Rabu, 31 Juli 2013

Jesus Changed Everything

Unfinished
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. — Romans 10:9
Years ago, I was dating a young woman named Rene√© whom I loved very much. The only problem was that she was a committed Christian and I was an atheist. And to her, the truth that God had sent His Son, Jesus, to teach us, forgive us, and offer us a new way to live changed everything about her life—including who she would marry.
I didn’t fully understand this. I was one of those “what’s true for you may not be true for me” kind of people. Why couldn’t we all just be happy? I couldn’t believe in Jesus just because He was a nice person and He made me feel good. I needed evidence that Christianity was actually true.
So, prompted by my love for the girl I would someday marry, I decided to research the claims of this whole Christianity deal. I read everything from comparative religion and philosophy to archaeology, science, faith, apologetics, and history. My mind raced as I considered, maybe for the first time ever, the fundamental questions of our lives. I won’t try to summarize all that I learned. But I will share my conclusion.
I came to believe that the most plausible explanation for the universe was that God was real and He had created all that we see; that there was a Painter behind this incredible painting, an Author behind this astonishing story.
I also came to believe that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed God incarnate—that God had taken human form in order to inaugurate a new and deeper kind of relationship with us. I based my belief on both historical evidence for the resurrection and also the inherent ring of truth I found in Scripture. It had a depth and solidity to it, a consistency that spoke for itself, that felt “self-evident.” The evidence for the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus seemed as unimpeachable as the evidence that Julius Caesar had been the emperor of Rome.
So I knelt before the God of the universe one day in West Philadelphia and said,
"Yes! Yes, I am Your child. Yes, I want to know You and learn from You, and yes, I want to live every day of my life with You, yes!”
And I also knew that my life would never be the same because Jesus changed everything.
Prayer 
Father, thank You for Your word, Your Holy Spirit, Your church, and Your creation, and how they all work together to reveal You. Please help me find the truth just as You helped Rich.
* * *
Your Turn
What has been your journey to faith? We would love to hear your story! Please share with us today on our blog. ~ Devotionals Daily 
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I'm deeply love by Jesus Christ

My Abundance

 

My Abundance

Look up and see my glory says the Lord for I am about to manifest my goodness in your life. I will cause your hands to prosper and everything you touch to turn to blessing. For it delights me to bless you my child. It delights me to open the way ahead of you and to see you dance along your journey. For I am a tender father that is delighted in your joy.
So praise me today and know that I have you securely in my hands. I have not let you go and I do not just want to provide your needs, but I want your heart to rejoice with the goodness and blessings beyond measure. I am not withholding anything from you my child, for I am filled with abundance!
When I created the earth I did not restrict it. I caused the earth to be filled. I caused the animals to reproduce without measure. Did you think then that I would stop this with you my child? No I am the same yesterday and today. I desire abundance in your life. I desire the richness of my blessings to be manifested in you. So rejoice then and see that I withhold nothing from you today. Reach out by faith and trust that I want all good things for you says the Lord. Amen.

Contentment: How Much is Enough?

Matthew 6:30
It is not good to have everything one wants. — Blaise Pascal
In this world of instant gratification and unlimited choices, we often find ourselves surrounded by mountains of things — furniture, knickknacks, toys (for children and adults), tools, clothes, and so on. Are all these things bringing us real joy and happiness or are they prohibiting us from seeing what really matters? It’s amazing what simple rules we can relearn when we open our eyes.
There are two wings that raise a man above earthly things, simplicity and purity. — Thomas √† Kempis
With the pace of the world today, we are often moving so fast that we don’t pause to consider what we really need. Are all these things in our lives adding value or just adding clutter to both our surroundings and our lives? Are they complementing our lives or complicating them? With each additional thing often comes additional stress — how to use it, where to put it, and ultimately how to pay for it.
Looking back on your early childhood, what intrigued and interested you? For many of us, it was the joy of spending time outdoors.
One day I had the pleasure of visiting the Niederman family farm in Hamilton, Ohio. The Niedermans have been in farming for many generations. Farming life is so important to them that they open up their home, their land, and their barns so folks can come experience what farm life is like. Among other events at the farm, each October they create a giant corn maze for children and adults to wander through day or night by flashlight.
This past year they were digging out an area for a new addition to their corn maze attraction. A large pile of dirt was placed off to the side until they could determine how to make good use of it somewhere else on the farm. However, they found themselves at the opening day of the corn maze before they got an opportunity to take care of that pile of dirt. Not only was the corn maze a hit as usual, but to their surprise, children immediately gravitated to that large dirt pile. Kids were running up and sliding down this unintentional playing field. There were no blinking lights, no electronics, no sound effects. The sounds of laughter and fun filled the autumn air as kids did what kids do best — be imaginative and seize the moment.
As adults, we often find ourselves acquiring more and more things for ourselves and our children — whether it’s the next great video game, cell phone, computer, or the latest hot new toy. As we add more material things to our lives, we often forget not only what’s most important but also what it feels like to be childlike — to truly experience life in the moment and therefore be more carefree.
When we focus on what really matters, on what we and our children truly need, life becomes a whole lot simpler — and something as simple as a dirt pile suddenly becomes a whole lot of fun again.
We can say joyfully with Paul, “And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content” (1 Timothy 6:8).
"Eliminate physical clutter. More importantly, eliminate spiritual clutter." — Terri Guillemets
True godliness with contentment is itself great wealth. — 1 Timothy 6:6
* * *
Your Turn
* How much is enough?
* Where and what can you declutter from your life?
* Read Philippians 4:11–13 and consider how it does or does not reflect your life. Are you truly content? Or is your life full of striving?
You're invited to respond to these questions on our blog. ~ Devotionals Daily
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Do Not Let the Sun Go Down on Your Anger

Ephesians 4:26
In your anger do not sin: Don't let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. — Ephesians 4:26-27
Christian maturity involves a lot of things, but surely it includes knowing how to process your anger. In fact, I believe there is no more dangerous emotion for a married couple to deal with than anger.
The apostle Paul did not teach that all anger is wrong, but that it’s what you do with your anger that counts. “In your anger,” writes Paul, “do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry” (Ephesians 4:26).
You have probably heard these familiar words in more than one sermon. The question is, how can you use Paul’s instructions as you practice Love & Respect? Paul knew that to have real feelings is very human, but to let real feelings turn into hard feelings that rage on is childish and dangerous. When anger takes control, the Devil is ready to move in and put you on the Crazy Cycle.
Satan loves the Crazy Cycle; it is his favorite mode of transportation and he wants to ride it with you! The Devil is always scheming, and one of his favorite targets is your marriage.
But there are ways to be awake and ready for Satan’s schemes (Ephesians 6:11–18). For example, have you ever realized after an angry exchange, That wasn’t me. What came over me? What came over you was the Devil. He did not possess you, but your anger gave him the opportunity to take advantage of you (2 Corinthians 2:11).
Try to remember that during marital tension, you can easily slip into what I call “default mode,” behaving in a way that reflects the human tendency to react more readily in a sinful way than a holy way. If not careful, you will follow your subjective and sinful feelings and justify these feelings because they are “so real.”
If you feel frustrated, you can default into sinful anger. If you feel hurt, you can default into retaliation. If you wish to “make a firm point,” you can default into making a cutting remark. Justifying such feelings by calling them “righteous indignation” does not impress the Lord. What does the Bible say? “Your anger can never make things right in God’s sight” (James 1:20).
Insight: When anger is in control, sin and the Devil can have a field day.
Bottom line: when you default into “just being human” and feed your carnal nature, you give the Devil a foothold he wouldn’t have had if you had controlled your anger. But you don’t have to default; you can defeat the Devil’s schemes by calling on God for help.
Yes, you may have real feelings of frustration toward your mate, but you know that doesn’t justify losing it emotionally or saying nasty things. Yes, you may be angry, but you choose not to sin. You have real feelings of hurt from the misunderstanding, but you know it is an honest misunderstanding, and you decide to pull back, count to ten, and give yourself time to cool off.
One approach you might want to try is reading Proverbs 14:29 out loud three times (or ten, if necessary): “People with understanding control their anger; a hot temper shows great foolishness”.
Prayer: Ask the Lord for the wisdom to defeat Satan, the schemer who intends to gain a foothold in your marriage through sinful anger. Thank Him for any progress you have made in controlling anger and not letting real feelings turn into hard feelings.
Action: When I realize I’m getting angry, I will tell myself, I will not let the sun go down on my anger. Before I put my head on the pillow, my anger will be gone.
* * *
Your Turn - Answer these Questions
* “I believe there is no more dangerous emotion for a married couple to deal with than anger.” Do you both agree? What other emotions are hard for you to deal with?
* When marital tension cranks up and frustration is turning to anger, why is slipping into “default mode” a real possibility? How much does rationalization have to do with allowing yourself to slip into default mode? What does James 1:20 have to say about rationalizing angry language and behavior?
* What do you think of Emerson’s idea to repeat Proverbs 14:29 three times as a way to control angry feelings? Could this work for you? Are you willing to try it?
What about you? We'd love to hear from you! Please leave your comments on our blog. ~ Devotionals Daily 
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13 Habits Of Highly Effective Fathers

By: Brian Dodd

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=B32VgWUPRVU

 The Today Show recently featured the most emotionally moving segment I have ever seen.  At the time of the original airing, Dr. James Wolf had been given three months to live as he suffered from terminal pancreatic cancer.
Even though she was not yet engaged, Dr. Wolf’s daughter Rachel desired the traditional Father-Daughter Wedding Dance.  With his probable passing soon to take place, Rachel came up with a very creative solution.  Have the dance now!
With guests, flowers, limousines, and a reception all in tow, Rachel and her dad dressed in wedding attire went ahead and had their dance.  Their time together was also filmed to later be shown on Rachel’s actual wedding day.
This video convicted me as a father.  Am I the spiritually leader Dr. Wolf is?  What type of legacy am I leaving?
As a way to get better as a father myself, I gleaned 13 Habits Of Highly Effective Fathers from the video.  See how you match up to the 13 items listed below.  If you’re like me, you have some work to do.
  1. Highly Effective Fathers Love Jesus – You cannot be the most effective earthly father possible if you don’t have a healthy relationship with your Heavenly Father.
  2. Highly Effective Fathers Are Not Passive.  They Deal With Reality – Dr. Wolf said, “There are a lot of things that I would’ve liked the girls to experience with me being there. And I’m not going to be there.”
  3. Highly Effective Fathers Recognize And Take Advantage Of Opportunity – We are not promised tomorrow so as the reporter stated, “When it comes to making memories why wait?”
  4. Highly Effective Fathers Make Good Decisions – When we are dying our thoughts are not on work-related items.  As Dr. Wolf reminded us, “Each and every day we have a choice.  We got a choice to love that person in front of us or not.”
  5. Highly Effective Fathers Are Highly Motivated - I was moved to watch Dr. Wolf summon up every last bit of energy he had to overcome exhaustion and dance with his daughter.  A legion of armies could not have kept him from that dance.
  6. Highly Effective Fathers Leave A Godly Legacy – There are many competing voices in a father’s life.  But Dr. Wolf understands that “It’s the relationships you build over the years that is the most important thing in life.”
  7. Highly Effective Fathers Celebrate Milestones – Birthdays, anniversaries, family vacations, holidays and yes, weddings are a BIG deal.  Highly effective fathers celebrate these days and make them memorable.
  8. Highly Effective Fathers Deeply Love Their Children’s Mother – There is a good chance that all men, if we’re lucky enough to live that long, are going to need our wives to help us get dressed each day.  There are few pictures in this world more beautiful than this type of lifelong sacrificial love.
  9. Highly Effective Fathers Model The Type Of Man Our Daughters Will One Day Marry – Men, do you want your daughter to marry someone just like you?  The reality is she most likely will.  Something tells me Rachel is one day going marry a very wonderful man.
  10. Highly Effective Fathers Sing And Dance With Their Daughters – It makes them feel like Cinderella.
  11. Highly Effective Fathers Are Noticed By The World – The story of Dr. Wolf and Rachel has been told to the entire world.  In a time when dysfunctional behavior is the norm, emotionally healthy fathers who put Christ and their families first are noticed by everyone in their sphere of influence.
  12. Highly Effective Fathers Are Generous – Weddings are expensive but anything valuable costs money.  Highly effective fathers are willing to pay whatever price is necessary to bless their children.
  13. Highly Effective Fathers Are Loved Unconditionally – For many fathers, everyone wants something from them.  The relationships are conditional.  It is often only within the context of your immediate family that you are loved simply for being you.  For fathers, there is great comfort and safety in a loving home.
Fathers, how did you measure up to this list 13 Habits of Highly Effective Fathers?  What areas can you improve on starting today?

You Have a GOOD Father

 Matthew 6:26
You Have a GOOD Father 
by John Eldredge
Look at the birds of the air. Consider the lilies in the field. Are you not much more valuable to your true Father than they? — Matthew 6:26, 28
Are you not much more valuable to your true Father than they?
Hmmm. I’m not sure how to answer. I mean, of course, there’s the “right” answer. And then there is the wound in our hearts toward fatherhood, and there is also the way our lives have gone.
“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?” (Matthew 18:12).
Yet another question, pressing into the submerged fears in our hearts, another question wanting another answer. Well? Wouldn’t he?
“And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should be lost” (Matthew 18:13–14).
Wherever you are in your ability to believe it at this moment in your life, at least you can see what Jesus is driving at.
You have a good Father. He is better than you thought. He cares. He really does. He’s kind and generous. He’s out for your best.
This is absolutely central to the teaching of Jesus.
* * *
Your Turn
What was your dad like? Maybe he tried his best but disappointed you, or was apathetic towards you. Or maybe your father was not a good man at all. Have the trials and struggles of life affected what you think about God the Father's love for you? Pause for a moment and meditate on Matthew 18 and embrace your heavenly Father's intentional love for you. You're invited to leave a comment on our blog. We would love to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily
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The Weaker we feel, the harder we lean

The Open Road!

Apostle Colette Toach

The Open Road!

The road is open before you my child and now is your time to walk it out. For even though I put before you an open door and open road, it is for you to walk out. I can bring you the opportunities and I can even bring certain things along your path, however until you start walking in the direction that I have given to you, you will not make progress along your journey.
For many wait for me to walk out their road – however it is not for me to walk it, it is for me to prepare it! So know this day that I have prepared the road ahead my child and that I have not left a single thing undone. I have made the perfect road for you and I have given you all the tools that you need to walk it. Now is the time then to take that first step and to run the race that I have set before you.
As you run, then I will tell you to turn left or right. I will not give you the directions at the beginning of your race, rather I will give them to you as you are running. This way the enemy cannot spoil the plans that I have made for your life. So do not sit around waiting any longer. Step forward and as you do the way will open. Start running and the scenery around you will change. Take action and then trust me to step in and fill in the gaps says the Lord. Amen.

What is God's Calling on Your Life?

Prayer is the Method
What is God's Calling on Your Life?  
by Richard Stearns, author of Unfinished: Believing is Only the Beginning
However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace. — Acts 20:24
My belief is that every follower of Christ, regardless of who they are and what they might be doing currently, was meant to participate in this kingdom work; in other words, we have all been called into this mission of Christ. We all have the same general assignment, but our specific roles within it will be unique to us as individuals and will take into account our gifts and talents, experience, assets, physical location, and our connections.
As I have traveled around the world telling my own story of calling, I can’t tell you how many people have come up to me to ask how they can find God’s calling on their lives.
This is a very serious and personal matter for each of us as followers of Christ, and I certainly don’t have the corner on how someone else can discern God’s calling. But I do think there are some helpful steps, derived from Scripture, that can bring greater clarity to this universal longing.
Six Ways to find God's Calling on Your Life:
1. Commit – This first step toward discerning God’s calling on our lives is the most difficult because it involves dying to self. It means putting everything else aside in order to put God first. This gets to the heart of who is in control of our lives – us or him.
2. Pray – Prayer is the method, and the Holy Spirit is the mechanism whereby God has given us the ability to discern his direction in our lives. If you are confused about what God expects of you, pray.
3. Prepare – We have the entirety of Scripture at our disposal, and the wise counsel of fellow believers. Scripture provides for us the bigger blueprint for what God is doing in the world, and it gives us all the principles we need to live our lives in his service. Fellow Christians can offer guidance, insight, correction, practical tools, and great encouragement to us as we seek to discern God’s will for our lives.
4. Obey – The Great Commission defined what making disciples entailed: “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded” (Matt. 28:20, emphasis mine).
Disciples are known by their obedience. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1:22).
5. Act – As you look through the lens of God’s kingdom rescue mission and in the context of your own gifts and abilities, what is it that needs doing that you can do? It is time to act. Earl Palmer observed, “God can’t steer a parked car.” Commit to serving him without conditions and move in the direction of your gifts and your passions, trusting that God will steer and lead.
6. Trust – We cannot say that the place where we are stationed, the task that is before us, is insignificant to the larger mission. We are to trust that only God knows the full significance of the role he has called us to play in his greater mission.
Prayer for Today
Father, please guide my steps as I work to figure out where You want me. 
* * *
Your Turn
Where do you think you are in this path to finding God's calling on your life? Leave a comment on our blog! ~ Devotionals Daily
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Jumat, 26 Juli 2013

World-Class Rebels in Need of Grace

Isaiah 53:6
With one voice they cried out, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.) — Luke 23:14–19
Rebel and murderer. Anger in his heart and blood on his hands. Defiant. Violent. A troublemaker. A life taker. He is guilty and proud of it. Is Pilate, the Roman governor, supposed to treat such a man with grace? The crowd thinks so. Moreover, they want Pilate to execute Jesus instead, a man whom Pilate declares has “done nothing to deserve death.”
Jesus was God’s model of a human being. Ever honest among hypocrites. Relentlessly kind in a world of cruelty. Heaven-focused despite countless distractions. It’s not just that Jesus passed every test. He posted a perfect score on every test.
Can you imagine such a life? Can you say the same about yours? No mistakes? Never a rude comment? Not a single red mark on your essays? I can’t say that
Unlike Jesus, we’re not faultless. We’re fault-filled. And right near the top is our desire to be in control. We want things our own way. Even when we try to do right, sooner or later we end up blowing it again. An insult slips off the tongue. A promise is put on the shelf. A relationship is fouled, a class failed. And God is left behind, forgotten more quickly than yesterday’s homework.
You and I are world-class rebels.
Where does it leave us? Stuck in the same cell with Barabbas. We’re like him. We are him. Sinners. Rebels. Murderers.
Am I overstating the case? I don’t think so. It doesn’t matter if we’ve literally killed someone. The point is that we are rebels against God. We shout, “God, I don’t want you to be my king! I want a kingless kingdom! Even better, a kingdom in which I am king!” We stage a revolution.
We storm God’s castle, put on His crown, and sit on His throne. We roar, “I want to run my own life, thank you very much!” We tell God to get out, get lost, and not come back. You and I are world-class rebels. So is every single person who has taken a breath.
The Bible puts it in plain language:
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way (Isaiah 53:6).
Your way may be ignoring homework, my way may be ignoring other people, another person’s way might be bragging or gossiping or drinking, but every person has tried to go his or her way without God.
There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one (Romans 3:10–12).
We won’t appreciate what grace does until we understand who we are. We are rebels. We have been found guilty. And we have nothing to offer in trade for our lives.
“You’re free to go. They took Jesus instead of you.”
What just happened?
Grace happened.
Christ took away your sins. Where did He take them? To the top of a hill called Calvary, where He endured not just the nails of the Romans, the mockery of the crowd, and the spear of the soldier but also the anger of God.
Fill your heart with this, the finest summary of God’s greatest accomplishment:
God in His gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God’s anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed His blood, sacrificing His life for us. (Romans 3:24–25, emphasis mine).
God didn’t overlook your sins; He won’t endorse them. He didn’t punish you; He won’t destroy you. He instead found a way to punish the sin and preserve the sinner.
Jesus took your punishment, and God gave you credit for Jesus’ perfection.
As long as the cross is God’s gift to the world, it will touch you but not change you. Satisfying as it is to shout, “Christ died for the world!” even sweeter it is to whisper, “Christ died for me.”
“For my sins He died.”
“He took my place on the cross.”
“He carried my sins, my cold and cruel heart.”
“Through the cross He claimed, cleansed, and called me.”
“He felt my shame and spoke my name.”
Be the Barabbas who says, “Thank you.” Thank God for the day grace happened to you. Thank Jesus for giving His life for yours—the best trade you’ll ever make.
* * *
Your Turn
Take a break and think about the punishment that was yours to pay until Jesus paid it instead saying, "Christ died for me". Now, spend a few minutes thanking Him! What is your response to Jesus' sacrifice, not just for the whole world, but for you personally? Please leave a comment on our blog. We would love to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily
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