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HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Fri 21 Feb 2014, 10:49 pm

"Why Won't they Believe?" — A Year with Jesus for 02/21/2014

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 God was in the middle of those hurts. Some will say they have a hard time believing something they think the Bible says. Others will see those who are weak and stumble, or who are hypocrites, and say they want no part of that. Some will say they just can't believe in the miracles and My resurrection that they hear about in Scripture.

What you find frustrating, and sometimes heartbreaking, is 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 at least knew of one of these miracles — that's why they were back out trying to get something else from Me — and many of them were puzzling over the possibility of another miracle — how I had gotten to the other side of the Sea of Galilee to be with My disciples. Yet before they would do the one thing I told them was the true "work of God" — to believe in Me as the One the Father had sent — they wanted another miracle.

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 to see the sign that I had done and realize that it pointed to My identity as the Son of God.

No one wants people saved more than the Father and Me. No one's heart breaks more at the refusal of people to believe than the heart of God — Father, Son, and Spirit. I left the Father to share grace, offer hope, and bring true life to the people of your world. Don't give up when people refuse to believe, but don't burn up all your time and energy trying to convince 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, realize that you cannot make them believe and I won't force them to believe. Faith has to be chosen freely to be faith: it must not be forced or coerced on anyone or it is not faith. As much as you want them to believe, you do not have the power to make it happen. Give that work over to the Spirit and be ready as you look for the opportunity when the Spirit prompts you to reach out to them. A lot of folks 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 their friend or loved one, faithful and patient, looking for that moment of grace to come.

Also remember what your "work" really is: to believe — to trust that I AM the Son of God, your Savior and Lord — and to live that faith before others. That guarantees your life is bound up with Me for eternity, and 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 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.
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. 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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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Thu 20 Feb 2014, 11:38 pm

"When Life is Hard" — A Year with Jesus for 02/20/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

There are times when life is very hard. We've been looking at the time when I fed 5,000 people out of 5 loaves and 2 fish. The people were tired, the hour was late, and My disciples were not ready to handle the problem. So I want to remind you where I was emotionally before all of this started. Herod had just killed My cousin and great forerunner, John the Baptist. I felt both the personal loss of this great servant of God and also the burden of knowing that John's fate would soon be My own. I was trying to get away to a quiet place and pray when the crowd found Me. I love how Matthew describes My situation:
And so he [Herod] sent orders to the prison to have John beheaded, and there was his head, displayed on a platter, given first to Salome and then passed on to her mother.

John's disciples went to the prison, got John's body, and buried him. Then they went to tell Jesus.

When Jesus learned what had happened, He got on a boat and went away to spend some time in a private place. The crowds, of course, followed Jesus on foot from their cities. Though Jesus wanted solitude, when He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, and He healed the sick and the lame.

(Matthew 14:10-15)

I share this because I want you to realize that I know about life being hard — about needing to grieve and regroup by being alone, yet not being allowed to have that time. So when your life caves in around you, please don't believe the lie of the enemy — that I don't care about your pain and that your pain doesn't matter to God. There will be times when you are tempted to feel that this lie is true, but please remember the real truth. I know human anguish. I know it not just because I am God, but because I was One of you. I know what it is like to face the storms of life and feel like they are going to swallow you whole. That is why what happens next is so important for you to believe.

As I tried to be alone with the Father, I sent the disciples away. Soon, they were overwhelmed by a storm. What I was facing emotionally, they were facing physically. So I went to them. In the middle of My raging emotional storm, I entered into their battle with their storm.

While I was approaching them in the storm, Peter did what early Peter often did: he made a bit of a mess of things by presuming to do something the others would never dream to do. But don't miss this truth: he did it! He walked on the water to Me until he became distracted by the storm. But in the roiling power of the storm, this seasoned fisherman, this man so familiar with the sea, didn't try to save himself. He cried out to Me and I rescued him.

So here's the deal. When you are going through your own storms, call out to Me. Welcome Me into the middle of your messes, trials, struggles, and storms. When you do, I will join you in them. You will not be alone. When My arrival seems to take forever, don't despair. I will come to you in the storm. You may not recognize My presence at first, but keep looking and I will be there. One way or another, I will get you to your true destination and you can find rest, hope, and peace for your soul.

Don't forget, I know what it is like to face the worst storms of life and I will not abandon you to fight them alone.
Verses to Live

Please read this account of this important event in My life — taken from both Matthew's account and John's account of these events. It is more than a story; it may just be your story or the story of a friend. Remember, I don't abandon you in the storm, so look for Me when the storm seems most fierce and you can't figure out how to go on:
Immediately [after feeding the 5,000] Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on to the other side of the sea while He dismissed the crowd. Then, after the crowd had gone, Jesus went up to a mountaintop alone (as He had intended from the start). As evening descended, He stood alone on the mountain, praying.

The boat was in the water, some distance from land, buffeted and pushed around by waves and wind. Deep in the night, when He had concluded His prayers, Jesus walked out on the water to His disciples in their boat.

(Matthew 14:22-25)

After rowing three or four miles through the stormy seas, they spotted Jesus approaching the boat walking mysteriously upon the deep waters that surrounded them. They panicked.

Jesus (to the disciples):
I AM the One. Don't be afraid.

(John 6:19-20)

Peter:
Lord, if it is really You, then command me to meet You on the water.

Jesus:
Indeed, come.

Peter stepped out of the boat onto the water and began walking toward Jesus. But when he remembered how strong the wind was, his courage caught in his throat and he began to sink.

Peter:
Master, save me!

Immediately Jesus reached for Peter and caught him.

Jesus:
O you of little faith. Why did you doubt and dance back and forth between following Me and heeding fear?

Then Jesus and Peter climbed in the boat together, and the wind became still

(Matthew 14:28-32)

They welcomed Jesus aboard their small vessel; and when He stepped into the boat, the next thing they knew, they were ashore at their destination.

(John 6:21)

And the disciples worshiped Him.

Disciples:
Truly You are the Son of God.

(Matthew 14:33)
Response in Prayer

O Father, give me courage in my storm to call out to Jesus. Give me courage in my weakness to find Jesus' strength in my storms so I can welcome Him to me and can find peace, hope, and strength for my soul. In Jesus' name I pray.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Wed 19 Feb 2014, 5:28 pm

"Too Close to See the Truth" — A Year with Jesus for 02/18/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend of grace,

Some reactions are predictable, but still hurt. At first, the people of Nazareth — the town where I spent most of my years growing from a boy into a man — were amazed at My teaching. Then their perception of Me changed. They thought they knew Me. They had seen Me grow up. They had seen Me take over Joseph's work in the carpenter's shop. They had not seen anything that suggested that I was extraordinary, spectacular, or impressive. To them, I was just another ordinary, God-loving, God-fearing, Torah-obeying, Jewish carpenter who also happened to be their neighbor.

When I read from the prophet Isaiah in the synagogue, they thought nothing of it. When I applied Isaiah's passage of mission, liberation, celebration, and grace, they were impressed... at first. Then My words began to sink into their minds and they couldn't get around their own conceptions of Who I AM. I was saying this passage, which was often associated with the blessings brought by the Messiah, was coming true right before their eyes. They went from being amazed and impressed to being furious and murderous.

I actually made them angrier by telling them the truth, a truth simply too close to them for them to see: that I AM the Messiah. This boy whom they had seen grow into man was claiming to be God's Anointed, the long awaited Messiah. I reminded them and warned them that Elijah and Elisha had similar problems with the folks in their hometowns, so these great prophets ended up blessing foreigners and outsiders who were desperate and hopeless — which is actually the point of the passage I read from Isaiah. My words made my neighbors, fellow townspeople, and relatives angrier.

Yet no matter how angry they were and how outnumbered I was, they couldn't get rid of Me! That's the amazing reality about truth: you may not see it, but you cannot escape it or hide it. Sooner or later the truth comes out. I came as God's Messiah — the Liberator and Deliverer of those in bondage of any and all kinds. Their anger, their confusion, and their denial of these realities would not change the truth of My identity or stop the impact of My work!

Verses to Live

Church people can be a lot like the people of My hometown. They think they know Me because they've talked about Me for many years and they have an idea about what they should expect from Me. However, I AM God's Anointed, the liberating Savior who brings grace to those who realize they desperately need grace. My disciples should be about bringing grace to the same kind of people in their world. Don't discount what I can do through you because you think you have Me figured out. I have far bigger plans for you than you can ask or imagine of the Spirit who lives in you. I want you, where you are, in the time you live, to bring My salvation to people who need it most... right now!
He [Jesus] eventually came to His hometown, Nazareth, and did there what He had done elsewhere in Galilee — entered the synagogue and stood up to read from the Hebrew Scriptures.

The synagogue attendant gave Him the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, and Jesus unrolled it to the place where Isaiah had written these words:
The Spirit of the Lord the Eternal One is on Me.

Why? Because the Eternal designated Me
to be His representative to the poor, to preach good news to them.

He sent Me to tell those who are held captive that they can now be set free,
and to tell the blind that they can now see.

He sent Me to liberate those held down by oppression.

In short, the Spirit is upon Me to proclaim that now is the time; this is the jubilee season of the Eternal One's grace.


Jesus rolled up the scroll and returned it to the synagogue attendant. Then He sat down, as a teacher would do, and all in the synagogue focused their attention on Jesus, waiting for Him to speak. He told them that these words from the Hebrew Scriptures were being fulfilled then and there, in their hearing.

At first everyone was deeply impressed with the gracious words that poured from Jesus' lips. Everyone spoke well of Him and was amazed that He could say these things.

Everyone:
Wait. This is only the son of Joseph, right?

Jesus:
You're about to quote the old proverb to Me, "Doctor, heal yourself!" Then you're going to ask Me to prove Myself to you by doing the same miracles I did in Capernaum. But face the truth: hometowns always reject their homegrown prophets.

Think back to the prophet Elijah. There were many needy Jewish widows in his homeland, Israel, when a terrible famine persisted there for three and a half years. Yet the only widow God sent Elijah to help was an outsider from Zarephath in Sidon.

It was the same with the prophet Elisha. There were many Jewish lepers in his homeland, but the only one he healed — Naaman — was an outsider from Syria.


The people in the synagogue became furious when He said these things. They seized Jesus, took Him to the edge of town, and pushed Him right to the edge of the cliff on which the city was built. They would have pushed Him off and killed Him, but He passed through the crowd and went on His way.

(Luke 4:16-30)
Response in Prayer

Almighty and Sovereign God, I sometimes forget just how big you are. I confess that I sometimes don't expect Jesus to do much through me and those around me. I believe, dear Father, but please help my unbelief. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
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Hold My Miracle in Your Hands!" — A Year with Jesus for 02/19/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Follower,

I want you to hear the ending of the verses below before you read anything else:
Everyone eats. Everyone is satisfied. Nobody goes away hungry. In fact, when the disciples recover the leftovers, they have 12 baskets full of broken pieces.

(Luke 9:17).

There are many things you can focus upon in the verses below:
The ministry of My disciples to proclaim and demonstrate My good news.
Herod's fear of Me and curiosity with Me.
The confusion over My ministry and the ministry of John the Baptist.
My trying to get away from the crowds to be alone with My closest disciples.
The crowd's finding Me late in the day and needing a meal, so I feed them using only 5 loaves! and 2 fish.

However, I want you to focus on one key thing out of this series of events: the disciples lack of faith and My sufficiency!

No matter how many great things My disciples had already done, they — like you — still had their doubts when faced with an overwhelming problem. And to be honest, I created the problem for them because I wanted them to learn this lesson just like I want you to learn this lesson. When they came running up to Me with their faithless solution for the problem of so many hungry and tired people, I gave them this command: "You give them something to eat."

When they didn't get what I was trying to help them see, notice what I did and what things happened to open their eyes:
I gave them a plan.
I took their meager resources.
I asked the Father to bless those meager resources.
I broke the fish and the bread for them to serve to the people.
I had them distribute the food to organized and orderly groups of people.
Everyone ate and was satisfied.
Each of my doubting disciples picked up a basket full of leftovers.
They each got to hold My miracle in their own hands!

Years ago, the Father had told a scared and shy Gideon to "go in the strength that you have and save" My people (Judges 6:14). Gideon didn't think he was up to the challenge of liberating Our people. I was basically telling My disciples the same thing:
"You only have 5 loaves and 2 fish. No big deal. You have Me! You have faith! You've already done great things to bless people. So bring what you have to Me and let Me make it sufficient. Go in the strength and with the resources you have and discover what you can do with My blessing!"

Now they didn't get the point at first, but they surely did after I blessed the fish and bread, told them how to distribute them, had them feed the crowd, and then had them pick up the leftovers! They held My miracle in their hands!

So what's it going to take with you? When you are faced with monumental opportunities too big for you to meet, will you bring what you have to Me? Will you go in the strength that you have and trust that I can make you sufficient? Will you get to hold My miracle in your hands?
Verses to Live

The following events come together to form a powerful story. It's the see-saw of My disciples faith: do great things, face a greater challenge and doubt, I step in, then experience the power of God at work in you to do more than you could have imagined. But let's avoid the see-saw: believe that I can make your efforts for the Kingdom sufficient as you trust Me and do what I ask of you!
The disciples left on their journeys from village to village. They preached the good news, and they healed the sick everywhere they went.

Their mission didn't go unnoticed. The local official installed by Rome, Herod, was especially anxious about the news because rumors were flying. Some people said that Elijah or one of the other ancient prophets had been resurrected, while others said that John, famous for his ritual cleansing, was alive and preaching again.

Herod:
I am the one who beheaded John. So who is this man who is causing such a stir?

Herod was curious about Jesus and wanted to see Him.

The emissaries whom Jesus had sent out returned, and Jesus took them away from the crowds for a time of retreat in a city called Bethsaida. They gave Jesus a full report of their accomplishments and experiences. But soon the crowds discovered where they were and pursued Him. Jesus didn't turn them away; He welcomed them, spoke of the kingdom of God to them, and brought health to those who needed healing.

Picture what happened while in Bethsaida, where Jesus and His disciples were spending time with the crowds:

The sun is low in the sky, and soon it will be dusk. The twelve come to Jesus with advice.

Disciples:
Send the crowd away so they can find lodging and food in the nearby villages and countryside. We're out here in the middle of nowhere.

Jesus:
No. You give them something to eat.

Disciples:
Are You kidding? There are at least 5,000 men here, not to mention women and children. All we have are five loaves and two fish. The only way we could provide for them would be to go to a nearby city and buy cartloads of food. That would cost a small fortune.

Jesus:
Just do this: organize them in little communities of about 50 people each and have them sit down.

They do what Jesus says, and soon groups of 50 are scattered across the landscape.

Then Jesus takes the five loaves and two fish, and He looks up to heaven. He praises God for the food, takes each item, and breaks it into fragments. Then He gives fragments to the twelve disciples and tells them to distribute the food to the crowd.

Everyone eats. Everyone is satisfied. Nobody goes away hungry. In fact, when the disciples recover the leftovers, they have 12 baskets full of broken pieces.

(Luke 9:6-17)
Response in Prayer

Father, I face an uphill battle to make a difference in my world for Your glory and for the growth of Your people. I need Your grace to strengthen my faith and courage to launch out with that faith, leaving the results of my efforts and the sufficiency of my resources to Your power. So please help me, dear Lord I pray, to have more faith and courage to serve in the strength that I have! In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Mon 17 Feb 2014, 11:53 pm

"The ARC of My Grace" — A Year with Jesus for 02/17/2014

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. Yet 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 could be. If you remember My temptations by Satan in the wilderness, I refused to do miracles for My own good, for My own reputation, and 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 heart of people through my earthly ministry to them and My going to the cross for them.

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 — 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. And 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 — matters to Me! Each! So my miracles for each of these people follow this ARC of MY grace. 

Notice how the woman is 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 to fully restore her in every way: acceptance, relationship, and community.

Now notice Jairus and his dying daughter. Here was the 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 am with what I did. I took the little 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 true relationship, with this little girl and her family. Finally, 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 is 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 important: 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. Acceptance of them 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 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's 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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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sun 16 Feb 2014, 9:53 pm

"A Tale of Two Powers" — A Year with Jesus for 02/16/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious Child of God,

Two powers are at war over your eternal destiny — God and Satan. The story below illustrates the goal of these two powers. No matter how alluring temptation may seem to you, the ultimate goal of the tempter, the deceiver, the devil, the evil one, and all the forces of hell can be seen from the condition of the man called Battalion as you meet him at the beginning of the story. The forces of evil are hell-bent on your destruction. However, the ultimate goal of your Father in heaven is for you to be in your right mind, learning from Jesus how to have purpose for your life, and to live out that purpose.

Notice the man under the control of the demonic spirits — he goes by the name of Battalion.
He is isolated — literally driven into isolation by the demonic powers that control him.
He is filled with destructive power.
He is naked.
He lives and sleeps in a cemetery — the place of the dead.
He is uncontrollable.
He has lost his sense of self-identity — he doesn't even know his real name.
He is aware of all of these problems in himself.

Yet as much as this man is in bondage to demonic powers, notice this one truth: he can still come to Me and fall at My feet despite the power of the demons in him wanting to be rid of Me! I AM more powerful than all of these demons. So notice what I do to bless this man despite the demons trying to use My identity to gain power over Me and send Me away.
I deliver him from the demonic powers oppressing him.
I return this man to a normal life and a right mind.
I welcome the man into My fellowship and friendship.
I send the man out on a mission to share his good news and My story of grace.

Satan's goal for you is clear: he wants to do with you what he did with Battalion. Look at the first list above. What Satan wants is to introduce hell on earth into your life. His temptations may look enticing at first. There may be no apparent signs of Satan's destructive and evil intent in these temptations — at least not at first. Yet behind each temptation there are traps designed to enslave you. I can help you break your bondage to this trap, but you are much better off if you avoid the trap all together!

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

Not everyone will be happy if you choose Me. Some prefer to live an out-of-control life rather than to yield their lives to Me.

In addition, the lure for you to go back to that old life — to have that uncontrollable power at work in you again — is just as destructive as it is strong.

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

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

Possessed Man (shouting):
Don't torment me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God! Why are You here?

Jesus (calmly and simply):
What's your name?

Possessed Man:
Battalion.

He says this because an army of demons is inside of him. The demons start begging Jesus not to send them into the bottomless pit. They plead instead to enter into a herd of pigs feeding on a steep hillside near the shore. Jesus gives them permission to do so. Suddenly the man is liberated from the demons, but the pigs—they stampede, squealing down the hill and into the lake where they drown themselves.

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

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

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

(Luke 8:26-39)
Response in Prayer

Lord Jesus, I know that You stand at the door of my heart and knock. I know You won't break down the door and barge into my life. I know that I must invite You in and welcome You to my table. So Jesus, I ask You to claim me and cleanse me and come to me and care for me and commission me to serve You in a way that brings You glory and brings others to know You and Your saving grace. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sat 15 Feb 2014, 3:21 pm

"The Greatest Treasure" — A Year with Jesus for 02/14/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved of the Father,

As a child of God, 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 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 both of these 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 this story 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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"A Question You Need to Ask!" — A Year with Jesus for 02/15/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

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

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

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

Here's the truth. Sooner or later, something much bigger than you, something you can't control, is going to rock your boat! So what are you going to do then? How are you going to face the raging storms of life with such a fragile boat in the face of such fierce storms?

In the story below, an event from My life with My followers speaks directly to your experience of life's harshest truth: you can't protect your boat, preserve your boat, or navigate your boat in the face of life's raging realities. The problem is that many of you have had Me along only as a sleeping passenger, a mere mascot, someone to talk to through some of the minor squalls of life when you needed something fixed. But, you've never given Me control of the rudder. You've never handed Me control of the sails. In calm waters, you want to have your boat and to sail it, too.

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

Verses to Live

As you read this, ask yourself, "What is my boat?" Then answer as honestly as you can. Then invite Me to not only be your passenger, your mascot, but ask Me to be your Boat to provide you security and direction not only in the storms of your life, but also in the calm, peaceful times!
Picture this:

One day Jesus and His disciples get into a boat.

Jesus:
Let's cross the lake.

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

The disciples shake Jesus and wake Him.

Disciples (shouting):
Master! Master! We're all going to die!

Jesus wakes up and tells the wind to stop whipping them around, and He tells the furious waves to calm down. They do just that. Then Jesus turns to the disciples.

Jesus:
What happened to your faith?

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

Disciples:
Who is this man? How can He command wind and water so they do what He says?

(Luke 8:22-25)
Response in Prayer

Lord Jesus, forgive me for making other things in my life my basis of security. I want you to be Lord of my life and the basis of my security. Please help me as I make You my Boat! Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Thu 13 Feb 2014, 1:22 pm

"For Those Seeking" — A Year with Jesus for 02/13/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Seeker,

Folks have talked about My methods as a teacher for centuries. Many have been intrigued by My stories that are often called parables — "everyday stories with a heavenly meaning" is one description of them. There are several reasons I told these stories:
Using stories with subjects and items that you see in your everyday life allows My stories to be recalled when you see the subject or item in your daily experiences.
Stories are often better remembered than mere words because you use different parts of your brain to process them.
I occasionally like to sneak in a humorous, ironic, or happy element into the stories to make them fun as well as memorable.
Stories often elicit more emotion than simply using words to make a point.
My stories often make you think to gather the meaning or truth behind the story. I like to make you think! Thinking makes you own the truth because you've discovered it instead of having someone spoon-feed it to you.

However, there is an element of My stories that some miss even though I emphasize this truth in My teaching. My stories not only reveal truth, but they also can conceal truth.

Over the last few days, I've challenged you to follow Me as your Lord, to seek to bring My kingdom to your world, and to place your loyalty fully with Me. I want you to be a seeker — a seeker of My kingdom and a seeker of My truth. Your commitment to be a seeker opens the door for My stories to reveal God's truth.

Those who do not seek Me and who do not seek My kingdom first will have the truth of many of My stories concealed from their hearts. There are several reasons for this concealment reality. Sometimes things are concealed from non-seekers in My stories because:
The stories could get believers in trouble. In cultures pressured to express their first loyalty to king and country, some of My teachings are quite dangerous for believers.
Some non-seekers have hard hearts. They can't understand because they don't want to understand. They don't believe because they won't believe.
The promises and hopes of a certain story are only for believers, seekers, and followers.
My stories explain hidden and obscure truths that are beyond the understanding of non-seekers because of their lack of faith — they do not share the worldview of a seeker.

Remember the promise I made to you earlier in My Sermon on the Mount?
Just ask and it will be given to you; seek after it and you will find. Continue to knock and the door will be opened for you. All who ask receive. Those who seek, find what they seek. And he who knocks, will have the door opened.

(Matthew 7:7-8)
Well it's true and using this ASK principle (asking, seeking, and knocking) when you look at My stories is one of the ways you can discover this truth for yourself! So ASK. The Spirit of Truth within you, the Holy Spirit I sent to be with you and inside you, will help unlock the meaning and mystery of My stories and guide you into all truth!
Verses to Live

I want you to notice the few words below and how they shed the light of truth on one vital reality. This reality is a great reason for you, as a seeker, to rejoice. What is this reality? If you will ask Me to explain one of My stories to you, I will!
Jesus gave all these teachings to the crowd in parables. Indeed, He spoke only in parables in fulfillment of the prophetic words of the psalms:
I will open My mouth in parables;
I will tell them things that have been hidden and obscure since the very beginning of the world.

Then Jesus left the crowds and returned to His house. His disciples followed Him.

Disciples:
Explain to us the story You told about...

(Matthew 13:34-36)
Response in Prayer

O Father, thank You for the stories of Jesus. O Lord Jesus, thank You for sharing the mysteries and truths of heaven with me in stories. O Holy Spirit, please open my heart to receive the truth of Jesus, please open my mind to understand the truth of Jesus, and please use my hands to do the work of bringing Jesus' kingdom to this world. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Tue 11 Feb 2014, 11:33 pm

"Let Me Decide!" — A Year with Jesus for 02/11/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious Disciple,

Satan uses a very effective form of temptation on many of you who are My followers. He gets you to avoid looking at your own personal weaknesses and tempts you to focus on other people's faults. Before long, you find others you don't think measure up and aren't as fruitful as you think they should be. You grow angry because you are discouraged by those who claim to follow Me and yet live showing no loyalty to Me at all in their lifestyles. You are frustrated because unbelievers point to the hypocrites in My churches and use it to bolster their claim that Christianity doesn't really matter. There can be times when you wish someone would just run out all the "fake followers" so there wasn't so much spiritual drag on your worship, mission, and influence.

Please remember that I warned you several times in My teaching that many would claim to be My followers while their lives revealed something very different. Some among you are new disciples and don't fully know My way and need time to mature. Others are weak and easily succumb to temptation, but they truly love Me and need help to grow stronger and have someone walk alongside them. Even many of those who are hypocrites have a good heart; they just haven't surrendered all of that heart to My lordship and need to be challenged to love Me with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Please hear the two-part warning in the parable below. 

First, My church, My people, My spiritual family on earth does not exist in a vacuum. Satan and his demonic forces wage war against Me, My people, and My church. My enemy plants fake believers in the middle of true believers. He does so to drag you down, discourage you, and hopefully diminish your spiritual passion. The evil one longs to give ammunition to your critics and discourage those trying to decide whether or not to follow Me. Don't let this discourage you. Instead, use this knowledge to help them come to full faith in Me and to follow Me as their Lord and Savior.

Second, you should not try to decide who is a true disciple and who is a fake disciple. That's My job — to expose what is false and what is genuine. Please don't destroy My church by ripping someone who is precious to Me. Let Me handle discerning between a good heart and a corrupted heart. Most of this I will do at the end of time. I will do this with My angels — the heavenly messengers.

There will be times when people's fruit clearly shows that they have left Me, My spiritual family, the way of God, and that they are going down a dangerous and ungodly path (Matthew 7:15-20). You will need to discipline these people with the purpose of reclaiming them (Matthew 18:15-17; 1 Corinthians 15:1-13). But don't try to judge the motives of others when there is not clear evidence in the fruit of a person's life (Matthew 7:1-5). That is not your job. Let Me decide!

In the meantime, let's work together on you. Let's be honest about where you are in your spiritual journey. Are you fully following Me? Do you struggle being a new disciple? Do you have periods when you are weak? Do you catch yourself being hypocritical in what you say you believe and what you actually live? Do you find yourself being cynical about the faithfulness of other believers? Whatever is holding you back, please, let's work on it together as we journey through the New Testament this year!

Remember, I long to help you "shine like the sun in the Father's Kingdom"!
Verses to Live

As you read this parable and its interpretation, there are likely some people in your spiritual family, your Christian fellowship, who may seem to you to be the "weeds." Please consider the possibility that your recognition of their failings may be My call for you, with deep humility, to help support and guide them into an ever increasing devotion and service to Me. The apostle Paul reminded new disciples of this truth:
My spiritual brothers and sisters, if one of our faithful has fallen into a trap and is snared by sin, don’t stand idle and watch his demise. Gently restore him, being careful not to step into your own snare. Shoulder each other’s burdens, and then you will live as the law of the Anointed teaches us. Don’t take this opportunity to think you are better than those who slip because you aren’t; then you become the fool and deceive even yourself. (Galatians 6:1-3)
I hope you hear My words as a call for you to do the same rather than tearing apart My people with your own litmus tests and judgments.
Jesus told them another parable.

Jesus:
The kingdom of heaven is like this: Once there was a farmer who sowed good seeds in his field. While the farmer's workers were sleeping, his enemy crept into the field and sowed weeds among all the wheat seeds. Then he snuck away again. Eventually the crops grew — wheat, but also weeds. So the farmer's workers said to him, "Sir, why didn't you sow good seeds in your field? Where did these weeds come from?"

"My enemy must have done this," replied the farmer.

"Should we go pull up all the weeds?" asked his workers.

"No," said the farmer. "It's too risky. As you pull up the weeds, you would probably pull up some wheat as well. We'll let them both grow until harvest time. I will tell the harvesters to collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned, and only then to harvest the wheat and bring it to my barn.

(Matthew 13:24-30)

Then Jesus left the crowds and returned to His house. His disciples followed Him.

Disciples:

Explain to us the story You told about the weeds.

Jesus:
The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world; the good seed represents the children of the Kingdom. The weeds — who do you think the weeds are? They are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who threw the weeds among the wheat is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the workers are God’s heavenly messengers. In the parable, I told you the weeds would be pulled up and burned — well, that is how it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send His messengers out into the world, and they will root out from His kingdom everything that is poisonous, ugly, and malicious, and everyone who does evil. They will throw all that wickedness into the fiery furnace where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth. And the righteous will shine like the sun in their Father’s kingdom. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

(Matthew 13:36-43)
Response in Prayer

Father, help me to not grow cynical with those who claim to be Christians but who live with their lives as if they could care less. Use me to encourage my brothers and sisters to a deeper walk with you. I know that our spiritual family, our church fellowship, doesn't exist in a vacuum and that Satan opposes us. But Father, I believe the power You have given Me in the Holy Spirit can help me triumph over the evil one. I want to shine like the sun in Your kingdom and bring You glory. I want to help your kingdom come on earth now, just as it exists in heaven. In Jesus' name and for Jesus' glory I pray. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Mon 10 Feb 2014, 10:38 pm

"Hidden Things I Bring into the Light" — A Year with Jesus for 02/10/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Faithful Follower,

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

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

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

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

Hidden things will always come out into the open. Secret things will come to light and be exposed. I hope you're still listening. And I hope you're listening carefully. If you get what I'm saying, you'll get more. If you miss My meaning, even the understanding you think you have will be taken from you.

(Luke 8:16-18)


Just like hidden things will ultimately be revealed, people will ultimately be seen for who they are and what they have done.
Jesus:
Or think of it this way: the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was cast into the sea, a net that caught a world of flickering fish. When the net was full, the fishermen hauled it to shore. They separated the good fish from the bad, placing the good fish in a bucket and throwing out the inedible fish. That is what the end of time will be like. The heavenly messengers will separate the good from the bad, the righteous from the wicked, the repentant from the prideful, the faithful from the hard-hearted. The bad, the wicked, the prideful, and the hard-hearted will be thrown into the fiery furnace where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.

Do you understand?


Disciples:
Yes, we understand.

(Matthew 13:47-51)


My servant, the apostle Paul, said it very well: the holy Scriptures "enable you to be wise and lead to salvation through faith in Jesus" (2 Timothy 3:15). So not only will hidden things be reveal and not only will people's works be revealed, but the Scriptures can reveal truth to you so that you can find many treasures if you approach them through faith in Me!
Jesus:
Every scribe and teacher of the law who has become a student of the ways of the Kingdom is like the head of the household who brings some new things and some old things, both out of the storeroom.

(Matthew 13:52)
Response in Prayer

Father, help the light of Jesus to shine through everything I do and say. Please open my eyes to see Jesus and hear the voice of the Spirit in every bit of Scripture that I hear, read, and memorize. I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sun 09 Feb 2014, 11:59 pm

"Don't Let These Truths Elude You!" — A Year with Jesus for 02/09/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Follower,

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

This is one of My most important stories. This story — or parable — has several different uses.

I used it to challenge people to look into their hearts and see what kind of followers they really were. You need to know that you can choose how you hear what I say! In the story below, the concept of how people hear what I say is presented in terms of what kind of soil they were and how the soil received seeds that were sown. I want people to know that they actually choose which kind of soil they will be.

I also used this story to warn leaders about the reality of those who follow Me. There are some people who at some point in their journey with Me are very excited about following Me. However, many who start down that road end up becoming distracted and are unfruitful. Some, regrettably, never even follow Me at all — they look up one day and any interest they had in Me is gone! It is heartbreaking to see people lose interest, not bear up under trial, succumb to temptation, and become distracted by the cares of the world. However, My leaders need to know this happens all too frequently! That does not mean, however, that you quit sharing the message with others because many give up on truth. It also does not mean that you give up on someone when his or her heart turns: remember, just as you can choose which soil your heart is, they can choose to be a different soil, too!

Finally I also used this parable as a warning to My followers about the things that might distract them from a passionate life of productive faith. I want you to recognize those same kinds of things that can lead your heart to be poor soil and not respond to the good news of grace. Notice the three things that can steal your heart away from following Me passionately:
Satan's coming and stealing away the message of God before your heart accepts it.
The heat of living for Me in the trials and temptations of life: these can wither your faith before it is fully grown.
The delight of things, the pursuit of wealth, and the worries of preserving these things getting in the way of your living productive lives for Me.
Verses to Live

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

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

His disciples heard the words, but the deeper meaning eluded them.

Disciples:
What were You trying to say?

Jesus:
The kingdom of God contains many secrets. They keep listening, but do not comprehend; keep observing, but do not understand.

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

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

Father I come and I ask that the Holy Spirit help me hear the message I most need to hear from Jesus' words today. I know I choose what soil I will be. I also have concern for folks whose hearts are becoming like the nonproductive soils and I want to help them turn their hearts back to Jesus. Most of all, I don't want to be deceived and live an unproductive life because the soil of my heart is bad. So, sweet Holy Spirit, guide me into all truth and show me the most important thing the Lord wants Me to hear and do today. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sat 08 Feb 2014, 11:34 pm

"My True Family" — A Year with Jesus for 02/08/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of God,

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

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

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

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

So when you hear Me teach, I don't invite you to become part of a community: I call you to be My disciple — a follower who obeys and becomes a vital part of My family as we do the will of the Father. Hear what I say clearly:
Anyone who does the will of My Father in heaven is My mother and brother and sister.

(Matthew 12:50)
When you hear Me teach, pray, or talk with My followers, notice the language I use: it is the language of family. God is your Father. You are brothers and sisters. Yes, community is a nice word, but I call you to something deeper — something you crave and need. I call you family because you are!
Verses to Live

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

Someone in the Crowd:
Your mother and brothers are waiting outside to speak to You.

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

O Father in heaven, You are holy and without Your grace, I am not. Yet because of Jesus' love and sacrifice, I come to You as Your beloved child. I am thankful for Your grace, Your love, Your mercy, and my adoption into Your family. I ask for the Holy Spirit to be poured out into my life so that I can be conformed to Your will and love my brothers and sisters, Your children, just as much as my older Brother Jesus does. I ask this in His name. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sat 08 Feb 2014, 12:05 am

"For Some Folks, Miracles Aren't Enough!" — A Year with Jesus for 02/07/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

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

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

That's why I pointed them to a couple of stories from the Hebrew Bible — you call it the Old Testament. These stories talked about two great figures that captured the hearts of outsiders and pointed them to the truth and wisdom of God. Their names were Jonah and Solomon. I challenged those hearing Me to believe that I AM greater than either of these two heroes so powerfully used by God. I told them that the only sign I was going to give them would be the sign of Jonah! If My life of ministry, miracles, My death on the cross, and My resurrection after being in the ground three days wouldn't convince them, then nothing would.

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

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

Even after all the miracles I had already done, these religious leaders wanted more to prove I had the right to say what I said to them. Don't miss My point! I have the right; the real question is this: Do you have the heart to follow someone greater than all those other religious heroes you've heard about?
Scribes and Pharisees:
Teacher, we want to see some miraculous sign from You.
Jesus:
You wicked and promiscuous generation — you are looking for signs, are you? The only sign you will be given is the sign of the prophet Jonah. Jonah spent three days and three nights in the belly of a great fish, as the Son of Man will spend three days and three nights in the belly of the earth. One day, the people of Nineveh will rise up in judgment and will condemn your present generation — for the Ninevites turned from sin to God when they heard Jonah preach, and now One far greater than Jonah is here. The Queen of the South will also stand in judgment and condemn this generation — for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom. And today One greater and wiser than Solomon is among you.
(Matthew 12:38-45)
Response in Prayer

Lord Jesus, You are greater than Jonah and Solomon. You are superior to Moses and Elijah. The Law and prophets find their meaning, their fulfillment, and their goal in You. You are the One I choose to hear and obey. Jesus, You are Lord. I choose You to be my Lord! To You I offer my life and my all because You not only conquered death and the grave through Your resurrection, but You also won my heart and my allegiance! Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Thu 06 Feb 2014, 11:40 pm

"Please Do More than Roll Your Eyes!" — A Year with Jesus for 02/06/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

Some of you roll your eyes or quickly speed read past any biblical discussion of demons because you think that this kind of thing doesn't apply to your "modern and enlightened" world today. But please do more than roll your eyes at the talk about demons below. Remember what the apostle Paul said:
Finally, brothers and sisters, draw your strength and might from God. Put on the full armor of God to protect yourselves from the devil and his evil schemes. We’re not waging war against enemies of flesh and blood alone. No, this fight is against tyrants, against authorities, against supernatural powers and demon princes that slither in the darkness of this world, and against wicked spiritual armies that lurk about in heavenly places. And this is why you need to be head-to-toe in the full armor of God: so you can resist during these evil days and be fully prepared to hold your ground.

(Ephesians 6:10-13)

I came to defeat the evil one and his armies of dark demonic forces. I want to free you from their influence and lead you past their temptations. So rather than ignoring these powers or fearing these powers, please understand what I said to my disciples when I was on earth. I have power over demons because I am superior to them in every way — holiness, power, and authority.

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

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

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

I AM challenging you to do more than just being a good person. I want you to be My person. I call you to follow Me and let Me be your Lord. Yes, you will do good things. Yet more than that, you will bring God's Kingdom to earth. You will bring God's goodness, justice, and mercy to a world corrupted by human ego, self-will, arrogance, and other evil influences of the devil.

Your world is in a spiritual war. You have to choose sides. With the cross I endured and the tomb I left in triumph — despite all the forces of hell wanting to keep Me captive, I remind you of two truths:
I conquered death to give you life — unlike Satan who wants to deceive, manipulate, and destroy you.
If you follow Me, you will share in My victory!
So do more than roll your eyes at the talk about the devil and demons: choose to follow Me and find life and victory!

Verses to Live

Talking about demons is always challenging. Having authority over them makes people afraid. But make no mistake about the truth: I defeated the power of demons because I walked on earth as God in human flesh. I had authority to defeat evil, demonic forces, and Satan and I did!
Picture this:

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

Some People:
Do you know why He can cast out demons? It's because He's in league with the demon prince, Beelzebul.


Other people want to see more, so they challenge Jesus to give them another miraculous sign. Jesus knows what they're thinking.

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

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

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

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

Father God, I say this by the power of the Holy Spirit and with the conviction of my heart: Jesus is not only Lord of all, but I choose Jesus to be Lord of my life. I offer this confession in Jesus' name and for Jesus' glory. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Wed 05 Feb 2014, 7:42 pm

"Grace for the Opposites..." — A Year with Jesus for 02/03/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of the King glory,

I don't care what your situation in life is or may have been, I want you to know that when you hurt, I care! You see, I don't just notice the faith of the religious insiders, but also the faith of the religious outsiders. I don't just recognize the pain of the powerful and influential, but also of the forgotten who feel abandoned and alone in life.

When you see the Centurion's faith (in the events you will read about below), you have to join me in admiration for his faith. Few have expressed it so well! He was humble. He didn't need Me to come to his house to know that the miracle he desperately wanted would happen. He understood authority and knew that I had ultimate authority. As you read My story in the gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John — you will notice how rare this kind of faith truly is!

Then you see the following story that the good doctor Luke shares from my ministry: a woman who is left all alone when her son dies. Widows without family were in a very desperate situation in this time. As God in human flesh, I wanted to show the promise of the Old Testament is true. I also want you to know that I AM touched with compassion at the heartbreak of widows and of parents who lose a child to death:
The True God who inhabits sacred space
is a father to the fatherless, a defender of widows.
He makes a home for those who are alone.

(Psalm 68:5-6)

What a joy it was when I presented this woman's formerly dead son back to her alive again! Jubilation and praise came from the crowd, but I assure you, the same thing was going on among the angels of heaven. There will be even more joy when I bring full reunion with My return in glory!

The point of all this, My dear follower, is simple: I bring grace for everyone seeking the help of God — for people who are opposite in every way, and for all those who are in between. When I AM present, God is present caring for His people... all people, of all races, of all genders, of all social classes, and all financial positions. I care about your worry, grief, and loss. That's why I came to defeat death and bring immortality and life to light!
Verses to Live

You will notice two people who are opposite in every way, yet joined by one key truth: life is fragile and when those we love are sick, dying, or dead, our hearts are broken. Please know, however, that broken hearts matter to your God!
When He was finished, He went into the town of Capernaum. There, a Centurion had a slave he loved dearly. The slave was sick — about to die — so when the Centurion heard about Jesus, he contacted some Jewish elders. He sent them to ask Jesus to come and heal his dear slave. With great emotion and respect, the elders presented their request to Jesus.

Jewish Elders:
This man is worthy of Your help. It's true that he's a Centurion, but he loves our nation. In fact, he paid for our synagogue to be built.

So Jesus accompanied them. When they approached the Centurion's home, the Centurion sent out some friends to bring a message to Jesus.

Message of the Centurion:
Lord, don't go to the trouble of coming inside. I am not worthy to have You come under my roof. That's why I sent others with my request. Just say the word, and that will be enough to heal my servant. I understand how authority works, being under authority myself and having soldiers under my authority. I command to one, "Go," and he goes. I say to another, "Come," and he comes. I say to my slave, "Do this," and he obeys me.

Jesus was deeply impressed when He heard this. He turned to the crowd that followed Him.

Jesus:
Listen, everyone. This outsider, this Roman, has more faith than I have found even among our own Jewish people.

The friends of the Centurion returned home, and they found the slave was completely healed.

It wasn't long after this when Jesus entered a city called Nain. Again all of His disciples accompanied Him, along with a huge crowd. He was coming near the gate of the city as a corpse was being carried out. This man was the only child and support of his widowed mother, and she was accompanied by a large funeral crowd.

As soon as the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her.

Jesus:
Don't weep!

Then He came to the stretcher, and those carrying it stood still.

Jesus:
Young man, listen! Get up!

The dead man immediately sat up and began talking. Jesus presented him to his mother, and everyone was both shocked and jubilant. They praised God.

Funeral Crowd:
A tremendous prophet has arisen in our midst! God has visited His people.

(Luke 7:1-16)
Response in Prayer

O Father in heaven, the King of glory, I believe this, but help my unbelief! When I face worry and grief, I sometimes struggle to trust that my hurt matters to you. I sometimes wonder why my prayed for miracle never comes. Send your Holy Spirit to comfort, strengthen, and revive my flagging hope. I know you love me, but I need help in the storms of my life to hang on to that confidence. I ask this in the name of Jesus, Your demonstration of authority, compassion, and grace. Amen.
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"The One?" — A Year with Jesus for 02/04/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

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

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

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

As I said while on earth, “there is no human being greater than... John the Baptist,” yet he had doubts when life's most difficult moments crowded in and My work didn't seem to match John's understanding of My role.

You have been born of God. In this way you are greater than John. Yet you will have doubts and they will find their gravity in the same two places John's doubts found theirs. First, life is hard and can rattle you to your soul. Second, you have certain expectations of Me that sometimes won't seem to line up with your reality. In your doubt, remember what I helped John the Baptist do: get a fuller picture of Who I AM and what I will do in your life through a deeper look at Scripture, My promises, the Holy Spirit dwelling in you, and the people of faith who have come before you and those who support you now.

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

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

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

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

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

When John's messengers left, Jesus talked to the crowds about John.

Jesus:
When you went out into the wilderness to see John, what were you expecting? A reed shaking in the wind? What were you looking for? A man in expensive clothing? Look, if you were looking for fancy clothes and luxurious living, you went to the wrong place—you should have gone to the kings' courts, not to the wilderness! What were you seeking? A prophet? Ah yes, that's what John is, and even more than a prophet. The prophet Malachi was talking about John when he wrote,
I will send My messenger before You, to clear Your path in front of You.
Listen, there is no human being greater than this man, John the Baptist. Yet even the least significant person in the coming kingdom of God is greater than John.

The common people and tax collectors heard God's own wisdom in Jesus' assessment of John because they had been ritually cleansed through baptism by John. But the Pharisees and religious scholars hardened their hearts and turned their backs on God's purposes for them because they had refused John's baptism.

Jesus:
The people of this generation — what are they like? To what can they be compared? I'll tell you: they're like spoiled kids sitting in the marketplace playing games, calling out:
We played the pipes for you,
but you didn't dance to our tune!
We cried like mourners,
but you didn't cry with us!

You can't win with this generation. John the Baptist comes along, fasting and abstaining from wine, and you say, "This guy is demon-possessed!” The Son of Man comes along, feasting and drinking wine, and you say, "This guy is a glutton and a drunk, a friend of scoundrels and tax collectors." Well, wisdom's true children know wisdom when they hear it.

(Luke 7:17-35)
Response in Prayer

Almighty God, thank you! Thank you for giving me a Bible that is full of people like me — people who love you but struggle with real-life faith and doubt. I trust you, Holy Spirit, to lead me through these times and conform me to be like Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.
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"Love is Always Demonstrated" — A Year with Jesus for 02/05/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

One of the things I did that made people nervous during My ministry was to include women. I served them and ministered to them when others treated them as less than worthy. I was willing to talk to them in public and let them "sit at My feet" as full disciples with Me as their teacher. I included them in ministry and relied on them for support. Women who had bad reputations, but who turned their lives around because of My grace, My teaching, and My love, were readily welcomed into My fellowship.

In the two episodes below that Luke records from My life, you will see several women who were important in My ministry. We could talk about why they were important and the roles they played and the way I turned around their lives, but I want to point you to a key truth.

Love always finds a way to demonstrate itself. Genuine love is more than feelings, thoughts, or a passing fancy. Love shows itself! Love demonstrates its authenticity. If love is real, love shows itself by its actions!
Verses to Live

Notice how the formerly sinful woman from the city demonstrated her faith and her very tender love for Me. Then you will also notice a group of women helped support Me as part of their love for what I had done for them. Remember, love demonstrates its authenticity, just as these women did!
Once a Pharisee named Simon invited Jesus to be a guest for a meal.
Picture this:

Just as Jesus enters the man's home and takes His place at the table, a woman from the city — notorious as a woman of ill repute — follows Him in. She has heard that Jesus will be at the Pharisee's home, so she comes in and approaches Him, carrying an alabaster flask of perfumed oil. Then she begins to cry, she kneels down so her tears fall on Jesus' feet, and she starts wiping His feet with her own hair. Then she actually kisses His feet, and she pours the perfumed oil on them.

Simon (thinking):
Now I know this guy is a fraud. If He were a real prophet, He would have known this woman is a sinner and He would never let her get near Him, much less touch Him... or kiss Him!

Jesus (knowing what the Pharisee is thinking):
Simon, I want to tell you a story.

Simon:
Tell me, Teacher.

Jesus:
Two men owed a certain lender a lot of money. One owed 100 weeks' wages, and the other owed 10 weeks' wages. Both men defaulted on their loans, but the lender forgave them both. Here's a question for you: which man will love the lender more?

Simon:
Well, I guess it would be the one who was forgiven more.

Jesus:
Good answer.

Now Jesus turns around so He's facing the woman, although He's still speaking to Simon.

Jesus:
Do you see this woman here? It's kind of funny. I entered your home, and you didn't provide a basin of water so I could wash the road dust from My feet. You didn't give Me a customary kiss of greeting and welcome. You didn't offer Me the common courtesy of providing oil to brighten My face. But this woman has wet My feet with her own tears and washed them with her own hair. She hasn't stopped kissing My feet since I came in. And she has applied perfumed oil to My feet. This woman has been forgiven much, and she is showing much love. But the person who has shown little love shows how little forgiveness he has received.

Jesus (to the woman):
Your sins are forgiven.

Simon and Friends (muttering among themselves):
Who does this guy think He is? He has the audacity to claim the authority to forgive sins?

Jesus (to the woman):
Your faith has liberated you. Go in peace.

(Luke 7:36-50)

Soon after this incident, Jesus preached from city to city, village to village, carrying the good news of the kingdom of God. He was accompanied by a group called "the twelve," and also by a larger group including some women who had been rescued from evil spirits and healed of diseases. There was Mary, called Magdalene, who had been released from seven demons. There were others like Susanna and Joanna, who was married to Chuza, a steward of King Herod. And there were many others too. These women played an important role in Jesus' ministry, using their wealth to provide for Him and His other companions.

(Luke 8:1-3)
Response in Prayer

Loving Father, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart and the actions in my life demonstrate my love for Jesus and what He has done, is doing, and will do to bless my life and bring me home to you. It is in Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sun 02 Feb 2014, 8:21 pm

"Choosing the Right Path" — A Year with Jesus for 02/01/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of God,

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

Let Me warn you. Long before the instant age you find yourself inhabiting, many folks wanted an instant and easy holiness. The evil one has long twisted the truth and deceived the gullible into taking short cuts. My words today warn you about four deceptions and temptations that the devil will offer you in the name of religion:
The wide door and the easy path — the ones suggesting that all religion is OK and equal — that really lead to destruction.
The sweet deceiving words of false prophets whose lives (their bad fruit) show they cannot be trusted.
Nice sounding religious words of praise and adoration that are disconnected from a life of obedience and end in shocking condemnation.
Religion that is quickly embraced, shallowly believed, and focused on appearances, but cannot stand the stress and strain of real life.

There is One path... One way... and One truth (John 14:6). Folks in your day don't like such talk. In fact, you may bristle at it yourself because you've had the easy way peddled to you by false prophets who talk a good religious game while living any way they want. Such talk is foolish. It's not new or innovative or post-modern: it's just the lies of the old deceiver who wants to steer you the wrong way so that when the floods of life come... well, he can be there for your destruction.

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

(Matthew 11:28-30)

Verses to Live

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

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

Not everyone who says to Me, "Lord, Lord," will enter the kingdom of heaven. Simply calling Me "Lord" will not be enough. Only those who do the will of My Father who is in heaven will join Me in heaven. At the end of time, on that day of judgment, many will say to Me, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name? Did we not drive demons out of the possessed in Your name? Did we not perform miracles in Your name?" But I will say to them, "I never knew you. And now, you must get away from Me, you evildoers!"

Those people who are listening to Me, those people who hear what I say and live according to My teachings — you are like a wise man who built his house on a rock, on a firm foundation. When storms hit, rain pounded down and waters rose, levies broke and winds beat all the walls of that house. But the house did not fall because it was built upon rock. Those of you who are listening and do not hear — you are like a fool who builds a house on sand. When a storm comes to his house, what will happen? The rain will fall, the waters will rise, the wind will blow, and his house will collapse with a great crash.

With that Jesus finished His teaching, and the crowds were amazed by all He had said. But Jesus taught in His own name, on His own authority, not like the scribes.

(Matthew 7:13-29)
Response in Prayer

Dear Father, I confess that at times I want my faith walk to be easier. I don't always understand why I need to obey. Sometimes, I'm not convinced that what I hear is fully true. Yet Father, I do know this: Jesus came and died for me. He came as the expression of Your love for me and to pay the penalty for my failures and my shortcomings — my sin. So I commit to obey and follow even when I don't understand or agree. I trust that as I follow Jesus on Your path, my eyes will be opened, my burdens will be lifted, and I will find life and joy for my soul. In the name of Jesus I choose to follow. Amen.
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"ASK!" — A Year with Jesus for 02/02/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

We are still journeying together through what is often called My Sermon on the Mount. What I want you to see today, however, is a clear, simple, time-proven truth: you cannot outgive God!

Yesterday I warned you against those who would tempt you to take the easy path. I told you not to go that way because it leads to destruction. I challenged you with strong words. Today, however, I remind you of the truth of grace: your Father in heaven knows you, loves you, listens to you, cares for you, and delights in giving "great gifts to His children."

As for you, just keep asking, seeking, and knocking. The Father longs to hear from you and bless you. Yes, there will be some trying times. Yes, the evil one will throw roadblocks in your way. Yes, you will grow tired of the narrow path and the challenge of becoming like Me.

Yet in the middle of your most difficult times, don't quit asking, seeking and knocking. Why? Because the Father longs to bless you with the greatest of all gifts... Me! Remember this promise I made after I ascended back to the Father:
Now pay attention; I am standing at the door and knocking. If any of you hear My voice and open the door, then I will come in to visit with you and to share a meal at your table, and you will be with Me.

(Revelation 3:20)

Some folks think I said it to outsiders who were not followers, but I actually said it for folks like you — people who are followers, but who are growing tired and weary of waiting and following and seeking and knocking. In those times, start listening and answering and inviting. I've heard your cries, I've seen your struggles, and I've come down to walk beside you, bless you, and guide you home. Your asking, seeking, and knocking will be answered with the greatest gift of all — Me!

Verses to Live

After My hard words of yesterday, let this set of My related promises wash over you like a shower of refreshing grace!
Jesus:
Just ask and it will be given to you; seek after it and you will find. Continue to knock and the door will be opened for you. All who ask receive. Those who seek, find what they seek. And he who knocks, will have the door opened.

Think of it this way: if your son asked you for bread, would you give him a stone? Of course not — you would give him a loaf of bread. If your son asked for a fish, would you give him a snake? No, to be sure, you would give him a fish — the best fish you could find. So if you, who are sinful, know how to give your children good gifts, how much more so does your Father in heaven, who is perfect, know how to give great gifts to His children.

(Matthew 7:7-11)
Response in Prayer

Father, please show Yourself to me in my daily life. I'm not looking for something amazing or awe-inspiring, just the reminder of Your presence and the assurance that my asking, seeking, and knocking have placed me in Your presence, O Lord my Rock and my Redeemer! In Jesus name. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Thu 30 Jan 2014, 10:31 pm

"Wisely Invested Treasures" — A Year with Jesus for 01/30/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious One,

Are you worried about finances... retirement... funding college... too little money at the end of too long a month... or paying off your previous debts?

Are you working for money for money's sake... for greater success... for more security... for a new play toy... for a vacation play place... for a bigger and better box to sleep in... or simply for the prestige of having a lot of stuff?

Remember this: stuff doesn't last — "your precious trinkets" won't amount to anything in the end! If what you invest in can't change the ultimate reality of your life — death — then what good is it going to do you in the long run? Can what you worry about or what you work for decay, be stolen, or be lost? Then can it ever really be yours... can it ever be truly satisfying... will it ever be enough?

Those who live with selfish extravagance and who run after material things often end up losing life. Pick up the latest tabloid and see which young spoiled superstars have ended up in jail most recently as they live out of control trying for a bit more limelight, searching for a bit more gusto in their joy, wanting a bit more of something that their stuff can't seem to satisfy. What their eye sees as success is really darkness. What their heart calls significance ends up as emptiness. What their wealth buys now becomes their ongoing burden later.

Let Me have your heart! Let Me show you the right places to invest! Let Me deposit your truest riches in the bank of eternal grace! Then notice in the process that you have found the spiritually meaningful life that many others chase without success.
Verses to Live

Here's My teaching on worry, riches, and true wealth. It comes from My Sermon on the Mount. Please remember, what I say here is not opinion or suggestion: this is truth. Disregard it at your own peril. Obey it to find true life!
Jesus:
Some people store up treasures in their homes here on earth. This is a shortsighted practice — don't undertake it. Moths and rust will eat up any treasure you may store here. Thieves may break into your homes and steal your precious trinkets. Instead, put up your treasures in heaven where moths do not attack, where rust does not corrode, and where thieves are barred at the door. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

The eye is the lamp of the body. You draw light into your body through your eyes, and light shines out to the world through your eyes. So if your eye is well and shows you what is true, then your whole body will be filled with light. But if your eye is clouded or evil, then your body will be filled with evil and dark clouds. And the darkness that takes over the body of a child of God who has gone astray — that is the deepest, darkest darkness there is.

No one can serve two masters. If you try, you will wind up loving the first master and hating the second, or vice versa. People try to serve both God and money — but you can't. You must choose one or the other.

Here is the bottom line: do not worry about your life. Don't worry about what you will eat or what you will drink. Don't worry about how you clothe your body. Living is about more than merely eating, and the body is about more than dressing up. Look at the birds in the sky. They do not store food for winter. They don't plant gardens. They do not sow or reap — and yet, they are always fed because your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are even more precious to Him than a beautiful bird. If He looks after them, of course He will look after you. Worrying does not do any good; who here can claim to add even an hour to his life by worrying?

Nor should you worry about clothes. Consider the lilies of the field and how they grow. They do not work or weave or sew, and yet their garments are stunning. Even King Solomon, dressed in his most regal garb, was not as lovely as these lilies. And think about grassy fields — the grasses are here now, but they will be dead by winter. And yet God adorns them so radiantly. How much more will He clothe you, you of little faith, you who have no trust?

So do not consume yourselves with questions: What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear? Outsiders make themselves frantic over such questions; they don't realize that your heavenly Father knows exactly what you need. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then all these things will be given to you too. So do not worry about tomorrow. Let tomorrow worry about itself. Living faithfully is a large enough task for today.

(Matthew 6:19-34)
Response in Prayer

Father, forgive me for believing the lies of the advertisers, the deceptions of my fleshly greed, and the pressure of my peers to want to have more stuff that does not fully satisfy or have ultimate eternal value. Please give me eyes to see what is truly lasting and what is of eternal significance. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Wed 29 Jan 2014, 10:04 pm

"Show-Offs Make Us All Sick!" — A Year with Jesus for 01/29/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

I have a question: "Who are you doing all this spiritual stuff for anyway?"

Yes, I know it's a bit abrupt to put it that way, but I want you to think through the question carefully. The Sermon on the Mount — My teaching you find in Matthew chapters 5-7 of your Bible — is challenging teaching to understand. It is even more challenging to put it into practice. I know, because this is the life I led! So my teaching today will ask you to examine why you do what you do for God and for others. What's your motivation of doing good things?

Here's the important point to notice. When you do good things so others notice them, then you've already received your reward. When you do it to honor the Father, He sees even the secret things done to honor Him and will never forget those things. On top of that, your heart will begin to resonate with the Father's will and the Spirit will help conform your life to be like Mine.

We've all had enough of religious show-offs who talk about all the great things they have done for God. Just remember, the Father keeps track of the things most folks never know about that you do to honor Him.

I guess the question is really pretty simple: "Do you want the applause of heaven or are you satisfied with a fleeting pat on the back at church?"
Verses to Live

Faith without good deeds, spiritual service, and worship is simply talk. However, doing religious things to be noticed by others so they will think you are special and holy is sick. Please hear what I say in these words from My Sermon on the Mount!
Jesus:
But when you do these righteous acts, do not do them in front of spectators. Don't do them where you can be seen, let alone lauded, by others. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. When you give to the poor, do not boast about it, announcing your donations with blaring trumpets as the play actors do. Do not brazenly give your charity in the synagogues and on the streets; indeed, do not give at all if you are giving because you want to be praised by your neighbors. Those people who give in order to reap praise have already received their reward. When you give to the needy, do it in secret — even your left hand should not know what your right hand is doing. Then your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.

Likewise, when you pray, do not be as hypocrites who love to pray loudly at synagogue or on street corners — their concern is to be seen by men. They have already earned their reward. When you pray, go into a private room, close the door, and pray unseen to your Father who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not go on and on, excessively and strangely like the outsiders; they think their verbosity will let them be heard by their deities. Do not be like them. Your prayers need not be labored or lengthy or grandiose — for your Father knows what you need before you ever ask Him.

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.

If you forgive people when they sin against you, then your Father will forgive you when you sin against Him and when you sin against your neighbor. But if you do not forgive your neighbors' sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

And when you fast, do not look miserable as the actors and hypocrites do when they are fasting — they walk around town putting on airs about their suffering and weakness, complaining about how hungry they are. So everyone will know they are fasting, they don't wash or anoint themselves with oil, pink their cheeks, or wear comfortable shoes. Those who show off their piety, they have already received their reward. When you fast, wash your face and beautify yourself with oil, so no one who looks at you will know about your discipline. Only your Father, who is unseen, will see your fast. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.

(Matthew 6:1-18)
Response in Prayer

Abba Father, the LORD God Almighty, please accept the things I do to your glory. Help me guard my heart from doing them for the applause of others on earth. If you are pleased with what I do for others in Your name, give me satisfaction in knowing that you have seen those things. I want Your Name to be glorified and Your Kingdom to come in my life and through my efforts to Your glory! Through Jesus and with the intercession of the Holy Spirit I pray. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Mon 27 Jan 2014, 12:19 am

"My Counterintuitive Kingdom" — A Year with Jesus for 01/26/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

You and your fellow mortals chase after so many things thinking that life will be found in those things... those pursuits... those possessions... that power... that position... that reputation.

Please hear Me. Life is found in living for the Kingdom of God. To live for this Kingdom means to take the character and compassion of My Father — the values that will be present when the Kingdom is fully realized at My return — and put these into practice right now. What you will hear Me teach below is counterintuitive to you and those who want to tell you how to be successful. Very few would ever tell you to be "spiritually poor" or to "mourn" or to be "meek and gentle" or to "hunger and thirst for righteousness" or to be "merciful" or to be "pure in heart" or to be "a peacemaker." But I tell you that you are "blessed" if any of these is true of you! In fact, there will be those who take advantage and persecute you for these things, yet I remind you, you are "blessed" if you are!

Please notice, that while the crowd is gathered around Me, these words — and the whole rest of the Sermon on the Mount that follows — are for My disciples. The world will not understand them. When you are persecuted for living these things, or when you are ridiculed, called weak, or considered out of touch, remember that this is what they did to Me for living this way. Remember how My life was victorious! My Father will see your life and you will be "blessed" and share in My victory!

There is a time in every person's life when he or she will need to have the blessings of heaven, to be comforted, to have security while on earth, to have a soul full of life, to be shown mercy, to know the Father's intimate presence, and to know that her or his eternal destiny is secure. Yet all of these things will be lost to some of them. They will have forfeited them by chasing other things. Yet you, dearly beloved who live for the Father's will, will have them all. They will be yours because you live the values of the King!
Verses to Live

Remember when I told Peter to fish in a different place, a place he just knew he would probably not catch fish? Yet he did it anyway because I asked him to do so. Do you remember what happened? He caught so many fish he couldn't haul them in by himself. So when I call you to live the Kingdom lifestyle — to live the character and compassion of the Father — then please know I want to bring you more grace than you can ever imagine. I want to make bless you with what lasts!
Now when He saw the crowds, He went up on a mountain (as Moses had done before Him) and He sat down (as Jewish teachers of His day usually did). His disciples gathered around Him.

And He began to teach them.

Jesus:
Blessed are the spiritually poor — the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

Blessed are those who mourn — they will be comforted.

Blessed are the meek and gentle — they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness — they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful — they will be shown mercy.

Blessed are those who are pure in heart — they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers — they will be called children of God.

Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness — the kingdom of heaven is theirs.

And blessed are you, blessed are all of you, when people persecute you or denigrate you or despise you or tell lies about you on My account. But when this happens, rejoice. Be glad. Remember that God’s prophets have been persecuted in the past. And know that in heaven, you have a great reward.

(Matthew 5:1-12)
Response in Prayer

Father in heaven, as Your child, I confess that I see the world telling me to live in a very different way than what I find Jesus teaching in these beatitudes and the rest of the Sermon on the Mount. I need the help of the Holy Spirit to apply these truths to my life and live them out in ways that reflect Your character and compassion. I ask for this grace, in Jesus' name. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Thu 23 Jan 2014, 10:39 pm

"Beyond the Sacred Page" — A Year with Jesus for 01/23/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

The Bible is a precious treasure. Don't neglect it. Use it and ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you through it. On the other hand, remember it is a tool that the Spirit uses to shape your life and to point you to Me. Even the best of religious people can get so caught up in proving themselves right by the Bible that they lose sight of the goal and the gift.

The goal of the Scriptures is to find Me! That's why My beloved disciple John identified Me as God's Message, the Word, that became flesh (John 1:1-18). That's also why the apostle Paul could say that faith in Me was necessary to unlock the salvation promised in the Bible (2 Timothy 3:15), that I am the "Yes!" to God's promises and the one through Whom every "Amen!" can be spoken (2 Corinthians 1:18-20). I am the goal of the Holy Spirit's transforming work in you (2 Corinthians 3:18) and the goal that the apostles were trying to reach in their work with you (Galatians 4:19; Colossians 1:28-29). I am the Father's ultimate, greatest, and clearest Word (Hebrews 1:1-3).

The gift you receive when you understand that the Bible points to Me is life! I came to give you full, abundant, and purposeful life (John 10:10). I want you to have life — life with Me (John 14:1-6). I want you have life through faith in Me (John 20:30-31; 1 John 5:13). So let the Bible bring you to Me and find the life I long to share with you!

Appreciate the Bible, use the Scriptures, and learn the message of the word of God. But, don't worship the Bible. Worship God — Father, Son, and Spirit. Seek Me! Love God with all you are. Don't substitute the Bible for the Holy Spirit. Don't seek the Scriptures, but seek the Father to Whom the Scriptures point and from Whom the Scriptures come.

Sadly, the religious in My days on earth were so caught up in looking at tiny little arguments over the Scriptures, so caught up in proving themselves and their traditions were right, that they missed Me — the very One to whom the Scriptures point.

I am so glad you are taking this year to journey with Me through the New Testament. So I want to encourage you to do this spiritual exercise to help you in your journey this year, and every time you open the Bible going forward. As you study the Bible, pray this simple prayer.
Father, thank You for Your Scriptures. Open my heart to hear your truth. Holy Spirit, please open my eyes to the message Jesus wants me to put to work in my life. Jesus, conform me to Your will and help me find true life in You. Amen.
Verses to Live

There are a couple of big arguments going on in this passage, but notice especially the message highlighted. This is the point I want you to see... to be your focus... and to help you find life in Me!
"The Father does not exert His power to judge anyone. Instead, He has given the authority as Judge to the Son. So all of creation will honor and worship the Son as they do the Father. If you do not honor the Son, then you dishonor the Father who sent Him.

"I tell you the truth: eternal life belongs to those who hear My voice and believe in the One who sent Me. These people have no reason to fear judgment because they have already left death and entered life.

"I tell you the truth: a new day is imminent — in fact, it has arrived — when the voice of the Son of God will penetrate death's domain, and everyone who hears will live. You see, the Father radiates with life; and He also animates the Son of God with the same life-giving beauty and power to exercise judgment over all of creation. Indeed, the Son of God is also the Son of Man. If this sounds amazing to you, what is even more amazing is that when the time comes, those buried long ago will hear His voice through all the rocks, sod, and soil and step out of decay into resurrection. When this hour arrives, those who did good will be resurrected to life, and those who did evil will be resurrected to judgment.

"I have not ever acted, and will not in the future act, on My own. I listen to the directions of the One who sent Me and act on these divine instructions. For this reason, My judgment is always fair and never self-serving. I'm committed to pursuing God's agenda and not My own.

"If I stand as the lone witness to My true identity, then I can be dismissed as a liar. But if you listen, you will hear another testify about Me, and I know what He says about Me is genuine and true. You sent messengers to John, and he told the truth to everyone who would listen. Still his message about Me originated in heaven, not in mortal man. I am telling you these things for one reason — so that you might be rescued. The voice of John the Baptist, the wandering prophet, is like a light in the darkness; and for a time, you took great joy and pleasure in the light he offered.

"There's another witness standing in My corner who is greater than John or any other man. The mission that brings Me here, and the things I am called to do, demonstrate the authenticity of My calling which comes directly from the Father. In the act of sending Me, the Father has endorsed Me. None of you really knows the Father. You have never heard His voice or seen His profile. His word does not abide in you because you do not believe in the One sent by the Father.

"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. Here I am with you, and still you reject the truth contained in the law and prophets by refusing to come to Me so that you can have life.

"This kind of glory does not come from mortal men. And I see that you do not possess the love of God. I have pursued you, coming here in My Father's name, and you have turned Me away. If someone else were to approach you with a different set of credentials, you would welcome him. That's why it is hard to see how true faith is even possible for you: you are consumed by the approval of other men, longing to look good in their eyes; and yet you disregard the approval of the one true God. Don't worry that I might bring you up on charges before My Father. Moses is your accuser even though you've put your hope in him..."

(John 5:22-45)
Response in Prayer

O Father, the words to the old hymn* are my prayer today:
Break Thou the bread of life, dear Lord, to me,
As Thou didst break the loaves beside the sea;
Beyond the sacred page I seek Thee, Lord;
My spirit pants for Thee, O living Word!

O send Thy Spirit, Lord, now unto me,
That He may touch my eyes, and make me see:
Show me the truth concealed within Thy Word,
And in Thy Book revealed I see the Lord.
I pray this in Jesus' name and to be conformed to Jesus' will. Amen.

* Mary Lathbury from the hymn, "Break Thou the Bread of Life," 1887.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Wed 22 Jan 2014, 6:12 pm

"The Reason for the Partying" — A Year with Jesus for 01/21/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

What's with all those somber faces among those who claim to follow Me? Yes, seriousness is demanded at certain times. Yes, My call for you to follow Me is a life-changing call that demands commitment. Yes, there are times of pain, grief, and persecution that touch My people in their time on earth. On the other hand, what happened to the passion, excitement, and joyous fellowship that you see Me have in My earthly ministry and that should be a central part of your lifestyle? How do you expect to invite others to follow Me if you do not share My joy with them?

Please don't buy into the old religious affliction of false, self-imposed seriousness —that feeling that a Christian life must always be sad, serious, and somber. In My earthly ministry, I was quite often criticized for running around with the "wrong" people, going to the "wrong" parties, and being someone who enjoyed food and wine.

While I know you will face some very difficult times in your life, I don't want you to miss the exhilaration of My coming — My coming to earth as the Son of God, My coming into your presence when you are gathered together to worship Me, My coming into your life in moments of laughter and food and friendship, My coming to you in every moment of life, and My coming at the end of time to bring you to the greatest party that will ever be thrown! These are things that can give you peace and contentment no matter what the external circumstances are in your life.

So read this story today and be reminded that there are religious folks who don't get it — they feel that everything religious needs to be serious, sad, and somber. Also remember that is NOT the way I want things. I came to bring true shalom — peace, joy, fellowship, wholeness, and life. So anytime you find Me, you will find the LIFE of the party — the One who brings you peace, joy, fellowship, wholeness, and life.
Verses to Live

Invite Me into your life and let's share the party with others!
Explain to us why You and Your disciples are so commonly found partying like this, when our disciples — and even the disciples of John — are known for fasting rather than feasting, and for saying prayers rather than drinking wine.

Jesus:
Imagine there's a wedding going on. Is that the time to tell the guests to ignore the bridegroom and fast? Sure, there's a time for fasting — when the bridegroom has been taken away. Look, nobody tears up a new garment to make a patch for an old garment. If he did, the new patch would shrink and rip the old, and the old garment would be worse off than before. And nobody takes freshly squeezed juice and puts it into old, stiff wineskins. If he did, the fresh wine would make the old skins burst open, and both the wine and the wineskins would be ruined. New demands new — new wine for new wineskins. Anyway, those who've never tasted the new wine won't know what they're missing; they'll always say, "The old wine is good enough for me!"

(Luke 5:33-39)
Response in Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank You for reminding me that You came to bring Me life and that when You are present, You are not only the reason for the party, but You are the LIFE of the party! Father, thank You for sending Your Son to give me life. Holy Spirit, thank You for filling Me with Your presence and bringing Me a deep wellspring of love, joy, and peace! Amen.
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"What Will You Do with My Grace?" — A Year with Jesus for 01/22/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Follower,

In today's events from My life story, you will meet a man who had great difficulties. Yet like so many who find themselves in very difficult situations, this man makes the situation worse by refusing to take responsibility for anything in his life. As you read, notice that I ask this man if he really wants to get well:
"Are you here in this place hoping to be healed?"

(John 5:5)
He states the truth about his situation, and yes, it is sad truth, but also notice that he never really answers My question. Instead, this man blames his circumstances. He never really says, "Oh yes, I definitely want to be healed!"

When I heal the man, he gets in trouble with "the overly somber religious enforcement society" of his day for breaking one of their rules. Notice what the man does: he passes the buck and blames it on Me! (I think you will find it very helpful to compare his reaction to "the overly somber religious enforcement society" with the fellow you meet in John 9:1-41, whose actions are quite different after I gave him his sight after he had been born blind.)

Don't miss two points! 

Point 1:

You should have compassion on all people, but don't be discouraged when some of those you help still hang on to their victim mindset. You can recognize this by their words and actions:
"It's not my fault!"
"Don't blame me; I can't help it!"
"My problems are all because nobody will help me!"
"That person told me to do this, so don't blame me; I was just doing what I was told!"
As much as you may want to help everyone, some folks will never assume responsibility for their circumstances or for getting better. Even in their greatest moments of joy, they refuse to celebrate and praise God — or thank you — for their blessings. 

Point 2:

Many folks don't get what being My follower is about. They are caught up in the religious rules of everything. You, however, need to be guided by three calls in your life. They will keep you focused on the heart of My mission! They will also keep you from being part of "the overly somber religious enforcement society" of your day! What are those three calls?
Light the way to God with your good deeds done to others (Matthew 5:14-16).
Love the LORD your God with all you are and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40).
Lead people to follow Me (Matthew 28:18-20).
Verses to Live

Ask yourself two questions as you read the scriptures below. First, if you had been healed after 38 years of bondage, would you have blamed your healer or would you have praised God no matter what anyone else said? Second, As My follower, would you be one who helped get this guy into the pool when he had no one else to help him?
... Jesus led His followers to Jerusalem where they would celebrate a Jewish feast together.

In Jerusalem they came upon a pool by the sheep gate surrounded by five covered porches. In Hebrew this place is called Bethesda.

Crowds of people lined the area, lying around the porches. All of these people were disabled in some way; some were blind, lame, paralyzed, or plagued by diseases; and they were waiting for the waters to move. From time to time, a heavenly messenger would come to stir the water in the pool. Whoever reached the water first and got in after it was agitated would be healed of his or her disease. In the crowd, Jesus noticed one particular man who had been living with his disability for 38 years. He knew this man had been waiting here a long time.

Jesus (to the disabled man):
Are you here in this place hoping to be healed?

Disabled Man:
Kind Sir, I wait, like all of these people, for the waters to stir; but I cannot walk. If I am to be healed in the waters, someone must carry me into the pool. Without a helping hand, someone else beats me to the water's edge each time it is stirred.

Jesus:
Stand up, carry your mat, and walk.

At the moment Jesus uttered these words, a healing energy coursed through the man and returned life to his limbs — he stood and walked for the first time in 38 years. But this was the Sabbath Day; and any work, including carrying a mat, was prohibited on this day.

Jewish Leaders (to the man who had been healed):
Must you be reminded that it is the Sabbath? You are not allowed to carry your mat today!

Formerly Disabled Man:
The man who healed me gave me specific instructions to carry my mat and go.

Jewish Leaders:
Who is the man who gave you these instructions? How can we identify Him?

The man genuinely did not know who it was that healed him. In the midst of the crowd and the excitement of his renewed health, Jesus had slipped away. Some time later, Jesus found him in the temple and again spoke to him.

Jesus:
Take a look at your body; it has been made whole and strong. So avoid a life of sin, or else a calamity greater than any disability may befall you.

The man went immediately to tell the Jewish leaders that Jesus was the mysterious healer. So they began pursuing and attacking Jesus because He performed these miracles on the Sabbath.

Jesus (to His attackers):
My Father is at work. So I, too, am working.

He was justifying the importance of His work on the Sabbath, claiming God as His Father in ways that suggested He was equal to God. These pious religious leaders sought an opportunity to kill Jesus, and these words fueled their hatred.

Jesus:

The truth is that the Son does nothing on His own; all these actions are led by the Father. The Son watches the Father closely and then mimics the work of the Father. The Father loves the Son, so He does not hide His actions. Instead, He shows Him everything, and the things not yet revealed by the Father will dumbfound you. The Father can give life to those who are dead; in the same way, the Son can give the gift of life to those He chooses.

The Father does not exert His power to judge anyone. Instead, He has given the authority as Judge to the Son. So all of creation will honor and worship the Son as they do the Father. If you do not honor the Son, then you dishonor the Father who sent Him.

(John 5:1-23)
Response in Prayer

Father, I want to answer Your three calls to light the way so others can find Your grace, to love You with all I am and love my neighbor as myself, and to lead people from other cultures to know Jesus. Holy Spirit, I ask that you open my eyes to see practical ways of living out these three calls in My life today, and everyday, as I live as a follower of Jesus Christ, my Lord, in whose name I pray. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Mon 20 Jan 2014, 7:58 pm

"Extraordinary God!" — A Year with Jesus for 01/19/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of God,

What is your greatest need?

Seems like a simple question, doesn't it? But when you look deeper, this event in My life story clarifies some things for you... including what three of your deepest needs are!

First, many times people going through hard times, especially if they involve illness, think that a cure for their disease is the most important thing. Yet in this story, the man who was paralyzed had blessings that far outweighed his physical problem. This man had friends. These were determined friends willing to take risks that could cost them something. These were friends of faith. I saw their faith and it led Me to help this man with his greatest need. He needed forgiveness. He needed a right relationship with the Father restored. I gave him that at great risk and cost to Me. And if you have been paying attention to what I have been saying these last few days, you know why I did it. As God with you, I want you to know by My actions that God wants you both holy and whole — to enjoy full Shalom!

Second, the religious leaders can point you to another great need. Notice what the religious leaders said:
Who can pronounce that a person's sins are forgiven? Who but God alone?
Now don't miss the point, because a number of religious groups who claim to be My disciples miss it. My actions show that I AM God among you. I healed the man to show I have the power, the authority, the right to do what only God can do: forgive someone of their sins against God as well as their sins against others!

If you have determined friends of faith, give thanks to God. Affirm them. Lean on them. There will be days when your friends may have to have the faith to get you to Me when you don't seem to have the power, courage, or willingness. So value those friends.

No matter your problem, please recognize the most important issue in your life involves your relationship with the Father. I can bring you forgiveness no matter what you've done if you will only come to Me and be honest about the sin issues in your life. Don't believe Me? Go read what My beloved disciple wrote about forgiveness (1 John 1:5-10; 1 John 2:1-2).

Finally, and most importantly of all, recognize that I AM God. The Father and I are One. I came as God in human flesh, Immanuel — God with you! This is the most basic and important belief of all. To understand God's love, the meaning of My sacrifice, and the importance of your obedience, you must believe that I AM God, come in human flesh to save you — and not just you, but everyone else in the world who is willing to recognize Me for Who I AM and follow Me! As My apostle Thomas said when he saw Me raised from the dead, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28).
Verses to Live

One day Jesus was teaching in a house, and the healing power of the Lord was with Him. Pharisees and religious scholars were sitting and listening, having come from villages all across the regions of Galilee and Judea and from the holy city of Jerusalem.

Some men came to the house, carrying a paralyzed man on his bed pallet. They wanted to bring him in and present him to Jesus, but the house was so packed with people that they couldn't get in. So they climbed up on the roof and pulled off some roof tiles. Then they lowered the man by ropes so he came to rest right in front of Jesus.

In this way, their faith was visible to Jesus.

Jesus (to the man on the pallet):
My friend, all your sins are forgiven.

The Pharisees and religious scholars were offended at this. They turned to one another and asked questions.

Pharisees and Religious Scholars:
Who does He think He is? Wasn't that blasphemous? Who can pronounce that a person's sins are forgiven? Who but God alone?

Jesus (responding with His own question):
Why are your hearts full of questions? Which is easier to say, "Your sins are forgiven" or "Get up and walk"? Just so you'll know that the Son of Man is fully authorized to forgive sins on earth (He turned to the paralyzed fellow lying on the pallet), I say, get up, take your mat, and go home.

Then, right in front of their eyes, the man stood up, picked up his bed, and left to go home — full of praises for God! Everyone was stunned. They couldn't help but feel awestruck, and they praised God too.

People:
We've seen extraordinary things today.

(Luke 5:17-26)
Response in Prayer

O Jesus, You are Lord and Christ, God's Son, Immanuel, God come to us in human flesh. You are my Lord and my God! Thank You God, in the name of the Son and through the intercession of the Spirit. Amen.
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True Healing" — A Year with Jesus for 01/20/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

To be My disciple means that you are committed to follow in My footsteps. You come to Me, recognizing your need for healing grace — not just to cure some physical malady, but to heal what is broken inside your life and your heart. When you recognize that I have called you to follow Me, that I have accepted you, and that I have brought you into My family, then you will offer My healing grace to others.

Today in My life story from Luke's gospel (Luke 5:27-32), Levi, also known as Matthew, leaves his life as a tax collector. Now in the times when I physically walked the earth, tax collectors where generally a notorious lot who used their position and power to extort money from others in the name of Rome and to line their pockets. They were hated and despised. Most lived up to their reputation — living it up with those who were openly sinners. When Levi followed Me, he didn't abandon his friends even though he left his sinful lifestyle. Instead, Levi did what he knew best: he threw a party for his friends at his house. There, he introduced his friends to Me.

As you might expect, my religious critics launched their criticisms at Me and My disciples for being at Levi's party. Yet before their whispers turned to full public criticism, I reminded them what Levi knew: I came to heal sinners. I came to mend broken lives. I came to restore people to fellowship with God and with each other. So when people find My healing grace, it becomes their lifestyle to share that healing grace with others — not to think of themselves as spiritually superior and certainly not to isolate My healing grace away from those who desperately need it.
Verses to Live

As you read this story about Levi, rejoice in the grace I have given you (Ephesians 2:1-9). Realize that that grace not only saved you from sin and destruction, but that it also saved you to be a blessing to others: you were carefully made by the Father for this purpose (Ephesians 2:10). I hope this will stir your heart to follow Levi's example and think of others who need to be invited to come and know Me!
Some time later, Jesus walked along the street and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting in his tax office.

Jesus:
Follow Me.

And Levi did. He got up from his desk, left everything (just as the fishermen had), and followed Jesus.

Shortly after this, Levi invited his many friends and associates, including many tax collectors, to his home for a large feast in Jesus’ honor. Everyone sat at a table together.

The Pharisees and their associates, the religious scholars, got the attention of some of Jesus’ disciples.

Pharisees (in low voices):
What’s wrong with you? Why are you eating and drinking with tax collectors and other immoral people?

Jesus (answering for the disciples):
Healthy people don’t need a doctor, but sick people do. I haven’t come for the pure and upstanding; I’ve come to call notorious sinners to rethink their lives and turn to God.

(Luke 5:27-32)
Response in Prayer

Abba Father, thank you for the grace that forgave my sins and adopted me into your family. Today, dear Father, I want to pray for several people who need Your healing grace in their lives. So, Father, please bless the following people as I pray for them by name... In addition, use me to be a magnet to attract people who need your grace and please use me to be a bridge to You and Your family of grace for them. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Thu 16 Jan 2014, 1:16 pm

"Moving Beyond a Little Religious Excitement" — A Year with Jesus for 01/15/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Follower,

My half-brother James warned that simply believing in the existence God was nothing special — even the demons believe in God and shudder in fear at his power (James 2:19). In today's story from My life, you meet a man tortured by a demonic spirit. This evil spirit, this demon, knew My name and knew who I AM. In fear, this demonic presence shouted at Me to leave because it knew that I would cast out every tidbit of demonic influence that had a hold over this man. And that is what I did. With just a few words, I cast the demon out of the man.

People were excited and amazed at My power. However, don't confuse that with meaningful faith. Don't confuse their reaction with discipleship. Believing in Who I AM, saying the right words, getting excited about My power, should never be confused with being My disciple (Matthew 7:21-23). A disciple follows his or her teacher to become like the teacher (Luke 6:40). My disciples follow Me to become like Me. They do what I call them to do. They put into practice what I teach. So in many ways, the excitement of the crowd and the fear of the demons in today's story are very much the same thing: a lot of emotion and commotion without devotion to Me.

As we journey through this year together, I hope that you will move beyond mere emotion and religious commotion to heartfelt devotion! 

Verses to Live

Next He [Jesus] went to Capernaum, another Galilean city. Again He was in the synagogue teaching on the Sabbath, and as before, the people were enthralled by His words. He had a way of saying things — a special authority, a unique power.

In attendance that day was a man with a demonic spirit.

Demon-Possessed Man (screaming at Jesus):
Get out of here! Leave us alone! What's Your agenda, Jesus of Nazareth? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are: You're the Holy One, the One sent by God!

Jesus (firmly rebuking the demon):
Be quiet. Get out of that man!

Then the demonic spirit immediately threw the man into a fit, and he collapsed right there in the middle of the synagogue. It was clear the demon had come out, and the man was completely fine after that. Everyone was shocked to see this, and they couldn't help but talk about it.

Synagogue Members:
What's this about? What's the meaning of this message? Jesus speaks with authority, and He has power to command demonic spirits to go away.

The excitement about Jesus spread into every corner of the surrounding region.

(Luke 4:31-37)
Response in Prayer

Almighty God, open my eyes, my ears, my heart, and my mind to fully see Jesus for Who He is. I want to follow Him with whole-hearted devotion. I offer you my life to be a follower of Jesus. Shape me to become like my Savior as I journey with Him each day. In the name of the Lord Jesus I pray. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Tue 14 Jan 2014, 8:27 pm

"Will You Truly Believe?" — A Year with Jesus for 01/14/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend,

I know the struggle that goes on inside your heart to truly believe. You want to believe, but really placing your full trust in Me is hard to do... especially when you are desperate for a solution. You want to see the results before you will really trust Me. Yet true discipleship doesn't really work that way.

You have to trust Me. You have to act on your faith that what I say is true before you receive the results of that faith. Real faith is something more than thinking I can do something for you: it is acting on that belief. My half-brother James, said it well:
Without actions, faith is useless. By itself, it’s as good as dead. (James 2:17)

I love the government official you meet today in My story. He was desperate. He wanted to believe that I could heal his son, but he wasn't sure. He had hoping faith, but not full faith. So I nudged him to truly believe. I challenged him to really trust Me and act before his faith in Me was proven true — to go home because he believed I had already healed his son before he could validate it. This is where his hoping faith became acting trust.

He took Me at My word and headed home. On the way home, he discovered that I had done what I said at the time he trusted Me. Now his trust became experienced faith. He believed — not just with hoping faith and acting faith, but with validated faith. He then shared that faith with others and they began to believe, too.

I hope you see the progression of faith in this story and know that it is the way faith often works in real life:
Hoping Faith — Desperate for answers, the father came to Me.
Acting Faith — The father left, taking Me at My word.
Validating Faith — The father discovered I did what I promised.
Sharing faith — The father told this story so others believed.

Are you willing to act in trust before your faith is validated? This is real faith — believing without immediate validation, trusting while you are waiting, acting before you have proof! For many of you, the wait between acting faith and validating faith can be much longer than it was for this father. But, no matter how short or how long the wait may be, this is the kind of faith that I'm calling you to have as you follow Me!
Verses to Live

After two days of teaching and conversation, Jesus proceeded to Galilee where His countrymen received Him with familiar smiles. After all, they witnessed His miracle at the feast in Jerusalem; but Jesus understood and often quoted the maxim: "No one honors a hometown prophet."

As Jesus traveled to Cana (the village in Galilee where He transformed the water into fine wine), He was met by a government official. This man had heard a rumor that Jesus had left Judea and was heading to Galilee, and he came in desperation begging for Jesus' help because his young son was near death. He was fearful that unless Jesus would go with him to Capernaum, his son would have no hope.

Jesus (to the official):
My word is not enough; you only believe when you see miraculous signs.

Official:
Sir, this is my son; please come with me before he dies.

Jesus (interrupting him):
Go home. Your son will live.

When he heard the voice of Jesus, faith took hold of him and he turned to go home. Before he reached his village, his servants met him on the road celebrating his son's miraculous recovery.

Official:
What time did this happen?

Servants:
Yesterday about one o'clock in the afternoon.

At that moment, it dawned on the father the exact time that Jesus spoke the words, "He will live." After that, he believed; and when he told his family about his amazing encounter with this Jesus, they believed too. This was the second sign Jesus performed when He came back to Galilee from Judea.

(John 4:43-54)
Response in Prayer

O Father, I believe, but help my unbelief! Jesus, thank you for this challenge. You are right; I prefer everything to be proven and to be easy before I step out. Nevertheless, I commit to act on my faith by trusting Your words are true and Your intentions in my life are for my good. Holy Spirit, I need your strength and comfort to act on what I say I believe. For this grace — of believing, acting, and strengthening — I thank You. Amen.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Mon 13 Jan 2014, 11:26 pm

"Savior of the World" — A Year with Jesus for 01/13/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

You receive these notes because you love Me and want to walk with Me in your daily life. So I want to remind you of something very important. When you take time to value someone, especially someone that others discard and disregard as unimportant, I can do amazing things with that person. You see, I AM the Savior of the world, but for the world to know that I AM the Savior, each person needs to know that I came for her or for him!

My conversation with the woman at the well in Samaria led to her whole village coming to faith in Me. Her painful story was known to the people of the village. She was an outcast, but she still had influence in her community. When I valued her personally, specifically listening to her heart, she realized Who I AM. Then she shared this truth with everyone. The result? They came to me to find out for sure if I AM Who she said I AM — the Savior of the world!

Please be open to the people around you. Speak to them. Value them by asking questions about their lives and listening carefully to their answers. Gently lead them to meet Me. You don't have to convince them to believe. You don't need to twist their arms so that they will listen. Value each one of them as a person and invite each of them to "come and see" Who I AM. The kind of person you are and the way that you value each person will open the door for each of them to come and see Me.
Verses to Live

So here is the amazing result of the woman at the well learning My true identity and finding hope for her life:
The woman went back to the town, leaving her water pot behind. She stopped men and women on the streets and told them about what had happened.

Woman:
I met a stranger who knew everything about me. Come and see for yourselves; can He be the Anointed One?


A crowd came out of the city and approached Jesus.

(John 4:28-30)

Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said:
He told me everything I ever did!

When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village. So he stayed for two days, long enough for many more to hear his message and believe. Then they said to the woman:
Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.


(John 4:39-42 NLT)
Response in Prayer

Gracious God, open my eyes to the people around me each day that I do not notice and do not take time to value. I want to value people so that I can invite them to "come and see" Who Jesus is. I pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.
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The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Heartlight is proud to support and promote Compassion International.

© 1998-2014, Heartlight Inc.

"Savior of the World" — A Year with Jesus for 01/13/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

You receive these notes because you love Me and want to walk with Me in your daily life. So I want to remind you of something very important. When you take time to value someone, especially someone that others discard and disregard as unimportant, I can do amazing things with that person. You see, I AM the Savior of the world, but for the world to know that I AM the Savior, each person needs to know that I came for her or for him!

My conversation with the woman at the well in Samaria led to her whole village coming to faith in Me. Her painful story was known to the people of the village. She was an outcast, but she still had influence in her community. When I valued her personally, specifically listening to her heart, she realized Who I AM. Then she shared this truth with everyone. The result? They came to me to find out for sure if I AM Who she said I AM — the Savior of the world!

Please be open to the people around you. Speak to them. Value them by asking questions about their lives and listening carefully to their answers. Gently lead them to meet Me. You don't have to convince them to believe. You don't need to twist their arms so that they will listen. Value each one of them as a person and invite each of them to "come and see" Who I AM. The kind of person you are and the way that you value each person will open the door for each of them to come and see Me.
Verses to Live

So here is the amazing result of the woman at the well learning My true identity and finding hope for her life:
The woman went back to the town, leaving her water pot behind. She stopped men and women on the streets and told them about what had happened.

Woman:
I met a stranger who knew everything about me. Come and see for yourselves; can He be the Anointed One?


A crowd came out of the city and approached Jesus.

(John 4:28-30)

Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said:
He told me everything I ever did!

When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village. So he stayed for two days, long enough for many more to hear his message and believe. Then they said to the woman:
Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world.


(John 4:39-42 NLT)
Response in Prayer

Gracious God, open my eyes to the people around me each day that I do not notice and do not take time to value. I want to value people so that I can invite them to "come and see" Who Jesus is. I pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.
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© 1998-2014, Heartlight Inc.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sun 12 Jan 2014, 4:30 pm

"Leaving the Bucket Behind" — A Year with Jesus for 01/12/2014

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

I surprised My first followers at a well in Samaria as we were traveling from Judea to Galilee. You see, religious and racial prejudice separated Jews and Samaritans. Most Jews wouldn't have anything to do with Samaritans and usually avoided even going through the region of Samaria. Rabbis were forbidden to speak alone with women, especially Samaritan women. So when my followers came back to the well and found Me talking with a Samaritan woman, and then later, when the whole town came out to visit with Me, they were shocked!

Here were just a few of the surprises My followers found that day by Jacob's well in Samaria:
I will do whatever is necessary to break through the barriers of racial and gender prejudice to bring grace to the heart of anyone seeking God.
The people who appear least likely to be spiritual seekers can actually be thirsty for God and searching for the Father's truth.
A whole village can be brought to faith if My followers will lovingly care, listen, and teach those I bring to them.
The deepest conversations about life, hurts, and spiritual thirst can begin with the most simple of questions when we listen and care for the people God places in our path.
Yes, I AM the water of life. I bring deep, spiritual refreshment to the souls of those who truly seek Me. But even more, I hope you see from My actions at this well in Samaria that I long to include all people in My family of grace and that I want you to be open to all those who are seeking Me... even the apparently least likely people in the most unlikely of situations. Remember, I reveal Myself in the ordinary events of life for those who are truly seeking Me!
Verses to Live

Here's the story of My visit with the woman by the well in Samaria:
The picture was becoming clear to the Pharisees that Jesus had gained a following much larger than that of John the Baptist, the wandering prophet. Now He could see that the Pharisees were beginning to plot against Him. This was because His disciples were busy ritually cleansing many new disciples through baptism, He chose to leave Judea where most Pharisees lived and return to a safer location in Galilee. This was a trip that would take them through Samaria.

In a small Samaritan town known as Sychar, Jesus and His entourage stopped to rest at the historic well that Jacob gave his son Joseph. It was about noon when Jesus found a spot to sit close to the well while the disciples ventured off to find provisions. From His vantage, He watched as a Samaritan woman approached to draw some water. Unexpectedly He spoke to her.

Jesus:
Would you draw water, and give Me a drink?


Woman:
I cannot believe that You, a Jew, would associate with me, a Samaritan woman; much less ask me to give You a drink.

Jews, you see, have no dealings with Samaritans.

Jesus:
You don't know the gift of God or who is asking you for a drink of this water from Jacob's well. Because if you did, you would have asked Him for something greater; and He would have given you the living water.

Woman:
Sir, You sit by this deep well a thirsty man without a bucket in sight. Where does this living water come from? Are You claiming superiority to our father Jacob who labored long and hard to dig and maintain this well so that he could share clean water with his sons, grandchildren, and cattle?

Jesus:
Drink this water, and your thirst is quenched only for a moment. You must return to this well again and again. I offer water that will become a wellspring within you that gives life throughout eternity. You will never be thirsty again.

Woman:
Please, Sir, give me some of this water, so I'll never be thirsty and never again have to make the trip to this well.

Jesus:
Then bring your husband to Me.

Woman:
I do not have a husband.

Jesus:
Technically you are telling the truth. But you have had five husbands and are currently living with a man you are not married to.

Woman:
Sir, it is obvious to me that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped here on this mountain, but Your people say that Jerusalem is the only place for all to worship. Which is it?

Jesus:
Woman, I tell you that neither is so. Believe this: a new day is coming — in fact, it's already here — when the importance will not be placed on the time and place of worship but on the truthful hearts of worshipers. You worship what you don't know while we worship what we do know, for God's salvation is coming through the Jews. The Father is spirit, and He is seeking followers whose worship is sourced in truth and deeply spiritual as well. Regardless of whether you are in Jerusalem or on this mountain, if you do not seek the Father, then you do not worship.

Woman:
These mysteries will be made clear by He who is promised, the Anointed One.

Jesus:
The Anointed is speaking to you. I am the One you have been looking for.

The disciples returned to Him and gathered around Him in amazement that He would openly break their customs by speaking to this woman, but none of them would ask Him what He was looking for or why He was speaking with her. The woman went back to the town, leaving her water pot behind. She stopped men and women on the streets and told them about what had happened.

Woman:
I met a stranger who knew everything about me. Come and see for yourselves; can He be the Anointed One?


(John 4:1-29)
Response in Prayer

Almighty God, the Source of all life, open my eyes to the people around me who are searching for Jesus. I know many of these seekers do not realize that Jesus is the water of life they seek for their spiritual thirst. So open my eyes to these people. As I seek to speak appropriately to their hearts, please open my ears to hear what they are saying behind their words. Give me patience to truly hear their questions and wisdom as I seek to respond to their questions. Please use me, O Lord, to touch those around me who are seeking Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.
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The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
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