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12/7/19 4:21 A

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Day One: Why We Need Rest at Christmas

“Deck the halls with boughs of holly,” the well-known carol begins. And so we do.

Some of us prepare for Christmas at the first hint of cold weather, while others postpone the inevitable as long as possible.

But at some point we all get caught in a vortex of activity—most of it fun and festive but exhausting nonetheless, leaving our souls feeling both stuffed and empty. Often, it’s in the midst of this hubbub of holiday cheer that we quietly wonder, “Is this all there is?” The good news is that beyond the cookie platters, shopping lists, and decorating is the Son of God made man for us.

God knows we’re prone to frenetic activity. This is one of the reasons He built in a day of rest for the Israelites every six days—that they might pause their doing and recognize the goodness of their God, their own desperate need for Him, and His gift of stillness.

In practicing rest, we acknowledge God’s trustworthiness: even when we cease working, God continues to hold our world together.

This year I invite you, as our Lord and Savior invited His disciples, to come away with Him and get some rest, to slow down and rediscover the wonder and joy of the Christmas season in the midst of your favorite holiday traditions.

But what does that look like?

Over the next four days, we’ll practice restful worship using the acronym REST: remember His goodness, express your neediness, seek His stillness, and trust His faithfulness.

Will you accept His invitation this Christmas season? Come away for a while, and rest.

Prayer: Oh Lord, You know me so well. You know that I long for a wonderful time with family and friends, but I overcommit, overreach, and overreact, and in the end, there’s just too much stress and hurt going around. I don’t want that this year. So I’m coming to You with open arms and an open heart. Here I am. Teach me to celebrate the birth of our Savior from a place of rest. Tune my heart to wonder at Your beauty and sing Your praise. Amen.

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12/7/19 2:25 A

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I read a book by a former US soldier, now a Bible teacher, who provided some powerful advice on bouncing back from the most discouraging moments of our lives. In one chapter, he describes a time in his career when he was in a room, looking eye to eye with a man he knew to be his enemy, and the only weapon on hand was his bayonet. In this terrifying moment, he explains how he lived to tell that tale by violently taking the other man’s life. He also goes on to describe the years of torment that followed that moment, full of regret, guilt, and bitterness.

So, how did he bounce back, well enough to be able to write a book encouraging so many others who struggle with deep-seeded discouragement? By learning how to fill his tanks in peacetime so that he might have provision in war. Let’s be honest; when we’re in the middle of great struggle, it’s like war! The enemy finds a way to pile all sorts of unpleasant people, responsibilities, events, and thoughts upon us when we’re at our lowest. We lose battle after battle, crying out to God, “Why?” His answer is plain: because we let our reservoir run dry during peacetime and now we’re paying for it in the middle of the battle!

That is why it is vital to be on our knees and in the Word daily, especially when things are going smoothly. We’re all Praying Professionals and Reading Rangers when things are rough, but we have a way of forgetting that diligence when life is good. Let me encourage you today; when you are going through a season of reward, victory, and peace, THAT is the time to be on your knees and in your Bible, filling your heart and mind with the promises of God that will see you through the next battle.

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12/5/19 6:08 A

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For most of us, the people we know more than any other on Earth are our family. We share heartache and pleasures with them, spend the abundance of our time with them, and commit ourselves to their well-being above all others. As such, these loved ones frequently are the ones who lift us up when we are down and we love them for it.

During his time on Earth, Jesus spent more time with his disciples than anyone else. They got to know his voice, thoughts, mannerisms, pet peeves, and even his unique facial gestures. When He was crucified, they were devastated in ways to which few of us can relate. So, when He appeared to the two on the road to Emmaus (see Bouncing Back from Disappointment - Day 2), he prevented them from recognizing Him at first, so He could hear the true nature of their heart. But, as the verses above point out, their eyes were opened to everything, including who He really was when He broke the bread and gave it to them.

This action closely resembles His actions in the Lord’s Supper, where He taught them and forewarned them of what was to come. In the intimate act of the breaking of the bread, these disciples knew who He was and they were immediately encouraged.

When life drags us down and struggle becomes unbearable, our ability to rise above it all hinges on our intimate communion with Christ. Do we spend time with Him, praying and reading His words? Just like we spend time with our family, sharing the joys and sorrows together, do we give all our burdens to and share all our victories with Him? In short, do we live as people who are in Him? Take the time every day to get to know the One to whom you’ve devoted your life, and let Him reveal His true self to you. Regular communion with Christ gives us the means by which we rise above the disappointments of our lives.

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12/2/19 1:50 A

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There is an old proverb of unknown origin that speaks of a man who has fallen in a hole and sees no way out. He hollers for help, and eventually a rugged man walks by and, upon hearing the man’s plea and seeing his predicament, tells the man that he needs to pick himself up by the bootstraps and find a way out on his own, before going on his way.

A holy man walks by and hears the man’s desperate cry. He tells him that he will say a prayer for him that he will find his way out and then scurries off. Finally, an ordinary man walks by the hole and sees the first man and his situation. He listens to the man’s plea for help. Then, without warning, the ordinary man jumps down into the hole with the first man. “Why did you do that?” the first man asks. The ordinary man replies, “Because I have been in this hole before, and I know the way out.”

Jesus Christ is such a man. According to the Bible, Jesus is the Son of the living God, but He is also God Himself. Yet, in John 1:14, we find out that this Son of God came down to Earth and became a man and lived among the human race. He “emptied Himself” of the divine and assumed the mortality of humans, to include the frustration of temptation and the anguish of death itself.

Why?

So we would have a true Advocate interceding for us forever, One who fully understands what we go through and One who knows the way out.

So, if you feel as though you have fallen in a hole, suffering through some trial to which you see no way out, take heart that there is an Advocate interceding on your behalf who knows exactly what you’re going through, committed to seeing you climb out of that hole.

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11/30/19 7:09 A

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If you think about it, the Lone Ranger is a misnamed hero. He’s brave, morally pure, and strong, but he never fights his battles alone. Tonto is always there as a loyal partner and companion. Take it a step further; how sad it would be if the Lone Ranger really was a one-man operation. The world’s most famous cowboy might never have made it through the first movie! In fact, every great movie hero has a sidekick or partner; Batman has Robin, Sherlock Holmes has Watson, and whoever heard of Kirk without Spock?

The Bible also has some famous duos. Moses relied on Aaron, David’s best friend was Jonathan, and Ruth was the best daughter-in-law Naomi could have ever hoped to have.

However, things get a little tricky when we get to Jesus.

Jesus never had a sidekick. He did have twelve disciples, three of whom he favored, but none of them quite fit as a companion in the same sense as the others named above. He was their leader—they called him rabbi and Lord, but never brother.

So, does that make Jesus a lone ranger? Not at all.

He stayed closely connected to and talked regularly with the Father, who saw Him through the agony of Gethsemane and the passion of the cross. He relied on the Holy Spirit to see Him through Satan’s temptations in the wilderness.

So, what can we learn from all this?

Don’t be a lone ranger. Let the eternal companionship of the Father, Son, and Spirit give you the encouragement and the strength to triumph over your greatest fears. When discouragement comes your way, cast your cares on the One who saw Jesus through His darkest times.

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11/28/19 8:30 A

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Ever have an idea about something that ultimately goes almost opposite of what you expected? A man applies to go to Harvard, but ends up selling insurance instead. A tired young mother stares at her unfinished novel on the desk collecting dust, wondering about the road she never took. When life refuses to deliver on our expectations, the effect on us can be devastating.

However, discouragement is nothing new. In Luke 24, two disciples walk on the Emmaus Road. After the crucifixion they embark on a seven-mile walk back home to Emmaus. They discuss what has just taken place, trying to make sense of it all. Jesus was supposed to deliver them from oppression and usher in a new, glorious kingdom. In short, disappointment takes hold of them.

Enter Jesus, who appears as a stranger to these discouraged disciples and asks them what they’re talking about. Put another way, He wants to know how they feel, and they give Him the unvarnished truth of their sadness. We know their pain; when the bills pile up and the bank account shrinks, maybe you’ve wondered where God is in it all. As the marriage becomes stale and the job leaves a sour taste in your mouth, you may have found yourself thinking like the God of the universe has abandoned ship. In those moments, we might do well to remember that our friend Jesus sticks closer than a brother.

Don’t lose heart. God has never left your side and He has a plan to see you through even the most discouraging circumstances. While we may not always understand why we go through such seasons, we can take comfort in knowing that the Lord causes all things to work together for good for those who are called according to His purpose

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11/21/19 12:56 P

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God is Strong

The Lord employs his power on our behalf, and moreover, infuses strength into us in our weakness. The psalmist, by an act of appropriating faith, takes the omnipotence of Jehovah to be his own. Dependence upon the invisible God gives great independence of spirit, inspiring us with confidence more than human.

The Lord is their strength. The heavenly experience of one believer is a pattern of the life of all. Jehovah is the same as he was to his servant David, "the least of them shall be as David."

They need the same aid and they shall have it, for they are loved with the same love, written in the same book of life, and one with the same anointed Head. And he is the saving strength of his anointed. Here behold King David as the type of our Lord Jesus, through whom all blessings come to us.

Based on Psalm 28: Taken from the Treasury of David by C. H. Spurgeon

Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 11/21/2019 (12:56)
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11/18/19 3:40 P

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If you’re anything like me, then detours can be frustrating! You’re planning to go somewhere, and then without warning, something throws you off-track. But there is a reason for the detours, because when you’re on the highway and you face a detour, that means that something is being constructed or corrected. When this happens spiritually, it means God is in a building program. He is trying to build Christlikeness into your life and to do that, to move you from where you are to where He wants you to be, He rarely goes in a straight line. Too much development is needed or correction is needed.

Rather than fighting the detours, knowing that God’s the architect of the detour in the first place, just go with the flow. Detours know where they’re supposed to end and how to get you back to the main highway. That’s where you want to go anyway, so let it happen.

Your detour may be longer or shorter than mine, but since it’s His detour, part of His perfect plan, according to His perfect will, bringing us to His preferred destination for our lives, you have no reason to despair. So, smile in the midst of the frustration of a detour, knowing God knows when it’s going to end, where it’s going to end, how it’s going to end, and when it ends, you’ll be in exactly the place He wants you to be.

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11/16/19 1:33 P

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Far too many people have settled for fake riches. They have settled for things that money can buy, losing out on the things that money can’t buy. If you’re not rich in God, it really doesn’t matter how much money you have, what’s in your CD, 401K, or bank account.

Those things have their place, but what good is having a bunch of riches in time, only to stand before God totally impoverished because you did not have a life that had eternal value attached to it?

So, what I want to do is refocus all of your attention on the eternal perspective of wealth, because when you have that perspective, you can enjoy better the temporal provision of wealth. So, don’t place a great value on the things of this earth like money, possessions, or prestige.

Embrace an eternal perspective by finding value in the life that is to come. When it does, make sure you have forwarded more ahead than you have left behind.

Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 11/16/2019 (13:33)
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11/14/19 12:42 P

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God graciously provides comfort in the midst of our afflictions.

The good news is that “affliction” is not the only, or even the final, word that Paul highlighted in his letter to the church at Corinth. With the afflictions, he had also received abundant “comfort” from God and other believers (see his repetition of the word “comfort” in 2 Corinthians 1:3-7). The word “comfort” is the same term used of the Holy Spirit as the “Comforter” (John 14:6), and it indicates someone who comes alongside another person to help or assist him or her in time of need.

Paul was saying that since God is the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, he never had to face these seasons of suffering alone. In fact, he experienced his suffering as co-suffering with Christ who had also walked this path of affliction, pain, and ultimately death on the cross.

Like the writer of Hebrews, Paul knew that because we have Jesus as a great High Priest who offered up His prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to God (Hebrews 5:7), we can also draw near in prayer with confidence to the throne of grace so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need:

"Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16)."

Paul also knew that just as God used Christ’s suffering and death as His means of saving the world, Paul’s own sufferings and afflictions were being used for redemptive good (Romans 8:28).

Are you suffering in silence as you face seasons of affliction or are you voicing them to God in prayer? Are you pleading for God’s presence and comfort in the midst of your suffering?

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11/13/19 1:08 A

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Jesus’ teaching calls for a response. To merely admire Jesus as a great Teacher, without applying the truths He taught, is to forfeit the treasure of which He spoke. It also is to leave yourself vulnerable to life’s storms when they come.

Earlier I mentioned Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. He wrapped up the sermon with a short story about two men. One man built his home on a rock, a solid foundation; the other man built his home on the sand. Jesus’ point is the person who acts on His teaching is building on a solid foundation, but one who fails to heed Jesus’ words is setting himself up for disaster. Storms come into all our lives. Building our lives on the firm foundation of Jesus and His teaching gives us the ability to withstand the onslaught.

Let me say again:To merely admire Jesus as a great Teacher, without applying the truths He taught, is to leave yourself vulnerable to life’s storms when they come. It is the same as declaring you really don’t believe Him after all. Obedience to what Jesus teaches is proof that you believe Him. Belief, after all, is to be demonstrated, not just discussed.

Acting in belief on Christ’s words requires faith. Faith is something we often misunderstand. We identify it as an emotion, something we hold to intellectually, or something we say we believe. Yet, faith is measured by your life, not your lips. It involves your feet, not just your feelings. It should be a lifestyle, not an event.

In fact, to not live by faith is to call God a liar. It is to challenge His integrity because faith means you are taking Him at His word. Faith is only as powerful as the object to which it is attached. You could have all the faith in the world that your car was suddenly going to sprout wings and fly you to the moon, but you would still end up on the ground. Yet when you attach your faith to Jesus Christ and His Word—and you respond by obeying what He has revealed—that is the faith that moves mountains (Matt. 17:20). Responding to Jesus’ teaching means trusting Him enough to do what He says.

You wouldn’t hire a music teacher, computer programmer, or gardener to teach you how to do a certain skill and then not apply what he had shown you. That would be a waste of your time and money. Furthermore, a person who went to college to learn how to be an accountant, for example, but chose not to follow the rules of mathematics and business would not only be considered a fool, but would also be unemployed.

Jesus is the greatest Authority on how to live our lives. And He has given us His teaching in His Word. To read it, study it, discuss it, and yet not apply it makes no sense at all. It makes about as much sense as building your house on top of sand. Listen to Jesus’ teaching and respond with trustful obedience.

How can you apply Jesus’ teaching to your daily life?

Read. Read one of the Gospels and as you come across Jesus’ teachings, identify how living by that teaching would benefit your life.

Commit. Make a conscious deliberate decision to live by the teaching of Jesus.

Teach. Consider leading a small group Bible study or teaching and working with kids or students. Let God use you to communicate to others the teachings of Jesus.

Sit at the feet of Jesus. Learn from Him. And experience your life to the fullest.

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11/11/19 12:39 P

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Most Jews of that day would assume that the way to eternal life was through obedience to the law. Yet a man came running to Jesus, wanting to know, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” We don’t know what he had previously heard, but something in Jesus’ teaching (and perhaps the authority behind that teaching) convinced him that in spite of his efforts he was missing something.

The man may have even been acknowledging the source of Jesus’ teaching and authority in calling Him “Good Teacher.” To the Jews, God is preeminently good (1 Chron. 16:34); in fact, since God’s goodness was supreme to them, they never referred to anyone else as good. Jesus’ question, “Why do you call me good?” wasn’t to dispute the man’s idea of calling Him good, but rather to lead the man to reflect on the significance of what he was saying. If God is good, and Jesus is good, then Jesus is God.

Almost as if to support the Jewish notion that obedience to the law brings eternal life, Jesus listed several of the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:1-16). Jesus started where the man was—striving for eternal life through keeping the law—but He would show the man that wasn’t enough. The man quickly acknowledged his obedience, but Jesus called the man to a greater level of obedience, beyond just keeping the letter of the law.

What was the “one thing” the man lacked? He lacked a radical trust in God that would allow him to abandon everything and follow Jesus. He could demonstrate his devotion to God by having more compassion for the needy than love for his own wealth.

To some, those words may sound harsh. But let’s not lose sight of why Jesus spoke them: “Looking at him, Jesus loved him.” Jesus’ love drove everything He said and did, including His teaching. The Jesus of the Bible is not the stoic, halo-topped European actor with the British accent we’ve watched so often in movies. He is not a, one-dimension, flannel-board messiah. Our Lord felt great compassion, and that compassion motivated His sacrificial actions done in love.

· “When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them …” (Matt. 9:36)

· “As He stepped ashore, He saw a huge crowd, felt compassion for them …” (Matt. 14:14)

· “Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes.” (Matt. 20:34)

· “Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out His hand …” (Mark 1:41)

· “When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her …” (Luke 7:13)

· “As He approached and saw the city, He wept over it …” (Luke 19:41)

Out of His love, Jesus affirmed this man’s actions and gave him one very powerful piece of advice: Sell all he had and give it to the poor. Because in doing so, he would store up treasures in heaven.

Out of His love, Jesus conveyed to this man—and us!—an explosive truth, an awesome reality that ought to guide all that we do. Life isn’t just about what we can see, hear, taste, touch, and smell. Life goes beyond what we know now. Treasures in heaven are far more valuable than storage rooms full of stuff.

Out of His love, Jesus urged this man to let go of all the things there were keeping him from experiencing true treasure.

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11/11/19 1:30 A

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A man one day had two cows. He told his wife that he was going to sell one cow and keep the revenue for themselves. Then he also said that he would sell the other cow and give the revenue to God. The next day the man came into the room where his wife was sitting and his face gave off the appearance that he was sad. Whats wrong? she asked.

The man paused, considered his words, and then replied, Gods cow just died.

When you seek first your dreams, your desires, your plans, your programs and your agenda its always Gods cow that dies. He always gets to play second fiddle. If anything gives or suffers, its time with Him, following Him or pursuing His plans. And yet at the same time, you may still pray, This is my rule, my rein, my plan bless me God. Yet God is not going to bless the promotion of another plan than His.

The secret to living out the fullness of your destiny is found in one word: First. It consists of the prioritization of the rule of God and the advancement of His kingdom in every area of your life. We read this word in Matthew 6:33, But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. There is a hierarchy in Gods kingdom, and He is always first.

You can listen to a million sermons, read a million books, pray a million prayers over a million years but none of that will serve as a catalyst to you living out your destiny until you put God first. God must be first.

In baseball, if you miss first base it doesnt matter whatever else you do after that. If you missed first base but went on to touch second base, third base and even home plate and even if everyone congratulated you when you got there, you are still out. If you miss what is first, it doesnt matter what else you do.

Change one thing in your life and you will get to watch that one thing change everything else. From this point forward, put God first in all of your life. Not because it is His request, but because it is His demand. When you do it, He tells you that all these things will be added to you. You will experience the fullness and maximum potential of who you are along with the blessings He has in store for you as you enter into what He has ordained you to be.

Prayer: Great God and King, I put you first in my heart, mind, time and in all that I do. I make this commitment to you today to go to you first in the decisions that I make, to read your word and to seek your wisdom. Thank you for that which you have promised me when I make you first in my life. In Jesus' name, amen.

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11/8/19 1:03 P

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When we enter a room and see everyone sitting except one person, we naturally assume the one standing is in charge. He is speaking, teaching, or has control of the room—at least for the moment. To persuade or speak with any level of authority, we typically stand as if to take control of the meeting.

The Jewish people in the New Testament, however, had a different approach. In rabbinic tradition, the teacher sat while speaking. We see this many times with Jesus, the wandering Rabbi, whether He was in the synagogue or not. In Luke 4:20, after Jesus had read the Scripture, He sat down to speak. Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount begins: “When He saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain, and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him. Then He began to teach them” (Matt. 5:1-2). Teaching while seated was teaching from a position of authority.

Mark did not state in our passage that Jesus sat down, but one thing is clear: those who heard Him teach knew He did so with authority. “They were astonished at His teaching because, unlike the scribes, He was teaching them as one having authority.”

For the rest of us, any authority we have is limited to the roles we’ve been given. Whether you’re the President of the United States or a mother corralling a three-year-old, your authority only extends so far. It’s finite, earthbound. Yet Christ’s authority is unlimited because it rests intrinsically within Him. He taught with authority like no other because He Himself is that authority. He embodies absolute truth. He said “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

Jesus also backed up His authority with His actions. He demonstrated the dependability of His words with miracles.

· He paid his taxes with a coin out of the mouth of a fish (Matt. 17:24-27).

· He cast out demons His disciples could not (Mark 1:23-27).

· He raised the dead (5:35-42).

· He turned a few fish and bread into a giant meal for thousands (6:30-44).

· He walked on water His followers feared (6:45-52).

His actions and miracles gave credibility to His words. If Jesus’ teachings had gone no further than the ones who originally heard Him speak, the authority in His teaching might have gotten lost on the dusty shelves of history. But His teachings didn’t end with those events. In fact, shortly before He returned to His Father, Jesus commanded His followers to go out in the world and teach on His behalf. Out of His authority, He gave us this charge. What’s more, after He gave this commission, He returned to heaven and, once again, sat down. He sat down at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19).

Jesus sits in a position of authority today, and He has called us to both live and teach His words from a position of authority.

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11/6/19 2:27 A

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11/5/19 2:14 A

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Most Jews of that day would assume that the way to eternal life was through obedience to the law. Yet a man came running to Jesus, wanting to know, Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? We don’t know what he had previously heard, but something in Jesus’ teaching (and perhaps the authority behind that teaching) convinced him that in spite of his efforts he was missing something.

The man may have even been acknowledging the source of Jesus’ teaching and authority in calling Him Good Teacher. To the Jews, God is preeminently good (1 Chron. 16:34); in fact, since God’s goodness was supreme to them, they never referred to anyone else as good. Jesus’ question, “Why do you call me good?” wasn’t to dispute the man’s idea of calling Him good, but rather to lead the man to reflect on the significance of what he was saying. If God is good, and Jesus is good, then Jesus is God.

Almost as if to support the Jewish notion that obedience to the law brings eternal life, Jesus listed several of the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:1-16). Jesus started where the man was—striving for eternal life through keeping the law—but He would show the man that wasn’t enough. The man quickly acknowledged his obedience, but Jesus called the man to a greater level of obedience, beyond just keeping the letter of the law.

What was the “one thing” the man lacked? He lacked a radical trust in God that would allow him to abandon everything and follow Jesus. He could demonstrate his devotion to God by having more compassion for the needy than love for his own wealth.

To some, those words may sound harsh. But let’s not lose sight of why Jesus spoke them:

Looking at him, Jesus loved him. Jesus love drove everything He said and did, including His teaching. The Jesus of the Bible is not the stoic, halo-topped European actor with the British accent we’ve watched so often in movies. He is not a, one-dimension, flannel-board messiah. Our Lord felt great compassion, and that compassion motivated His sacrificial actions done in love.

When He saw the crowds, He felt compassion for them (Matt. 9:36)

As He stepped ashore, He saw a huge crowd, felt compassion for them …” (Matt. 14:14)

Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes.” (Matt. 20:34)

Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out His handMark 1:41)

When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her Luke 7:13)

As He approached and saw the city, He wept over it (Luke 19:41)

Out of His love, Jesus affirmed this man’s actions and gave him one very powerful piece of advice: Sell all he had and give it to the poor. Because in doing so, he would store up treasures in heaven.

Out of His love, Jesus conveyed to this man—and us!—an explosive truth, an awesome reality that ought to guide all that we do. Life isn’t just about what we can see, hear, taste, touch, and smell. Life goes beyond what we know now. Treasures in heaven are far more valuable than storage rooms full of stuff.

Out of His love, Jesus urged this man to let go of all the things there were keeping him from experiencing true treasure.

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11/1/19 11:30 A

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The Best Is Yet to Come

No matter who you are …

No matter what gifts and talents God’s given you, or the degree to which you’ve developed them …

No matter the accomplishments, achievements, or degree of success you’ve already experienced in life …

God still has more for you. There’s still something to be and do. His very best lies ahead of you.

How can I be sure of that? Because if you’re in right relationship with God, what eventually lies ahead for you is eternal life in heaven.

You have absolutely no concept of how fantastic heaven is.

You may think you know, but anything you know is only a small fraction—if even that—of the way it really is. You have no concept of what it’s going to be like to live in the near presence of God and to have eternity to do all He might ask you to do. As a person with a finite mind and body, you can’t begin to fathom what it’ll be like to live forever in an unlimited mind and body. You may have experienced great love here on this earth, but it’s nothing compared to the depth of love you’re going to experience in heaven. The same is true for joy, fulfillment, and every other good thing you can imagine.

Between now and when you go to heaven, God desires to build upon what is and take you from height to greater height, strength to greater strength, and glory to greater glory. That’s His plan for every believer. Therefore, no matter what you’ve known as the best of life in the past is only a prelude to the next greater thing God has for you.

Ask the Father today what you can do to better prepare yourself for what lies ahead. Ask Him to reveal ways in which you need to pursue your full potential. Ask Him to tell you where to make changes that will allow you to receive all the blessings He has in store for you.

Eliminate anything standing in the way of you pursuing your passion, purpose, and God-given potential with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Face up to, deal with, and overcome any obstacles in your path. Ask the Father to work in you to make the changes you need to make. Believe that God’s best lies ahead, then get ready to receive it.

Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 11/1/2019 (11:31)
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10/31/19 1:09 P

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The Ongoing Pursuit

As you begin to pursue your God-given potential, you’ll face immediate challenges in your first steps along this journey toward your eternal destiny. You’ll also face the ongoing, daily challenge of maintaining steadfast growth.

I strongly encourage you to do two things:

First, broaden your input, even as you focus your output.

Second, accept only the opportunities you know for certain are God’s plan for you.

The Lord intends for you to keep learning and having new, godly experiences all your life.

The more you fulfill your potential, the more you’ll have a need for input, which includes knowledge and wisdom from others and wisdom that comes from experience and application.

I’d never encourage you to pursue or receive anything that’s contrary to purity or God’s commands. But I strongly encourage you to expand your horizons. Be open to new ways to express your gifts or to serve others. Recognize that you can draw insights from many areas of information—even areas that don’t seem connected to your career field.

There was a period in my life when a number of people thought I should leave the ministry and go into business, giving up my work as pastor to write books and speak at motivational seminars. The people had numerous reasons for giving me their opinions. A small portion of what they said made sense—at least enough sense that I went to my knees in prayer about their advice.

I asked the Lord, “Do You want me to do something else … leave the place I’ve been and enter these areas being held open to me?” The answer from God was a distinct “no.” He made it very clear I was to continue doing what He’d created, called, and equipped me to do until He told me otherwise.

As you go through life, you’ll face countless opportunities for new memberships, situations, investments, associations, relationships, career opportunities, alliances, and mergers. Not every opportunity is a good one. And with even greater certainty I can tell you, not all of them are sent by God. But as you seek the Father, bringing each opportunity before Him in prayer, He’ll show you the path you’re to follow as you seek to fulfill your purpose here on earth.

As you begin to see more and more of your potential become a reality, and as you live out the purpose God’s planned for you, make sure to subject the following areas of your life to ongoing renewal:

Continually reaffirm your commitment to the Lord.
Continually reaffirm your priorities.
Reestablish your discipline daily.
Reaffirm your desire to do your best.
Rekindle your enthusiasm.
Refresh yourself in the Lord.
Revisit the vision God has for your life.

You can live in an ongoing state of renewal only if you rely on the Holy Spirit to be your constant and unending source of joy, love, faith, and confidence. Remember that God wants you to fulfill your potential and live out your purpose.

Be sure to choose to want what He wants.

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10/31/19 2:29 A

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Essential #6: A Balanced Schedule

Do you talk with God about your schedule? Or do you hurl yourself into an almost frantic routine each day? Do you rush from place to place and chore to chore, thinking that in all of your busyness you’re accomplishing real work or establishing real relationships?

The truth is, a balanced schedule is structured according to the purpose that God has established for your life.

In looking to Jesus as our example, He controlled His schedule according to the Father’s plan. His schedule did not rule Him.

Furthermore, Christ approached His schedule in three ways that are particularly relevant to us today:

Jesus never attempted to justify His schedule or make excuses for any aspect of it. He didn’t say, as many people do today, “I just needed to get away,” or “Please forgive me, but I just don’t have time to …” Jesus lived His entire life without relying on the approval of other people. He sought only to please His heavenly Father and do what God told Him to do (John 5:19).

Jesus was never hurried or flustered when it came to His schedule. He didn’t rush from place to place. In fact, for purposes that were a mystery to His close followers, He willfully waited in Jericho even after He received news that Lazarus was very ill (John 11:6). We know in retrospect that He did that for the wonderful purpose of raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:43-44). But at the time, Jesus’ disciples certainly didn’t understand His apparent laid-back approach to the situation.

Jesus didn’t find His schedule to be stressful. He did the things that were important and let the unimportant things go by.

If like me, at times, you feel your schedule has gotten completely out of balance, take some time to gain control by reflecting upon and evaluating how and where you’ve been spending your time. Begin by asking the following questions:

What am I doing?

Which of these things is absolutely vital to my fulfilling my potential and purpose, doing what God’s created me to be and do?

What do I really need to do, what do I need to let others do, and what doesn’t need to be done at all?

Some answers to these questions may be difficult. And you may need to make tough choices about your time, work, and current relationships. But there no doubt are changes you can make that will minimize stress, streamline your day, and help you get more out of every hour you’re gifted. Ask the Father to reveal these changes to you. Once you’re aware of them, act on them. Then, pray frequently and regularly for the Lord to help you remain flexible and to be wise in the way you spend your life (Ps. 90:12).

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10/28/19 9:05 A

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Essential #5: Right Relationships

As you follow the path toward fulfilling your God-given potential, you’ll discover rather quickly that you don’t walk it alone. You’ll not arrive at the fullness of your potential without getting and giving help along the way.

No one lives in isolation. All of us have and need relationships.

They determine to a great extent how successful and joyful we are. Our relationships make it possible for us to pursue various goals and engage in various activities. And they play a key role in helping us overcome adversities and hardships.

All of the previous topics we’ve covered in this reading plan relate to the way you interact with people. The lives of others, in turn, impact your understanding of what it means to live in a forgiven, intimate, pure relationship with God and His children.

Through our relationships, we learn what it means to have a clear mind, what it means to have and use your natural and ministry-motivated gifts, and what it means to live in as much health and vitality as you can.

When we look to the Bible, we see it’s filled with stories of people who accomplished great things, but only because they were in relationship with others:

Noah’s three sons and their families helped him build the ark.

Moses worked as a team with various people (including Aaron and Joshua) in his leadership role of the Israelites.

Nehemiah rebuilt the broken walls and gates of Jerusalem—with a lot of help.

Paul had many associates (including Timothy, Barnabas, Silas, Titus, and Luke) as he traveled tens of thousands of miles spreading the words of Jesus.

Even Jesus chose 12 men to surround and help Him in practical ways. And He developed such a strong bond with 11 of those disciples that every one of them was willing to die for his Lord.

God’s plan for each of us is to be in relationships that provide mutual help and assistance.

As much as you need others for help and friendships, they need you for the same reasons.

To a great extent, your relationships determine the ways in which you pursue your potential and accomplish God’s plan for your life. Choose to establish relationships that our heavenly Father honors, blesses, and uses for His purposes.

Ask Him to send the right people to you, helping you to discern whether a relationship is right for you. Trust God to be an active participant for good in every relationship He encourages you to develop.

Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 10/28/2019 (09:07)
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10/27/19 10:26 A

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Essential #4: A Healthy Body

You cannot reach your full potential, fulfill the purpose God has for your life, or even make a good effort toward pursuing these, when you’re not right physically. Yet no factor seems to be more overlooked when it comes to your God-given potential.

A healthy body is critical to the preparation and execution of the various activities and ministry opportunities the Lord gives you. You need a healthy body to fulfill your eternal destiny and achieve God’s best for you.

We tend to think of ourselves as having body, soul, and spirit. Our bodies relate to other people and the world around us. Our souls relate to our personhood. And our spirits relate to God. When your body, soul, and spirit are strong and fully committed to the Lord, you can take dominion over certain aspects of the physical, emotional, and spiritual realms.

Good health is absolutely necessary for the following:

Mental focus
Enthusiasm
Clear thinking
Motivation
Perseverance to complete a task
Quick response in times of danger, emergency, or crisis

The apostle Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, also made it clear that the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. You live in your body, but you’re more than flesh and bone. The inner self—soul and spirit—lives on after the physical body dies. While believers live on this earth as His creations, our bodies are simultaneously indwelled by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 3:16). You’re not only a vessel for your soul and spirit but also for the Spirit’s presence and power. In this way, your physical self is a holy entity, devoted to worship. Your body is a temple of God’s presence. Paul’s ringing message throughout all of his writings is this: I am in Christ, and Christ is in me.

Paul also mentions that given that the Holy Spirit has made you His temple on earth, you are to “glorify God” in your body and your spirit. You should treat your physical body with the same respect you have for your eternal spirit. According to Paul, each of us has a responsibility as a Christian to make certain that behaviors associated with our physical bodies bring honor to God.

What you do with your body is an act of praise to God. Therefore, anything you do to hurt or damage your body will prevent or limit you from fully honoring the Lord, making yourself freely available for service to Him, fulfilling your purpose, and reaching your full potential.

Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 10/27/2019 (10:27)
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10/27/19 1:19 A

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Essential #3: Using Your Gifts

Your Creator has gifted you in unique and wonderful ways. He’s crafted you with particular abilities and talents. When you develop your God-given attributes and use them to serve other people in love, great things can be accomplished. But if you try to function apart from your talents, or if you attempt to use your abilities in ways God didn’t intend, you’re headed for a life filled with anxiety, frustration, and failure.

If you’re going to reach your full potential in life, you must gain an awareness of what the Lord has given you. You must seek to know, develop, and then find God-approved ways to use your God-given talents.

The gifts and talents the Father designed for you were bestowed upon you at birth. A true natural gift is present in a person all his life. I cannot begin to tell you all the natural gifts that are part of human beings. But I can encourage you in this: There are thousands upon thousands of natural gifts, many of which are variations within some of the general gift categories below:

Aptitudes
Intelligence
Intuitive Ability
Emotions
Talent in a Particular Area of Work or Performance
Interests
Likes and Dislikes
In addition to the gifts noted above, God has also given every person the following:

Capacity
Propensities
Aspirations
Personality
Free Will
A Measure of Faith
A Conscience
Communication Ability
A Network of Relationships
A Generation and A Location
In addition to the natural gifts God gave you at your creation, you also received what I call motivational gifts to prepare you for and prompt you to ministry in the body of Christ. These gifts are released after you receive Jesus as your Savior and begin to follow Him as your Lord.

The apostle Paul identified seven motivational gifts that we’re called to use in ministry or service within the body of Christ:

Prophesying—Proclaiming God’s Word
Ministering—Serving and helping to meet a need in someone else’s life
Teaching—Presenting information and principles from God’s Word
Exhorting—Intense encouragement to live out the Christian life
Giving—Expressions of time, treasure, and talent marked by generosity and faithfulness
Leading—Administering, organizing, or leading others
Showing Mercy—Expressions of kindness that point to God’s lovingkindness and His free offer of forgiveness made possible through Christ
No person can teach you how to fully blend all of the gifts the Lord has placed and released in you by the power of His Holy Spirit. Only God Himself can teach you everything you need to know about your giftedness. Only the Holy Spirit can do the work of shaping and coordinating all areas of your life so that they brightly reflect the light of the Lord. Take some time to consider the lists above, prayerfully asking the Father to reveal to you how He’s gifted you and how you can use your gifts and talents to fulfill the purpose He has for you on this earth.

Never forget your potential lies in the arena of your God-given giftedness. The very building blocks of your potential will always be the gifts He’s given you (Eph. 2:10).

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10/25/19 9:24 A

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Essential #2: A Clear Mind

The key to having a clear mind is to seek an intimate, personal relationship with Jesus Christ. We must desire to know and become like Him. He must be our Savior and our Role Model. The apostle Paul declared in Philippians 2:5-8:

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.

Jesus had a very clear understanding of who He was and why He was on the earth. Our Savior regarded Himself as a servant. He humbled Himself before God and was obedient to all of the commands and leading of our heavenly Father.

That’s God’s profile for you. If you want to have the mind of Christ, you must see yourself as His servant on earth. The Bible calls us to be an ambassador and a bondservant for Christ (Eph. 6:20). You do what God leads you to do. He gives the directives and you obey.

If you want to have a clear mind—the mind of Christ—as you seek to fulfill God’s purpose for your life, you must …

Determine in advance that you will obey. If you want to have the mind of Christ, you must determine to obey God’s commandments.

Let God’s Word program or reprogram your mind. You can’t reach your God-given potential if you allow anything other than God and His Word to define your world, you as a human being, or what’s wise to take into your life.

Reprogram false teaching. As you read God’s Word and take it into your heart and mind, the Lord will use truth to drive out error, lies, and falsehoods. He’ll minimize or erase all thought patterns that are unproductive and replace them with new ways of thinking that are beneficial.

Seek the truth for yourself. God won’t infuse you with His Word by “divine injection.” You must take charge of your understanding and open the Word of God daily. Read it and study it. Then believe it, and apply it to your life.

You can have a clear mind, a mind that’s focused on Christ. As you pursue your passion and the purpose God has for your life, choose to make the Father’s perspective your perspective … and make His thoughts your thoughts.

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10/24/19 2:05 P

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Essential #1: A Clean Heart

This reading plan presents seven essentials related to the pursuit of your God-given potential & His purpose for your life. But only one absolute essential relates to your eternal potential:

You must have a clean heart.

And by “heart,” I’m referring to your spirit—the place deep within where you relate to God and experience His presence.

Why is a clean heart necessary? Simply because you were born with a “bent” away from God. That’s true for every person. All of us are born with a sinful nature—with a focus on self and self-gratification. Every baby clearly demonstrates this from its first breath with cries related to human, physical needs: Feed me! Change me! Hold me!

In the spiritual realm, we’re also born with a focus on ourselves. We want what we want when we want it. We want—and expect—the world to revolve around us. And we want to determine our own destiny and gain control over everything within our grasp.

God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, into this world to die a substitutionary, atoning death for us so that we might experience a change in our spiritual nature. The person who receives the sacrifice of Christ and believes in Him as Savior has a new “bent.” The Bible says that person is now a new spiritual creation, one who’s fully a part of the Father’s immediate family (2 Cor. 5:17) and who instantly receives the Holy Spirit to dwell within him and enable him to desire a new way of living. This person then enters the ongoing process wherein his mind is renewed, redirected to walk the Lord’s path, refocused in his desires, and reenergized to fulfill His purposes.

It’s at this point the Holy Spirit begins to unlock and unleash the fullness of the person’s potential, unfolding before him all he’s created to be and to do, helping him to succeed at accomplishing God’s purpose for his life.

Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God,” (Matt. 5:8). God’s Word teaches us that those with a pure, clean heart shall see God—not necessarily in visions or great spiritual exploits, but as He works in and through our own lives. Those with clean hearts will begin to grow in their understanding that God’s working all things to their ultimate good—changing circumstances, bringing about unexpected events that produce unimagined benefit, and orchestrating relationships so that God’s Word goes forth with greater power and more impact (Rom. 8:28).

Do you want to see more of the Father’s work in your life as you live out your purpose, reaching your full potential?

Then begin by pursuing, desiring, and seeking a clean, pure heart.

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10/23/19 10:49 A

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Spiritual authority can be diminished by the presence of sin in the life of the believer.

Jesus ended His response to Peter by warning the disciples that their spiritual authority in prayer would be compromised by a lack of forgiveness in their lives:

“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions” (Mark 11:25).

The presence of sin not confessed is often the root cause of a lack of power and spiritual authority in the life of the believer. In this situation, Jesus challenges us to remember that the particular sin of begrudging forgiveness to those who have sinned against us will block the flow of forgiveness for our own sins:

“But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions” (Mark 11:26).

Jesus’s words to the disciples to understand that their prayers could have the spiritual authority to move mountains should not be understood as a step toward the excesses of a “name it and claim it” theology.

Our spiritual authority in prayer is derived from the authority that God grants; we should neither ask nor expect to receive things that God has not explicitly authorized. We must remember that even as Jesus gave the disciples the promise of authority to move mountains, He was living out His final days in obedience to the Father under the shadow of His soon coming death on a cross. Jesus’s promise should likewise challenge us in the opposite extreme of going through life without experiencing the supernatural intervention of God in our lives. As we grow deeper in our knowledge of God, who He is and what He has done, we will be emboldened in our faith as we receive spiritual authority to scale our seemingly impassable mountains.

Are you seeking His will for your needs or, in your prayer life, are you treating God as a genie in a bottle?

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10/22/19 12:57 P

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Spiritual authority is activated by the believer’s response of faith.

Faith can be defined as not only the content of what we believe, but the action taken, based upon who God reveals Himself to be. As we come to know God more intimately through prayer and study of Scripture, we can confidently respond in faith to whatever spiritual struggles, or mountains, we face.

Faith is the word for the action of exercising spiritual authority. If we are to pray with spiritual authority, asking for all things and believing that we have received them (Mark 11:24), we must first appropriate in faith what God has already done.

When speaking to unbelievers, we will often encourage them to come to faith by assuring them that God has already paid the price for their sins and has accomplished all that is needed to be reconciled to Him. What we often forget is that this is no less true for the believer: God has already given us all that we need for every spiritual struggle we may face (2 Peter 1:3).

As you plunge deeper into an intimate relationship with God, will you act on the truth that He reveals to you? Will you come to trust God more, so that you are emboldened to respond in obedience to what He calls you to do?

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10/21/19 7:42 A

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Spiritual authority is rooted in the knowledge of God.

Jesus’s specific response to Peter’s surprise at the withered fig tree was a command to have faith in God:

"And Jesus answered saying to them, 'Have faith in God.'"(Mark 11:22).

In other words, the power that Peter observed in the withering of the tree flowed from a single power source: God. Authority simply means the right to use an already existing power, but the key is to know how to access that power source. Throughout His life, Jesus had modeled to the disciples how His own power and authority flowed out of His intimate relationship with God as His Father. If the disciples were to exercise the authority to move mountains, they must first know the God who has the power to move the mountains. A believer’s lack of spiritual authority can often originate from a lack of intimacy with the Source of all authority.

Are you struggling to scale an insurmountable obstacle in your life without first going to the Source of all power and authority?

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10/20/19 5:38 A

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A man one day had two cows. He told his wife that he was going to sell one cow and keep the revenue for themselves. Then he also said that he would sell the other cow and give the revenue to God. The next day the man came into the room where his wife was sitting and his face gave off the appearance that he was sad. “What’s wrong?” she asked.

The man paused, considered his words, and then replied, “God’s cow just died.”

When you seek first your dreams, your desires, your plans, your programs and your agenda – it’s always God’s cow that dies. He always gets to play second fiddle. If anything gives or suffers, it’s time with Him, following Him or pursuing His plans. And yet at the same time, you may still pray, “This is my rule, my rein, my plan – bless me God.” Yet God is not going to bless the promotion of another plan than His.

The secret to living out the fullness of your destiny is found in one word: First. It consists of the prioritization of the rule of God and the advancement of His kingdom in every area of your life. We read this word in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” There is a hierarchy in God’s kingdom, and He is always first.

You can listen to a million sermons, read a million books, pray a million prayers over a million years but none of that will serve as a catalyst to you living out your destiny until you put God first. God must be first.

In baseball, if you miss first base – it doesn’t matter whatever else you do after that. If you missed first base but went on to touch second base, third base and even home plate – and even if everyone congratulated you when you got there, you are still out. If you miss what is first, it doesn’t matter what else you do.

Change one thing in your life and you will get to watch that one thing change everything else. From this point forward, put God first in all of your life. Not because it is His request, but because it is His demand. When you do it, He tells you that “all these things will be added to you.” You will experience the fullness and maximum potential of who you are along with the blessings He has in store for you as you enter into what He has ordained you to be.

Prayer: Great God and King, I put you first in my heart, mind, time and in all that I do. I make this commitment to you today to go to you first in the decisions that I make, to read your word and to seek your wisdom. Thank you for that which you have promised me when I make you first in my life. In Jesus' name, amen.

Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 10/20/2019 (05:39)
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10/20/19 2:33 A

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The space shuttle is an enormous flying machine created to carry out a unique mission and direction. It has been designed to go somewhere. Yet because of gravity, the space shuttle in and of itself can’t go anywhere at all. That is until it is placed on the launch pad.

Before it gets to the launch pad, gravity tells it, “You aren’t going anywhere. You are grounded.” And gravity is right. But when it gets on the launch pad and a fire is lit beneath it, this earth-bound multi-ton vehicle is now able to soar.

Your passion is your fire. Yet many of us are grounded in time because of our fears. Many of us are grounded from living out our destiny because of things that we have been told. We have poor self-esteem, and even though we desire it – we don’t even believe that God can create enough fire to lift this mess off of the ground. Yet if fire can lift the space shuttle all the way out of the earth’s atmosphere, fire can do the same for you too. Things move because of fire.

The same is true for you. So what is that thing, subject, interest or vision that stirs you up inside when you do it, think about it, or prepare for it? Whatever that is - when you connect that passion with an eternal perspective, you’ll light a fire within.

Keep in mind that your purpose and your passion always has eternity written in it if it is the destiny given to you by God. So the question you need to ask yourself is this: What am I passionate about that has eternity connected with it?

Frequently in Scripture it says that God “stirred” the heart of the person He was calling to do something. What has God stirred your heart about? What brings out your emotions? What breaks your heart or inspires and invigorates you? What is it that when you do it, engage with it, or even think about it – makes you feel alive? If eternity is connected to it, that is your passion revealing your destiny. Pursue it. Chase it. Run after it. Go get it. Embrace it. Live it. Because without it, you will merely be existing – you won’t be fulfilling your destiny.

The best question to ask regarding passion is if it wasn’t for money, family, or time – is there something in your life that you would do? What would that be? Do you have a secret ambition? If it is tied to eternity then that is your passion. And unless you pursue your passion, you are going to die. I’m not talking about a physical death, but what will happen is that you will die emotionally. Passion left unaddressed dies, or at the least - it remains squelched.

Prayer: God, reveal and confirm to me my passion connected with my eternal purpose please. Light the fire within me that will propel me to do that which you have created me to do. In Jesus' name, amen.

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10/18/19 11:04 A

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Gods ultimate goal always results in Gods glory. Ephesians chapter one highlights this for us,

In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory with a view to the redemption of Gods own possession, to the praise of His glory. (vv. 4b6a, 12, 14b)

The primary reason God is working everything out toward His intended outcome is to the praise of His glory. God sets about to guarantee all that He has created fulfills and satisfies its intended purpose, which is to bring glory back to Himself.

Like it or not, God exists for His own glory. Now, you can fight that truth, fuss at it, argue it, not want it, reject it, accuse it or anything else you want to do. But whatever you do about it, its not going to change it. God exists for God. So does everything He made. He made it for Him. Thats the reason its here. Thats the reason were here. We are made for God. Our lives are not about us; they are about Him and His glory. If you dont care for that too much, then go and make your own universe. He made this one, so He gets to set the rules.

Anything that competes with, negates or downplays Gods glory exists in a perpetual state of misalignment. It is out of order. God made all things to display His attributes, character and power.

There is another reason, though, that God causes all things to work together. He does it for His glory, yes, but He also does it for usfor good. Youll recall Romans 8:28 says, God causes all things to work together for good Essentially, that means He is bringing about our benefit. The word good means that which is beneficial. Thus, God is also seeking to bring about benefits and blessings in the lives of those who love Him and walk according to the paths of His purpose.

Please dont misread that verse to make it apply to everyone, everywhere. Too many people do that. It does not say that God causes all things in every single way to work out for good. No, it specifically refers to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Thus, there is bad in this world. Negative things do happen. The assumption that is often made when they do is that God must not be good Himself. But the presence of darkness doesnt negate the power of light. Light exists to drive out darkness, not to eliminate it entirely.

Romans 8:28 doesnt say that God causes all things to be good. Rather, He integrates all things to work together for good in the lives of those who love Him and follow His paths. His is the invisible hand operating behind the scenes of the good, bad and ugly in life. He manipulates and maneuvers the many circumstances toward His intended goal.

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10/17/19 1:59 P

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Have you ever thought about the implications of Gods sovereign control over everything? If God is in control of everything, then everything you and I have been given to us is a direct result of God choosing to do so. There is nothing that you have received that was not either created by God or created by things that God created.

You might want to read that sentence again. And maybe again, just for good measure.

Its important.

God produces each and every single thing. Because He does, He claims sovereignty over it all as well. He controls it. He is the consummate, and ultimate, micro-manager. He is intricately, intimately involved in every single detail. He manages the universe and all of us in it to the highest degree possible. And if He didntif He just took a moment to step back and not hold the universe in placewe would all be obliterated in an instant.

From His vantage point, it all makes perfect sense. Yet from ours, time can seem marked by an endless array or series of contingencies that we may call luck, chance or even random events.

But thats just how it seems; thats not how it is.

Because nothing is random with God. He is working out the details of everything, not just watching it transpire. Whats more is that He is working out the details toward His intended goal. Once you and I come to understand His overarching goal, we can begin to understand His pathways.

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10/15/19 8:03 P

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The blessing of the cross means that you are now more than a conqueror. That means you’ve had something to conquer. The cross doesn’t mean that there aren’t Friday nights in your life, where things are going against you. It means that there are Sunday mornings in your life when you get to be resurrected, and you get to supersede whatever is coming against you.

The cross is a tool, because it means victory over sin and victory over Satan and you have the privilege of overriding circumstances. That’s called great victory and great blessing. And it all becomes part of your hope because of the accomplishments of Jesus Christ on the cross that are attributable to you.

So, I invite you now to come to the cross. If you’re not a Christian, you ought to place your total faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ and His substitutionary work on the cross, trusting Him alone to be your sin-bearer. He says that when you come to Him by faith, He will forgive your sins and give you the gift of eternal life. If you already know Christ, recommit your life to Him and say, “Lord, I want to become a person of the cross, to make that my point of reference for victory in every aspect of my life. Not only for heaven, but so that I can be victorious in history.”

Let me pray for you that you will experience afresh the blessing of the Cross.

PRAYER: Father, thank You for all those who are seeing this message and I pray, Lord, that You will make them victorious as they appeal to Calvary for the forgiveness of sins. Give them victory over sin, Satan and circumstances, so that they may see the hand of God showing favor to their lives because of the cross. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

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10/13/19 12:11 P

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The blessing of the cross means that you are now more than a conqueror.

That means you’ve had something to conquer. The cross doesn’t mean that there aren’t Friday nights in your life, where things are going against you.

It means that there are Sunday mornings in your life when you get to be resurrected, and you get to supersede whatever is coming against you.

The cross is a tool, because it means victory over sin and victory over Satan and you have the privilege of overriding circumstances. That’s called great victory and great blessing.

And it all becomes part of your hope because of the accomplishments of Jesus Christ on the cross that are attributable to you.

So, I invite you now to come to the cross. If you’re not a Christian, you ought to place your total faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ and His substitutionary work on the cross, trusting Him alone to be your sin-bearer.

He says that when you come to Him by faith, He will forgive your sins and give you the gift of eternal life. If you already know Christ, recommit your life to Him and say, “Lord, I want to become a person of the cross, to make that my point of reference for victory in every aspect of my life. Not only for heaven, but so that I can be victorious in history.”

Let me pray for you that you will experience afresh the blessing of the Cross.

PRAYER: Father, thank You for all those who are seeing this message and I pray, Lord, that You will make them victorious as they appeal to Calvary for the forgiveness of sins. Give them victory over sin, Satan and circumstances, so that they may see the hand of God showing favor to their lives because of the cross. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

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10/10/19 4:41 A

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The Bible abounds with people who triumph through faith—a whole litany of people who decided to trust God over themselves, over other people and over their circumstances.

The beauty of faith’s triumph is that you get the benefit of divine approval. It doesn’t mean everything goes smoothly, but it says of all the others who are people of faith, that they triumphed because they got a divine okay, they got a God-stamp of approval. And when you get the highest approval possible in creation, then that means you are victorious and you are successful, regardless of how other’s circumstances are at any given moment.

I wish I could tell you that a life of faith means a problem-free life, but that’s not the world in which we live, that’s heaven. On earth, there are going to be ups and downs, but you still can be approved. That’s when God says, “You did it and there’s nothing that will make you feel better or be better than My divine approval.”

So, let’s be approved of God, because we’re going to believe Him, even when believing Him is the last thing we want to believe. Walk by faith, not by sight, so that you can be part of the others who are approved of God.

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10/9/19 4:33 A

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Faith involves a choice. You will either choose to go God’s way or not, and choice involves your will. You and I have been given an opportunity. God’s sovereignty has allowed us to choose to follow Him, because He doesn’t want us to be robots. He wants us to be creatures that He created in His own image who can choose to follow Him or not. Moses chose to follow God, and not to follow sin or the cultural norms of his day.

Perhaps you’ve already made wrong choices, or even faithless choices. The good news of the grace of God is that you can change your choice and decide to go God’s way. The question is, will you choose now to be a person of faith and not follow the sins of your own life any longer? Will you choose to follow God and to say, “Lord, not my will but Thy will be done”?

For a moment, it may seem like a loss to choose God over your own self-interests. But don’t be deceived. Choosing God promises to be the one best choice over all other choices you will ever make.

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10/7/19 8:14 P

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Lord is my Portion

I try to stay busy, but there’s nothing to do.

The nervousness seeps out-- I tap my fingernails on the table. I cross my legs and bounce my knee. I thumb through books I’m not reading and watch the clock hands tick around in circles.

Because this thing-- it’s big. I wish I could see the other side of the answer, but I can’t. It will come in time-- time that moves both faster and slower than I want.

However, there’s a truth in Lamentations that calms my soul: The Lord is my portion.

I twirl these words over my tongue, let them wash through me. He is my portion, so He is enough. Just enough.

My answer-- it will come. Answers sometimes come slow and steady, a drop in the bucket until one day you realize it’s full, overflowing even.

In the meantime, I take my portion and I give over my hopes.

Every morning I do this, and every day it is enough to sustain me.

Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 10/7/2019 (20:15)
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10/6/19 6:51 A

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Lord is Faithful

I used to tell my friends who waited, “Trust.”

It’s easy to dispense advice when you can see clearly where you are headed. But now I know that in the thick gray fog of waiting, it is hard enough to simply keep moving forward, to walk directly into what you can’t see.

And it’s impossible to muster up this abstract thing called trust.

Now, I know that the thing to do is to turn right around and look backwards for a time. See what He has done.

Count the stone piles, the monuments to His miracles. Remember the steep uphill and the muscle strength it built, the awe-inspiring views it gave. And if He has been faithful for my lifetime, and many generations of lifetimes before me, won’t He certainly remain constant now?

Today, the sun rises and sets. Tomorrow, it will be the same. I trust this because it happens everyday. So it is with our God-- I wait, and He answers when the time is right.

Not all things are easy, but He uses all things for ultimate good. And because He is faithful, I know that I will be okay. No matter what happens when this fog clears.

Find peace, purpose and strength with Jesus in prayer.

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10/4/19 3:54 A

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Waiting. Wow, it’s rough, especially when you don’t know when the waiting will end. But God pushes the “pause” button in our lives to accomplish His purpose for it.

Even Jesus had to wait. He would regularly say, “My time has not yet come,” or “It’s not in the Father’s timing scheme for this part of His plan for me to be completed,” so, He had to wait.

God is even waiting on us, according to 2 Peter 3. God is even waiting on us before He can do certain things He wants to do, and He has calculated that in His plans for our lives. When you put on a timer while something is cooking, when it finally goes off, you check to see whether it’s really ready. The timer indicates the moment is right. But when you look at the condition of the meat, if it’s not ready yet, in spite of what the timer says, you put it back in the oven until it’s ready.

I know we have our own timers, and when they go off, we want God to take us out of the oven because we don’t want to wait any longer. However, God is after something bigger. He wants to see whether we’re ready or not. We can actually help the process of waiting by being prepared, so when we are ready to be moved, we don’t have to be put back in the oven again, because we’ve used our waiting time well.

Remember, waiting doesn’t mean doing nothing. Waiting means not going outside of God as we do something.

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10/2/19 9:34 P

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John 15:9 "Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love."

As the Father loves the Son, Jesus loves you. Its in the same manner of love that the Father God gives toward Jesus Christ that Jesus has for you. We can discover more about this love when we examine it closely. For starters, the Father loved Jesus without a beginning to this love. As such, there is no beginning to Jesus love for you. We read about this love in Jeremiah 31:3 where it says, Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love: therefore, with loving kindness have I drawn you.

You can trace the start of human affection. You can easily pinpoint the beginning of your love for Jesus. But His love for you? It is a stream whose source will remain hidden for all eternity.

Another aspect of the Fathers love for Jesus which is reflected in Jesus love for you is that the Fathers love does not change. You can take comfort in this truth. There is no change in Jesus love toward those who rest in Him. Whether you are on the pinnacle of popularity by the worlds standards or in the valley of humiliation, it matters not. Jesus loves you all the same.

If you hear His sweet voice marked by notes of love when life seems calm and your days seem bright, you can also rest assured that His voice of love remains on the stormiest of seas. Even when all the waves and billows toss you to and fro, Jesus heart remains faithful to His choice of loving you.

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9/30/19 10:39 A

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Far too many people have settled for fake riches. They have settled for things that money can buy, losing out on the things that money can’t buy. If you’re not rich in God, it really doesn’t matter how much money you have, what’s in your CD, 401K, or bank account.

Those things have their place, but what good is having a bunch of riches in time, only to stand before God totally impoverished because you did not have a life that had eternal value attached to it?

So, what I want to do is refocus all of your attention on the eternal perspective of wealth, because when you have that perspective, you can enjoy better the temporal provision of wealth. So, don’t place a great value on the things of this earth like money, possessions, or prestige.

Embrace an eternal perspective by finding value in the life that is to come. When it does, make sure you have forwarded more ahead than you have left behind.

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9/30/19 12:20 A

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John 15:9 "Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love."

As the Father loves the Son, Jesus loves you. Its in the same manner of love that the Father God gives toward Jesus Christ that Jesus has for you. We can discover more about this love when we examine it closely. For starters, the Father loved Jesus without a beginning to this love. As such, there is no beginning to Jesus love for you. We read about this love in Jeremiah 31:3 where it says, Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love: therefore, with loving kindness have I drawn you.

You can trace the start of human affection. You can easily pinpoint the beginning of your love for Jesus. But His love for you? It is a stream whose source will remain hidden for all eternity.

Another aspect of the Fathers love for Jesus which is reflected in Jesus love for you is that the Fathers love does not change. You can take comfort in this truth. There is no change in Jesus love toward those who rest in Him. Whether you are on the pinnacle of popularity by the worlds standards or in the valley of humiliation, it matters not. Jesus loves you all the same.

If you hear His sweet voice marked by notes of love when life seems calm and your days seem bright, you can also rest assured that His voice of love remains on the stormiest of seas. Even when all the waves and billows toss you to and fro, Jesus heart remains faithful to His choice of loving you.

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9/28/19 12:31 A

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The Word cannot come to your lips and go out of your mouth until it is first within you, or in your mind. In Proverbs 22:17-18, we read this advice:

“Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply your mind to my knowledge; for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, that they may be ready on your lips.”

Then the writer says, “I have taught you today... Have I not written to you excellent things of counsels and knowledge?” (Proverbs 22:19-20).

He is saying, “I wrote what you need, but you have to keep it within you.” If you will cooperate with the Spirit by working to memorize Scripture, He can put in your mind what needs to come out of your mouth when you face hard circumstances and difficulties.

You may be saying, “Tony, you don’t know me. I’m not good at memorizing things.” I know guys who can remember every player on every NFL team and which college they played for before going pro. And I know people who can quote lines from all sorts of movies. If you can memorize these trivial things, you can memorize the words that bring people life.

For most of us, the real deal is that we don’t feel like doing Bible memory. Suppose you were offered ten thousand dollars for every verse you memorize. You would become the Bible memory champion of the world. That ten thousand dollars would give you brain cells you never knew you had before.

Why? The reward would be worth the effort.

The prophet Ezekiel says that when God told him to eat the scroll containing His Word to Israel, it was as sweet as honey in Ezekiel’s mouth (Ezekiel 3:1-3). It was good to the taste.

It was worth the effort. You only know whether something’s worth the effort when you put in the effort to find out.

Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 9/28/2019 (00:32)
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9/22/19 6:06 A

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Memorize the Word.

Another way to read the Word is to memorize it. The psalmist says in Psalm 119:11,

“Your word I have treasured in my heart.”

There’s no greater exercise than to memorize Scripture. If you have never done it before, start with a verse a week. At the end of a year, you’ll have fifty-two verses in your memory bank.

The purpose of memorizing Scripture is not so you can win a contest or a prize. God’s concern is that you have the Word in your heart so that you have it ready to use in any situation.

Why is that important? Because the Word of God is “the sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:17). It’s the Word that the Holy Spirit uses to help you when tough times come. But if you don’t have the Word in your heart and mind, the Holy Spirit has no sword to pull out and wield.

The best example of the value of knowing Scripture is Jesus in the wilderness being tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1-11). Jesus answered Satan each time, “It is written.” Jesus didn’t open a copy of the Old Testament and show Satan the verse. He simply responded out of what was in His heart.

I can’t tell you how many times God has brought His Word to my mind to show me which way I should go. That’s the way the Holy Spirit works. He illumines our minds with the Word so that we can see what we ought to do. But we must first be diligent to put the Word into our minds.

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9/21/19 9:53 P

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Study the Word.

“Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near” (Revelation 1:3).

“Blessed is he who reads,” John says. Does this mean we should read “a verse a day to keep the devil away”? Hardly. Anyone who picks up the Bible with this idea is using it as a good-luck charm, not as the authoritative Word.

John is not just encouraging us to glance at some words on a page. He has much more in mind. In the Bible, reading has to do with understanding what God has to say to you. The idea is not that you would read and then not know anything about what you just read, or read and say, “There, I read my verse or my chapter for today.”

The idea of reading is to grasp God’s message to us, to give diligence to our study of the “word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). The Greek word translated as “Be diligent” in this verse means that when you open the Word, you give yourself fully to it. You devour it the same way you devour a love letter. You take the Bible seriously.

There is a good example of this kind of desire for the Word in 2 Timothy 4:13. Paul was old, he was in prison waiting to die, and he was cold and lonely. Here was a man who had been to the third heaven, who had seen things no one else had seen (2 Corinthians 12:1-4).

But what did Paul want more than anything in that damp prison cell? “When you come,” he wrote to Timothy, “bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments” (2 Timothy 4:13).

These parchments were Paul’s copies of the Old Testament. In other words, Paul was alone, cold, and friendless, but he wanted the Scriptures. He knew that God’s Word would supply everything else he needed. Paul wanted to study the Word even in prison.

Are you simply reading the word or are you studying the word for a deeper knowledge and understanding of Christ?

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9/21/19 2:20 A

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The Morning Star: A Prayer of Supplication

“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” Revelation 22:16

Jesus, I want others to know this name of Yours and experience the blessing of living according to Your will and Your ways.

Give me insight on how to share this name with those around me. Show me ways to inspire others to seek You and Your names more fully so that they will grow in their relationship with You.

Keep me on the path that is guided by You, the morning star, so that I do not lose my way. In all humility and gratitude, I follow You, knowing that every step I have taken to get me where I am today was only taken because You lit the way.

Praying this in Your name. Amen.

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9/19/19 3:20 P

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The Morning Star: A Prayer of Thanksgiving

“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” Revelation 22:16

Jesus, thank You that You are a lamp shining in a dark place. Thank You that I am not left to my own ways and given over to fear in dark places.

You provide the light for me to follow. You lift my head when I am afraid to look up. You are the morning star who encourages me to keep going knowing that a new day is on the horizon. As 2 Peter 1:19 says,

“So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.”

Thank You for the prophetic word made sure in You, the morning star arising in my heart.

Praying this in Your name. Amen.

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9/17/19 1:02 P

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The Morning Star: A Prayer of Adoration

“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” Revelation 22:16

Jesus, I adore You and I praise this name of Yours, oh bright morning star.

You are the root and descendant of David. You have sent Your angels to testify of Your power and might. May we have ears to hear and receive this name of Yours.

In this name, we discover Your light. We discover the guiding presence You provide. We uncover the illumination of Your wisdom and direction of Your Word. I honor You for Your wisdom, truth and guidance which I depend on each moment of my day.

I worship You for the way You seek to make known to each of us the fullness of this great name.

Praying this in Your name,. Amen.

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9/16/19 12:19 P

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Jesus is God’s selfie. We all know what a selfie is in our culture today. But, in case you don’t, a selfie is when someone takes a picture of themself. Pretty self-explanatory (no pun intended).

Now, a selfie can include other people, but it has to include the person taking the photo. If someone off the street takes a picture of you, it can’t be considered a selfie. Why? Because a selfie always reflects the image of the person taking the photo.

Jesus is God’s selfie. He is the exact representation and manifestation of God Himself. He isn’t just a friend. He isn’t part of the group hopping into the photo. Jesus is God’s selfie.

God is invisible to us in His essence. Our finite beings cannot comprehend or see Him, or it would vaporize us. We cannot know His heart, His person and His character intimately because He is the wholly Other who sits outside our realm of understanding.

But out of God’s great love for us, He desired to be known by us. He wanted to be seen by us. So, in order to do that, He had to come to us in a form and fashion that we would be able to understand. He had to be both man and God simultaneously, which, although this gave us a greater glimpse into who God is, also created a larger gap for those who would not believe.

In John 8:48-59, we come across my favorite name of Jesus. It is the name, “I Am.” When Jesus introduced this name to us at this moment in history, He drew many in closer to God.

But He also pushed many more away. This is a name you cannot halfway embrace. Either Jesus is “I Am,” or He is a liar. You may think that is a harsh word to use about Jesus, but even He says He is a liar if this is not true (John 8:55).

The context of the name “I Am” shows up in the midst of a heated discussion. Not long before, Jesus had forgiven the adulterous woman and driven away a number of angry, hypocritical and judgmental men who sought to stone her. His miracles of healing and driving out demons had given Him a reputation by this time. Jesus was someone to be reckoned with, yet not everyone knew how or where to place Him. Was He a good man doing good things? Was He of the devil using demonic powers? Was He… God?

Consider for a moment how Jesus must have felt during this heated discussion that we read in John 8:48-59. Jews and Pharisees encircled Him and pounded Him with questions and accusations. Words became harsh, quickly. One person accused Him of having a demon.

To which Jesus unloaded a soliloquy of sorts, a somewhat personal reflection, but also for the benefit of the others. After all, Jesus was speaking to those He came to redeem. The sins He would carry on the cross were their sins. Not only that, but the blood that coursed through their veins was blood He created. The skin that held their organs in place was skin He held together.

The air they breathed was air He made and preserved each and every day. It was His genius that prepared a place in which humanity could live, food could be produced and regeneration could occur.

It was His strength that held the stars at bay so that they would not tumble too close and destroy the planet. His energy infused the sun. He gave life to each person standing there nodding in agreement that He might have a demon in Him.

Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 9/16/2019 (12:21)
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9/15/19 8:39 A

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Jesus is God’s selfie. We all know what a selfie is in our culture today. But, in case you don’t, a selfie is when someone takes a picture of themself. Pretty self-explanatory (no pun intended).

Now, a selfie can include other people, but it has to include the person taking the photo. If someone off the street takes a picture of you, it can’t be considered a selfie. Why? Because a selfie always reflects the image of the person taking the photo.

Jesus is God’s selfie. He is the exact representation and manifestation of God Himself. He isn’t just a friend. He isn’t part of the group hopping into the photo. Jesus is God’s selfie. God is invisible to us in His essence. Our finite beings cannot comprehend or see Him, or it would vaporize us. We cannot know His heart, His person and His character intimately because He is the wholly Other who sits outside our realm of understanding. But out of God’s great love for us, He desired to be known by us. He wanted to be seen by us. So, in order to do that, He had to come to us in a form and fashion that we would be able to understand. He had to be both man and God simultaneously, which, although this gave us a greater glimpse into who God is, also created a larger gap for those who would not believe.

In John 8:48-59, we come across my favorite name of Jesus. It is the name, “I Am.” When Jesus introduced this name to us at this moment in history, He drew many in closer to God. But He also pushed many more away. This is a name you cannot halfway embrace. Either Jesus is “I Am,” or He is a liar. You may think that is a harsh word to use about Jesus, but even He says He is a liar if this is not true (John 8:55).

The context of the name “I Am” shows up in the midst of a heated discussion. Not long before, Jesus had forgiven the adulterous woman and driven away a number of angry, hypocritical and judgmental men who sought to stone her. His miracles of healing and driving out demons had given Him a reputation by this time. Jesus was someone to be reckoned with, yet not everyone knew how or where to place Him. Was He a good man doing good things? Was He of the devil using demonic powers? Was He… God?

Consider for a moment how Jesus must have felt during this heated discussion that we read in John 8:48-59. Jews and Pharisees encircled Him and pounded Him with questions and accusations. Words became harsh, quickly. One person accused Him of having a demon.

To which Jesus unloaded a soliloquy of sorts, a somewhat personal reflection, but also for the benefit of the others. After all, Jesus was speaking to those He came to redeem. The sins He would carry on the cross were their sins. Not only that, but the blood that coursed through their veins was blood He created. The skin that held their organs in place was skin He held together. The air they breathed was air He made and preserved each and every day.

It was His genius that prepared a place in which humanity could live, food could be produced and regeneration could occur. It was His strength that held the stars at bay so that they would not tumble too close and destroy the planet. His energy infused the sun. He gave life to each person standing there nodding in agreement that He might have a demon in Him.

Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 9/15/2019 (08:40)
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9/14/19 11:26 P

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As we experience spiritual power, we’ll find that it is more than enough to supply all of our needs.

Paul describes the working of spiritual power as

“Able to do abundantly beyond all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20).

For the believer, whatever the circumstances or trials we encounter, God is able to meet our needs because His superlative, His “beyond” power works within us. We must remember that God gives the believer this experience of His “beyond” power because it ultimately leads to His glory (3:21).

We can identify a person who knows God by the demonstration of God’s power in the midst of a situation that would render the normal Christian powerless. When this person is tempted to lose heart, his or her knowledge of God imparts a spiritual power that transcends, or goes beyond, the trials being experienced.

As we arrive at an understanding of our identity as God’s children and allow Christ to dwell in our lives as Lord, we, too, will experience this benefit of spiritual power that will supply every need.

The people of Israel often sustained themselves during times of trial by remembering the “mighty acts” of God as He demonstrated His power to them throughout their history. Can you recall demonstrations of God’s superlative or “beyond” power in your life?

If you would like to learn more about God's power and the

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9/12/19 10:58 P

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Spiritual power comes as we recognize our identity as God’s children.

Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3 is offered on behalf of a group of Christians who are facing discouragement. In offering this prayer, after having addressed the Father, Paul then reminds these discouraged Christians that this Father is the one that every family in heaven and on earth derives its name from.

"Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory" (Ephesians 3:13).

In other words, Paul is telling these struggling believers in the midst of their despair, that they are still family—the sons and daughters of the Heavenly Father. The good news for us as believers is that, regardless of the nature of our struggles, we have access to a powerful Father who listens to and cares for the needs of His children. As it says in Hebrews,

“Let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

Are there any circumstances or trials in your life that are causing you to “lose heart?” Take a moment, like Paul, to “bow the knee” before the Father and lift up your needs to Him.

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9/9/19 1:27 P

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God graciously provides comfort in the midst of our afflictions.

The good news is that “affliction” is not the only, or even the final, word that Paul highlighted in his letter to the church at Corinth. With the afflictions, he had also received abundant “comfort” from God and other believers (see his repetition of the word “comfort” in 2 Corinthians 1:3-7). The word “comfort” is the same term used of the Holy Spirit as the “Comforter” (John 14:6), and it indicates someone who comes alongside another person to help or assist him or her in time of need.

Paul was saying that since God is the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort, he never had to face these seasons of suffering alone. In fact, he experienced his suffering as co-suffering with Christ who had also walked this path of affliction, pain, and ultimately death on the cross.

Like the writer of Hebrews, Paul knew that because we have Jesus as a great High Priest who offered up His prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to God (Hebrews 5:7), we can also draw near in prayer with confidence to the throne of grace so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need:

"Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16)."

Paul also knew that just as God used Christ’s suffering and death as His means of saving the world, Paul’s own sufferings and afflictions were being used for redemptive good (Romans 8:28).

Are you suffering in silence as you face seasons of affliction or are you voicing them to God in prayer? Are you pleading for God’s presence and comfort in the midst of your suffering?

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9/7/19 9:24 A

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When you see the Word of God become alive in your life, when you see it bubble forth from your heart, and when you see God honor His Word, then the issue of whether you’re good at Bible memory will disappear. When you find that you can send the devil packing with the Word the way Jesus did, you’ll know it is worth the effort to hide God’s Word in your heart.

Many of us have been telling the devil, “Go away; leave me alone.” But he doesn’t go anywhere, because it’s not our word he is afraid of. He’s only afraid of God’s Word. Many Christians don’t know that Satan can’t hang with the Word. Why can’t he? Because it is the power of God (Romans 1:16). Jesus quoted three verses to Satan, and he was gone. Three strikes and he’s out.

Try using the Word on the devil when he tries to destroy your life, and you will see the power of the Word when applied in the life of a believer. You need to read the Word; that is, study it diligently and memorize it.

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9/5/19 10:15 A

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The Word cannot come to your lips and go out of your mouth until it is first within you, or in your mind. In Proverbs 22:17-18, we read this advice:

“Incline your ear and hear the words of the wise, and apply your mind to my knowledge; for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you, that they may be ready on your lips.”

Then the writer says, “I have taught you today... Have I not written to you excellent things of counsels and knowledge?” (Proverbs 22:19-20).

He is saying, “I wrote what you need, but you have to keep it within you.” If you will cooperate with the Spirit by working to memorize Scripture, He can put in your mind what needs to come out of your mouth when you face hard circumstances and difficulties.

You may be saying, “Tony, you don’t know me. I’m not good at memorizing things.” I know guys who can remember every player on every NFL team and which college they played for before going pro. And I know people who can quote lines from all sorts of movies. If you can memorize these trivial things, you can memorize the words that bring people life.

For most of us, the real deal is that we don’t feel like doing Bible memory. Suppose you were offered ten thousand dollars for every verse you memorize. You would become the Bible memory champion of the world. That ten thousand dollars would give you brain cells you never knew you had before. Why? The reward would be worth the effort.

The prophet Ezekiel says that when God told him to eat the scroll containing His Word to Israel, it was as sweet as honey in Ezekiel’s mouth (Ezekiel 3:1-3). It was good to the taste. It was worth the effort. You only know whether something’s worth the effort when you put in the effort to find out.

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9/3/19 1:33 P

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Study the Word.

“Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near” (Revelation 1:3).

“Blessed is he who reads,” John says. Does this mean we should read “a verse a day to keep the devil away”? Hardly. Anyone who picks up the Bible with this idea is using it as a good-luck charm, not as the authoritative Word.

John is not just encouraging us to glance at some words on a page. He has much more in mind. In the Bible, reading has to do with understanding what God has to say to you. The idea is not that you would read and then not know anything about what you just read, or read and say, “There, I read my verse or my chapter for today.”

The idea of reading is to grasp God’s message to us, to give diligence to our study of the “word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). The Greek word translated as “Be diligent” in this verse means that when you open the Word, you give yourself fully to it. You devour it the same way you devour a love letter. You take the Bible seriously.

There is a good example of this kind of desire for the Word in 2 Timothy 4:13. Paul was old, he was in prison waiting to die, and he was cold and lonely. Here was a man who had been to the third heaven, who had seen things no one else had seen (2 Corinthians 12:1-4).

But what did Paul want more than anything in that damp prison cell? “When you come,” he wrote to Timothy, “bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments” (2 Timothy 4:13).

These parchments were Paul’s copies of the Old Testament. In other words, Paul was alone, cold, and friendless, but he wanted the Scriptures. He knew that God’s Word would supply everything else he needed. Paul wanted to study the Word even in prison.

Are you simply reading the word or are you studying the word for a deeper knowledge and understanding of Christ?

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9/2/19 12:20 P

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Revelation 22

The Morning Star: A Prayer of Supplication

“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” Revelation 22:16

Jesus, I want others to know this name of Yours and experience the blessing of living according to Your will and Your ways.

Give me insight on how to share this name with those around me. Show me ways to inspire others to seek You and Your names more fully so that they will grow in their relationship with You.

Keep me on the path that is guided by You, the morning star, so that I do not lose my way. In all humility and gratitude, I follow You, knowing that every step I have taken to get me where I am today was only taken because You lit the way.

Praying this in Your name. Amen.

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9/1/19 5:11 A

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Mark 4:38-39

The guide told our group that the location of the Sea of Galilee in the Jordan Rift causes tempests to flare up violently with little or no notice. A tempest like that could be daunting, and this one the disciples encountered was at night. Had the moon been out, the clouds would have hidden it. In the deepest dark of night, out in the middle of the sea, the storm surely must have caught the disciples off-guard. The storm tested not only their boating expertise, but also their emotions. I can feel their fear.

I can see Peter drenched to the bone, along with the rest of the disciples on this tempestuous sea. Im not surprised when they woke Jesus up and asked Him, Teacher! Dont You care that were going to die? I probably would have done the same thing. In fact, I cant really see Peter just asking the question; I picture him yelling it! Jesus, dont you care that we are about to die!!! Wake up!!!

Sometimes it doesnt seem like God is in tune with our situations. Whatever our storms may be whether they are health, financial, relational or job troublesit can seem like God is asleep in the boat. When we find ourselves in stormy conditions we, like the disciples, may want to say, Jesus, please wake up! Were in a mess, and were afraid. Do something. Were not going to make it.

It is precisely in those times when we feel so weak and helpless that Jesus power is most visibly strong. God does some of His best work in those moments when we dont think Hes working at all.

Sometimes God lets you hit rock bottom so that you will discover He is the Rock at the bottom.

Sometimes God allows you to get into a situation only He can fix so that you will see Him fix it. As a result, you grow in your faith as you experience and appreciate His power.

Whatever the case, you can trust His work is motivated by a heart of love for your good (Rom. 8:28).

Jesus got up from His slumber, faced the storm, and spoke to the sea, Silence! Be still! Two brief commands, and the storm obeyed. The word for silence comes from the root wordsiope,which literally means hold your peace. Jesus told the storm to be quiet. To stop its noise. To hush its fuss. Similar to a parent correcting an unruly toddler, Jesus told the sea to settle down.

It was as simple and as immediate as that. Scripture tells us, There was a great calm.

Thunder and lightning might be chasing each other all around you. The wind could be blowing unexpected and unpleasant circumstances into your life. Nothing looks right. Nothing looks promising. All is night. But it is precisely in those times that Jesus power trumps the storm. With a simple word from His lips, He can calm the chaos.

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8/31/19 11:29 P

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Revelation 22:16

2 Peter 1:19

Psalms 94:17-19

The Morning Star: A Prayer of Thanksgiving

“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” Revelation 22:16

Jesus, thank You that You are a lamp shining in a dark place. Thank You that I am not left to my own ways and given over to fear in dark places.

You provide the light for me to follow. You lift my head when I am afraid to look up. You are the morning star who encourages me to keep going knowing that a new day is on the horizon. As 2 Peter 1:19 says,

“So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.”

Thank You for the prophetic word made sure in You, the morning star arising in my heart.

Praying this in Your name. Amen.

Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 8/31/2019 (23:31)
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8/28/19 4:01 A

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John 21:1-14

Ephesians 2:1-9

One of the worst sins of all is apostasy, which is to publicly and vehemently deny the faith. It doesn’t get much worse than that. When you look at all the things that God has done for us in our salvation, in our provision, in our protection—to deny our association with Him or to marginalize Him is the ultimate insult of all, and yet, God loves us so much, He is even willing to forgive that. Then whatever else you’ve done, He is looking forward to forgiving you. There’s only one thing God can’t forgive and that is the final rejection of Jesus Christ.

So, if you have not made a final rejection of Him and you need to be forgiven of something in your life, no matter how hideous it may seem to you, He stands ready to join you like He joined Peter on the Sea of Galilee. He cooked him some breakfast and He restored him not only to life but also to ministry. Jesus is willing to do what some Christians are not willing to do: to restore. To give a second chance.

Come home to a place where the Father has His arms open, where He is ready to welcome you, ready to embrace you and ready to accept you, because you have come back to Him. I don’t care how bad it is, I don’t care how low you have sunk. I don’t care how deep the hole is. God knows how to reach down, lift you up, pull you out, clean you off and then on top of all that, use you.

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8/27/19 3:42 P

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Esther 2:5-7
1 Corinthians 10:31

We all know fashion is a huge commercial industry. How you look, how you present yourself and how you walk and talk is all designed to impress others within the world of fashion.

What God is interested in is whether or not we are trying to impress Him. Whether we take what He has given us in our resources, in our looks, in our habits, or in how we relate to other people, He can kingdom-ize it. He can stitch these gifts together and use them for eternal purposes.

Esther was a beautiful lady. She just hadn’t made the connection between her looks and God’s kingdom. God wanted to use the beauty He had given her to place her in a strategic role to protect God’s people for God’s glory, and be a tool for keeping God’s promises. God is not impressed with the external. He likes the internal to be beautiful but when the external can complement it and reflect the beauty on the inside, you then become useful to God because He has a heart and a soul that He can use and it’s in a person He can be proud of.

Righteously impress others, but more importantly, impress God. When He is impressed with you, you can now be used for eternity and not only to impress people here on earth. That will fade away. We get older, then all the clothes wear out, and the money sometimes dries up, but a righteous man or woman who can be used by God for God’s purposes, that pays eternal dividends

Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 8/27/2019 (15:44)
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8/25/19 3:09 P

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Luke 15:11-32

1 Corinthians 9:24

Sometimes our mistakes and sins can become a lifestyle. We develop bad habits and wrong choices as a way of life. If that’s you, you might say, “Wow, how could I have done that for that long?” or “How could I have gotten trapped in this addiction or this scenario or this bad relationship?”

Well, the good news of the grace of God is that He can even take extended stints of rebellion and sin like the prodigal son who went on his way for an extended period of time and wasted not only money, but his life. If you feel you have a wasted life, if you feel like too much time has been lost, don’t lose heart. In a race, when you trip and fall and you find yourself behind the curb, you can’t change and go back to the starting block, but you can pick up the pace where you are and make a comeback.

Let me encourage you to pick up the pace with God right here where you are. Give God all you’ve got and watch Him help you make up the ground you thought was lost because of the extent of the time you were separated from Him.

If your sin has become a lifestyle, and you are now ready to get real with God, He can take you from where you are to where He wants you to be, and you can still come out a winner. In fact, your name can still be written in the Hall of Faith.

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8/24/19 8:56 A

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Psalm 119:105
Revelation 22;16

The Morning Star: A Prayer of Adoration

“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” Revelation 22:16

Jesus, I adore You and I praise this name of Yours, oh bright morning star.

You are the root and descendant of David. You have sent Your angels to testify of Your power and might. May we have ears to hear and receive this name of Yours.

In this name, we discover Your light. We discover the guiding presence You provide. We uncover the illumination of Your wisdom and direction of Your Word. I honor You for Your wisdom, truth and guidance which I depend on each moment of my day.

I worship You for the way You seek to make known to each of us the fullness of this great name.

Praying this in Your name,. Amen.

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8/22/19 4:48 A

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Exodus 16:3; Exodus 15:26

Israel’s sickness was revealed as the sin sickness of idolatry (Exodus 15:26). God’s merciful provision of water for the people came packaged with a warning:

“And He said, ‘If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the Lord your God…I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I, the Lord, am your healer” (Exodus 15:26).

The diseases of the Egyptians referred to the ten plagues that God had placed on Egypt when they refused to recognize Israel’s God and denied His command that they release His people from bondage.

Israel’s crisis of water at Marah was in turn diagnosed as a crisis of trust in God, and the test revealed that their hearts could quickly return to the bondage of another nation and other gods.

Later, when Israel was faced with another crisis (this time involving food), they gave voice to this desire to return to Egypt, crying out, “Would that we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full” (Exodus 16:3).

Israel had been miraculously taken out of Egypt, but it would take some time before Egypt could be taken out of the hearts of Israel.

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8/21/19 4:12 A

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Israel's sin was revealed by a Test (Exodus 15:22-25).

It's ironic to note that their immediate crisis, a lack of water, came directly after an astounding miracle that God worked through water.

Three days after Israel’s deliverance through the waters of the Red Sea, the people were stumbling through a dry desert, unable to find a water source to assuage their thirst. When the Israelites at last came upon water at a site called Marah, they found that it was bitter, polluted, and unfit for drinking. This point of crisis for Israel was defined in the text as the place where God “tested” them (Exodus 15:25).

Unfortunately for Israel, the test scores presented by these bitter waters of Marah revealed equally bitter and untrusting hearts on the part of God’s people: “So the people grumbled at Moses, saying ‘What shall we drink?’” (Exodus 15:24). The Israelites had just observed and celebrated what God could do with water when he held back the Red Sea, so why did Israel doubt God’s ability to provide for them?

Much like the Israelites, it does not take long for any of us to forget what God can do because it does not take long for us to forget what God has done. Our hearts are sin sick and afflicted with a disease of distrust in God, and when we are faced with the immediacy of our needs, we quickly forget the long story of God’s mighty acts of deliverance and provision on our behalf.

The real miracle at Marah is that in spite of Israel’s distrust and bitter grumbling, God still provided for them by purifying the brackish waters: “The Lord showed him [Moses] a tree; and he threw it into the waters, and the waters became sweet” (Exodus 15:25).

Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 8/21/2019 (04:42)
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8/20/19 4:22 A

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Focusing on Philippians 2:9-11

DAY 2: Speak the Name of Jesus

When we meet with spiritual warfare, we may be tempted to wrestle the enemy in the flesh. But since we wrestle not against flesh and blood, we won’t find victory in battle by taking on enemies with our intellect, reasoning, or sheer willpower. Paul told us the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but they are mighty in God (2 Cor. 10:4).

The mighty weapons with which God has furnished us work with one condition. We must wield this spiritual artillery under the lordship of Jesus Christ and with the authority He has given us in His name. Our baseline in any battle is understanding the power in the name of Jesus, praying in the name of Jesus, and otherwise taking authority over our enemies in the name of Jesus.

In our own authority we have no ability to stand against the devil. We cannot go toe-to-toe with the devil in our flesh, nor can we effectively use Jesus’s name in demonic confrontations without a revelation of the power it carries. Just like there is no other name under heaven by which we can be saved (Acts 4:12), there is no other name under heaven by which we can take authority over demon powers.

Meditate on the power in the name of Jesus. Get a revelation of the power in that name before you enter into battle to exercise your authority in Christ and you will see victory.

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8/18/19 12:41 A

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John 10:7-10

DAY 1: What You Need to Know About Spiritual Warfare

I am in a war. I wrote these five words in large letters across the bottom of my dry-erase calendar many years ago after a strong revelation that the unseen realm is raging with spiritual enemies that intend to kill, steal, and destroy my life.

Paul warns us in 2 Corinthians 2:11 not to be ignorant of the devil’s strategies. We need to know our enemy, know our God, and know who we are in Him—but we also need to equip ourselves with revelation on how to defeat the enemy of our souls.

If you ignore the devil, the warfare doesn’t stop. If you focus solely on Jesus, it does not make you immune from warfare. Yes, we should absolutely be more God-focused than demon-focused. However, if Paul the apostle wrestled principalities and powers, who are we to think ignoring this reality will stop demonic attacks?

Havoc on the earth—sickness, disease, murders, immorality, and the like—is not God’s will. Jesus spoiled the principalities and powers. But the word spoiled doesn’t mean “neutered and made powerless.” Jesus plundered the kingdom of darkness. The kingdom of darkness and all the principalities and powers that call it home lost authority over the born-again believer. But we still have to enforce the kingdom rule of law on earth.

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8/16/19 9:56 A

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Colossians 2

Fruit multiplies as our branches are pruned.

The branches of a grapevine are frequently invaded by the growth of things called sucker shoots which, if left unchecked, will siphon off the flow of nutrients and cause the branch to wither. The vinedresser (or gardener) must cut off these sucker shoots, pruning the branch so that it can bear fruit. We find a spiritual parallel in the Scriptures:

“My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:1-2).

Many things in our lives can become sucker shoots, things such as sins not confessed, possessions, jobs, unhealthy relationships. The trials and sufferings we experience are often used by the Father—the vinedresser—to carry out the sometimes painful work of pruning our branches.

A woman who is pregnant is willing to endure the sickness and pain of bearing a child because she can see growth of the child in her expanding belly, realizing the ultimate purpose behind her suffering. In the midst of our suffering, we must also remember that the ultimate goal of the Father’s pruning is to allow us to bear fruit. As the Bible says,

“Bear fruit…that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you” (John 15:16).

As we come to know God more intimately by abiding in Christ and submitting ourselves to the Father’s work of pruning, we, too, will find our branches blossoming, as we find ourselves bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God (Colossians 2:10).

Are there some “sucker shoots” that have sprouted on your branches, siphoning off the flow of nutrients and causing your branch to wither?

How have you been experiencing the work of the Divine “vinedresser” as He carries out the sometimes painful work of pruning your branches?

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Focusing on Colossians 1:9-10

A deeper knowledge of God should produce fruitfulness in the life of the believer.

In the Bible, “fruit” is a term often used to represent the product of one’s life, its impact on others, and its usefulness within the plan of God—also what the apostle Paul labeled as the fruitfulness of every good work in Colossians 1:10:

"For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding."

Paul connected this fruitfulness of the Colossian believers with being filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding (Colossians 1:9).

You should always be challenging yourself to grow deeper in your knowledge and experience of God, realizing that the production of fruit is a natural result of putting in place these deeper roots of intimacy with God. Fruit is the visible outcome of this internal process of growth in the knowledge of God.

In what area of life would you like to see more fruitfulness? Pray for intimacy with God, and it will come naturally.

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8/13/19 1:40 A

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John 8:52-59

The name “I Am” in theology is called the tetragrammaton. That’s a theological statement that simply means: The four letters.

I Am is comprised of four consonants in the Hebrew language. Originally, the Hebrew language was written in abjad (a form of symbolic writing), meaning it did not have any vowels. Seeing as this name has no vowels, it could not be pronounced.

This is because there is simply no way to recite four consonants as a word itself. Also, in Jewish religion, the name was, and is, considered to be too holy to be spoken. Thus, in order to talk about God, what they did in that day was to take vowels from the Hebrew language and insert them into this name YHWH.

This became Yahweh in written format. Some Jews practiced the act of replacing the spoken name with Adonai while speaking in the synagogue as they felt Yahweh itself was too holy to be said.

This is still practiced by many to this day. We know it as Jehovah in our English language. In Scripture, this name is often written as LORD in all caps. The meaning of this name is the covenant-keeping relational God.

When we break down the composition of this name I Am, we get a closer look at the heart of God. This is God’s relational name. It signifies His loyal, covenant-keeping character. The first word in this name is “I” and I is a personal pronoun. This tells us that it is the person talking and in calling Himself by this name, He is indicating that He wants to relate to us personally.

God is not only interested in being the Big Mahaf way up there, He also wants to talk to us down here where we live. In other words, we are able to communicate with Him personally.

Not only is this name personal, but it is also indicative of the present tense. “Am” is present tense. It is not past (was) nor is it future (will be.) What this explains to us is that God has no past and He has no future. He has no yesterday and He has no tomorrow. Everything about God is NOW. He simply IS.

Thus, when Jesus stated, “I Am,” He let them know that He is the personal, present, powerful, unfaltering, self-contained God.

Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 8/13/2019 (01:41)
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8/11/19 12:32 A

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John 8:3-11

Jesus is God’s selfie. We all know what a selfie is in our culture today. But, in case you don’t, a selfie is when someone takes a picture of themself. Pretty self-explanatory (no pun intended).

Now, a selfie can include other people, but it has to include the person taking the photo. If someone off the street takes a picture of you, it can’t be considered a selfie. Why? Because a selfie always reflects the image of the person taking the photo.

Jesus is God’s selfie. He is the exact representation and manifestation of God Himself. He isn’t just a friend. He isn’t part of the group hopping into the photo. Jesus is God’s selfie.

God is invisible to us in His essence. Our finite beings cannot comprehend or see Him, or it would vaporize us. We cannot know His heart, His person and His character intimately because He is the wholly Other who sits outside our realm of understanding. But out of God’s great love for us, He desired to be known by us. He wanted to be seen by us. So, in order to do that, He had to come to us in a form and fashion that we would be able to understand. He had to be both man and God simultaneously, which, although this gave us a greater glimpse into who God is, also created a larger gap for those who would not believe.

John 8:48-59,

We come across my favorite name of Jesus. It is the name, “I Am.” When Jesus introduced this name to us at this moment in history, He drew many in closer to God. But He also pushed many more away. This is a name you cannot halfway embrace. Either Jesus is “I Am,” or He is a liar. You may think that is a harsh word to use about Jesus, but even He says He is a liar if this is not true (John 8:55).

The context of the name “I Am” shows up in the midst of a heated discussion. Not long before, Jesus had forgiven the adulterous woman and driven away a number of angry, hypocritical and judgmental men who sought to stone her. His miracles of healing and driving out demons had given Him a reputation by this time. Jesus was someone to be reckoned with, yet not everyone knew how or where to place Him. Was He a good man doing good things? Was He of the devil using demonic powers? Was He… God?

Consider for a moment how Jesus must have felt during this heated discussion that we read in John 8:48-59. Jews and Pharisees encircled Him and pounded Him with questions and accusations. Words became harsh, quickly. One person accused Him of having a demon.

To which Jesus unloaded a soliloquy of sorts, a somewhat personal reflection, but also for the benefit of the others. After all, Jesus was speaking to those He came to redeem. The sins He would carry on the cross were their sins. Not only that, but the blood that coursed through their veins was blood He created.

The skin that held their organs in place was skin He held together. The air they breathed was air He made and preserved each and every day. It was His genius that prepared a place in which humanity could live, food could be produced and regeneration could occur. It was His strength that held the stars at bay so that they would not tumble too close and destroy the planet. His energy infused the sun. He gave life to each person standing there nodding in agreement that He might have a demon in Him.

Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 8/11/2019 (00:40)
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Judges 6:1-24

In Judges, the people of Israel had entered the Promised Land; however, as a result of their rebellion against God, they found themselves perpetually under the rule of other tribes.

In the midst of one of these periods of judgment, God called out a man named Gideon to deliver Israel from the rule of the Midianites (Judge 6:1-24). Gideon faced tremendous odds in leading a rebellious people against an overwhelming enemy—an enemy described as

“Like locusts for number; both they and their camels were innumerable” (Judges 6:5).

Like Gideon, we can rest assured that even in the face of incredible turmoil, God can still be known as Jehovah Shalom (the Lord is peace) when the ultimate source of turmoil and the true source of peace are understood.

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Psalm 23

Verse 5 is the focus for the day

Commentary

My Cup Overflows

God loves a grateful heart. David had such a heart. He could look at his life and smile

at Gods goodness to him and blessing on him. Yes, his life had been hard; at times,

his life had been excruciating. But God had been good to him, so good. God had

filled his cup to the brim, and it was overflowing. David had a grateful heart. What

about you? Has your life been hard, even excruciating at times? It probably has. Its

the way life is on this side of heaven. But God has been good to you, so good. Your

cup overflows. Could you not pray this prayer?

Lord, you have been a Shepherd to me.

You have cared for me and provided for me.

You have loved me even when I ignored you.

Your eye has always been upon me.

You have offered me unlimited grace.

You have sent your own Son to die for me.

You have freely given your Spirit to live in me.

You give me access to you at any time.

You have given me life and breath.

You have brought wonderful people in my life who

care about me.

You freely forgive me when I fail you.

You strengthen me when I am weak and needy.

You hear my prayers.

You delight in my love.

You have given me a secure and eternal future with

you.

You have rescued me from the pit of hell.

You have chosen me.

You have gifted me.

You have called me to a meaningful place in the great

cosmic battle against the enemy.

You have protected me.

You want me.

You have given me food and shelter.

You have been so good to me.

My cup overflows.

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Matthew 11:28

Psalm 23

Focus on verse 3

Commentary

The Shepherd Restores

God says to you, " I will restore your soul. I will reach into the deepest part of your

soul, to the place that nothing else can touch, and I will restore your soul. I will heal

your heart. I will refresh your spirit." You need that, dont you? When you are weary

and burdened, you need your soul restored. When you are overwhelmed and

undone, you need your soul restored. When you feel guilt and shame, you need your

soul restored. When you are assailed by fear and worry, you need your soul restored.

When you feel wounded and hurt, you need your soul restored. When you feel alone

and rejected, you need your soul restored. When you feel angry and rejected, you

need your soul restored.

At all of these times and more, you need God to do for you what you cannot do for

yourself: heal your soul. Nothing else can do it. Not entertainment. Not a weekend

off. Not sports. Not exercise. Not television. Not a vacation. Not shopping. Not your

hobby. Nothing else can restore your soul. But the God who created the universe,

the God who breathed life into Adamhe can do it. He can breathe life into your

soul. He can make you alive again. It happens when you meet with God. When you

connect with God. When you draw close to God. When you are alone with God.

When you gather with Gods people and worship. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, says to

you even now, Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you

rest. Christ can restore your soul.

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Psalm 23

Key Verse Focus: Verse 1

The Lord Is Our Shepherd

Psalm 23 is one of the best-loved psalms. It is a stunningly beautiful and powerful

example of Davids childlike trust in his God. We all long for this kind of trust. It

begins here with the very first line. David sees the Lord, the almighty, infinite, holy,

and sovereign God, as his shepherd. Though he is the great and awesome God,

David knew that God tenderly watched over him like a shepherd caring for his

sheep. The Lord is a shepherd. In fact, David was more personal in saying, The Lord

is my shepherd. What was David saying about God? He was saying that God cares

about me. He knows me. He understands me. He watches over me. He protects me.

He guides me. He is gentle with me. He nourishes me. He comforts me. He fights for

me. He is attentive to me. He is for me. He stays near me. He will never leave me. He

would die for me. Hes my shepherd.

Whatever the need is, He can meet it. Whatever the burden is, He can carry it.

Whatever the decision is, He can guide it. Whatever the problem is, He can handle it.

Whatever the hurt is, He can heal it. Hes my shepherd. When the Lord is your

shepherd, you can trust in God no matter what happens. He is watching over you.

He is right there with you. He will see you through. Hes your shepherd. You wont

lack anything you really need. If it is a good thing for you, you will get it. You will not

be in want of anything when the Lord is your shepherd. Perhaps Davids greatness

was in the way he saw God. The Lord is my shepherd. In a previous entry, A.W. Tozer

taught us that how we see God shapes our entire life, What comes into our minds

when we think about God is the most important thing about us. Do you see God

this way? Is the Lord your shepherd?

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7/22/19 2:41 P

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Key Verses Today:

Genesis 22:3 and verse 10

Read whole chapter

Abraham responds to a test by acting in obedience to God’s command.

To this jarring command that Abraham sacrifice his only son, the text records no second-guessing or argument on the part of Abraham. It simply notes that Abraham obeyed the command by getting up early the next morning, putting the supplies together that he needed for the sacrifice, and then “arose and went to the place of which God had told him” (Genesis 22:3).

Abraham’s obedience, however, consisted of more than just preparations and a journey to the place: when he arrives at Mount Moriah he builds the altar, binds Isaac to it, and stretches out his hand with the knife to slay his son (Genesis 22:10).

That is to say, that Abraham is not going through the motions and hoping that God will provide an exit plan; he is prepared to obey God completely, regardless of the costs and the outcomes.

Steps of obedience are not a means by which he can control God and insure his holding on to the blessing (Isaac), but rather obedience to God and worship of Him is the end goal.

Abraham loves and thus obeys the One who blesses more than he loves the blessing.

Has God called you to sacrifice something for Him? If so, are you ready to make that sacrifice or are you still struggling with holding on to it?

Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 7/22/2019 (14:43)
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Genesis 2:22

Genesis 12:2

Deuteronomy 6:4-5

Abraham’s knowledge of God as Jehovah-Jireh comes in the midst of God testing Abraham.

In Genesis 22:2 God decided to test Abraham by asking him to sacrifice the thing that he loved most, his only son Isaac:

“Take now your son, your only son, whom you love…and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I will tell you.”

Isaac was the child of promise that both Abraham and Sarah had waited so long to bear, and his death would also signal the death of God’s covenant with Abraham that He would make him a great nation (Genesis 12:2). Why would God ask Abraham to do this?

The essence of this test is a question that Abraham and all of us must answer: when faced with a choice between the blessing (in this case Isaac) and the One who blesses (God), which will we choose? All of us can fall so deeply in love with the blessing that we have or that we yearn for, that God becomes a means to an end. The blessing becomes an idol and thus an object of worship, when God alone is to be the object of our desire and reverence:

“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5).

What in your life would you be conflicted to give up if God commanded you to?

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