TODAY IS YOUR BEST DAY BECAUSE OF JOY

And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. ISAIAH 35:10 KJV

Joy is one of the great benefits and blessings of the Kingdom of God within your life. Joy is the melody of heaven that is placed in your heart; joy is the Holy Spirit’s symphony that is played within your spirit; joy is the theme song of every person who trusts in the Lord and knows His love.

Joy is the highest level of delight that a person can experience. Human happiness is dependent upon the experiences and circumstances of life, while joy is dependent upon God alone. God, not your personality type, is the source of your joy. Today, joy flows from His heart to yours like a fountain that will never run dry.

We move into the highest levels of joy when we abide in the love of the Father, and through Him, reach out to love others. Today is your best day as you allow the Father to fill you with His love, love others through you, and as you walk in the fullness of His joy.

STAY BLESSED

SOURCE: Culled from DaySpring Daily Devotional.

BREAK WITH THE PAST

‘She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.’

Mark 14:3 NIV

Remember the woman who anointed Jesus? ‘While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.’ She gave her most precious possession to Jesus.

Not only was it extremely valuable, it was also part of her appeal as a prostitute. Breaking it open was her way of breaking with her past. She was giving up her former life by giving that jar to Jesus. God wants to transform us. The Bible says: ‘And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit’ (2 Corinthians 3:18 NIV).

But we can often want God to transform us while we keep doing the same old thing. We want Him to change our circumstances without having to change us at all. We can’t expect growth and change when we refuse to hand our past over to God, to hand over the things that have taken His place as priority in our lives, and to hand over who we are in favor of who we could be. Most of us get stuck spiritually because we keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. Spiritual routines are a crucial part of spiritual growth, but when the routine becomes routine, we need to change it. What got us to where we are, may not get us to where God wants us to go next.

What Now?

Has your spiritual journey become mundane and routine? Think of some new, creative ways you can connect with God today. 

Bible in a Year: Song of Songs 1-3, 2 Corinthians 8

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A RIVER OF LIVING WATER

John 7:37-39

If you’ve ever lived in a desert or experienced a long-term drought, you understand how essential water is. Without it, plants dry up, crops fail, animals languish with thirst, and before long the ground cracks and dust starts to blow. Sometimes, this is how life feels, too—dry, fruitless, unsatisfying, and futile.

But this should not be the case for believers. Even if the externals of life resemble a drought, inside we have the ever-flowing living water of the Holy Spirit. Of all the word pictures employed in the Bible to depict the Spirit, a river of living water ranks among the most powerful. He is seen as the source of vitality and abundance in our lives. Like a continually moving stream, He flows through us, performing His sanctifying work of transforming us into the image of Christ.

Getting to know the Spirit is a lifelong process. As we walk in obedience to Him, we experience both His quiet guidance through life’s challenges and His power displayed in our weakness. We marvel when He brings to light a passage of Scripture and find solace in His comfort when we’re hurting. His convictions guide us to repentance so we can be cleansed with living water. And His promptings and warnings keep us from heading down the wrong path.

Because the life-giving Spirit dwells within us, no Christian has to live a dry, fruitless life. Of course, if we opt to live as we please and indulge in sin, we’ll quench Him. But the more we learn of Him in Scripture and walk with Him in obedience, the more His life will flow through us.

 

STAY BLESSED

BE GENEROUS BECAUSE GOD IS GENEROUS

THURSDAY 13TH SEPTEMBER 2018

As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ” (2 Corinthians 9:13 NLT).

As followers of Christ, we need to remember to be generous.

Why is it so important to remember to be generous? Here are three ways it makes an impact on our lives.

It makes you happy. Acts 20:35 says, “Remember the words of the Lord Jesus: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (NLT). Notice Jesus didn’t say it is not a blessed thing to receive. It does make you happy to receive. But the world will tell you that you will be happiest when you receive. Jesus turned that idea around and said that you will be happier when you give than when you receive.

It just makes sense. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 9:6, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (NIV). Every one of us wants others to be generous with us. Do you think that by sowing miserly selfishness you’re going to reap generosity from God and others? God says that’s not the way life works. There is a law of sowing and reaping. So if you want to reap generosity, you have to sow generosity.

It shows the world what God is like. The Bible says, “As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ” (2 Corinthians 9:13 NLT).

When it comes to generosity, what encourages me is to remember the incredible generosity of God. Look at the world we get to live in. Look at the life he gave us. Look at the way he meets our needs. God is the perfect model of generosity. And when we are generous with others because of God’s generosity toward us, it points others to God.

Are you ready to invite Jesus into your heart?

Are you ready to receive God’s gift of grace to you? It’s a simple prayer that will tell God you accept the gift of Jesus.

Prayer:

“Dear God, I’m scared, but I want to get to know you. I don’t understand it all, but I thank you that you love me. I thank you that you were with me, even when I didn’t recognize it. I thank you that you are for me — that you didn’t send Jesus to condemn me but to save me.

“I admit that I never even realized I needed a Savior, but today I want to receive the gift of your Son. I ask you to save me from my past, my regrets, my mistakes, my sins, my habits, my hurts, and my hang-ups. I need you to take away the stress and fill me with your love. I need to be at peace with you, and I need you to put your peace in my heart.

“I ask you to save me for your purpose. I want to know why you put me on this planet. And I want to fulfill what you made me to do. I want to learn to love you and trust you and have a relationship with you. I prayer this in the name of Jesus, amen.”

STAY BLESSED

YOUR THREE-WAY CALLING

In Jude 1, we read the following greeting,
Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ.

The Greek word for called here is used in three different ways. As believers in Jesus Christ, this word tells us we are called to three things:

1. It is used for those who are summoned to an office, duty, or a responsibility. Friend, every believer has been called. You have a duty, you have an office, and you have a responsibility. We have all been called to do something for Christ. We are ambassadors for Christ, and we need to represent Him to a lost and dying world.

2. The word called is also used in the Greek language to summon someone to a feast or a festival. And you know what? You have been called to the marriage supper of the Lamb, and you will sit down one day to enjoy all the things God has planned for eternity.

3. Finally, the word translated called in this passage is used to summon someone into court to give an account for themselves, or to summon them to judgment. One day we will have to give an account of our lives. One day every one of us will stand before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account for the works done in the body.
You have a responsibility to represent Christ to our dying world, to someday celebrate the marriage supper of the Lamb, and to ultimately give an account of your life.
I pray you will embrace and fulfill your calling today!

STAY BLESSED

COMMIT TO LIVING BY YOUR VALUES

“[Moses] regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward” (Hebrews 11:26 NIV).

The first resolution: Choose to be who God wants you to be. The second resolution: Choose short-term pain for long-term gain.

And then Moses made a third life-shaping resolution: He chose God’s values, not the world’s. And that’s why God used him!

Hebrews 11:26 says, “He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward” (NIV).

Moses made a value judgment. He clarified what mattered most to him.

Let me ask you: What matters most in your life? What are the top three or four values in your life? Can you name them easily?

If you ask me, I’ll tell you quite simply what they are for me: integrity, humility, and generosity. I decided more than 30 years ago that I wanted to build my life on integrity, humility, and generosity because they’re the antidotes to the three traps of leadership.

Can you name the three most important values in your life right now? If you can’t, then you certainly can’t live by them. You’re not living your values if you can’t even name them. Before you go one more day, you need to sit down and ask, “What’s most important to me? What are the top values in my life?” And you need to write them out, because until you clarify your values, you can’t live by them.

Moses chose God’s values over the world’s values. Why is this so important? Because if you don’t decide what’s important in your life, other people are going to decide for you. They’re going to push you into their mold. And you’re going to live your life by their values, not yours.

STAY BLESSED

MEMORY BANK OF FAITH

Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” Philippians 2:4 (NLT)

It had been a long drive, and my stomach was growling like a bear. Since I’m a don’t-stop-until-you-get-home driver, I decided to enjoy the drive-thru dining experience. I called out my order into the bulky box, drove around the building and received my meal from a kind lady. Before I drove away, she said, “I just love your scarf!”

With an “Aw, thank you,” I prepared to drive away, but I felt the Holy Spirit nudge me to give the woman my scarf. Rather than immediately obeying — and in total disregard for the patrons behind me — I took my sweet time and put up an argument.

Why, Lord? She doesn’t need this scarf. It won’t even match what she is wearing. Please. No. It’s my favorite.

Despite my stalling, I eventually came to terms with what God was asking me to do. Like yanking a bandage off a wound, I pulled my scarf from around my neck and politely handed it to the cashier. With a forced grin and clenched teeth, I said, “Here, I’d like you to have it.”

I was secretly hoping she’d say, “Oh no, I can’t,” so I could get credit for the obedience (pitiful, I know). But she smiled and said, “Thank you so much.” I drove away with my food and without my scarf. But the sacrifice of a scarf was nothing compared to what I’d deposited in my “Memory Bank of Faith.”

Building Spirit-filled trust works like receiving money. Each time we receive funds, we deposit the money in our bank account, where it remains until we need it. Our Memory Bank of Faith works the same way. As we obey, we experience God’s faithfulness.

We deposit His acts of faithfulness in our bank; then, when He asks us to do something we don’t understand, or maybe don’t want to do (like give away a scarf), we can make a withdrawal from our Memory Bank and confidently obey. Having previously experienced His faithfulness, we know that what He has asked us to do is completely trustworthy — even if it involves something unexpected.

You might be thinking, if obedience means giving away my favorite things, then I’m not sure I want to participate.

Yet as we begin to naturally respond to God with yes, we will realize that what we sacrifice or give away doesn’t mean nearly as much as obeying God. I wrestled with my initial reactions and desires to obey. I was tempted to hold on to my wishes rather than harness myself to God’s ways. It’s okay to wrestle with our reactions, but God longs for our final response to be yes. We can never go wrong when we say yes to God.

In the drive-thru, I was given the opportunity to obey the Spirit’s nudge and follow God’s Word, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too” (Philippians 2:4).

The next time the Holy Spirit nudges your heart to help a senior adult move her groceries to her car, assist a mom in carrying her family’s food to the restaurant table, or drive past the close parking space so another person can park near the door, obey. Each time you do, you make another deposit in your Memory Bank of Faith and experience God anew.

I’ll be the first to admit, trusting God through obedience can be fearsome, because we never know what He will ask us to do … even while ordering lunch at a drive-thru.

Lord, I long to participate in the work You are doing around me. Quicken my ears to hear You. Stir my heart to obey You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

TRUTH FOR TODAY:

John 14:15, “If you love me, you will do what I command.” (ERV)

John 13:35, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (NLT)

STAY BLESSED

SOURCE: Culled from Encouragement for Today.

TODAY IS YOUR BEST DAY BECAUSE OF FAITH: WALK BY FAITH

For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith’. ROMANS 1:17 KJV

There are two ways that we can walk through a day. One is to walk by sight and the other is to walk by faith. If we walk by sight we can easily become discouraged, disappointed, and downhearted. To walk by sight means to evaluate our day by what we see with our eyes, hear with our ears, and know in our minds. To walk by sight means to allow the “reality” around us to impact our thoughts, our motivation, and our emotions.

To walk by faith means to walk in a different kind of reality. The Bible tells us that there are two realities (II Corinthians 4:17–18). One reality is what is seen; the other reality is what is unseen. There are two realities because there are two worlds. One is the physical world; the other is the spiritual world. The physical world is the temporary world; the spiritual world is the eternal world.

As you walk through this day in both worlds, God wants you to live by faith and not by sight.

Faith sees what your physical eyes can never see;

Faith knows what your natural mind can never comprehend;

Faith possesses what your physical arms can never hold.

Faith says “yes” to everything God declares to be true;

Faith stands upon everything God says is certain, it leans upon everything God says is unmovable, and it counts upon everything God says will come to pass.

He shall strengthen your heart. Psalm 31:24 NKJV

STAY BLESSED

SOURCE: Culled from Dayspring Devotionals.

A Righteous Hold-up

WEDNESDAY 5TH SEPTEMBER 2018

Exodus 17:8-16

While the people of Israel were still at Rephidim, the warriors of Amalek attacked them. Moses commanded Joshua, “Choose some men to go out and fight the army of Amalek for us. Tomorrow, I will stand at the top of the hill, holding the staff of God in my hand.”

So Joshua did what Moses had commanded and fought the army of Amalek. Meanwhile, Moses, Aaron, and Hur climbed to the top of a nearby hill. As long as Moses held up the staff in his hand, the Israelites had the advantage. But whenever he dropped his hand, the Amalekites gained the advantage. Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset. As a result, Joshua overwhelmed the army of Amalek in battle. (Exodus 17:8-13)

Reflect

The Amalekites descended from Amalek, a grandson of Esau. They were a fierce nomadic tribe that lived in the desert region near the Dead Sea. They made part of their livelihood by raiding other settlements and carrying off plunder. They killed for pleasure. One of the greatest insults in Israelite culture was to call someone “a friend of Amalek.”

When the Israelites entered the region, the Amalekites saw a perfect opportunity for both pleasure and profit. But this hostile tribe attacked the wrong group—a people led by God. For the Israelite slaves to defeat such a warlike nation was more than enough proof that God was with them as he had promised to be.

Aaron and Hur stood by Moses’ side and held up his arms to ensure victory against Amalek. Similarly, we need to “hold up the hands” of our spiritual leaders as well. Shouldering some responsibility, lending a word of encouragement, or offering a prayer are ways of refreshing spiritual leaders in their work.

Respond

Pray for your spiritual leaders by name, “holding up their hands” as they minister.

STAY BLESSED

Accepting Criticism

Today’s Devotion

Proverbs 10:17-18

Nobody likes criticism. It’s often unsolicited and rarely fun. Many times, we reject our critic’s words because of the harsh spirit in which they are spoken.

Yet God can take even a wrong attitude, bad timing, or harsh tone of voice and still tell us something we need to hear. That’s why we are wise to pay attention when someone critiques us. Invited or not, criticism forces us to examine ourselves and take notice of weak areas. This helps us discover who we really are and avoid unnecessary mistakes. If we fail to listen, our potential for mental, emotional, and spiritual growth is limited.

While not all opinions are valid, it’s important to respond well and evaluate criticism correctly. First, do not immediately reject the comment, blame the person, or defend yourself. Instead, consider what was said and ask God if He’s trying to tell you something. Then, thank the person for his interest in your growth, and explain that you’ll reflect on his observation. If he was sincere, he’ll be appreciative, but if his intentions were negative, this will disarm him. Next, evaluate the criticism and determine what exactly is under scrutiny—your beliefs, your character, your behavior, or God? Finally, view this as an opportunity for growth, and, if necessary, apologize to the person you’ve offended.

Jesus died on the cross for our sake, so we as believers are certain of His approval. When we remember this, the disapproval of others will take on less significance and cause less hurt. Then, as we learn to respond correctly, we will be blessed to find ourselves growing.

Bible in One Year: Jeremiah 4-5