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HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Tue 04 Jul 2017, 2:48 pm

"Moving Out" — A Year with Jesus for 07/04/2017
Note from Jesus

Dear Faithful Follower, 

One of the marks of Our — Father, Son, and Spirit's — people has been their acceptance of "moving out," that is, following the Father's lead and journeying to the places and people where He sends Our people. Think of Abraham leaving the security of his good life to journey to a place the Father would show him. Remember the children of Israel leaving Egypt to follow Moses into the desert as they journeyed to the Promised Land. Consider David going to face Goliath in a battle he should not have been able to win. Recall Esther going before the king, without an invitation, at the risk of her own life in order to save the lives of Our people. These are great examples of the "moving out" principle. 

In the events recorded in the verses below, you will find three kinds of circumstances that helped instigate My faithful followers in their "moving out" into a new future that blessed many:

Obstacles in their path — the persecution that began with Stephen's martyrdom caused the believers in Jerusalem to be scattered and moved them to other places, and they shared My message wherever they went.
Opportunities given them — Saul, who later was known as Paul, and Barnabas ministered in Antioch in response to the reports of My "grace in action" that moved them to go there and help grow this great multi-cultural group of My disciples who were the ones first called Christians.
Our call for them — Agabus' prophecy of a famine moved them to give to those in need.
I want you to look for these same three types of circumstances — obstacles, opportunities, and ! Our call — in your spiritual journey. When you find yourself presented with something that seems like one or more of these, prayerfully consider if it is Our signal for you to be "moving out" with My grace to bless others! Unfortunately, you can get so busy and distracted with the world's stuff that you miss Our purpose for you in these sets of circumstances. Let these circumstances nudge you to bring Our grace to the lost, to bring helpful encouragement and growth to those newly saved, and to bring tangible help to the broken and needy. 

I left the safety and security of My being with the Father and the Spirit by "moving out" and coming to earth. I chose "moving out" and living among you and sharing your mortal existence so you could be caught up in My life, eternal life. 

Remember those in the early years of My church "moving out" to bring My grace to others. They didn't give up in the face of obstacles. They didn't pass up opportunities because they seemed too challenging. They didn't ignore Our call for them to share generously because it was costly. Like Our people before them, they became a "moving out" kind of people. 

Let these examples motivate you. I want you "moving out" into the places where you can be salt and light to the world in decay and darkness. I want you "moving out" to bring My love and grace to people in desperate need of both. I want you "moving out" to reach those in other cultures as well as those among your own acquaintances who do not know Me. I want you to be a "moving out" people!
Verses to Live

As the disciples who were scattered following Stephen's death spread the good news about Me, they were helping fulfill My call:

"Here's the knowledge you need: you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. And you will be My witnesses, first here in Jerusalem, then beyond to Judea and Samaria, and finally to the farthest places on earth." 
(Acts 1:8)
The church in Jerusalem sent Barnabas to the new Christians in Antioch. He then went to Tarsus looking for Saul. When he found him, he brought him back to Antioch to help fulfill My Great Commission to disciple people of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). Then in response to Agabus' prophecy about an impending famine, these new disciples demonstrated they understood My heart for helping those in need (Matthew 25:31-46).
The believers who were scattered from Judea because of the persecution following Stephen's stoning kept moving out, reaching Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch. Until this time, they had only shared their message with Jews. Then some men from Cyprus and Cyrene who had become believers came to Antioch, and they began sharing the message of the Lord Jesus with some Greek converts to Judaism. The Lord was at work through them, and a large number of these Greeks became believers and turned to the Lord Jesus. 

Word of this new development came to the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch to investigate. He arrived and saw God's grace in action there, so he rejoiced and urged them to remain faithful to the Lord, to maintain an enduring, unshakable devotion. This Barnabas truly was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit, full of faith. A very large number of people were brought to the Lord. 

Barnabas soon was off again — now to Tarsus to look for Saul. He found Saul and brought him back to Antioch. The two of them spent an entire year there, meeting with the church and teaching huge numbers of people. It was there, in Antioch, where the term "Christian" was first used to identify disciples of Jesus. 

During that year, some prophets came north from Jerusalem to Antioch. A prophet named Agabus stood in a meeting and made a prediction by the Holy Spirit: there would be an expansive, terrible famine in the whole region during the reign of Claudius. In anticipation of the famine, the disciples determined to give an amount proportionate to their financial ability and create a relief fund for all the believers in Judea. They sent Barnabas and Saul to carry this fund to the elders in Jerusalem. 
(Acts 11:19-30)
Response in Prayer

Father, I remember that Jesus' brother James taught Jesus' disciples to pray for wisdom. So I'm praying for wisdom to recognize my need for "moving out" in response to obstacles, opportunities, and Your call to Me. Help me, dear Father, to know when "moving out" and when staying the course are the right things to do. Such kinds of decisions are hard for me to discern properly. So as I open Your word and as I trust in the leading of the Holy Spirit, please give me wisdom. Give me wisdom so that I can properly respond to the events that happen in my life and use them for Your glory and the sharing of Your grace. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen. 


For teaching on praying for wisdom, see James 1:5-8.
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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 03 Jul 2017, 10:28 pm

Challenging, But Joyous Fellowship" — A Year with Jesus for 07/03/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of the King, 

You are royalty. However, your royal lineage is not established by your race, your culture, your language, your education, or your riches. You belong to My royal family because you were "born of water and the Spirit" (John 3:5 NIV). This Spirit birth made you a part of My body (1 Corinthians 12:13) and part of a family where normal social barriers are removed, and you find your identity in Me (Galatians 3:26-29). 

Such radical changes in identity are wonderful, but they are also very challenging to accomplish in the real world in which you live. It was the real world that My church sought to reach and transform from its early years. The divide between Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles was wide and reinforced by religion, festivals, and fears built on suspicion and ignorance. One of the most difficult places to overcome these barriers was in normal social fellowship — eating together, opening houses to one another, and building genuine relationships beyond a quick hello when gathering to worship. 

Cornelius was about as good a man as a non-Jew could be in the minds of other Jews. He cared for the poor. He believed in "the living and true God" and had already turned away from idols (Acts 10:2). However, he was still a Gentile. Being baptized didn't change that in the minds of many Christian Jews. When Peter went to his house and told him My story, I then poured out the Holy Spirit to signal to Peter that Cornelius and his household should be baptized and accepted as full family. But some Jewish believers balked, especially when Peter stayed with this Gentile Christian family for several days after the baptism (Acts 10:48). 

The story of Cornelius and his family became the watershed moment in My disciples' fully understanding My Great Commission to take My message to all peoples, baptize them into My family, and walk beside them until they became mature disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). The genuine change required a vision, an angel, and the leading of the Holy Spirit to help Peter overcome his prejudices. This change later also required a big meeting in Jerusalem and the combined voices of Barnabas, Paul, and My half-brother James to move the people to a commitment to fellowship everyone, of all races, who called upon My name as Lord and were baptized. 

Overcoming prejudices and barriers takes time. However, overcoming these barriers also requires commitment and a realization that genuine fellowship is something I have commanded and expect My people to accomplish. Be patient with the prejudices of others. Be impatient with your own prejudices. Display a heart of generosity, grace, and hospitality to all people who are My disciples. One of the most powerful testimonies to My identity and to My salvation will be your unity with other believers. When your fellowship crosses over the lines of easy association and embraces those who are different, the world will notice. When you do not do these things, the world will notice even more and be critical. 

I didn't die for just your sins; I died for the sins of all people (1 John 2:1-2). I want you to share in the same fellowship on earth as you will with Me at the Father's throne (Revelation 7:9-12).

Verses to Live

Your readings from Acts may seem quite long. However, these three readings take you through the conversion of Cornelius, the reaction to his conversion by many Jews, and how the early Jewish church came to terms with their acceptance of Gentiles as full brothers and sisters. Please read these Scriptures. Notice the emphasis given to this important issue of fellowship. Notice how My strongest leaders were needed to win the victory on reaching Gentiles with the good news and involving them in active fellowship. This problem was an issue that had to be resolved or My church would have been split along racial and cultural lines, something strongly displeasing to Us — Father, Son, and Spirit. 

Your first reading comes from Peter's message to the God-fearing Gentile named Cornelius. I sent Peter a vision, an angel, a representative of Cornelius, and the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit to prepare him for this important recognition: the Father wants all of His children, over every nation, in His family of faith.

Peter [to Cornelius and his household]:
It is clear to me now that God plays no favorites, that God accepts every person whatever his or her culture or ethnic background, that God welcomes all who revere Him and do right. You already know that God sent a message to the people of Israel; it was a message of peace, peace through Jesus the Anointed — Who is King of all people. You know this message spread through Judea, beginning in Galilee where John called people to be ritually cleansed through baptism. You know God identified Jesus as the uniquely chosen One by pouring out the Holy Spirit on Him, by empowering Him. You know Jesus went through the land doing good for all and healing all who were suffering under the oppression of the evil one, for God was with Him. My friends and I stand as witnesses to all Jesus did in the region of Judea and the city of Jerusalem. The people of our capital city killed Him by hanging Him on a tree, but God raised Him up on the third day and made it possible for us to see Him. Not everyone was granted this privilege, only those of us whom God chose as witnesses. We actually ate and drank with Him after His resurrection. He told us to spread His message to everyone and to tell them that He is the One Whom God has chosen to be Judge, to make a just assessment of all people — both living and dead. All the prophets tell us about Him and assert that every person who believes in Jesus receives forgiveness of sins through His name.
Peter wasn't planning to stop at this point, but the Holy Spirit suddenly interrupted and came upon all the people who were listening. They began speaking in foreign languages (just as the Jewish disciples did on the Day of Pentecost), and their hearts overflowed in joyful praises to God. Peter's friends from Joppa — all of them Jewish, all circumcised — were stunned to see that the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on outsiders. 

Peter:
Can anyone give any good reason not to ceremonially wash these people through baptism as fellow disciples? After all, it's obvious they have received the Holy Spirit just as we did on the Day of Pentecost.
So he had them baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. The new disciples asked him to stay for several more days. 
(Acts 10:34-48)
The events at Cornelius' house brought great celebrations of joy among the angels. The message of the Father's grace demonstrated through My life, death, and resurrection was now spreading outside of its Jewish roots. While there was rejoicing in heaven, some on earth were not so happy. This problem of racial exclusivity had to be overcome.
By the time Peter and his friends from Joppa returned to Jerusalem, news about outsiders accepting God's message had already spread to the Lord's emissaries and believers there. Some of the circumcised believers didn't welcome Peter with joy, but with criticism. 

Circumcised Believers:
Why did you violate divine law by associating with outsiders and sitting at the table with them for a meal? This is an outrage!
Peter patiently told them what had happened, laying out in detail the whole story. 
(Acts 11:1-4)
Cornelius and his house came to Me in faith and were baptized. They were made a part of My Christian family by their rebirth by the power of the Holy Spirit. The decisive events at Cornelius' house had been led by the Holy Spirit and witnessed by Jewish Christians from Joppa. This occasion provided the clear foundation that the Father had accepted Gentiles, so must His people! After awhile, the tension on this issue had to be addressed openly and clearly. The conference to resolve this issue happened in Jerusalem at a gathering of James, the apostles, Barnabas, Saul, elders in the church in Jerusalem, and church members. This decision was a major turning point for change in My church. Notice, however, that the favorable decision required the influence and leading of the Holy Spirit acting through the strong leadership of Barnabas, Saul (the apostle Paul), and James.
Upon arrival in Jerusalem, the church, the apostles, and the elders welcomed them [Barnabas and Saul] warmly; and they reported all they had seen God do. But there were some believers present who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees. They stood up and asserted, 

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

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

James:
My brothers, hear me. Simon Peter reminded us how God first included outsiders in His favor, taking people from among them for His name.
(Acts 15:4-14)
Response in Prayer

Almighty God, may Your inclusive grace be seen in my genuine acceptance of other believers without barriers or prejudices. That is my commitment, and I pray that the Holy Spirit empowers me to have this as my daily lifestyle. 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 02 Jul 2017, 11:42 pm

Making My Grace for All Clear" — A Year with Jesus for 07/02/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of God, 

As I have shared with you before, I want all people saved and brought into My family of grace. I don't want any distinctions to divide My people. I don't want people left out because they are not the so-called "privileged" race, class, pedigree, or gender. I want all people to be saved. 

Few stories in the Bible tell this more directly than the conversion of Cornelius — a Roman Centurion — and his household. I had to convince Peter in a dream to be ready to go with Cornelius' servants when they called. I had to show Peter that it was important for him to be with these Gentiles socially. Then, through sending the Holy Spirit to Cornelius and his household, I had to show Peter that I accepted them. The gift of the Spirit showed Peter he should baptize Cornelius and his household and receive them into full fellowship. As recorded in today's Scripture, I also used Peter to show skeptical Jews that I had selected Cornelius and his household to become My disciples and members of My family just like Jewish disciples. 

I used visions, the direction of heavenly messengers, the timing of people coming to Peter's house, and the gift of the Holy Spirit to convince Peter. I wanted to make sure that Cornelius and his household heard My message, received baptism, and were joined into full fellowship with My Jewish brothers and sisters. Peter needed to know with certainty that My work to bring salvation to non-Jews wasn't an accident. This inclusion of Gentiles is My divine will. Peter received My message. Notice what Peter says:

It is clear to me now that God plays no favorites, that God accepts every person whatever his or her culture or ethnic background, that God welcomes all who revere Him and do right. 

Can anyone give any good reason not to... wash these people through baptism as fellow disciples? After all, it's obvious they have received the Holy Spirit just as we did on the Day of Pentecost.
I want you to share My good news with all people!
Verses to Live

Notice all the different "miraculous" ways I worked to make sure everyone knew that Cornelius' kindnesses and prayers had been heard and that My grace was for all people:

Cornelius, a Roman Centurion and a member of a unit called the Italian Cohort, lived in Caesarea. Cornelius was an outsider, but he was a devout man — a God- fearing fellow with a God-fearing family. He consistently and generously gave to the poor, and he practiced constant prayer to God. About three o'clock one afternoon, he had a vision of a messenger of God. 

Messenger of God:
Cornelius!
Cornelius (terrified):
What is it, sir?
Messenger of God:
God has heard your prayers, and He has seen your kindness to the poor. God has taken notice of you. Send men south to Joppa, to the house of a tanner named Simon. Ask to speak to a guest of his named Simon, but also called Peter. You'll find this house near the waterfront.
After the messenger departed, Cornelius immediately called two of his slaves and a soldier under his command — an especially devout soldier. He told them the whole story and sent them to Joppa. 

Just as these men were nearing Joppa about noon the next day, Peter went up on the flat rooftop of Simon the tanner's house. He planned to pray, but he soon grew hungry. While his lunch was being prepared, Peter had a vision of his own — a vision that linked his present hunger with what was about to happen: A rift opened in the sky, and a wide container — something like a huge sheet suspended by its four corners — descended through the torn opening toward the ground. This container teemed with four-footed animals, creatures that crawl, and birds — pigs, bats, lizards, snakes, frogs, toads, and vultures. 

A Voice:
Get up, Peter! Kill! Eat!
Peter:
No way, Lord! These animals are forbidden in the dietary laws of the Hebrew Scriptures! I've never eaten nonkosher foods like these before — not once in my life!
A Voice:
If God calls something permissible and clean, you must not call it forbidden and dirty!
Peter saw this vision three times; but the third time, the container of animals flew up through the rift in the sky, the rift healed, and Peter was confused and unsettled as he tried to make sense of this strange vision. 

At that very moment, Peter heard the voices of Cornelius's delegation, who had asked for directions to Simon's house, coming from the front gate. 

Delegation:
Is there a man named Simon, also called Peter, staying at this house?
Peter's mind was still racing about the vision when the voice of the Holy Spirit broke through his churning thoughts. 

Holy Spirit:
The three men who are searching for you have been sent by Me. So get up! Go with them. Don't hesitate or argue.
Peter rushed downstairs to the men. 

Peter:
I'm the one you're seeking. Can you tell me why you've come?
Delegation:
We've been sent by our commander and master, Cornelius. He is a Centurion, and he is a good, honest man who worships your God. All the Jewish people speak well of him. A holy messenger told him to send for you, so you would come to his home and he could hear your message.
Peter extended hospitality to them and gave them lodging overnight. When they departed together the next morning, Peter brought some believers from Joppa. 

They arrived in Caesarea the next afternoon just before three o'clock. Cornelius had anticipated their arrival and had assembled his relatives and close friends to welcome them. When Peter and Cornelius met, Cornelius fell at Peter's feet in worship, but Peter helped him up. 

Peter:
Stand up, man! I am just a human being!
They talked and entered the house to meet the whole crowd inside. 

Peter:
You know I am a Jew. We Jews consider it a breach of divine law to associate, much less share hospitality, with outsiders. But God has shown me something in recent days: I should no longer consider any human beneath me or unclean. That's why I made no objection when you invited me; rather, I came willingly. Now let me hear the story of why you invited me here.
Cornelius:
It was about this time of day four days ago when I was here, in my house, praying the customary midafternoon prayer. Suddenly a man appeared out of nowhere. His clothes were dazzling white, and he stood directly in front of me and addressed me: "Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your kindness to the poor has been noticed by God. God wants you to find a man in Joppa, Simon who is also called Peter, who is staying at the home of a tanner named Simon, near the seaside." I wasted no time, did just as I was told, and you have generously accepted my invitation. So here we are, in the presence of God, ready to take in all that the Lord has told you to tell us.
Peter:
It is clear to me now that God plays no favorites, that God accepts every person whatever his or her culture or ethnic background, that God welcomes all who revere Him and do right. You already know that God sent a message to the people of Israel; it was a message of peace, peace through Jesus the Anointed — Who is King of all people. You know this message spread through Judea, beginning in Galilee where John called people to be ritually cleansed through baptism. You know God identified Jesus as the uniquely chosen One by pouring out the Holy Spirit on Him, by empowering Him. You know Jesus went through the land doing good for all and healing all who were suffering under the oppression of the evil one, for God was with Him. My friends and I stand as witnesses to all Jesus did in the region of Judea and the city of Jerusalem. The people of our capital city killed Him by hanging Him on a tree, but God raised Him up on the third day and made it possible for us to see Him. Not everyone was granted this privilege, only those of us whom God chose as witnesses. We actually ate and drank with Him after His resurrection. He told us to spread His message to everyone and to tell them that He is the One Whom God has chosen to be Judge, to make a just assessment of all people — both living and dead. All the prophets tell us about Him and assert that every person who believes in Jesus receives forgiveness of sins through His name.
Peter wasn't planning to stop at this point, but the Holy Spirit suddenly interrupted and came upon all the people who were listening. They began speaking in foreign languages (just as the Jewish disciples did on the Day of Pentecost), and their hearts overflowed in joyful praises to God. Peter's friends from Joppa — all of them Jewish, all circumcised — were stunned to see that the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on outsiders. 

Peter:
Can anyone give any good reason not to ceremonially wash these people through baptism as fellow disciples? After all, it's obvious they have received the Holy Spirit just as we did on the Day of Pentecost.
So he had them baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. The new disciples asked him to stay for several more days. 
(Acts 10:1-48)
Response in Prayer

O Father, give Your sons and daughters in my day the passion to reach out to the people around us no matter who they are. Help us tear down the barriers of prejudice and welcome into our fellowship all people who love Jesus. 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 Sat 01 Jul 2017, 10:49 pm

"Greater Things" — A Year with Jesus for 07/01/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

Even after I ascended back to the Father, the work of My apostles reminded people that My power and presence were still at work. I was calling Saul to turn from being the persecutor of My people to becoming the great proclaimer of My message, especially to Gentiles. I was also at work in the ministry of Peter to reach both Jewish people and non-Jewish people. Saul's conversion brought peace to My persecuted disciples. Peter's ministry also brought the true fullness of life — real peace, true shalom — to My people. 

When you read about the two events (the healing of Aeneas and the raising of Tabitha) from the ministry of Peter in the verses below, you should be reminded of My miracles when I was physically on earth. The healing of Aeneas should remind you of those I healed who were paralyzed (Luke 5:17-26). Peter makes it clear that I actually healed Aeneas:

Peter:
Aeneas, Jesus the Anointed heals you. Get up! Now you can make your own bed!
And immediately — he got up! All the local residents — both of Lydda and nearby Sharon — saw Aeneas healthy and strong again, so they turned to the Lord.
The raising of Tabitha (also called Dorcas) has language similar to two people I raised from the dead: the son of the widow at Nain (Luke 7:11-16) and Jairus' daughter (Luke 8:40-56). 

I want you to understand that My now being at the Father's side doesn't mean I have quit My ministry with you, to you, and through you. I promised you this:
I tell you the truth: whoever believes in Me will be able to do what I have done, but they will do even greater things, because I will return to be with the Father. Whatever you ask for in My name, I will do it so that the Father will get glory from the Son. 
(John 14:12-13)
What you see happening is that as My disciples were scattered by the martyrdom of Stephen and the persecution that broke out with his stoning, My power and presence went with them. I was present with them and powerful through them through the Holy Spirit. Instead of My work remaining confined to just the familiar areas of My earthly ministry — Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and Galilee — I was working through My disciples in many places around the world. 

So please, dear disciple, don't think I AM detached from your struggles, hardships, pains, and sorrows because I AM now in heaven. Your problems touch Me. I care about you. I work through your problems. Sometimes I even do astounding things to bring the Father glory in the middle of them. Please know that wherever My people call on My name in prayer and honor Me as Lord in praise and in their lives, I AM present and powerful. In fact, I AM actually doing more through My people than I could when I was limited to one place at one time while I was present in My earthly ministry (John 14:12-13; John 16:5-11). So believe that I AM with you and will do greater things through you than I did when I was in My earthly ministry!
Verses to Live

As you read these stories from Peter's ministry, listen to how they sound like My earthly ministry and realize I AM still among you and working through you to bring grace, healing, and hope!

And so the church enjoyed a period of peace and growth throughout the regions of Judea, Galilee, and Samaria. The disciples lived in deep reverence for the Lord, they experienced the strong comfort of the Holy Spirit, and their numbers increased. 

Peter hadn't been idle during all this time. He was having a number of amazing experiences of his own, traveling from group to group and visiting the various communities of believers. Once he came to a town called Lydda, a border town between Samaria and Judea, and met with God's special people there. He visited a man named Aeneas. This poor fellow had been paralyzed for eight years, unable to leave his bed. 

Peter:
Aeneas, Jesus the Anointed heals you. Get up! Now you can make your own bed!
And immediately — he got up! All the local residents — both of Lydda and nearby Sharon — saw Aeneas healthy and strong again, so they turned to the Lord. 

In a nearby coastal city, Joppa, there lived a disciple whose Aramaic name was Tabitha, or Dorcas in Greek. She was a good woman — devotedly doing good and giving to the poor. While Peter was in Lydda, she fell sick and died. Her fellow disciples washed her body and laid her in an upstairs room. They had heard Peter was nearby, so two of them went with an urgent message, "Please come to Joppa as soon as possible." 

Peter went with them and immediately entered the room where the corpse had been placed. It was quite a scene — the widows of the community were crowded in the room, weeping, showing the various items of clothing that Dorcas had made for them. 

Peter asked them to leave the room; then he got on his knees. He prayed for a while and then turned to her body. 

Peter:
Tabitha, get up!
She opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up. Giving her his hand, Peter lifted her up. Then he called in the other disciples — including the widows — and reintroduced them to their beloved friend. The news of this miracle spread throughout the city, and many believed in the Lord. Peter stayed in Joppa for some time as the guest of Simon, a tanner by profession. 
(Acts 9:31-43)
Response in Prayer

O Father, I pray in the mighty name of Jesus that You use me to be a blessing to others. I want to bring healing, hope, and tender care. May all I touch with grace know that I do it in the name of Jesus and for Your glory, dear Father. 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 30 Jun 2017, 2:42 pm

A Servant Who Changes Everything" — A Year with Jesus for 06/30/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of God, 

A large part of the history of faith is written by people who are not considered the greatest servants of faith. However, the Father and I know these precious servants and their great faith. 

When you think of the most significant of My apostles, you most likely think of Peter, My apostle to the Jews, and Paul, My apostle to the Gentiles. This choice is true at one level. However, at another level and from the point of view of heaven, without Andrew's loving faithfulness to his brother, who would have led hard-headed Peter to Me (John 1:40-42)? As for Paul, who in Jewish circles was known as Saul, there was the great and daring Ananias in Damascus. This faithful servant risked everything to go to the house of Judas on Straight Boulevard to lead the "fuming, raging, hateful man who wanted to kill every last one of the Lord's disciples" in his response to My call to become My disciple. 

Behind every great moment and every great movement of My grace are people like Andrew and Ananias. My birth was prefaced by the servant heart of My mother, Mary, who was willing to accept all the ostracism and rejection of being pregnant before marriage with the following words:

Here I am, the Lord's humble servant. As you have said, let it be done to me. 
(Luke 1:38)
And remember, the first ones to experience My resurrection were some women who came to serve Me even though they were convinced I was dead, so they weren't motivated by thinking that I could do anything for them in return (Luke 24:1-7). 

Imagine the courage of My servant, Ananias. Think of the faith he mustered to go to that house to share My good news with the man who had come to Damascus to imprison and persecute him. However, his obedience to My call led to Saul's conversion. Yes, many were not nearly as courageous as Ananias and refused to fellowship Saul, who would later become known as the great apostle Paul. But, Ananias was My servant who led Saul along his way to the conversion of "My instrument to bring My name far and wide — to outsiders, to kings, and to the people of Israel as well."
Verses to Live

As you see the evidence of early persecution in this story, I want you to think about your brothers and sisters in difficult places. These precious disciples are facing ostracism, persecution, and martyrdom for their faith. Yes, many of them pray for deliverance from such hard times. However, still more pray that their persecutors will be like the persecutor Saul, who became the apostle later known as Paul. Support them with your prayers and your financial support. Even more, be bold in faith and serve those who do not know Me so that they too can become part of My family of grace!

Back to Saul — this fuming, raging, hateful man who wanted to kill every last one of the Lord's disciples: he went to the high priest in Jerusalem for authorization to purge all the synagogues in Damascus of followers of the way of Jesus. His plan was to arrest and chain any of Jesus’ followers — women as well as men — and transport them back to Jerusalem. He traveled north toward Damascus with a group of companions. 

Imagine this: Suddenly a light flashes from the sky around Saul, and he falls to the ground at the sound of a voice. 

Saul:
Lord, Who are You?
The Lord:
I am Jesus. I am the One you are attacking. Get up. Enter the city. You will learn there what you are to do.
His other traveling companions just stand there, paralyzed, speechless because they, too, heard the voice; but there is nobody in sight. Saul rises to his feet, his eyes wide open, but he can't see a thing. So his companions lead their blind friend by the hand and take him into Damascus. He waits for three days — completely blind — and does not eat a bite or drink a drop of anything. 

Meanwhile, in Damascus a disciple named Ananias had a vision in which the Lord Jesus spoke to him. 

The Lord:
Ananias.
Ananias:
Here I am, Lord.
The Lord:
Get up and go to Straight Boulevard. Go to the house of Judas, and inquire about a man from Tarsus, Saul by name. He is praying to Me at this very instant. He has had a vision — a vision of a man by your name who will come, lay hands on him, and heal his eyesight.
Ananias:
Lord, I know whom You're talking about. I've heard rumors about this fellow. He's an evil man and has caused great harm for Your special people in Jerusalem. I've heard that he has been authorized by the religious authorities to come here and chain everyone who associates with Your name.
The Lord:
Yes, but you must go! I have chosen him to be My instrument to bring My name far and wide — to outsiders, to kings, and to the people of Israel as well. I have much to show him, including how much he must suffer for My name.
So Ananias went and entered the house where Saul was staying. He laid his hands on Saul and called to him. 

Ananias:
Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, Who appeared to you on your way here, sent me so you can regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.
At that instant, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see. So he got up, received ... baptism identifying him as a disciple, ate some food (remember, he had not eaten for three days), and regained his strength. He spent a lot of time with the disciples in Damascus over the next several days. Then he went into the very synagogues he had intended to purge, proclaiming, 

Saul:
Jesus is God's Son!
Obviously this amazed everybody, and the buzz spread. 

The People:
Isn't he the man who caused so much trouble in Jerusalem for everyone identified with Jesus? Didn't he come here to arrest followers of Jesus and bring them in chains to the religious authorities? Now he's switched sides and is preaching Jesus?
As time passed, Saul's confidence grew stronger and stronger, so much so that he debated with the Jews of Damascus and made an irrefutable case that Jesus is, in fact, God's Anointed, the Liberating King. 

They didn't like being confounded like this; so after several days, the Jews plotted to assassinate Saul. But he learned of the plot. He knew they were keeping the city gates under constant surveillance, so they could follow and kill him when he left. To save Saul, the disciples came up with a plan of their own. During the night, they put Saul in a basket and lowered him by ropes from an opening in the wall of the city rather than passing through the gates. Their plan worked, and he returned to Jerusalem. 

He tried to join the disciples there, but they didn't think he was sincere. 
(Acts 9:1-26)
Response in Prayer

O gracious Father, I confess that my faith is often shallow, and I don't put myself in places and situations where my faith would be tested. I run from rejection and tend to pray prayers about my own welfare and not the needs of my persecuted brothers and sisters. Even more, Lord Jesus, I have forgotten to pray for my enemies. So today, renew my sense of connection to my family of faith under persecution. Give us all power through the Holy Spirit to be people of character and compassion so that Your grace can move through us and transform those who are hostile to faith in 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.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Thu 29 Jun 2017, 9:46 pm

Risk-taking & Faith-filled" — A Year with Jesus for 06/29/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

What is the greatest obstacle that you face? 

What seemingly insurmountable forces are at work against you? 

Keep these two questions in mind as you read the verses below about Saul, the persecutor who became My great proclaimer of the gospel especially to Gentiles. 

My disciples were growing in number and impacting areas outside of Jerusalem and Judea. They shared My message everywhere they went. Persecution was mounted against them with the martyrdom of Stephen and drove them out of the original areas of proclamation. In the process, Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles were becoming My disciples. In response to this growth, the Jewish powers aligned against My people sent Saul of Tarsus into neighboring lands to arrest Jews who believed in Me. This same Saul was the one who oversaw the execution of Stephen (Acts 7:59-60; Acts 8:1-3). He was sent to bring My disciples in Damascus back to Jerusalem in chains to face imprisonment, persecution, and possible death (Acts 9:1-2). 

The people of Damascus knew he was coming. They knew what he had done. They knew what he was supposed to do in their city. If you were a believer in Damascus, what would you have done? 

You would have prayed for deliverance! 

And what would you have expected from your prayers? 

You might have expected deliverance, but probably not in the form in which deliverance came! When faced with a great obstacle, most believers would never expect that obstacle to become their leading advocate and ally in sharing My good news. When faced with a seemingly insurmountable force, most would not expect that antagonistic force to become the great force for reaching the nations with My grace. However, I answered their prayers about Saul, their persecutor, by making him My spokesman to the Gentiles. Saul met Me on the road to Damascus. He became a believer. Later, he became the great apostle to the Gentiles you also know as Paul! 

We — Father, Son, and Spirit — are the sovereign God! Our ways are not your ways. Our thoughts are not your thoughts. Our plans are not your plans. But even in Our sovereignty, We do not force men or women to do what We want them to do. They must choose to do it. Saul had to choose to believe. He chose to risk everything to follow Me. He chose to entrust himself to the very people he came to persecute. Ananias of Damascus, with some extra reassurance, chose to participate in My plan by reaching out to Saul. He knew the reports of all that Saul had done and was planning to do in Damascus. Ananias had to risk his safety, his freedom, and his very life to obey Me. Both Saul and Ananias responded to My call with obedience. Not only were their own lives very different from that day forward, but My people in Damascus, Syria, Phoenicia, Samaria, and Galilee were spared the rampaging persecution of Saul. 

Saul paid a high cost. While he was accepted by believers in Damascus, Jewish opposition soon mounted to his presence in the city. To escape from those who wanted to take his life, he was lowered in a basket through an opening the city wall. Saul returned to Jerusalem, where the church received him reluctantly. He was finally accepted because of the influence of Barnabas. However, Jewish opposition to Saul mounted in Jerusalem, and the church did not have peace until he left and went home to Tarsus. He had lived for an extended time in Arabia and Tarsus before he re-entered the life of My church as an apostle (Galatians 1:13-24; Galatians 2:1-2). 

Saul went from being a legendary persecutor of My disciples in Jerusalem, which gave him favored status among the Jewish religious leaders, to being an exile as far as the leaders were concerned. He gave up his favor, status, and influence with the Jewish religious establishment to become a Christian convert living largely away from the church in Jerusalem. All of this high cost was My preparation for him to become the most influential missionary the world has ever known. 

I used Ananias to remove both the physical and spiritual scales from Saul's eyes. Ananias was privileged to hear Saul confess Me as Lord and Christ and then baptize him. But if Saul had not given his life to Me, Ananias could have lost his life trying to do what I asked him to do. He demonstrated great faith in the face of great risk! 

So here are some points I want you to consider while you read this powerful story of risk, change, salvation, and mission. 

First, I can turn things around in ways you would never expect; so pray! Pray in faith. Pray with confidence expecting Me to act. 

Second, great movements led by the Holy Spirit often begin with a few people risking in faith to do what I have asked them to do. You never know how much hangs in the balance when I ask you to obey Me. Please know that what you do with what I ask of you matters immensely! 

Third, you live in a time where many offer an easy form of Christianity. This easy, watered-down pseudo-faith doesn't require action, demonstrable change, or taking risks. It is not real faith. That is why so many languish in lukewarm Christianity. I am calling you, along with them, to risk-taking and action-oriented discipleship. As you read this amazing story of Saul and Ananias, please let the Holy Spirit stir your heart to follow Me with passion and with a willingness to take risks in faith.

Verses to Live

So much hangs in the balance with the decisions of two people in the account below. Will Saul do a complete U-turn and believe in Me and live for Me and claim as family those he had gone to persecute? Will Ananias risk his freedom and his life to save the man who had come to put him in chains and haul him to Jerusalem to face persecution? Read this story with fresh eyes and an open heart. Follow these two men into risk-taking, faith-filled, and vibrant discipleship!

... Saul — this fuming, raging, hateful man who wanted to kill every last one of the Lord's disciples: he went to the high priest in Jerusalem for authorization to purge all the synagogues in Damascus of followers of the way of Jesus. His plan was to arrest and chain any of Jesus' followers — women as well as men — and transport them back to Jerusalem. He traveled north toward Damascus with a group of companions. 

Imagine this: Suddenly a light flashes from the sky around Saul, and he falls to the ground at the sound of a voice. 

The Lord:
Saul, Saul, why are you attacking Me?
Saul:
Lord, Who are You?
Then he hears these words: 

The Lord:
I am Jesus. I am the One you are attacking. Get up. Enter the city. You will learn there what you are to do.
His other traveling companions just stand there, paralyzed, speechless because they, too, heard the voice; but there is nobody in sight. Saul rises to his feet, his eyes wide open, but he can't see a thing. So his companions lead their blind friend by the hand and take him into Damascus. He waits for three days — completely blind — and does not eat a bite or drink a drop of anything. 

Meanwhile, in Damascus a disciple named Ananias had a vision in which the Lord Jesus spoke to him. 

The Lord:
Ananias.
Ananias:
Here I am, Lord.
The Lord:
Get up and go to Straight Boulevard. Go to the house of Judas, and inquire about a man from Tarsus, Saul by name. He is praying to Me at this very instant. He has had a vision — a vision of a man by your name who will come, lay hands on him, and heal his eyesight.
Ananias:
Lord, I know whom You're talking about. I've heard rumors about this fellow. He's an evil man and has caused great harm for Your special people in Jerusalem. I've heard that he has been authorized by the religious authorities to come here and chain everyone who associates with Your name.
The Lord:
Yes, but you must go! I have chosen him to be My instrument to bring My name far and wide — to outsiders, to kings, and to the people of Israel as well. I have much to show him, including how much he must suffer for My name.
So Ananias went and entered the house where Saul was staying. He laid his hands on Saul and called to him. 

Ananias:
Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, Who appeared to you on your way here, sent me so you can regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.
At that instant, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see. So he got up, received the ceremonial washing of baptism identifying him as a disciple, ate some food (remember, he had not eaten for three days), and regained his strength. He spent a lot of time with the disciples in Damascus over the next several days. Then he went into the very synagogues he had intended to purge, proclaiming, 

Saul:
Jesus is God's Son!
Obviously this amazed everybody, and the buzz spread. 

The People:
Isn't he the man who caused so much trouble in Jerusalem for everyone identified with Jesus? Didn't he come here to arrest followers of Jesus and bring them in chains to the religious authorities? Now he's switched sides and is preaching Jesus?
As time passed, Saul's confidence grew stronger and stronger, so much so that he debated with the Jews of Damascus and made an irrefutable case that Jesus is, in fact, God's Anointed, the Liberating King. 

They didn't like being confounded like this; so after several days, the Jews plotted to assassinate Saul. But he learned of the plot. He knew they were keeping the city gates under constant surveillance, so they could follow and kill him when he left. To save Saul, the disciples came up with a plan of their own. During the night, they put Saul in a basket and lowered him by ropes from an opening in the wall of the city rather than passing through the gates. Their plan worked, and he returned to Jerusalem. 

He tried to join the disciples there, but they didn't think he was sincere. 

Only one person accepted Saul as a genuine disciple, Barnabas, who became Saul's advocate to the apostles. He told the whole story of what happened in Damascus, from Saul's vision and message from the Lord to his transformation into a confident proclaimer of the name of Jesus. Finally they accepted Saul and gave him access to their community, and he continued to speak confidently in the name of the Lord. He dialogued — and argued — with a group of Greek-speaking Jews. That didn't go well either, because soon they were plotting to kill him also. His fellow believers helped him escape by bringing him to Caesarea and sending him to his hometown, Tarsus. 

And so the church enjoyed a period of peace and growth throughout the regions of Judea, Galilee, and Samaria. The disciples lived in deep reverence for the Lord, they experienced the strong comfort of the Holy Spirit, and their numbers increased. 
(Acts 9:1-31)
Response in Prayer

O Father, forgive me for my times of lukewarm faith. Empower me with your Holy Spirit to live with passion and in risk-taking, faith-filled discipleship. I want to follow Jesus, willing to obey and honor You no matter the cost. 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 27 Jun 2017, 11:08 am

"Baptism Must Open the Door to Genuine Fellowship" — A Year with Jesus for 06/27/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

The early Christians were greatly encouraged by Luke's account of two disciples on the road to Emmaus. I joined those two disciples on their journey and shared a meal with them on the Sunday of My resurrection. The two disciples recognized Me when I blessed and "broke bread" with them (Luke 24:13-35). The early disciples believed My promise to them:

For when two or three gather together in My name, I am there in the midst of them. 
(Matthew 18:20)
For My early disciples, eating together was very important. Withholding table fellowship from someone signified a very serious loss of fellowship (1 Corinthians 5:9-11). 

When Samaritans and Gentiles began to become My followers, however, there were significant problems. Most non-Jewish people did not "keep kosher." That meant that non-Jews ate food and used eating and cooking utensils that were considered unclean by Jews. As a result, Jews avoided non-Jews, especially eating with them, to remain clean according to the Jewish food laws (John 4:9). This "law-keeping" generally remained true among My early Jewish disciples despite the fact that I had essentially declared all foods clean in My earthly ministry (Mark 7:19). 

I would later have to send My apostle Peter a vision, an angel, and the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit to help prepare him to have table fellowship with Gentiles and baptize them (Acts 8:25; Acts 10:1-29, 48). Even with Peter's great influence, many of My Jewish disciples were upset. The real problem was NOT that Philip baptized Samaritans or that Peter baptized Gentiles. The real problem was that they entered into full fellowship with them, stayed in their homes, and ate at their tables (Acts 11:1-3). Did baptism mean full fellowship or did Gentiles have to practice Jewish food laws and be clean by Jewish standards to be received into fellowship? That was a huge and enduring question for these early believers. Unfortunately, in almost every age, fellowship across lines of suspicion, fear, prejudice, and language and cultural differences has been difficult at first. But I died for all people! I gave My life to break down every barrier that would separate people from one another. Baptism must open the door to genuine fellowship! 

I want you to hear two truths from today's note:
True, authentic fellowship between people of diverse cultures, nationalities, ethnicities, races, and languages is hard. Misunderstandings happen easily. Prejudices go away slowly. Fear of others makes friendship hard and genuine fellowship harder.
For you to be My disciple, you must find a way to have this authentic fellowship. You must love, respect, and eat with each other. You cannot allow worldly prejudices and bigotry to keep you divided. You are either all one family in Me, or you are not part of Me!
Baptism must open the door of fellowship for all people of all races and all cultures to sit at the same table with each other. As Paul told the Corinthians:
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 
(1 Corinthians 12:13 ESV)
Verses to Live

The Holy Spirit I sent you as a gift will always be at work to break down the barriers that separate you from other people. The Spirit will work to draw you together with love. 

As you read the book of Acts, you will see that My promise (Acts 1:8) to give you power through the Holy Spirit to become one family made up of people from all nations can come true. I want you to see how this unity happened through Philip, Peter, John, and the Samaritans. I also want you to see the plain words the Spirit said through Paul to stress that you are all one in Me. I paid a huge price to bring down the barriers that separate people so that I could make you one new humanity in Me.

Meanwhile [after many Samaritans responded to the preaching of Philip and were baptized,] word had reached the Lord's emissaries [the apostles] in Jerusalem that the message of God was welcomed in Samaria — a land of half-breeds and heretics in the minds of many Judeans. They sent Peter and John to pray for the Samaritans. They were especially eager to see if the new believers would receive the Holy Spirit because until this point they had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus but had not experienced the Holy Spirit. When Peter and John laid hands on the people, the Holy Spirit did indeed come upon them all. 

... 

Peter and John preached to and talked with the Samaritans about the message of the Lord; and then they returned to Jerusalem, stopping in many other Samaritan villages along the way to proclaim the good news. 
(Acts 8:14-17, 25) 

It is your faith in the Anointed Jesus that makes all of you children of God because all of you who have been initiated into the Anointed One through ... baptism have put Him on. It makes no difference whether you are a Jew or a Greek, a slave or a freeman, a man or a woman, because in Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King, you are all one. Since you belong to Him and are now subject to His power, you are the descendant of Abraham and the heir of God's glory according to the promise. 
(Galatians 3:26-29) 

He [Jesus Christ] is the embodiment of our peace, sent once and for all to take down the great barrier of hatred and hostility that has divided us [Jews and non-Jews] so that we can be one. He offered His body on the sacrificial altar to bring an end to the law's ordinances and dictations that separated Jews from the outside nations. His desire was to create in His body one new humanity from the two opposing groups, thus creating peace. Effectively the cross becomes God's means to kill off the hostility once and for all so that He is able to reconcile them both to God in this one new body. 
(Ephesians 2:14-16)
Response in Prayer

O Father, Creator of all people, forgive us — forgive me. I am heartbroken at the racism, classism, ethnocentrism, and every other "ism" that we have created to divide us. Use me, O God, as an instrument of Your grace, mercy, peace, and unity. May I be used to tear down barriers that keep people from You and from each other. I ask for wisdom and determination as I do this, trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit to help me. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

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

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

Post  Admin on Mon 26 Jun 2017, 9:31 pm

The Spirit Cannot Be Bought" — A Year with Jesus for 06/26/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious Disciple, 

One of the great gifts you received with your salvation was the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39). I pour out the Spirit on all who come to Me in faith and are baptized (Titus 3:3-7). The Spirit cleanses you of all your sin as you call upon My name to save you, and you turn from your past sins and from living for yourself (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). 

When Philip went to Samaria because of the persecution in Jerusalem, he taught and baptized people there (Acts 8:12). The emissaries of the Jerusalem church, My apostles, needed to see that these Samaritans — "half-breeds and heretics in the minds of many Judeans" — received the Spirit so they would include these new believers in full fellowship. When these apostles saw the Samaritan's faith was genuine, they prayed for them to receive the Holy Spirit because I had not yet poured out the Spirit upon them (Acts 8:14-17). When the Spirit came upon them in a clear and demonstrable way, full fellowship was recognized with these new believers and full fellowship and acceptance with My Samaritan followers were achieved — I will share more about this tomorrow. 

One of the new believers was a magician named Simon. He had amazed people with his power. However, in the miracles performed by Philip, Simon saw a greater power that wasn't tied to magic. The coming of the Holy Spirit on My Samaritan disciples when Peter and John laid hands on them and accepted them into full fellowship revealed an unredeemed part of Simon's character. Simon had grown accustomed to being admired and held in high regard. His lust to be seen as amazing led him to offer Peter money for the power to give the Holy Spirit to others. 

Peter's response was clear, harsh, and right on target. The gift of the Holy Spirit is not something that can be purchased. I give the Holy Spirit to My disciples when they come to Me for salvation. The Spirit is My gift to give. The Spirit is My promised presence to be your Helper (John 14:15-27; John 15:26-27; John 16:5-15). He is your assurance that you will share with Me in resurrection and glory (2 Corinthians 1:21-22; 2 Corinthians 5:5; Ephesians 1:13-14), giving life to your mortal body (Romans 8:11). 

The Spirit's work is to conform you to Me (2 Corinthians 3:18), not to bring you glory, as Simon wanted. The Spirit works in you to bring about the character and compassion you have seen demonstrated by Me in My ministry (Galatians 5:22-23). The Spirit intercedes for you even when you don't have words to speak what is on your heart (Romans 8:26-27). The Spirit joins with your spirit and cries out to the Father using the very same name I used to address the Father when I was on earth — "Abba"! (Mark 14:36) The Spirit empowers you to overcome the very kind of things that were going on in the heart of Simon (Romans 8:13). 

Thankfully, Simon was willing to see the error of his request and the evil that needed to be eradicated from his heart. He wanted to be My disciple more than he wanted to be recognized as someone important or powerful. He was willing to leave his past glory as a magician using black magic and become My follower. The question for you, My dear one, is whether you are willing to be My disciple more than you want your own forms of recognition or your own sense of self-importance?

Verses to Live

Is there something that keeps you from fully following Me and being led by My Spirit? Do you wrestle with ways of feeling important other than your great importance to Me? Have you left your past life?

Jesus:
If any of you want to walk My path, you're going to have to deny yourself. You'll have to take up your cross every day and follow Me. If you try to avoid danger and risk, then you'll lose everything. If you let go of your life and risk all for My sake, then your life will be rescued, healed, made whole and full. Listen, what good does it do you if you gain everything — if the whole world is in your pocket — but then your own life slips through your fingers and is lost to you?
(Luke 9:23-25)
Look closely at Simon and how, in the end, he offered up everything to follow Me... just as every true disciple must do! Thankfully, Simon turned his heart to fully follow Me. Have you?
All those who had been scattered by the persecution [in Jerusalem] moved from place to place; and wherever they went, they weren't afraid or silent. Instead, they spread the message of Jesus. 

Philip, for example, headed north to the city of Samaria, and he told them the news of [Christ] the Anointed One. The crowds were united in their desire to understand Philip's message. They not only listened with their ears, but they witnessed miraculous signs with their eyes. Unclean spirits cried out with loud screams as they were exorcised from people. Paralyzed people and lame people moved and walked in plain view. So the city was swept with joy. 

There was a fellow named Simon who had a widespread and long-standing reputation as a sorcerer in Samaria. Everyone — not just poor or uneducated people, but also the city's elite — paid him great respect. Because he had amazed them with his magic, they thought, "This is a truly great man, full of the power of the God of Greatness." But they were even more impressed with Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus the Anointed. Both men and women received ... baptism — and even Simon himself became a believer. After his baptism, he shadowed Philip constantly, and he was as amazed as everyone else when he saw great and miraculous signs taking place. 

Meanwhile word had reached the Lord's emissaries in Jerusalem that the message of God was welcomed in Samaria — a land of half-breeds and heretics in the minds of many Judeans. They sent Peter and John to pray for the Samaritans. They were especially eager to see if the new believers would receive the Holy Spirit because until this point they had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus but had not experienced the Holy Spirit. When Peter and John laid hands on the people, the Holy Spirit did indeed come upon them all. 

Simon watched all this closely. He saw the Holy Spirit coming to the people when the apostles laid hands on them. So he came to Peter and John and offered them money. 

Simon:
I want to purchase this ability to confer the Holy Spirit on people through the laying on of my hands.
Peter:
May your silver rot right along with you, Simon! To think the Holy Spirit is some kind of magic that can be procured with money! You aren't even close to being ready for this kind of ministry; your heart is not right with God. You need to turn from your past, and you need to pray that the Lord will forgive the evil intent of your heart. I can see deep bitterness has poisoned you, and wickedness has locked you in chains.
Simon:
Please — you must pray to the Lord for me. I don't want these terrible things to be true of me.
(Acts 8:4-24)
Response in Prayer

O Father, I confess that many things distract me from fully trusting and serving Jesus as my Lord. I know that when my heart is divided between following Him and seeking my own good and glory, I end up interfering with the Spirit's work of transforming me to be like Jesus. So I ask for your forgiveness. I commit to seek to follow Jesus with my whole heart and not hold back. I do ask, Holy Spirit, that you strengthen me as I take each step of faith so that Your work can be completed in me to the glory of God the Father. In the name of Jesus, the Father's Son and my Savior, 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.
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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 25 Jun 2017, 9:59 pm

"Near and Far" — A Year with Jesus for 06/25/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend, 

The verses you read below are from Acts chapter 8. They tell of the scattering of My followers from Jerusalem. This scattering began with escalating persecution and the martyrdom of Stephen. The religious leaders in Jerusalem thought this would crush My people and the movement I had begun. However, these oppositional leaders didn't know the promise I had made to My disciples:

[I, Jesus,] said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." 
(Acts 1:7-8 ESV)
My promise focused on three important things:
Power for the Mission: 
The Holy Spirit would be with My disciples wherever they went, empowering them.
Purpose of the Mission: 
My disciples would be My witnesses wherever they went, sharing My message with all peoples.
Place for the Mission: 
Their mission was to begin where they were, radiate out to the region, and eventually reach the people of the whole earth.
In other words, by persecuting and scattering My disciples, these leaders who sought to put out the fire of faith actually helped ensure that it spread. Eventually, the message was shared all over the world with all kinds of people. The Jewish leaders in Jerusalem persecuted and chased My disciples out of the city. This pressure pushed My message outside of Jerusalem throughout Judea and Samaria, and then the message was taken into other non-Jewish parts of the world. 

As you read the verses below, notice that the attempt to shut up My followers failed. As Luke puts it, "[W]herever they went, they weren't afraid or silent. Instead, they spread the message of Jesus." 

Up until this point, My disciples had not ventured with the gospel very much outside of the area of their Jewish roots. However, the persecution pushed them into non-Jewish areas. I then began to call people, like Philip, to share My good news with other cultures and races of people — with Samaritans and Gentile people, too. 

Acts chapter 8 is all about sharing My message among the non-Jews. Philip was a great witness and evangelist to Samaritans. The church in Jerusalem sent Peter and John to check on this new group. They confirmed that these Samaritans were Christians when the Samaritans received the Holy Spirit in recognizable ways. These important apostles from Jerusalem put the exclamation mark on the inclusion of these non-Jews by stopping and staying with Samaritans throughout the region. 

My disciples didn't just go to Samaria. Some disciples went up into nearby Gentile areas along the Mediterranean Sea (Phoenicia) while others headed to Cyprus and Antioch (Acts 11:19-20) taking My message to Jews and Gentiles. This sharing was especially significant in the important city of Antioch. Earlier, the Spirit had called Philip to go and meet an Ethiopian dignitary in the desert. Just as Philip had helped begin the mission to the Samaritans, the Spirit used him to speak to this special Gentile who was interested in following the one true and living God. He was reading from Isaiah 53, a prophetic passage about the servant Messiah of the LORD — Me! So Philip joined the Ethiopian in his chariot and taught this man the truth about Me. This Ethiopian dignitary turned his life around to live for Me and was baptized. 

Here are some key truths I want you to remember from these events: 

First, what the evil one intends for harm, I can turn around and use for good. Even when evil tries to snuff out and limit My people, I can use troubled times to spread My message to many others. 

Second, the power of the Holy Spirit, when joined with My disciples' commitment to sharing My message, cannot be stopped. You see this again and again in the book of Acts. In fact, you are living testimony to this truth. 

Third, I want all people — all races, nationalities, cultures, languages — to be a part of My family. My good news is for all people. The Holy Spirit can help make sure the message is spread in every era of My church. 

Fourth, you may never know all the great witnesses who led untold numbers of people to Me. You can, however, rejoice in being part of an unconquerable and unsilenceable kingdom. 

Fifth, while I had commanded My disciples to take My message to the whole world, they did not do it initially. However, with the persecution going on in Jerusalem, those forced out did what I had originally called them to do. My purposes will be fulfilled. My will is going to be done. All I desire will occur whether My people do it voluntarily, or it takes hardship to open their eyes to the people waiting to hear.
Verses to Live

Today there are three sections of Scripture from the eighth chapter of Acts. The first section starts with Christians scattering from Jerusalem and Judea because of persecution. They are forced out, but they leave empowered by the Holy Spirit to spread My message. The remainder of this section talks about Philip carrying My good news to Samaritans. The second section gives the account of Peter and John leaving Jerusalem to minister to the Samaritan Christians. The third section continues the account of Peter and John in Samaria. Luke then tells of another cross-cultural mission effort when the Spirit sent Philip to the Ethiopian dignitary, a God-fearing African Gentile who sought to know Me. 

Don't miss the unstated lesson here. Focus on the effect of My message on these disciples. My love flows through My disciples to ALL people. These very apostles reaching out to Samaritans and Gentiles are the same apostles who had previously looked down on Samaritans. They were once surprised to find Me talking with a Samaritan woman (John 4:27) because Jews did not usually associate with Samaritans (John 4:9). And on another occasion, they wanted to call down fire to consume a Samaritan village because it did not receive Me (Luke 9:51-56). Now, these same apostles were risking everything — their safety, their acceptance, and their credibility — to bring Samaritan and Gentile people inside My family of grace!

All those who had been scattered by the persecution moved from place to place; and wherever they went, they weren't afraid or silent. Instead, they spread the message of Jesus. 

Philip, for example, headed north to the city of Samaria, and he told them the news of the Anointed One. The crowds were united in their desire to understand Philip's message. They not only listened with their ears, but they witnessed miraculous signs with their eyes. Unclean spirits cried out with loud screams as they were exorcised from people. Paralyzed people and lame people moved and walked in plain view. So the city was swept with joy. 
(Acts 8:4-8) 

Meanwhile word had reached the Lord's emissaries in Jerusalem that the message of God was welcomed in Samaria — a land of half-breeds and heretics in the minds of many Judeans. They sent Peter and John to pray for the Samaritans. They were especially eager to see if the new believers would receive the Holy Spirit because until this point they had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus but had not experienced the Holy Spirit. When Peter and John laid hands on the people, the Holy Spirit did indeed come upon them all. 
(Acts 8:14-17) 

Peter and John preached to and talked with the Samaritans about the message of the Lord; and then they returned to Jerusalem, stopping in many other Samaritan villages along the way to proclaim the good news. 

A heavenly messenger brought this short message from the Lord to Philip during his time preaching in Samaria: 

Messenger of the Lord:
Leave Samaria. Go south to the Jerusalem-Gaza road.
The message was especially unusual because this road runs through the middle of uninhabited desert. But Philip got up, left the excitement of Samaria, and did as he was told to do. Along this road, Philip saw a chariot in the distance. In the chariot was a dignitary from Ethiopia (the treasurer for Queen Candace), an African man who had been castrated. He had gone north to Jerusalem to worship at the Jewish temple, and he was now heading southwest on his way home. He was seated in the chariot and was reading aloud from a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. 

Philip received another prompting from the Holy Spirit: 

Holy Spirit:
Go over to the chariot and climb on board.
So he started running until he was even with the chariot. Philip heard the Ethiopian reading aloud and recognized the words from the prophet Isaiah. 

Philip:
Do you understand the meaning of what you're reading?
The Ethiopian:
How can I understand it unless I have a mentor?
Then he invited Philip to sit in the chariot. Here's the passage he was reading from the Hebrew Scriptures:
Like a sheep, He was led to be slaughtered. Like a lamb about to be shorn of its wool, He was completely silent. He was humiliated, and He received no justice. Who can describe His peers? Who would treat Him this way? For they snuffed out His life.
The Ethiopian:
Here's my first question. Is the prophet describing his own situation, or is he describing someone else's calamity?
That began a conversation in which Philip used the passage to explain the good news of Jesus. Eventually the chariot passed a body of water beside the road. 

The Ethiopian:
Since there is water here, is there anything that might prevent me from being ceremonially washed through baptism and identified as a disciple of Jesus?
Philip:
If you believe in your heart that Jesus the Anointed is God's Son, then nothing can stop you.
The Ethiopian said that he believed. 

He commanded the charioteer to stop the horses. Then Philip and the Ethiopian official walked together into the water. There Philip baptized him, initiating him as a fellow disciple. When they came out of the water, Philip was immediately caught up by the Holy Spirit and taken from the sight of the Ethiopian, who climbed back into his chariot and continued on his journey, overflowing with joy. Philip found himself at a town called Azotus (formerly the Philistine capital city of Ashdod, on the Mediterranean); and from there he traveled north again, proclaiming the good news in town after town until he came to Caesarea. 
(Acts 8:25-40)
Response in Prayer

Father in heaven, give me the courage to speak the truth of Jesus to all people. Give me boldness just as the early disciples had after they fled from Jerusalem. If it takes hardship, difficulty, or even persecution to motivate me to action, then please do what it takes to move me to be faithful. Always, dear Father, I pray for the renewing and sustaining presence of the Holy Spirit to empower me, to give me courage, and to give me the words to say to bring others to know 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.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sat 24 Jun 2017, 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.
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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..
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.
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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.
© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.
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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
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion Internation
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 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.
© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.
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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.
© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.
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