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HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin Yesterday at 10:25 pm

"The Spirit of Grace Under Fire" — A Year with Jesus for 06/24/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Believer, 

Today I want to give you a glimpse of My servant, Stephen. In the verses below, you will see how he followed My example when faced with death:

He rested his trust in life after death in My hands; he said: "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."
As he died, he forgave those who murdered him and asked Me to forgive them: "Lord, do not hold this evil against them."
As Stephen died, he was allowed to see Me in all My heavenly glory and know that his faith in Me was worth the high cost he was paying. He said:
Look, I see the heavens opening! I see the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.
Stephen had been one of those selected to help the neglected Grecian widows receive their needed food — neglecting these Grecian widows was a problem the early church addressed, and I visited with you about that problem yesterday. He was selected because he was "full of the Holy Spirit and full of wisdom" (Acts 6:3-5). 

Notice in the verses below that the power and influence of the Spirit on Stephen and through him continued to grow as he lived for Me and ministered in My name:
The Holy Spirit gave Stephen such wisdom in responding to their arguments that they were humiliated.
But Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit. Gazing upward into heaven, he saw something they couldn't see: the glory of God, and Jesus standing at His right hand.
The Holy Spirit not only empowered Stephen but also brought him words to say in the face of those who opposed My message and brought him personal comfort as he faced his death. 

Following My example as I went to the cross, Stephen faced death with courage and confidence. He ministered by the power of the Holy Spirit. Just as the Holy Spirit worked through Stephen in his life, the Spirit also worked through him in his death. The Spirit used Stephen's death to take the flame of faith and spread its sparks throughout the region as My disciples were driven from Jerusalem. My death and resurrection became the foundation for the wonderful things that happened on Pentecost for the thousands of Jewish people who were saved. The Holy Spirit similarly used Stephen's death as the initial impetus to spread My salvation outside of Jerusalem and eventually throughout the Roman Empire to non-Jews. What the evil one intended for harm, the Holy Spirit turned around and used for good. What the devil tried to use to snuff out the flame of faith, the Spirit used to spread that flame.
Verses to Live

Stephen's death was brutal and jarring. Just as My disciples were gaining momentum and increasing in number, Stephen was martyred. So as you read this account of his death, remember how the Spirit used this tragedy to begin the spread of the gospel to all nations. 

Saul, who was present when Stephen was martyred, later was called Paul and was the great evangelist, especially to non-Jews. The early believers were scattered, taking My story all around the surrounding regions to both Jews and non-Jews. The sparks of grace scattered after the death of Stephen become the spreading flame of grace to the Gentile world.

Stephen continually overflowed with extraordinary grace and power, and he was able to perform a number of miraculous signs and wonders in public view. But eventually a group arose to oppose Stephen and the message to which his signs and wonders pointed. (These men were from a group called the Free Synagogue and included Cyrenians, Alexandrians, Cilicians, and Asians.) The Holy Spirit gave Stephen such wisdom in responding to their arguments that they were humiliated; in retaliation, they spread a vicious rumor: "We heard Stephen speak blasphemies against Moses and God." 

Their rumor prompted an uprising that included common people, religious officials, and scholars. They surprised Stephen, grabbed him, and hauled him before the council. They convinced some witnesses to give false testimony. 

False Witnesses:
This fellow constantly degrades the holy temple and mocks our holy law. With our own ears, we've heard him say this Jesus fellow, this Nazarene he's always talking about, will actually destroy the holy temple and will try to change the sacred customs we received from Moses.
The entire council turned its gaze on Stephen to see how he would respond. They were shocked to see his face radiant with peace — as if he were a heavenly messenger. 
(Acts 6:8-15) 

Stephen:
You stubborn, stiff-necked people! Sure, you are physically Jews, but you are no different from outsiders in your hearts and ears! You are just like your ancestors, constantly fighting against the Holy Spirit. Didn't your ancestors persecute the prophets? First, they killed those prophets who predicted the coming of the Just One; and now, you have betrayed and murdered the Just One Himself! Yes, you received the law as given by heavenly messengers, but you haven't kept the law which you received.
Upon hearing this, his audience could contain themselves no longer. They boiled in fury at Stephen; they clenched their jaws and ground their teeth. But Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit. Gazing upward into heaven, he saw something they couldn't see: the glory of God, and Jesus standing at His right hand. 

Stephen:
Look, I see the heavens opening! I see the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!
At this, they covered their ears and started shouting. The whole crowd rushed at Stephen, converged on him, dragged him out of the city, and stoned him. 

They laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul, while they were pelting Stephen with rocks. 

Stephen (as rocks fell upon him):
Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
Then he knelt in prayer, shouting at the top of his lungs, 

Stephen:
Lord, do not hold this evil against them.
Those were his final words; then he fell asleep in death. 

Some devout men buried Stephen and mourned his passing with loud cries of grief. But Saul, this young man who seemed to be supervising the whole violent event, was pleased by Stephen's death. That very day, the whole church in Jerusalem began experiencing severe persecution. All of the followers of Jesus — except for the emissaries themselves — fled to the countryside of Judea and Samaria. Young Saul went on a rampage — hunting the church, house after house, dragging both men and women to prison. 
(Acts 7:51-60; Acts 8:1-3)
Response in Prayer

O Father, thank You for leaving Stephen's story for my encouragement. I am thinking today of the thousands of fellow believers who are martyred each year. Please use this ultimate evidence of their faith as shown through their deaths to spread Your grace to those who do not yet know the story of Jesus. I am also thinking today of the untold thousands upon thousands who have been martyred since the beginning of the church. I pray that I can be as courageous and faithful. I pray that the Holy Spirit will use me to share Jesus' story with others. Thank You for this great legacy of sacrificial faith and the assurance that, as an early church leader said, "[T]he blood of martyrs is the seed of the church." To Jesus' glory and in Jesus' name, I pray. Amen. 


The quote in the prayer is from Tertullian, found in Wikipedia, which explains: 
The 2nd-century church father Tertullian wrote that "the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church," implying that the martyrs' willing sacrifice of their lives leads to the conversion of others.
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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 17 Jun 2017, 6:18 pm

"God-breathed Scripture" — A Year with Jesus for 06/17/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

One of the great blessings that you have received from Us — Father, Son, and Spirit — is the Bible, the "holy Scriptures." Many people have died over the centuries because of their commitment to translate, protect, and preserve these Scriptures so that you could have them in your own language. 

We want you to appreciate the incredible blessings of having Our message to you written in human words. We used human partners to pass on Our message to you. The Spirit gave them Our message to convey the truth. To help you understand the message of these Scriptures, we have given you two great gifts. 

First, I came to you incarnate — God's greatest message and ultimate Word to you (John 1:1-18 NIV; Hebrews 1:1-3). My witnesses, whose words you read in your New Testament, emphasize that everything you know about the Scriptures needs to be filtered through Who I AM, what I taught, and how I lived God's truth:

...the holy Scriptures, which enable you to be wise and lead to salvation through faith in Jesus the Anointed. (2 Timothy 3:15)
...in these last days, it [God's message] has come to us through His Son... (Hebrews 1:2)
No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, Who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. (John 1:18 NIV)
In Jesus we hear a resounding "yes" to all of God's many promises. (2 Corinthians 1:20)
Listen again: if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than what you have accepted, may he find himself cursed! (Galatians 1:9)
"Here you are scouring through the Scriptures, hoping that you will find eternal life among a pile of scrolls. What you don't seem to understand is that the Scriptures point to Me [Jesus]." (John 5:39)
"I [Jesus] AM the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6 NIV)
Second, We breathed Our message into inspired and authoritative human partners to write words of truth for you to understand, apply, and live. Before the New Testament was written and the various parts were put into an authoritative collection, the term "holy Scriptures" referred to what many of you call the Old Testament — the books of Moses, the Prophets, and the Writings. These writings were authoritative because they came from Us:
But notice first that no prophecy found in Scripture is a matter of the prophet's own interpretation. Prophecy has never been a product of human initiative, but it comes when men and women are moved to speak on behalf of God by the Holy Spirit. 
(2 Peter 1:20-21)
Verses to Live

During the first century of the church, the writings of the apostles were also being recognized as the "holy Scriptures" (2 Peter 3:15-16 NIV). So as you read the two passages below, remember two additional truths. First, the message of these New Testament witnesses should be regarded as Scripture. It carries the authority of the Holy Spirit speaking through them. Second, these words come to you through the partnership of the Divine — the Father's will, My example, and the Holy Spirit's action — and those who are human — those We used to transmit that message and to be a great example of that message. Please, take the Scriptures seriously. Use them to help you grow as My disciple. Offer yourself to the study of the Scriptures so that you can become someone trained to do My work and live My will in your world.

Take also the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 
(Ephesians 6:17) 

So surely you ought to stick to what you know is certain. All you have learned comes from people you know and trust because since childhood you have known the holy Scriptures, which enable you to be wise and lead to salvation through faith in Jesus the Anointed. All of Scripture is God-breathed; in its inspired voice, we hear useful teaching, rebuke, correction, instruction, and training for a life that is right so that God's people may be up to the task ahead and have all they need to accomplish every good work. 
(2 Timothy 3:14-17)
Response in Prayer

Father, words cannot describe how blessed we are to have received Your message in human words. It is indeed a blessing to know Jesus, the living Word, as our great example and teacher to help us know how to live Your truth. Thank You as well for the Holy Spirit, Who inspired and breathed out Your message through human partners. Thank You! I commit to use Your Word and your inspired Scriptures to change my life as you transform me to be like 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.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Fri 16 Jun 2017, 10:22 pm

"The Apostles' Teaching" — A Year with Jesus for 06/16/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Believer, 

Have you ever asked yourself questions like the following:

Why is the Bible important?
Is it really necessary?
Do I have to read it?
Do I have to obey it and live by its teachings?
If so, you are not alone in having these questions. So before we go further into the New Testament story in the coming days, I wanted to give you some insights into the importance of the Scriptures. We will spend today and the next two days with this focus. Then we will rejoin the church in its earliest days in the book of Acts and journey through the rest of the New Testament. Before we do this, I AM reminding you of some of the reasons the Scriptures are important to your discipleship. 

Today we join those who began following Me on the day of Pentecost. When 3,000 believed the apostles' message, repented and were baptized, I added them to My family, My church (Acts 2:40-47). So what would their new life together look like? How would all these people come together and form a real movement united around their faith in Me? 

The passage you find in the verses below gives you a glimpse of that new lifestyle. Luke, who wrote both the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts, helps you see four important commitments for their life together:
"learning what the apostles taught them",
"gathering for fellowship",
"breaking bread", and
"praying".
He then explains these four commitments in more detail. 

Each of these things is important as you come together with other believers as a community of disciples. However, today I want to focus on the first commitment: "learning what the apostles taught." I had promised My apostles that the Spirit of truth would remind them of the things that I had spoken to them (John 15:26-27; John 16:13-15). I gave them authority to teach, preach and cast out demons (Mark 3:13-15; Mark 6:7; Matthew 28:18-20; Galatians 2:7-9). This commission made their teaching authoritative, and something My disciples in every era need to receive as My authoritative message. 

One of the reasons I will take you through the New Testament during the remainder of this year is that I want to expose you to My authoritative truth shared through My witnesses, the apostles and also other witnesses. I want you to be like those early disciples and commit yourself to "learning what the apostles taught." You won't be alone in this journey. The Holy Spirit will be at work in you as you read these words of truth to help you understand them, be convicted by them, and apply them (John 16:8; John 16:13-15). The Holy Spirit will help you understand the spiritual truths given through His inspiration (1 Corinthians 2:6-16). So commit yourself, as the early believers did, to learning the apostles' teaching given in the Scriptures!
Verses to Live

Here is Luke's glimpse of the early believers and their Christian lifestyle. All of these qualities are essential and should be a part of your spiritual community and its lifestyle. Today, however, I want you to focus on the importance of the apostles' teaching.

The community [of believers] continually committed themselves to learning what the apostles taught them, gathering for fellowship, breaking bread, and praying. Everyone felt a sense of awe because the apostles were doing many signs and wonders among them. There was an intense sense of togetherness among all who believed; they shared all their material possessions in trust. They sold any possessions and goods that did not benefit the community and used the money to help everyone in need. They were unified as they worshiped at the temple day after day. In homes, they broke bread and shared meals with glad and generous hearts. The new disciples praised God, and they enjoyed the goodwill of all the people of the city. Day after day the Lord added to their number everyone who was experiencing liberation. 
(Acts 2:42-47)
Response in Prayer

Father, I thank You for Your word. I thank You for Your word given through Scripture. I thank You for Your word heard in the proclamation of the good news about Jesus. I thank You for Jesus, the living Word, Who is Your greatest message of all. Today, dear Father, I commit myself to be dedicated to listening to Jesus' voice in the Scriptures. I pray for the help of the Holy Spirit to convict me, correct me, direct me, and mold me to be transformed daily to be like 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.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Thu 15 Jun 2017, 11:24 pm

"The Mystery of Godliness" — A Year with Jesus for 06/15/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend, 

I love it when one of My servants makes the message about Me and My grace very clear and concise. The apostle Paul was hoping to join Timothy in Ephesus and bless both Timothy and the church. He knew many of those believers well. There were all sorts of discussions, arguments, and speculations in Ephesus about "mysterious" truth. Rather than making the truth about Me difficult, Paul wrote a beautifully simple and poetic statement of truth about Me. You find that truth in the verses below. 

I share this focus with you today because I want you to have a clear summary of what My incarnation and ministry mean. Paul's summary can be restated in simple points and put into a more Western form in this way:

I came to the world as God in human flesh.
The Spirit affirmed My identity as Son of God through My resurrection from the dead.
Heavenly messengers announced My birth, comforted Me in the garden, and proclaimed My resurrection.
I have been preached throughout the world to all kinds of people.
Many different kinds of people — male and female, Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, politically conservative and liberal, as well as slave and free — have all become God's children through Me.
I have ascended to the Father where I intercede for you and pour the Holy Spirit out upon you.
Those are the factual truths. Paul's poem says it succinctly and beautifully. 

So how would you summarize the good news about me in a few words? 

What's the truth that you must know, must share, and must hold in your heart? 

Put your answers to those questions down in simple, clear, and possibly even poetic form. Use your answers to teach others about Me! That's what ordinary folks have done for centuries, and they have led millions upon millions to faith in Me. 

Remember, as you share your essential truth about Me, the Holy Spirit will be with you to remind you of Me and to lead you into all truth. The Holy Spirit will empower you to speak the truth when confronted by those who oppose you. The Spirit can convict the hearts of those with whom you share My message!
Verses to Live

Paul began his first letter to Timothy with several admonitions to him, his son in the faith. Toward the middle of this letter, Paul told Timothy why he was writing. He also told him he hoped to join him soon in Ephesus. Then Paul gave Timothy a succinct summary of truths about Me. This confessional statement could be used in churches to give them the basic truths about Me and My ministry. These truths are the basis of godly living.

I [Paul] am writing all this to you [Timothy], hoping I can come to you before too long; but in case I am delayed, you will know how one ought to behave as a member of God's family — the assembly of the living God, the pillar and foundation that support the truth — and I think you will agree that the mystery of godliness is great:
He [Jesus] was revealed in the flesh, 
proven right in the Spirit; 
He was seen by the heavenly messengers, 
preached to outsider nations. 
He was believed in the world, 
taken up to the heavens in glory.
(1 Timothy 3:14-16) 
Response in Prayer

Father, I know that the greatest in the kingdom of heaven must become like a child. Please, dear Lord, help me. Help me as I put the great truths of Jesus down into a simple and clear form to remember and to share the truth of Jesus with others. Please give me the confidence to share those words with grace. 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 Mon 12 Jun 2017, 6:32 pm

"Praying in the Spirit" — A Year with Jesus for 06/12/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

Very few people have direct access to the leader of their nation. If you urgently needed to get your leader's attention, you would be out of luck since most of you don't have the personal relationship or the national importance to demand a meeting with an important leader. So I want you to reflect for a few minutes on what I hope you will see as an astonishing truth. 

Think of all the places you have visited or would like to visit. Think of the great variety of people who live in your world's different locations and cultures. Think of the incredible sites and the dazzling array of earth's beautiful wonders. Imagine the vastness of space and the glorious aggregation of planets into solar systems and galaxies. The One Who made this all, Who knows the intricacies of each person, Who knows and has named every star in every system, knows you. The One Who knows all the world's wonders, both great and small, is always available to hear your words. This magnificent and holy Father understands every nuance of your emotions and grieves with every wound that is beyond your articulation. 

This gift of immediate access to the King of glory is always yours. This constant attentive care of the Creator of the universe is guaranteed to be yours. Why? Because of the presence of the Holy Spirit Who allows you to approach the Almighty Father as your "Abba" (Romans 8:14-17; Ephesians 2:18). 

Paul describes this grace with these powerful words:

We are weak and do not know how to pray, so the Spirit steps in and articulates prayers for us with groaning too profound for words. Don't you know that He Who pursues and explores the human heart intimately knows the Spirit's mind because He pleads to God for His saints to align their lives with the will of God? 
(Romans 8:26-27)
So in the verses below Paul reminded the Christians of Asia Minor to "Pray in the Spirit." 

What does that mean? Well, I would remind you of how I taught you to pray:
Your prayers, rather, should be simple, like this:
Our Father in heaven, 
let Your name remain holy. 

Bring about Your kingdom. 
Manifest Your will here on earth, 
as it is manifest in heaven. 

Give us each day that day's bread — no more, no less. 

And forgive us our debts 
as we forgive those who owe us something. 

Lead us not into temptation, 
but deliver us from evil. 

But let Your kingdom be, 
and let it be powerful 
and glorious forever. Amen.
(Matthew 6:9-13)
As you pray in this way, the Holy Spirit is making your prayer more than the meaning of your words. So be intentional about praying in the Spirit. Ask your Gift of heaven's grace to intercede for you. Recognize that the Holy Spirit empowers such prayers. Trust that all the deep nuances that you cannot articulate in your prayer will be heard. Know that your prayer will be brought into perfect alignment with the will of the Father. Don't worry about perfect words; trust in the Spirit as your perfect Intercessor. Enter into your prayerful time as a young child who can cry out to the Abba Father with love, dependency, and intimacy. Don't try to make your prayer impressive. Pray in the Spirit and know that your heartfelt thoughts, feelings, and words are heard!
Verses to Live

There are all sorts of things that are good to pray. However, I want you to focus on one key phrase: "pray in the power of the Holy Spirit"!

But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God's love. 
(Jude 1:20-21 NLT) 

Pray always. Pray in the Spirit. Pray about everything in every way you know how! And keeping all this in mind, pray on behalf of God's people. Keep on praying feverishly, and be on the lookout until evil has been stayed. And please pray for me. Pray that truth will be with me before I even open my mouth. Ask the Spirit to guide me while I boldly defend the mystery that is the good news — for which I am an ambassador in chains — so pray that I can bravely pronounce the truth, as I should do. 
(Ephesians 6:18-20)
Response in Prayer

O Abba Father, I come to You knowing that the Holy Spirit is interceding for me now as I pray. I am so thankful to have the Holy Spirit living in me. I trust that the Spirit will empower me, transform me, and lead me. Today I am so thankful to know that I have access to Your heart at any time because of the Holy Spirit's presence within me. I am so thankful that even when the words that I need don't come, the Holy Spirit gives voice to my thoughts and emotions. For this gift, I thank You and praise You. 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 Sun 11 Jun 2017, 9:05 pm

"Filled with the Holy Spirit" — A Year with Jesus for 06/11/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of Glory, 

The world is filled with many beautiful and precious people. Unfortunately, so many of them miss their greatest opportunities. Many miss these great opportunities because they do not have their lives tuned to the Holy Spirit. We — Father, Son, and Spirit — want you to "Make the most of every living and breathing moment because these are evil times." So much of the world is held in the grip of the evil one. Under the premise of "fun" and "freedom," the evil one gains hold of people little by little. He snuffs out the life that We intended for them; he addicts them to what is fleeting and cannot provide meaningful fulfillment. As Paul wrote in Ephesians:

As for you, don't you remember how you used to just exist? Corpses, dead in life, buried by transgressions, wandering the course of this perverse world. You were the offspring of the prince of the power of air — oh, how he owned you, just as he still controls those living in disobedience. 
(Ephesians 2:1-2)
However, when you are filled with the Spirit, you experience the delight of the Father. You live the life that reflects and shares My grace. In the verses below, Paul ties five spiritual blessings to being filled with the Spirit. These activities are the result of the Spirit's presence. They are also the way you can release the power of the Holy Spirit into your lives. (See the verses below and Ephesians 5:15-21 in the NIV as an alternative translation.). 

Notice these traits — these five blessings and activities — that both fill you with the Spirit and are also a result of being filled with the Spirit:
"Speak to each other in soulful words of pious songs, hymns, and spiritual songs."
"Sing."
"Make music with your hearts attuned to God."
"Give thanks to God the Father every day through the name of our Lord Jesus", i.e., through My name.
"Submit humbly to one another out of respect for the Anointed", i.e., out of respect for Me, your Lord and Christ.
The Holy Spirit gives you the power to enjoy life as you were intended to live it. The "law of the Spirit of life" means that you are not under condemnation, but the Spirit "breathes into you and liberates you from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:1-4). This same Spirit works to transform you, day-by-day, to be more and more like Me (2 Corinthians 3:17-18). These are exactly the opposite effects of living under the false freedom of the world. 

You were filled with My spirit from the moment you were born from above (John 3:3-7; Titus 3:3-7). And you can seek to be filled ever more completely with the Spirit (Luke 11:13; Acts 4:29-31). The Spirit will guide you as your dance of life keeps in step with Me (Galatians 5:18; Galatians 5:25-26). The Spirit helps you put to death the vestiges of the flesh. The Spirit empowers you to get out of the evil one's life-sapping grip on your life. The Spirit enables you to live fully as the Father's beloved child and My co-heir of all the blessings of the Father's grace (Romans 8:13-17).
Verses to Live

The following words are from the apostle Paul. They were written to people living in a place fascinated with spiritual power. They are a great reminder of the Spirit's importance to you. As you read these verses, intentionally submit your heart to Me. Ask for the presence and power of the Holy Spirit to fill you and transform you.

So be careful how you live; be mindful of your steps. Don't run around like idiots as the rest of the world does. Instead, walk as the wise! Make the most of every living and breathing moment because these are evil times. So understand and be confident in God's will, and don't live thoughtlessly. Don't drink wine excessively. The drunken path is a reckless path. It leads nowhere. Instead, let God fill you with the Holy Spirit. When you are filled with the Spirit, you are empowered to speak to each other in the soulful words of pious songs, hymns, and spiritual songs; to sing and make music with your hearts attuned to God; and to give thanks to God the Father every day through the name of our Lord Jesus the Anointed for all He has done. 

And the Spirit makes it possible to submit humbly to one another out of respect for the Anointed. 
(Ephesians 5:15-21)
Response in Prayer

Abba Father, I thank You for not only adopting me as Your child but also for filling me with the Spirit. I thank You that I live in the Spirit to experience Your true freedom of grace. As I am led by Your Spirit and filled with Your Spirit, bring Your righteous character and gracious compassion to life in Me. Transform me to be like Jesus as I wait for my full adoption as Your child and as a full heir with Jesus to all that You intend for Your children of grace. 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 10 Jun 2017, 6:45 pm

"'Through the Power at Work in Us'" — A Year with Jesus for 06/10/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciples, 

I love My disciples to praise the Father! Look at Paul's beautiful prayer in the verses below. He not only praises the Father, but he also asks for the Father's help. In particular, this great church-planter and disciple-maker prays for the strengthening of the brothers and sisters he loves. He does not pray for generic strength, but for the Holy Spirit's empowered strength:

Father, out of Your honorable and glorious riches, strengthen Your people. Fill their souls with the power of Your Spirit...
The result of this prayer for strength should make your hearts beat a little faster. While the glory for the great things that the Holy Spirit does will go to God, the people through whom the Spirit works will be folks just like you, My disciples. Notice something else that Paul prays:
Now to the God Who can do so many awe-inspiring things, immeasurable things, things greater than we ever could ask or imagine through the power at work in us...
God can and will do "awe-inspiring things" and He will do "things greater than we could ask or imagine." Now notice carefully how God will do these things: through the Holy Spirit, His "power that is at work in us"! 

So here are several things to ponder, and then take appropriate action:
Pray frequently for God to strengthen specific brothers and sisters in Christ through the Holy Spirit.
Pray regularly that their work inspired by the Spirit will bring God glory.
Pray passionately that these brothers and sisters will be used by God to accomplish — and that they get to experience — many "awe-inspiring things" done through them by the Spirit.
Paul prayed these things for the brothers and sisters who received his letter called Ephesians. You should pray these things regularly for each other. Imagine releasing the power that comes from Us — Father, Son, and Spirit — into the lives of people you love. Think about all the people in your spiritual family who need Our comfort, strength, and grace. I want you to invite the Holy Spirit to move mightily through you, your fellowship, your congregation, your home gatherings, and your small groups. Pray that you and your fellow Christians bring the Father glory and bring My grace to those around you. As you see this grace released, rejoice in the glory of Our grace and power for you!
Verses to Live

Paul's letter to the Ephesians is full of great bursts of praise and prayer. Today's verses are an example that comes in the middle of Paul's letter. It is part of what holds the whole message of the letter together. I want you to read through this prayer several times. Take time to write it out in your own words. Now begin to pray it for specific people. Let them know that you are praying it for them. Then give thanks when you see the Spirit at work in them!

So I [Paul] ask you not to become discouraged because I am jailed for speaking out on your behalf. In fact, my suffering is something that brings you glory. 

It is for this reason that I bow my knees before the Father, after Whom all families in heaven above and on earth below receive their names, and pray:
Father, out of Your honorable and glorious riches, strengthen Your people. Fill their souls with the power of Your Spirit so that through faith the Anointed One will reside in their hearts. May love be the rich soil where their lives take root. May it be the bedrock where their lives are founded so that together with all of Your people they will have the power to understand that the love of the Anointed is infinitely long, wide, high, and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced. God, may Your fullness flood through their entire beings.
Now to the God Who can do so many awe-inspiring things, immeasurable things, things greater than we ever could ask or imagine through the power at work in us, to Him be all glory in the church and in Jesus the Anointed from this generation to the next, forever and ever. Amen. 
(Ephesians 3:13-21)
Response in Prayer

Father in heaven, please forgive me. I have spent too much time not expecting You to do any great things through me and others like me. I pray that as I read about the early church and the work of the Spirit over the next several weeks that You will help me to expect more. Help me to believe that the same Spirit Who empowered the early church will empower us today. Please strengthen us. Please strengthen me. Please strengthen those close to Me. Strengthen us with the power of Your Holy Spirit. Father, I do not pray this for us to receive glory, but so that others might believe and that You will receive the glory that is due You. 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 Edito
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 09 Jun 2017, 1:38 pm

"The Power of the Resurrection in You" — A Year with Jesus for 06/09/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

I want you to notice especially the words highlighted in bold in the verses below. The apostle Paul is praying for the Ephesian Christians and other believers in Asia Minor. They live in a place fascinated with spiritual power. Their world is filled with superstition. So Paul prays for them to understand the great power at work in them. Paul knew this power. You will see this power at work in the coming weeks as we journey through the book of Acts. I want you to notice:

[T]he immeasurable greatness of his [the Father's] power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead.
Paul wanted these early believers to realize that the power behind My resurrection and behind the marvelous things that happened on the first Pentecost after My resurrection is at work in My people; I want you to realize this power is also at work in you. 

Paul emphasized that this power comes from the work and presence of the Holy Spirit in My people (Ephesians 3:14-21; Ephesians 5:15-21; Ephesians 6:17-18). I poured out the Holy Spirit on the disciples on that Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4; Acts 2:32-39). I also poured out the Spirit on you when you were saved (Titus 3:3-7). I blessed you with power, more power than you could ever imagine. The power that raised My lifeless body from the dead is now at work in you (Ephesians 1:17-21). I long for you to believe this. I yearn for you to experience this power. The power of the resurrection is at work in you. 

So when you face trying times and when you feel as if you cannot endure any more trials, remember Who is at work within you. The Holy Spirit, Who raised Me from the dead, is at work in you. Remember when you have great opportunities, you are not alone in your efforts. The Holy Spirit is at work in you. When you face big decisions, you don't need to make those decisions by yourself. The Holy Spirit is there with you and within you. When you worship with each other, and when you give your testimony to those who are lost, you are more than just you. The power of the Holy Spirit is there with you and within you to fill and empower and guide you. The Holy Spirit is not some figment of your imagination. The following verses were Paul's prayer for the Ephesians. Just as Paul prayed for the Ephesians, the Spirit's presence is My promise to you!
Verses to Live

Paul begins the book of Ephesians with a burst of prayerful praise and thanksgiving (Ephesians 1:3-14). He flows right into the following prayer for the believers in Asia Minor. In this prayer, Paul prays for them to realize the awesome power at work within all of My disciples:

In him [Jesus] you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, Who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. 

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him Who fills all in all. 
(Ephesians 1:13-23 ESV)
Response in Prayer

O Father, thank You for the amazing power at work in my life and the lives of Your people. I pray that I can know and experience this power and presence that come from the Holy Spirit living in me and filling me. Please, dear Father, use the Spirit's presence in me to conform me to Jesus, to empower me to holy living, and to use me to bless others and bring You 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
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 08 Jun 2017, 10:01 pm

Spiritual Family!" — A Year with Jesus for 06/08/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious Brothers and Sisters, 

So many of My followers struggle in their lives of discipleship because each is trying to do everything by his or her own strength. The individualism so prevalent in many modern cultures has disconnected you from the way you were made. We — Father, Son, and Spirit — created you in our image (Genesis 1:26-27). You are hard-wired to belong in relationships. From the beginning, We proclaimed that it was not good for you to be alone (Genesis 2:18). Throughout the Scriptures you will find reminders about the importance of being genuine spiritual friends and family — brothers and sisters of each other brought into relationship by your love for your Father in heaven:

Two are better than one because a good return comes when two work together. If one of them falls, the other can help him up. But who will help the pitiful person who falls down alone? In the same way, if two lie down together, they can keep each other warm. But how will the one who sleeps alone stay warm against the night? And if one person is vulnerable to attack, two can drive the attacker away. As the saying goes, "A rope made of three strands is not quickly broken." 
(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12) 

He [Jesus] called the twelve to Him and began to send them out in pairs. 
(Mark 6:7) 

The Lord then recruited and deployed 70 more disciples. He sent them ahead, in teams of two, to visit all the towns and settlements between them and Jerusalem. 
(Luke 10:1) 

For when two or three gather together in My name, I am there in the midst of them. 
(Matthew 18:20)
In the New Testament, the connections of My followers with each other are described in multiple ways. One description is that My followers are branches connected to each other through Me, the vine. In other places, believers who gather in fellowship in My name are described as various members of My body who need each other and complement each other. I also taught My disciples to see themselves as family, brothers and sisters connected to one another through their heavenly Father. 

I could give you even more examples of the communal nature of discipleship, but I hope you get the point. You are made to be in fellowship with other believers! You need each other to serve Me best and share Me with the world! You won't make it if you try to live the life of discipleship on your own, alone. Even when you are cut off from other believers for a time because of illness, isolation, or even imprisonment, you need the prayers of those who love you to sustain you. Each of you has been given at least one spiritual gift to use as a part of the local body of believers so that together you can function as My bodily presence in your neighborhood and city (Romans 12:4-5). 

Some may be drawn to a big congregation with many people. Others may find their place in a small gathering of people in a home. What matters is that you live your life for Me in companionship with others. The verses below talk about the key elements of such a community, family, body, and fellowship. Seek this kind of community; don't settle for watered-down versions of community where you can be anonymous and alone without spiritual support or accountability. You were made to be part of a real, vital, and thriving community of believers.
Verses to Live

I love you... I know you... I made you... I care about you... personally, uniquely, and distinctly. I also remind you that I enjoy the most intimate of communities as God — Father, Son, and Spirit. Before I was betrayed, My prayer for you was this:

"Father, may they all be one as You are in Me and I am in You; may they be in Us, for by this unity the world will believe that You sent Me." 
(John 17:21)
So I'm asking you to read the following description of true Christian unity — a family, a body, a community joined in life, worship, and service. Then become part of one if you are not already... or form one... but don't try to do your life of discipleship alone! 

What you will find in the verses that follow is a description of genuine Christian community — people filled with the Holy Spirit, unified, and full of self-sacrificing generosity while maintaining their focus on prayer and on the apostles' teaching on the gospel. I'm not sharing this so that you can know church history. I'm sharing this because the same Holy Spirit longs to fulfill your spiritual hunger by helping you be part of a community like the one you find here!
[On the day of Pentecost, 3,000 people believed, repented, were baptized, and became part of My spiritual family.] The community continually committed themselves to learning what the apostles taught them, gathering for fellowship, breaking bread, and praying. Everyone felt a sense of awe because the apostles were doing many signs and wonders among them. There was an intense sense of togetherness among all who believed; they shared all their material possessions in trust. They sold any possessions and goods that did not benefit the community and used the money to help everyone in need. They were unified as they worshiped at the temple day after day. In homes, they broke bread and shared meals with glad and generous hearts. The new disciples praised God, and they enjoyed the goodwill of all the people of the city. Day after day the Lord added to their number everyone who was experiencing liberation. 
(Acts 2:42-47)
Response in Prayer

O Father, I have been hurt by people who claim to love You, to follow Jesus, and to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Because I carry these wounds and scars, I sometimes find it hard to invest myself fully in others. I pledge, dear Father, that I will welcome others as You have welcomed me into Your family. I also ask, dear Father, that You lead me to the people I most need or who most need me to be in their circle of fellowship. 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 07 Jun 2017, 9:13 pm

Heaven to Serve Jesus
 "The Power Behind My Growing Kingdom" — A Year with Jesus for 06/07/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

Pentecost came, and My church was born! The presence, power, and work of the Holy Spirit in every true disciple had finally arrived. All who truly believed in Me as Lord and Christ, who turned their hearts to live for Me, and who were immersed in My name on that great day were given the gift of the Holy Spirit to live in them and to work through them (Acts 2:36-41). 

When I first told the parable found in the verses below, the Holy Spirit had not yet been given to My followers (John 7:37-39). In the parable, I talk about the mysterious power that causes seeds to grow and produce fruit. The similar mysterious power in My people is the Holy Spirit. Beginning on Pentecost, all of My followers have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit. So for the next few days, I will share some great things about the Holy Spirit and power. It is this power that you see at work in the book of Acts and the power I want to see at work among My followers today. 

The result of the Spirit's presence in the hearts of people who truly believe is astounding. The small band of 120 disciples (Acts 1:13-15) soon became 3,000 people (Acts 2:41), then more than 5,000 people (Acts 4:4), and the number of disciples "increased rapidly" (Acts 6:1; Acts 6:7 NIV). To an outsider, the power may seem very mysterious — similar to the power behind the growth of the seeds in My parable. However, if you know Me and My promises, you know that I promised this power to propel My people, grow My church, and enlarge the kingdom of God (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8).

Verses to Live

Today's Scripture is very short, but it contains a parable packed with meaning and promise. In this parable, I talked about a farmer who doesn't see or understand how seeds grow into plants. This mysterious power at work in plants is similar to the power of the Holy Spirit that works in My disciples to grow the church. I send the Holy Spirit to empower My people to do My work and accomplish things for the Father. These things are greater than My disciples could imagine because the power behind these great things in the book of Acts is the Holy Spirit.

Jesus [teaching His disciples in a parable]:
Here is what the kingdom of God is like: a man who throws seeds onto the earth. Day and night, as he works and as he sleeps, the seeds sprout and climb out into the light, even though he doesn't understand how it works. It's as though the soil itself produced the grain somehow — from a sprouted stalk to ripened fruit. But however it happens, when he sees that the grain has grown and ripened, he gets his sickle and begins to cut it because the harvest has come.
(Mark 4:26-29)
Response in Prayer

I thank You, almighty and loving Father. I thank You, Lord Jesus, my Savior. I thank You, the ever-present and powerful Holy Spirit. Thank You, God, for Your power and presence available to me through the gift of the Holy Spirit. I pray for the Holy Spirit to bring renewal to Your people and strength to Your church. I pray for the Holy Spirit to bring a resurrection of hope to those who struggle, doubt, and grow weary. I believe, dear Father, that the Spirit can re-ignite us to do great things for our world and to honor You as the King of all nations. 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 06 Jun 2017, 8:36 pm

"Mustard Seed Effect" — A Year with Jesus for 06/06/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of the King of Glory, 

The kingdom of heaven is powerful. You are a part of that kingdom. You are a child of the King. Great power is at work in you. Not sure about this? Don't really believe this? Remember My parable about the mustard seed? You can find it in the verses below along with Doctor Luke's ending to the book of Acts. I have put these together for you because I want you to realize something amazing: My mustard seed parable proved true! 

You are an example of just how far this mustard seed effect has spread both geographically and through time. As we read from the book of Acts in the coming days — after I have shared several key passages reminding you of the power at work in you — you will see the mustard seed effect produced through the power of the Holy Spirit! What began as a small movement in the backwaters of Galilee with Me and a few disciples reaches all over the world bringing people from all different races, cultures, nations, religions, and backgrounds into My family.

Yes, there are some who reject the message and refuse to believe. However, an amazing number come to faith and that faith has kept growing and providing a family, a real home, for other people of different languages and cultures. 

By the time we finish the book of Acts, the apostle Paul will have reached his goal of going to Rome (Romans 1:9-13), the capital of the empire. He didn't arrive there in the way he anticipated or under the circumstances he would have planned. However, he arrived in Rome and effectively shared My good news there. This sharing is the final message Luke wanted you to hear: In Rome, Paul proclaimed My good news of the kingdom of God and taught about My grace "with great confidence and with no hindrance." 

Christianity went from such small beginnings to such powerful influence in such a short time period — in just three decades. All of this was done without the benefits and conveniences of your era in time. The disciples had no superhighways, automobiles, planes, high-speed trains, internet, telephones, text messaging, social media, or email. So imagine what I can do today through you if you keep sharing My message using all your modern tools and trusting that I will support your efforts with My power!

Verses to Live

Notice how the ending to the book of Acts complements My parable about the mustard seed. My movement really is the mustard seed effect: people doing normal things with extraordinary faith in the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Jesus told them another parable. 

Jesus:
The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a sower took and planted in his field. Mustard seeds are minute, tiny — but the seeds grow into trees. Flocks of birds can come and build their nests in the branches.
(Matthew 13:31-32) 

Some [of the Jewish leaders in Rome] were convinced, but others refused to believe. 

Paul (adding as they left in disagreement):
The Holy Spirit rightly spoke to your ancestors through the prophet Isaiah:
Go to this people and say, 

"You certainly do hear, 
but you will never understand; 
you certainly do see, 
but you will never have insight. 

"Make their hearts hard, 
their ears deaf, 
and their eyes blind. 

"Otherwise, they would 
look and see, 
listen and hear, 
understand and repent, 
and be healed."
So let it be known to you that God's liberation, God's healing, has been sent to the outsiders, and they will listen.
Then the local Jewish leaders left Paul to discuss all he had told them. 

For two full years, he lived there in Rome, paying all his own expenses, receiving all who came to him. With great confidence and with no hindrance, he proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the ultimate authority — the Lord Jesus, God's Anointed, the Liberating King. 
(Acts 28:24-31)
Response in Prayer

Father, I stand in amazement at how the message of Jesus has reached out and impacted such a significant part of the world. I believe that behind the incredible spread of Your gospel is the work of the Holy Spirit. I believe that behind the advances of the kingdom are the prayers of Jesus' followers who have invested their lives in His cause and who have kept on asking Him to release the power of the Holy Spirit through them. So I pray, dear Father, that you will use me to further Your mustard seed effect and that I can be a part of seeing people from all over the world come to faith in Your Son. 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
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Mon 06 Feb 2017, 8:10 pm

"Little Things, Big Differences" — A Year with Jesus for 02/06/2017
Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

During My ministry on earth, I talked about how important a person's heart is (Mark 7:1-23 is just one example.). The Jewish religious leaders had made all sorts of rules to be sure the people of God kept themselves ritually clean. Matthew and Mark placed My words about the importance of the heart right before the events you read about today. This sequence can help you see a key point I made with My life. While My earthly ministry was focused primarily on Jews, "the lost sheep of Israel" (Matthew 15:24), I reached out to all kinds of people who were normally considered "unclean" by many of My fellow Jews.

Tyre and Sidon were places where old enemies of the Jewish people lived. My very presence there, especially with My ministry to these non-Jews, was very shocking. Then I traveled back to Decapolis or "the area of the Ten Cities," another largely non-Jewish area on the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee. I blessed, taught, and healed in this region just as I did in Tyre and Sidon. The focus of My work was once again on people's hearts. Were they open and receptive? Were they seeking after God? Did they long for grace? My focus was not on race, nationality, or ethnicity. I was willing to help, bless, and be with people many of My fellow Jews considered "unclean"!

This background is very important for you to know when you read the following story of the woman from Syrophoenicia. My words are a little distorted by your translations because you can't hear the subtle nuance of one letter. The little "i" in Greek makes a big difference and turns the word for a dog (kunaron) into the word for a puppy (kunarion) and changes My words from an ugly ethnic slur into an invitation for faith.

So often people of different races use slurs to dismiss the value of another person. I used a play on words similar to a racial slur to invite the woman from Syrophoenicia to display both her wit and her faith. She was desperate and wanted help. She came expecting to be called a strange and mangy dog — the way many Jews would have referred to her and she would have referred to them. However, I took the term and softened it to mean puppy or lap dog — something that was often considered a part of the family. She instantly seized on this play on words. Instead of taking offense, she responded showing her heart: "O yes, Jesus, you are right. But in a family, the little puppies eat the crumbs that fall from the table!" She wasn't just prostrating herself before Me; she came with her heart bowed down to receive My grace and help for her daughter!

She got it! I wasn't pushing her away, but inviting her in close if her faith could see through the fog of racial and cultural separation and suspicion. Thankfully, she did! She displayed incredible faith because she was determined to have My powerful grace change her daughter's condition.

After My resurrection, I sent My disciples to share My message and My grace with every nation of the world and every ethnic group on the planet. But even during My earthly ministry that was primarily for the people of Israel, you can find many non-Jews brought to My table of grace and mercy. All of these people, Jews and non-Jews, had to do something if they were going to follow Me. They had to repent — change their hearts, minds, and behavior about how to live, and believe that I came from the Father to bring them life.

So let Me ask you this important question as you read My story today: What would keep you from following Me? A supposed racial slur? A hard command? The challenge to change your cultural views? An unwillingness to leave your racial prejudice behind?

As hard as My call to give up yourself and follow Me may seem, realize underneath it lays My great tenderness and love for you. I want you to be like the daughter of the Syrophoenician woman: "whole and healthy"!
Verses to Live

While each person must surrender his or her heart to Me in faith, I want you to notice two things in the following two events Mark tells in the verses below.

First, someone who loves a person in need tries to get that person to Me. Faith becomes the key to unlocking God's grace in the life of that other person! The woman in this story comes at a great social risk and gets My help for her daughter. In the second event, a group of friends brought a person with deep needs to Me and begged Me to help. Without their urgency and their voice, the man with deep needs would not have had his hurts disclosed and his needs made known. What a wonderful example of a mother with courage and faith! What great friends of determination and faith!

Second, notice that the Father's love, the love that My actions demonstrate, is shared freely with all — man and woman, young and old, Jew and Gentile, regardless of region, culture, or nationality. My love is available for all, but there will be times when you will need to help someone who feels helpless and alone to find her or his way to Me!
From there [by the Sea of Galilee] Jesus and His followers traveled to the region of Tyre and Sidon on the Mediterranean coast. He hoped to slip unnoticed into a house, but people discovered His presence. Shortly after He arrived, a woman whose daughter was filled with an unclean spirit heard that He was there, so she came directly to Him and prostrated herself at His feet.

The woman was not a Jew, but a Syrophoenician (a Greek) by birth. All the same, she came to Jesus and begged Him to cast the unclean spirit out of her daughter.

Jesus (shaking His head):
I must feed the children first. It would do no good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs.
Syrophoenician Woman:
Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table may eat of the children's crumbs.
Jesus (smiling and nodding):
This is a wise saying. Go back home. Your daughter is free of the spirit that troubled her.
And when she returned to her house, she discovered that it was as Jesus had told her. Her daughter lay on her bed, in her right mind, whole and healthy.

Jesus traveled on His way through Tyre and Sidon, eventually returning to the region of the Sea of Galilee. From there He pressed on to the area of the Ten Cities. Among the sick who were brought to Him was a man who was deaf and could barely speak at all, and those who brought him begged Jesus to lay His hands on the man. Jesus took him aside from the crowd, alone, and touched his ears with His fingers. Then after spitting on His fingers, Jesus touched the man's tongue. Looking heavenward to God, Jesus sighed and commanded,

Jesus:
Open up and let this man speak.
Immediately the man could hear, his tongue was loosed, and he spoke plainly. Jesus ordered those who had witnessed this to tell no one; but the more He insisted, the more zealously people spread the word.

People (astonished):
He does everything so well! He even returns sound to the deaf and mute.
(Mark 7:24-37)
Response in Prayer

Almighty God and loving Father, I confess that there are things I am having a hard time surrendering to You. Sometimes I find myself wanting to maintain control of my life and wanting to decide what I think is best for me. Yet as I see this woman look past the apparent harsh words of Jesus and as I hear the tenderness of Jesus, I am convicted. I am convicted, dear Father, that I need to surrender all of my heart and all of my will to Jesus as my Lord. I need to let go of trying to control my circumstances and trying to decide what is best for myself. Please help me as I yield to Jesus and ask for His help, wisdom, and power. It is in His 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 Sun 05 Feb 2017, 11:08 pm

"Rules Versus Right Hearts" — A Year with Jesus for 02/05/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

You are probably aware that I had many disagreements with the Pharisees, scribes, and scholars during My time on earth and that I openly opposed them for their ungodly teachings and actions. In fact, a lot of My strongest condemnations were directed at the legalism and hypocrisy of these religious leaders (e.g., Matthew 23:1-33). However, I want you to understand something very important about these disagreements. I agreed with these people on nearly all of the principles they taught about the morality that God wants for His people and about adherence to God's commands. Where I disagreed with them was on the way to achieve what God wants. Their goal was to create a set of rules — called the (oral) traditions of the ancestors — that were taught as God's law. These rules were designed to be a hedge around the Torah to prevent anyone from getting close to breaking the commands of God.

Their desire was good — to honor the character and compassion of God in their behavior. However, their design was severely flawed since external rules cannot create a holy person; true transformation has to come from the heart.

While some people have tried to make My teaching into something soft and easy to fit their lifestyles, if you look carefully at My teachings, you will see that is not the case. Rather, I want people to examine their hearts. I want them to look deeper than a set of rules and listen for the heart and will of God in His teachings. To put it into the language of the issues in the verses below, let Me say it directly: I came to be a heart surgeon and not a hand washer!

External rules cannot get to the real issue that lies behind all behavior: the heart! Listen to the words of the Father through the prophet Ezekiel:
I will give them a new will — an undivided heart — and plant a new spirit within them; I will remove their cold, stony heart and replace it with a warm heart of flesh. Then they will follow My commands and uphold My laws and actually do as I say. They will be My people, and I will be their God.
(Ezekiel 11:19-20).
I came to try to win your heart to God and to transform it by the power of the Holy Spirit living in you!

Don't think that there are no people like Pharisees in your day. All around, people have turned discipleship into rule keeping, thinking they can make rules to keep people holy. It doesn't work. The apostle Paul had to deal with the problem a few years after My resurrection. Notice what he said about rule-keeping to the Colossians:
You have died with Christ, and he has set you free from the spiritual powers of this world. So why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such as, "Don't handle! Don't taste! Don't touch!"? Such rules are mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we use them. These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person's evil desires.
(Colossians 2:20-23 NLT)
The solution to this problem? A new, clean, and right heart. King David wrestled with ungodliness and did some despicable things. Yet he realized the power to change was not in making harder sets of rules, but in asking God for a cleansed and transformed heart that could change him from the inside out:
Create in me a clean heart, O God; restore within me a sense of being brand new. .. Give back to me the deep delight of being saved by You; let Your willing Spirit sustain me.
(Psalm 51:10-12)
Verses to Live

I have sent the Holy Spirit to live within you as a baptized believer. The Holy Spirit is at work to transform you from the inside out. However, you need to offer your heart to Me each day. Ask Me to do the work you cannot do on your own, to cleanse and to transform the desires of your heart. Rules cannot change your heart; they can only alter some of your behavior for awhile. Before long, your rules will become more important than the will of God and your heart can be far away from the heart of God, the very God you are trying to please with your rules!
Then the Pharisees returned to talk with Jesus [after He had healed many people (Mark 6:53-56)], and with them came some of the scribes and scholars from Jerusalem.

Scribes and Scholars (seeing the disciples eating):
Your disciples are eating bread with defiled, unwashed hands.
Now you need to know that the Pharisees, and all Jews for that matter, held the tradition of their ancestors that hands must be washed before eating to avoid being ritually unclean. Likewise, they washed when they returned from the market and followed similar purity teachings as well, from the washing of their food to the washing of their bowls, cups, and kettles.

Scribes and Pharisees:
Why don't Your disciples follow the traditions passed down to us? Why do they eat their bread with defiled hands?
Jesus:
Isaiah prophesied wisely about your religious pretensions when he wrote,
These people honor Me with words off their lips;
meanwhile their hearts are far from Me.
Their worship is empty, void of true devotion.
They teach a human commandment, memorized and practiced by rote.
When you cling blindly to your own traditions such as washing utensils and cups, you completely miss God's command. Then, indeed, you have perfected setting aside God's commands for the sake of your tradition. Moses gave you God's commandment: "Honor your father and your mother." And also, "If you curse your father or your mother, you will be put to death." But you say to your aged parents, "I've decided that the support you were expecting from me will now be the holy offering set aside for God." After that he is not allowed to do anything for his parents. Do you think God wants you to honor your traditions that you have passed down? This is only one of many places where you are blind.
Jesus (to the crowd that had gathered):
Listen, all of you, to this teaching. I want you to understand. There is nothing outside someone that can corrupt him. Only the things that come out of a person can corrupt him. All who have ears to hear, let them listen.
When they had come in from the road, His disciples asked Him what He meant by this teaching.

Jesus:
Do you mean you don't understand this one either? Whatever goes into people from outside can't defile them because it doesn't go into their hearts. Outside things go through their guts and back out, thus making all foods pure. No, it's what comes from within that corrupts. It's what grows out of the hearts of people that leads to corruption: evil thoughts, immoral sex, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wicked acts, treachery, sensuality, jealousy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All of these come from within, and these are the sins that truly corrupt a person.
(Mark 7:1-23)
Response in Prayer

O Father, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing in your sight, for You, O God, are my Rock and my Redeemer. I offer My heart to Jesus today, to be molded and shaped to honor Your will and reflect Your character and compassion. I ask that You create a clean heart in Me. Fill me with Your Spirit and transform my desires and my behaviors to be like Jesus, in Whose name I ask this. 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 04 Feb 2017, 9:26 pm

Why Won't They Believe?" — A Year with Jesus for 02/04/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

Some of you will be frustrated and hurt because people you know and love will choose not to believe in Me as Savior. Some will talk about intellectual doubts. Others will talk about life's hurts and will wonder where We — Father, Son, and Spirit — were in the middle of their hurts. Some will say they have a hard time believing something they think the Bible says because they view it as a book of myths and superstitions. Others will see Christians who are weak and stumble, or who are hypocrites, and say they want no part of a religion like that. Some will say they just can't believe in the miracles and My resurrection that they read about in Scripture.

These reactions and feelings that you find frustrating and sometimes heartbreaking are not new. I faced the same thing. As you read about the events below, remember that I had done two "nature altering" miracles — I fed more than 5,000 people with just 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish as well as walked on the water to the disciples in their boat caught in a storm on the Sea of Galilee.

Most of the people in the area knew of at least one of these miracles — that's why they were back trying to get something else from Me. Many of them were also puzzling over the possibility of another miracle: How had I crossed to the other side of the Sea of Galilee to be with My disciples without a boat? But before they would do the one thing I told them truly was "God's work" — to believe in Me as the One the Father had sent, they wanted another miracle to show I was someone special. In other words, they saw or heard about the great works I had done, but refused to believe until they received the miracle they wanted from Me.

My precious disciple, please hear Me: Some people don't believe because they won't believe. Another miracle wouldn't have convinced most of the skeptics in the crowd you read about below. They were there for what they could get for free, not because they saw the sign that I had done and realized that it pointed to My identity as the Son of God.

No one wants people saved more than We (Father, Son, and Spirit) do. No one's heart breaks more than Our heart at the refusal of people to believe. I left the Father to share grace, offer hope, and bring true life to the people of your world. Some, however, refuse to receive that grace.

Don't burn up all your time and energy trying to convince people who refuse to believe. But don't give up on them. Invite the Spirit to work on their hearts and in their circumstances. Live before them in a way that is good, gracious, and genuine.

However, My dear disciple, please realize that you cannot make them believe, and I won't force them to believe. Faith has to be chosen freely to be faith; do not use force or coercion on anyone, or it is not genuine faith!

As much as you want someone to believe, you do not have the power to make it happen. Give that work over to the Spirit. Be ready as you look for the opportunity when the Spirit prompts you to reach out to that person you want to believe.

A lot of folks in my day didn't believe in Me until after My death, burial, and resurrection. Others didn't believe until their lives came crashing down around them and they realized they needed help bigger than their circumstances. So be a real friend and a genuinely loved one of the people you want to believe. Be faithful and patient in loving them, but not pushing them or annoying them. Look for that moment of grace orchestrated by the Holy Spirit. Then, share your story of grace and let them know about Me.

Remember what your "work" truly is. You must truly believe. You must trust that I AM the Son of God, your Savior and Lord, and then live that faith graciously before others. Your faith guarantees that your life is bound up with Me for eternity. It also gives you the best opportunity to make a difference in the lives of those you love.
Verses to Live

As you read today's verses, remember what I told people was the true work that God wanted them to do: believe in Me! Please remember, if people you know and love are looking for a sign before they believe in Me — like the people in the verses below — then you and your faithfulness to Me may be the sign that they most need. Then, be patient... faithful... gracious... and ready to share your love and My grace with those you want to see come to faith.
The following day [after Jesus had walked on the water] some people gathered on the other side of the sea and saw that only one boat had been there; they were perplexed. They remembered seeing the disciples getting into the boat without Jesus.

Other boats were arriving from Tiberias near the grassy area where the Lord offered thanks and passed out bread. When this crowd could not find Him or His disciples, they boarded their small boats and crossed the sea to Capernaum looking for Him. When they found Jesus across the sea, they questioned Him.

Crowd:
Teacher, when did You arrive at Capernaum?
Jesus:
I tell you the truth — you are tracking Me down because I fed you, not because you saw signs from God. Don't spend your life chasing food that spoils and rots. Instead, seek the food that lasts into all the ages and comes from the Son of Man, the One on Whom God the Father has placed His seal.
Crowd:
What do we have to do to accomplish the Father's works?
Jesus:
If you want to do God's work, then believe in the One He sent.
Crowd:
Can You show us a miraculous sign? Something spectacular? If we see something like that, it will help us to believe. Our fathers ate manna when they wandered in the desert. The Hebrew Scriptures say, "He gave them bread from heaven to eat."
Jesus:
I tell you the truth: Moses did not give you bread from heaven; it is My Father Who offers you true bread from heaven. The bread of God comes down out of heaven and breathes life into the cosmos.
Crowd:
Master, we want a boundless supply of this bread.
Jesus:
I am the bread that gives life. If you come to My table and eat, you will never go hungry. Believe in Me, and you will never go thirsty. Here I am standing in front of you, and still you don't believe. All that My Father gives to Me comes to Me. I will receive everyone; I will not send away anyone who comes to Me. And here's the reason: I have come down from heaven not to pursue My own agenda but to do what He desires. I am here on behalf of the Father Who sent Me. He sent Me to care for all He has given Me so that nothing and no one will perish. In the end, on the last day, He wants everything to be resurrected into new life. So if you want to know the will of the Father, know this: everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him will live eternally; and on the last day, I am the One Who will resurrect him.
(John 6:22-40)
Response in Prayer

Father, there are some people I very much want to see come to believe in Jesus and dedicate themselves to Him. I need the Spirit to be at work in their lives and in their circumstances, and in me to be a faithful witness to them. Please give me the eyes to see the moments when I need to speak to them about faith and the times when I need to be silent. Please help my life to be a living testimony of faith that consistently points them to Jesus as the basis of grace, hope, and life. 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 03 Feb 2017, 11:32 pm

"The Greatest Treasure" — A Year with Jesus for 02/03/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved of the Father,

You are a child of God; so I want to open your heart to hear two incredible truths found below in two simple stories that I told long ago.

Truth One:

You are the Father's treasure! Yes, I know that is not normally how the two stories below are read, but I want you to think about it for a minute. There is a truth that you must not miss behind this understanding of these stories. The Father sent Me, His greatest gift, to pay the price to ransom you back to Us. You are Our treasure — Our discovered treasure and Our searched for treasure. I was the willing purchase price paid to buy you back from sin and death.

Truth Two:

The kingdom is the greatest treasure you can ever find. For some, it will seem like an accidental and great discovery as in the first story — almost like the treasure found them! The key, however, is that when you have "accidentally" discovered this treasure, then you should be willing to give up everything else to make it your own! Others, as in the second story, will find the treasure of the kingdom because they have longed to find it and have searched far and wide to find it. Again, the key is that having found it, they rejoice in giving up everything else to make this treasure of the kingdom their own!

Notice the truth that ties these two understandings together: true treasure is worth any price necessary. That is true with the ultimate price I paid in coming to redeem you. It is also true for the price you must be ready to pay for the kingdom if you are willing to follow Me!
Verses to Live

What is your greatest treasure? I made clear that you are My treasure when I left the Father's side and came to give My life to buy you out of slavery to sin and death and to reclaim you as a child of God. Will you choose to see My way, My kingdom, as your greatest treasure?
Jesus:
The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure that is hidden in a field. A crafty man found the treasure buried there and buried it again so no one would know where it was. Thrilled, he went off and sold everything he had, and then he came back and bought the field with the hidden treasure part of the bargain.

Or the kingdom of heaven is like a jeweler on the lookout for the finest pearls. When he found a pearl more beautiful and valuable than any jewel he had ever seen, the jeweler sold all he had and bought that pearl, his pearl of great price.
(Matthew 13:44-46)
Response in Prayer

O Father, all I can think about in response to these stories is Your great love that sent Jesus to ransom me and Jesus' great love to come and pay the price for my sin. The words to the old hymn speak the emotions of my heart in response to this great love:
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.*
May the lordship of Jesus and the kingdom of heaven rule my heart just as the sacrifice of Jesus has captured my heart and made me Your child. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

* From Isaac Watts' hymn, "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross," 1707.
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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 03 Feb 2017, 12:10 am

The ARC of My Grace" — A Year with Jesus for 02/02/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of God,

Many people in your world view My ministry as little more than a traveling miracle show. Many people during My time on earth viewed it in the same way. Nevertheless, I refused to be a traveling miracle show. I refused to do things simply to impress people or just to prove to them how powerful I am. If you remember My temptations by Satan in the wilderness, I refused to do miracles for My own good, for My own reputation, or for proof of God's approval and presence in My ministry. I refused these shortcuts to winning people's hearts. Instead, I chose to win the hearts of people through My earthly ministry to them and My going to the cross for them — and that includes you!

If you look at most of My miracles for people, they follow a similar pattern. You can call it the ARC of grace:
Acceptance of the person with his or her needs.
Relationship established with that person through kind words or physical touch.
Community restored to that person so she or he could re-enter life that is full and good.
Remember yesterday? We looked at the time when I cast many demons out of Battalion. Now compare how I did that miracle with the miracles I do in the verses below. Sure, you can talk about My great power if that is your focus. I have power over demons. I have power over disease. I have power over death. And yes, you can focus on My power — but that is only part of the point I want you to grasp today.

Today's point is as simple as it is personal; My love and My power are personal. I have the power to restore you! Yes, people — the crowd, the many, the lost — all matter to Me. Each person matters to Me — the hopeless and uncontrollable man called Battalion, the good and influential man named Jairus, and the outcast woman who was considered unclean. Each — let your heart settle on that word — each matters to Me! Each! So My miracle for each of these people follows this ARC of My grace.

Notice how the woman was healed in the verses below. She was physically healed as soon as she touched Me. She could have left with her miracle for her physical condition, but how would she have known she was loved and accepted — that she mattered to God even when she was still sick? How would she have known that what she did was no cause for her to be ashamed and no offense to God? How would the community around her have known she was healed and should be welcomed back into daily fellowship in the neighborhood, the market, and the synagogue? She needed the full ARC of my grace — acceptance, relationship, and community — to fully restore her in every way.

Now notice Jairus and his dying daughter. Here was a moment for Me to capture the goodwill of many people, especially people of position and influence. Jairus, unlike the woman, had many people surrounding him and supporting him. A miracle for his daughter could have raised My standing in the community. But remember, I didn't do miracles for Me! I did them because people needed to experience the ARC of My grace! So notice carefully what I did.

When Jairus was told that his daughter was dead, I encouraged him to believe. Then I did something that seems crazy to folks who want to make My ministry into a traveling miracle show. I put everyone out of the house so I could go inside and personally minister to Jairus, his wife, and his dead daughter. Notice how personal I was with what I did. I took the girl's hand — I was willing to become ceremonially unclean when I touched her. I wanted there to be more than just acceptance of Jairus and his family even though he represented a group largely opposed to Me. I wanted to establish physical contact, build a true relationship, with this girl and her family. Finally, after instructing her to get up, I gave the simple command that seems so strangely ordinary: give her something to eat. Let's have table fellowship and re-establish community and restore the life of this family which was now whole.

Dear child of God, please understand something very important. Miracles are only for a moment. Sooner or later each person on earth will run out of miracles to keep their bodies whole and alive! Yes, miracles are very important to you. I get that. But please understand something even more significant: you are more important to Me than miracles. I want you to experience the ARC of My grace and to pass it along to others: Accept others where they are in their messes, agonies, and problems, but don't leave them there. Establish relationship by being personally involved with them — don't just throw money at their problems and abandon them. Connect with them through talk and touch to help them know they are loved. Help restore them to community — help them reconnect to life with other people who will walk beside them and include them in the life of My family.

As much as you may want a miracle, I can assure you that a miracle is for just a moment in the grand scheme of time. The ARC of grace gives people true life — life that matters now and life that lasts long after miracles no longer matter.
Verses to Live

Read through this story several times while seeing yourself as different people in the story. Notice how My grace impacts each person in a different way. Now try to share that ARC of grace with others!
When Jesus and His disciples crossed the lake, another crowd was waiting to welcome Him. A man made his way through the crowd. His name was Jairus, and he was a synagogue official. Like the man [Battalion, with many demons] on the other side of the lake, this dignified man also fell at Jesus' feet, begging Jesus to visit his home where his only daughter, a girl of 12, lay dying. Jesus set out with Jairus. The crowd came along, too, pressing hard against Him.

In the crowd was a woman. She had suffered from an incurable menstrual disorder for 12 years [and had spent her livelihood on doctors with no effect]. It had kept her miserable and ritually unclean, unable to participate fully in Jewish life. She followed Jesus, until she could reach Him. She touched the fringe of the robe Jesus wore, and at that moment the bleeding stopped.

Jesus (stopping and looking about):
Who touched Me?
Some in the Crowd (everyone speaking at once):
Not me.
Another in the Crowd:
It wasn't me either.
Peter [and those with him] (intervening):
Master, what kind of question is that, with this huge crowd all around You and many people touching You on all sides?
Jesus:
I felt something. I felt power going out from Me. I know that somebody touched Me.
The woman now realized her secret was going to come out sooner or later, so she stepped out of the crowd, shaking with fear, and she fell down in front of Jesus. Then she told her story in front of everyone — why she touched Him, what happened as a result.

Jesus:
Your faith has made you well again, daughter. Go in peace.
Right at that instant, one of Jairus' household servants arrived.

Servant:
Sir, your daughter is dead. It's no use bothering the Teacher with this anymore.
Jesus (interrupting Jairus before he could speak):
Don't be afraid. Just believe. She'll be well again.
As they approached the house, the whole neighborhood was full of the sound of mourning — weeping, wailing, loud crying. Jesus told everyone to stay outside — everyone except Peter, John, James, and, of course, the girl's father and mother.

Jesus (to the mourners):
Please stop weeping. The girl isn't dead. She's only asleep.
They knew for certain that she was dead, so their bitter tears now mixed with mocking laughter.

Meanwhile, inside, Jesus took the girl's hand.

Jesus:
Child, get up!
She started breathing again, and she sat right up.

Jesus:
Get her something to eat.
Her parents were amazed, but Jesus sternly told them to keep what had happened a secret.
(Luke 8:40-56)
Response in Prayer

Almighty God, my Abba Father, thank You for knowing me and loving me and restoring me personally. In a world that makes me little more than a number, thank You for valuing me and leaving the numbering for the hairs on my head. In a world that sees headlines one minute, then forgets them the next, thank You for knowing and calling me by name. Yes, dear Father, I needed Your ARC of grace to reach me. Now, I ask that You will use me to extend that ARC of grace to someone who needs grace, too. 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 01 Feb 2017, 9:25 pm

"A Tale of Two Powers" — A Year with Jesus for 02/01/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious Child of God,

Two powers — God and Satan — are at war over your eternal destiny. The story below illustrates the different goals of these two powers. No matter how alluring temptation may seem to you, the ultimate goal of the tempter — Satan, the evil deceiver, the devil, the evil one — and all the forces of hell can be seen from the condition of the man called Battalion.

When you meet the man identified as Battalion, the forces of evil are literally hell-bent on his destruction. This devastation is Satan's intent for you. However, the ultimate goal of your Father in heaven is for you to be in your right mind, for you to be learning from Me how to have purpose for your life, and for you to live out that purpose in your daily life.

Notice the ways Battalion is described at the beginning of the events recorded in the verses below:
He is isolated — actually driven into isolation by the demonic powers that control him.
He is filled with destructive power.
He is naked.
He lives and sleeps in a cemetery — the place of the dead.
He is uncontrollable.
He has lost his sense of self-identity — he doesn't even know his real name.
He is aware of all of these problems in himself.
However, as much as this man is in bondage to demonic powers, notice this one truth: he can still come to Me and fall at My feet despite the power of the demons in him wanting to be rid of Me! I AM more powerful than all of these demons. So notice what I do to bless this man despite the demons trying to use My identity to gain power over Me and send Me away.
I deliver him from the demonic powers oppressing him.
I return this man to a normal life and a right mind.
I welcome the man into My fellowship and friendship.
I send the man out on a mission to share his good news and My story of grace.
Satan's goal for you is clear: he wants to do with you what he did with Battalion. He wants to introduce hell on earth into your life. His temptations may look enticing. There may be no apparent signs of Satan's destructive and evil intent in these temptations — at least not at first. But behind each temptation, there are traps designed to enslave you. I can help you break your bondage to these traps, although you are much better off if you avoid the traps all together!

I have a goal for you. I want you to be My disciple. I want you to sit by Me and learn the way of true life from Me. I want to defeat the powers that desire to hold you in bondage and enslave you to self-destruction. I want you in your right mind — in control of your life and your decisions. I want you to find your purpose in Me. I want you to have a positive and influential relationship with your family and friends. But you have to choose Me... you must call out to Me for help... and you must ask Me to take control of your life and be willing for Me to do so!

Not everyone will be happy if you choose Me. Some prefer to live out-of-control lives rather than to yield their lives to Me. In addition, the lure for you to go into a life under Satan's control — to have that uncontrollable power at work in you — is just as destructive as it is strong.

You must recognize that you cannot defeat the power of evil on your own. However, I can defeat it. In fact, I have defeated it through My death and resurrection. Do not despair in the face of great evil. Cry out to Me. Trust Me. Follow Me. Learn from Me. Share your story about Me with others. And when you do, you can know this: I will never leave you or forsake you.
Verses to Live

Notice how the "friends" of Battalion react when he is set free of the demonic spirits. They order Me to leave after I have liberated him and put him in his right mind. They cannot deal with Me. They don't know what to do with a power they cannot control or understand. So rather than inviting Me into their small little world, they ask Me to leave. What about you? Will you ask Me into your world or order Me to leave?
When they [Jesus and His disciples] get to the other side of the lake, in the Gerasene country opposite Galilee, a man from the city is waiting for Jesus when He steps out of the boat. The man is full of demonic spirits. He's been running around for a long time stark naked, and he's homeless, sleeping among the dead in a cemetery. This man has on many occasions been tied up and chained and kept under guard, but each time he has broken free and the demonic power has driven him back into remote places away from human contact. Jesus commands the demonic force to leave him. The man looks at Jesus and starts screaming. He falls down in front of Jesus.

Possessed Man (shouting):
Don't torment me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God! Why are You here?
Jesus (calmly and simply):
What's your name?
Possessed Man:
Battalion.
He says this because an army of demons is inside of him. The demons start begging Jesus not to send them into the bottomless pit. They plead instead to enter into a herd of pigs feeding on a steep hillside near the shore. Jesus gives them permission to do so. Suddenly the man is liberated from the demons, but the pigs — they stampede, squealing down the hill and into the lake where they drown themselves.

The pig owners see all this. They run back to their town and tell everyone in the region about it. Soon a crowd rushes from the town to see what's going on out by the lake. There they find Jesus seated to teach with the newly liberated man sitting at His feet learning in the posture of a disciple. This former madman is now properly dressed and completely sane. This frightens the people. The pig owners tell them the whole story — the healing, the pigs' mass suicide, everything.

The people are scared to death, and they don't want this scary abnormality happening in their territory. They ask Jesus to leave immediately. Jesus doesn't argue. He prepares to leave, but before they embark, the newly liberated man begs to come along and join the band of disciples.

Jesus:
No. Go home. Tell your people this amazing story about how much God has done for you.
The man does so. In fact, he tells everyone in the whole city how much Jesus did for him that day on the shore.
(Luke 8:26-39)
Response in Prayer

Lord Jesus, I know that You stand at the door of my heart and knock. I know You won't break down the door and barge into my life. I know that I must invite You in and welcome You to my table. So, Jesus, I ask You to claim me, cleanse me, come to me, care for me, and guide me so that I serve You in ways that bring You glory and bring others to know You and Your saving grace. 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 Tue 31 Jan 2017, 11:21 pm

"Questions You Need to Ask!" — A Year with Jesus for 01/31/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

How's your boat? No, I'm not talking about a literal boat you may own. I'm talking about the things in your life that furnish you security, a sense of safety, identity, order, or purpose.

So let Me ask you again. How's your boat? Are your investments up or down? Do you own your stuff or does your stuff own you? Has the job or person you trusted for security let you down? Are you working madly to keep your body and your appearance looking young and vibrant while fearing that aging is stealing away your identity and usefulness? Is your family all that you hoped it would be? Have your achievements brought you joy and a sense of fulfillment, or do you feel as if you have to accomplish more to be significant?

Your boat is whatever you have used as your sense of safety, security, identity, order, or purpose. So how's your boat?

Here's the truth: Sooner or later, something much bigger than you, something you can't control, is going to rock your boat! So what are you going to do then? How are you going to face the raging storms of life if you are depending on a fragile and temporal boat?

Today's verses speak directly to one of life's harshest truths: no mortal can protect or even navigate his or her boat in the face of life's raging realities. Many who claim to follow Me have had Me along as a sleeping passenger, a mere mascot, someone to talk to through some of the minor squalls of life when they needed something fixed. They never really have given Me control of their boat. They've never handed Me control of the sails and rudder. Then when life's storms hit, they want to know why I've let the troubles of life threaten them.

So when the next storm hits and rocks your boat and scares you down to the depths of your soul, what are you going to do? I hope it will be this: I hope you will wake Me from being your sleeping mascot. I hope you will ask Me for help. And most of all, I hope when it is all done, you will ask the questions My disciples did when the storm rocked their boat:
Who is this man? How can He command wind and water so they do what He says?
Then, I hope you will make Me your boat and not just your mascot! Better yet, why not make Me your boat, your Master, your Lord, today... before the next storm hits and the waves pound and the wind blows?
Verses to Live

As you read today's verses, ask yourself, "What is my boat?" Answer as honestly as you can. Then invite Me to be more than your passenger or your mascot; ask Me to be your Boat — to provide you security, direction, and your future.
Picture this:

One day Jesus and His disciples get into a boat.

Jesus:
Let's cross the lake.
So they push off from shore and begin sailing to the far side. As they progress across the lake, Jesus falls sound asleep. Soon a raging storm blows in. The waves wash over the sides of the boat, and the boat starts filling up with water. Every second the situation becomes more dangerous.

The disciples shake Jesus and wake Him.

Disciples (shouting):
Master! Master! We're all going to die!
Jesus wakes up and tells the wind to stop whipping them around, and He tells the furious waves to calm down. They do just that. Then Jesus turns to the disciples.

Jesus:
What happened to your faith?
The disciples had been terrified during the storm, but now they're afraid in another way. They turn to each other and start whispering, chattering, and wondering.

Disciples:
Who is this man? How can He command wind and water so they do what He says?
(Luke 8:22-25)
Response in Prayer

Lord Jesus, forgive me for making other things in my life my basis of security. I want You to be Lord of my life and the basis of my security. Please help me as I make You my Boat! 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 30 Jan 2017, 10:57 pm

I Bring Hidden Things into the Light" — A Year with Jesus for 01/30/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Faithful Follower,

Hide and seek is a great children's game. However, it is a dangerous and deadly spiritual game. If you are My follower, don't hide your loyalty and commitment to Me from others. When you have guests in your house, you don't hide the lamp so they can't find their way around your house in the dark. So if your friends are lost in spiritual darkness, why would you hide My spiritual light from them? Do you want them to stumble around in spiritual darkness?

Remember, I see what you do in your life. I'm not there to snoop, spy, or try to catch you doing something wrong. I'm there to strengthen, encourage, and bless. And know this: where I go, I bring true light. Hidden things are exposed. So I'm asking you to let My light penetrate deeply into your hidden places and drive out your darkness (John 3:19-21). When you let My light into your life, it will be filled with more and more light. However, if you try to keep things hidden away in the dark corners of your spirit, little by little you will lose the light you have now (Matthew 6:23). And be sure of this: even if you drive My light from most of your heart, sooner or later, everything in your heart will be revealed (Matthew 10:26-33).

Finally, remember I AM the One Who can help you find truth by shining My light in all places. As you try to look through the Bible for truth, don't forget Me. I AM here to help you make sense of it all in a way that is a blessing to all! So just ask Me to use the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, to help you know what Scripture means and how it all points to Me. I AM the One Who brings light to dark places, the one Who exposes truth and error, the One Who gives light to those seeking light, and the One Who helps you know how to use the Scriptures to unlock the truth and find great treasures!
Verses to Live

I AM the light to illuminate dark places, the guarantee that everything hidden will be brought to the full light of truth.
Jesus:
You wouldn't light a lamp and cover it with a clay pot. You're not going to hide it under your bed. No, when you light it, you're going to put it out in the open so your guests can feel welcome and see where they're going.

Hidden things will always come out into the open. Secret things will come to light and be exposed. I hope you're still listening. And I hope you're listening carefully. If you get what I'm saying, you'll get more. If you miss My meaning, even the understanding you think you have will be taken from you.
(Luke 8:16-18)
Just like hidden things will ultimately be revealed, people will ultimately be seen for who they are and what they have done.
Jesus:
Or think of it this way: the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was cast into the sea, a net that caught a world of flickering fish. When the net was full, the fishermen hauled it to shore. They separated the good fish from the bad, placing the good fish in a bucket and throwing out the inedible fish. That is what the end of time will be like. The heavenly messengers will separate the good from the bad, the righteous from the wicked, the repentant from the prideful, the faithful from the hard-hearted. The bad, the wicked, the prideful, and the hard-hearted will be thrown into the fiery furnace where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.

Do you understand?
Disciples:
Yes, we understand.
(Matthew 13:47-51)
My servant, the apostle Paul, said it very well: the holy Scriptures "enable you to be wise and lead to salvation through faith in Jesus" (2 Timothy 3:15). So not only will hidden things be revealed and not only will people's works be revealed, but the truth of the Scriptures can also be revealed to you so that you can find many treasures if you approach them through faith in Me! Just as I said in this next verse, regardless of where you are in your walk of faith you should be on the lookout for new things as well as old familiar things as you study the Scriptures.
Jesus:
Every scribe and teacher of the law who has become a student of the ways of the kingdom is like the head of the household who brings some new things and some old things, both out of the storeroom.
(Matthew 13:52)
Response in Prayer

Father, help the light of Jesus to shine through everything I do and say. Please open my eyes to see Jesus and hear the voice of the Spirit in every bit of Scripture that I hear, read, and memorize. 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 Sun 29 Jan 2017, 11:49 pm

"Don't Let These Truths Elude You!" — A Year with Jesus for 01/29/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Follower,

I love to tell stories from everyday life and connect them to heavenly truths. There is a reason for that. You can remember stories better than you can remember abstract words. You see things in your everyday life that yank My stories back into your conscious mind. You can repeat My stories to others. You can pass My stories down to your children and grandchildren. These recollections and the retelling of My stories all help you feel and see the truths in My stories as well as know their spiritual messages when you most need them.

The narrative in today's verses is one of the most important stories that I told. This story — or parable — has several different uses.

I used it to challenge people to look into their hearts and see what kind of followers they really were. You need to know that you can choose how you hear what I say! In the account below, the concept of how people hear what I say is presented in terms of how different types of soil receive seeds that are sown and then how the types of soil represent how different people receive My teachings. Also, I want people to know that they actually choose which kind of soil they will be — they choose what kind of heart they have for My good news.

I used this story to alert My disciples to the fate of many of those who follow Me. There are many people who at some point in their journey with Me are very excited about following Me. However, more than a few who start down the road of discipleship end up becoming distracted and are unfruitful. Some, regrettably, never even follow Me at all — they look up one day, and any interest they had in Me is gone!

I AM heartbroken when I see people lose interest, not bear up under trial, succumb to temptation, or become distracted by the cares of the world. My disciples needed to know these things happen all too frequently! Just because many reject My message or turn away from discipleship does not mean that you quit sharing it with others. You must not give up on someone when his or her heart turns away. Remember, just as you can choose which soil your heart is, that other person can choose to be a different soil, too!

I also told this parable to warn My followers about some of the things that might distract them from a passionate life of productive faith. I want you to recognize those same kinds of things in your life. They can lead your heart to be poor soil and not respond to the good news of grace.

Notice the three things that can steal your heart away from following Me passionately:
Satan can come and steal away the message of God before your heart accepts it.
The heat of living for Me in the trials and temptations of life can wither your faith before it is fully grown.
The delight of things, the pursuit of wealth, and the worries of preserving these things can get in the way of your living productive lives for Me.
Verses to Live

So which message do you most need to hear from My words? Why not ask the Holy Spirit to help you hear what I want your heart to hear today in My words of truth in the story of the soils? After I presented this parable, My explanation of its meaning was longer than the parable itself. Why? Because I want you to determine which type of soil you are. Actual soil "is what it is," but you can enrich the type of "soil" you are! I encourage you to seek the Spirit's guidance in enriching the soil of your heart or keeping it a fertile place for My word to grow!
While a huge crowd gathered with people from many surrounding towns streaming to hear Jesus, He told them a parable.

Jesus:
Once a farmer went out to scatter seed in his fields. Some seeds fell along a trail where they were crushed underfoot by people walking by. Birds flew in and ate those seeds. Other seeds fell on gravel. Those seeds sprouted but soon withered, depleted of moisture under the scorching sun. Still other seeds landed among thorns where they grew for a while, but eventually the thorns stunted them so they couldn't thrive or bear fruit. But some seeds fell into good soil — soft, moist, free from thorns. These seeds not only grew, but they also produced more seeds, a hundred times what the farmer originally planted. If you have ears, hear My meaning!
His disciples heard the words, but the deeper meaning eluded them.

Disciples:
What were You trying to say?
Jesus:
The kingdom of God contains many secrets. They keep listening, but do not comprehend; keep observing, but do not understand.

I want you to understand, so here's the interpretation: The voice of God falls on human hearts like seeds scattered across a field. Some people hear that message, but the devil opposes the liberation that would come to them by believing. So he swoops in and steals the message from their hard hearts like birds stealing the seeds from the footpath. Others receive the message enthusiastically, but their vitality is short-lived because the message cannot be deeply rooted in their shallow hearts. In the heat of temptation, their faith withers, like the seeds that sprouted in gravelly soil. A third group hears the message, but as time passes, the daily anxieties, the pursuit of wealth, and life's addicting delights outpace the growth of the message in their hearts. Even if the message blossoms and fruit begins to form, the fruit never fully matures because the thorns choke out the plants' vitality.

But some people hear the message and let it take root deeply in receptive hearts made fertile by honesty and goodness. With patient dependability, they bear good fruit.
(Luke 8:4-15)
Response in Prayer

Father, I ask that the Holy Spirit will help me hear the message I most need to hear today from Jesus' words. I know that I can choose which kind of soil I will be. I also have concern for folks whose hearts are becoming like the nonproductive soils. O Father, please use me to help them turn their hearts back to Jesus. Also, dear Father, I don't want to be deceived into living an unproductive life because the soil of my heart is bad. So, sweet Holy Spirit, guide me into all truth. Lord Jesus, please help me know the most important things from Your message today that You want me to know, feel, and put into practice. In Your 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 28 Jan 2017, 2:02 pm

My True Family" — A Year with Jesus for 01/28/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of God,

There is so much talk in your world about community. I understand that you want to find a place where you can be close to other people and be yourself. You want people around you who understand you and support you. I know that many folks today don't like the word church, so community is a nice, safe, nondescript word to use for a gathering of My followers. Yet something precious is lost when My followers are reduced just to being a community. Let Me explain.

There are two powerful, dynamic, living images I have given you for My church: My body and My family. I don't ever talk about a member of the church — in fact nowhere does the Bible use that term. You, however, are a member of My body — a vital body part that the rest of My body needs to function fully as My presence in and to the world! Just as there is no perfect human body, the church as My body will not be perfect. A community can have folks come and go, wander in or wander off. However, this is not true with My body. When a member of a body is hurt, there is pain and impairment to the whole body! When a member of a body is missing, there's been an amputation. You're a connected part of Me! You matter. You are much more important than a member of a community or organization!

You are also a member of My family. Yes, I know some of you come from messed up families, and sometimes family analogies can be hard for you to hear because of your negative experiences with your family. My spiritual family on earth is far from perfect — a lot like your human family. But I promise you, My family has a future that is so wonderful it is even hard for you to imagine. All those hurtful family connections are caught up in the grace of My presence and perfected.

A family — especially My family — is something far more precious than a community. Our Father — your Father — loves you so desperately that He sent Me to bring you into a relationship with Him. I AM your older Brother. I came to rescue and redeem you and restore you to Our family (Hebrews 2:14-18). I paid the ultimate price to buy you out of slavery to sin and death and bring you to the Father and to Our family. So you are far more precious than a member of a community — you are My blood-bought family. The people around you are flawed just as you are flawed. But remember, they are blood-bought family.

So when you hear Me teach, I don't invite you to become part of a community: I call you to be My disciple — a follower who obeys and becomes a vital part of My family as we do the will of the Father. Hear clearly what I say:
Anyone who does the will of My Father in heaven is My mother and brother and sister.
(Matthew 12:50)
When you hear Me teach, pray, or talk with My followers, notice the language I use: it is the language of family. God is your Father. You are brothers and sisters. Yes, community is a nice word, but I call you to something deeper — something you crave and need. I call you family because you are!
Verses to Live

I AM the Lord, the Christ, the Messiah and Savior. I am also your older Brother Who loves you so much that I left the security of My heavenly home to come to you. I love you so much that I gave up My intimate participation with the Father and the Spirit in Our heavenly glory so that I could bring you home to real, forever, family. So come, follow Me, and let's walk together in the way and will of the Father as family.
While Jesus was speaking to the crowd, His mother and brothers came up and wanted to speak to Him.

Someone in the Crowd:
Your mother and brothers are waiting outside to speak to You.
Jesus:
Who is My mother? And who are My brothers? (pointing to His disciples) These are My mother and brothers. Anyone who does the will of My Father in heaven is My mother and brother and sister.
(Matthew 12:46-50)
Response in Prayer

O Father in heaven, You are holy. Without Your grace, I have no chance to be holy. And because of Jesus' love and sacrifice, I come to You as Your beloved child. I am thankful for Your grace, Your love, Your mercy, and my adoption into Your family. I ask for the Holy Spirit to be poured out into my life so that I can be conformed to Your will and love my brothers and sisters, Your children, just as much as my older Brother Jesus does. I ask this in His 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 27 Jan 2017, 9:54 pm

"For Some Folks, Miracles Aren't Enough!" — A Year with Jesus for 01/27/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

My words in yesterday's Scripture (Luke 11:14-26) were hard. The folks I spoke them to didn't like them. So, they challenged Me to do another miracle for them to prove that I had a right to say the things I was saying.

Let's be real. If they wouldn't believe in Me for the exorcisms I performed or the miracles I had already done, they weren't going to believe in Me if I did a few more powerful acts to satisfy their curiosity and jump through a few more of their hoops! For many people in the crowd, miracles weren't enough. They simply didn't want to believe, so they wouldn't believe.

That's why I pointed them to a couple of stories from the Hebrew Scripture — you call it the Old Testament. These stories talk about two great figures (Jonah and Solomon) who captured the hearts of outsiders and pointed them to the truth and wisdom of God. I challenged those hearing Me to believe that I AM greater than either of these two heroes. The only sign I would give these skeptics was the sign of Jonah! If My life of ministry, miracles, teaching, and compassion and My death on the cross and resurrection wouldn't convince them, then nothing would.

Thankfully, if you read the story about the birth of My church on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-47), you will see that many people responded to the sign of My triumph over death and sin.

As one who has come to believe in Me, one who recognizes My triumph, I want to challenge you to trust that I AM the "One far greater than Jonah" and the "One greater and wiser than Solomon." I AM the wisdom and truth you must follow, believe, and obey, and you will find life in Me!
Verses to Live

Even after all the miracles I had already done, the religious leaders in the account below wanted more to prove I had the right to say what I said to them. Don't miss My point. I have the right! The real question is this: Do you have the heart to follow someone greater than all those other religious heroes you've heard about?
Scribes and Pharisees:
Teacher, we want to see some miraculous sign from You.
Jesus:
You wicked and promiscuous generation — you are looking for signs, are you? The only sign you will be given is the sign of the prophet Jonah. Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of a great fish, as the Son of Man will spend three days and three nights in the belly of the earth. One day, the people of Nineveh will rise up in judgment and will condemn your present generation — for the Ninevites turned from sin to God when they heard Jonah preach, and now One far greater than Jonah is here. The Queen of the South will also stand in judgment and condemn this generation — for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom. And today One greater and wiser than Solomon is among you.
(Matthew 12:38-42)
Response in Prayer

Lord Jesus, You are greater than Jonah and Solomon. You are superior to Moses and Elijah. The law and prophets find their meaning, their fulfillment, and their goal in You. You are the One I choose to hear and obey. Jesus, You are Lord. I choose You to be my Lord! To You, I offer my life and my all because You not only conquered death and the grave through Your resurrection, but You also won my heart and my allegiance! 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 26 Jan 2017, 8:12 pm

"Do More than Roll Your Eyes!" — A Year with Jesus for 01/26/2017

Why did God make us?
See the second session of our new video series "Finding Our Story in God's Story." — Watch it Now
Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

Some of you roll your eyes or quickly speed-read past any biblical discussion of demons because you think that this kind of thing doesn't apply to your "modern and enlightened" world today. But please do more than roll your eyes at the talk about demons below. Remember what the apostle Paul said:
Finally, brothers and sisters, draw your strength and might from God. Put on the full armor of God to protect yourselves from the devil and his evil schemes. We're not waging war against enemies of flesh and blood alone. No, this fight is against tyrants, against authorities, against supernatural powers and demon princes that slither in the darkness of this world, and against wicked spiritual armies that lurk about in heavenly places. And this is why you need to be head-to-toe in the full armor of God: so you can resist during these evil days and be fully prepared to hold your ground.
(Ephesians 6:10-13)
I came to defeat the evil one and his "wicked spiritual armies" of dark demonic forces. I want to free you from their influence and lead you past their temptations. So rather than ignoring or fearing these powers, please understand what I said to my disciples when I was on earth. I have power over demons because I am superior to them in every way — holiness, power, and authority (Luke 11:17-22; Colossians 1:15-20).

I am in no way subject to these evil powers. I do not get my power from them. I am not helped by them. I am even hated by them. They oppose Me and all who belong to Me, but they do not have the final word or authority over Me or those who follow Me! I AM the true "man of power" like I talk about in the story below. I am "stronger and better" than the prince of demons and all his powers arrayed against me.

So you need to choose which side of this holy war you are going to take: My side or the side of evil. There is really no middle ground or no other choice.

You need to be very clear about this. Following Me is not just about ridding yourself of what is bad in your life — it is not merely adhering to a good list of "DOs and DON'Ts"! A good, clean, and ordered life sounds very good to most religionists, even to a lot of do-gooders and humanists. Yet notice what can happen to this kind of person in the scripture below: the demonic influence can slip back in and greatly corrupt the life of such a person who is not filled with My Spirit.

I AM challenging you to do more than just trying to be a good person. I want you to be My person. I call you to follow Me and let Me be your Lord. Yes, you will do good things. More than that, you will bring God's kingdom to earth. You will bring God's goodness, justice, and mercy to a world corrupted by human ego, self-will, arrogance, and other evil influences of the devil (Ephesians 2:1-7).

Your world is in a spiritual war. You have to choose a side. Despite all the talk in your world about being nice, the real question is whether or not you are My disciple. I endured the cross for you. I left the tomb in triumph despite all the forces of hell wanting to keep me captive. Therefore, I remind you of two truths:
I conquered death to give you life — unlike Satan who wants to deceive, manipulate, and destroy you.
If you follow Me, you will share in My victory over sin, death, evil, and hell!
So do more than roll your eyes at the talk about the devil and demons: choose to follow Me and find life and victory!
Verses to Live

Talking about demons is always challenging. Having authority over them makes people afraid. But make no mistake about the truth: I have defeated the power of demons. I have the authority to defeat evil, demonic forces, and Satan, and I did! I demonstrated this victory when I walked on earth as God in human flesh and then overcame the worst that Satan could do to Me.
Picture this:

Jesus is exorcising a demon that has long kept a man from speaking. When the demon is expelled, the man starts talking and the people are amazed. But then controversy erupts.

Some People:
Do you know why He can cast out demons? It's because He's in league with the demon prince, Beelzebul.
Other people want to see more, so they challenge Jesus to give them another miraculous sign. Jesus knows what they're thinking.

Jesus:
People, be logical. If a kingdom is divided against itself, it will collapse. If a ruling family is divided against itself, it will fall apart.

So if Satan's kingdom is divided against itself, won't his whole enterprise collapse? Does it make any sense to say I'm casting out demons by Beelzebul? Besides, if you're saying it takes satanic power to cast out Satan, by whose power do your own exorcists work? If you condemn Me for an exorcism, you'll have to condemn them. But if I by the power of God cast out demonic spirits, then face this fact: the kingdom of God is here, just as I've been saying.

When a man of power with his full array of weapons guards his own palace, everything inside is secure. But when a new man who is stronger and better armed attacks the palace, the old ruler will be overcome, his weapons and trusted defenses will be removed, and his treasures will be plundered. Can you see that I'm asking you to choose whose side you're on — working with Me or fighting against Me.

When a demonic spirit is expelled from someone, he wanders through waterless wastelands seeking rest. But there is no rest for him anywhere, so he says, "I'm going back to my old house." He returns and finds the old house has been swept clean and fixed up again. So he goes and finds seven other spirits even worse than he is, and they make themselves at home in the man's life so that he's worse off now than he was before.
(Luke 11:14-26)
Response in Prayer

Father God, I say this by the power of the Holy Spirit and with the conviction of my heart: Jesus is not only Lord of all, but I choose Jesus to be Lord of my life. I offer this confession and my commitment in Jesus' name and for Jesus' glory. 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 25 Jan 2017, 7:31 pm

The One?" — A Year with Jesus for 01/25/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

Doubt! Even the best people have periods of doubt. My cousin John the Baptist was in prison awaiting certain death at the hands of Herod. John's prophecies about Me were bold. His proclamation of repentance and practice of baptism were powerful. His willingness to give up his popularity and point people to Me was incredibly courageous and humble. However, even John had his lingering doubts.

Why? Why would someone so bold, powerful, courageous, and humble have doubts?

Think about it. Courage is boldness in the face of danger and doubt. Faith is trust that risks everything in the face of uncertainty and danger. You will have doubts — sometimes deep doubts just like John faced. John was wanting to know with certainty that he had not wasted his life as he approached his death. So he asked, "Are You the Promised One, or shall we keep looking for someone else?"

As I said while on earth, "Listen, there is no human being greater than this man, John the Baptist." Yet John had doubts as he faced his own martyrdom because My work didn't seem to match his understanding of My role.

You have been born of God into My kingdom. In this way, you are greater than John (Luke 7:28). Still you will have doubts, and they will find their gravity in the same two places John's doubts found theirs:

First, life is hard and can rattle you to your soul. The world may not appreciate the truth of the life you live to honor the Father. John's passionate and faithful proclamation of truth landed him in Herod's jail and ultimately led to his martyrdom. The world's brutal treatment of God's people can lead to times of doubt in their hearts.

Second, you have certain expectations of Me that sometimes don't seem to line up with your reality. Even in those times when I appear to be distant and unconcerned, please remember that I will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5-6; Romans 8:32-39).

In your doubt, remember what I helped John the Baptist do: he got a fuller picture of Who I AM. In your life, I will help you in a similar way through a deeper look at Scripture, My promises, the Holy Spirit dwelling in you, and the people of faith who have come before you and those who support you now.

My hope is for you to have a deep understanding of My grace and to have a faith that can hang onto hope through life's storms when things don't seem to line up with your expectations of the Father's promises. Remember, doubt is part of living life in a tough world. The greatest heroes in Scripture had their moments of doubt. Yet hanging onto faith, looking at great examples of faith in Scripture, and using Scripture to get a fuller view of Me will help you be faithful... even to the point of death. Courageous faith is choosing to believe in the face of uncertainty and difficulties.
Verses to Live

The following passage from Luke's Gospel recounts the events when John's disciples came with his question about Me. Notice that My answer wasn't just a bunch of words; my answer to John's disciples included actions. These actions were specific types of miracles: miracles that Isaiah had prophesied the Messiah would perform — prophecies John knew. So My explanation about fulfilling Isaiah's prophecies about the Messiah made clear to John that I AM indeed the Messiah!
News of Jesus spread across the whole province of Judea and beyond to the surrounding regions. When these reports reached John's disciples, they brought news to John himself, who was known for his preaching and ritual cleansing. John sent two of his disciples to ask the Lord, "Are You the Promised One, or shall we keep looking for someone else?"

They came to Jesus and asked their question exactly as directed by John the Baptist.

Before He answered John's messengers, Jesus cured many from various diseases, health conditions, and evil spirits. He even caused many blind people to regain their sight.

Jesus (to John's disciples):
Go and tell John what you've witnessed with your own eyes and ears: the blind are seeing again, the lame are walking again, the lepers are clean again, the deaf hear again, the dead live again, and good news is preached to the poor. Whoever is not offended by Me is blessed indeed.
When John's messengers left, Jesus talked to the crowds about John.

Jesus:
When you went out into the wilderness to see John, what were you expecting? A reed shaking in the wind? What were you looking for? A man in expensive clothing? Look, if you were looking for fancy clothes and luxurious living, you went to the wrong place — you should have gone to the kings' courts, not to the wilderness! What were you seeking? A prophet? Ah yes, that's what John is, and even more than a prophet. The prophet Malachi was talking about John when he wrote,
I will send My messenger before You, to clear Your path in front of You.
Listen, there is no human being greater than this man, John the Baptist. Yet even the least significant person in the coming kingdom of God is greater than John.
The common people and tax collectors heard God's own wisdom in Jesus' assessment of John because they had been ritually cleansed through baptism by John. But the Pharisees and religious scholars hardened their hearts and turned their backs on God's purposes for them because they had refused John's baptism.

Jesus:
The people of this generation — what are they like? To what can they be compared? I'll tell you: they're like spoiled kids sitting in the marketplace playing games, calling out:
We played the pipes for you,
but you didn't dance to our tune!
We cried like mourners,
but you didn't cry with us!
You can't win with this generation. John the Baptist comes along, fasting and abstaining from wine, and you say, "This guy is demon-possessed!" The Son of Man comes along, feasting and drinking wine, and you say, "This guy is a glutton and a drunk, a friend of scoundrels and tax collectors." Well, wisdom's true children know wisdom when they hear it.
(Luke 7:17-35)
Response in Prayer

Almighty God, thank You! Thank You for giving me a Bible that is full of people like me — people who love You but struggle with real-life faith and doubt. I trust You, Holy Spirit, to lead me through these times and conform me to be like 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.

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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Tue 24 Jan 2017, 6:32 pm

"Choosing the Right Path" — A Year with Jesus for 01/24/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of God,

The Father is holy and wholly given to doing what is right, just, holy, gracious, and merciful. What about you? What is your consuming passion? Is it to honor the Father? Is it to obey My words and follow My example? Is it to be conformed to the righteous character and gracious compassion of God?

Let Me warn you. Long before the instant age you find yourself inhabiting, many folks wanted an instant and easy holiness. The evil one has long twisted the truth and deceived the gullible into taking short cuts. My words today warn you about four deceptions and temptations that the devil will offer you in the name of religion:
The wide door and the easy path — the ones that suggest all religions are OK and equal — but that really lead to destruction.
The sweet deceiving words of false prophets whose lives (their bad fruit) show they cannot be trusted.
Nice sounding religious words of praise and adoration that are disconnected from a life of obedience and end in shocking condemnation.
A religion that is quickly embraced, shallowly believed, and focused on appearances, but cannot stand the stress and strain of real life.
There is one path, one way, and one truth (John 14:6). Some folks in your day don't like such talk. In fact, you may bristle at it yourself because you've had the easy way peddled to you by false prophets who talk a good religious game while living any way they want. Such talk is foolish. It's not new or innovative or post-modern; it's just the lie of the old deceiver who wants to steer you the wrong way so that when the floods of life come... well, he can be there for your destruction.

Don't be deceived. Follow Me. Obey Me. Trust Me. Doing so may look narrow and hard, but I promise you this:
Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Put My yoke upon your shoulders — it might appear heavy at first, but it is perfectly fitted to your curves. Learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart. When you are yoked to Me, your weary souls will find rest. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.
(Matthew 11:28-30)
Verses to Live

These are My words from the Sermon on the Mount about choosing the right path that leads to the Father. If your heart is set on Me — if your heart's desire is to follow Me and obey Me — then you will be able to resist the deceptions and temptations of the easy way, the false prophets, a religion that is all talk with little obedience, and quickly constructed facade-based religion!
Jesus:
There are two paths before you; you may take only one path. One doorway is narrow. And one door is wide. Go through the narrow door. For the wide door leads to a wide path, and the wide path is broad; the wide, broad path is easy, and the wide, broad, easy path has many, many people on it; but the wide, broad, easy, crowded path leads to death. Now then that narrow door leads to a narrow road that in turn leads to life. It is hard to find that road. Not many people manage it.

Along the way, watch out for false prophets. They will come to you in sheep's clothing, but underneath that quaint and innocent wool, they are hungry wolves. But you will recognize them by their fruits. You don't find sweet, delicious grapes growing on thorny bushes, do you? You don't find delectable figs growing in the midst of prickly thistles. People and their lives are like trees. Good trees bear beautiful, tasty fruit, but bad trees bear ugly, bitter fruit. A good tree cannot bear ugly, bitter fruit; nor can a bad tree bear fruit that is beautiful and tasty. And what happens to the rotten trees? They are cut down. They are used for firewood. When a prophet comes to you and preaches this or that, look for his fruits: sweet or sour? rotten or ripe?

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. At the end of time, on that day of judgment, many will say to Me, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name? Did we not drive demons out of the possessed in Your name? Did we not perform miracles in Your name?" But I will say to them, "I never knew you. And now, you must get away from Me, you evildoers!"

Those people who are listening to Me, those people who hear what I say and live according to My teachings — you are like a wise man who built his house on a rock, on a firm foundation. When storms hit, rain pounded down and waters rose, levies broke and winds beat all the walls of that house. But the house did not fall because it was built upon rock. Those of you who are listening and do not hear — you are like a fool who builds a house on sand. When a storm comes to his house, what will happen? The rain will fall, the waters will rise, the wind will blow, and his house will collapse with a great crash.
With that Jesus finished His teaching, and the crowds were amazed by all He had said. But Jesus taught in His own name, on His own authority, not like the scribes.
(Matthew 7:13-29)
Response in Prayer

Dear Father, I confess that I want my faith walk to be easier at times. I don't always understand why I need to obey. Sometimes, I'm not convinced that what I hear is fully true. Yet Father, I do know this: Jesus came and died for me. He came as the expression of Your love for me and to pay the penalty for my failures and my shortcomings — my sin. So I commit to obey and follow even when I don't understand or agree. I trust that as I follow Jesus on Your path, my eyes will be opened, my burdens will be lifted, and I will find life and joy for my soul. In the name of Jesus, I choose to follow. 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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