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HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Mon 21 Aug 2017, 10:04 am

"Bragging Rights?" — A Year with Jesus for 08/15/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of the Father,

The Corinthian disciples had forgotten what made them special. Some were arguing that their group of believers was more important than another group of believers. Some were celebrating their status during communion while others were being overlooked. They were bragging about their spiritual gifts while using them to try to impress others. Some were even claiming to follow different people rather than Me. Everywhere you look in the early Corinthian church, you will find fractures, rivalries, differences, and arguments over who or what was most important. Even worse, they boasted in these differences!

Paul spoke directly to the Corinthians about their sin. He reminded them that few of them came from families of position or status:

By human standards, not many of you are deemed to be wise. Not many are considered powerful. Not many of you come from royalty, right?
By earthly measures, they had little or no status.

So why in the world would they fuss and fight over status?

Why would they divide My body over such earthly, temporal and trivial matters?

Why would they divide My people over egos and pettiness?

When people feel insignificant and unsure of their status, they look to false standards to make them feel important. They boast in what is really superficial, temporary, and unimportant. You can find this sad reality in Corinth during Paul's day, and you can find it in your own day.

The Corinthian disciples to whom Paul wrote had forgotten Who I was when I came to the earth. They lost sight of what I had done to make them children of the Father, the King of glory. They ignored the lofty status that I put aside when I was born into the world to die to redeem them (Philippians 2:5-11). They ignored what I taught: that the greatest in the Father's kingdom and in My family is actually the person willing to serve. Those who exalt themselves will be humbled (Matthew 23:11-12). The Corinthian disciples forgot that I came to serve and to give My life to ransom them from sin and that I called them to be sacrificial and serve others (Mark 10:42-45; John 13:12-17).

Paul wanted them, and I want you, to know that real greatness is found in being "united with Jesus the Anointed" — united with Me — in serving others. You are My disciples. You are to follow My example. You are to trust your glory to My grace. You are to serve each other just as I served and gave Myself for you. I AM the source of your life, significance, identity, and status. I AM your "wisdom." Your "righteousness and holiness and redemption" are found in Me.

Don't boast in what you have accomplished. Don't swell with pride because of your seemingly superior background. Don't boast in what you can do that another can't do. Realize that your life, your future, and the glory in which you will share all come from being identified with Me and being a part of My family. You cannot disregard someone else in My family. You cannot elevate yourself above someone else in My family. When you elevate yourself above others, you disregard Me and all that I demonstrated!
Verses to Live

As My disciple, think of what you have because of Me. Remember all the blessings and privileges that are yours because of My sacrifice. You received all of these by grace. You received none of these by birthright or rank in social circles. So let your boasting be in My grace and sacrifice. Do not boast in what you can do or from where you have come. Boasting causes division. Boasting creates rivalries. Boasting causes messes like the Corinthians had made.

Read the verses below and take them to heart. They are true not just for the Corinthian disciples; they are also true for you.

Look carefully at your call, brothers and sisters. By human standards, not many of you are deemed to be wise. Not many are considered powerful. Not many of you come from royalty, right? But celebrate this: God selected the world's foolish to bring shame upon those who think they are wise; likewise, He selected the world's weak to bring disgrace upon those who think they are strong. God selected the common and the castoff, whatever lacks status, so He could invalidate the claims of those who think those things are significant. So it makes no sense for any person to boast in God's presence. Instead, credit God with your new situation: you are united with Jesus the Anointed. He is God's wisdom for us and more. He is our righteousness and holiness and redemption. As the Scripture says: "If someone wants to boast, he should boast in the Lord."
(1 Corinthians 1:26-31)

Don't let anyone deceive himself. If any one of you thinks he is wise in matters pertaining to this world, he is going to be really disappointed. In fact, one must be deemed a fool by worldly standards in order to become truly wise because the wisdom of this rebellious and broken world looks like foolishness when put next to God. So it stands in Scripture, "He catches the wise in their deceitful plotting." And the Scriptures add, "The Lord knows the highest thoughts of the wise, and they are worthless." So there is no reason for anyone to boast in human leaders. You already have it all. So whether it is Paul, Apollos, Cephas, the world, life or death, the present or the future — it all belongs to you. You belong to the Anointed One, and the Anointed One belongs to God.
(1 Corinthians 3:18-23)
Response in Prayer

Father in heaven, I know that my insecurities can lead me to chase the wrong things as the source of my significance. I recognize that in Jesus I am Your child. I am a child of the King of glory. Forgive me for my lack of trust in Your acceptance and approval. Forgive me for seeking my own glory and not resting in Your grace. Use me, O LORD, to help others find their significance in You. Open my heart to accept others whom the world might disregard. In the name of Jesus, my Lord and my example, I pray. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.

Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.

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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sat 12 Aug 2017, 8:15 pm

"Interconnected!" — A Year with Jesus for 08/12/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Follower,

I challenged My apostles before My ascension to make faith in Me a worldwide movement of grace and discipleship offered to all people (Matthew 28:18-20). They were to begin where they were. They were to share grace with their people and reach their region. Then they were to impact the world with My good news and a life of discipleship (Acts 1:8). This sharing is what the apostles did in Jerusalem and Judea in the early days of My church, as recorded in the book of Acts. Then with the martyrdom of Stephen, some of My followers were scattered out from Jerusalem and Judea and went into Samaria and even to more-Gentile regions (Acts 8:1-4; Acts 11:19-21). On their first missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas followed a similar pattern in each city by teaching first in Jewish synagogues and then also going to Gentiles (Acts 13:1-8; Acts 13:44-46).

In today's verses, you read about the interconnectedness of the ancient world. You can see how My early disciples spread the word, strengthened churches, and grew My movement. Paul, Peter, and Barnabas were great missionaries, disciple-makers, and church planters. Many other people also were instrumental in helping to grow the church. In today's verses, you meet Aquila and his wife Priscilla (also sometimes called Prisca). They were a great team. They were devoted to bringing people to faith in Me. They were upper middle-class merchants who took the gospel with them wherever they went in their business travels. They opened their homes as the places for My disciples to meet in three cities — Corinth, Ephesus, and Rome (Acts 18:1-3; 1 Corinthians 16:19; 2 Timothy 4:19; Romans 16:3). You also meet Apollos, who traveled widely and was a great public speaker and a scholar of the Hebrew Scriptures — the Law, Writings, and Prophets.

Aquila, Priscilla, and Apollos are examples of the many people throughout the ages who have shared My story of grace as they traveled. For each of them, his or her job was a calling. It was a way to spread My message to all with whom they came in contact. They sought out groups of believers and strengthened them. They shared news of what was happening with My disciples in other places in the world. They led others to follow Me. They offered their time and their homes for believers to meet, eat, and worship together. Their faith was not just something they had in their heads or believed in their hearts, but it permeated every aspect of their lives.

In today's verses, you will notice that Paul travels through significant portions of the northern and northeastern Mediterranean region. He goes through Greece, Macedonia, the Roman province of Asia, Galatia, Syria, and Judea. He goes back and strengthens struggling churches. He encourages new believers. He confirms leaders in the churches he had previously planted. He carries news about what is happening in My family in other parts of the world.

However, Paul was not alone in doing these things. Others are not named in the Bible but were like Priscilla, Aquila, and Apollos. Through the efforts of all of these disciples, the good news about Me spread all over the world. I used the folks you know well, like Paul, Peter, and Barnabas. I also used those you know less well, like Priscilla, Aquila, and Apollos, and some folks not mentioned by name. What I began with a small group in Galilee has impacted the whole world. You are testimony that this process didn't end in the first century. This process is still effective. This process is still part of My plan!

So, based on what you read today, I want to place a few things on your heart.

First, don't be afraid to travel and go to new places in the world. Yes, travel can be tiring and sometimes even dangerous. However, you are My disciple. You are a citizen of the kingdom of heaven. Your mission field is as close as your next door neighbor and as far away as someone from another culture on the other side of your world.

Second, when you travel remember that you go as My representative. Whether your travel is for vacation, business, pleasure, or intentional mission, you are My messenger. No matter who pays for your travel, you are sent by Me, to represent Me, and to share My grace!

Third, use your travel as a time to connect to other believers. Do not take a vacation from fellowship and worship. Bring a word of grace from the people with whom you normally fellowship. Give the believers you meet encouragement. Offer a blessing in My name to their church family and their worship gathering, no matter how large or small. Enjoy the blessing of being family with people you don't yet know, but with whom you will share eternity!

Fourth, as you travel, I will place people in your path who are seeking to find what you have found in Me. If you listen to hear the hearts of these people you meet, the Spirit will help you and empower you. One of the benefits of your going to other places is to be available to these people. Some you meet will be asking to find hope, seeking to discover Me, and knocking on the door of heaven needing grace (Matthew 7:7-8).

Fifth, when you go, be respectful of those you meet. They know their culture and how to reach people in their culture better than you do. But, if you find yourself compelled to correct something, make sure you do it tenderly and privately after you have invested yourself in their family of faith and the community they are trying to reach. Priscilla and Aquila are great examples of this principle, especially in how they corrected Apollos: "They took him aside and in private explained the way of God to him more accurately and fully."

Your life is more interconnected to the world than you realize. I will touch your world through your influence, and you will discover the world is much smaller than you realize when you go where you go as My representative of grace.

Verses to Live

Notice the travel of Paul in the verses below. Notice as well how Apollos and also Aquila and Priscilla travel extensively. Now notice how all these travels are interwoven into the fabric of My people and the sharing of My grace!

From Athens, Paul traveled to Corinth alone. He found a Jewish man there named Aquila, originally from Pontus. Aquila and his wife Priscilla had recently come to Corinth from Italy because Claudius had banished all Jews from Rome. Paul visited them in their home and discovered they shared the same trade of tent making. He then became their long-term guest and joined them in their tentmaking business.
(Acts 18:1-3)

At the end of 18 months, Paul said good-bye to the believers in Corinth. He wanted to travel to the east and south to Syria by ship; so, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila, he went to the nearby port city of Cenchrea, where he fulfilled a vow he had made by cutting his hair. The three of them sailed east to Ephesus where Paul would leave Priscilla and Aquila. Paul again went to the synagogue where he dialogued with the Jews. They were receptive and invited him to stay longer. But he politely declined.

Paul:
If God wills, I'll return at some point.
He caught a ship bound south and east for Caesarea by the sea. There he went up for a brief visit with the believers in the church at Jerusalem; then he headed north to Antioch. He spent considerable time there and then left again, visiting city after city throughout Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening the disciples in each place.

Meanwhile, back in Ephesus, a Jew named Apollos made contact with the community of believers. He had been raised in Alexandria. Apollos was eloquent and well educated in the Hebrew Scriptures. He was partially instructed in the way of the Lord, and he added to his native eloquence a burning enthusiasm to teach about Jesus. He taught accurately what he knew; but he had only understood part of the good news, specifically the ritual cleansing through baptism preached by John, the forerunner of Jesus. So, when Priscilla and Aquila heard him speak boldly in the synagogue, they discerned both his gift and his lack of full understanding. They took him aside and in private explained the way of God to him more accurately and fully. He wanted to head west into Achaia, where Paul had recently been, to preach there. The believers encouraged him to do so and sent a letter instructing the Greek disciples to welcome him. Upon his arrival, he was of great help to all in Achaia who had, by the grace of God, become believers. This gifted speaker publicly demonstrated, based on the Hebrew Scriptures, that the promised Anointed One is Jesus. Then, when the Jews there raised counterarguments, he refuted them with great power.
(Acts 18:18-28)
Response in Prayer

Father, forgive me for the times I have forgotten that I am Jesus' emissary — His representative sent to share His grace wherever I go and regardless of whoever sends me on my travels. Open my eyes, dear Spirit of the living God, to see the people hungering to know more about Jesus. Lord Jesus, give me the words to say and the character of life to share Your story and Your grace with those who are asking, seeking, and knocking. Use me, dear LORD, to be Your instrument of peace, grace, mercy, hospitality, and encouragement. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Fri 11 Aug 2017, 6:57 pm

"Prayer Power Unleashed" — A Year with Jesus for 08/11/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious Child of the Father,

Today I want you to read the prayers of Paul for the new Christians in Thessalonica. Frequently your scholars break each of these letters into two parts:

Paul's love for and relationship with My Thessalonian disciples (1 Thessalonians chapters 1-3; 2 Thessalonians chapter 1).
Paul's practical teaching about morality to new Thessalonian Christians (1 Thessalonians chapters 4-5; 2 Thessalonians chapters 2-3).
However, Paul's letters to these Thessalonians are woven together around his prayers for them — the prayers in the Verses to Live section below. These prayers were central to his message just as prayer was essential in Paul's ministry. Prayer held a place of central importance in the great apostle's life, especially his ministry through his letters to the Thessalonians.

Everything Paul said, did, and taught was surrounded and incubated in prayer. Paul was remarkable in so many ways. He was My messenger, especially to the Gentiles. He was a church planter among the nations in various cultures. In addition to these great attributes, Paul was extremely dedicated to prayer. To their own peril, some church leaders in every age have ignored the power of intercessory prayer. They have forgotten to pray with thanksgiving for beloved disciples in whom I AM doing My work. The leaders can be seduced by the devil to think that their plans and their power have accomplished the great things done among them. Paul did not do this. Prayer was his daily fuel!

As you read his prayers below, remember that Paul prayed like this for all of the churches. In nearly all of his letters, he prayed for many people by name and indicated that he did so every day, for years. Feel the love in his prayer language. Recognize that Paul knew that he could take new disciples only so far in their growth. He knew they needed Our — Father, Son, and Spirit's — presence, intervention, and grace to grow into the places they needed to be. Feel Paul's affirmation in his thankfulness for these disciples. Take note of the themes he addressed in his teaching that were first addressed in prayer. Appreciate Paul's affection in the emotional weight of the words he chose when he prayed. Paul's prayer ministry with the Thessalonians was a vital part of his ministry with them, to them, and for them.
Verses to Live

Paul was formally a citizen of Rome. He was a citizen of Jerusalem during his rabbinic training. He was also a citizen of the world in his ministry. He knew multiple cultures and multiple languages. He knew how to travel over land and sea. He was trained as a Jewish rabbi, yet was called to reach the non-Jews of the ancient world. He was willing to be eternally damned if it meant the salvation of his own people — the Jews (Romans 9:3). He also risked his life repeatedly to take My gospel to Gentiles (2 Corinthians 6:3-5).

Paul's power to do all of this was rooted in his relationship with Me. His prayer life kept him connected to the Father through the intercession of the Holy Spirit. Read these prayers of Paul for the Thessalonian Christians several times and be blessed!

We always thank God for all of you in our prayers. Your actions on behalf of the true faith, your tireless toil of love, and your unfailing, unwavering, unending hope in our Lord Jesus the Anointed before God our Father have put you consistently at the forefront of our thoughts.
(1 Thessalonians 1:2-3)

May God Himself, our Father, along with our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, navigate our way to you. May the Lord flood you with an unending, undying love for one another and for all humanity, like our love for you, so that your hearts will be reinforced with His strength, held blameless and holy before God, our Father, when our Lord Jesus, the Anointed, the Liberating King, appears along with all His holy ones. Amen.
(1 Thessalonians 3:11-13)

So now, may the God of peace make you His own completely and set you apart from the rest. May your spirit, soul, and body be preserved, kept intact and wholly free from any sort of blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus the Anointed. For the God Who calls you is faithful, and He can be trusted to make it so.
(1 Thessalonians 5:23-24)

Brothers and sisters, we cannot help but thank God for you, which is only appropriate because your faith is growing and expanding and because the love demonstrated by each and every one of you is overflowing for one another.
(2 Thessalonians 1:3)

All this is why we are constantly praying for you, so God will make you worthy of the great calling you have received from Him and will give you the power to accomplish every good intention and work of faith. Then the great name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified through your lives, and you will be glorified in Him according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, our Liberating King.
(2 Thessalonians 1:11-12)

Now may our Lord Jesus (the Anointed One Himself) and God our Father (Who has loved us, comforted us eternally, and given us a good hope by His grace) bring comfort to your hearts and strengthen your wills to accomplish every good work and word.
(2 Thessalonians 2:16-17)

And now, dear friends, may the Lord of peace Himself grace you with peace always and in everything. May the Lord be present with all of you.
(2 Thessalonians 3:16)
Response in Prayer

Father, forgive me. As I read these prayers of Paul, I am convicted. I am convicted of trying to do too much on my own. I am convicted of not seeking Your grace and power. I am convicted of praying too little. I am convicted of not letting others know of the good things I am praying for them. Help me, dear LORD, as I try to make prayer a more important part of my day, a greater part of my discipleship, and a bigger part of blessing others. I ask for this help and Your grace in Jesus' name. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Thu 10 Aug 2017, 10:20 pm

"Dealing with Idlers" — A Year with Jesus for 08/10/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

Some messages of truth are hard to hear. Nevertheless, a family has to have expectations of family members if it is going to function productively and impact the community around it positively. The way one "bad apple" behaves can destroy the influence of the whole family and can bring disorder and frustration to the whole family.

Today's message is a hard message. Paul and the church in Thessalonica were facing a real problem. The group of disciples in Thessalonica had some folks who were "idler busy-bodies" — folks who didn't work and went around sticking their noses into everyone else's business telling these productive folks how to live their lives. The idlers' reputations were rubbing off on the whole body of believers. The result was that the church was becoming more and more disrespected in the community. So Paul sent some instructions to the Thessalonians about how to discipline these idlers, the purpose behind this discipline, and the principles upon which the discipline was built.

Paul taught the Thessalonian Christians to discipline these "idler busy-bodies" by warning those who were lazy and who were depending on the church to take care of them. If they didn't change their lazy ways, the church family was to "withdraw" from active fellowship and support of the idlers. There should be no more help for folks too lazy to work.

Paul reminded the Thessalonian disciples of the purpose of this discipline. The goal was to restore these brothers and sisters to fruitful lives of service. This discipline was to be done with an attitude of helping a family member, not treating this idler as an enemy.

Paul also helped the Thessalonian believers recall his own teaching and example when he was with them. He had purposefully worked hard when he was among them to set an example so they could see what it looked like to work hard and not depend on others for support.

For Paul, the church family needed to have a reputation in the community as good, decent, hard-working folks: people who "never grow tired of doing good"!

Verses to Live

I know that you sometimes struggle with what to do when people do not seem "to get it" — that is, when they do not realize that they are not going to change their circumstances until they change their behaviors. This complacency is especially true of folks who can work but learn to grow dependent upon support from the church family and become lazy in their own lives. I hope you will read carefully as you see Paul lay down some great principles for you to follow as you try to deal with these kinds of situations.

Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.

See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people.
(1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 NLT)

For the sake of the church, brothers and sisters, we insist in the name of our Lord Jesus the Anointed that you withdraw from any brother or sister who is out of order and unwilling to work, who is straying from the line of teaching we passed on to all of you. You know how essential it is to imitate us in the way we live life. We were never undisciplined nor did we take charity from anyone while we were with you. Instead, you saw how we worked very hard day and night so we wouldn't be a burden to even one person in the community. We had the right to depend on your help and hospitality, as you know; but we wanted to give you a model you could follow, to lay a path of footprints for you to walk in. This is exactly why, while with you, we commanded you: "Anyone not willing to work shouldn't get to eat!" You see, we are hearing that some folks in the community are out of step with our teaching; they are idle, not working, but really busy doing nothing — and yet still expect to be fed! If this is you or someone else in the community, we insist and urge you in the Lord Jesus the Anointed that you go to work quietly, earn your keep, put food on your own table, and supply your own necessities. And to the rest of you, brothers and sisters, never grow tired of doing good.

If someone disregards the instructions of this letter, make a note of who it is and don't have anything to do with that person so that this one may be shamed. Don't consider someone like this an enemy (he is an enemy only to himself) but warn him as if you were redirecting your own brother.
(2 Thessalonians 3:6-15)
Response in Prayer

Righteous Father, I want to be a compassionate person who helps those in need and yet does not enable those who are lazy. Please give me wisdom and grace to deal with these kinds of situations that I find in my world. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Mon 07 Aug 2017, 7:33 pm

"We Are Family!" — A Year with Jesus for 08/06/2017
Note from Jesus
Dear Brothers and Sisters, 

While there are many things you can learn from Paul's message to the Thessalonians, today I want you to notice the warm language of affection and family that you find in the verses below. Paul states the truth of his love for these new disciples with these words of affection:

We were so taken by you that we not only eagerly shared with you God's good news, but we also shared with you our own lives. That's how much you've come to mean to us.
All the way through the verses below, Paul uses the language of family and affection because these new disciples not only needed affirmation (yesterday's focus), but they also needed to know, feel, and experience the beauty of relationships in My family. 

In addition, they needed to be reassured that Paul's motives were genuine. They had to know that Paul's motives were based on his love for them and not a desire to get something from them. So Paul went to great pains to remind them that they were loved as the Father's children. He reminded them that he cared for them as a father would. 

As their spiritual father in the faith, they meant everything to him. He stressed that he did what he did out of his love for them and not ulterior motives. Paul's explanation of his motives was not a discussion of theory. He had demonstrated these things when he was among them. Notice Paul's key phrases like "Don't you remember...?" and "As you know..." which pointed to his way of life when he was with them. 

The family relationship between Paul and the Thessalonian Christians existed because they had all been adopted into the Father's family (Ephesians 1:4-5). When I was with My disciples on earth, I taught them to pray "Our Father..." (Matthew 6:9). I want you to pray this same way. God is your "Abba" Father (Romans 8:15). 

You have been adopted into My family. I AM not only your Savior and Lord, but I AM also your older brother. I want you to experience the warmth, acceptance, and love that come from being in our Father's family. Paul wanted the Thessalonians to experience this warmth, acceptance, and love, too. So notice his words of relationship and make them true in your fellowship with other believers. We are family!
Verses to Live

One of the fundamental ways you can experience My presence among you is through your life as My family. When you gather together to live as My family, I AM present with you (Matthew 18:20). Please notice the rich language of love, affection, and family in Paul's words!

Brothers and sisters, you yourselves know that our coming to you was not a waste of time. You remember how we had just suffered through brutal and insulting attacks in Philippi; but because of God, we boldly stepped into the open to tell you His good news, even though it would likely mean more conflict for us. For we haven't approached you — or anyone else for that matter — with some error or impure motives or deceitful agenda; but as we have been approved by God and entrusted with the good news, that's how we are telling the world. We aren't trying to please everybody, but God, the only One Who can truly examine our motives. As you know, we didn't sandwich the truth between cunning compliments — we told it straight — and before the eye of God, we never conspired to make a single cent off of you. We didn't come seeking respect from people — not from you or anyone else — although we could have leveraged our position as emissaries of the Anointed One, the Liberating King. Instead, we proved to be gentle among you, like a nursing mother caring for her own children. We were so taken by you that we not only eagerly shared with you God's good news, but we also shared with you our own lives. That's how much you've come to mean to us. 

Don't you remember, my brothers and sisters, how hard we worked and struggled? We worked day and night so that we wouldn't be a burden to any of you and so that we could continue to proclaim to you the good news of God. Both you and God can confirm how well we treated the believers: we were always holy, just, and blameless. As you know, we comforted and consoled each of you as a father soothes his own children, encouraging you to live lives worthy of God — of the One calling you into His own kingdom and into His glory. 

So we have good reason to give thanks to God without pausing. For you have taken into yourselves the word of God we brought to you and received it as a message from God — not just something whipped up by someone like you or us — and that word is at work in you who believe. And, brothers and sisters, you even became imitators of the churches of God in Jesus the Anointed that gather in Judea because you were willing to suffer at the hands of your own countrymen as they suffered from the unbelieving Judeans. These are the same people who killed the Lord Jesus, as well as the prophets, and continued attacking until they drove all of us out. They don't just offend God; they are clearly hostile to the rest of the people because they are trying to silence our life-saving message to the nations; and as a result, their sins are always filling up and overflowing. But in the end, they will face God's wrath. 

Brothers and sisters, we are like orphans, separated from you for a short time (in presence, yes, but not in heart); and we desperately desire to see your faces again. However, as much as we wanted to come to you — I, Paul, assure you we tried again and again — Satan thwarted our plans. For what is our true hope, our true joy, our victor's crown in all this? It is nothing if it isn't you standing before our Lord Jesus the Anointed at His arrival. You are our glory! You are our joy! 

But after all our attempts to come to you were frustrated, we decided it was best for Silvanus and me to stay behind in Athens by ourselves and to send Timothy (our dear brother and servant of God, our partner in the good news of the Anointed One) to strengthen, comfort, and encourage you in your faith so that you won't be shaken by the sufferings and wither under this stress that we know lies ahead. Certainly you remember that when we were with you, we warned you of the suffering we would have to endure; now, as you well know, it has happened. This is why I couldn't stand it anymore and sent Timothy to report on the state of your faith: because I was worried the tempter had tested you and, if so, all of our hard work would have come to nothing. 

You can imagine my relief and joy when Timothy returned to us with such good news about you, about your faith and love for us, about how you have such good memories of us and long to see us as much as we long to see you. Hearing this about your faith, brothers and sisters, brought comfort to us in our stress-filled days of trouble and suffering. For if you are set firmly in the Lord, then we can truly live. What thanks would ever be enough to offer God about you for all the jubilant celebration we'll feel before our God because of you. We remain vigilant in our prayers, night and day praying to once again see your faces and to help complete whatever may be lacking in your faith. 
(1 Thessalonians 2:1-20; 1 Thessalonians 3:1-10)
Response in Prayer

O Father of mercy and grace, thank You. Thank You for giving me a spiritual family. Forgive me for the times that I have neglected my relationship with You as My Father and neglected my relationships with my brothers and sisters in Your family. Please bring me into spiritual relationships that are rich in warmth, acceptance, and love. Use me to bless others who need those kinds of relationships with believers. I pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.

"Living with Character & Compassion" — A Year with Jesus for 08/07/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

In his first letter to the Thessalonian Christians, Paul wrapped his teaching on My coming back in glory — which we will consider tomorrow — with two sections on living with righteous character and gracious compassion. In his two letters to the Thessalonians, he included instructions on sexual purity, self-control, and proper use of passion and behavior in his discussion of righteous character. As part of his discussion of gracious compassion, he included teachings concerning love for each other, responsible living, properly helping those in need, and respect for others. Notice especially these two statements from Paul, the first at the beginning of the first set of verses below and the second at the end of the second set. They frame the apostle's teaching on living with character and compassion very well:

[L]ive a life that is pleasing to God as you are already doing. Yes, we urge you to keep living and thriving in that life! 

Take a close look at everything, test it, then cling to what is good. Put away every form of evil.
The first set of verses below talks about general morality — about how to live in a corrupt world. Paul's teaching in these verses about morality involves two elements: righteousness and loving kindness. To reflect the Father's character, you need both of these. Throughout the Scriptures, these areas of emphasis have always been present. They are demonstrated as you love God and love your neighbor. They become real in your life as you live with righteous character and practice gracious compassion. This conduct means you seek to live a holy life full of mercy, grace, and love. 

Religious leaders can sometimes emphasize only one of these areas of importance, instead of both of them. They sometimes emphasize loving kindness more than character. Other times they emphasize moral righteousness more than mercy and compassion. 

Remember the nature of your Father in heaven. He perfectly displays both righteous character and gracious compassion. Out-of-balance graciousness or lopsided moral righteousness does not reflect His complete holy nature. Go back and look at how I lived My life when I walked among you. I displayed both righteous character and gracious compassion. Both moral living and loving kindness are necessary. Notice this same balance of emphasis that Paul gave to the Thessalonians as they sought to live My life in a very hostile culture. I want this balance to be seen in you as well. 

The second set of verses emphasizes these principles more from the perspective of life in the church family. How would the Thessalonians apply these two principles — righteous character and gracious compassion — inside their Christian family? Notice how these standards are not just for application by individuals. They were family standards that the Thessalonians were encouraged to embrace to help each other live their daily lives:
Make sure no one returns evil for evil, but always pursue what is good as it affects one another in the church but also all people.
This sense of mutual responsibility for a family ethic was crucial for them in their day and is certainly also important in your day when people tend to individualize their faith. I gave you Christian family, spiritual community, to help each other live your lives of faith together.
Verses to Live

As you read these two sets of verses, please remember the two points I want you to know and live. 

First, you are called to reflect the Father's righteous character and gracious compassion in your life. I am not looking for "either/or" between these two areas of the Father's character, but "both/and" as you live these character qualities. 

Second, I gave you a spiritual family of brothers and sisters to help you live out the Father's character and for you to help. Compassion and character are to be your Christian family ethic. 

You are not going to be able to live this life alone. Also, others will need your encouragement to stay true to the Father's call. So help each other reflect the nature of your heavenly Father!

So finally, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus, we ask you, we beg you to remember what we have taught you: live a life that is pleasing to God as you are already doing. Yes, we urge you to keep living and thriving in that life! For you know the instructions we gave you, instructions that came through the Lord Jesus. Now this is God's will for you: set yourselves apart and live holy lives; avoid polluting yourselves with sexual defilement. Learn how to take charge over your own body, maintaining purity and honor. Don't let the swells of lustful passion run your life as they do the outsiders who don't know God. Don't violate or take advantage of a fellow believer in such matters. As we told you before and warned you: the Lord will settle the score with anyone who does these things. Here's why: God does not call us to live impure, adulterous, scandalous lives, but to seek holiness and purity. If you ignore this message, then you're not only rejecting us but you're rejecting God, the One Who has given His Holy Spirit to live in you. 

Now there's no need for us to send you instructions on caring for your faith family because God Himself has already taught you how to love outside yourselves. And it's evident you learned that lesson well by the way you love all the people of Macedonia. Brothers and sisters, we urge you to love even more and make it your goal to lead a peaceful life, mind your own business, and keep your hands busy in your work, as we have instructed you. That way you will live peacefully with those on the outside, and all your needs will be met without depending on others. 
(1 Thessalonians 4:1-12) 

Brothers and sisters, we ask you to show appreciation to those who are working hard among you and those who are your leaders as they guide and instruct you in the Lord — they are priceless. When you think about them, let it be with great love in your heart because of all the work they have done. Let peace live and reign among you. 

Brothers and sisters, we strongly advise you to scold the rebels who devote their lives to wreaking havoc, to encourage the downcast, to help the sick and weak, and to be patient with all of them. Make sure no one returns evil for evil, but always pursue what is good as it affects one another in the church but also all people. Celebrate always, pray constantly, and give thanks to God no matter what circumstances you find yourself in. (This is God's will for all of you in Jesus the Anointed.) Don't suppress the Spirit. Don't downplay prophecies. Take a close look at everything, test it, then cling to what is good. Put away every form of evil. 
(1 Thessalonians 5:12-22)
Response in Prayer

Almighty LORD, Father in heaven, I want my life to show the balance and reflect the character and compassion of Your Son and my Savior Jesus. With the help of the Holy Spirit, I want to be a person of righteous character and gracious compassion. I want to be a living example of Your holiness and grace and also Your righteousness and loving kindness. Help me see my flaws. Humble me gently as I seek to be conformed to Your will. Bring into my life people who will encourage and gently correct me, and lead me to bless others in the same way. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thinks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Fri 04 Aug 2017, 10:38 pm

"Assurance in Weakness" — A Year with Jesus for 08/04/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend, 

By his own admission, Paul came to Corinth with very little personal confidence. He wrote:

I came to you in weakness — timid and trembling. 
(1 Corinthians 2:3 NLT)
In the verses below from Acts, Luke shared that Paul's work in Corinth began with difficulty, especially among his fellow Jews who "stopped listening and began insulting him." 

However, Paul's ministry and leadership were vital to the success of the early church and its mission, especially to the Gentiles. Despite the opposition he faced in Macedonia and "the great turmoil" he endured in Athens, I planned to use him to make a huge difference in Corinth. So I gave him these words of encouragement in a vision:
"Do not be afraid, Paul. Speak! Don't be silent! I am with you, and no one will lay a finger on you to harm you. I have many in this city who are already My people."
My words of encouragement helped Paul regain his confidence. He remained in Corinth for a longer time than he had originally planned. He increased his spiritual investment in the people of this strategic city. He blessed these precious new believers. With his follow-up letters and visits, Paul helped these Christians deal with difficult problems. He challenged them to live for Me with spiritual passion in a city known for its immorality and depravity. Despite the early problems the church in Corinth faced, it soon became an example of cross-centered grace that comes to life in My followers. 

So where are you in your faith and commitment?
Are you discouraged?
Are you frustrated?
Are you facing opposition from a hostile culture?
Are you dealing with problems in a congregation with many new believers?
Are you needing to know that your efforts at reaching the lost and at growing new disciples are not in vain?
Ask Me to help you! 

Ask Me to help you find assurance. Ask Me to help you find clarity. Ask Me to help you live out My will in your community and through your personal mission. Speak to Me openly about your concerns. Admit your lack of confidence and ask to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. Admit your fears and misgivings. Paul admitted his failings to Me and revealed many of them to others through his letters. Admission of failure is not an admission of defeat or faithlessness, but of recognition. It is the recognition of the enormity of the task, the difficulty of the challenges, the greatness of the opportunity, and your insufficiency in being able to live out My mission for you on your own! 

Paul would later talk about the source of his power in the face of his own insufficiency. His words are not only beautiful in imagery and meaning, but also powerfully true:
For God, Who said, "Let there be light in the darkness," has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. 

We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. 
(2 Corinthians 4:6-7 NLT)
Verses to Live

I long to give assurance to those who seek to follow me. Moses needed reassurance that the Father would go with him into the wilderness to lead Israel, and the Father gave it to him (Exodus 33:12-23). The Father gave assurance to Joshua when he was called to lead the people of Israel after Moses' death (Joshua 1:6-18). The essence of the promises to both Moses and Joshua was reiterated for you by the writer of the book of Hebrews (Hebrews 13:5-6). The Father gave Me assurance after My baptism and before I faced My temptation (Luke 3:21-22). As you read these verses below, remember that I gave reassurance to Paul. Yes, I long to give assurance to you, too! So, ask for it! Seek My will. Knock on the door of grace and find it opened to you (Matthew 7:7-11).

From Athens, Paul traveled to Corinth alone. He found a Jewish man there named Aquila, originally from Pontus. Aquila and his wife Priscilla had recently come to Corinth from Italy because Claudius had banished all Jews from Rome. Paul visited them in their home and discovered they shared the same trade of tent making. He then became their long-term guest and joined them in their tentmaking business. Each Sabbath he would engage both Jews and Greeks in debate in the synagogue in an attempt to persuade them of his message. 

Eventually Silas and Timothy left Macedonia and joined him in Corinth. They found him fully occupied by proclaiming the message, testifying to the Jewish people that Jesus was God's Anointed, the Liberating King. Eventually, though, some of them stopped listening and began insulting him. He shook the dust off his garments in protest. 

Paul:
OK. I've done all I can for you. You are responsible for your own destiny before God. From now on, I will bring the good news to the outsiders!
He walked out of the synagogue and went next door to the home of an outsider, Titius Justus, who worshiped God. Paul formed a gathering of believers there that included Crispus (the synagogue leader) and his whole household and many other Corinthians who heard Paul, believed, and were... washed through baptism. One night Paul had a vision in which he heard the Lord's voice. 

The Lord:
Do not be afraid, Paul. Speak! Don't be silent! I am with you, and no one will lay a finger on you to harm you. I have many in this city who are already My people.
After such turmoil in previous cities, these words encouraged Paul to extend his stay in Corinth, teaching the message of God among them for a year and six months. 
(Acts 18:1-11)
Response in Prayer

O Almighty Father, I am not sufficient to fulfill my mission. I am weak. I sometimes stumble and sin. I am an unworthy vessel for the grace You have asked me to share with others. However, through the power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus gave me as a gift when I was saved, I trust that Your power will be displayed perfectly in my weakness. I trust that Your Word will be received as life-giving despite my frailties. I trust that Your grace will be found sufficient in my insufficiency. I trust, O LORD, that you will give me both the strength and the assurance I need to serve You and bring others to know You. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.

Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Thu 03 Aug 2017, 9:01 pm

"Great Sermon, But..." — A Year with Jesus for 08/03/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend, 

The text in the Verses to Live section comes from two different places. I want you to read them together to help you understand two very important principles as explained toward the end of this section. 

The first set of verses details Paul's message before the philosophers of Athens at Mars Hill and the Areopagus, where the Areopagite Council met. Paul's message is powerful and well known to many people. In fact, this sermon is used as an example of good cross-cultural communication. This message takes statements and ideas people know from their own culture and connects them to the truth of My story. Paul quotes some of the Athenians' own poets to get his points across. His line of reasoning is great. In fact, he was well received until he talked about the resurrection. However, then "some shook their heads and scoffed." 

The second set of verses describes Paul's emotional state after leaving Athens and how it impacted his sharing the gospel. He came to Corinth from Athens "in weakness — timid and trembling"! 

As you put these two readings together, you will notice something very important that was missing in Paul's words of wisdom that he presented in Athens. He did not have his usual emphasis on my crucifixion and what the cross means. Paul knew that preaching about My crucifixion was a problem in proper society. To use the word "crucify" or to refer to a "crucifixion" was considered base and inappropriate discussion. 

In Athens, Paul used the Athenians' approach to wisdom and didn't include the teaching of the cross and what My death actually meant. When Paul later wrote to the Corinthian Christians, notice how he reflected upon this approach as he came to Corinth "in weakness":

So now, where is the philosopher? Where is the scholar? Where is the skilled debater, the best of your time? Step up, if you dare. Hasn't God made fools out of those who count on the wisdom of this rebellious, broken world? For in God's deep wisdom, He made it so that the world could not even begin to comprehend Him through its own style of wisdom; in fact, God took immense pleasure in rescuing people of faith through the foolishness of the message we preach. It seems the Jews are always asking for signs and the Greeks are always on the prowl for wisdom. But we tell a different story. We proclaim a crucified Jesus, God's Anointed. For Jews this is scandalous, for outsiders this is moronic, but for those of us living out God’s call — regardless of our Jewish or Greek heritage — we know the Anointed embodies God's dynamic power and God's deep wisdom. You can count on this: God's foolishness will always be wiser than mere human wisdom, and God's weakness will always be stronger than mere human strength. 
(1 Corinthians 1:20-25)
As brilliant and beautiful as Paul's sermon at Mars Hill in Athens may have been, Paul was not well received and came to Corinth determined to preach the message of My cross and God's love revealed in My crucifixion. As he said later to the Corinthians:
I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 
(1 Corinthians 2:2 NIV)
There is special power in this message because it does NOT depend on human wisdom, but is used by the Holy Spirit to reach people's hearts. 

Please understand two things I want you to see in these verses: 

First, I do want you to understand the best way to communicate truth with the cultures you are trying to reach. When I came to earth, I came as the fulfillment of God's promises to Abraham, David, and the prophets. So I came as a true Israelite. I lived as a Jew, worshiped as a Jew, and focused My message on speaking to Jewish people of that time. I demonstrated that true ministry is incarnational — it comes and lives in a culture as part of that culture to redeem that culture while being appreciative of that culture. However, truth will always run into places of conflict in every culture. This happened to Me, and John put it well:
He [Jesus] entered our world, a world He made; yet the world did not recognize Him. Even though He came to His own people, they refused to listen and receive Him. But for all who did receive and trust in Him, He gave them the right to be reborn as children of God; He bestowed this birthright not by human power or initiative but by God’s will. 
(John 1:10-13)
Second, don't leave out any key part of the core gospel message.* Yes, the cross is scandalous. It always has been. To proclaim a crucified Messiah and Lord seems crazy at a certain human level of wisdom. But there is great power in the message of My crucifixion. The power of that message does not derive its strength from human wisdom, but from the Spirit's appeal to the human heart. 

So yes, you are right to think of Paul's sermon in Athens as a great sermon. Yes, it is even a good example of cross-cultural communication. But remember, no matter how great the speech, how wise the wisdom, or how eloquent the speaker, when she or he leaves out the message of My cross and resurrection, something vital is lacking in the message! 

* Paul defines this core gospel well in 1 Corinthians 15. Here are a few verses from that chapter:
I passed on to you what was most important and what had also been passed on to me. Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said. He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. He was seen by Peter and then by the Twelve. After that, he was seen by more than 500 of his followers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. Then he was seen by James and later by all the apostles. Last of all, as though I had been born at the wrong time, I also saw him. 
(1 Corinthians 15:3-8 NLT)
Verses to Live

Please read through these two sections of verses several times. Compare what Paul did in Athens and what he determined to do when he came to Corinth from Athens. Both are important messages!

So Paul found himself alone for some time in Athens. He would walk through the city, feeling deeply frustrated about the abundance of idols there. As in the previous cities, he went to the synagogue. Once again, he engaged in debate about Jesus with both ethnic Jews and devout Greek-born converts to Judaism. He would even wander around in the marketplace, speaking with anyone he happened to meet. Eventually he got into a debate with some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers. Some were dismissive from the start. 

Philosophers:
What's this fast-talker trying to pitch?
Others:
He seems to be advocating the gods of distant lands.
They said this because of what Paul had been preaching about Jesus and the resurrection. 

This stirred their curiosity, because the favorite pastime of Athenians (including foreigners who had settled there) was conversation about new and unusual ideas. So they brought him to the rock outcropping known as the Areopagus, where Athens' intellectuals regularly gathered for debate, and they invited him to speak. 

Athenians:
May we understand this new teaching of yours? It is intriguingly unusual. We would love to know its meaning.
Paul:
Athenians, as I have walked your streets, I have observed your strong and diverse religious ethos. You truly are a religious people. I have stopped again and again to examine carefully the religious statues and inscriptions that fill your city. On one such altar, I read this inscription: "TO AN UNKNOWN GOD." I am not here to tell you about a strange foreign deity, but about this One Whom you already worship, though without full knowledge. This is the God Who made the universe and all it contains, the God Who is the King of all heaven and all earth. It would be illogical to assume that a God of this magnitude could possibly be contained in any man-made structure, no matter how majestic. Nor would it be logical to think that this God would need human beings to provide Him with food and shelter — after all, He Himself would have given to humans everything they need — life, breath, food, shelter, and so on. 

This God made us in all our diversity from one original person, allowing each culture to have its own time to develop, giving each its own place to live and thrive in its distinct ways. His purpose in all this was that people of every culture and religion would search for this ultimate God, grope for Him in the darkness, as it were, hoping to find Him. Yet, in truth, God is not far from any of us. For you know the saying, "We live in God; we move in God; we exist in God." And still another said, "We are indeed God's children." Since this is true, since we are indeed offspring of God's creative act, we shouldn't think of the Deity as our own artifact, something made by our own hands — as if this great, universal, ultimate Creator were simply a combination of elements like gold, silver, and stone. No, God has patiently tolerated this kind of ignorance in the past, but now God says it is time to rethink our lives and reject these unenlightened assumptions. He has fixed a day of accountability, when the whole world will be justly evaluated by a new, higher standard: not by a statue, but by a living man. God selected this man and made Him credible to all by raising Him from the dead.
When they heard that last phrase about resurrection from the dead, some shook their heads and scoffed, but others were even more curious. 

Others:
We would like you to come and speak to us again.
Paul left at that point, but some people followed him and came to faith, including one from Areopagus named Dionysius, a prominent woman named Damaris, and others. 
(Acts 17:16-34) 

When I [Paul] first came to you [in Corinth from Athens], dear brothers and sisters, I didn't use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God's secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the One Who was crucified. I came to you in weakness — timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God. 
(1 Corinthians 2:1-5 NLT)
Response in Prayer

O Father God, please give me the courage to proclaim all of Your truth. I want to be sensitive to the people with whom I am seeking to share the message of Jesus. I want them to understand Your truth in language that is familiar to them. I want to share ideas that connect to what they know to help them understand Your truth. At the same time, dear Father, I don't want the power of the message I share to be dependent upon me. Bless and empower all who are seeking to share Jesus with the lost world. Bless those who hear Your message so that their minds and hearts are open to accepting Your saving grace offered through Jesus. I ask this in Jesus' precious name. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Wed 02 Aug 2017, 10:56 pm

"In the Center of My Will" — A Year with Jesus for 08/02/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Follower of the Way, 

The growth of My Kingdom will not necessarily be an easy undertaking. Spreading the good news of the Father's grace is often met with opposition. However, do not see that opposition as an indication that you have done something wrong. After preventing Paul's team from continuing to their intended destinations in Asia Minor, I sent Paul a vision of a man inviting his mission team and him to come over into Europe and help the people of Macedonia come to faith (Acts 16:6-10). 

I sent him this vision to show him it was My will that he and his team should go into Macedonia. From there they continued on to Achaia and Greece. They would need a sense of certainty because they faced challenges, hardship, opposition, physical abuse, ridicule, and jail when obeying this call. Nevertheless, they were doing what I wanted, where I wanted them to do it, and how I wanted them to do it. They were in the center of My will, yet many things about this missionary journey were hard for them. 

However, in the middle of these difficulties, great churches were planted, and incredible people were brought into My family. Important people among the Gentiles, especially among the women, became disciples. Paul grew incredibly close to the churches of Thessalonica and Philippi. He invested a lot of time in the Corinthians and a lot of prayer for them. Despite their early problems, these disciples became strong churches and congregations close to the apostle's heart. 

The point I want to make is this: don't try to determine if something is My will simply by seeing if it is immediately "successful" or if it is easy! Often, time must pass before you can see your efforts bear fruit. Satan will frequently viciously test you in the initial stages of your ministry to try to get you to give up. 

When I call you into a ministry or mission opportunity, don't give up on it until I call you to do something else. Prayerfully ask the Spirit to help you discern the truth about what is happening. Be faithful to your mission. Leave the success of the mission to Me. Sometimes these tough times are necessary to reach those I've called you to reach. Sometimes the times are tough to prepare you for future efforts that need even greater endurance and perseverance. While endurance and perseverance aren't always appreciated in your instant-everything society, these qualities are necessary if you are to truly develop the character and compassion of your Father. Being in the center of My will sometimes means hardships. Remember what I told my disciples on the eve of my death:

"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first." 
(John 15:18 NIV)
Verses to Live

Notice that Paul had a strategic plan that he used to reach the cities of Macedonia. While he faced stiff opposition, he also influenced key people to follow Me. These were people who would later be important in the life of My church and for their Christian influence on their communities. The events recorded here occurred after Paul and Silas left Asia Minor and went to Macedonia in response to My call through Paul's vision.

After leaving Philippi and passing through Amphipolis and Apollonia, Paul and Silas came to Thessalonica. There was a Jewish synagogue there. As he had done in other cities, Paul attended the synagogue and presented arguments, based on the Hebrew Scriptures, that the Anointed had to suffer and rise from the dead. 

Paul:
Who is this suffering and rising Anointed One I am proclaiming to you? He is Jesus.
He came back the next two Sabbaths — repeating the same pattern. Some of the ethnically Jewish people from the synagogue were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas. Even more devout Greeks who had affiliated with Judaism came to believe — along with quite a few of the city's leading women. 

Seeing this movement growing, the unconvinced Jewish people became protective and angry. They found some ruffians hanging out in the marketplaces and convinced them to help start a riot. Soon a mob formed, and the whole city was seething with tension. The mob was going street by street, looking for Paul and Silas — who were nowhere to be found. Frustrated, when the mob came to the house of a man named Jason, now known as a believer, they grabbed him and some other believers they found there and dragged them to the city officials. 

Mob:
These people — they're political agitators turning the world upside down! They've come here to our fine city, and this man, Jason, has given them sanctuary and made his house a base for their operations. We want to expose their real intent; they are trying to overturn Caesar's sensible decrees. They're saying that Jesus is king, not Caesar!
Of course, this disturbed the crowd at large and the city officials especially, so they demanded bail from Jason and the others before releasing them. 

The believers waited until dark and then sent Paul and Silas off to Berea. When they arrived, they went to the synagogue. 

The Jewish people here were more receptive than they had been in Thessalonica. They warmly and enthusiastically welcomed the message and then, day by day, would check for themselves to see if what they heard from Paul and Silas was truly in harmony with the Hebrew Scriptures. Many of them were convinced, and the new believers included — as in Thessalonica — quite a few of the city's leading Greek women and important men also. Reports got back to Thessalonica that Paul and Silas were now spreading God's message in Berea; the Jewish people who had incited the riot in Thessalonica quickly came to Berea to do the same once again. The believers sent Paul away. A small group escorted him, first to the coast, and then all the way to Athens. Silas and Timothy, however, remained in Berea. Later they received instructions from Paul to join him in Athens as soon as possible. 
(Acts 17:1-15)
Response in Prayer

O Father in heaven, forgive me for the times I've given up too easily. I want to be a person of endurance and perseverance so that Your character and compassion are brought forth in my life. Give me courage, dear LORD, to not give up when things are tough. I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Tue 01 Aug 2017, 2:33 pm

"Imprisoned to Redeem" — A Year with Jesus for 08/01/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

Grace can have a strong touch of redemptive irony! As you read in the verses below about Paul and Silas being thrown into jail, notice some of these touches of irony:

By divine intervention, the prisoners' chains are unlocked, and their cell doors opened but they remain in their cells, and when the jailer discovers what had happened, he brings them out of their cells and even takes them home with him rather than locking them back up.
The jailer washes the wounds inflicted by those he supervised in the jail.
The prisoners tell the jailer and his family My story of grace, baptize them, and free them from being bound to sin and death.
The prisoners eat at the jailer's table rejoicing with a family that was saved after the jailer did not lock the prisoners back up.
All of this begins with Paul liberating a young woman who was being manipulated and exploited for money because of her "occult spirit."
The story ends with those in charge begging not to be humiliated for the griev! ous error of beating Roman citizens without a trial.
And as a small sub-plot, Paul and Silas go free because they are both Roman citizens. However, if Paul were still partnered with Barnabas, Barnabas would have gone back to jail because he was not a Roman citizen.
Many things that happen behind the scenes of history empower the spread of the good news. You will never know many of these things. Little subtle connections between people and events that lead to the spread of the good news may appear to be random "coincidences" from your side of history. They are, however, better called "God-incidences." I'm talking about Our — Father, Son, and Spirit's — purposeful acts of providence that help bring redemption to those in need of grace. 

You are not alone in your work for the Kingdom. Even when things appear to be disastrous messes, please know that Paul's declaration remains true:
We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan. 
(Romans 8:28)
As you've seen time and again, when the good news message about Me is shared, and people truly believe and are baptized, great things happen. Not one of these things happens by accident. Remember My promise made early in My ministry:
Just ask and it will be given to you; seek after it and you will find. Continue to knock and the door will be opened for you. All who ask receive. Those who seek, find what they seek. And he who knocks will have the door opened. 
(Matthew 7:7-8)
Verses to Live

Read carefully the following verses that tell of the continuing work conducted by Paul, Silas, and Timothy. Notice how We — Father, Son, and Spirit — are involved in redeeming each situation and bringing grace. It was true when the events you read about happened, and it is true today.

One day [in Philippi], as we [Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke] were going to the place set aside for prayer, we encountered a slave girl. She made a lot of money for her owners as a fortune-teller, assisted by some sort of occult spirit. She began following us. 

Slave Girl (shouting):
These men are slaves like me, but slaves of the Most High God! They will proclaim to you the way of liberation!
The next day as we passed by, she did the same thing — and again on the following days. One day Paul was really annoyed, so he turned and spoke to the spirit that was enslaving her. 

Paul:
I order you in the name of Jesus, God's Anointed: Come out of her!
It came right out. But when her owners realized she would be worthless now as a fortune-teller, they grabbed Paul and Silas, dragged them into the open market area, and presented them to the authorities. 

Slave Owners:
These men are troublemakers, disturbing the peace of our great city. They are from some Jewish sect, and they promote foreign customs that violate our Roman standards of conduct.
The crowd joined in with insults and insinuations, prompting the city officials to strip them naked in the public square so they could be beaten with rods. They were flogged mercilessly and then were thrown into a prison cell. The jailer was ordered to keep them under the strictest supervision. The jailer complied, first restraining them in ankle chains, then locking them in the most secure cell in the center of the jail. 

Picture this: It's midnight. In the darkness of their cell, Paul and Silas — after surviving the severe beating — aren't moaning and groaning; they're praying and singing hymns to God. The prisoners in adjoining cells are wide awake, listening to them pray and sing. 

Suddenly the ground begins to shake, and the prison foundations begin to crack. You can hear the sound of jangling chains and the squeak of cell doors opening. Every prisoner realizes that his chains have come unfastened. The jailer wakes up and runs into the jail. His heart sinks as he sees the doors have all swung open. He is sure his prisoners have escaped, and he knows this will mean death for him, so he pulls out his sword to commit suicide. At that moment, Paul sees what is happening and shouts out at the top of his lungs, 

Paul:
Wait, man! Don't harm yourself! We're all here! None of us has escaped.
The jailer sends his assistants to get some torches and rushes into the cell of Paul and Silas. He falls on his knees before them, trembling. Then he brings them outside. 

Jailer:
Gentlemen, please tell me, what must I do to be liberated?
Paul and Silas:
Just believe — believe in the ultimate King, Jesus, and not only will you be rescued, but your whole household will as well.
The jailer brings them to his home, and they have a long conversation with the man and his family. Paul and Silas explain the message of Jesus to them all. The man washes their wounds and feeds them, then they baptize the man and his family. The night ends with Paul and Silas in the jailer's home, sharing a meal together, the whole family rejoicing that they have come to faith in God. 

At dawn the city officials send the police to the jailer's home with a command: "Let those men go free." 

Jailer:
The city officials have ordered me to release you, so you may go now in peace.
Paul (loud enough that the police can hear):
Just a minute. This is unjust. We've been stripped naked, beaten in public, and thrown into jail, all without a trial of any kind. Now they want to release us secretly as if nothing happened? No way: we're Roman citizens—we shouldn't be treated like this! If the city officials want to release us, then they can come and tell us to our faces.
The police report back to the city officials; and when they come to the part about Paul and Silas being Roman citizens, the officials turn pale with fear. They rush to the jail in person and apologize. They personally escort Paul and Silas from their cell and politely ask them to leave the city. Paul and Silas oblige — after stopping at Lydia's home to gather with the brothers and sisters there and give them parting words of encouragement. 
(Acts 16:16-40)
Response in Prayer

Lord God Almighty, You are the Father of grace Who sent Your Son Jesus to be my Savior, Redeemer, and Friend. Thank you. Help me trust that You are at work in our world. I trust that You are bringing grace and redeeming difficult circumstances for the salvation of the lost. I believe You are using the messes that the evil one throws at me to Your greater good. Give me courage, boldness, and confidence to live for Jesus and to share Your grace by the power of Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sun 30 Jul 2017, 9:56 pm

"Courage, Investment, & Call!" — A Year with Jesus for 07/30/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

I AM deeply moved when people show their undivided loyalty to Me and are willing to invest everything they have in My cause. Remember what I told My disciples when I was with them on earth:

"If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it." 
(Mark 8:34-35 NLT)
Lois, Eunice, and Timothy showed this loyalty when Paul asked Timothy to come join him and Silas on the second missionary journey. On Paul's first visit to their hometown of Lystra, Paul was rejected and stoned by an angry crowd. When everyone left because they thought Paul was dead, he got up and went back to town with other believers from Lystra. He then left town continuing on his first missionary journey (Acts 14:19-20). So when Paul asked Timothy to join him on the second journey, Timothy's family knew the very real dangers he would face. Regardless, they let him go with Paul anyway. I admire the courage and faithfulness of Timothy's family and Timothy! 

Paul had learned from Barnabas and from his training as a rabbi the importance of mentoring younger disciples who would ultimately step into the role of disciple-makers themselves. Silas would be in this role of being mentored by Paul on the second missionary journey. But no one demonstrated the importance of making disciples for future generations quite like Paul did with Timothy (2 Timothy 2:1-2). 

You will notice in the four sets of verses in your readings today that the second, third, and fourth readings emphasize how Timothy was being mentored by Paul. Timothy became the living witness of Paul's teaching and life, and in turn, of My teaching and life! If you wanted to imitate Paul's life and faith, all you had to do was look at Timothy, who lived it. Timothy was not only a trustworthy example of Paul but also of Me. As Paul says with admiration:
You know Timothy is genuine in the Lord's ways. He has been a faithful partner to me as we express the good news, as much as my own flesh and blood would have been.
Paul would spend a significant part of his life training Timothy to take over his role as a disciple-maker and teacher for future generations. 

Paul invested in younger disciples like Timothy, Silas, and Titus. Until Paul's dying breath, he was pouring himself into Timothy and others like him. He was determined not only to leave a legacy of faith but also to leave a set of living and breathing witnesses and disciple-makers to provide a future for My church. 

You have people whom you influence. They may be children, family members, friends, people at work, folks you meet at kids' sporting events or extra-curricular activities, children or youth at church, and believers in many places. I ask you to take seriously the example of Paul, who poured himself into future generations of leaders. My Great Commission is built upon this principle — a principle that I demonstrated with My own disciples. 

Your bodies are mortal. Your years on earth are limited. As important as you may be to others now, you and your influence will be gone in future years if you do not intentionally invest yourself in future generations. When you live this principle of disciple-making, you change the course of the future by investing in others. They, in turn, will invest in others and train them to share My message and to live for Me and redeem others with My grace (2 Timothy 2:1-2). 

I AM thankful for Paul for his investment in others. I am thankful for Timothy's family for their courage. I AM thankful for Timothy for accepting the challenge and following Me by joining Paul in his work! I AM thankful for everyone like these early disciples in whatever era they live. Make My joy complete by joining this group of disciple-makers: intentionally invest in others today — and continue to do so throughout your remaining time on earth.
Verses to Live

The following four passages come from different parts of the New Testament, yet are all woven together in My plan to change the world — My plan for disciple-making (Matthew 28:18-20). I hope you will see this grand theme, this grand purpose for you and every generation, as My plan to redeem the world. But don't just recognize this principle; please live it!

When Paul reached Derbe and Lystra, he invited a disciple named Timothy to join him and Silas. Timothy had a good reputation among the believers in Lystra and Iconium, but there was a problem: although Timothy's mother was a believing Jew, his father was Greek, which meant Timothy was uncircumcised. Because the Jewish people of those cities knew he was the son of a Greek man, Paul felt it would be best for Timothy to be circumcised before proceeding. Leaving there, now accompanied by Timothy, they delivered to the churches in each town the decisions and instructions given by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. The churches were strengthened in the faith by their visit and kept growing in numbers on a daily basis. 
(Acts 16:1-5) 

[Paul to the Corinthian Christians:] So as your father in the faith, I want to encourage you to live as I have lived. Imitate my life. This is one of the reasons I sent Timothy to be with you. He is my dearly loved and faithful child in the Lord. His mission is to remind you of the way I experience life in the Anointed. In all the churches everywhere I go, I teach the same lessons the same way, and I live out those lessons. 
(1 Corinthians 4:16-17) 

I [Paul] hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy your way [that is, to the Philippian Christians]. He will visit soon so that he may report to me how you are doing. To hear all that is going on with you will truly encourage my heart. There is no one like Timothy. What sets him apart from others is his deep concern for you and your spiritual journey. This is rare, my friends, for most people only care about themselves, not about what is dear to the heart of Jesus the Anointed. You know Timothy is genuine in the Lord's ways. He has been a faithful partner to me as we express the good news, as much as my own flesh and blood would have been. I expect to send him soon, and I will as soon as I see how things turn out here. I trust in the Lord that it won't be very long before I can come and be with you in person. 
(Philippians 2:19-24) 

Timothy, you are constantly in my [Paul's] prayers. Day and night I remember you before God and give thanks to Him Whom I serve with a clean conscience, as did my ancestors. I really want to see you, especially when I remember how you cried the last time we were together. Yes, I know it would make me joyful to see you again. What strikes me most is how natural and sincere your faith is. I am convinced that the same faith that dwelt in your grandmother, Lois, and your mother, Eunice, abides in you as well. This is why I write to remind you to stir up the gift of God that was conveyed to you when I laid my hands upon you. You see, God did not give us a cowardly spirit but a powerful, loving, and disciplined spirit. 
(2 Timothy 1:3-7)
Response in Prayer

O Father, give me the eyes to see and the heart to believe that You can use me to change the future by my being a disciple-maker. Please bring people into my life to disciple me and for me to disciple to Jesus. Use me, O LORD, to make an eternal difference in the lives of others and an immediate difference in those around me today and each day. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sat 29 Jul 2017, 6:40 pm

Giving Grace, Sharing Grace" — A Year with Jesus for 07/29/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

What do you do when the leaders in your church don't get along? Do you divide up into different camps and deepen the disagreement? Or, do you spend time with one another in careful, biblical, Spirit-led discussion of the issues? Do you recognize that some disagreements are matters of people's different missions and particular responsibilities to answer My call? How do you know what to do about these kinds of issues and when to do it? 

The same Holy Spirit that guided the church to come to an understanding of the Gentile issue in the first part of Acts chapter 15 was also at work to guide the church through the break-up of Paul and Barnabas' working together as a mission team. 

Barnabas was an encourager. That was his nature. That was his giftedness — and was even in the meaning of his name, which was given to him by the apostles (Acts 4:36). When Paul suggested to Barnabas that they go back to visit the churches where they had taught on their previous mission, Barnabas wanted to take John Mark with them as they had done previously. However, Paul did not want to take John Mark because he had deserted them during their previous mission (Acts 13:13; Acts 15:37-38). The result was that Barnabas and Paul had a heated difference of opinion. However, their difference of opinion was over the best way to accomplish My mission. 

Notice what you don't hear happening in the early church over this issue:

The churches in Jerusalem, Judea, Antioch, and Galatia didn't divide over whether Barnabas was right or Paul was right. There was too much work to do to allow the momentum of the church to be destroyed because Barnabas and Paul had a different sense of how to accomplish My mission.
Paul and Barnabas didn't go around bad-mouthing each other. What Paul wrote a short time later in one of his letters showed no animosity toward Barnabas and suggested respect for Barnabas' ministry (1 Corinthians 9:6). We also know that Paul later reconciled with John Mark (Colossians 4:10; Philemon 1:24) and asked for John Mark to come to him when he was near the end of his life (2 Timothy 4:11). Paul and Barnabas each stuck to his own convictions. Each pursued his own calling. However, neither felt it was necessary to put down the other. As Paul would say to the Corinthians:
Rather than power brokers, think of us as servants of the Anointed One, the Liberating King, caretakers of the mysteries of God. Because we are in this particular role, it is especially important that we are people of fidelity and integrity. It makes little difference to me how you or any human court passes judgment on me. I even resist the temptation to compare myself to the ever-changing human standard. Although I am not aware of any flaw that might exclude me from this divine service, that's not the reason I stand acquitted — the only supreme judge, our Lord, will examine me in the proper time. So resist the temptation to act as judges before all the evidence is in. 
(1 Corinthians 4:1-5)
The churches didn't hyperventilate over this problem. There was no exaggerated language that made this issue bigger than it really was. You don't hear about Paul and Barnabas having saved the church from dividing or being criticized as hypocrites for not being able to keep the peace among themselves. The disciples didn't go around wringing their hands because this great mission team split over what to do about a young missionary who abandoned them on their first journey.
The early church let Paul and Barnabas go their separate ways, permitting each to answer his own call from Me to reach the nations and to train others to do the same. Barnabas took John Mark and continued on his mission. John Mark was given a second chance. He was strengthened through his relationship with Barnabas, and Barnabas restored him to useful service to the brotherhood and even to Paul. 

Paul took Silas with him on his mission and raised up another powerful missionary leader. Paul's work with other young disciples followed Barnabas' example (as well as My example) of mentoring and growing future leaders. The world was blessed by having two great mission teams, led by two passionate but different types of leaders, and more future missionaries were trained by each one. 

So please hear the lesson of this important time in the early church. Don't make disagreements among church leaders about how to carry out My mission more than they really are. Passionate disciples with unique gifts and a very clear sense of My call in their lives will have differences in opinion, strategy, and style. Some of those opinions, strategies, and styles are going to clash. This conflict doesn't mean that they are bad. This lack of harmony doesn't mean that one is right and the others are wrong. 

Yes, I want My disciples to live in unity, and Paul and Barnabas clearly ministered in unity with each other. Don't define unity as meaning that everyone thinks the same thing. However, understand that unity does mean that My disciples must love each other, respect each other, and give each other the opportunity to serve Me and live out My mission with passion and focus. You don't give up on or scandalize another disciple because he or she disagrees with you, or with someone you respect, over strategy or a personal sense of calling. Give grace to each other as you share grace with the lost using the grace I have given you to minister!
Verses to Live

The following text is a short report on Paul and Barnabas' disagreement. As Luke writes Acts, he wants you to know this happened. The small number of words and the lack of emphasis on this disagreement show you how little their split impacted the brotherhood as a whole. Don't let Satan make differences over strategy, over a personal sense of calling, or over personal style into bigger issues that destroy My people!

Some days later, Paul proposed another journey to Barnabas. 

Paul:
Let's return and visit the believers in each city where we preached the Lord's message last time to see how they're doing.
Barnabas agreed and wanted to bring John Mark along, but Paul felt that was a mistake since John Mark had abandoned them in Pamphylia and hadn't finished the previous mission. Their difference of opinion was so heated that they decided not to work together anymore. Barnabas took John Mark and sailed to Cyprus, while Paul chose Silas as his companion. The believers in Antioch commissioned him for this work, entrusting him to the grace of the Lord. They traveled through Syria and Cilicia to strengthen the churches there. 
(Acts 15:36-41)
Response in Prayer

O Father, give me a passion to serve You with devotion and focus. Give me the grace to allow others to serve You differently than I do. Use each of us to share Your grace with our fallen world. I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Fri 28 Jul 2017, 6:50 pm

"Guidance from the Holy Spirit" — A Year with Jesus for 07/28/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious Disciple, 

The conference that you read about in the verses below occurred in Jerusalem. The focus of that conference was what should be done about Gentiles becoming Christians. There was a controversy concerning whether Gentile Christians would have to follow the law of Moses fully to be accepted into My family. The decision was crucial for the future of the mission of My church. At risk was the worldwide mission to the nations, the mission I had given before I ascended back to the Father. The wrong answer at this point in the development of the early church would have limited My movement to being nothing more than another sect of Judaism. However, the disciples at the conference came to the correct answer because they trusted in the leading of the Holy Spirit. 

I had promised My disciples that I would send the Holy Spirit to them to be with them and to empower them to be My witnesses all over the world (Acts 1:8), and they believed it! 

I promised them that the Holy Spirit would be their Helper and their Counselor Who would guide them into all truth (John 16:13), and they trusted that what I told them was true. 

They had experienced the Holy Spirit responding to their worship of prayer and fasting by calling Barnabas and Paul into the mission field (Acts 13:1-3), and they sent out these great disciples as missionaries. 

So when it came time to make this huge decision about Gentile Christians, what did they do? They relied on the Holy Spirit to lead them. Peter said that Cornelius' conversion happened because "God decided" to include Gentiles, and He confirmed their inclusion by sending the Holy Spirit to Cornelius and his household. So they described the final decision they reached this way: "It has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us..." They were confident that the Holy Spirit was helping to provide them a clear path forward as they prayed and worked together on a resolution of their controversy. 

So here's My point: You need to trust in the leading and guidance of the Holy Spirit as you seek to live out My mission in your world. The power and the guidance of the Holy Spirit are gifts I have left you as you wait for My return!

Verses to Live

These words that Luke wrote in Acts show how My disciples in the early church relied on the Holy Spirit to help them make a crucial decision. They made this monumental decision with certainty because they were convicted that the Holy Spirit was guiding them. I want you to trust that the Holy Spirit will also guide you in your decisions as you seek to live out My mission to reach the lost world.

Upon arrival [of Paul, Barnabas, and others from Antioch] in Jerusalem, the church, the apostles, and the elders welcomed them warmly; and they reported all they had seen God do. But there were some believers present who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees. They stood up and asserted, 

Pharisees:
No, this is not acceptable. These people must be circumcised, and we must require them to keep the whole Mosaic law.
The apostles and elders met privately to discuss how this issue should be resolved. There was a lot of debate, and finally Peter stood up. 

Peter:
My brothers, you all know that in the early days of our movement, God decided that I should be the one through whom the first outsiders would hear the good news and become believers. God knows the human heart, and He showed approval of their hearts by giving them the Holy Spirit just as He did for us. In cleansing their hearts by faith, God has made no distinction between them and us. So it makes no sense to me that some of you are testing God by burdening His disciples with a load that neither our forefathers nor we have been able to carry. No, we all believe that we will be liberated through the grace of the Lord Jesus — they also will be rescued in the same way.
There was silence among them while Barnabas and Paul reported all the miraculous signs and wonders God had done through them among outsiders. 

When they finished, James spoke. 

James:
My brothers, hear me. Simon Peter reminded us how God first included outsiders in His favor, taking people from among them for His name. This resonates with the words of the prophets:
"After this, I will return and rebuild the house of David, which has fallen into ruins. From its wreckage I will rebuild it; so all the nations may seek the Eternal One — including every person among the outsiders who has been called by My name."
This is the word of the Lord, Who has been revealing these things since ancient times. So here is my counsel: we should not burden these outsiders who are turning to God. We should instead write a letter, instructing them to abstain from four things: first, things associated with idol worship; second, sexual immorality; third, food killed by strangling; and fourth, blood. My reason for these four exceptions is that in every city there are Jewish communities where, for generations, the laws of Moses have been proclaimed; and on every Sabbath, Moses is read in synagogues everywhere.
This seemed like a good idea to the apostles, the elders, and the entire church. They commissioned men from among them and sent them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. They sent two prominent men among the believers, Judas (also known as Barsabbas) and Silas, to deliver this letter:
The brotherhood, including the apostles and elders in Jerusalem, send greetings to the outsider believers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia. We have heard that certain people from among us — without authorization from us — have said things that, in turn, upset you and unsettle your minds. We have decided unanimously to choose and send two representatives, along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul who, as you know, have risked their lives for our Lord Jesus the Anointed. These representatives, Judas and Silas, will confirm verbally what you will read in this letter. It has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to keep you free from all burdens except these four: abstain from anything sacrificed to idols, from blood, from food killed by strangling, and from sexual immorality. Avoid these things, and you will be just fine. Farewell.
So the men were sent to Antioch. When they arrived, they gathered the community together and read the letter. The community rejoiced at the resolution to the controversy. 
(Acts 15:4-31)
Response in Prayer

O Father, bless the leaders in our churches today. Give them hearts that yearn for Your will and a passion to lead us to live out Your mission to our lost world. Give them a willingness to work together to achieve that mission and a commitment to rely on Your Spirit to lead them to consensus and to clarity about the directions that they are to lead us. We need Your wisdom, guidance, and direction for our lives and for our churches. We ask for Your leading through the influence of the Holy Spirit. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen. 

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.

Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor

Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Thu 27 Jul 2017, 10:24 pm

In the Cross" — A Year with Jesus for 07/27/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

As Barnabas and Paul fought for the truth of the gospel against those seeking to corrupt it with doing works based on law, one message was central. That one message was, and is, centered in what I did on the cross. As profound as that message is, there is nothing flashy about it. In fact, it is a hard message to "sell" as a great philosophy. However, it was never intended to be just a philosophy. In the simple message of My sacrificial death and glorious resurrection is great power. 

What is that message? 

It is that God loved the world so much He came to your world in human flesh. I, Jesus of Nazareth, came as God incarnate. I was God in human skin. I lived a sinless life of service to others. Then I was handed over to the Romans by My own people and My own religious leaders to be crucified. This crucifixion was the sin offering for all people of all time. I was the last and perfect sacrifice needed to atone for sin. After My resurrection, I ascended to the Father and poured out the Holy Spirit to empower My people to share My message. This message of the cross became and still is the saving message for all people in all places throughout all time. All people now can base their relationship with the Father on the grace given them in My sacrifice and in their reception of that message by faith. They were and are invited to experience that message in baptism. The gift of the Holy Spirit is given to them to live in them, empower them, and assure them of living with Me forever. 

This message is the gospel. Nothing more should be added to it. Nothing should be taken from it. It doesn't need to be dressed up with fancy wisdom or fancy philosophy. For Paul, it was everything. He changed his life to proclaim it. He risked his life to share it. He defended it against impostor gospels. He died because of it. He forever changed the course of religious history by proclaiming it. His message still stands as the sentinel of grace and a life lived with clarity and focus. As Paul wrote, "May I never put anything above the cross of our Lord Jesus the Anointed!"

Verses to Live

In the following collection of verses from Paul's letters to the Galatian and Corinthian Christians, notice the emphasis on the cross — the essence of God's love, the heart of My gospel, and the message that has changed the world!

May I never put anything above the cross of our Lord Jesus the Anointed. Through Him, the world has been crucified to me and I to this world. 
(Galatians 6:14) 

I have been crucified with the Anointed One — I am no longer alive — but the Anointed is living in me; and whatever life I have left in this failing body I live by the faithfulness of God's Son, the One Who loves me and gave His body on the cross for me. 
(Galatians 2:20) 

For people who are stumbling toward ruin, the message of the cross is nothing but a tall tale for fools by a fool. But for those of us who are already experiencing the reality of being rescued and made right, it is nothing short of God's power. 
... 
It seems the Jews are always asking for signs and the Greeks are always on the prowl for wisdom. But we tell a different story. We proclaim a crucified Jesus, God's Anointed. For Jews this is scandalous, for outsiders this is moronic, but for those of us living out God's call — regardless of our Jewish or Greek heritage — we know the Anointed embodies God's dynamic power and God's deep wisdom. 
... 
My brothers and sisters, I did not pose as an expert with all the answers. I did not pretend to explain the mystery of God with eloquent speech and human wisdom. I claimed to know nothing with certainty other than the reality that Jesus is the Anointed One, the Liberating King, Who was crucified on our behalf. I was moved to utter despair during my time with you. I would find myself trembling in dread and fear. The sermons I preached were not delivered with the kind of persuasive elegance some have come to expect, but they were effective because I relied on God's Spirit to demonstrate God's power. If this were not so, your faith would be based on human wisdom and not the power of God. 
(1 Corinthians 1:18, 22-24; 1 Corinthians 2:1-5)
Response in Prayer

O Father, may I never boast except of the love and grace that You have given Me in Jesus. Thank You, Jesus, for Your incarnation and sacrifice. Thank You Holy Spirit for Your power exercised in the resurrection of Jesus and made alive in Me. May my life reflect Your work in me, O God, and may I share Your grace with those who do not know it. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Wed 26 Jul 2017, 8:48 pm

Unacceptable!" — A Year with Jesus for 07/26/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Follower, 

I hate racism! Bigotry and racial prejudice are unacceptable. It comes in all sorts of forms, some overt and some cloaked in apparently acceptable language. On the other hand, racial inclusion nearly always requires that people must be tolerant, kind, and patient if social, racial, and cultural differences are going to be accepted among My people. The evil one loves to use racial bias and bigotry to fuel suspicion and divide peoples into warring groups. My first followers couldn't see their bigotry and prejudice because it was so close to them and so much a part of them. Unfortunately, this can still be true in your day. 

During My disciples' first several decades as a movement, my people had to deal with deep-seated racial issues. Some of these prejudices were social and were related to the handling of food and table fellowship. Others were seated in hatred and suspicion of people of different races. Some used the Scriptures as their basis for exclusion. In other words, there were social, ethnic, and religious prejudices that My early followers had to overcome all while often being a persecuted and oppressed people. 

As you have seen in your readings from Acts about the early Christian movement, My disciples were slow in taking My good news to those outside of Judaism. Then suddenly, "outsiders" (non-Jews) came pouring into My family of faith. The question that My early church faced was very simple to state, but very difficult to navigate: What is the requirement for non-Jews to become Christians and live in fellowship with Jewish Christians? 

Paul and Barnabas had experienced My hand of grace enabling them to reach "outsiders" in Antioch, in Galatia, and in places in between. The church in Antioch became a shining light of Jewish people and non-Jewish people coming together as My people (Acts 11:19-24). They then were called by the Holy Spirit to send Barnabas and Paul (then known as Saul) to reach even more "outsiders" (Acts 13:1-3). Led and empowered by the Holy Spirit, these two great missionaries joined with other believers in sharing My saving grace with those who were lost, including those in Galatia. (The last two Scriptures below are from the letter Paul later wrote to the Galatian Christians.) Barnabas and Paul shared My gospel regardless of people's race, ethnicity, or culture. Many "outsiders" believed and followed Me. At some point, there were more non-Jewish Christians than Jewish ones. The church at Antioch along with the churches in regions outside of Judea and Galilee was overjoyed at what God was doing among the "outsiders" (Acts 14:26-28; Acts 15:1-4). 

But, as Luke puts it in the verses below from Acts, "Their peace was disturbed..." Paul wouldn't back down, as you've already seen in the book of Galatians. There was also a group that became known as Judaizing teachers. They were just as adamant as Paul but said it was "not acceptable" for non-Jews to join into Christian fellowship without requiring circumcision and the keeping of the Mosaic Law. Paul knew his position would not be popular with the Pharisees and Judaizing teachers, but Paul and Barnabas weren't concerned about popularity; they were defending grace. In their minds, this disagreement still all boiled down to an issue of the flesh — racial hatred tinged with racial pride — and to an issue of fear — not wanting to be ostracized by fellow Jews. 

Led by the elders, apostles, My half-brother James, along with Barnabas and Paul, the church met in Jerusalem to decide this issue. For Me, however, the issue was clear. The Father sent Me to save the world (John 3:16-17), not one race of people. The Father sent me into the world so the people of the world could know that I love them (1 John 4:8-10). I died to bring all people to Me (John 12:32-33). When I commissioned My disciples shortly before ascending back to the Father, I told them to go and make disciples of all nations. The word I chose for nations literally means "outsiders" (Matthew 28:18-20). 

I shared My vision of the future for My people with John in the book of Revelation. There will be "a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language" (Revelation 7:9 NLT). Anyone who believes in Me and trusts in My death, burial, and resurrection can be baptized and added to My people regardless of race, culture, social standing, ethnicity, or accomplishment. I do not want prejudice existing in My people. I do not want anything added to My simple gospel of saving grace. Prejudice is unacceptable for anyone who claims to follow Me! (1 John 4:20)

Verses to Live

The issues you find in the different readings that follow took a while to be resolved appropriately in the early church. You know how We — Father, Son, and Spirit — feel. We want all people included in Our family. We want no racial or prejudicial barriers to be placed in the way of anyone coming to Us and receiving salvation. If the early church could overcome these huge barriers, you have to know that you can, too!

They [Paul and Barnabas] then passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. They preached their message in Perga and then went to the port of Attalia. There they set sail for Antioch, where they were first entrusted to the grace of God for the mission they had now completed. They called the church together when they arrived and reported all God had done with and through them, how God had welcomed outsiders through the doorway of faith. They stayed with the disciples in Antioch for quite a while. 

Their [the Antioch church's] peace was disturbed, however, when certain Judeans came with this teaching: "Unless you are circumcised according to Mosaic custom, you cannot be saved."

Paul and Barnabas argued against this teaching and debated with the Judeans vehemently, so the church selected several people — including Paul and Barnabas — to travel to Jerusalem to dialogue about this issue with the apostles and elders there. The church sent them on their way. They passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, stopping to report to the groups of believers there that outsiders were now being converted. This brought great joy to them all. Upon arrival in Jerusalem, the church, the apostles, and the elders welcomed them warmly; and they reported all they had seen God do. But there were some believers present who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees. They stood up and asserted, 

Pharisees:
No, this is not acceptable. These people must be circumcised, and we must require them to keep the whole Mosaic law.
(Acts 14:24-28; Acts 15:1-5) 

Therefore it is my [James'] judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles [not require them to follow the law of Moses], but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood. 
(Acts 15:19-20) 

Do you think I care about the approval of men or about the approval of God? Do you think I am on a mission to please people? If I am still spinning my wheels trying to please men, then there is no way I can be a servant of the Anointed One, the Liberating King. 
(Galatians 1:10) 

The troublemakers who are putting pressure on you to be circumcised are trying to impress the flesh. They want to avoid the persecution that comes from preaching the cross of the Anointed One, the Liberating King. But even those who receive circumcision can't keep the law — although they think they can — and they hope to influence which way you go with your own skin so they can have bragging rights over your flesh. 
(Galatians 6:12-13)
Response in Prayer

O Father, forgive us — forgive me — for the prejudice that we let divide Your people. I am deeply troubled and sorry that we have let prejudice separate and divide us. I ask Your forgiveness for the times I have been a part of bigotry toward another group or individual. I ask that the Holy Spirit make my heart burn for the lost of my world and yearn to see all prejudices that divide people swallowed up in the grace You provided when You died for us, Lord Jesus. I ask for Your help, O Lord, that I can love others into Your family so we can enjoy Your family together forever. It is in Your name, dear Jesus, that I pray. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Tue 25 Jul 2017, 11:05 pm

God's New Creation Counts for Everything" — A Year with Jesus for 07/25/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Faithful Friend, 

I told My disciples in the last few hours before My crucifixion, "I don't call you servants any longer; servants don't know what the master is doing, but I have told you everything the Father has said to Me. I call you friends" (John 15:15). To some of My friends, I revealed deeper things in special revelation to give them the authority to teach the good news about Me in all of its simple truth. The apostle Paul was one of these special people. The Father revealed Me to Paul so that he could proclaim My story, share My grace, and bring My salvation to "outsider nations." 

Paul didn't learn this message from any mortal (Galatians 1:11-17; Galatians 2:1-10). He didn't get the details of the gospel from the apostles or any other witnesses. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul was battling to preserve this authoritative message about the Father's grace. The Galatians were trying to add Jewish practices to the gospel — practices established in the law given to Moses and other practices added by tradition. Paul was right in adamantly declaring that any gospel that added requirements to the gospel of grace received through faith is really no gospel at all (Galatians 1:6-9). 

Finding new life in Me and becoming a "new creation" come only from being "in" Me. Paul told the Corinthians:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 
(2 Corinthians 5:17 ESV)
Paul made it clear to the Galatians that this "new creation" happened through faith and was experienced in baptism. This new life could not come through any form of law-keeping or doings works of the law of Moses:
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. 
(Galatians 3:26-29 NIV)
During our continuing journey through the New Testament over the next few months, you will see time and again that people will try to add some additional requirement to My simple gospel. Thankfully, Paul never abandoned what the Father had revealed in him (Galatians 1:15-16): I AM the good news the world needs. I AM "the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me" (John 14:6 NLT). So Paul reminded his Galatian brothers and sisters at both the beginning and the end of his letter that there is only one gospel, the one delivered to him from God about Me. Paul also reminded the Galatians that there is only one thing that ultimately matters: "God's new creation is what counts, and it counts for everything."
Verses to Live

As you read these seemingly unconnected passages from the beginning and the end of Galatians, remember what I said about one, simple, and transformational message. There is only one. That message finds its focus in Me. When I come into a person's life, I make everything new. This change is what matters!

Surely you are familiar with my personal history, with my dedication to the teachings and traditions of Judaism. I persecuted the church of God — in fact, I meant to destroy it. I excelled in the teachings of Judaism far above other Jewish leaders, and I was zealous to practice the ways of our ancestors. But God — Who set me apart even before birth and called me by His grace — chose, to His great delight, to reveal His Son in me so I could tell His story among the outsider nations. I didn't confer with anyone right away, nor did I go to those who were already emissaries in Jerusalem. I went straight to Arabia and later returned to Damascus. 

After living this adventurous mission for three years, I made my way to Jerusalem and spent 15 days with Cephas, whom you know as Peter. But I didn't see any emissary other than James, our Lord's brother. (You can be certain that what I am offering you is an authentic account. Before God, it's the whole truth — I wouldn't lie.) Later I journeyed to Syria and Cilicia; and since I had spent so little time in Judea among the churches of the Anointed One, no one there could pick me out of a crowd. But stories of my call and mission preceded me: "The very man who wanted to kill us all is now preaching the faith he once labored to destroy." And so they praised God for the miracle He did in my life. 
(Galatians 1:13-24) 

The troublemakers who are putting pressure on you to be circumcised are trying to impress the flesh. They want to avoid the persecution that comes from preaching the cross of the Anointed One, the Liberating King. But even those who receive circumcision can't keep the law — although they think they can — and they hope to influence which way you go with your own skin so they can have bragging rights over your flesh. 

May I never put anything above the cross of our Lord Jesus the Anointed. Through Him, the world has been crucified to me and I to this world. Let me be clear: circumcision won't save you — uncircumcision won't either for that matter — for both amount to nothing. God's new creation is what counts, and it counts for everything. May peace and mercy come to all of you who live by this rule and to the Israel of God. 
(Galatians 6:12-16)
Response in Prayer

Father, forgive me for the times I've added requirements to the simple, pure, and powerful gospel about Jesus. Thank You that Your gospel is so simple, clear, and focused. Thank You for Jesus Who makes this message Your powerful and simple truth that brings new life. I thank You in Jesus' name. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.

Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor

Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.

HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.

All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.

© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sat 22 Jul 2017, 11:48 pm

Who Leads in Your Dance of Life?" — A Year with Jesus for 07/21/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of the King, 

You may have noticed in our time together the last few days that I have had you read from Galatians and/or James in your Bible. These two letters were written to very different groups of people, with different religious backgrounds, but with similar concerns. Those concerns as stated from the viewpoint of the recipients of the letters were these:

How am I supposed to live a righteous life if I don't live by the law?
Can I call myself a disciple of Jesus if I don't do what the Father says, and I don't display the Father's righteous character and gracious compassion in my life?
What about those who live in ways that are in rebellion to the character of the Father — don't they need to live under the law?
What about those who claim to be Christians, but don't live righteously and appear to be hypocrites?
In today's verses, Paul emphasizes that the law cannot do what the Spirit can do to answer these questions. The Spirit comes and brings My power to transform you. Remember what I promised shortly before My death, burial, resurrection, and ascension:
"I tell you the truth: whoever believes in Me will be able to do what I have done, but they will do even greater things, because I will return to be with the Father. .. I will ask the Father to send you another Helper, the Spirit of truth, Who will remain constantly with you." 
(John 14:12, 16)
Through prayer and the empowering presence of the Spirit within you individually, as well as the Spirit working through you collectively, I AM at work in you. I AM also at work through you to do these "greater things." The law cannot give you this power and cannot fulfill this promise. Only the presence and power of the Holy Spirit can. 

You began your walk with Me through the work of the Holy Spirit. I have done great things among you, within you, and through you by the power of the Spirit. Do not depend on law-keeping in an attempt to be holy and to live righteous lives. I want you to understand that life, especially a life of character and devotion to God, is like a holy dance. In this dance of life, you can lead the dance and allow the sinful desires of the flesh to control the direction of your dance. Or, you can be led by the Spirit, and the Spirit's fruit of holy character — "unconditional love, joy, peace, patience, kindheartedness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" — will shine through in your life. 

How are you going to be led by the Spirit? I want you to know that the dance of life with the Spirit in the lead begins here:
[S]et aside [y]our self-interests and work together to create true community instead of a culture consumed by provocation, pride, and envy.
After committing yourself to Me, your first step in this dance of holy living is to consciously set aside your own desire. Give up your fleshly focus and self-interest. This submission is keeping "each step in perfect sync with God's Spirit." Keeping in step with the Spirit happens because you consciously and willfully ask the Spirit to take the lead in the dance of your life. As you offer yourself to Me, ask that the Father keep pouring the Spirit's power and presence into your life (Luke 11:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:8). 

The Holy Spirit is like a permanent heavenly guest in your life. The Spirit will not intrude into the secret places of your self-will and self-interest unless you invite Him and yield to His leading in your dance of life. However, the more you consciously and intentionally ask your heavenly guest to take control, the more the Spirit will exert His influence. The apostle Paul pointed to the following ways to offer the Spirit the lead in your dance of life:
Speak to one another in songs, hymns, and spiritual songs.
Sing.
Make music in your heart to God.
Give thanks in all circumstances.
Submit to one another as you reverence Me in your heart.
Let the message about Me be your strong defense against the influence of evil in your life.
Pray consciously depending upon the Spirit to be at work in your prayers.
Be alert. 
(Ephesians 5:15-21; Ephesians 6:17-18)
You began your holy dance being led by the Spirit. Continue to invite the Spirit to lead. As you do, you will notice your life becoming more and more like the life you saw Me live (2 Corinthians 3:17-18).
Verses to Live

Dear follower, know that I long to do greater things in you and through you and for you through the power of the Holy Spirit. So let the Spirit lead the dance of your life. When you do, you will find that you will not need a law to tell you what to do. Rather than trying to obey a law, you will find "each step in perfect sync" with the Spirit!

Galatians, don't act like fools! Has someone cast a spell over you? Did you miss the crucifixion of Jesus the Anointed that was reenacted right in front of your eyes? Tell me this: Did the Holy Spirit come upon you because you lived according to the law? Or was it because you heard His message of grace through faith? Are you so foolish? Do you think you can perfect something God's Spirit started with any human effort? Have you suffered so greatly for nothing — if it was indeed for nothing? You have experienced the Spirit He gave you in powerful ways. Miracle after miracle has occurred right before your eyes in this community, so tell me: did all this happen because you have kept certain provisions of God's law, or was it because you heard the gospel and accepted it by faith? 
(Galatians 3:1-5) 

Here's my instruction: walk in the Spirit, and let the Spirit bring order to your life. If you do, you will never give in to your selfish and sinful cravings. For everything the flesh desires goes against the Spirit, and everything the Spirit desires goes against the flesh. There is a constant battle raging between them that prevents you from doing the good you want to do. But when you are led by the Spirit, you are no longer subject to the law. 

It's clear that our flesh entices us into practicing some of its most heinous acts: participating in corrupt sexual relationships, impurity, unbridled lust, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, arguing, jealousy, anger, selfishness, contentiousness, division, envy of others' good fortune, drunkenness, drunken revelry, and other shameful vices that plague humankind. I told you this clearly before, and I only tell you again so there is no room for confusion: those who give in to these ways will not inherit the kingdom of God. 

The Holy Spirit produces a different kind of fruit: unconditional love, joy, peace, patience, kindheartedness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. You won't find any law opposed to fruit like this. Those of us who belong to the Anointed One have crucified our old lives and put to death the flesh and all the lusts and desires that plague us. 

Now since we have chosen to walk with the Spirit, let's keep each step in perfect sync with God's Spirit. This will happen when we set aside our self-interests and work together to create true community instead of a culture consumed by provocation, pride, and envy. 
(Galatians 5:16-26)
Response in Prayer

Almighty God — Father, Son, and Spirit — thank You for Your grace that has brought forgiveness, cleansing, new life, and the power for me to live my new life in Jesus. Today, dear Father, I am aware of the gift of the Holy Spirit, the gift Jesus promised and then sent to me to be in me and to be with me until I find myself at home with You. May I never do anything to grieve the Spirit or put out the Spirit's fire. I offer myself to be led by the Spirit. I yield my will to have the Spirit work Your transformation in me. I ask that the Spirit fully conform me into the likeness of my Savior, Jesus, in Whose name I pray. Amen. 

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.

"Humbly Yield Control" — A Year with Jesus for 07/22/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

Yesterday I talked to you about letting the Spirit lead the dance of your life. Today, I want you to notice what happens when a person takes the lead of his or her own life. This is what happens when a person's "constant pursuit of gratification" and continual "focus on self-indulgence" have control of his or her heart:

Prayers go unanswered.
Envy and jealously control life in ways similar to an out-of-control addiction.
Pride and arrogance rule over a person's heart.
Overbearing criticism shows up regularly in conversations.
Accusations are made against good people.
A sense of control of one's destiny makes a person oblivious to the fragility of his or her own life.
Good things that need to be done go undone and neglected.
Just as Paul emphasized in the verses yesterday, James reminds you today with strong words that you must consciously and humbly offer yourself to the Father. Don't be afraid to be physically demonstrative with your humble repentance. Not only ask for His forgiveness but also offer Him control over your heart and your life. Offer your whole self to the Father — heart, soul, mind, and strength — to be used as His person and controlled by His Spirit. 

Rid your heart of the evil influences that poison it and that make it inhospitable to the Holy Spirit. I sent the Holy Spirit to live in your heart. The Spirit wants to bring God's character, compassion, and blessing to life in you. So resist the power of evil, Satan, and the demonic world. Drive the evil one away and invite the Holy Spirit to take control!
Verses to Live

In the verses below, James uses his typical straightforward style to challenge his readers to look at their hearts. He wants you to be aware of what motivates your heart. He warns of all sorts of ways pride and arrogance sneak in and steal a person's heart from God. So offer yourselves to God... in humility.

Where do you think your fighting and endless conflict come from? Don't you think that they originate in the constant pursuit of gratification that rages inside each of you like an uncontrolled militia? You crave something that you do not possess, so you murder to get it. You desire the things you cannot earn, so you sue others and fight for what you want. You do not have because you have chosen not to ask. And when you do ask, you still do not get what you want because your motives are all wrong — because you continually focus on self-indulgence. You are adulterers. Don't you know that making friends with this corrupt world order is open aggression toward God? So anyone who aligns with this bogus world system is declaring war against the one true God. Do you think it is empty rhetoric when the Scriptures say, "The spirit that lives in us is addicted to envy and jealousy"? You may think that the situation is hopeless, but God gives us more grace when we turn away from our own interests. That's why Scripture says,
God opposes the proud, but He pours out grace on the humble.
So submit yourselves to the one true God and fight against the devil and his schemes. If you do, he will run away in failure. Come close to the one true God, and He will draw close to you. Wash your hands; you have dirtied them in sin. Cleanse your heart, because your mind is split down the middle, your love for God on one side and selfish pursuits on the other. 

Now is the time to lament, to grieve, and to cry. Dissolve your laughter into sobbing, and exchange your joy for depression. Lay yourself bare, facedown to the ground, in humility before the Lord; and He will lift your head so you can stand tall. My brothers and sisters, do not assault each other with criticism. If you decide your job is to accuse and judge another believer, then you are a self-appointed critic and judge of the law; if so, then you are no longer a doer of the law and subject to its rule; you stand over it as a judge. Know this — there is One Who stands supreme as Judge and Lawgiver. He alone is able to save and to destroy, so who are you to step in and try to judge another? 

Listen carefully, those of you who make your plans and say, "We are traveling to this city in the next few days. We'll stay there for one year while our business explodes and revenue is up." The reality is you have no idea where your life will take you tomorrow. You are like a mist that appears one moment and then vanishes another. It would be best to say, "If it is the Lord's will and we live long enough, we hope to do this project or pursue that dream." But your current speech indicates an arrogance that does not acknowledge the One Who controls the universe, and this kind of big talking is the epitome of evil. So if you know the right way to live and ignore it, it is sin — plain and simple. 
(James 4:1-17)
Response in Prayer

O Father, please forgive me. Forgive me for trying to live my life by my own power. Forgive me for the times I've wandered from the Spirit's lead in the dance of my life. Forgive me for my willful sins. Please forgive me for those sins of neglect and laziness when good things have gone undone. I humbly offer myself — my heart, my mind, my spirit, and my body — to be controlled by You and used for Your glory. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen. 
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Thu 20 Jul 2017, 11:56 pm

"Wisdom, Peace, and Righteousness" — A Year with Jesus for 07/20/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

When James wrote about wisdom and peace, he used terms whose meanings were rooted in what you call the Old Testament — The Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. To fully appreciate what James taught in today's verses, you must understand what peace and wisdom meant when he used those terms. 

For James, peace was much more than an absence of conflict. Peace was living in true shalom — the state of blessing and wholesomeness in life that comes when people live in complete harmony with the Father's will. For James, righteousness would flourish, and compassion would be displayed when the joy of right living produced the place and the people where the Father's presence would love to dwell. True shalom for them, and for you, is the blessing of living Our life in your world. True shalom is experiencing the blessedness of the Father's presence and rule over every area of life. 

For James, wisdom was not some theoretical attainment of mental excellence, but a life full of all the goodness and true shalom that come from the Father's grace. This life flowed out of a person's commitment to living the Father's values in his or her world. James emphasized that this wisdom would be shown by a disciple's example of good living. This kind of wisdom was not just the subject of some philosophical speculation. Instead, this true wisdom was about life being tuned to Our righteous character and gracious compassion. Wisdom would mean living in reverential respect for Us and living in harmony with your neighbor. This reverential respect for Us would then be the beginning of all wisdom:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; 
all those who practice it have a good understanding. 
(Psalm 111:10 ESV)
What I taught as the two greatest commands captures both elements of true wisdom — living in reverential respect for the Father and loving your neighbor:
And again the crowd was amazed. They were astonished at His [Jesus'] teaching. 

Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, a group of Pharisees met to consider new questions that might trip up Jesus. A legal expert thought of one that would certainly stump Him. 

Pharisees:
Teacher, of all the laws, which commandment is the greatest?
Jesus (quoting Scripture):
"Love the Eternal One your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind." This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is nearly as important, "Love your neighbor as yourself." The rest of the law, and all the teachings of the prophets, are but variations on these themes.
(Matthew 22:33-40)
Wisdom springs from living these two principles. However, when jealousy and selfish ambition are found in a group or culture, true wisdom and peace go out the window. Chaos and evil flourish as each person competes for his or her own interest at the expense of others. Loving God is soon forgotten in the love of power, the pursuit of prestige, and the jockeying for position. Love of neighbor is ignored in the rush to love oneself and forget about others. 

This kind of selfishness that masquerades as worldly wisdom has given the world the mess in which it finds itself. This selfishness is one way the evil one captures the hearts of people and enslaves them in what is not wise. This kind of selfishness never brings true wisdom and true shalom. So rather than focusing on what you can get for yourself, center your focus on how to live the character and compassion that you see in Me. Also, notice the characteristics that James said are from the devil and should not be found among My disciples:
Jealousy
Selfishness, selfish ambition
Pride
Now notice the character qualities that James urges you to pursue:
Purity
Peace
Gentleness
Deference
Mercy
Other good fruits untainted by hypocrisy
Make this last set of attributes the goal to bring forth in your daily life. If you do so, you will find yourself in God's peace, the true shalom that brings real life. This harmony is true wisdom!
Verses to Live

James spoke in clear, simple language to remind you that heavenly wisdom and true peace will be found where the life of God is lived. Righteousness is the natural result of such a life lived in the Spirit.

Who in your community is understanding and wise? Let his example, which is marked by wisdom and gentleness, blaze a trail for others. If your heart is one that bleeds dark streams of jealousy and selfishness, do not be so proud that you ignore your depraved state. The wisdom of this world should never be mistaken for heavenly wisdom; it originates below in the earthly realms, with the demons. Any place where you find jealousy and selfish ambition, you will discover chaos and evil thriving under its rule. Heavenly wisdom centers on purity, peace, gentleness, deference, mercy, and other good fruits untainted by hypocrisy. The seed that flowers into righteousness will always be planted in peace by those who embrace peace. 
(James 3:13-18)
Response in Prayer

O Father, please bless me with true wisdom. I commit to pursuing the things that bring peace and demonstrate wise living. Forgive me for the times that I have put my own desires and my own yearning for things and status above developing the true wisdom that brings peace. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen. 

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.

Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Tue 18 Jul 2017, 9:22 pm

"Find Glory in Only This" — A Year with Jesus for 07/18/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Child Saved bHeavenletter #6080 By the Streams of Sweet Waters, July 18, 2017 
God said: 
I hear you say, or even flaunt:

"God, I would lie down by green pastures. I would lie down by still waters. I would - absolutely -- if I knew where to find green pastures and still waters. Where are they? If I could see them, I would eagerly lie down by them.

"As it is, it feels like I slide down turbulent rapids. I fall head over heels - sometimes in love -- often in a morass or a desert. Sometimes I barely limp along. I do not seem to know which end is up. I am in the dark, God. God, save me from myself. Occupy my heart and mind. Obliterate fear from my sight. Restore my soul to sweet waters."

Beloveds, are you saying that you feel lost? You can be lost when I am with you? That I am with you means just that, that you are never without Me. And you cannot escape Me. Inside and out, I am here. You are safe. I catch you all the illusory time.

If you do ride the rapids as you feel and which I do not accept, you ride them with Me. If you ever find yourself as if without Me, be assured this is an illusion you tote around with you. Is there some reason why you need to carry such an illusion when I am right here at your disposal? Foolish child. Have your dreams. They are worth having. Dream big.

For Heaven's sakes, why dream small? Whatever for?

You create great daydreams so they can grow and, given the chance, will become true. Begin to know Truth.

Catch a falling star. Row your own boat. Paddle your own canoe. Declare independence from past thoughts.

When you were a child, you spoke as a child. Well, what do you think you are doing now?

Kindly start over fresh. Have new questions and new answers, answers that arise from your heart and ascend.

Life is meant to be more about what is new rather than what the past brought.

Certainly, good fortune swings your way. It often has. At the same time, you can make ready for greater good fortune and more of it. You bring good fortune closer with your thoughts.

Haven't you known people who suddenly are blossoming as if new? Their new happiness shows. They have become New Light Shining. How did this happen, you wonder. What made a face light up? Where did someone's doldrums go, and now delight radiates.

Enthusiasm comes from within. I bet anything that a Shining Light that moved a so-called another forward can also move you forward as well.

Beloved Soul, someone somehow somewhere is planting a new crop of thoughts, and their thoughts are bearing fruit ripe for the picking. I ask Myself then, why not you, why not you? I have confidence in you.

This person who beats you to it hasn't mastered all fear, yet he or she moved on in a new direction just the same. A little seed can become a great dream. Disembark from past thinking. Have your dreams. Have them, and they have a better chance of coming true.

Something awakened someone. Whatever awakened a so-called another can awaken you as well.

Disembark from past thinking. Have your dreams. Have them, and they have a better chance of coming true.

Where do great dreams come from? They come from within you. What squashes dreams? Squashing also comes from within you. Uphold your dreams. Love them. Love having them. Give yourself permission to dream your dreams. They are not obligated to come through. Welcome them for the dreams they are. Give them a head start.

In the world, allow the Heaven of Dreams to bloom. No telling where they will take you. No telling how happy you will be. Certainly more happy with dreams than when you are barren of them.

Imagine!

How does an artist paint? A painting issues from him. He may not have a clear picture in his mind, yet the picture grows to fruition before his very eyes. He sees an image as he goes along. He feels it, and it comes together. It comes to him.

Everything is within you. Bring it out and serve it while you are at it.


When you offered your heart to Me in faith trusting in My death to pay the penalty for your sins, the Father counted you righteous. The law could not make you righteous. Your works could not make you righteous. Only your trust and participation by faith in My sacrifice could do this for you. 

The law, however, did play a role in your coming to God. The law showed you where you have sinned and fallen short of Our holiness. The law reminded you that you did not measure up to the righteous character and gracious compassion of your Father. Like looking in a mirror, reading the law could point out what was wrong with you; however, the law had no power to correct what was wrong in you. But when your faith was expressed in baptism, when by faith you shared in My crucifixion, burial, and resurrection (Romans 6:3-7), you put on Me like a new garment and you became righteous (Galatians 3:26-29; 2 Corinthians 5:21). 

You were saved by grace based on your absolute trust that what I did for you would make you righteous. As Paul said it below in his teaching on law and grace:

I [Paul] have been crucified with the Anointed One — I am no longer alive — but the Anointed is living in me; and whatever life I have left in this failing body I live by the faithfulness of God's Son, the One Who loves me and gave His body on the cross for me.
There is no room for you to glory in your national origin, your racial heritage, or your religious pedigree. None of those things can save you or make you righteous. Your source of glory and your source of righteousness are found only in My death and resurrection. My death and resurrection have liberated you from the burden of law-keeping as an attempt at righteousness. My death and resurrection have provided the basis for your adoption into Our spiritual family, "the Israel of God." (Compare Galatians 3:29.) 

There will always be religious people who will pressure you to accept some basis for your salvation other than faith in My death, burial, and resurrection. However, there is only one gospel that can save you (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)! There is only One Who can bring you salvation (Acts 4:12). There is only One Who is the way to the Father (John 14:6). Don't retreat from the grace that you have found in Me. 

Know and rely on the source of your identity, your glory, and your salvation. I died for you. You died with Me. You died to the law and to the concept that law-keeping can be the way to be made right with God. I am now alive in you and you are part of My people, "the Israel of God"! No law can do that for you. No religious leaders, no matter how important they appear to be, can offer you more. Any other gospel is not really good news. Don't forsake the one gospel by which you were saved!
Verses to Live

As you read through Paul's complex reasoning below, remember to grab hold of what is said near the end: "God's new creation is what counts, and it counts for everything." Remember what matters: My death, your faith, the Father's grace, and the power to make you into a new creation and a part of Our forever family!

But when Cephas came to Antioch, there was a problem. I [Paul] got in his face and exposed him in front of everyone. He was clearly wrong. Here's what was going on: before certain people from James arrived, Cephas used to share meals with the Gentile outsiders. And then, after they showed up, Cephas suddenly became aloof and distanced himself from the outsiders because he was afraid of those believers who thought circumcision was necessary. 

The rest of the Jewish believers followed his lead, including Barnabas! Their hypocritical behavior was so obvious — their actions were not at all consistent with everything the good news of our Lord represents. So I approached Cephas and told him in plain sight of everyone: "If you, a Jew, have lived like the Gentile outsiders and not like the Jews, then how can you turn around and urge the outsiders to start living like Jews?" We are natural-born Jews, not sinners from the godless nations. But we know that no one is made right with God by meeting the demands of the law. It is only through the faithfulness of Jesus the Anointed that salvation is even possible. This is why we put faith in Jesus the Anointed: so we will be put right with God. It's His faithfulness — not works prescribed by the law [or any law] — that puts us in right standing with God because no one [in all humanity] will be acquitted and declared "right" for doing what the law demands. Even though we are seeking a right relationship with God through the Anointed, the fact is we have been found out. We are sinners. But does that mean the Anointed is the one responsible for our sins? Absolutely not! If I reconstruct something I have worked so hard to destroy, then I prove myself a sinner. 

The law has provided the means to end my dependence on it for righteousness, and so I died to the law. Now I have found the freedom to truly live for God. I have been crucified with the Anointed One — I am no longer alive — but the Anointed is living in me; and whatever life I have left in this failing body I live by the faithfulness of God's Son, the One Who loves me and gave His body on the cross for me. I can't dismiss God's grace, and I won't. If being right with God depends on how we measure up to the law, then the Anointed's sacrifice on the cross was the most tragic waste in all of history 
(Galatians 2:11-21) 

May I never put anything above the cross of our Lord Jesus the Anointed. Through Him, the world has been crucified to me and I to this world. Let me be clear: circumcision won't save you — uncircumcision won't either for that matter — for both amount to nothing. God's new creation is what counts, and it counts for everything. May peace and mercy come to all of you who live by this rule and to the Israel of God. 
(Galatians 6:14-16)
Response in Prayer

Father God, as I see Peter and Barnabas led astray so easily by pressure from their friends, I am reminded of my own susceptibility to peer pressure. I don't want to depend on the law to save me. Neither do I want to depend on the acceptance of my religious contemporaries to validate my own faith. Like Paul, I never want to put anything above the cross of Jesus as my source of salvation. I thank You for this gift in Jesus' name. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.

Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Mon 17 Jul 2017, 1:11 pm

A Clear Command" — A Year with Jesus for 07/17/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Lover of God, 

During My earthly ministry, I was asked: "which commandment is the greatest?" (Matthew 22:36). Quoting Old Testament Scriptures, My reply was

"'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" 
(Matthew 22:37-39 NLT)
In this two-part answer, it is essential to remember that the first part, loving God, is the basis for the second part, loving your neighbor. As John said,
We love because He [God] has first loved us. If someone claims, "I love God," but hates his brother or sister, then he is a liar. Anyone who does not love a brother or sister, whom he has seen, cannot possibly love God, whom he has never seen. He gave us a clear command, that all who love God must also love their brothers and sisters. 
(1 John 4:19-21)
Sometimes theologians make things so much more complex than they really are. They did it in My day when I walked the streets of Galilee, Judea, and Samaria. Some still do it in your day. However, as John said, here's "a clear command":
"Love your neighbor as yourself"!
This command is what I want to emphasize today and what I want you to live in your life every day. 

Arrogance, prejudice against the foreigners, bigotry toward other races, playing favorites based on earthly status, judging people by their appearances, murder, adultery, and covetousness can all be countered by a simple, yet profound, concept:
"Love your neighbor as yourself"!
This command is the Father's royal law. This order is the law that gives you freedom. This charge is the only debt you should ever owe anyone. Faithfully living this one principle satisfies the heart of the law as you live in relationship with others with the righteous character and gracious compassion of your Father in heaven! 

Remembering this principle is important because I care deeply about how you talk to each other and how you talk about each other and how you interact with each other. How you treat those on the margins of your society matters deeply to Me. Whether you care for the widows, orphans, and foreigners among you reveals how closely your heart is aligned with My heart. How you treat the poor, hungry, imprisoned, sick, and those without shelter matters to Me immensely. I care so deeply about these things and these people that your treatment of them will be one of the ways you will be judged to be My disciples on the last day (Matthew 25:31-46). 

So practice love and mercy! Give graciously to those in need. Speak blessings and not curses into the lives of those around you. The list could go on and on, but I don't need to get so specific. I want to remind you again of a clear command, pure and simple. Don't just know the words, but evaluate how you treat everyone by this standard:
"Love your neighbor as yourself"!
Verses to Live

As I've already emphasized, what I want you to understand from the following verses is really pretty simple: "Love your neighbor as yourself"! The Father said it in the law. I said it in My ministry. James and John taught it in their writings. The apostle Paul proclaimed it repeatedly in his letters. So quit quibbling over the details of Scripture. Live the heart of Your Savior. Reflect the character of your Father in heaven. Display the fruit the Spirit longs to bring into your life. Obey this clear command: "Love your neighbor as yourself"!

If you put yourself on a pedestal, thinking you have become a role model in all things religious, but you can't control your mouth, then think again. Your mouth exposes your heart, and your religion is useless. Real, true religion from God the Father's perspective is about caring for the orphans and widows who suffer needlessly and resisting the evil influence of the world. 

My brothers and sisters, I know you've heard this before, but stop playing favorites! Do not try to blend the genuine faith of our glorious Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, with your silly pretentiousness. If an affluent gentleman enters your gathering wearing the finest clothes and priceless jewelry, don't trip over each other trying to welcome him. And if a penniless bum crawls in with his shabby clothes and a stench fills the room, don't look away or pretend you didn't notice — offer him a seat up front, next to you. If you tell the wealthy man, "Come sit by me; there's plenty of room," but tell the vagrant, "Oh, these seats are saved. Go over there," then you'll be judging God's children out of evil motives. 

My dear brothers and sisters, listen: God has picked the poor of this world to become unfathomably rich in faith and ultimately to inherit the Kingdom, which He has pledged to those who love Him. By favoring the rich, you have mocked the poor. And, correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't it the rich who step on you while climbing the ladder of success? And isn't it the rich who take advantage of you and drag you into court? Aren't they the ones mocking the noble name of our God, the One calling us? 

Remember His call, and live by the royal law found in Scripture: love others as you love yourself. You'll be doing very well if you can get this down. 
(James 1:26-27; James 2:1-8) 

Don't owe anyone anything, with the exception of love to one another — that is a debt which never ends because the person who loves others has fulfilled the law. The commands given to you in the Scriptures — do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not take what is not yours, do not covet — and any other command you have heard are summarized in God's instruction: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Does love hurt anyone? Absolutely not. In fact, love achieves everything the law requires. 
(Romans 13:8-10) 

For the whole law comes down to this one instruction: "Love your neighbor as yourself..." 
(Galatians 5:14) 

But if you show favoritism — paying attention to those who can help you in some way, while ignoring those who seem to need all the help — you'll be sinning and condemned by the law. For if a person could keep all of the laws and yet break just one; it would be like breaking them all. The same God Who said, "Do not commit adultery," also says, "Do not murder." If you break either of these commands, you're a lawbreaker, no matter how you look at it. So live your life in such a way that acknowledges that one day you will be judged. But the law that judges also gives freedom, although you can't expect to be shown mercy if you refuse to show mercy. But hear this: mercy always wins against judgment! Thank God! 
(James 2:9-13)
Response in Prayer

O Father, open My heart to love others, especially those in need, as You have loved me. O Jesus, thank You for showing me this kind of love in action through Your earthly ministry. Holy Spirit, keep pouring love into my heart so that it overflows into the lives others. I commit to love my neighbor as I love myself. I ask for your help to live Your righteous character and holy compassion in Jesus' name. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sun 16 Jul 2017, 11:09 pm

"Just Do It!®" — A Year with Jesus for 07/16/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

Read My harsh words to the Pharisees about their all-talk-legalism and not-much-help religion (Matthew 23:1-36). When you do, you will know that I loathe empty religion full of just religious words with little redemptive action. I want you to read through James' teaching in the verses below. He is all about caring for the poor and forgotten — underlined in the verses below. James reminds you that you must have a faith that demonstrates itself in action — bold in the verses below. 

While Nike's marketing phrase "Just Do It!"® became a registered trademark in your era, that concept has always been at the heart of My kingdom. My teaching was not about just doctrine. My teaching emphasized the necessity of living to please the Father while you live in a world of moral depravity, human need, and religious confusion. I wanted the things I taught My disciples to be done... to be obeyed... to be put into practice. 

Remember what I taught while on earth?

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven. Simply calling Me 'Lord' will not be enough. Only those who do the will of My Father Who is in heaven will join Me in heaven." 
(Matthew 7:21)
As I was finishing the Sermon on the Mount, I told the story about the wise man who put into practice what I taught,and the foolish man who heard My words and didn't obey them and his life came crashing down (Matthew 7:24-27). 

When I washed My disciples' feet and demonstrated My love for them, I told them:
"You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and you are right, because that's what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other's feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them." 
(John 13:13-17 NLT)
When My own family came to see Me in the crowds, I told My disciples this:
"Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?" Then he [Jesus] looked at those around him and said, "Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does God's will is my brother and sister and mother." 
(Mark 3:33-35 NLT)
Do you remember what I said in the Great Commission about obedience?
"I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age." 
(Matthew 28:18-20 NLT)
So My question for some of you Christians is really simple: When are you going to quit just talking religion? When are you going to get around to doing what I ask, obeying what I taught, and doing something that makes a difference in the lives of real people? 

James is pretty clear about what I want from My disciples: Live holy lives and help needy people! It's really pretty simple to understand. So now I ask that you "Just Do It!"®
Verses to Live

Although these verses come from two different chapters in James, their thoughts parallel each other and drive home the message I want you to know and follow. All throughout Scripture, We — Father, Son, and Spirit — have called Our people to reflect our righteous character and gracious compassion. My half-brother James reminds you to do the same. Don't just read these truths; put them into practice! (Underlining highlights instruction about caring for the poor and forgotten while the bold emphasizes the necessity of faith that demonstrates itself in action.)

Listen, open your ears, harness your desire to speak, and don't get worked up into a rage so easily, my brothers and sisters. Human anger is a futile exercise that will never produce God's kind of justice in this world. So walk out on your corrupt liaison with smut and depraved living, and humbly welcome the word of truth that will blossom like the seed of salvation planted in your souls. 

Put the word into action. If you think hearing is what matters most, you are going to find you have been deceived. 

If some fail to do what God requires, it's as if they forget the word as soon as they hear it. One minute they look in the mirror, and the next they forget who they are and what they look like. However, it is possible to open your eyes and take in the beautiful, perfect truth found in God's law of liberty and live by it. If you pursue that path and actually do what God has commanded, then you will avoid the many distractions that lead to an amnesia of all true things and you will be blessed. 

If you put yourself on a pedestal, thinking you have become a role model in all things religious, but you can't control your mouth, then think again. Your mouth exposes your heart, and your religion is useless. Real, true religion from God the Father's perspective is about caring for the orphans and widows who suffer needlessly and resisting the evil influence of the world. 
(James 1:19-27) 

Brothers and sisters, it doesn't make any sense to say you have faith and act in a way that denies that faith. Mere talk never gets you very far, and a commitment to Jesus only in words will not save you. It would be like seeing a brother or sister without any clothes out in the cold and begging for food, and saying, "Shalom, friend, you should get inside where it's warm and eat something," but doing nothing about his needs — leaving him cold and alone on the street. What good would your words alone do? The same is true with faith. Without actions, faith is useless. By itself, it's as good as dead. I know what you're thinking: "OK, you have faith. And I have actions. Now let's see your faith without works, and I'll show you a faith that works." 

Do you think that just believing there's one God is going to get you anywhere? The demons believe that, too, and it terrifies them! The fact is, faith has to show itself through works performed in faith. If you don't recognize that, then you're an empty soul. Wasn't our father Abraham made right with God by laying his son Isaac on the altar? The faith in his heart was made known in his behavior. In fact, his commitment was perfected by his obedience. That's what Scripture means when it says, "Abraham entrusted himself to God, and God credited him with righteousness." And living a faithful life earned Abraham the title of "God's friend." Just like our father in the faith, we are made right with God through good works, not simply by what we believe or think. Even Rahab the prostitute was made right with God by hiding the spies and aiding in their escape. Removing action from faith is like removing breath from a body. All you have left is a corpse. 
(James 2:14-26)
Response in Prayer

Almighty God, thank You for Your words of truth in the Scriptures. Please help me understand and act on these Scriptures as I am guided and led by the Holy Spirit. I commit to living Your truth, O God, to honor You and be a blessing to those in need. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Thu 13 Jul 2017, 10:35 am

Released from the Curse" — A Year with Jesus for 07/13/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved Child of God, 

I love Peter's statement about the apostle Paul's writings:

And remember, our Lord's patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him — speaking of these things in all of his letters. Some of his comments are hard to understand... 
(2 Peter 3:15-16 NLT)
Some things Paul wrote are very easy for almost anyone to understand. Other things he wrote used technical language and logic, a kind of logic and reasoning that he had learned in the school of Gamaliel for rabbis (Acts 22:3). Today's verses contain some of that rabbinic style of teaching. So I want you to pay close attention to what Paul says and not lose his important message to you. 

Some people in the Galatian churches knew little about the Scriptures — what you call the Old Testament. Others were very accomplished in the study of the Scriptures. So Paul had to use different styles of teaching and different kinds of examples that made sense to these very different people. He wanted to bring them together in My church through the Father's grace. Some of Paul's teaching you will understand. Some may be a bit confusing. Don't let any confusion discourage you. With a little time and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you will be able to understand the most important things the Spirit led Paul to write to these new Christians. 

The fundamental truth behind what Paul wrote is very important. That truth is that your being made right with the Father depends on your faith in:
My sacrifice on the cross.
My resurrection from the dead.
My pouring out the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and on you at your conversion.
You are saved by faith in Me and what I did to save you, not by keeping any law! 

In your verses for today, Paul made several points about the inability of a law to save people and make them righteous. This inability of a law to save is true of all law, even the law of Moses. Here are some of the key points to notice in Paul's message:
Abraham was counted righteous by the Father because of his faith — not because he obeyed the Mosaic Law. (Abraham lived hundreds of years before the Mosaic law was given.)
People who trust in Me are counted righteous because of their faith just as Abraham was.
Trying to be counted righteous by obeying law ends only in frustration. If you break one law out of a system of laws, then you are guilty of all of the law. ("Cursed is everyone who doesn't live by and do all that is written in the law.")
I obeyed and fulfilled the law completely, then endured the cross to carry the curse of the law for you and to release you from that curse.
No one can be counted righteous or made right with the Father by obeying the law. The life the Father wants to give you is found only by trusting what I did to make you right with Him.
This life as the Father's beloved child is yours no matter your nationality, race, or gender. It is given you when you trust in Me and put Me on in baptism and become the Father's beloved child.
Verses to Live

Law in general, and the Mosaic law, which came from God, are good. They help limit the corruption in a society that comes from people who do evil things. They also help you better understand the kind of character the Father wants from you as His child. But no law-keeping can save you! Only I can do that. So quit trying to earn your salvation by trying to be better by doing a list of rules. Trust that what I did for you in my life, death, and resurrection makes you right with God. Realize that the good things you do and the godly life you try to lead are not done to earn Our favor or get you into heaven. You are choosing to do those things because you have been saved. You do them because you have been adopted into Our family. You want to share the character and compassion of the Father with others!

You remember Abraham. Scripture tells us, "Abraham believed God and trusted in His promises, so God counted it to his favor as righteousness." Know this: people who trust in God are the true sons and daughters of Abraham. For it was foretold to us in the Scriptures that God would set the Gentile nations right by faith when He told Abraham, "I will bless all nations through you." So those who have faith in Him are blessed along with Abraham, our faithful ancestor. 

Listen, whoever seeks to be righteous by following certain works of the law actually falls under the law's curse. I'm giving it to you straight from Scripture because it is as true now as when it was written: "Cursed is everyone who doesn't live by and do all that is written in the law." Now it is absolutely clear that no one is made right with God through the law because the prophet Habakkuk told us, "By faith the just will obtain life." The law is not the same thing as life formed by faith. In fact, you are warned against this when God says, "The one who observes My laws will live by them." I am trying to tell you that the Anointed One, the Liberating King, has redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. It was stated in the Scriptures, "Everyone who hangs on a tree is cursed by God." This is what God had in mind all along: the blessing He gave to Abraham might extend to all nations through the Anointed One, Jesus; and we are the beneficiaries of this promise of the Spirit that comes only through faith. 

My dear brothers and sisters, here's a real-life example I can give you: With a last will and testament, when all the property is accounted for, the document is signed, witnessed, and notarized; and afterward no one can make changes to it. In a similar way, God's promises established a binding agreement with Abraham and his offspring. In the Scriptures, it is carefully stated, "and to your descendant" (meaning one), not "and to your descendants" (meaning many). Therefore, in these covenant promises, God was not referring to every son and daughter born into Abraham's family but to the Anointed One to come. What this all means is that the law given to Israel comes along some 430 years after the promise made to Abraham; so it does not invalidate the covenant God previously agreed to or in any way do away with His promise. You see, if the law became the sole basis for the inheritance, then it would put God in the position of breaking a covenant because He had promised it to Abraham. 

Now you're asking yourselves, "So why did God give us the law?" God commanded His heavenly messengers to deliver it into the hand of a mediator for this reason: to help us rein in our sins until the Offspring, about whom the promise was made in the first place, would come. A mediator represents more than one, but God is only one. "So," you ask, "does the law contradict God's promise?" Absolutely not! Never was there written a law that could lead to resurrection and life; if there had been, then surely we could have experienced saving righteousness through keeping the law. But we haven't. Scripture has subjected the whole world to sin's power so that the faithful obedience of Jesus the Anointed might extend God's promises to everyone who has faith. Before faith came on the scene, the law did its best to keep us in line, restraining us until the faith that was to come was fully revealed. So then, the law was like a tutor, assigned to train us and point us to the Anointed, so that we will be acquitted of all wrong and made right by faith. But now that true faith has come, we have no need for a tutor. It is your faith in the Anointed Jesus that makes all of you children of God because all of you who have been initiated into the Anointed One through the ceremonial washing of baptism have put Him on. It makes no difference whether you are a Jew or a Greek, a slave or a freeman, a man or a woman, because in Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King, you are all one. Since you belong to Him and are now subject to His power, you are the descendant of Abraham and the heir of God's glory according to the promise. 
(Galatians 3:6-29)
Response in Prayer

O Father, I offer You my heart so that the Holy Spirit will help me understand and live Your truth. One thing I know, dear Father, is that You sent Jesus to save me and include me in Your family. So thank You from the bottom of my heart. I trust that what Jesus did not only paid for my sin but also provided the way for You to make me righteous in Your eyes. May the words of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart and the actions in my daily life show Your character and compassion to people in my world. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen. 


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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Wed 12 Jul 2017, 2:06 pm

Shocking Language, Amazing Grace!" — A Year with Jesus for 07/12/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

Some of Paul's language in his letter to the Galatians is harsh. He begins his letter without his normal prayer of thanksgiving for them. (Even though the congregations in Corinth were a spiritual mess, Paul began his letter to the Corinthians with a prayer of thanksgiving.) The lack of his normal thanksgiving combined with the strong language Paul used toward those promoting legalism should be shocking to you. It was shocking to them. However, Paul wanted to get their attention! Grace and My good news message were at stake:

No matter the source of the false gospel [you people of Galatia are now believing], even if it is preached by us [Paul and the apostles] or a heavenly messenger, ignore it. May those who add to or subtract from the gospel of Jesus be eternally cursed! Listen again: if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than what you have accepted, may he find himself cursed. 
(Galatians 1:8-9)
Paul demanded their attention with these very harsh, but needed words! 

Paul went on in his letter to the Galatians to share his open rebuke of Cephas, whom you know as Peter. He and Barnabas had behaved poorly, their treatment of Gentile brothers and sisters were sinful and influenced by Jewish prejudice (Galatians 2:11-18). In the verses you will read today, you will see Paul use tough words again — notice especially the words emphasized in bold. Paul was using very intense language. What was the compelling reason for such a sharp edge to Paul's words? The truth of My gospel was being perverted.
Are people justified before the Father and accepted as His beloved children because they have earned it through their good works? No! They are justified because they hear the message of My gospel and accept it by faith.
Are people accepted as holy and considered part of the Father's family because they obey a set of rules? No! The Father's acceptance and the grace they receive move them to act consistently with My character and compassion as they are led by the Holy Spirit.
Too many teach and so many labor under the false notion that they have to earn their way to heaven. This false understanding was true with the Galatians. It is also true in your day. People fear that they have to work hard to gain the favor of an angry god. This fear is not the teaching of My gospel. This false concept is not the truth about your God. This legalistic approach to righteousness is not the truth about the Father Who sent Me. It is not the truth about Me. Since I gave up everything to save you, why would I or My Father give you a set of obscure religious obstacles for you to navigate so you could find My grace? A false approach to discipleship based on your accomplishments drips with the rot of the devil's vile work. It is not the truth about the Holy Spirit Who lives in you to comfort, encourage, and empower you. 

You do not have to earn Our loving grace. I came to give you that grace. I paid the debt of sin so you could experience that grace. I ask you to accept that grace through faith in what I did for you. You don't do good deeds to earn My favor. Your acts of kindness toward others are your response to the grace you have received. Your good deeds are your demonstrated appreciation for your salvation and adoption in My family. These actions are also a reflection of who you are becoming by the power of the Spirit — you are being transformed to be like Me (2 Corinthians 3:18)! 

When you became a child of the Father, I gave you the Holy Spirit to live in you (Acts 2:38-39; Titus 3:3-7; Romans 8:9) and to empower you to live as the Father's child in your world (Romans 8:13; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18). As you will see in a few days, the Spirit is at work to produce character and compassion in you that reflect My nature. This evidence of the Spirit's work in you is called the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). The Holy Spirit is your guarantee of ultimate salvation (2 Corinthians 5:4-5; Ephesians 1:13-14). So don't just begin your life in Me through the Spirit; seek the Spirit's help in all you do!
Verses to Live

Paul chose strong language to address My followers in Galatia. He chose this harsh language because his message was vitally important to them. If they gave up grace, they would lose Me and the salvation I came to bring them! He's telling them, "Don't give up grace for law-keeping. Don't give up the power of the Holy Spirit for your own futile efforts to live for Me." Some of his strong language in the verses below is in bold. On the other hand, also notice the underlined words where Paul mentioned the great spiritual benefits of faith, the Spirit, and love.

Galatians, don't act like fools! Has someone cast a spell over you? Did you miss the crucifixion of Jesus the Anointed that was reenacted right in front of your eyes? Tell me this: Did the Holy Spirit come upon you because you lived according to the law? Or was it because you heard His message of grace through faith? Are you so foolish? Do you think you can perfect something God's Spirit started with any human effort? Have you suffered so greatly for nothing — if it was indeed for nothing? You have experienced the Spirit He gave you in powerful ways. Miracle after miracle has occurred right before your eyes in this community, so tell me: did all this happen because you have kept certain provisions of God's law, or was it because you heard the gospel and accepted it by faith? 
(Galatians 3:1-5) 

So stand strong for our freedom! The Anointed One freed us so we wouldn't spend one more day under the yoke of slavery, trapped under the law. 

Listen because I, Paul, am going to make this message very clear so it cannot be misunderstood: if you undergo the rite of circumcision, then all that the Anointed accomplished will be lost on you. And understand this: if you choose to be circumcised, then you will oblige yourself to do every single rule of the law for the rest of your life. You, and anyone else who seeks to be on the right side of God through the law, have effectively been cut off from the Anointed, circumcised from grace, and cast off from the favor of God. We, on the other hand, continue to live through the Spirit's power and wait confidently in the hope that things will be put right through faith. Here's the thing: in Jesus the Anointed whether you are circumcised or not makes no difference. What makes a difference is faith energized by love. 

Who has impeded your progress and kept you from obeying the truth? You were off to such a good start. I know for certain the pressure isn't coming from God. He keeps calling you to the truth. You know what they say, "Just a little yeast causes all the dough to rise," so even the slightest detour from the truth will take you to a destination you do not desire. Despite this, I'm confident because the Lord reassures me that you will truly hear and take my message to heart. Besides, I also know that these troublemakers, whoever they are, will answer to God and be judged accordingly. As for me, brothers and sisters, if I continue to preach circumcision — as these agitators claim — then why do I still face persecution? If I were to preach a compromised version of the good news, then the scandal of the cross would come to an end. I really wish that these people who weigh you down with corrupt counsel would mutilate themselves. 
(Galatians 5:1-12)
Response in Prayer

O Father, I don't want to delude myself into thinking that I can be transformed by my own power to become the person You want me to be. Thank You for the grace You have given me in Jesus. Your grace has saved me. Thank You for the continuing grace of the Holy Spirit within me — the Spirit Who is at work to transform me to be more and more like Jesus. I give You thanks and praise You for Your grace to me in Jesus. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.

Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Fri 07 Jul 2017, 6:56 pm

"Freedom and Forgiveness" — A Year with Jesus for 07/07/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Believer, 

The verses you read today are from Paul's sermon in the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch. As a rabbi trained by the respected Gamaliel (Acts 5:34; Acts 22:3), Paul would have been readily invited to speak after the readings from what you call the Old Testament — "passages from the Law and the Prophets." Paul's message to these devoted Jewish followers of "I AM" — the English translation for the covenant name for Us (Father, Son, and Spirit) given to the Hebrew people through Moses (Exodus 3:14-15) — was very similar to the sermon Peter preached on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:22-41). 

Paul's sermon stressed something very important that Peter's sermon also included, but did not emphasize in quite the same way. Notice these words from the preaching of My servant, Paul:

So you must realize, my brothers, that through this resurrected man forgiveness of sins is assured to you. Through Jesus, everyone who believes is set free from all sins — sins which the law of Moses could not release you from.
This message was the essence of Paul's ministry, especially to Jews — to emphasize that I came as the fulfillment of God's promises in "the Law and the Prophets." Through my sacrificial death, burial, and resurrection, I brought liberation from sin, liberation that no other sacrifice or act of obedience could bring! When I called Paul on the road to Damascus, this truth was one of the things I called him to preach to both Jews and non-Jews. When I appeared to him on the road, Paul asked Who it was that was appearing to him. As Paul explained later in his defense before King Agrippa, I replied:
I am Jesus, the One you are persecuting. Get up now, and stand upright on your feet. I have appeared to you for a reason. I am appointing you to serve Me. You are to tell My story and how you have now seen Me, and you are to continue to tell the story in the future. I will rescue you from your Jewish opponents and from the outsiders — for it is to the outsiders I am sending you. It will be your mission to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the kingdom of Satan to the kingdom of God. This is so that they may receive forgiveness of all their sins and have a place among those who are set apart for a holy purpose through having faith in Me. 
(Acts 26:15-18)
The cities where Paul preached on the trip you are reading about in Acts made up a region that was often called Galatia. He would soon need to write the letter of Galatians to remind those folks not to compromise on the good news he had shared with them. Listen to his strong words:
Frankly I am stunned. I cannot believe that you have abandoned God so quickly — even after He called you through the grace of the Anointed One — and have fallen for a different gospel. Actually there is only one true gospel of the Anointed, and you — because of divisive prodding by others — are accepting a distorted version which is not the gospel at all! 

No matter the source of the false gospel, even if it is preached by us or a heavenly messenger, ignore it. May those who add to or subtract from the gospel of Jesus be eternally cursed! Listen again: if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than what you have accepted, may he find himself cursed! 
(Galatians 1:6-9)
Apart from Me, there is no gospel, no true good news that liberates from law, sin, and death. I AM the One Whom Paul passionately preached as Messiah, Savior, Son of God, and Lord!
Verses to Live

I hope you realize as you read the verses below, and in a few days when we go through the letter to the Galatians, that My gospel is different from any other religion. It is based on grace — the freedom and forgiveness that come from trusting and sharing in My death, burial, and resurrection. This grace sets you free from the law, sin, and death (Romans 6:1-23). It is a revolutionary message. It is not another religious message about trying to be good enough to get into heaven. It is a radical message that calls you to abandon your futile attempts to save yourself. It invites you to accept My sacrifice and My grace. It calls you to live for Me with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength out of appreciation for the salvation you have received. It calls you to love your neighbors as yourself because you want them to share in this grace.

Paul and his entourage boarded a ship and set sail from Paphos. They traveled north to Perga in Pamphylia. John Mark, however, abandoned the mission and returned to Jerusalem. 

Paul and Barnabas continued from Perga to Pisidian Antioch; and on the Sabbath, they entered the synagogue and sat down. After the regular reading of the Hebrew Scriptures — including passages from the Law and the Prophets — the synagogue leaders sent a message to them: "Brothers, if you would like to give us some exhortation, please do so." Paul rose to his feet, offered a gesture of greeting, and began his message. 

Paul:
Israelites and other God-fearing people, please hear me. The God of the Israelites chose our ancestors and helped them become a large population while they were living in Egypt many years ago. He displayed His great power by leading them out of that powerful nation. For about 40 years, He endured their constant complaining in the wilderness. He opened up some land for them in Canaan by destroying the seven nations living there, and that land became their inheritance for about 450 years. They had tribal leaders through the time of the prophet Samuel. Then they asked for a king, and God gave them one — Saul, son of Kish, of the tribe of Benjamin — who reigned for 40 years. After God moved Saul aside, He made David king in his place. God had this to say about David: "I have found David, son of Jesse, to be a man after My own heart. He's the kind of king who will rule in ways that please Me." God has selected one of David's descendants as the long-promised Liberator of Israel. I am speaking of Jesus. 

Before Jesus arrived on the scene, His cousin John was hard at work, proclaiming to all the people of Israel a ceremonial washing through baptism and pointing to a new direction in thought and life. John's ministry climaxed when he said, "Who do you assume me to be? I am not the One you're looking for. No, but One is coming after me, One Whose sandal thong I am unworthy to untie." My brothers, fellow descendants of our common father Abraham, and others here who fear God, we are the ones to whom God has sent this message of salvation. 

But you know the people of Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognize Jesus. They didn't understand the words of the prophets that are read in the synagogues on Sabbath after Sabbath. As a result, they fulfilled the ancient prophecies by condemning Jesus. Even though they could find no offense punishable by death, still they asked Pilate to execute Jesus. When they carried out everything that had been foretold by the prophets, they took His body down from the tree and laid Him in a tomb. But that was not the end: God raised Him from the dead, and over a period of many days, He appeared to those who had been His companions from the beginning of their journey in Galilee until its end in Jerusalem. They are now witnesses to everyone. We are here to bring you the good news of God's promise to our ancestors, which He has now fulfilled for our children by raising Jesus. Consider the promises fulfilled in Jesus. The psalmist says, "You are My Son; today I have become Your Father." 

Elsewhere God promises that Jesus will rise and never return to death and corruption again: "I will make You the holy and faithful promises I made to David." Similarly, another psalm says, "You will not abandon Me to experience death and the grave or leave Me to rot alone." We all know David died and was reduced to dust after he served God's purpose in his generation; these words obviously apply not to David but to the One God raised from death before suffering decay. So you must realize, my brothers, that through this resurrected man forgiveness of sins is assured to you. Through Jesus, everyone who believes is set free from all sins — sins which the law of Moses could not release you from. In light of all this, be careful that you do not fulfill these words of the prophet Habakkuk:
Look, you scoffers! 
Be shocked to death. 
For in your days I am doing a work, 
a work you will never believe, even if someone tells you plainly!
Paul and Barnabas prepared to leave the synagogue, but the people wanted to hear more and urged them to return the following Sabbath. As the people dispersed after the meeting, many Jews and converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas. Privately Paul and Barnabas continued teaching them and urged them to remain steadfast in the grace of God. 
(Acts 13:13-43)
Response in Prayer

O Father God, thank You for the gift of grace that was purchased at such a high price by Your Son and my Savior, Jesus of Nazareth, the promised Messiah, and my Lord. I trust in His sacrifice and resurrection, and I want to share that grace with others. Please empower me to do this through Your Holy Spirit that Jesus has given me. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Thu 06 Jul 2017, 3:03 pm

"Listening for My Call" — A Year with Jesus for 07/06/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious Disciple, 

To truly worship Me as Lord you must offer yourself to Me heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:28-31). Your worship acknowledges My sovereignty as King and also acknowledges the only truly and living God as Father, Son, and Spirit. This worship invites the Holy Spirit to bring the character and compassion of the kingdom of heaven into your world. The Spirit longs to make clear what you need to do to fulfill My mission in your lost world. This guidance from the Holy Spirit is something I promised you and prayed for you on the night I was betrayed (John 14:1-31; John 15:1-27; John 16:1-33). This guidance from the Spirit unleashed in worship (Ephesians 5:15-21; Acts 13:1-3) leads you to fulfilling my mission and is something I again promised to you before I ascended into heaven (Acts 1:8). 

Genuine worship, whether individual in your everyday life or in community, should lead you to achieving your mission. This appeal has been true through the ages — the call of Isaiah came during a powerful time of worship and is a great example of this principle (Isaiah 6:1-8). It was true of My earliest disciples. It should be true in you. Worshiping Me leads to mission outreach with Me. That is the natural direction worship leads My disciples. That is what happened in community worship for the church in Antioch with Barnabas and Paul in the verses below. 

Paul (who is still identified at this point in Acts by his Jewish name, Saul) and Barnabas delivered the contribution of Christians in Antioch to the believers in Jerusalem. This gift was to help the Jerusalem believers through the severe famine that Agabus had prophesied (Acts 11:27-30). On returning to Antioch, Paul and Barnabas were accompanied by Barnabas' cousin Mark (also known as John Mark). Mark was the son of a very influential lady in Jerusalem who had hosted meetings for Me in My ministry and for the early disciples in her home (Acts 12:12). Mark would accompany Barnabas and Paul on the early part of their first mission trip. And even though he had his moments of failure (Acts 13:13), Barnabas mentored him (Acts 15:37-39) and Mark proved to be incredibly valuable to Paul later (2 Timothy 4:11-13) and to My church through the ages through the influence of his writings. 

Barnabas and Paul returned to Antioch with this young disciple. They joined in worship and fasting with the other Christians in Antioch. In their worship, the Spirit made clear that Barnabas and Paul (Saul), who were two of their most important leaders, needed to be sent out on a mission. So with prayer and more fasting they placed their hands on these two and sent them to bless people in other places who had never heard the good news of My grace. Mark accompanied them on the early part of this crucial mission journey.

Verses to Live

When you worship, anticipate the movement of the Spirit in your worship to lead you and stir you to mission. The event described in the following verses is not just the story of what happened in the early church long ago. It is also a reminder of what the Spirit longs to lead you and your fellow believers to do today!

Meanwhile, the time Barnabas and Saul spent in Jerusalem came to an end, and they reported back to Antioch, bringing along John, who was also called Mark. 

The church in Antioch had grown strong, with many prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon (a dark man from Central Africa), Lucius (from Cyrene in North Africa), Manaen (a member of Herod's governing council), and Saul. Once they were engaged in a time of worship and fasting when the Holy Spirit spoke to them, "Commission Barnabas and Saul to a project I have called them to accomplish." They fasted and prayed some more, laid their hands on the two selected men, and sent them off on their new mission. Having received special commissioning by the Holy Spirit, Barnabas and Saul went to nearby Seleucia on the coast. Then they caught a ship to the island of Cyprus. 
(Acts 12:25; Acts 13:1-4)
Response in Prayer

O Father, as I worship you individually, and as I worship you with other Christians, I offer myself to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Stir my heart with joy and enthusiasm. Convict my heart of sin, including the sin I do not or will not see in myself. Convict and correct me gently, O God, but please do convict and correct me, both for my good and for Your glory. Open my eyes and my heart to the mission to which You are calling me. Give me the courage to go and to serve and to share the gospel of Jesus in tangible ways as the Spirit leads me. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen. 

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.

Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International..
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Wed 05 Jul 2017, 9:11 pm

"Surprised?" — A Year with Jesus for 07/05/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

I hope you enjoy reading the verses below as much as I enjoyed being at work in the lives of My disciples bringing them deliverance. 

You have to admit that the reaction of the early believers to Peter's release from prison in this account would be humorous, except for the fact that so much was at stake. Peter's life was on the line. James had just been martyred for My cause. These early disciples were praying "constantly and intensely" for Peter's deliverance. They were down to a few hours before Peter's scheduled execution. Then, they saw their prayers answered as they hoped they would be. However, when Rhoda told these praying disciples that Peter was at the door knocking to get inside, they told her, "Rhoda, you're crazy!" 

Peter was equally shocked and surprised by the events as they unfolded! He "assumes he was dreaming" when the mighty messenger from heaven, one of My angels, appeared to him. This heavenly messenger assured, instructed, and delivered Peter from the soldiers on each side of him, from the double chains that bound him, from the prison that held him, and from the impending execution scheduled for him. 

In addition, My people also were delivered from a tyrannical ruler. This Herod was from a family of three rulers all called Herod. Each of these three had opposed Me at different times — at My birth, at My trial before My crucifixion, and in My ministry through My people in the earliest days of My church. The arrogance of this batch of evil rulers ended with a gross and ugly death of this last Herod, who was eaten by worms. 

Surprised? 

Yes, My people were surprised by Peter's liberation and deliverance from Herod's desire to execute him and by their deliverance from the harm that Herod had planned for them. 

Yes, Herod in his arrogance during a grand moment of earthly praise was surprised by his bitter end. 

Yes, the enemies of the early disciples were surprised by the deliverance that We — Father, Son, and Spirit — won for our people when things were so tenuous. 

Yes, We are the God of the Exodus. We helped David defeat Goliath. We defeated the power of death and crucifixion leaving behind the empty tomb. 

What lies ahead for you, dear beloved, is surprise after surprise until you share with all of Our redeemed, throughout all history, in the grandest surprise of all: ultimate deliverance! This surprise really should be no surprise at all because of our guarantee: the Holy Spirit! (Ephesians 1:13-14)

Verses to Live

Psalm 2 speaks powerfully about the ultimate defeat of any earthly ruler who sets himself up as a rival to God's Anointed Son — that's Me, Jesus, your Lord and Messiah. So despite "hard times" coming to the disciples, I delivered them. I also will deliver you. 

Years after Peter's deliverance, My apostle Paul described deliverance coming to him in one of two ways. One of these will most certainly be your deliverance as well:

And I will continue to rejoice. For I know that as you pray for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ helps me, this will lead to my deliverance. For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. 
(Philippians 1:18-20 NLT)
Paul was confident that I would deliver him either from death and to productive service or through death to be with Me. I AM the Lord of deliverance! My deliverance also is exemplified in the following account about Peter and other early believers in Jerusalem.
Back in Jerusalem, hard times came to the disciples. King Herod violently seized some who belonged to the church with the intention of mistreating them. He ordered James (brother of John) to be executed by the sword, the first of those appointed as emissaries to be martyred. This move pleased Jewish public opinion, so he decided to arrest Peter also. During the holy festival of Unleavened Bread, he caught Peter and imprisoned him, assigning four squads of soldiers to guard him. He planned to bring him to trial publicly after the Passover holiday. 

During Peter's imprisonment, the church prayed constantly and intensely to God for his safety. Their prayers were not answered, until the night before Peter's execution. 

Picture this event: Peter is sound asleep between two soldiers, double-chained, with still more guards outside the prison door watching for external intruders. Suddenly the cell fills with light: it is a messenger of the Lord manifesting himself. He taps Peter on the side, awakening him. 

Messenger of the Lord:
Get up, quickly.
The chains fall off Peter's wrists. 

Messenger of the Lord:
Come on! Put on your belt. Put on your sandals.
Peter puts them on and just stands there. 

Messenger of the Lord:
Pull your cloak over your shoulders. Come on! Follow me!
Peter does so, but he is completely dazed. He doesn't think this is really happening — he assumes he is dreaming or having a vision. They pass the first guard. They pass the second guard. They come to the iron gate that opens to the city. The gate swings open for them on its own, and they walk into a lane. Suddenly the messenger disappears. 

Peter finally realized all that had really happened. 

Peter:
Amazing! The Lord has sent His messenger to rescue me from Herod and the public spectacle of my execution which the Jews fully expected.
Peter immediately rushed over to the home of a woman named Mary. (Mary's son, John Mark, would eventually become an important associate of the apostles.) A large group had gathered there to pray for Peter and his safety. He knocked at the outer gate; and a maid, Rhoda, answered. She recognized Peter's voice, but she was so overcome with excitement that she left him standing on the street and ran inside to tell everyone. 

Rhoda:
Our prayers were answered! Peter is at the front gate!
Praying Believers:
Rhoda, you're crazy!
Rhoda:
No! Peter's out there! I'm sure of it!
Praying Believers:
Well, maybe it's his guardian angel or something.
All this time, Peter was still out in the street, knocking on the gate. Finally they came and let him in. Of course, the disciples were stunned, and everyone was talking at once. Peter motioned for them to quiet down and then told them the amazing story of how the Lord engineered his escape. 

Peter:
Could you please get word to James, our Lord's brother, and the other believers that I'm all right?
Then he left to find a safer place to stay. 

But when morning came and Peter was gone, there was a huge uproar among the soldiers. Herod sent troops to find Peter, but he was missing. Herod interrogated the guards and ordered their executions. Peter headed down toward the coast to Caesarea, and he remained there. 

At this time there was major political upheaval. Herod was at odds with the populace of neighboring Tyre and Sidon, so the two cities sent a large group of representatives to meet with him. They won over one of Herod's closest associates, Blastus, the director of the treasury; then they pressured Herod to drop his grudge. Cooperation was important to the two cities because they were all major trading partners and depended on Herod's territory for food. They struck a deal, and Herod came over to ratify it. Dressed in all his royal finery and seated high above them on a platform, he made a speech; and the people of Tyre and Sidon interrupted with cheers to flatter him. 

The People:
This is the voice of a god! This is no mere mortal!
Herod should have given glory to the true God; but since he vainly accepted their flattery, that very day a messenger of the Lord struck him with an illness. It was an ugly disease, involving putrefaction and worms eating his flesh. Eventually he died. 

Through all this upheaval, God's message spread to new frontiers and attracted more and more people. 
(Acts 12:1-24)
Response in Prayer

Thank You, O God — Father, Son, and Spirit — for repeatedly surprising Your people with Your deliverance. Thank You for every prayer for deliverance that has been answered with a "Yes!" — whether deliverance from death to new service or through death to new life with You forever. I thank You for your providence and guiding grace even when my prayers are not answered in the way I had hoped and thought best. I trust in Your grace and my complete deliverance when Jesus returns and all my prayers find their "Yes!" in Your ultimate deliverance! In Jesus' name, I thank You. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.

Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.
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