s eternal goals are clouded out.
In contrast to human methods, Christ’s kingdom does not lift up man and is never showcased with grand public displays. It is a heavenly kingdom, and its King seeks to draw our focus away from worldly things and toward things of eternal worth. We need to prize heavenly values and govern our lives by complete faith and obedience to Jesus our King. Our earthly vision and short-term goals will dim as we reach out to souls as Jesus did, and we help to build a kingdom of eternal dimensions.
By Wendell Schlabach
Read: Mark 8:22-38
Dim the world to see the works of God.
If Jesus seems distant to you, you are not alone. For many, Jesus is abstract. He is like that piece of modern art you just don’t get and have trouble relating to. But this is not the Jesus in the gospels nor of early church tradition. Jesus is right here, right now—and that idea will renew your life. Read more…
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10, NASB)
God has already prepared paths for you to take in your future! When God laid out the plan for your life, He lined up the right people, the right circumstances, and the right breaks. In your future, He’s already released favor, supernatural opportunities, and divine connections. The breaks you need in life have already been preordained to come across your path. If you will stay in faith and go out each day and be a person of excellence, you’ll walk into these appointments of favor. It will be just as if you stumbled into God’s blessings!
When you really understand this principle, you’ll begin to get excited about the opportunities in every single day! You’ll have a spring in your step as you think about what blessing is coming next. It could be today. It could be tomorrow. It could be next week! Keep expecting. Keep believing. Stay focused on the fact that God has already released into your future everything you need to fulfill your destiny. Start declaring seasons of increase over your life. Declare that favor is on you and opportunities are coming. Then, get ready to move forward in the favor and blessing God has ordered for you!
“Father, thank You for setting up a good life for me. Thank You for ordering blessings for my future. Help me to know Your ways so that I can walk with You in the paths You have for me all the days of my life, in Jesus name. Amen.”
By Joel & Victoria Osteen
“As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the Word, that you may grow thereby.” (1 Peter 2:2)
A certain advertisement displayed a milk carton with the phrase “Best if used.” (The word by and a date were missing). Milk is beneficial to the physical body, but in the carton it cannot help anyone. So it is with the Word of God. If its message remains on pages between closed covers, it cannot feed us spiritually. We must do as the song says: “Open the book of God, and read a portion there.” Then we need to meditate on the truth we have read. When we drink milk, our bodies digest it with no conscious effort of our own. But when we drink the Word, we must discern how it applies to us and them put it to practice.
“Best if used” could be weak when applied to the Bible. “Best” might suggest that one can still live without drinking milk, but he may be less healthy. This is not so with God’s Word. We gain and sustain spiritual life by feeding on its contents. Without this we are spiritually dead. The Word is not just “best” if used; it must be used! Spiritual prosperity is only for those who take in the truth and act on it.
God’s Word is likened to both milk and “meat” (solid food) in today’s Bible reading. Babes in Christ benefit most from the milk of the Word. Then as they mature, solid food is added. This is because their ability to use the nutrition they receive is dependent upon their ability to spiritually digest the source, and as they increase in understanding this too shall develop. How strong is our appetite for the Word of God? The more we drink and eat of it, the more we desire it! Our spiritual stomach seemingly never gets full. If we lack a healthy appetite, let us spend more time partaking of the Word.
By Dennis Martin
Read: Hebrews 5
Our spiritual vitality depends upon our willingness
to apply the truth we receive from the Word of God
“Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back…” (Isaiah 54:2, NIV)
God has many blessings in store for you! He has favor in your future like you’ve never imagined. He wants to take you places that you’ve never even dreamed. But in order for us to partake of all these blessings, we have to increase our capacity to receive.
Think about this: if you have a one-gallon bucket and someone has fifty gallons to give you, the problem is not with the supply. The problem is that you don’t have the capacity to receive the fifty gallons. But if you get rid of that small container and get something larger, then you will be able to receive more. It’s the same way with God. If we think we’ve reached our limits, the problem isn’t that God doesn’t have the resources or the ability. The problem is that our container is too small. We have to enlarge our vision and make room for the new things God has for us. Our attitude should be, “Yes, the economy is down, but I know God is still on the throne. I know wherever I go His goodness and mercy follow me.” When you have that kind of attitude, you’re increasing your capacity to receive so that you can live the abundant life He has in store for you.
A Prayer for Today
“Father, today I choose to believe and increase my capacity to receive from You. I release limited thinking and old mindsets and choose to meditate on Your word. I open myself to everything You have in store for me, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
By Joel & Victoria Osteen
I hear people use this verse for the wrong application:
Exodus 14:14“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
I’ve heard well meaning people use it as an indicator that, because we are on the winning team, we will never face another battle. Not true.
Here’s something you need to understand about this verse, before you try to live it.
The verse doesn’t mean you don’t have an assignment. It doesn’t mean the assignment you have won’t be difficult. It doesn’t mean doing nothing.
Consider the next verse:
Exodus 14:15 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.”
In other words…get going! Do what you’re supposed to do! Don’t stand there in fear…MOVE ON!
The Israelites were going to cross the sea. It would be something they had never done before. Have you ever walked through a wall of water, on ground that used to be the bottom of the sea?
Seriously, have you?
The Israelites were going to have to trust that God would part the waters and dry up the land. Keep in mind, this command was given before the sea had even started to separate. They had to believe that the water would divide. They then had to believe the wall of water wouldn’t drop and fish wouldn’t fall on their head as they drown. They had to believe that crossing the sea was a better option than surrendering to the Egyptians. It wasn’t doing nothing. It was walking by faith.
The verse, then, means that if you are moving at the direction of God…if you are following His plan for your life…if you are being obedient…you don’t have to fear the outcome. You don’t have to worry about the provision of God for your journey. You don’t have to wonder if God will do as God said He will do. He’s got your back! He’s got the ultimate victory. You can rest in Him. You can be still!
Being still doesn’t mean doing nothing!
Have you been “standing still” when you need to be moving?
Quit making excuses and act on what you know God has called you to do!
“…Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9, NKJV)
Today’s verse is really an encouragement for all of us to raise our level of expectancy. It’s like God is saying to us, “You think you’re blessed? You haven’t seen anything yet!” Sure, God has been good to you, but He also has things for your future that if He told you right now, it would boggle your mind. You wouldn’t even believe it!
Know today that God wants to bless you in your future. He wants to overwhelm you with His goodness and with things so wonderful you can’t even fathom it!
Today, get ready for increase. Get prepared for promotion. This year is the year to step into blessings you can’t even imagine. Keep believing, keep obeying His Word, and keep your heart open because you haven’t seen anything yet!
“Father, today I raise my level of expectancy. I choose to take the limits off of my thinking. I know that You are able to do exceedingly abundantly above all I could ever ask, think or imagine. Thank You for the blessing You have in store for me in Jesus’ name! Amen.”
By Joel & Victoria Osteen
One of the greatest gifts that God has given you is the gift of imagination. It’s the ability to see things — to think and to create with mental pictures — in your mind.
The reason you have this gift is because God imagines. The Bible tells us that God imagined the entire universe and it was created. He thought it up before it became reality. The Bible says that God has imagined all of history. He’s already seen it all happen even before it’s happened because he thought it up. He imagined it in advance. The Bible calls that God’s foreknowledge.
You are most like your Creator when you are being creative. Does that make sense? You are most like your Creator — God — when you are being creative. And God gave you the ability to create with your imagination. When you use your imagination for good and for God, God smiles.
Everything starts with imagination. Nothing becomes reality unless somebody thinks of it. Every great business, every great company, every piece of art, every musical note all have one thing in common: somebody imagined it before it became reality. Nothing happens unless somebody imagines it.
And without imagination you couldn’t make decisions. When you start to make a decision you imagine, what would happen if you did this? Or what would happen if you did that? And then you make the decision.
Everything that has been created on earth by human beings started in the imagination of somebody’s mind. This is a gift from God.
In this 7-day study we will learn about the relationship between your imagination and faith. I want to help you unlock your imagination in a way that has never been done before.
God, thank you for the gift of imagination. Help me to fix my thoughts on what is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, and admirable. I do not want to misuse my imagination with worry or fear. Instead I want to focus my mind on things that are excellent and worthy of praise. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
8Finally, 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.
1 John 3:2
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.
Written by Rick Warren
“…The earnest (heartfelt, continued) prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available [dynamic in its working].” (James 5:16, AMPC)
God loves it when you come boldly to Him! When we pray with an attitude of faith and expectancy, it shows that we believe God and His Word, and that opens the door for Him to move on our behalf.
Today’s verse tells us that when we pray earnestly and continually that it makes tremendous power available. Think about a little child asking his mother for something he really wants. That child doesn’t just ask once. Or twice. He asks continually! He doesn’t just walk away if he doesn’t get an answer right away. That child builds his case and gives every reason he should get what he is asking for!
Scripture tells us to come to God with the faith of a child. It’s not that we have to beg Him, but our determination is an expression of our faith in His goodness. When we build our case with the Word of God, we are setting ourselves up to partake of His divine blessing. Today, whatever you need, make your requests known to God. Come to Him with the faith of a child. Pray earnestly and continually and watch His power work on your behalf!
“Father, today I come boldly thanking You for Your goodness and faithfulness in my life. I lift up my heart in faith to You knowing that my earnest prayers open the door for Your power to move on my behalf, in Jesus’ name! Amen.”
By Joel & Victoria Osteen
“I will trust, and not be afraid.” (Isaiah 12:2)
As I turned into the lane, I noticed two wild ducks on the other side of the fence. They noticed me too and kept their eyes on me. I had no intention of hurting them, but I wondered how close they would let me get. Suddenly they rose together on swiftly beating wings, climbing steeply while turning their heads back to keep an eye on me. Then I saw the power lines! I held my breath…One duck hit a line hard and plummeted to the ground. It lay there, stunned.
I got out of the car and started toward the barbed wire fence. Maybe I could help it. The other duck circled back from the south, flying low over the duck on the ground. Thankfully, the fallen duck soon recovered senses and strength enough to feebly fly off with its mate. The duck had been so busy looking at a supposed problem that it ran into a potentially deadly problem.
Has that ever happened to us? Perhaps someone gossips about me. Do I try to chase down the details to prove myself innocent but fall into a whirlpool of misunderstanding and lose my love for others? That has potential to be spiritually deadly. Or perhaps I see my brother overtaken in a fault, and I lose the spirit of meekness in trying to help him. In today’s Bible reading, Peter’s problem was not the big waves. It was rather that Peter was looking in the wrong place, and therefore he sank.
I’m glad that when this happens to me, Jesus takes me by the hand and lifts me up with encouragement from His Word. I am also thankful for my brethren who fly low over me when I fall, and who urge me to rise and fly again.
By Kelvin Mast – 4-12-18
Read: Matthew 14:22-36
“Don’t tell God how big your problem is;
tell your problem how big God is.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…” (Jeremiah 1:5, NIV)
God knew you before you were even born. What an amazing thought! He saw your unformed substance and said, “I have a purpose for this life. I have good plans for them!” Then He breathed His life into you and sent you through your mother and father. They may have had issues, but that doesn’t have to stop you from becoming all that God intended for you to be. You have been handpicked by Almighty God to be here at this time in history!
Sometimes we hear parents say, “We weren’t expecting this child. They were a surprise. They were an accident.” No, that child may have been a surprise to the parents, but they weren’t a surprise to Almighty God. No child can be born without God breathing His life into them. You may think, “Well, I was unwanted. I was an unplanned pregnancy.” No, you wouldn’t be here if God didn’t give life to your seed.
In God’s eyes, there is no such thing as being illegitimate. Remember, He knew you before you were ever born! Find confidence in His love knowing that you are a person of destiny, and you are part of His mighty plan!
“Father, thank You for choosing me before I was ever born. Thank You for knowing me and revealing Yourself to me. I trust that You are working in my life today, even when I can’t see it. I stand in faith knowing that You have a mighty plan for me in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
By Joel & Victoria Osteen
“For you are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” (1 Corinthians 6:20)
You are in debt? You must have been unable to pay for what you wanted and decided to ask for help from a third party. Now you owe someone things you don’t have yourself. If it’s money, you know the effort it takes to make payment after payment on your debt. You might work overtime. Your shopping is affected. You constantly strive to reach the goal of getting out of debt.
Your debt can consume your mind. You juggle ideas in your head while your fingers punch away at the calculator. Without trying, you have let your red-letter bank account affect much of your lifestyle. You are doing all in your power to eliminate the debt and to succeed financially for the benefit of your family. That’s good, for it’s the calling of a godly steward. But what about your other debt, the one you owe to Jesus?
We all were doomed to an unending eternity apart from God because of our choice to sin. Then Jesus came and literally died for us, paying our debt toward God and making a way for us to reach Heaven. I know, we cannot hope to pay our huge debt to Jesus. But we can accept Jesus’ payment for our sin, and we can give Him our entire lives in appreciation. All persons claiming salvation through Christ must become His servants for life. It’s an all-encompassing commitment!
We have noted that our earthly debts can easily consume us. Then how much more should our debt to God consume our time, actions, thoughts – our whole being? We have been freed from such a great debt-load of sin that it is only right to freely give ourselves back to God in humble service. What joy to commit our lives to the One who has done so much for us!
By Wendell Schlabach
Read: Matthew 18:21-35
We have no greater debt than the one we owe to Jesus – our lives.
“…If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31, NIV)
I heard somebody say, “Don’t let your heredity stop your destiny.” In other words, don’t let the way somebody treated you, or what they did or didn’t give you keep you from pressing forward and becoming all that God has created you to be.
The people who raised you may have had addictions, but that doesn’t have to be your future. You can be the one to break that negative cycle. Your parents may have had anger issues or never amounted to much, but you don’t have to keep letting that curse be passed from generation to generation. You can be the one to say, “No more. This is a new day! I may have had an unfair past, but I’m not going to have an unfair future. I know God put a blessing on me before anybody could put a curse, and I’m not going to let my heredity stop my destiny.”
Today, know that God is for you! Seek Him with a humble heart and break free from the bondages of the past. When you choose to put Him first in your life, then nothing can stop your destiny!
“Father, thank You for empowering me by Your Holy Spirit. Thank You for giving me new life. I choose to let go of the past. I won’t let it define me, but I will let Your truth define me and lead me into victory, in Jesus’ name! Amen.”
By Joel & Victoria Osteen
“After their own lust shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.” (2 Timothy 4:3)
The Israelites were lodging in the wilderness. Moses was weary in his leadership role. All day the people bombarded Moses with questions, seeking his counsel. Would all these pressing matters ever be resolved? Would the Israelites ever go farther on their journey? Then God intervened through Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, who was visiting the camp. Because Moses accepted Jethro’s wise counsel, the people could advance on their journey more quickly.
If we fast-forward about five hundred years, we arrive in the era after Solomon’s reign and death. Solomon’s son Rehoboam now occupied the throne. This young king received wise counsel from the older men of his father’s generation, but Rehoboam did not like what they said. He then went to the younger men and received counsel that pleased him; it was what Rehoboam wanted to hear. But the results were tragic. The Israelites soon divided into two kingdoms, and sometimes they fought wars against each other.
Paul warned Timothy that in the latter times, people in the church would reject sound doctrine and rather listen to teachers who offer the counsel they want to hear. Left unchecked, such church members would destroy respect for the church. They seem to find support to spurn the counsel of their local church. Social networking and other means of modern communication tend to promote evasion of accountability. As a result, people transfer loyalty from those to whom they are accountable, to those who seem wiser but are more like hirelings that like shepherds who care for the sheep.
What about ourselves? Are we willing to accept the counsel that is most wise and scriptural, or do we ask counsel mainly from those we know will agree with us?
By Joshua Zimmerman
Read: Exodus 18:13-27, 1 Kings 12″1-11
Wise counsel is often like medicine,
bitter to the taste but healthful to the soul.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” (Romans 12:2, NIV)
My father grew up in a very poor environment. His parents lost everything during the Great Depression. He had no money, no education and no future to speak of. He had been programmed with poverty, defeat and mediocrity. He could have settled there. That’s all he had seen. He could have thought, “Hey, this is just my lot in life. We’re just poor, defeated people.” But at 17 years old when he gave his life to Christ, he started reprogramming his thinking. Deep down something said, “You were made for more than this. You’re not supposed to constantly struggle, to barely make it through life.” He could feel those seeds of greatness stirring on the inside. His attitude was, “This may be where I am, but this is not who I am. I may be in defeat, but I am not defeated. I’m a child of the Most High God.”
Today, no matter what has happened in your past, remember that ultimately, you can reprogram your life for greatness. You can let go of the wrong programming of the world and renew your mind according to the Word of God. Let His truth sink in so you can rise up into the greatness God has in store for you!
“Father, thank You that no matter what has happened in my past, You have a good plan for my future. I choose to reprogram my mind with the truth of Your Word that sets me free to live the way You intended, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
By Joel & Victoria Osteen
“As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.” (1 Peter 2:16)
It seems that people have always been willing to pay the highest price imaginable for what they believe to be freedom. America has been no exception to this rule. During the American Revolution countless lives were lost and those that survived were forever changed. It seemed no price was too high for the independence they sought. Eventually the victory they had battled for was a reality. But this victory was no end in itself for, as we well know, physical liberty is fleeting and it offers no real peace.
Spiritual freedom came with a price tag that was far above what any man was able to pay. It cost the life of the dear Son of God, Jesus Christ! The sinless One shed His blood on the cross to atone for the sins of all men. But that is only provisional. Another cost need to be paid if an individual is to benefit from Christ’s sacrifice. It is death to self. As long as we are unwilling to surrender our own self-will, we remain in bondage to it. “Repent therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19). The Greek word for “repent” means not just to be sorry for the sin but to have a complete change of mind.
Dying to self and believing in Christ for personal redemption spells F-R-E-E-D-O-M. But for continued liberty there is an ongoing cost. We need to deny ourselves, bear our cross daily, and follow Christ in obedience. We must continually say no to Satan, who desperately wants us to exchange true freedom for his counterfeit. Galatians 5:1 says, “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” Let us who are enjoying true freedom take this as our number one assignment today.
By Dennis Martin
Read: Isaiah 52:13-15, 53:1-12
Confession results in deeper personal insight. Further confession leads to greater insight. This is one of the graces of confession. You see this spiritual dynamic operating in the life of David in Psalm 51. This man, who was so completely blinded by his own lust, that he wasn’t only able to use his God-given position of political power to take another man’s wife, but also able to put a contract out on her husband and have him killed, is now not only able to see his behavioral wrongs, but the heart behind them as well. Whenever anyone is able to see himself with this level of clarity, you know that God’s grace is operating in his life.
Hear David’s words, “Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.” David is recognizing a new awareness. He is acknowledging a new sightedness. He understands what God is working on.
You and I will only ever be holy by God’s definition if we put the moral fences where God puts them.
We tend to put the fences at the boundary of behavior. For example, rather than telling our children the importance of a respectful heart and the issues of heart that cause us to not respect others as we should, we instruct our children to use titles of respect when they’re relating to others. Now there’s nothing wrong with this as far as it goes. The problem is that enforcing certain behaviors won’t create a spirit of respectfulness. A child, who’s mad at his teacher for an assignment she’s given may say, “Whatever you say Mrs. Smith!” in a tone that’s anything but respectful. The teacher immediately knows that the child has used a title of respect to tell her that he doesn’t respect her at all, but to tell her that in a way that won’t get him into trouble!
This is where Christ’s teaching, from the “Sermon on the Mount,” is so helpful. Christ draws the fences in much closer. He calls for us to fence our hearts because he knows that it’s only when we fence the heart that we’ll willingly and successfully stay inside God-appointed behavioral fences. So he says, “You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery. But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matthew 5:27)
Consider the importance of what Christ does here. He isn’t adding to the Seventh Commandment. No, he’s interpreting it for us. He’s telling us what the intention and extent of the command has always been. The commandments all address fundamental issues of the heart, or as David says, “the inmost place.” The commandments not only depict God’s claim over our behavior, but more fundamentally God’s ownership over our hearts. But there’s something else of importance here. God knows what lust lusts for. Lust doesn’t lust for more lust. Lust lusts for the physical experience of the thing that’s the object of the lust. A heart controlled by sexual lust won’t be satisfied with better and more graphic fantasies. No, a lustful heart craves the actual experience and will only be satisfied when it’s actually experienced the thing for which it lusts. This is why it never works to put the fences at the boundary of behavior. Even if I’ve placed clear fences there, I’ll cut through them or climb over them if I haven’t first fenced my heart.
Now again David speaks for all of us and his words are so echoed by Christ that it almost appears as if Christ was thinking of David and Bathsheba when he spoke these words.
Have you fenced your heart? Have you tried to stay inside of behavioral boundaries only to have climbed over them again and again? Go and read the wisdom of the “Sermon on the Mount” (found in Matthew 5:1) and ask God to “teach you wisdom in the inmost place.” By God’s grace, determine to fight the battle of thought and desire, knowing full well that it’s only when you win this battle that you can be successful in the battle of behavior. And rest assured that when you fight this battle you aren’t fighting alone, but your Lord wages war on your behalf.”
This article is a resource of Paul Tripp Ministries. For more information visit www.paultripp.com.
“As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free, while God is marching on.”
In 1862, these words formed in the mind of Julia Ward Howe and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” was born. Since that time, this anthem of patriotism and sacrifice has rung out across our land to stir the souls of all who hold our country and our freedom dear. Americans have joined voices to make known the price our soldiers are willing to pay for democracy. On Memorial Day we honor those who have died for our freedom throughout history. We honor their families torn by tragedy, their faith in freedom and their faith in God. As you remember those who gave their lives this Memorial Day, pray for our country and our leaders. Above all, take full advantage of our priceless freedom of worship…purchased by death.
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed…” (James 5:16, NIV)
All throughout scripture, we see that God’s system is based on the principle of sowing and reaping. If you sow blessing and mercy into the lives of others, that’s what you’ll reap in your life in return. The same thing happens when you pray for one another. There’s a spiritual dynamic at play when you get your mind off of yourself and onto others. You’re sowing a seed so that God can do something in your own life.
Is there someone in your life you can pray for? Maybe it’s a friend or a family member in need. They don’t have to be present. You can pray for them as you go about your day or even driving in your car on the way to work. It’s the connection of faith that opens the door for God to move mightily on your behalf. Pray for one another and watch what God will do!
“Father, thank You for another day to be used by You. I choose to pray for the people in my life as You have commanded. Direct my thoughts and prayers so that I can be a blessing to others and always honor You, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
By Joel & Victoria Osteen
Excerpted from David the Great
He raised up David to be their king, of whom He testified, saying, “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will fulfill My entire will.” Acts 13:22 MEV
For every Goliath in the story of David, there is a Bathsheba around the corner. For every soul to whom he showed compassion, there were a hundred he was personally responsible for slaughtering. He had many wives, yet his palace was also filled with concubines. He had a different woman for every night of the week.
During one lengthy period David was an outlaw who ran what can only be called a protection racket. Later he was a mercenary raider who sold his skills to his people’s adversaries. He was dreaded by his enemies not only for killing them in great numbers but, as they saw it, also for sometimes mutilating and desecrating the bodies of the fallen for little more than a bizarre bridal dowry. His own father-in-law hated him. At least one of his wives despised and betrayed him. One of his sons led a revolution against him and would have executed him had not more loyal souls intervened. David caused a devastating plague and, like a Mafia don, ordered the execution of his enemies while on his deathbed.
Yet he was also a Spirit-sensitive poet whose words have comforted millions worldwide in two major religions for three thousand years. He was a musician whose songs could soothe a demon-haunted soul. He was a political leader strong enough to forge a single nation out of disparate tribes that had been ripped apart for years by civil war and internecine prejudice. Not least of all, David was a man of passionate loyalty, great faith, and national vision.
We may well be shocked by his sins, but we are also inspired by his victories and moved by his intimacy with the God of Abraham. There is much, ever so much, to learn from his life. So here he is: David, King of Israel, “that bloody man” who was also a man after God’s own heart.
“…And as they went, they were cured and made clean.” (Luke 17:14, AMPC)
One time in scripture, there were ten lepers who saw Jesus. They hollered out, “Jesus! Have mercy on us and make us whole!” Jesus could have healed them right then, but instead, He asked them to do something to express their faith. He said, “Go show yourself to the Priest, and you will be made whole.”
It’s interesting that those lepers were not supposed to be around other people. They had to live in colonies because they were contagious and considered unclean. I’m sure they debated among themselves, “Do you really think we should go? I don’t look any better. It’s just going to be a waste of our time.” But they dared to put action behind their faith. They decided, “Jesus said if we go, we will be well. Let’s go. Let’s take a step of faith.” The scripture says, “As they went, they were made whole.”
Friend, what is God telling you to do in your heart today? Take a step of faith. Put action behind faith.
“Father, I choose to trust in You. I choose to be obedient to You. Even when it doesn’t make sense to my natural mind, I will obey You and walk by faith. Thank You for revealing Yourself to me and healing every part of my life, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
By Joel & Victoria Osteen
“I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well.” (Psalm 139:14, NKJV)
David said in Psalm 139, “God, I praise You because You have made me in an amazing way. What You have done is wonderful.” Notice what followed David’s “I am.” He was not in pride but in praise to God.
Now that goes against human nature. Most of us think, “There’s nothing amazing about me. Nothing wonderful. I’m just average. I’m just ordinary.” No, the fact is there is nothing at all ordinary about you! You have a fingerprint that nobody else has. There will never be another you. Even if you have a twin, they don’t have your same personality, your same goals, or your same fingerprints. You are an original. When God made you, He threw away the mold. When you say, “I am wonderful, I am attractive, I am vibrant,” not only does vitality, youth and freshness start coming your way, but on the inside, your spirit rises up. Your self-image begins to improve, and you start carrying yourself like you’re someone special. You no longer drag through the day feeling inferior. You have that spring in your step, that “go after it” attitude.
Today, get in agreement with God. Declare what He declares about you. Declare, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” See yourself the way God sees you and experience all He has for you!
“Father, thank You for making me in Your image. Thank You for equipping me with everything I need for life and godliness. I will say what You say about me so I can be everything You’ve created me to be, in Jesus’ name. Amen.”
By Joel & Victoria Osteen
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58)
Various prominent religions of the world were founded by men. Did any of these men claim to be God? For example, Hinduism is one of the oldest religions and has millions of followers. Hinduism has no single god and no leader who claimed to be God. Confucius was a Chinese philosopher who founded a religion bearing his name, but he never claimed to be God. Gautama was called Buddha and established the religion of Buddhism. But he did not believe that God existed, so he never claimed to be God. Mohammed referred to God as Allah and founded a religion that today has millions of followers, but neither did he claim to be God.
One founder of a great religion did reveal Himself as God, and He is Jesus Christ. Three times in John 8, Jesus referred to Himself as “I am.” The first two times are in verses 24 and 28. “If you believe not that I am He, you shall die in your sins…When you have lifted up the Son of man, then shall you know that I am He.” (The word he is not in the original Greek text.) Jesus’ third claim is in today’s key verse. In all these statements Jesus identified Himself as God, the I AM of Exodus 3:14.
Jesus’ claim to be God was one of the main reasons that His enemies crucified Him. Was His claim true? Acts 17:31 says that God “hath given assurance (about Jesus) unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead.” So among the many founders of religions, Jesus Christ is the only one worthy to be followed. Only Jesus died as the Savior of the world, rose again, and is still living today. Do you know Him as your God?
By Denver Yoder
Read: John 8:23-29, 38-59
“No man cometh unto the Father (God), but by me.” (John 14:6)