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HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Mon 21 Aug 2017, 12:24 am

"Wouldn't It Be Better?" — A Year with Jesus for 08/20/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple,

Today's verses are from 1 Corinthians. Paul had begun to address the sin and division damaging the holiness and fellowship in the house churches in Corinth. In yesterday's verses, he wrote about dealing with the problems of illicit sexual relations and the Christians' boasting about their open-mindedness at allowing it to go on in their fellowship. In today's verses, Paul addresses the problem of lawsuits that believers were bringing against each other before unbelievers. He emphasizes the embarrassment that such lawsuits were bringing on My spiritual family due to the way that outsiders viewed the church.

Paul tells the Christians why they should prefer to be "ripped off or defrauded" by a fellow believer rather than go to court before unbelievers. He makes some important points about why there shouldn't be lawsuits between Christians:

Any disagreement believers cannot settle between themselves should be decided by using wise believers in the church family to resolve the issue. Christians should have more wisdom and better values on which to make such a decision. After all, the Father will have Christians judge "heavenly messengers" or angels at the end of time.
Going to unbelievers to decide a legal matter is an embarrassment to the church.
This legal action also places Christians under the authority of those "who have no allegiance to" Me or to My standards of morality and integrity.
The ultimate question you face in these matters is really pretty simple. Are you seeking My kingdom and My righteousness (Matthew 6:33) or are you trying to store up treasures on earth (Matthew 6:19-21)? When a person's heart is more concerned about keeping what he or she has than it is about the good of My kingdom, then that person is living in darkness, and My following words of warning are relevant:
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.
(Matthew 6:22-23)
I want to encourage you, as Paul does, to find a way to solve your differences and not go to court (Luke 12:57-59). Paul said it well:
The truth is that these public lawsuits cause all of you to lose and lose big. Wouldn't it be better to be ripped off or defrauded?
If you cannot work out a disagreement between yourselves, seek the help of wise brothers and sisters in Christ to help you come to a fair understanding (Matthew 18:16). Remember that there are more important things than your getting what you believe is fair in such matters. One of those more important things is the reputation of the Christian community among unbelievers, and another is not placing yourself under the authority of someone who does not live by My values of truth, honesty, and integrity.
Verses to Live

There are times when brothers and sisters in Christ disagree, disappoint each other, or even sin against each other. To help resolve these disputes, seek the wisdom of wise believers. Don't go to court with each other before unbelievers and embarrass the church!

Here's another troubling issue. If you have a grievance against another follower of Jesus, do you have the audacity to bring that brother or sister into the civil courts rather than submitting yourselves to the authority of God's people? Don't you know that His people are destined to judge the world? If you have the authority to judge the world, can't you handle these small matters and render a better judgment than the civil courts? Further, don't you know that we are destined to judge the heavenly messengers? So if we are to exercise authority in the heavenly realms, can't we take care of the conflicts that arise in this life? To put it another way, if you are asking the courts to adjudicate your mundane conflicts, aren't you placing your problems under the authority of judges who have no standing within the church? My words should embarrass you. Is it possible that you have no one among you with the wisdom to mediate between two siblings? So one brother sues another brother in public and drags the dispute before outsiders who have no allegiance to Jesus?

The truth is that these public lawsuits cause all of you to lose and lose big. Wouldn't it be better to be ripped off or defrauded? In fact, you are guilty of ripping off and defrauding your own brothers and sisters, not the other way around.
(1 Corinthians 6:1-8)
Response in Prayer

Father, help me as I work on my heart to love You, Your people, and the reputation of Your people. I want to care about the reputation of Your people in the eyes of the world more than I love myself and my stuff. Help me, please dear LORD, for the world pulls at my heart. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

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

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

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

Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.

This devotional was sent to elainejehu@yahoo.com, who has been receiving it since 13 Nov 2013 13:55.

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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sat 19 Aug 2017, 12:30 pm

"Family Discipline, Family Rescue" — A Year with Jesus for 08/19/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

In My family, there are times when direct discipline from the Father is necessary in the lives of His children (1 Corinthians 11:32; Hebrews 12:5-11). Throughout your New Testament, you can find different forms of discipline, correction, and rescue that My followers are instructed to use to reclaim those who have gone astray (Matthew 18:12-20; Romans 16:17-18; Galatians 6:1-2; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15; James 5:19-20; Jude 1:20-25).

Today's verses contain Paul's strong words about a serious need for discipline. The new believers in Corinth were tolerating immorality within their group. This disorder was a type of immorality recognized as evil even among most non-believers. It involved sexual relations between a man and his father's wife. The Corinthians not only allowed this blatant sin to continue, but they were also boasting about being open-minded enough to accept and fellowship those participating in this ongoing sin. The apostle Paul called such sin a "tragedy" and told the Corinthians that rather than being arrogant, they should "mourn" about such a "terrible" sin in their community and that the sinner should "be removed from the community."

I know that some in Your culture frown on the discipline Paul advocates in these verses. However, Paul appropriately reminds the Corinthian Christians that his words about discipline arise out of his "deep love" for them. There are certain moral standards in the Father's family of grace. His children must demonstrate both His righteous character and His gracious compassion, not one to the exclusion of the other. The Father's standards of morality are not arbitrary. Immorality damages the fabric of relationships and the basis of trust in a community. Immorality also damages and hardens the heart of the person involved in it.

Expelling those who were participating in this sin was necessary for the Corinthian fellowship if those in that fellowship were going to identify themselves as My disciples. However, this discipline must be done with two things in mind:

This discipline was to be exercised so that the sinners could be "rescued" from their bondage to their sinful nature. In other words, it should be done so they would turn their lives around and come back to Me.
This discipline was to be exercised so that My spiritual family could be freed from involvement in supporting immorality. If allowed unchecked, immorality would eventually permeate and destroy the fellowship and character of My disciples.
You should not remove yourself from the world with its immorality and corruption. I don't intend for you to take yourself out of the world or to isolate yourselves from the world (John 17:14-19). Instead, I call you through the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit to be light to the darkness of your world and to be salt to preserve the world from its rot and decay caused by sin (Matthew 5:13-16). For this to happen, you must be people of righteous character. Your lives and morals must be in tune with the character of your Father in heaven.

Paul's previous letter (see yesterday's note for more on this) had taught the Corinthian Christians to be separate from worldliness and immorality. He makes clear in the verses today what he means. Paul is not suggesting that they withdraw from the society around them, but that as part of My body, the church, they not live by the world's standards. There are moral standards for fellowship among My disciples. The Corinthian disciples needed to help each other live up to those standards. Rather than withdrawing from the sinful world, the Corinthian's call was to live as My people of righteous character and gracious compassion in the world to redeem the world. That manner of living is also My call to you today. Be a people of righteous character and gracious compassion both inside the fellowship of My people and also in your relationships with those who do not yet call on Me as their Lord.
Verses to Live

In My church, there will always be some people who decide to continue in some types of sins — people who at one level long to honor Me, but who decide to participate in something sinful. The goal is that both these willful sinners and those who sometimes stumble and sin be transformed to become more and more like Me (Romans 12:1-2; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18). So don't let each other settle down into sin and simply accept that sin. Love each other enough to work on rescuing each other from sin. I love what Jude wrote about this kind of support in his short little letter:

But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.

And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.

Now all glory to God, Who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault. All glory to him Who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.
(Jude 1:20-25 NLT)
Now for Paul's words to the Corinthians:
Because of my deep love for you, I must express my concern about the report brought to me regarding the lewd and immoral behavior exhibited in your community. This scandal has come to my attention because this kind of thing is unheard of even among the outsiders around us: I understand a man is having sexual relations with his father's wife. You have turned into an arrogant lot who refuse to see the tragedy right in front of your eyes and mourn for it. If you would face these hard realities, the one living in this sin would be removed from the community.

Despite the fact that I am not physically present with you, I am there in spirit and already have spoken judgment against the man who has engaged in this conduct. When you gather in the name of the Lord Jesus and I am present with you in spirit, and the infinite power of our Lord Jesus is present also, I direct you to release this man over to Satan so his rebellious nature will be destroyed and his spirit might be rescued in the day the Lord Jesus returns.

Your proud boasting in this matter is terrible. Don't you understand that the tiniest infraction can bring about an unwelcome chain of events? That just a little yeast causes all the dough to rise? Get rid of all the old yeast; then you'll become new dough, just as you are already a people without sin's leavening influence. You see, the Anointed One is our Passover lamb; He has been sacrificed for us. So let the real feast begin. Get rid of all the old yeast, the yeast of hatred and evil. Throw it out so we can feast on the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

In the letter I wrote to you previously, I made it clear that you are not to band together with those who have embraced immoral lives. Don't misunderstand; I'm not telling you to hole up and hunker down from the rest of the world. That's impossible. The world is filled with immoral people consumed by their desire for more; they steal from one another without hesitation and will worship man-made idols with no shame at all. If you attempted to avoid these people, you would have to leave the world itself. What I was saying is that you should not associate with someone who calls himself a brother or sister but lives contrary to all we stand for: committing immoral sexual acts, consumed with desire for more, worshiping tangible lifeless things, using profanity, drinking into oblivion, swindling and cheating others. Do not even sit at the table with a person like this. Why would I ever attempt to judge those outside the church? Aren't we called to judge those within the church? God judges the outsiders. Your job is this: "Expel the wicked from your own community."
(1 Corinthians 5:1-13)
Response in Prayer

Father, I will confess to You that I am not always focused in my discipleship. I am not always as passionate as I should be about reaching out to those who are wandering away and who are trapped in sin. I ask for tender boldness to empathize with them, but also to have the strength to call them home to You and to the life You want them to lead. Give me wisdom and a heart of love as I do this. I don't want to be self-righteous or arrogant, but full of compassion. Neither do I want to compromise Your call to holy living. I know how deeply You want Your "lost sheep" to be found and brought safely home. I ask for Your help in doing this, O LORD. In Jesus' name, I ask this. Amen.

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

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

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

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

Post  Admin on Fri 18 Aug 2017, 11:02 am

Scour Away the Filth" — A Year with Jesus for 08/18/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Faithful Follower,

Even when Paul first worked with the Corinthians, he sought to help them turn from the unbridled immorality that was a part of their city's culture. This lifestyle change was a predictable challenge that My new disciples faced in most places (1 Thessalonians 1:8-10; 1 Thessalonians 4:1-12).

The grip of their immoral past was hard to break. Many activities in Corinth were tied to the worship of idols and the pervasive paganism of the city. The Corinthians encountered cultic prostitution at the pagan temples. Meat bought in their city market was first sacrificed to the idols before being available for sale. Pagan celebrations involving sexual immorality and drunkenness were connected to feasts and trade guild meetings. Pagan celebrations and sacrifices went with athletic contests and theater productions.

Paul tried to teach these new Christians that their lives were to be holy. Their lives were to be lived in total dedication to honor Us — Father, Son, and Spirit. This sense of holy purpose meant their bodies were sacred and should be used to glorify Us (1 Corinthians 6:18-20). Paul had repeatedly taught them, both when physically present and through letters, about their need to practice holiness in all things. This teaching meant getting away and staying far away from sexual immorality, idolatry, and paganism.

In Paul's letter that you know as 1 Corinthians, he referred to a previous letter to the Corinthian Christians and his earlier teaching about avoiding immorality (1 Corinthians 5:9). That previous teaching was very similar to what you find in a passage from 2 Corinthians included in the verses below. As you read these verses, try to think through the implications of Paul's teachings for you in your culture. How will you apply these teachings to your world so saturated in sexual immorality, false religions, greed, and materialism?

How are you going to live as My holy person in your immoral culture and influence that culture for good?

How are you going to influence your culture while not letting the bad parts of your culture influence you?

As you live and serve Me in the culture around you, what are the limits of Christian fellowship?

These are hard questions. Rather than answer these questions for you, I am asking you to wrestle with them as you follow Me. I want your heart to belong to Me. If your heart belongs to Me, you will work through these questions seeking to honor Me with a holy life that demonstrates My compassionate concern for the lost. Think through what Paul wrote and see how his teachings apply to you. When you read his teachings this way, you will have more empathy for the Corinthians. You will get a clearer understanding of the challenges they faced in their day if they obeyed Paul's teaching. You will also be better prepared to face similar challenges in your day.

Verses to Live

How are you going to impact your culture with My character and compassion without getting entangled and soiled with its immorality?

In the verses below, you find two readings from Paul's letters to the Corinthians. The first passage is one verse from 1 Corinthians and refers to what Paul taught in a previous letter that he wrote the Christians in Corinth. The second section is from 2 Corinthians and addresses the same matters as referenced in the first passage. The final short paragraph is Paul's exhortation to the people based on what he had written in the previous verses. This part is at the heart of what I want you to incorporate into your life.

In the letter I wrote to you previously, I made it clear that you are not to band together with those who have embraced immoral lives.
(1 Corinthians 5:9)

Don't develop partnerships with those who are not followers of Jesus' teachings. For what real connection can exist between righteousness and rebellion? How can light participate in darkness? What harmony can exist between the Anointed and Satan? Do the faithful and the faithless have anything in common? Can the temple of God find common ground with idols? Don't you see that we house the temple of the living God within us? Remember when He said,
"I will make My home with them and walk among them.
I will be their God,
and they will be My people.

"So then turn away from them,
turn away and leave without looking back," says the Lord.

"Stay away from anything unclean, anything impure,
and I will welcome you.

"And I will be for you as a father,
and you will be for Me as sons and daughters,"
says the Lord Almighty!
Because we have these promises, dearly loved ones, out of respect for God we should scour the filth from our flesh and spirit and move toward perfect beauty and holiness.
(2 Corinthians 6:14-18; 2 Corinthians 7:1)
Response in Prayer

Father, make me Yours completely. Set me apart from those who do not know You. I want to display Your grace to others and live Your holiness before them. May my whole spirit, soul, and body be kept free from any sort of sin as I await the glorious coming of My Lord and Savior Jesus, the Anointed. You, O God, are faithful. I know that You can be trusted to make this happen in me to Your glory. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

This prayer is adapted from Paul's prayer for the Thessalonians in 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24.

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

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

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

Post  Admin on Thu 17 Aug 2017, 10:15 pm

Out of Phase" — A Year with Jesus for 08/17/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Servant of the LORD,

Yes, I have called you My sibling, My beloved, and My friend. I have even called you a child of the King of Glory and a child of your Father in heaven. Today, however, I call you a servant of the LORD. When LORD is used in your Bibles in all capital letters, the translators are referring to YHWH — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. YHWH is Our name in Hebrew and is sometimes translated as "I AM" in English Bibles (Exodus 3:14).

I could call you a bondservant or even a slave rather than simply a servant. These terms are tough ones and speak of hard service, but they indicate that I do want you committed to being a servant even when hardships are involved. Remember I demonstrated being a servant when I washed My disciples' feet in the upper room (John 13:1-17) and in many other ways. My ultimate demonstration of being a servant was when I died for you on the cross.

To be a servant like I demonstrated in My birth, life, and death, you must serve willingly. My earliest servants were not forced to minister and sacrifice. I called them to follow Me. By grace, I invited them into the Father's family. Each accepted his or her role as a servant voluntarily. Each saw the life I lived on earth and chose to follow Me. Each recognized My example and chose to serve others. (Of course, there were some who gave the appearance of following Me but actually rejected Me.)

I came to this world as a servant. I gave up heaven's glory for mortality. I left heaven's safety for human vulnerability. I stepped down from the throne of glory for the shame of a cross. I did it to serve the lost and also to serve you (Philippians 2:5-11). Those who led My followers after My ascension were also servants. They completely changed their lives. Many give up their lives in death because they followed Me to do My work in the world and serve lost humanity. Their lives were molded into the character and compassion of My life. Each of My apostles, except for the one who gave his heart to Satan (John 17:12), followed My example and was a sacrificial servant.

When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he had to defeat their false sense of self-importance. He had to confront their pride in believing that they had fully arrived spiritually. He had to help them understand that they had missed My greatness and had sunk into selfishness and worldly ambition. So after spending what now comprises three chapters in your Bibles trying to teach them that they had missed the mark on greatness, Paul then turned to examples. He pointed to his own life. He directed the Corinthians' attention to the example of My original apostles. He reminded them of the example of his beloved son in the faith, Timothy. All of these lived for Me and for others, not for themselves — so much so that Paul could say:

For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake.
(2 Corinthians 4:5 NIV)
Paul directed the Corinthians to think about the people in his examples because those people all had one thing in common: each of them was a servant. Paul held them up as examples because their lives were much more like My life than they were like the lives of the so-called "super-spirituals" who were causing problems in Corinth. The things these "super-spirituals" boasted about themselves were exactly opposite to the things they saw in Paul's life, in Timothy's life, in the apostles' lives, and in My life. Since I AM the prime example of spirituality, it wasn't Paul who was out of phase with greatness, but the prideful Corinthians!

As the Corinthians' "father in the faith," Paul wanted them to awaken from their arrogant stupor of pride. He wanted them to follow My example and the example of My emissaries. He wanted them to turn away from gratifying their own egos. You also need to recognize that greatness is not found in things that build your ego. Greatness is not found in status, wealth, a certain spiritual gift, high position, lofty titles, worldly prestige, or any earthly achievement.
Verses to Live

Since greatness is not found in human accolades, then where is true greatness found?

What are the qualities of greatness in My kingdom?

What does it really mean to be a servant?

Look at the list of things that were true of My emissaries (apostles) in the verses below. They faced these hardships out of love for Me. They risked their lives to share the Father's grace and the gift of the Holy Spirit with those who were lost. This concerted effort is true greatness — greatness, as I repeatedly said and demonstrated in My earthly ministry, that is found in those who are willing to pay the price to serve others for Me!

Rather than power brokers, think of us as servants of the Anointed One, the Liberating King, caretakers of the mysteries of God. Because we are in this particular role, it is especially important that we are people of fidelity and integrity. It makes little difference to me how you or any human court passes judgment on me. I even resist the temptation to compare myself to the ever-changing human standard. Although I am not aware of any flaw that might exclude me from this divine service, that's not the reason I stand acquitted — the only supreme judge, our Lord, will examine me in the proper time.

So resist the temptation to act as judges before all the evidence is in. When the Lord comes, He will draw our buried motives, thoughts, and deeds (even things we don't know or admit to ourselves) out of the dark shadows of our hearts into His light. When this happens, the voice of God will speak to each of us the only praise that will ever matter.

Right now, brothers and sisters, the best thing I can do for you is to apply these principles to the situation with Apollos and me. Maybe we can show you the meaning of the saying, "not beyond the things written." If you learn that, perhaps none of you will swell with pride because you fall into the seductive trap of pitting one against the other. Is there any reason to consider yourselves better than others? What do you have that you didn't receive? If you received it as a gift, why do you boast like it is something you achieved on your own.

Now let's see if I have it straight. You suppose that you already have all you need. You already are rich and prosperous. And without us you've already begun to reign like kings. To be honest, I wish you did reign so that we could reign with you because it seems to me that God has put His emissaries [apostles] at the end of the line, like convicts in their final walk to certain death. We have become a spectacle to the rest of the world — to all people and heaven's messengers. We are nothing but fools for the cause of the Anointed One while you are wise in Him. Am I right?

We are feeble and tired while you are mighty and full of life. You are well respected by others while we're treated as contemptuous creatures by pretty much everyone everywhere. Up to this very minute, we are famished, we are thirsty, and our clothes are shabby, practically rotted to pieces. We are homeless, hapless wanderers. But still we labor, working with our hands to meet our needs because, despite all of this, when a fist is raised against us, we respond with a blessing; when we face violence and persecution, we stay on mission; and when others choose taunts and slander against us, we speak words of encouragement and reconciliation. We're treated as the scum of the earth — and I am not talking in the past tense; I mean today! We're the scraps of society, nothing more than the foulest human rubbish.

I am not telling you all this so that you'll feel guilty or be ashamed of how you have acted. I am only trying to warn you, just as a father would warn his children. You may have 10,000 instructors in the faith of the Anointed One, but you have only one father. In Jesus the Anointed I have become your father through my efforts in spreading the good news.

So as your father in the faith, I want to encourage you to live as I have lived. Imitate my life. This is one of the reasons I sent Timothy to be with you. He is my dearly loved and faithful child in the Lord. His mission is to remind you of the way I experience life in the Anointed. In all the churches everywhere I go, I teach the same lessons the same way, and I live out those lessons.

But the reality is, some of you have put yourselves on pedestals and live like you are high above the rest — it's as if you assumed I would not return to confront your misguided pride. But I am coming. Lord willing, I will be with you soon. Then I will know what power is backing those arrogant folks and their words. The kingdom of God is not a realm of grandiose talk; it is a realm of power. So tell me what you want. Should I visit you, rod in hand ready to discipline a crew of self-important people; or should I embrace you, love you, and gently teach you as we celebrate the blessings of God together?
(1 Corinthians 4:1-21)
Response in Prayer

O Father in heaven, forgive me for wanting to be recognized as important. Forgive me for not entrusting my value to You. Forgive me for running after the same vain sense of importance as others in the world are chasing. I see how hollow their achievements ultimately prove to be at fulfilling them. Holy Spirit, convict me and help me value those who serve the Lord Jesus with all that they are and do and say. I want to be a willing servant. I want to follow in the footsteps of the apostles, Paul, and Timothy. Most of all, Lord Jesus, I want to follow Your example of loving and selfless service. Lord Jesus, make me a servant. Please make me like You! Amen.



Today and over many months, our brothers and sisters in Iraq, Syria, and many other places in the Middle East and Africa have had to make the ultimate sacrifice for their faith. They have been servants to the end. Some have been crucified. Some have seen their children beheaded before they were martyred. Many others have had their earthly livelihoods destroyed. Please take the time to go to Voice of the Martyrs and learn more about their plight and pray about ways you can help. Please also remember our translators in the Middle East who serve to make our resource Verse of the Day available in Arabic, Urdu, and Farsi, at the risk of their lives. Thank you!

Phil Ware and the Heartlight.org, VerseoftheDay.com, and aYearwithJesus.com team.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

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

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

Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.

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

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

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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Wed 16 Aug 2017, 9:32 pm

"My Precious Temple!" — A Year with Jesus for 08/16/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

As Paul used his letter to address the rivalries and divisions among My followers in Corinth, he pointed to four truths that I want you to remember. You find these truths in the verses for today. The fourth one is most sobering and important. Please take it — and take all of them — to heart. Here are the four truths for today.

First, division and rivalries in a group of My disciples show My people are living by their worldly instincts rather than being led by the Holy Spirit. No matter how mature My followers claim to be, division shows that they are seeking their importance from the same things as worldly people who "live by the standards of this rebellious and broken world."

Second, claiming to be part of an important group in My movement doesn't make a person any more important than other believers. Those groups whose leaders are well known are not more important than groups whose leaders are unknown. The greatest in My Kingdom will always be a servant. Don't ever judge people's value as My followers by their leaders, their founders, or their group's reputation.

Third, the Father will judge everyone's work when I return. My disciples must refrain from trying to do the Father's job. If someone bases his or her ministry on Me and the truth about Me, then you can know that person is truly seeking to be My servant. Furthermore, you shouldn't try to put a value on one of My servants by comparing that servant to another one of My servants.

Fourth, when people gather together into a church family, they are precious for at least two reasons: They are not only My bodily presence in the world, but they are also a holy temple where We — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — live. Everyone who is a part of a congregation was bought at the price of My life. Each has a special relationship with Us. Together, even with each one's flaws, each is a sacred place where We dwell. So anyone who destroys the unity of Our precious people and our spiritual family will face destruction for what he or she has done. My church, My bodily presence in the world, and My people are that precious to Me.

Verses to Live

Paul's words below are his plea for the Corinthians not to allow any division to continue and destroy the temple of God. These are strong, but needed words both in his day and in your day as well.

My brothers and sisters, I cannot address you as people who walk by the Spirit; I have to speak to you as people who tend to think in merely human terms, as spiritual infants in the Anointed One. I nursed you with milk, as a mother would feed her baby, because you were not, and still are not, developed enough to digest complex spiritual food. And here's why: you are still living in the flesh, not in the Spirit. How do I know? Are you fighting with one another? Are you comparing yourselves to others and becoming consumed with jealousy? Then it sounds like you are living in the flesh, no different from the rest who live by the standards of this rebellious and broken world. If one of you is saying, "I am with Paul," and the other says, "I am with Apollos," aren't you like everybody else? So who is Apollos really? Or Paul for that matter? We are only servants, agents who led you to faith, and the Lord commissioned each of us to do a particular job.

My job was to plant the seed, and Apollos was called to water it. Any growth comes from God, so the ones who water and plant have nothing to brag about. God, Who causes the growth, is the only One Who matters. The one who plants is no greater than the one who waters; both will be rewarded based on their work. We are gardeners and field workers laboring with God. You are the vineyard, the garden, the house where God dwells. Like a skilled architect and master builder, I laid a foundation based upon God's grace given to me. Now others will come along to build on the foundation. Each serves in a different way and is to build upon it with great care. There is, in fact, only one foundation, and no one can lay any foundation other than Jesus the Anointed. As others build on the foundation (whether with gold, silver, gemstones, wood, hay, or straw), the quality of each person's work will be revealed in time as it is tested by fire. If a man's work stands the test of fire, he will be rewarded. If a man's work is consumed by the fire, his reward will be lost but he will be spared, rescued from the fire. Don't you understand that together you form a temple to the living God and His Spirit lives among you? If someone comes along to corrupt, vandalize, and destroy the temple of God, you can be sure that God will see to it that he meets destruction because the temple of God is sacred. You, together, are His temple.
(1 Corinthians 3:1-17)
Response in Prayer

O Father, I remember Jesus' prayers on the night He was betrayed. He prayed, "Abba Father, ... I want Your will to be done, not Mine." He also prayed this prayer for us: "I pray that they will all be one ... so that the world will believe You sent Me." What His prayers tell me, dear Father, is that I must seek Your will above my own will. I must seek to maintain unity in Your spiritual family so we can demonstrate Your love in sending Jesus. So I ask, dear Father, for strength to do both. I want to do Your will no matter the cost. I long to help our church become a place where You delight to dwell. In Jesus' name, I ask for Your grace and help. Amen.


Note: The scripture quotations in the prayer are from Mark 14:36 NLT and John 17:21 NLT.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

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

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

Post  Admin on Mon 14 Aug 2017, 9:34 pm


"The Father's Faithfulness Is Greater Than My Disciples' Failures" — A Year with Jesus for 08/14/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved of the Father,

While Paul was in Ephesus, he wrote a letter to the Corinthians to follow-up on his time in Corinth. Your book of 1 Corinthians is actually his second letter to them (1 Corinthians 5:9). The new believers in Corinth were in a seaport city on a narrow strip of land with water on two sides. A major highway ran through their city. This strategic location is a powerful reminder of the important influence I wanted My disciples to have in Corinth. Although they were surrounded by immorality, My new disciples were strategically located in a place to impact the world of commerce, travel, and religion with the truth of My gospel.

Becoming a disciple in such a place was far easier than living as a disciple on a daily basis. Strong forces pulled on My followers. City life in Corinth included all sorts of distractions. Unrestrained immorality and materialism were accepted as the normal way of life. Corrupt religious practices, cult prostitution, religious enthusiasm, rivalry over social status, passionate individualism, battles over gender superiority, racial prejudice, bigotry, and genuine poverty filled Corinth's streets. You won't have to dig very far into Paul's letters to the Corinthians to discover that My new followers in Corinth struggled with each of these challenges.

One of the qualities about 1 and 2 Corinthians that makes these letters so important for you today is that My disciples in Corinth had many problems that are also typical of your time. As you read through Paul's letters to the Corinthians, you might wonder how this fragile and diverse set of house churches could survive. They had rivalries over which group was most acceptable and important. Conflicts and disrespect between men and women impacted their worship and daily lives. Incest and other forms of sexual immorality marred the character of these people who were seeking to make Me their Lord. Lawsuits between members tore at the fabric of their unity. Disregard of poor members by the rich members during their love feast meal destroyed the character of what was supposed to be Holy Communion. Some were getting drunk and gorging on food while others were being totally left out of the fellowship. Petty rivalries over spiritual gifts caused arguments over who was most spiritual. Some had even lost faith in My resurrection. The result was a large pagan city with several house churches of believers who felt that they had little in common with each other except that they called on My name and called themselves My followers.

Today, however, I want you to notice the way the apostle Paul began this letter. Examine particularly the highlighted parts of the scripture below. First, remember that every person born of water and spirit (John 3:3-7; Titus 3:3-7; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11) has a special relationship with Me. The new believers lived in a region torn by division, corrupted by immorality, and lost in darkness. Those around them had lost hope in the future and so they lived for the moment. Particularly in this kind of world, everyone who is My follower must be regarded as especially precious, even if that person has forgotten part of the truth or has never fully understood the truth. Remember my parable of the shepherd who went in search of his lost sheep (Matthew 18:10-14; Luke 15:4-7) and other similar parables (e.g., Luke 15:8-32) that talk about My desire to reclaim those who are Mine.

The Corinthian house churches struggled with division and immorality. Paul knew all about their problems. Their problems created great anguish and concern in his heart for them. He had invested over two years of his life in converting and discipling them. He knew how fragile their fellowship was. He was fully aware of how far their daily lives were from the high calling that I had for them. Nevertheless — and please hear this beloved — each of My disciples, no matter how flawed, was still precious to Paul and each is always precious to Me. There were still reasons to rejoice in these people who gave up so much to follow Me. Paul still had great reasons to give thanks for them and to continue to pray for them.

Also, notice the undergirding faith that gave Paul hope. He believed that something good could come out of the messes the Corinthians had made of their lives and their fellowship. Paul believed that the future of their fellowship was not bound by their current failures but rooted in the Father's faithfulness.

Let the words found in the central part of the verses below remind you of a truth that you must never forget:

He [God the Father] will preserve you; and on that day, He will consider you faultless. Count on this: God is faithful and in His faithfulness called you out into an intimate relationship with His Son, our Lord Jesus the Anointed [Me].
Verses to Live

Paul was not blind to the problems that existed among My people in Corinth. However, he did not let his disappointment due to their flaws and failures distract him from My disciples' importance to Me. He didn't forget My power at work within these new disciples to make all things new.

Paul acknowledged the divisions in My Corinthian disciples shortly after affirming how precious they were to him. His words of affirmation come first as he declared his confidence in Our ability to be faithful and to bring them to be with Us. So don't forget to rejoice over those who have come to Me. Don't forget Paul's example of working with the Corinthians, and believe that We can do more than human eyes can see and human hearts can imagine (Ephesians 3:14-21)!

Paul, called out by God's will to be an emissary for Jesus the Anointed, along with brother Sosthenes, to God's church gathering in the city of Corinth. As people who are united with Jesus, the Anointed One, you have been set apart for service. You are all called into community to live as saints with all who invoke the name of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed.

I pray that God our Father and the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, will shower you with grace and peace.

I am continuously thanking my God for you when I think about the grace God has offered you in Jesus the Anointed. In this grace, God is enriching every aspect of your lives by gifting you with the right words to say and everything you need to know. In this way, your life story confirms the life story of the Anointed One, so you are not ill-equipped or slighted on any necessary gifts as you patiently anticipate the day when our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, is revealed. Until that final day, He will preserve you; and on that day, He will consider you faultless. Count on this: God is faithful and in His faithfulness called you out into an intimate relationship with His Son, our Lord Jesus the Anointed.

My brothers and sisters, I urge you by the name of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed, to come together in agreement. Do not allow anything or anyone to create division among you. Instead, be restored, completely fastened together with one mind and shared judgment. I have heard troubling reports from Chloe's people that you, my siblings, are consumed by fighting and petty disagreements. What I have heard is that each of you is taking sides, saying, "I am with Paul," or "I am with Apollos," or "I am with Cephas," or "I am with the Anointed One." Has the Anointed One been split up into many small pieces? Do you think Paul was crucified for you? Were you ceremonially washed through baptism into the name of Paul? Absolutely not!

Now I am thankful that I baptized only Crispus and Gaius, so none of you can falsely declare you were baptized in my name. Now wait, as I think about it, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; if there are others in your community whom I baptized, I cannot recall at this moment. The mission given to me by the Anointed One is not about baptism, but about preaching good news. The point is not to impress others by spinning an eloquent, intellectual argument; that type of rhetorical showboating would only nullify the cross of the Anointed.
(1 Corinthians 1:1-17)
Response in Prayer

O Father in heaven, I confess that there are times when I grow discouraged with the division, rivalry, and immorality among Your followers. These failures make it more difficult to share the truth with skeptical outsiders and open Your people up to the charge of being hypocrites. So please give me patience as well as determination to be transformed into the person the Holy Spirit is working to help me become. Also, dear Father, please help me have that same patience and determination with others as Paul did with the Corinthians. Most of all, dear Father, I need the Holy Spirit to fan into flame my hope in Your faithfulness to make us more than we appear we could ever be! In Jesus' precious and glorious name, I pray. Amen.

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

Post  Admin on Sun 13 Aug 2017, 9:16 pm

Ephesus!" — A Year with Jesus for 08/13/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved,

In today's reading, you will find Paul arriving in Ephesus. Ephesus was a remarkable and important city in Paul's world. But the people of Ephesus needed My power and My grace.

In Paul's time, Ephesus was one of the four largest cities in the Mediterranean region, which were Rome, Ephesus, Antioch of Syria, and Alexandria in Egypt. Along with Jerusalem (the center of Judaism), Luke emphasized the first three of these cities as he wrote the book of Acts. Ephesus was a large, multi-cultural, busy city, a major banking center, a town with a harbor and on major trade routes, and a city full of crime. Ephesus was rampant with sexual perversion. It was deeply impacted by a fascination with all sorts of superstitions, demonic religions, black magic, and mystery cults. You can probably imagine similar cities in your day.

Ephesus was a place of financial power with an interest in spiritual power. What you see in Luke's account is reflected in Paul's words to these same believers several years later:

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.
(Ephesians 6:10-12)
Luke carefully frames Paul's visit to Ephesus with an emphasis on the Holy Spirit. At the beginning, he records Paul's asking:
"Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?"
At the end, Luke wrote:
The Holy Spirit confirmed that he should first travel through Macedonia and Achaia and then return to Jerusalem.
Luke's account makes clear what Paul emphasized while he was in Ephesus. While there are many demonic powers and religions that touch your world, there is only one true and living God. That true and living God is known as YAHWEH — YHWH in Hebrew — Father, Son, and Spirit. We are above all other spiritual powers and are directly involved in the lives of all those who belong to Us. We live in them through the presence of the Holy Spirit Who is in them and guides them. I revealed YHWH through My time on earth. You can find life in YHWH through Me. No person and not even another spirit can control the power of YHWH.

In the middle of Luke's account, he showed us an example of the world of the occult and demonic spirits. I love the way Luke described an encounter with an evil spirit and finished with this summary:
Everyone was shocked and realized that the name of Jesus was indeed powerful and praiseworthy. .. Again, word spread, and the message of the Lord overcame resistance and spread powerfully.
Paul will have more interaction with the people and the evil spiritual powers in Ephesus on a return trip to Ephesus and will also run into problems caused by people from Ephesus in a later trip to Jerusalem. For now, you just need to realize that a spiritual battle for the eternal destinies of the people of Ephesus and Asia Minor had begun in earnest. Ephesus was a place that would oppose Me with evil spiritual power and evil determination. Nevertheless, My messengers were not afraid to speak the truth of the Father's grace, My power, and the Holy Spirit's guiding care in this place that desperately needed it.
Verses to Live

All who belong to the Father and who are My true disciples are filled, empowered, and led by the Holy Spirit. You will need this power as you face the times in which you now live. But remember, "[T]he Spirit Who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world" (1 John 4:4 NLT). These words were written by John years later to Christians in Asia Minor where Ephesus was located! Paul would say it this way in his letter to the Ephesians:

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ.
(Ephesians 1:3 NLT)
So as you read, recognize you are entering the world of spiritual warfare; but don't be afraid! I have overcome!
While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul's overland journey brought him back to Ephesus. He encountered a group of about a dozen disciples there.

Paul:
Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?
John's Disciples:
We've never heard about the Holy Spirit.
Paul:
Well then, what kind of ceremonial washing through baptism did you receive?
John's Disciples:
We received the ritual cleansing of baptism that John taught.
Paul:
John taught the truth — that people should be baptized with renewed thinking and turn toward God. But he also taught that the people should believe in the One Whose way he was preparing, that is, Jesus the Anointed.
As soon as they heard this, they were baptized, this time in the name of our Lord Jesus. When Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them in the same way the original disciples experienced at Pentecost: they spoke in tongues and prophesied.

For three months, Paul continued his standard practice: he went week by week to the synagogue, speaking with great confidence, arguing with great persuasiveness, proclaiming the kingdom of God. Once again, some members of the synagogue refused to believe and insulted the Way publicly before the whole synagogue community. Paul withdrew and took those with him who had become disciples. For the next two years, he used the public lecture hall of Tyrannus, presenting the Word of the Lord every day, debating with all who would come. As a result, everyone in the region, whether Jews or Greeks, heard the message. Meanwhile, God did amazing miracles through Paul. People would take a handkerchief or article of clothing that had touched Paul's skin and bring it to their sick friends or relatives, and the patients would be cured of their diseases or released from the evil spirits that oppressed them.

Some itinerant Jewish exorcists noticed Paul's success in this regard, so they tried to use the name of Jesus, the King, in an exorcism they were performing.

Imagine this: There are seven of them, all sons of a Jewish chief priest named Sceva, gathered around a demonized man in a house.

One of the Jewish Exorcists:
I command you to depart, by the Jesus proclaimed by Paul!
Evil Spirit:
Jesus I know. Paul I know. But who are you?
Then the man leaps up, attacks them all, rips off their clothing, and beats them so badly that they run out of the house stark naked and covered in bruises.

Word of this strange event spread throughout Ephesus among both Jews and Greeks. Everyone was shocked and realized that the name of Jesus was indeed powerful and praiseworthy. As a result, a number of people involved in various occult practices came to faith. They confessed their secret practices and rituals. Some of them had considerable libraries about their magic arts; they piled up their books and burned them publicly. Someone estimated the value of the books to be 50,000 silver coins. Again, word spread, and the message of the Lord overcame resistance and spread powerfully.

Eventually Paul felt he should move on again. The Holy Spirit confirmed that he should first travel through Macedonia and Achaia and then return to Jerusalem.
(Acts 19:1-21)
Response in Prayer

O Father, give me the strength to trust that Your power is released to me as I call on the name of the Lord Jesus. Help me to trust that, through the blessing of the Holy Spirit, You will empower, guide, sustain, convict, motivate, and enable me to live for You in my world that is growing more and more hostile to Jesus and His people. I pray this in Jesus' powerful name. Amen.

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

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

Post  Admin on Wed 09 Aug 2017, 7:43 pm

My Coming Again" — A Year with Jesus for 08/08/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Fellow Heir of Glory, 

As God's child and as My younger sibling in the Father's family of grace, you are an heir of glory. The glory that I enjoy with the Father will one day be yours also. My coming again is on your horizon. I will come again in the glory of My Father and the angels. This glorious day is your future. Glory awaits! 

Paul wanted the new believers in Thessalonica to realize that My "coming" in glory is their future. He wanted them to remember that they will celebrate Me as their "coming" King Who returns in heaven's glory. They needed to be reminded that they will be reunited with all those who have followed Me as their Lord throughout all time, and they will be vindicated for their faith in Me. 

The Thessalonian disciples had several in their number who had died since Paul left. They weren't worried about them experiencing heaven, but they were worried that their loved ones would miss My "coming" in glory — the big celebration when I return in My heavenly glory for all those who belong to Me. (The Greek word Paul chose to speak of My "coming" again was parousia, a word used in Paul's time for the joyous return of a king from his victory. My "coming" is sometimes called "the rapture" in your day.) 

The first paragraph in the verses below focuses on the glorious reunion of all who belong to Me when I come again. Those who are still alive when I return will be changed and will join those whom I have raised and given glorious, immortal bodies, and both groups will join Me in My glory forever. (For more on immortal resurrection bodies, see 1 Corinthians 15:50-58.) While you grieve for those who have died, you don't grieve like those who have no hope. Your being with Me and with all those who belong to Me — a great grand reunion of all those in My family — is certain. Glory is your destination. Joy is the language of My "coming" for you! These promises are very useful to encourage and comfort each other! 

In the second paragraph, Paul is talking about the same event, but from a totally different perspective. My "coming" is glorious for those who belong to Me, but the second paragraph looks at My "coming" again from the vantage point of those who are not ready. 

My "coming" should motivate you, My disciple, to live in ways that prepare you for My return. While you can't know the time of My "coming," you shouldn't be surprised because you are purposely living for Me and awaiting that day with longing. You don't take part in the works and the life of darkness because you are "all children of light." These insights should also give you a firm basis for your own encouragement and comfort, as well as a foundation to encourage each other to faithfulness, vigilance, and holiness. 

The last paragraph is from Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians. Persecution, opposition, criticism, and false teaching had all intensified for this band of new disciples. They needed to be reminded that their suffering was worth the short-term pain for the eternal gain — victory when I return and the eternal glory they will share with Me. Paul wanted them to wake up and get themselves ready for the battles ahead, but to do so knowing their victory is assured, and their sacrifices are worthwhile because of their ultimate glory. I will bring justice and victory to them. I will also bring salvation in every sense of that concept, to them and to you.

Verses to Live

My "coming" in glory is much debated, sometimes feared, and often ignored. I hope none of these three reactions is your reaction. I want you to anticipate the great things that will be yours when I return in glory. I want you to find comfort in knowing that what you do for Me is never in vain. I want you to have a sense of urgency in living for Me because I am always ready to step back into history and return for those who are My own. So please read through these related, but distinctly different, teaching sections about My return. Know that I AM "coming" back for you and for those who love Me and live their lives for Me!

Brothers and sisters, we want you to be fully informed about those who have fallen asleep in death so that you will not be overwhelmed with grief like those who live outside of the true hope. Here's what we believe: since Jesus died and rose again, in the same way, God will bring with Jesus all who have died through Him. For we can say all this to you confidently because it is the word of the Lord: we who are still alive and left behind when the Lord comes will not precede those who have fallen asleep in death. On that day, with a command that thunders into the world, with a voice of a chief heavenly messenger, and with a blast of God's trumpet, the Lord Himself will descend from heaven; and all those who died in the Anointed One, our Liberating King, will rise from the dead first. Then we who are alive and left behind will be snatched up together with them into the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. This is how we, the resurrected and the living, will be with Him forever. So comfort one another with this hope, and encourage one another with these words. 

Now, brothers and sisters, you don't need further instruction from us or anyone else for that matter regarding how the seasons and times will play out. That's because you know the truth well enough. The day of the Lord will race onto the scene and surprise us like a thief in the night. People will be going about their business chanting, "All is well! All is at peace!" and in the next moment, ruin and destruction will suddenly seize them as labor pains grip a woman about to give birth; for them there will be no escape. My brothers and sisters, it will be different for you. You do not dwell in the darkness, so that day will not surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light. You are sons and daughters of the day. We are not created of night, nor are we owned by darkness. So then let's not give in to sleep or wander around in a stupor as some do, but let's stay awake and in control. You see, sleepers sleep through the night, and drunkards drink the night away; but since we belong to the day, we should stay sober and in control, covered with a breastplate of faith and love and a helmet of the hope of salvation. For God has not destined us, His chosen, to face His wrath but to be the heirs of salvation through our Lord Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King, Who died for us. So regardless of whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. So support one another. Keep building each other up as you have been doing. 
(1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11) 

Brothers and sisters, we cannot help but thank God for you, which is only appropriate because your faith is growing and expanding and because the love demonstrated by each and every one of you is overflowing for one another. So, of course, we've proudly bragged about you within circles of God's people at other churches near and far because, even in the grip of much persecution and affliction, you've stood firm in your faith and have persevered. Your sufferings prove that God's judgment is right! The result: your sufferings have made you worthy — worthy of the kingdom of God, which is the very reason why you are suffering in the first place! It is only right that God would repay with trouble those who have troubled you and give relief to all of you still bandaging your wounds, as well as to all the rest of us. On that day — when the clouds draw back displaying His powerful heavenly messengers in a fiery blaze, Jesus the Lord will appear from heaven dealing out perfect justice to anyone who doesn't know God and anyone who disobeys the good news of our Lord Jesus. And what's to become of them? They'll pay for what they've done; their punishment will be eternal destruction. And what's worse? They'll be banished from the Lord's presence and glorious power. On that day when He comes, all the saints in heaven and on earth will celebrate the glory of His power, and all who believe will stand and be amazed — this includes you because you believed us when we testified on His behalf. All this is why we are constantly praying for you, so God will make you worthy of the great calling you have received from Him and will give you the power to accomplish every good intention and work of faith. Then the great name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified through your lives, and you will be glorified in Him according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, our Liberating King. 
(2 Thessalonians 1:3-12)
Response in Prayer

Almighty Father, LORD of grace and mercy, thank You for all that You have done to redeem me from sin and death. I trust that my life and future are in Your hands. I trust that Jesus will return in glory and bring me into Your presence in glory. Thank You for such a glorious future. Help me live with urgency, knowing that Jesus is ready to step back into history and that His return is certain. I ask this in the name of my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.

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


"Stand Firm" — A Year with Jesus for 08/09/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Believer, 

Paul was confident that he taught the truth I wanted the Thessalonians to know. He claimed the authority of an apostle, an emissary sent by Me, yet he ministered with the loving touch of a tender parent (1 Thessalonians 2:4-12) and a protective shepherd. Paul was aware that there were many who would steer these new disciples astray with false teaching or use persecution to try to intimidate these new believers so that they would abandon their faith. The Thessalonians faced both of these forms of the evil one's opposition to their faith, yet there were still faithful disciples there! 

Paul lived in the same world as these disciples did. He also faced bitter opposition from false teachers, and he endured persecution from opponents to My message. So while he was confident in his authority as an apostle and teacher, he also recognized his own need for the prayer support of these new believers. 

As Paul wrote to the Thessalonians a second time, the intensity of every issue was turned up a notch or two compared to when he wrote his first letter to them. Persecution was worse. False teaching was more apparent. Laziness and idleness among believers were worse. Paul's authority and motives were more deeply questioned. Questions about My coming in glory still remained. But Paul carried his loving and supportive tone throughout his second letter. His confidence was in Our — Father, Son, and Spirit's — work among these new believers. Paul was quick to affirm the good things these new disciples were doing even as he acknowledged the difficult things they were facing and the hurtful things they had done. 

Underneath Paul's message, he pointed to three things he trusted:

His confidence in the message he preached and taught: "[A]ll you need to do now is stand firm and hold tight to the line of teachings we have passed on to you, whether in person or in a letter."
His confidence in the Father's work: "[T]he Lord is true to His promises; He will hold you up and guard you against the evil one. We do not doubt the Lord's intentions for you..."
His confidence in these new believers: "[W]e are confident that you are carrying out, and will continue to carry out, the commands we are sending your way."
As you look at the challenges to faith in your time, what is the basis of your confidence? How are you going to help encourage the faith of those new disciples around you and those whose faith is weak or beginning to fail? I want you to do more than see what Paul did to bless these new disciples; I want you to be looking for new or struggling disciples to encourage and bless!
Verses to Live

Feel the love and the longing Paul has for these new believers as he writes them. Paul fills this letter with words of assurance, challenge, comfort, and confidence.

We cannot help but thank God for you at all times, because from the beginning He handpicked you for salvation through the Spirit's sanctifying work and your belief in the truth. He called you to this when we shared our good news with you. Now you can take part in the glory of our Lord Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King. So, brothers and sisters, all you need to do now is stand firm and hold tight to the line of teachings we have passed on to you, whether in person or in a letter. 
(2 Thessalonians 2:13-15) 

Brothers and sisters, having shared all this, let me ask you to pray for us. Pray that this message of the Lord will spread quickly and receive the praise and respect it deserves from others as it has with you. Pray also that we would all be rescued from the snares of harmful, wicked people — after all, not all people are believing. Still, the Lord is true to His promises; He will hold you up and guard you against the evil one. We do not doubt the Lord's intentions for you; we are confident that you are carrying out, and will continue to carry out, the commands we are sending your way. 
(2 Thessalonians 3:1-4)
Response in Prayer

Father, I am touched by Paul's way of speaking to these new believers. I am reminded of several new believers that I need to encourage and support as they seek to grow in Jesus. Open my eyes to see new or struggling believers You want me to encourage and bless. Spirit, please give me the right attitude and the right words and demeanor to help them. I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.

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

Post  Admin on Mon 31 Jul 2017, 11:26 am

Guidance for Seeking Hearts" — A Year with Jesus for 07/31/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Follower, 

I promised My followers that the Holy Spirit would guide them in their witness to the nations (Acts 1:8). Today, I want to talk to you about an example of that guidance. I also want to show you an occasion when this guidance produced fruit in places that Paul and his missionary team had not planned to go. Closed doors and changed plans are not necessarily reasons for discouragement or a sense of failure! 

The Spirit guided the mission efforts of My first disciples. The Spirit indicated that Barnabas and Paul should be sent on the first missionary journey (Acts 13:1-3). The Holy Spirit helped the church decide what to do about welcoming Gentile converts they brought to Me in Antioch and on their first journey (Acts 15:1-35). My church was growing and reaching out to the lost in more areas. Meanwhile, the Holy Spirit guided Paul and his partners Silas and Timothy in the direction and to the places they needed to go on their second journey. Part of the way through this journey, they were kept from going to their intended destinations. Instead, Paul had a vision that a man from Macedonia invited them to come to Macedonia and help. Although sharing My story was challenging almost everywhere they went, they also enjoyed success essentially everywhere they went. What began as frustration and closed doors ended up as great victories for the kingdom of God! 

My disciples in every era can become discouraged when they have a plan to carry out My mission, and their work is thwarted at every turn. Please read carefully what happens in today's verses. Paul and his team didn't get to go where they thought they should go as the door to these places was shut by the Holy Spirit. Instead, I opened another door to go into Europe — Macedonia, Achaia, and Greece. People were waiting to have the message shared with them in these places. Paul and his team couldn't foresee this opportunity, but I knew and yearned for these people to find My grace! Philippi was one of those places where this was true. 

Lydia and those in her household who worked for her in her fine fabric business were some of those people whose hearts were yearning for My grace. In Philippi, Paul continued his strategy of going "first to the Jew, then to the Gentile" (Romans 1:16 NIV). There was no synagogue, so he went to the Jewish place of prayer by the river. Lydia and her household were there. They heard My message from Paul. They believed that message and were baptized. 

Their hearts were ready for the gospel. They not only responded to the message, but they also opened their lives up to work for the sake of the gospel. Lydia offered her house to be the place for the missionary team to stay and also for this new church to meet. More became My disciples in Philippi in the days that followed Lydia's conversion, but her story is enough for Me to make My point to you today. Remember what I said earlier to the disciples:

Here's the knowledge you need: you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. And you will be My witnesses, first here in Jerusalem, then beyond to Judea and Samaria, and finally to the farthest places on earth. 
(Acts 1:8)
Sharing My message does not depend just on you and your plans. It's about My guidance and power given to you through the Holy Spirit along with your willingness to respond to the Spirit's leading.
Verses to Live

Please don't become discouraged when you find closed doors. Some doors the evil one closes. Some I close for strategic reasons. Trust in this: I know those who are seeking Me. I long to get My people into position to share My grace with these seekers. Don't let closed doors dishearten you. Instead, seek the Spirit's guidance and trust that I will get you to the place and the people at the time that is most effective in sharing My grace. This trust was true in Philippi in Paul's day. This confidence is also true for you in your day!

Leaving there [Derbe and Lystra], now accompanied by Timothy, they [Paul, Silas, and Timothy] delivered to the churches in each town the decisions and instructions given by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. The churches were strengthened in the faith by their visit and kept growing in numbers on a daily basis. 

They sensed the Holy Spirit telling them not to preach their message in Asia at this time, so they traveled through Phrygia and Galatia. They came near Mysia and planned to go into Bithynia, but again they felt restrained from doing so by the Spirit of Jesus. So they bypassed Mysia and went down to Troas. That night Paul had a vision in which a Macedonian man was pleading with him. 

Macedonian Man:
Come over to Macedonia! Come help us!
This vision convinced us all that God was calling us to bring the good news to that region. 

We set sail from the port city of Troas, first stopping in Samothrace, then the next day in Neapolis, finally arriving in Philippi, a Roman colony and one of Macedonia's leading cities. We stayed in Philippi for several days. On the Sabbath day, we went outside the city walls to the nearby river, assuming that some Jewish people might be gathering for prayer. We found a group of women there, so we sat down and spoke to them. One of them, Lydia, was a business woman originally from Thyatira. She made a living buying and selling fine purple fabric. She was a true worshiper of God and listened to Paul with special interest. The Lord opened her heart to take in the message with enthusiasm. She and her whole household were... washed through baptism. 

Lydia:
If you believe I'm truly faithful to the Lord, please, you must come and stay at my home.
We couldn't turn down her invitation. 
(Acts 16:4-15)
Response in Prayer

O Father, guide my steps, lead my heart, and open my eyes to Your opportunities to reach people who are hungering and thirsting to know Your grace. Don't let me be discouraged by periods of rejection or opposition. Keep the fire in me alive during those times when my plans fail, and I find it hard to find Your way forward. I want to believe that You still lead Your people to bring Your grace to others, but please, O LORD, help my unbelief. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

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

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

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

Post  Admin on Sat 15 Jul 2017, 10:31 pm

Tested and Proven Character" — A Year with Jesus for 07/15/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Faithful Follower, 

About the same time Paul was trying to help the Galatian believers understand grace, My half-brother James was working with believers around Jerusalem and writing to those who had been in Jerusalem but now were scattered around the world. James had to emphasize the importance of putting faith into practice. While their emphases are different, Paul and James shared a common theme:

For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love. 
(Galatians 5:6)
They both were trying to help Christians face three primary challenges:
Standing up faithfully under trials and temptations.
Correctly understanding grace to mean that they had to be people of righteous character and gracious compassion.
Treating each other as brothers and sisters, giving grace regardless of social position.
James' first few paragraphs in his letter on how to live godly lives contain these themes. So you shouldn't be surprised that James' writing has very practical teaching for everyday godly living. While James' writing is sometimes called a letter, it reads more like a tract or study guide about wise and godly living. Regardless of what you want to call James' writing, His message has resonated in the hearts of My disciples over the centuries. 

Some, however, have tried to put what James wrote about godly living at odds with what Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians. However, I want you to see these two pieces of Scripture as complementary to each other. Use the good Jewish practice of examining what each says based on the principles implicit in "on the one hand, but then on the other hand." You will find these two letters to be quite powerful and practical when read together. 

I want you to pay attention to the key areas of focus in James' opening paragraphs:
Trials, tests, and hardships are difficult, but you can joyfully face them knowing that they produce both character in you and the crown of life for you.
Don't blame your temptations on God; they come from your own desires. Our Father in heaven gives only good gifts. He is consistently good and gracious to you.
If you want to have spiritual wisdom to handle times of trial, testing, and hardship or if you want to avoid being ensnared in temptations that lead you to sin and death, then pray without doubting for the Father to give you wisdom.
Like so many other things you will find in James' writing, these truths are practical and sound. Do what James urges you to do and you will grow strong in the faith, and your character and compassion will come to reflect Me.
Verses to Live

Remember that James was My half-brother. He did a great job of summarizing My teaching and making it into very understandable and applicable truth. As you read, ask yourself how his teaching sounds like My own teaching. Be blessed by the following excerpt from James' small powerhouse of a book.

Don't run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journey and cross the finish line — mature, complete, and wanting nothing. If you don't have all the wisdom needed for this journey, then all you have to do is ask God for it; and God will grant all that you need. He gives lavishly and never scolds you for asking. 

The key is that your request be anchored by your single-minded commitment to God. Those who depend only on their own judgment are like those lost on the seas, carried away by any wave or picked up by any wind. Those adrift on their own wisdom shouldn't assume the Lord will rescue them or bring them anything. The splinter of divided loyalty shatters your compass and leaves you dizzy and confused. 

If you are a brother of humble means, celebrate the fact that God has raised you up. If you are rich and seemingly invincible, savor the humble reality that you are a mere mortal who will vanish like a flower that withers in the field. The sun rises with a blazing heat that dries the earth and causes the flower to wither and fall to the ground and its beauty to fade and die. In the same way, the rich will fall and die in the midst of their busy lives. 

Happy is the person who can hold up under the trials of life. At the right time, he'll know God's sweet approval and will be crowned with life. As God has promised, the crown awaits all who love Him. 

No one who is tempted should ever be confused and say that God is testing him. The One Who created us is free from evil and can't be tempted, so He doesn't tempt anyone. When a person is carried away with desire, lured by lust, and when desire becomes the focus and takes control, it gives birth to sin. When sin becomes fully grown, it produces death. 

My dearly loved brothers and sisters, don't be misled. Every good gift bestowed, every perfect gift received comes to us from above, courtesy of the Father of lights. He is consistent. He won't change His mind or play tricks in the shadows. We have a special role in His plan. He calls us to life by His message of truth so that we will show the rest of His creatures His goodness and love. 
(James 1:2-18)
Response in Prayer

Father, I thank You for the book of James in the New Testament. It is so practical and down to earth. As I read it along with the book of Galatians, open my eyes and transform my life as I try to put Your teaching into effect in my life. I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.

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

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

Post  Admin on Fri 14 Jul 2017, 9:16 pm

'Rubber Meets the Road' Discipleship" — A Year with Jesus for 07/14/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

I know that believing in Me is not always easy or natural. So I want to remind you of My half-brother James. My apostle James had been murdered by Herod in one of the several waves of persecution against My people in Jerusalem (Acts 12:1-2). With many of the apostles driven from Jerusalem, My half-brother James began to serve as one of the great leaders of the church there. 

James becoming a great leader in the Jerusalem churches was quite a special development for Me. You see, James did not believe in Me during My earthly ministry. In fact, he joined with My other half-brothers "in speaking contemptuously" of Me and teasing Me about My wanting to do something great for the Father. 

Later in My ministry when I was crucified, James was not there with My mother Mary caring for her. Instead, I placed her in the care of the beloved disciple (John 19:25-28). My other half-brothers also were not there to comfort our mother and support Me through the agony and humiliation of the crucifixion. 

However, I made a special point of appearing to James after My resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:7). This meeting was one of those "rubber meets the road" moments where all of life hangs in the balance. James had to decide what he truly believed about Me and what he would do with his faith in Me. Would he continue to see Me as little more than his half-brother? Would he recognize Me as his Savior and Lord and as the Son of God? He had to decide. And when James decided, he truly decided! 

My mother and my half-brothers were present when I poured out the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 1:12-14). Over time, James would grow in influence and importance in the church in Jerusalem — something quite surprising for someone from Nazareth to do in Jerusalem (John 1:46). He was an important person for the apostles to keep informed about things happening among them (Acts 12:16-17). He was considered one of the "pillars" of the church in Jerusalem. He was so important that he was even mentioned first before Peter and John in the list of pillars of the church (Galatians 2:9). 

The early Jewish Christians faced a huge decision. Would they accept Gentiles into fellowship without requiring circumcision and keeping the Mosaic Law? James' influence in the council of leaders in Jerusalem was vital for the positive outcome (Acts 15:12-22). His words brought peace, provided a way for My disciples to stay in fellowship, and kept the mission to non-Jews on track. What joy the Father and I had at seeing his good work! 

One of the most impressive and touching things James did, however, was the way he talked about Me. I was his half-brother. But when faith took hold in his heart, I was so much more to him. Notice below how he begins his letter to scattered believers. He literally says, "James, a slave of God and the Lord Jesus Christ"! He did not label himself a household servant — diakonos in Greek. Instead, he used a different Greek word, doulos, that means "slave"! This kind of slave lives to do his Master's bidding. He considered Me to be his Master! Remarkable, don't you think? 

So when you have one of those days when you struggle with your faith, remember My beloved brother James. He didn't believe at first. In fact, he once thought I was out of My mind. Later, as he risked his life for Me and My church, he saw Me as God and viewed himself as My "slave." 

When the "rubber meets the road" moments come in your life, when everything is on the line, please remember James. His faith in My resurrection was so strong that he gave up everything, risked everything, and lived his life completely to honor Me as "the Lord Jesus Christ"!

Verses to Live

You've read My note about James. Now I will let you read a little bit about him from Scripture. The following passages will go in reverse order to the description I shared above. I hope you will come to believe in Me as passionately and completely as James did. After all, you are part of My family (Mark 3:31-35). We are siblings by the grace of God and the cost of My incarnation and cross (Hebrews 2:14-18; Romans 8:28-29).

From James, a slave of God and the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes dispersed abroad. Greetings! 
(James 1:1 NET) 

... it was time for Jesus to move on. He began a long walk through the Galilean countryside. He was purposefully avoiding Judea because of the violent threats made against Him by the Jews there who wanted to kill Him. It was fall, the time of year when the Jews celebrated the Festival of Booths. 

Brothers of Jesus (to Jesus):
Let's get out of here and go south to Judea so You can show Your disciples there what You are capable of doing. No one who seeks the public eye is content to work in secret. If You want to perform these signs, then step forward on the world's stage; don't hide up here in the hills, Jesus.
Jesus' own brothers were speaking contemptuously; they did not yet believe in Him, just as the people in His hometown did not see Him as anything more than Joseph's son. 
(John 7:1-5) 

Let me [Paul] remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I preached to you when we first met. It's the essential message that you have taken to heart, the central story you now base your life on; and through this gospel, you are liberated — unless, of course, your faith has come to nothing. For I passed down to you the crux of it all which I had also received from others, that the Anointed One, the Liberating King, died for our sins and was buried and raised from the dead on the third day. All this happened to fulfill the Scriptures; it was the perfect climax to God's covenant story. Afterward He appeared alive to Cephas (you may know him as Simon Peter), then to the rest of the twelve. If that were not amazing enough, on one occasion, He appeared to more than 500 believers at one time. Many of those brothers and sisters are still around to tell the story, though some have fallen asleep in Jesus. Soon He appeared to James, His brother and the leader of the Jerusalem church, and then to all the rest of the emissaries He Himself commissioned. 
(1 Corinthians 15:1-7)
Response in Prayer

O Father, what a powerful story the life of James tells. I thank You for his turn-around from unbeliever to believer and from ridiculer to leader. I thank You for Jesus' resurrection that has turned around my life. Grow my faith, O God. I want to be totally dedicated to Your glory and the glory of my Lord Jesus Christ. I want to be known as Your slave — a disciple dedicated to You heart, soul, mind, and strength. I ask this in the name of my older brother, Savior, and Lord. Amen. 

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

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

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

Post  Admin on Thu 13 Jul 2017, 1:30 pm

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

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved Child of God, 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Post  Admin on Tue 11 Jul 2017, 11:19 pm

Everything on the Line" — A Year with Jesus for 07/11/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

You live in a world awash in religious ideas, ideologies, and philosophies. But there is one fundamental difference between all of them and the true gospel. That difference is the Father's grace brought to you through My death, burial, and resurrection! Paul summarized this message well in some of his first words in his letter to the new believers in Galatia:

May the grace and peace of God the Father and the Lord Jesus the Anointed live in you; He is the very Savior Who rescues us from this present, perverse age dominated by evil by giving His life according to our Father's will to deal with our sins.
As Paul and Barnabas completed their first mission trip, they returned to Syrian Antioch. Gentiles from all over the region of Pamphylia and southern Galatia had come to faith in Me. They trusted in what I did to save them. As Paul said in his letter to the Galatians, they placed their faith in Me by putting Me on in baptism:
It is your faith in the Anointed Jesus that makes all of you children of God because all of you who have been initiated into the Anointed One through the ceremonial washing of baptism have put Him on. It makes no difference whether you are a Jew or a Greek, a slave or a freeman, a man or a woman, because in Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King, you are all one. Since you belong to Him and are now subject to His power, you are the descendant of Abraham and the heir of God's glory according to the promise. 
(Galatians 3:26-29)
The Galatians became children of God and descendants of Abraham — that is, heirs to the promises God made to Abraham — through this experience of baptism based on their faith. All walls dividing them as people were torn down and they became one in Me (Ephesians 2:13-22). Grace had won their hearts (Ephesians 2:1-10). The Father had adopted them into His family as full heirs of all that grace has to offer. 

Unfortunately, people in every era have had a tendency to add requirements to this grace. This tendency is what happened to many new believers both in Antioch and in Galatia. Some tried to make non-Jewish believers become Jews before they could be saved. They pushed a "distorted version [of the gospel] which is not the gospel at all"! So Paul made one important truth very clear: If you add some new requirement to the gospel, it is no longer My gospel (Galatians 1:6-9). It devolves into legalism, law-keeping, and falling from grace:
For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God's grace. 
(Galatians 5:4)
Verses to Live

Paul didn't invent the gospel he preached. He received that good message from Me. He and Barnabas spoke this good news. They defended it. They spoke strongly against all who would add to it or take from it. Paul used the words "eternally cursed" for anyone who adds to it or takes from this good message of grace. 

Everything was on the line for My early believers. They would either devolve into works-based attempts at righteousness like most other religions, or they would trust in My sacrifice to make them right with the Father. They would recognize that their salvation came by grace through faith demonstrated in baptism (Galatians 3:26-29), or they would keep trying to earn the Father's favor by doing good works. To give way to legalism, to return to law-keeping as the way of righteousness, is to give Me up for what is not salvation!

Then they [Paul and Barnabas at the end of their first missionary journey] passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. And when they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia, and from there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had fulfilled. And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. And they remained no little time with the disciples. 

But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. 
(Acts 14:24-28 ESV; Acts 15:1-2 ESV) 

Paul, an emissary commissioned directly by Jesus the Anointed One and God the Father (Who raised Him from the dead) — not (as some claim) an agent of men or any person — and all the brothers and sisters with me to you, the churches of Galatia. 

May the grace and peace of God the Father and the Lord Jesus the Anointed live in you; He is the very Savior Who rescues us from this present, perverse age dominated by evil by giving His life according to our Father's will to deal with our sins. May God's glorious name forever receive honor. Amen. 

Frankly I am stunned. I cannot believe that you have abandoned God so quickly — even after He called you through the grace of the Anointed One — and have fallen for a different gospel. Actually there is only one true gospel of the Anointed, and you — because of divisive prodding by others — are accepting a distorted version which is not the gospel at all! 

No matter the source of the false gospel, even if it is preached by us or a heavenly messenger, ignore it. May those who add to or subtract from the gospel of Jesus be eternally cursed! Listen again: if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than what you have accepted, may he find himself cursed! 

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

Know this, dear brothers and sisters: the good news I brought to you isn't the latest in fiction or the product of some creative mind. It is not a legend I learned or one that has been passed down from person to person, ear to ear. I was gifted with this message as Jesus the Anointed revealed Himself miraculously to me. 
(Galatians 1:1-12)
Response in Prayer

O Father, may I never trust anything or anyone but Christ alone as my Savior. I thank You for giving me grace. I thank You for adopting me into Your family. I thank You that I did not have to earn it or achieve it. I thank You that Jesus paid my debts and won me life. I trust in this grace. I trust in Your loving mercy and Jesus' sacrifice to save me. Thank You! In Jesus' name, I thank You! Amen.

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

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

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

Post  Admin on Mon 10 Jul 2017, 11:24 pm

First Mission Is Completed!" — A Year with Jesus for 07/09/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

In today's verses, Luke writes about the last part of Paul and Barnabas' first missionary journey. As you saw yesterday, they developed a strategic rhythm in sharing the gospel. They would share My message first in the synagogues with Jews and God-fearers. Then, when resistance and opposition mounted, they would go to non-Jews in that same city. The methodology was quite effective. However, it brought a lot of resistance among some in the Jewish community:

Finally the Jews and outsiders who opposed them joined forces and enlisted the political leaders in their plan to beat and stone Paul and Barnabas. They learned of the plan and escaped to Lystra and Derbe in Lycaonia, and the surrounding countryside, where they continued proclaiming the good news. 
(Acts 14:5-7)
This resistance, even when in the form of persecution, did not stop Barnabas and Paul. The power of the Holy Spirit and the joy of My grace buoyed them. Furthermore, the resistance did not keep additional people from believing their message. 

Along the way, Barnabas and Paul met some challenges that were quite different from the ones of their Jewish upbringing. In places where superstition and false religion were the customs, Barnabas and Paul found their miracles didn't always point people to Me. Instead, the miracles sometimes created confusion and false worship of the miracle workers. Rather than accept the worship and adulation of the crowds, Paul and Barnabas taught the truth and pointed the people to Me:
Friends! No! No! Don't do this! [That is, don't worship us, Paul and Barnabas.] We're just humans like all of you! We're not here to be worshiped! We're here to bring you good news — good news that you should turn from these worthless forms of worship and instead serve the living God, the God Who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that they contain.
Soon, My faithful emissaries, Barnabas and Paul, were facing attacks from hostile non-believing Jews, non-Jews who did not understand their message, and political leaders who were incited by leading Jewish officials to oppose My messengers. To prepare the new believers for what was ahead, Barnabas and Paul did two very important things. First, they warned these new believers that they must face "many persecutions as we enter the kingdom of God." Second, they appointed leaders — godly older men called elders — to help guide these new communities of believers. When they returned to Antioch (in Syria) where they began their mission efforts, they reported on the great work We — Father, Son, and Spirit — had led them to do and empowered them to accomplish.
Verses to Live

As you read the verses below, a new era in the life of My people and a new era in sharing My message had fully begun. Now there were disciples of different nationalities, cultures, and languages coming into My family. This diversity was a glorious beginning. However, many roadblocks, difficulties, hardships, and persecutions lay ahead. But nothing could stop the advancement of the good message of the Father's grace. That message focused on what I had done in My life, teaching, death, burial, resurrection, exaltation and sending of the Spirit. This message was empowered and validated by the Holy Spirit. 

This first mission of Barnabas and Paul wasn't easy. But when they returned, they could truthfully say, "Our first mission is completed!"

In Lystra they [Paul and Barnabas] met a man who had been crippled since birth; his feet were completely useless. He listened to Paul speak, and Paul could see in this man's face that he had faith to be healed. 

Paul (shouting):
Stand up on your own two feet, man!
The man jumped up and walked! When the crowds saw this, they started shouting in Lycaonian. 

Crowd:
The gods have come down to us! They've come in human form!
They decided that Barnabas was Zeus and Paul was Hermes (since he was the main speaker). Before they knew it, the priest of Zeus, whose temple was prominent in that city, came to the city gates with oxen and garlands of flowers so the Lycaonians could offer sacrifices in worship to Paul and Barnabas! When they heard of this, Paul and Barnabas were beside themselves with frustration — they ripped their tunics as an expression of disapproval and rushed out into the crowd. 

Paul and Barnabas (shouting):
Friends! No! No! Don't do this! We're just humans like all of you! We're not here to be worshiped! We're here to bring you good news — good news that you should turn from these worthless forms of worship and instead serve the living God, the God Who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that they contain. Through all previous generations, God has allowed all the nations to follow their own customs and religions, but even then God revealed Himself by doing good to you — giving you rain for your crops and fruitful harvests season after season, filling your stomachs with food and your hearts with joy.
In spite of these words, they were barely able to keep the crowds from making sacrifices to them. 

Then unbelieving Jews came from Antioch and Iconium and incited the crowds against the Lord's emissaries. The crowds turned on Paul, stoned him, dragged him out of the city, and left him there, thinking he was dead. As the disciples gathered around him, he suddenly rose to his feet and returned to the city. The next day he and Barnabas left for Derbe. After they proclaimed the good news there and taught many disciples, they returned to some of the cities they had recently visited — Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch in Pisidia. In each place, they brought strength to the disciples, encouraging them to remain true to the faith. 

Paul and Barnabas:
We must go through many persecutions as we enter the kingdom of God.
In each church, they would appoint leaders, pray and fast together, and entrust them to the Lord in Whom they had come to believe. 

They then passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. They preached their message in Perga and then went to the port of Attalia. There they set sail for Antioch, where they were first entrusted to the grace of God for the mission they had now completed. They called the church together when they arrived and reported all God had done with and through them, how God had welcomed outsiders through the doorway of faith. They stayed with the disciples in Antioch for quite a while. 
(Acts 14:8-28)
Response in Prayer

O Father, I want to have the same joyful courage in my time as Paul and Barnabas demonstrated. I know that living the values of Your kingdom and sharing Your grace with others will not always be appreciated. However, I also know that the world needs these kingdom values. I know that so many need to discover Your saving grace. Help me please, dear LORD, to know how to share your message effectively and not worry about the hardships that may come from bringing Your grace to the unbelieving world. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

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

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

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

Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.


Celebrating Our Work in You" — A Year with Jesus for 07/10/2017
Note from Jesus

Dear Friend, 

I want you to learn to rejoice in Our work in you. We — Father, Son, and Spirit — delight in your obedience and service to the kingdom of heaven. Angels rejoice when you find lost people and bring them to know Me, to experience the Father's grace, and to be filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 15:7, 10). Yes, I want you to be passionate about the mission to which I have called you. I also want you to be equally passionate about celebrating My work done through you. Learn to rejoice with Us in the work we have done through you (Philippians 4:4-7). 

I mentioned several things in My note yesterday that Paul and Barnabas did as they completed their missionary journey — their first missionary journey. Today, I want to focus on one of those things that many of My disciples have forgotten to do: celebrate Our work done through you, among you, for you, and within you (Acts 14:27-28). We are always at work in you (Philippians 2:13). Even when things look bad and life is hard, We continue to work and redeem the messes of your life for your good (Romans 8:28-29). 

We know that you are not perfectly mature. We are far more aware of the undone things in your life than you are. However, We will carry those things to full completion and bring you to us in holiness to share in Our glory (Philippians 1:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24). Please recognize your progress in grace. Please celebrate your victories for grace. Please acknowledge the work We have done through you! 

Rejoice! Celebrate! This enthusiasm is not bragging on yourself, but giving glory to Us and blessing the family of believers. This kind of joy encourages others to live out Our mission in their lives. This kind of celebration gives other believers hope that their service in My name can be a blessing to the kingdom of heaven. 

Learn to rejoice with Us in the victories won over sin, death, hell, and the hold they have on the children of your world. Celebrate Our work done in and through you!

Verses to Live

The following is Luke's summary of the end of Paul and Barnabas' mission trip. You will notice several things these two do to establish and strengthen the churches in the cities they had previously visited. I want you to spend some extra time on the last three sentences, the ones in bold. Paul and Barnabas spent time with the believers who sent them out, and they reported to them all that We had done through them. When's the last time you've taken a significant amount of time with other believers and celebrated our work done among you, through you, and within you? We want you to celebrate with Us! Paul and Barnabas and the church at Antioch surely did. Won't you?

After they [Paul and Barnabas] proclaimed the good news there [Derbe] and taught many disciples, they returned to some of the cities they had recently visited — Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch in Pisidia. In each place, they brought strength to the disciples, encouraging them to remain true to the faith. 

Paul and Barnabas:
We must go through many persecutions as we enter the kingdom of God.
In each church, they would appoint leaders, pray and fast together, and entrust them to the Lord in Whom they had come to believe. 

They then passed through Pisidia and came to Pamphylia. They preached their message in Perga and then went to the port of Attalia. There they set sail for Antioch, where they were first entrusted to the grace of God for the mission they had now completed. They called the church together when they arrived and reported all God had done with and through them, how God had welcomed outsiders through the doorway of faith. They stayed with the disciples in Antioch for quite a while. 
(Acts 14:21-28)
Response in Prayer

O Father in heaven, I confess that I often grow discouraged by my own lack of spiritual progress. I sometimes feel as if all of my spiritual efforts are in vain. Even worse, Father, I recognize now that I have let a false sense of humility rob me of rejoicing over Your work done in me, through me, with me, and for me. Forgive me God. I recognize that without Your grace, Your mercy, and Your power I would be lost. O God, I know how empty my life would be if it were not for Your grace to work through me, in me, and for me for Your glory. Teach me to rejoice in You, Your work, and Your glory. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sat 08 Jul 2017, 8:17 pm

"For All People" — A Year with Jesus for 07/08/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious Believer, 

You were saved by grace when you fully trusted Me and participated in what I did to save you. This truth was the message that I gave the apostle Paul to share with all people, Jewish and non-Jewish alike. Remember, when I commissioned Ananias of Damascus to go and share the message of grace with Paul, I told Ananias this about Paul's mission:

"Yes, but you [Ananias] must go! I have chosen him [Paul] to be My instrument to bring My name far and wide — to outsiders, to kings, and to the people of Israel as well." 
(Acts 9:15)
Paul was chosen even before he was born to bring My message of grace to those outside the people of Israel! (Galatians 1:15-16) So what you read today in the verses below helps you understand how he began to live out that purpose in his mission efforts with Barnabas. 

Paul and Barnabas began their mission to Pisidian Antioch in the synagogue sharing My message with Jews and God-fearing Gentiles. Paul and Barnabas' message was rooted in the teaching of the Law and Prophets. They tried to help these good people understand the Father's plan. As Paul said, that plan was to send Me as the Messiah and as the fulfillment of those teachings of the Law and the Prophets:
"God has selected one of David’s descendants as the long-promised Liberator of Israel. I am speaking of Jesus." 
(Acts 13:23)
However, Paul and Barnabas also emphasized a theme from the prophet Habakkuk — that righteousness comes from living by faith:
"Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith." 
(Habakkuk 2:4)
This theme was central to Paul's message to both Jews and non-Jews. He was never ashamed of this message. He saw it as the good news of grace that comes to all people who fully entrust their lives to Me. He and Barnabas encouraged people to "remain steadfast in the grace of God." 

When opposition to their message arose among the Jews, Paul and Barnabas saw it as their signal to reach out to non-Jews in Pisidian Antioch. The Jewish prophets of old had spoken of being "a light to the nations beyond Israel" and bringing "redemption to every corner of the earth." My parting words to My disciples had been to "make disciples of all nations" (Matthew 28:19). Paul was "My instrument to bring My name far and wide." So the mission strategy Paul and Barnabas would use in many cities they visited was simple: First, they would go to the synagogues and speak to Jews and God-fearers about Me as the Messiah. Then, they would share that message with non-Jews. Soon, just as Barnabas and Paul had experienced in a different Antioch (the one in Syria), My church was made up of people from all sorts of different backgrounds (Acts 11:19-26). 

The promise of the Jewish prophets was being fulfilled. All peoples, Jews and non-Jews alike, were coming to believe in Me and being made righteous by their faith because of grace. This progress was good news. Neither threat, intimidation, persecution, nor rejection could stop this message. Because of the power of the Holy Spirit at work through My people and in their message of grace, there was great joy wherever that message was received in faith! 

I want you to experience that great joy! I want you to share that same message! I want all peoples — young and old, rich and poor, of all races and nationalities and languages — to find this joy that comes from knowing Me. So believe in Me. Trust Me. Share Me with your world!
Verses to Live

In these verses, we get to see Paul's mission methodology and strategy emerge. He went to Jews first, and then to non-Jews. We also discover Paul's source of power found in his message: God's grace experienced through the joy of salvation empowered by the Holy Spirit. Finally, you see how My emissaries, My apostles, could be completely resolute in their mission. They knew I called them to this task, and they were not ashamed to share the message about Me. Their strategy of sharing the message about Me changed the world! Want proof? Go look in the mirror. You are following Me nearly two thousand years later because of their work!

Paul and Barnabas prepared to leave the synagogue [in Pisidian Antioch], but the people wanted to hear more and urged them to return the following Sabbath. As the people dispersed after the meeting, many Jews and converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas. Privately Paul and Barnabas continued teaching them and urged them to remain steadfast in the grace of God. The next Sabbath, it seemed the whole city had gathered to hear the message of the Lord. But some of the Jewish leaders were jealous when they saw these huge crowds. They began to argue with and contradict Paul's message, as well as slander him. Paul and Barnabas together responded with great confidence. 

Paul and Barnabas:
OK, then. It was only right that we should bring God's message to you Jewish people first. But now, since you are rejecting our message and identifying yourselves as unworthy of eternal life, we are turning to the outsiders. The Lord has commanded us to do this. Remember His words:
I have appointed you a light to the nations beyond Israel, 
so you can bring redemption to every corner of the earth.
These words created two strong reactions. The outsiders were thrilled and praised God's message, and all those who had been appointed for eternal life became believers. Through them the Lord's message spread through the whole region. But the Jewish leaders united the aristocratic religious women and the city's leading men in opposition to Paul and Barnabas, and soon they were persecuted and driven out of the region. They simply shook the dust off their feet in protest and moved on to Iconium. The disciples weren't intimidated at all; rather, they were full of joy and the Holy Spirit. 
(Acts 13:42-52) 

For I [Paul] am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes — the Jew first and also the Gentile. This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, "It is through faith that a righteous person has life." 
(Romans 1:16-17 NLT)
Response in Prayer

Father in heaven, thank You for the grace that it is mine in Jesus. I trust in what Jesus did to save me. I know that You have given me life in Jesus — life that does not end with physical death. I know that You have made me righteous by Your grace. I know that I did not earn this righteousness, but that You gave it to me freely because of Your love expressed in Jesus. So help me, dear Father, as I seek to share this message of grace with others so that they can share in my joy and Your grace. I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.

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

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

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

Post  Admin on Wed 28 Jun 2017, 11:18 pm

Servants to the Nations" — A Year with Jesus for 06/28/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend, 

Two powerful themes from the Bible converge in this one story in today's Scripture about Philip and the Ethiopian dignitary:

After My resurrection, I poured out the Spirit at Pentecost and the good news message about Me spread throughout the Mediterranean world, and then far beyond this part of the world. My message spread out from Jerusalem just as I had promised (Luke 24:45-49; Acts 1:8). The early disciples reached three of the Mediterranean area's four major cities to serve as hubs to send My message down the major highways and seaways to the nearby regions and to the rest of the world. The four largest cities at this time were Antioch in Syria, Ephesus, Rome, and Alexandria. Acts tells the story of how the good news of the kingdom of God reached the first three. Just as My disciples took the good news to all the Mediterranean region when they left Jerusalem because of persecution (Acts 8:1-4; Acts 11:19-22), Luke hints that the "dignitary from Ethiopia" took My message with him as he returned home to Ethiopia (Africa).
The last half of the prophetic book of Isaiah has a series of prophetic songs calling My people (Israel) to be the servant of the LORD — the servant who would lead the nations to follow the great "I AM" of Israel. In your day, these prophetic songs are called the "Servant Songs" of Isaiah (Isaiah 42:1-9; Isaiah 49:1-13; Isaiah 50:4-11; Isaiah 52:13-15 with Isaiah 53:1-12). When Israel did not fulfill the call of these prophetic songs, I came as their complete fulfillment. The Ethiopian was reading from one of these songs (Isaiah 52:13-15 with Isaiah 53:1-12) when the Spirit sent Philip to share My story with him. The passage the Ethiopian was reading has been known to most of My followers over the centuries. They have recognized this song as speaking about My sacrifice on the cross for them. Philip began with this song that looked forward to Me as the suffering servant and taught him about Me and then baptized him.
I want you to recognize several important principles from the Ethiopian's conversion:
Long before I came to earth (1 Peter 1:20), the Father had the plan to save the lost world He loves (John 3:16-17).
The Spirit inspired the prophets with messages that were intended to convict the people in their time, yet the messages also pointed to the Father's plan to send Me to the world to save the world (1 Peter 1:10-12; 2 Peter 1:19-21).
This plan always included the salvation of all people, just as Israel was to be a blessing and bring all people to honor the great "I AM" as the only true and living God (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10; Genesis 12:1-3).
The fulfillment of this world-wide salvation began to unfold through the leading of the Holy Spirit and the willingness of My disciples to share My story with all people (John 12:20-33).
The Father has the plan to save the world. As the primary part of that plan, I came as the Savior of the world. After My sacrificial death and return to the Father, the Spirit empowered My disciples to share that message with the world. Acts tells how My story was initially told to the Mediterranean world.
Verses to Live

As the book of Acts unfolds, you read about the Holy Spirit leading My disciples to share the saving message about Me (Acts 1:8). They began, first, to share that message with those in Jerusalem and then those in all of Judea. In Acts 8, you see the message shared in Samaria. In future readings from Acts, you will see the message go throughout the Mediterranean world. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, nothing had the power to stop that message. As Luke tells this unfolding story, the events in Acts 8 are huge stepping stones in the triumph of the good news about Me. Just as those early disciples fearlessly shared My message with their world, I want you to share that same message with your world. As you do, the Holy Spirit will lead and empower you, too!

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

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

Philip received another prompting from the Holy Spirit: 

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

Philip:
Do you understand the meaning of what you're reading?
The Ethiopian:
How can I understand it unless I have a mentor?
Then he invited Philip to sit in the chariot. Here's the passage he was reading from the Hebrew Scriptures:
Like a sheep, He was led to be slaughtered. 

Like a lamb about to be shorn of its wool, 
He was completely silent. 

He was humiliated, and He received no justice. 
Who can describe His peers? Who would treat Him this way? 
For they snuffed out His life.
The Ethiopian:
Here's my first question. Is the prophet describing his own situation, or is he describing someone else's calamity?
That began a conversation in which Philip used the passage to explain the good news of Jesus. Eventually the chariot passed a body of water beside the road. 

The Ethiopian:
Since there is water here, is there anything that might prevent me from being ceremonially washed through baptism and identified as a disciple of Jesus?
[Philip:] 1
[If you believe in your heart that Jesus the Anointed is God's Son, then nothing can stop you.]
[The Ethiopian said that he believed.] 

He commanded the charioteer to stop the horses. Then Philip and the Ethiopian official walked together into the water. There Philip baptized him... When they came out of the water, Philip was immediately caught up by the Holy Spirit and taken from the sight of the Ethiopian, who climbed back into his chariot and continued on his journey, overflowing with joy. Philip found himself at a town called Azotus (formerly the Philistine capital city of Ashdod, on the Mediterranean); and from there he traveled north again, proclaiming the good news in town after town until he came to Caesarea. 
(Acts 8:26-40) 

1 The brackets indicate material not found in all manuscripts.
Response in Prayer

O Father, awaken us, Your people, the church that Jesus bought with His blood, to share Your message of grace and the Lord Jesus' triumph over death and sin. Empower us by the Holy Spirit to be wise, courageous, gracious, and persistent in sharing this message. We want in our day, O God, to be your servants to the nations! In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

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

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

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

Post  Admin on Fri 23 Jun 2017, 12:45 pm

Why the Messiah Must be on His Way
http://www.aish.com/f/mom/Why-the-Messiah-Must-be-on-His-Way.html?s=mm
Mom with a ViewWhy the Messiah Must be on His Way
My unforgettable encounter with unadulterated innocence, sincerity and truth.
by Emuna Braverman 

I’m not a person who sees world events as conspiring to herald the advent of the messiah. I subscribe to the Talmudic principle that if you’re planting a tree and you hear that the Messiah has come, you keep planting. When he needs me, he’ll let me know. If I have a role to play, I’m sure I’ll be apprised of it.
However there have been two events in my life that I thought could possibly anticipate the messianic era.
One was about 30 years ago when a young single guy asked me to help him kasher (make kosher) his kitchen. Although his main desire was to find a line of kosher frozen pizza, I nevertheless saw it as suggestive of new days coming, a new era. If a single guy living the unencumbered life wanted to make his kitchen kosher I thought perhaps the Messiah really was on his way!
The next time was at my five-year-old granddaughter’s recent siddur (prayer book) party, the much anticipated event at the end of the school year when they receive their very own prayer books.

There is a tradition that “It’s gonna be the little kinderlach” who bring the Messiah. And on that day I could believe it.

Much as I adore my granddaughter (and all my granddaughters in case any of my other children are reading this!), I can’t say that I was eagerly awaiting the event. I had a very busy day – and week. I was teaching three new classes (one of them right after the siddur party), all which required significant thought, preparation, practice and revision. Who has time to schlep to a siddur party, to drive, park, walk to the school, wait for it to start (aren’t these things always late?) and on and on. But I felt a responsibility – both to my daughter and to her daughter – so I pushed myself to go.

And the tears did not stop flowing. It was not just adorable but it was so moving. Because they’re so innocent. Because their belief is so pure and true.

My own faith is not like that. It’s more complex and nuanced and shaped by life’s challenges. Theirs is simple and straightforward.
I recently read a quote from Daniel Patrick Moynihan after the death of JFK. Apparently he said, “We’ll laugh again. It’s just that we’ll never be young again.” His words touched a place deep within me. They exemplify how I feel, my own perspective so shaped by all my experiences and struggles.

But those Pre-1A children have yet to be confronted by life’s “unique opportunities for growth”. Their world remains one of only promise and hope. I imagine that is why they may be the ones who merit bringing the Messiah.

And as I heard their sweet voices lifted in song, as I watched them smile with sincerity as they sang of their desire to pray like their mommies and connect to the Almighty, I thought that if the Almighty is listening (and He surely must be) that this time I am right and the Messiah must be on his way.


Growing through Problems" — A Year with Jesus for 06/23/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

The apostle Paul spoke the truth about Our — Father, Son, and Spirit's — desire for Our new covenant people when he wrote:

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 
(Galatians 3:26-28 NIV)
However, it often takes time for social reality to be brought into conformity with My will. So My disciples must always seek to live the values and ethics of My kingdom even if the world doesn't appreciate those values. 

Almost everyone in the earliest days of the church was Jewish. Prejudice was a significant problem. Sometimes that prejudice manifested itself toward non-Jews coming into My spiritual family — the dominant problem addressed in Acts chapters 10-15. However, prejudice was also an issue between sub-groups within the Jewish community. In the verses below, Grecian Jews who were in Jerusalem and who had become My disciples made an accusation of discrimination. Their widows who did not speak the native language in Jerusalem were being overlooked and were going hungry while the native-speaking widows were receiving better care and more ample provision as the early Christians shared their possessions (Acts 4:32-35). 

Rather than denying the accusation of prejudice or ignoring this charge of discrimination, My apostles acted very wisely. Notice what they did:
Openness 
The apostles brought all the community of disciples together to discuss this issue — no secret meetings and no sweeping the problem under the rug!
Calling 
The apostles pointed out that their primary calling was to proclaim the message they had received from God.
Involvement 
The apostles called on the church family to be involved in the solution to this problem — more than just being open with the communication, the apostles were asking for help in selecting men to find a solution.
Direction 
The apostles gave clear criteria for selecting those who would be part of the ministry team to the Grecian widows and asked the whole congregation to put forward leaders who fit this description.
Participation 
The congregation of believers selected seven men who fit the criteria of being full of the Spirit and wisdom.
Empathy 
The congregation recognized the need for those who could understand both the language of the Grecian widows and also their plight as hungry foreigners in the homeland of their ancestors. So they chose men who had Greek names — one was even a non-Jewish proselyte — and who would be familiar with the Greek language these widows spoke.
Appointment 
The apostles publicly commissioned or ordained these men for service and publicly prayed for their ministry.
Growth 
The problem was overcome, the message continued to spread, and many came to faith in Me.
Equipping 
Some of these men selected to serve the widows later became very important leaders in other ways.
Focus 
The apostles devoted themselves to their calling — prayer and sharing My message — while encouraging and equipping others to engage in ministry.
Before you read the verses below, review the ten principles of great leadership and congregational problem-solving that are listed above. These are great principles to put into practice among My people today. Every problem has a potential for disaster or development. Led by the Holy Spirit, the apostles turned this potentially crippling problem into an opportunity for the development and growth of My disciples.
Verses to Live

Imagine how unaddressed prejudice could have wrecked the growth of My early church. However, the Spirit's guidance through Godly leaders turned around this potential disaster. Instead of disaster, the actions of My leading disciples became the springboard for greater growth. It also provided a new group of leaders the opportunity for development and service.

Things were going well, and the number of disciples was growing. But a problem arose. The Greek-speaking believers became frustrated with the Hebrew-speaking believers. The Greeks complained that the Greek-speaking widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food. The twelve convened the entire community of disciples. 

The Twelve:
We could solve this problem ourselves, but that wouldn't be right. We need to focus on proclaiming God's message, not on distributing food. So, friends, find seven respected men from the community of faith. These men should be full of the Holy Spirit and full of wisdom. Whomever you select we will commission to resolve this matter so we can maintain our focus on praying and serving — not meals — but the message.
The whole community — Greek-speaking and Hebrew-speaking — was very pleased with this plan, so they chose seven men: Stephen (a man full of faith and full of the Holy Spirit), Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas (a Greek-speaking convert from Antioch). These men were presented to the apostles, who then prayed for them and commissioned them by laying their hands on them. The message of God continued to spread, and the number of disciples continued to increase significantly there in Jerusalem. Even priests in large numbers became obedient to the faith. 
(Acts 6:1-7)
Response in Prayer

O Father, please bless our leaders in Your church today. Give us the courage to select leaders based on their Spirit-led wisdom and their ability to serve, with empathy, those who need to be served. I pray that Your leaders can be open and courageous in dealing with problems like prejudice, division, and hunger among Your people. Help us, O LORD, to demonstrate Your love for all people in the way we treat each other. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

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

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

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

Post  Admin on Thu 22 Jun 2017, 9:20 pm

"Goodness and Deception" — A Year with Jesus for 06/22/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

Key transitions in the life and faith of My people need to be protected. In the early days of My church, this need for safety was especially true. My new disciples in Jerusalem endured repeated attacks from the Jewish religious leaders and those in power. The disciples persevered through threats, even death threats, beatings, and imprisonments from the same people who had Me crucified. Nothing outside their church family could derail this new movement of the Spirit. My message of good news triumphed throughout Jerusalem. 

However, My disciples soon faced critical junctures that you see described in the verses below and in the verses tomorrow. They faced several difficult challenges from inside My family of disciples. Pressure from the outside would continue to erupt. But, the more dangerous threats came from inside My household of faith. Some folks needed the basic necessities of life — food, water, and a place to stay. With people becoming disciples so quickly and many being from outside of Jerusalem, the challenge of caring for needy people became a valid concern. 

Because "the entire community of believers was deeply united in heart and soul," My disciples effectively and lovingly addressed these needs. Notice what Luke says:

Not a single person in the community was in need because those who had been affluent sold their houses or lands and brought the proceeds to the emissaries of the Lord.
Notably, Barnabas — who would become a great leader among My disciples — was exceedingly generous. The compassion that Barnabas and other disciples displayed was glorious! The principles of My kingdom were clearly in evidence as needs were soon addressed with grace and generosity. 

However, the devil was not content to let any great movement of My grace go unchallenged. So My disciples had to face two tough tests back-to-back. I will speak about the first challenge today and the second one tomorrow. 

Seeing Barnabas held in such high esteem, a couple named Ananias and Sapphira sold a piece of property. That was great. Unfortunately, these two schemed and said that they had given all their proceeds from this sale to the apostles — My emissaries — when they hadn't. Their gift was given so that the poor among My people would receive care. Although they said that they had given all the proceeds from the sale, they secretly kept back part for themselves. On one hand, their generosity was incredibly good. They gave a great amount to the needs of others. On the other hand, they lied. They lied to My people. They lied to My apostles. Most of all, they lied to Us — Father, Son, and Spirit. 

At this crucial moment in the early church, We protected the integrity of the disciples' generosity and the apostles' leadership. Our actions were quick, decisive, and firm. We wanted everyone to know that generosity is important, but duplicity is not tolerated. 

Harsh? Yes. 

Necessary? Yes! 

Effective? Absolutely! 

Why did we react so strongly, as you see revealed in the verses below? Why did we take such drastic measures? 

What is one of the most frequent criticisms hurled at My followers today? It's that you are hypocrites. How many people have been turned away from faith in Me because of hypocritical people claiming to be My disciples? How many have ruled out learning about Me and becoming part of My people because of hypocrisy, especially hypocrisy and greed among leaders? My answer is simple: way too many! 

So in the early days of the church, We acted to protect this fresh movement of grace. We wanted the disciples to practice undiluted goodness and honesty. Such blatant hypocrisy, lying, and duplicity would not be tolerated. (The Father acted in a very similar fashion in the early days of the conquest of Canaan concerning the sin of Achan at Jericho (Joshua 7:1-26).) 

There are several truths in the Scripture below that I want you to realize from this episode in the life of the early church. 

First, generosity is necessary if My movement is going to grow and reach the hearts of all people. When people are generous above their tithes, people are saved, lives are rebuilt, and My movement grows. 

Second, during any great Spirit-empowered movement, the evil one will do all he can to divert, distract, and derail My people. While the outside attacks of the enemy are obvious, the inside attacks are often more subtle and potentially more damaging. Examine your own heart. Look carefully at your own attitudes, motivations, and desires. Especially watch out for the lure of greed and the desire to be seen as important. There are plenty of warnings in the Scriptures against both of these sins! 

Third, don't let the false motives and bad behaviors of others keep you from continuing your walk of faith. Unfortunately, the evil one will lead some astray — sometimes even well-known or beloved leaders. Don't let that disillusion you. For every Ananias and Sapphira, there are others who are like Barnabas. For every hypocrite, there are unnamed others who do loving and sacrificial things for Christian brothers and sisters without recognition. 

Fourth, when My people are led by the Holy Spirit, nothing can stop My work through them. What Satan intends for harm can be turned around and used by the Father for good!
Verses to Live

You are about to read two parts to the same story. The first is about the goodness of My people. The second is about how easy it is to lose goodness to greed. It is a reminder of how a desire to be considered important can corrupt what otherwise would be generous giving. Greed and self-importance are false desires that hold so many hostage in your world. Don't let the evil one deceive you. First, these desires lead to spiritual death since they do not come from the Father (1 John 2:15-17). Second, remember Barnabas and the unnamed people like him. These people were generous because they cared and were led by My Spirit. So, after you have read both stories, come back and read the part about Barnabas again. Let this be the part that is an example for you!

During those days, the entire community of believers was deeply united in heart and soul to such an extent that they stopped claiming private ownership of their possessions. Instead, they held everything in common. The apostles with great power gave their eyewitness reports of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Everyone was surrounded by an extraordinary grace. Not a single person in the community was in need because those who had been affluent sold their houses or lands and brought the proceeds to the emissaries of the Lord. They then distributed the funds to individuals according to their needs. One fellow, a Cyprian Levite named Joseph, earned a nickname because of his generosity in selling a field and bringing the money to the apostles in this way. From that time on, they called him Barnabas, which means "son of encouragement." 

Once a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira fully cooperating, committed fraud. He sold some property and kept some of the proceeds, but he pretended to make a full donation to the Lord's emissaries. 

Peter:
Ananias, have you allowed Satan to influence your lies to the Holy Spirit and hold back some of the money? Look, it was your property before you sold it, and the money was all yours after you sold it. Why have you concocted this scheme in your heart? You weren't just lying to us; you were lying to God.
Ananias heard these words and immediately dropped to the ground, dead; fear overcame all those who heard of the incident. Some young men came, wrapped the body, and buried it immediately. About three hours had passed when Sapphira arrived. She had no idea what had happened. 

Peter:
Did you sell the land for such-and-such a price?
Sapphira:
Yes, that was the price.
Peter:
Why did the two of you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Do you hear those footsteps outside? Those are the young men who just buried your husband, and now they will carry you out as well.
She — like her husband — immediately fell dead at Peter's feet. The young men came in and carried her corpse outside and buried it beside her husband. The whole church was terrified by this story, as were others who heard it. 
(Acts 4:32-37; Acts 5:1-11)
Response in Prayer

Holy Father, I know that I am vulnerable to the sins of greed and the lust to feel important. Help me resist these temptations. I don't want these sins to steal my integrity or compromise my generosity. Neither do I want to grow skeptical when I see these sins in others. I want to honor You in every area of my life and bring Your grace to those in need. I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.

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

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

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

Post  Admin on Wed 21 Jun 2017, 11:09 pm

"Prayer Power!" — A Year with Jesus for 06/21/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

Yesterday I shared with you that while the key ruling council tried to intimidate My people, they were undaunted. Here was their answer to the threats of the religious leaders:

You are the judges here, so we'll leave it up to you to judge whether it is right in the sight of God to obey your commands or God's. But one thing we can tell you: we cannot possibly restrain ourselves from speaking about what we have seen and heard with our own eyes and ears.
My disciples responded to the threats of the ruling council with prayer! They reached back and incorporated part of Psalm 2 in their prayer recorded in the verses below, and they trusted in the promise of the closing lines of this prophetic psalm:
But blessings await all who trust in Him. They will find God a gentle refuge. 
(Psalm 2:12)
Notice the focus of the prayer My disciples prayed. They didn't pray to have their difficulties cease, but that they be given strength and boldness to declare My message:
And now, Lord, take note of their intimidations intended to silence us. Grant us, Your servants, the courageous confidence we need to go ahead and proclaim Your message while You reach out Your hand to heal people, enabling us to perform signs and wonders through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.
They didn't back down. Instead, they were "praying up" their work of sharing the good news and bringing My healing to those who were broken and lost. 

I had promised in My earthly ministry that the Father would send the Holy Spirit to those who asked (Luke 11:13). I promised I would never abandon My disciples as they shared My message (Matthew 28:18-20) and testified before hostile audiences (Mark 13:11). 

My early disciples believed in these promises. They believed in the power of the Holy Spirit. They believed in the great importance of their mission. Do you? 

Enduring persecution, they rejoiced and they prayed. Facing intense scrutiny, they testified to the truth. Being threatened with death, they were undaunted. They chose to be My faithful witnesses no matter the cost. Do you? Will you? 

Great blessing comes to those who are faithful under trial. Pray and ask for boldness. Seek the "courageous confidence" you "need to go ahead and proclaim" My message and do My work in your broken world. One of those blessings is experiencing the powerful movement of the Holy Spirit in your midst as you are empowered and inspired to do My work and speak My message. And notice, dear disciple, that this power and inspiration are for you, and not just a holy few who lived long ago:
All the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began speaking God's message with courageous confidence.
Verses to Live

Prayer is powerful because you place your trust in Us — Father, Son, and Spirit. You trust that We will enter into your world and into your lives. You trust that We will do Our will through you by the power of the Holy Spirit working through you. 

We long for you to invite Us to do in you, and through you, the very things that Our sovereign will longs to do. Often we are waiting for your faith to be displayed and for your prayers to ask Us to act. Look what can still happen when My disciples display that faith and, through their prayers, invite Us to act:

Jewish Leaders:
What do we do with these fellows? Anyone who lives in Jerusalem will know an unexplainable sign has been performed through these two preachers. We can't deny their story. The best we can do is try to keep it from spreading. So let's warn them to stop speaking to anybody in this name.
The leaders brought the prisoners [Peter and John] back in and prohibited them from doing any more speaking or teaching in the name of Jesus. Peter and John listened quietly and then replied, 

Peter and John:
You are the judges here, so we'll leave it up to you to judge whether it is right in the sight of God to obey your commands or God's. But one thing we can tell you: we cannot possibly restrain ourselves from speaking about what we have seen and heard with our own eyes and ears.
The council threatened them again, but finally let them go because public opinion strongly supported Peter and John and this man who had received this miraculous sign. He was over 40 years old, so his situation was known to many people, and they couldn't help but glorify God for his healing. 

Peter and John, upon their release, went right to their friends and told the story — including the warning from the council. The whole community responded with this prayer to God: 

Community of Believers:
God, our King, You made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything they contain. You are the One Who, by the Holy Spirit, spoke through our ancestor David, Your servant, with these words:
Why did the nations rage? 

Why did they imagine useless things? 

The kings of the earth took their stand; 

their rulers assembled in opposition 

against the Eternal One and His Anointed King.This is exactly what has happened among us, here in this city. The foreign ruler Pontius Pilate and the Jewish ruler Herod, along with their respective peoples, have assembled in opposition to Your holy servant Jesus, the One You chose. They have done whatever Your hand and plan predetermined should happen. And now, Lord, take note of their intimidations intended to silence us. Grant us, Your servants, the courageous confidence we need to go ahead and proclaim Your message while You reach out Your hand to heal people, enabling us to perform signs and wonders through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.
They finished their prayer, and immediately the whole place where they had gathered began to shake. All the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began speaking God's message with courageous confidence. 
(Acts 4:16-31)
Response in Prayer

O Father, give Your disciples today the courageous confidence to proclaim Jesus and live before others as witnesses of Your grace. Fill us even more with the Holy Spirit, Who now lives in us. Fill us to overflowing so that not only will we display the fruit of the Spirit in righteous behavior and gracious compassion, but that we also will be bold in declaring the message of Jesus no matter the opposition or hostility we face. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.

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

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

Post  Admin on Tue 20 Jun 2017, 3:30 pm

Undaunted!" — A Year with Jesus for 06/20/2017

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Note from Jesus

Dear Faithful Follower, 

Yesterday, I asked you to read about the paralyzed man that I healed through Peter and John. I wanted you to see the refreshing new life that I brought not only to that man but also to all who turn to Me. Peter and John spoke about My power and presence being available because I had been raised from the dead. The Sanhedrin, the highest ranking religious body in Israel, had asked that I be put to death. In today's verses, My disciples were standing before the same religious body, but they were not intimidated or afraid. Because of My resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, they were undaunted! 

As you might expect, the healing of the paralyzed man created a big stir among the religious leaders. "So they arrested Peter, John, and the man who was healed and kept them in jail overnight" (Acts 4:3). These religious leaders had a major problem: more than 3,000 people had already become My disciples, and the number was quickly becoming more than 5,000. The religious leaders hauled Peter and John in before them. This very same group that had asked the Roman Governor Pilate to have Me put to death now threatened My apostles. 

Peter and John were unafraid! They spoke powerfully to the Sanhedrin, unfazed by the threats of these religious leaders and their earthly power. Peter and John's opponents immediately recognized the problem:

Now the leaders were surprised and confused. They looked at Peter and John and realized they were typical peasants — uneducated, utterly ordinary fellows — with extraordinary confidence. The leaders recognized them as companions of Jesus... 
(Acts 4:13)
In the next several chapters in the book of Acts, you will find that My disciples were threatened, beaten, imprisoned, and even martyred. They were put to death because of their faith in Me and their commitment to sharing My message with others. But they were not intimidated! They were undaunted! 

As you look at their examples, I hope you will also be undaunted by those who oppose you, ridicule you, and ostracize you. Let your commitment to share My message of grace with the lost world around you propel you past your fear, and let My Spirit empower you to greater things than you can imagine.
Verses to Live

What you will read below comes from the continuing story of the religious leaders' failed attempts to keep My apostles quiet. My apostles were committed to sharing My message. They were committed to reaching the lost. They were committed to honoring Us — Father, Son, and Spirit — in spite of any threat from any human power or person.

The leaders brought the prisoners [Peter and John] back in and prohibited them from doing any more speaking or teaching in the name of Jesus. Peter and John listened quietly and then replied, 

Peter and John:
You are the judges here, so we'll leave it up to you to judge whether it is right in the sight of God to obey your commands or God's. But one thing we can tell you: we cannot possibly restrain ourselves from speaking about what we have seen and heard with our own eyes and ears.
(Acts 4:18-20)
After praying and being emboldened by the Spirit, My disciples continued to share the message about My life, death, resurrection, and grace. They continued to proclaim the good news, and their number grew rapidly as My power was demonstrated through them.
Those were amazing days — with many signs and wonders being performed through the apostles among the people. The church would gather as a unified group in Solomon's Porch, enjoying great respect by the people of the city — though most people wouldn't risk publicly affiliating with them. Even so, record numbers of believers — both men and women — were added to the Lord. 
(Acts 5:12-14)
After being arrested and then miraculously delivered from jail (Acts 5:19), the apostles continued to proclaim My message, undaunted by the threats, beatings, and imprisonment. When questioned by the High Priest and the ruling council they remained undaunted:
The temple police — this time, accompanied by their captain — rushed over to the temple and brought the emissaries of the Lord to the council. They were careful not to use violence, because the people were so supportive of them that the police feared being stoned by the crowd if they were too rough. Once again the men stood before the council. The high priest began the questioning. 

High Priest:
Didn't we give you strict orders to stop teaching in this name? But here you are, spreading your teaching throughout Jerusalem. And you are determined to blame us for this man's death.
Peter and the Apostles:
If we have to choose between obedience to God and obedience to any human authority, then we must obey God.
(Acts 5:26-29) 

The council... brought the apostles back in. They were flogged, again told not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released. As they left the council, they weren't discouraged at all. In fact, they were filled with joy over being considered worthy to suffer disgrace for the sake of His name. And constantly, whether in public, in the temple, or in their homes, they kept teaching and proclaiming Jesus as the Anointed One, the Liberating King. 
(Acts 5:40-42)
Response in Prayer

O Father, give us the courage to do Your will and the grace to share the message about Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. May we be as undaunted in our day as these early disciples were in their day! I pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.

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

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

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

Post  Admin on Mon 19 Jun 2017, 9:47 pm

"Times of Refreshing" — A Year with Jesus for 06/19/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

Are you stuck? 

Are your days too predictably monotonous? 

Do you feel that nothing is ever going to change? 

I want you to look especially at the words highlighted in bold in the verses below. I want you to realize that when I ascended back to the Father, I didn't abandon My disciples. I continued to be present in their lives. I worked in them through the Holy Spirit when they called on My name to help them. 

Notice the following four different sets of words that tell the story of a paralyzed man trapped by his circumstances and of My grace that brings "times of refreshing." Please realize that these "times of refreshing" are not just for the paralyzed man who was healed, but also for all who turn to Me! 

Predictable Unwanted Daily Sameness: 
The words "customary time" and "every day" help us enter the world of the lame man. His discouraging situation is also the world for every man and woman stuck in a rut that he or she wants to escape. The man whom Peter and John met had been "paralyzed since birth." His routine was set by his physical limitations, his limited opportunities in society, and the limited number of people who chose to help him in their limited ways and with their limited expectations of what his life could ever be. 

Power of My Name: 
While the man who was born lame faced severe limits, these limits were removed by My gracious power. My power was released through Peter and John as they proclaimed the power behind the man's healing: "faith in the name of Jesus of Nazareth." Even though I had ascended back to the Father, Peter and John knew that I wasn't gone. They knew My power and My grace were still available through the Holy Spirit to those who called on My name. They didn't have money, but they did have faith. So they called on the power of My "name" and brought My presence and power near to address this paralyzed man's needs. 

A New Day Dawning: 
The formerly paralyzed man's life was changed forever! After he had been healed, praise was not something he watched from afar. He could stand, walk, leap, and dance in joyous praise. He was no longer dependent upon his friends to get him to the place where he could beg from other people for a few meager coins to sustain him. And if you listen to what Peter said to the crowd, you realize that the people in the crowd were paralyzed as well. They were stuck in their ways with low spiritual expectations. However, even for them, "a new day can dawn." They, too, could experience "days of refreshing times flowing from the Lord." Just as miraculous as a paralyzed man given the power to walk, these religious people could be delivered from their paralyzed religious forms into a life filled with My power and presence. 

Life's Ultimate Turning Point: 
The folks stuck in their religious rut needed to "rethink everything and turn to God." They could call upon the Father believing in My name. Believing in Me is something that you may have decided in the past. However, I hope that you will do it afresh each day, beginning today. Rethink everything! Call on My name! Believe in Me. Trust in My power and My presence! I do long to be present and powerful in your life and bring you "days of refreshing"!

Verses to Live

My apostle Paul said it well:

Therefore, if anyone is united with the Anointed One, that person is a new creation. The old life is gone — and see — a new life has begun. 
(2 Corinthians 5:17)
Step away from the boring sameness of a predictable life. Leave behind dry religion if you find yourself caught in low expectations of what I can do. Turn your heart to the Father. Call upon My name. Trust that I will be present with you and powerful for you through the Holy Spirit. Even if you feel satisfied with your life, you can experience so much more through My power and grace that bring you "days of refreshing."
One day at three o'clock in the afternoon, a customary time for daily prayer, Peter and John walked to the temple. Some people were carrying in a man who had been paralyzed since birth. Every day they brought him to a place near the beautiful gate (one of the temple entrances) so he could beg for money from people entering to worship. He saw Peter and John coming and asked them for a contribution. Peter gazed intensely at him — so did John. 

Peter:
Look at us.
The man looked up at them, assuming they were about to give him some money. 

Peter:
I want to give you something, but I don't have any silver or gold. Here's what I can offer you: stand up and walk in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, the Anointed One.
Then Peter took the man's right hand and lifted him to his feet. Instantly the man's feet and ankles grew strong. He jumped and walked, accompanying Peter and John into the temple where he walked, jumped for joy, and shouted praises to God. A crowd ran to the commotion, and they gathered around this man in an open area called Solomon's Porch. There he was, standing on his own two feet, holding on to Peter and John. They knew exactly who he was — the beggar they passed at the beautiful gate every day. Everyone was absolutely amazed at this wonderful miracle; they were speechless, stunned. 

Peter (to the crowd):
Why are you so amazed, my fellow Israelites? Why are you staring at my friend and me as though we did this miracle through our own power or made this fellow walk by our own holiness? We didn't do this — God did! The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob — the God of our ancestors has glorified Jesus, God's servant — the same Jesus Whom you betrayed and rejected in front of Pilate, even though Pilate was going to release Him. He is the Holy and Righteous One, but you rejected Him and asked for a murderer to be released to you instead. You not only rejected Him, but you killed Him — the very Author of life! But God raised Jesus from the dead, Whom my friend John and I have seen with our own eyes. So that's how this miracle happened: we have faith in the name of Jesus, and He is the power that made this man strong — this man who is known to all of you. It is faith in Jesus that has given this man his complete health here today, in front of all of you. 

Listen, friends, I know you didn't fully realize what you were doing when you rejected and betrayed Jesus. I know that you, and your rulers as well, were acting in ignorance. God was at work in all this, fulfilling what He had predicted through all the prophets — that the Anointed One would suffer. So now you need to rethink everything and turn to God so your sins will be forgiven and a new day can dawn, days of refreshing times flowing from the Lord.
(Acts 3:1-19)
Response in Prayer

O Father, I call on the mighty name of Jesus. I pray to You by the power and presence of Jesus' name. Give me eyes to see and a heart to believe, O Father. I know that You long to bring times of refreshing to me and to bring Your refreshing grace to others through me. So I offer You my heart. I seek Your Holy Spirit to help me rethink everything and see my world, my circumstances, and my influence through Your eyes of grace and possibility. Amen.

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

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

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

Post  Admin on Sun 18 Jun 2017, 8:12 pm

"Heart Surgery" — A Year with Jesus for 06/18/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

I've been sharing some reasons that the Scriptures, including the teaching of the apostles and others in the New Testament, are important to you. The Scriptures are alive because We — Father, Son, and Spirit — are all active as you read the Scriptures. The Father examines you as you read. The Spirit opens your heart to receive Our truth. The goal of the Scriptures is to transform you to be like Me in righteous character and gracious compassion. The Holy Spirit breathed out My message through human writing partners (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Spirit is also active in helping you understand the Father's message (1 Corinthians 2:6-16). The Spirit reminds you of My words, helps you to remember My deeds, and conforms you to the Father's will (John 15:26-27; John 16:12-15; Romans 8:1-4; 2 Corinthians 3:18). 

In the hands of the Spirit, the message of the Scriptures has the power to reach into your heart. As a tool of the Spirit, the Scriptures can do the delicate and drastic surgery necessary to help you understand the truth, receive correction, accept instruction, and understand Our will for your life. The Scriptures speak to your inner being ("soul and spirit"), to your physical being ("joints and marrow"), and to your mind and heart ("thoughts and will of the heart"). Just as you are to love Us heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30), We work on you in each area of your being through the Spirit and using the word. 

So open your Bible and read it. Open your hearts to Our message. Offer yourselves to the Father. Invite the Spirit to work in you. Read the Scriptures to seek My truth and to follow Me as My disciple.

Verses to Live

In the two passages below, you will find the word of God described as a "sword", even a "double-edged sword" or very sharp dagger or scalpel. The word of God is alive because this scalpel is used by the Spirit as the Father looks into and works on every area of your being to bring it into conformity to Our will. You need to understand these Scriptures. In order to understand how to apply Our word to your life, ask the Holy Spirit to help and look at the things I taught and the way I lived and treated people.

The word of God, you see, is alive and moving; sharper than a double-edged sword; piercing the divide between soul and spirit, joints and marrow; able to judge the thoughts and will of the heart. No creature can hide from God: God sees all. Everyone and everything is exposed, opened for His inspection; and He's the One we will have to explain ourselves to. 
(Hebrews 4:12-13) 

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

Father in heaven, I open my heart to You and ask that the Spirit work to bring every area of my being — soul, spirit, joints, marrow, thoughts, and heart — into conformity with Your will. My petition, dear Father, is that Paul's prayer for the Thessalonians will be true for me:

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify [me] through and through. May [my] whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. [I believe that the] one who calls [me] is faithful, and he will do it.
I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen. 

Part of this prayer is adapted from 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (NIV).
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

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

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

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

Post  Admin on Wed 14 Jun 2017, 4:58 pm

"Living for Me No Matter the Cost" — A Year with Jesus for 06/13/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Follower, 

How do you find the strength to go on when times are tough? 

That's a really important question because a lot of people will follow Me only when things are going well and when they get everything they want out of life. However, life can be tough. This situation is especially true if you are My faithful disciple in a locale that does not accept My call to radical discipleship. 

In the verses below, the apostle Paul is imprisoned because of his faith in Me. He is not sure what will happen to him. However, he is confident that he will honor Me and that he will be delivered either from death to a life of service or through death into My presence. His goal is to live for Me no matter the cost. 

But how could Paul have this goal and live up to it? Notice three things highlighted in the verses below:

The prayers and encouragement of other believers for him.
The power of the Holy Spirit at work in him.
His intention to honor Me no matter what he faced.
These principles are not a magical formula, but they provide the time-tested power that fuels perseverance and assures ultimate victory. 

Build your relationship with brothers and sisters in Christ. Have them partner with you in prayer. Ask them to encourage you to be faithful, to serve selflessly, and to be strong. 

Take the time to learn about the work of the Holy Spirit to empower and strengthen you. Believe My promises to you about the Holy Spirit. Read My words on the eve of My crucifixion about the coming of the Spirit as your helper (John chapters 14-16). Trust in the Spirit to be at work in you to empower, purify, transform, and resurrect you. 

Finally, I challenge you to commit to living for Me no matter what comes your way. Be "all in" with that commitment. Choose to live for My glory with Me as your Lord. 

I want you to be able to join the apostle Paul in saying, "For I can do everything through Christ, Who gives me strength." This concept is more than a slogan. It is a proven lifestyle that leads to eternal victory and glorious celebration!
Note from Heartlight: For more on the Holy Spirit, check out the daily devotional called SpiritFire. 
Verses to Live

The following words from the apostle Paul are powerful. He spoke them when facing possible death while he was imprisoned. Some opponents claiming to be believers were trying to cause him problems and hurt him. Through it all, Paul was confident. He was confident in Me, confident in his commitment to me, confident in the work of the Spirit to deliver him, and confident in the prayers of those who were faithful to pray for his well-being!

What matters is that in every way, regardless of the motives — whether pure or shady — the great story of the Anointed is a cause for joy. I will continue to rejoice because I know that through your encouragement and prayers and through the help of the Spirit of Jesus the Anointed, I will soon be released from this dark place. I don't expect that dishonor and shame will plague me in any way, but I do hope that I will continue to be able to speak freely and courageously about Jesus, and that now and forever the Anointed One will be glorified and placed above all else through this body of mine — whether I live or die. For my life is about the Anointed and Him alone. And my death, when that comes, will mean great gain for me. So, if it's His will that I go on serving here, my work will be fruitful for the message. I honestly wouldn't know how or what to choose; I would be hard-pressed to decide. I lean toward leaving this world to be with the Anointed One because I can only think that would be much better. To stay in this body of flesh — even with all its pains and weaknesses — would best serve your needs. Now that I think of it, I am sure of this: I would prefer to remain to share in the progress and joy of your growing belief. When I return to you, we will celebrate Jesus the Anointed even more. 
(Philippians 1:18-26) 

How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn't have the chance to help me. Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, Who gives me strength. 
(Philippians 4:10-13 NLT)
Response in Prayer

O LORD, God Almighty! Thank You for being ever near through the Holy Spirit and through taking on human flesh in Jesus. Thank You for fellow disciples who love me and pray for me. Thank You for the confidence that I have in the Spirit to deliver me. Now I ask, please dear Father, that You strengthen my resolve and grow my confidence. Strengthen my commitment to serve You no matter what I may face. I confess that I am a little fearful in asking for this because I do not want to face trials. Nevertheless, dear Father, growing in character and commitment is more important to me than my comfort. So I ask this prayer — trusting in Your mercy and grace — to do what is best for me to Your glory. In Jesus' name. Amen.

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

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


"The Stubbornness of Unbelief" — A Year with Jesus for 06/14/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Follower, 

I challenge you to consider two questions about the verses you find below:

Why do you think that Mark included this story about the unbelief of the folks from My "hometown" and among My "own people" and in My "own household"?
Who are My hometown folks and family today?
If you are My disciple, you are part of My family. Mark included the episode below from My ministry to speak to My family and warn them (and warn you) of a great danger — the "stubbornness of their unbelief." This warning is about a specific kind of "stubbornness" and "unbelief." 

Over the centuries of church history, My disciples have often thought they knew what they could expect from Me. Many times they ended up under-expecting. They came up with theologies that limited My power and presence. They quit believing that I could or would do great things through them. In the process, they limited what I could do for them, with them, and through them because of the "stubbornness of their unbelief." Mark included this episode from My life to speak to this kind of loss of expectation, this "stubbornness" of "unbelief" in the people in his day. The gospel of Mark in your Bibles warns you about this same "unbelief." 

In a few days, we will begin an extended look into the book of Acts. Then, we will go through the rest of the New Testament story together. In the book of Acts, you will read about My disciples and what the Holy Spirit did for them, with them, and through them. You may be tempted to believe that the kinds of things you see in the book of Acts could never happen in your time. I want you to be aware that any lack of expectation still limits the power I can release into your life and the lives of those you love just as My relatives lack of expectation did in My hometown. 

The power of My gospel to reach lost people in every place in every age is still present through the work of My Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, the "stubbornness" of "unbelief" I confronted in My hometown also happens in your day. This lack of expectation contributes to My repeated frustration with My family — My modern-day "hometown" and My "own people" and "household." This "stubbornness" of "unbelief" prevents Me from doing any "great works" for them, among them, and through them. 

Please believe! Please expect more! Please read your Bibles to see that We — Father, Son, and Spirit — long to do in your day the things We've done before. Don't let it be said in your day that I AM limited "by the stubbornness of their unbelief."
Verses to Live

In the following verses, Mark reported things that happened in My hometown of Nazareth. Notice that the people there were astonished at My teaching. They also knew about My miraculous powers. However, they couldn't see past their own familiarity with Me, My family, and what they thought they knew about Me. They refused to accept My teaching and My miracles. Their lack of faith prevented them from experiencing all that I wanted to bring to them and do among them 

Don't let your past experiences place limits on what you think I can do for you, in you, and through you. Remember this about Us — Father, Son, and Spirit: We "can do so many awe-inspiring things, immeasurable things, things greater than [you] ever could ask or imagine through the power at work in" you (Ephesians 3:20).

Jesus went back into His own hometown where He had grown up, and His disciples followed Him there. When the Sabbath came, He went into the synagogue in Nazareth and began to teach as He had done elsewhere, and many of those who heard Him were astonished. 

Those in the Synagogue:
Where did He gain this wisdom? And what are all these stories we've been hearing about the signs and healings He's performed? Where did He get that kind of power? Isn't this Jesus, the little boy we used to see in Joseph's carpenter shop? Didn't He grow up to be a carpenter just like His father? Isn't He the son of Mary over there and the brother of James, Joses, Judas, Simon, and their sisters? Who does He think He is?
And when they had thought about it that way, they became indignant and closed themselves to His message. 

Jesus (seeing this):
A prophet can find honor anywhere except in his hometown, among his own people, and in his own household.
He could not do any of His great works among them except with a few of the sick, whom He healed by laying His hands upon them. He was amazed by the stubbornness of their unbelief. 
(Mark 6:1-6)
Response in Prayer

Today, O God, I pray as Habakkuk did many years ago:

Lord, I have heard of your fame; 
I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. 
Repeat them in our day, 
in our time make them known.
In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen. 

Prayer from Habakkuk 3:2 NIV. 
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More

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

Post  Admin on Mon 05 Jun 2017, 6:47 pm

"For You, but More than Just You!" — A Year with Jesus for 06/05/2017

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

John wrote the truth powerfully and simply in his short little letter you call 1 John:

You are my little children, so I am writing these things to help you avoid sin. If, however, any believer does sin, we have a high-powered defense lawyer — Jesus the Anointed, the righteous — arguing on our behalf before the Father. It was through His sacrificial death that our sins were atoned. But He did not stop there — He died for the sins of the whole world. 
(1 John 2:1-2)
I gave My life for you! I was crucified for your sins! I came to bring you salvation and new life. I did what I did for you, but this wasn't just for you! 

My Father's love encompasses "every nation and tribe, people and language" (Revelation 7:9). As John said it in one of the most famous passages of Scripture:
For God expressed His love for the world in this way: He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not face everlasting destruction, but will have everlasting life. Here's the point. God didn't send His Son into the world to judge it; instead, He is here to rescue a world headed toward certain destruction. 
(John 3:16-17)
So when Pentecost came, I poured out the Holy Spirit upon those who were already My disciples and those who became My disciples. Then Peter reminded everyone present that My love is for all nations, which means all people, male and female, and all races, nationalities, social levels, and cultures. The salvation from sin and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that occurred on the day of Pentecost were just the beginning, a mere foretaste of what will happen throughout the world and throughout time. So remember this: My grace includes you, but it is also bigger than just you... and those like you. My grace and the gift of the Holy Spirit are for everyone who responds to My call to follow Me!
Verses to Live

Pentecost is often called the birthday of the church. With the coming of the Holy Spirit, My disciples proclaimed My death, burial, and resurrection as the message of salvation. A new era began with the baptism of over 3,000 people in response to the apostles' preaching. I want to impress two things about this message upon you. 

First, this message and this salvation are for you! 

Second, this message and this salvation are for everyone who is willing to respond! 

Notice both the words Peter says to the crowd and also the response of this crowd. This message is for you and for all who will listen to the Father's call to their hearts. 

When the people heard this [the Spirit-inspired message about Jesus as Messiah and the One Whom they had crucified], their hearts were pierced; and they said to Peter and his fellow apostles: 

Pilgrims:
Our brothers, what should we do?
Peter:
Reconsider your lives; change your direction. Participate in the... washing of baptism in the name of Jesus God's Anointed, the Liberating King. Then your sins will be forgiven, and the gift of the Holy Spirit will be yours. For the promise of the Spirit is for you, for your children, for all people — even those considered outsiders and outcasts — the Lord our God invites everyone to come to Him.
(Acts 2:37-39)
Response in Prayer

Father in heaven, I realize that Jesus died for all people. Forgive me for the times when I have been short-sighted and didn't reach out to all kinds of people. I confess that I sometimes assume I know who will respond to Your invitation of grace and who will not. Help me, O Lord, to see people through the eyes of Jesus. Help me as I seek to share Your grace with all people. I pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.

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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2017, Heartlight Inc.
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Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Sun 04 Jun 2017, 10:25 pm

"Pentecost!" — A Year with Jesus for 06/04/2017
Note from Jesus
Dear Disciple, 

A new era began after My resurrection. On the day of Pentecost, I poured out the Holy Spirit first on My closest disciples. Then I poured out the Holy Spirit upon all those who responded to their message (Acts 2:38-39; Titus 3:3-5). The pouring out of the Spirit upon My disciples was done loudly and with no small disturbance. The apostles spoke about Me. People from many countries heard the message in their own languages. Yes, there were some skeptics — as there always are. Undeniably, something dramatic was happening. The words spoken by Peter and the apostles were powerful, but there was something more than convincing words touching the hearts of the people. My life, death, and resurrection were proclaimed. Conviction swept through the crowd like wildfire. Their yearning hearts cried out for relief from their rejection of the Messiah, their Lord and Savior — Me. 

Peter let the crowd at Pentecost know that the same Spirit Who propelled this message past their defenses and brought conviction to their hearts was now available to them if they repented and were baptized. And many were immersed that day based on their faith in Me and turning their lives around to follow Me! Luke, the writer of Acts, described it this way:

Whoever made a place for his [Peter's] message in their hearts received the baptism; in fact, that day alone, about 3,000 people joined the disciples.
The movement of the Spirit in My disciples had begun and would sweep across the Mediterranean area in about thirty years. And you, My dear disciple, are a part of that movement that began at Pentecost. You are part of a movement centered on My death, burial, and resurrection. This gospel is proclaimed by people filled with the Holy Spirit. These people are built into a spiritual family that reflects my righteous character and gracious compassion. You can see that Luke emphasized all of this in his telling of the Pentecost story. 

Please know that I long to do in your day what happened in that time long ago. Come! Believe! Ask for the Spirit's power to be at work in you, among your spiritual family, and with your efforts to bring the kingdom of God to the lost world around you.
Verses to Live

These verses talk about the birth of the new era of the Holy Spirit. Read through them a couple of times and then ask yourself if you have responded to the call of My gospel the way those early disciples did. Then open yourself to the work of the Holy Spirit in your day. I long to reanimate My people with grace and power. Don't let the power of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit, be dead in your day!

When the holy day of Pentecost came 50 days after Passover, they [the disciples] were gathered together in one place. 

Picture yourself among the disciples: 

A sound roars from the sky without warning, the roar of a violent wind, and the whole house where you are gathered reverberates with the sound. Then a flame appears, dividing into smaller flames and spreading from one person to the next. All the people present are filled with the Holy Spirit and begin speaking in languages they've never spoken, as the Spirit empowers them. 

Because of the holy festival, there are devout Jews staying as pilgrims in Jerusalem from every nation under the sun. They hear the sound, and a crowd gathers. They are amazed because each of them can hear the group speaking in their native languages. They are shocked and amazed by this. 

Pilgrims:
Just a minute. Aren't all of these people Galileans? How in the world do we all hear our native languages being spoken? Look — there are Parthians here, and Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians, and Judeans, residents of Cappadocia, Pontus, and Asia, Phrygians and Pamphylians, Egyptians and Libyans from Cyrene, Romans including both Jews by birth and converts, Cretans, and Arabs. We're each, in our own languages, hearing these people talk about God's powerful deeds.
Their amazement becomes confusion as they wonder: 

Pilgrims:
What does this mean?
Skeptics:
It doesn't mean anything. They're all drunk on some fresh wine! 
As the twelve stood together, Peter shouted to the crowd:
Peter:
Men of Judea and all who are staying here in Jerusalem, listen. I want you to understand: these people aren't drunk as you may think. Look, it's only nine o'clock in the morning! No, this isn't drunkenness; this is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel. Hear what God says!
In the last days, I will offer My Spirit to humanity as a libation. Your children will boldly speak the word of the Lord. Young warriors will see visions, and your elders will dream dreams. Yes, in those days I shall offer My Spirit to all servants, both male and female, and they will boldly speak My word.
... 

Everyone in Israel should now realize with certainty what God has done: God has made Jesus both Lord and Anointed King — this same Jesus Whom you crucified.
When the people heard this, their hearts were pierced; and they said to Peter and his fellow apostles: 

Pilgrims:
Our brothers, what should we do?
Peter:
Reconsider your lives; change your direction. Participate in the ceremonial washing of baptism in the name of Jesus God's Anointed, the Liberating King. Then your sins will be forgiven, and the gift of the Holy Spirit will be yours. For the promise of the Spirit is for you, for your children, for all people — even those considered outsiders and outcasts — the Lord our God invites everyone to come to Him.
Peter was pleading and offering many logical reasons to believe. Whoever made a place for his message in their hearts received the baptism; in fact, that day alone, about 3,000 people joined the disciples. 
(Acts 2:1-18; Acts 2:36-41)
Response in Prayer

Almighty God, do in our day what we heard that happened in bygone days. I long to see Your name glorified, Jesus' grace received, and the Holy Spirit's power bring thousands to salvation. I ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.

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

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