Word of the Day

Devotional News

The daily devotional will be paused for a short time resuming on June 16, 2014.
During this short break we hope that you will continue to be blessed and will rejoin us with great expectations for what God will do in your life for the remainder of this year.
God Bless you!

Guaranteed Success

Proverb 16: 3          NIV

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.

How would you like to know that every project you undertake is going to be a success? Wouldn’t that change your perspective? Well, it is possible. If you begin every project, every assignment by committing it to God then you are guaranteed to be successful. Now, can you believe it?  

Believing the veracity of this scripture is one of the hidden necessities to make your success manifest. If you do not believe God’s word in this context either you will not pray, submitting your work to God or you will not believe the words coming out of your own mouth. Either is shooting yourself in the foot. So, the first thing we must do if we want to see success in our endeavors is to believe this scripture. Second, we must actually commit our plans and projects to the Lord. But there is a third necessary step.

Leave it alone after you commit it to Him. Do your work but leave the success of the project in His hands. I have a visualization that I use for this and also for problems. When I have a project or problem I picture a mail tray like the type everyone used to have on their desks. I see a stack of them and the one on top is marked “In”. In my mind I recognize this as God’s inbox. I see myself walk to it and drop in whatever it is that I have on my mind. Now, here is the key. Leave it there. I cannot tell you how many times I have put something in God’s inbox only to later go pull it out. Perhaps He isn’t moving as fast as I think reasonable. Maybe I just think the problem or project needs my hands in it. Okay, I know both thoughts are ludicrous but that is the unrenewed part of my mind and exactly why I must continuously renew my mind to God and His Word.   

Once you commit your works to the Lord then it is time for you to allow Him to be the mastermind. He will instruct you and lead all of your work by His Holy Spirit. You will be surprised how much less time your work actually takes when you let Him guide your steps. And you are guaranteed success. You gotta love that. God will establish your ways and lead you into righteousness which, after all, is right-ness which only makes sense. He is not going to lead you into wrongness, now is He? So learn to stop and pray a personal prayer of committal before you commence any project. Not only will you be guaranteed success but you will find the labor much less odious. Let Jesus lead you in paths of success.

Loving the Unlovely

Romans 12: 14

Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not.

This is grown-up Christianity. We have gone into the deep water. We know that if we love Christ we will keep his commands. Paul is preaching Christ here. Besides, we know that Jesus is the word, the entire word. But if that is not good enough let us see what Jesus said when he was still in the earth. Matthew 5: 44 reads, “But I say to you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” One translation says, “… bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you (KJV).

If you do not like these two verses, I don’t blame you. It is just not natural to heap blessing on those who persecute and hate us. But then, we weren’t called to be natural, were we? We are called to be supernatural through the power of Christ at work within us. These circumstances are when we most need the miracle working might of Christ Jesus ministering in us and through us. Jesus said that all things are possible with God (Mark 10: 27) so the key here is that we must be with God. We are not going to succeed in praying for and blessing our persecutors without God’s strength. The Apostle Paul received this revelation as well. In Philippians 4: 13 he wrote, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” With God all things are possible which is a really important thing to know when you believe that He has called you to the impossible like saving a country or forgiving your obnoxious brother-in-law. I wonder which is more difficult. Regardless, you are going to need God’s power and strength in order to do what you are supposed to do. We know that we are to follow all of Jesus’ teachings and obey his commands. If you have made a quality decision to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and be obedient to the calling within you including obeying all of Jesus’ ordinances then you need the power of God at work in your life. But, fear not. Father God has created a foolproof way for each of us to operate in that awesome power that can only be obtained through Him. He just comes and lives inside of us. We take off the grave clothes of our former lives and don the glory of the living God. He, God, becomes again our covering just as in the Garden of Eden when humanity was surrounded by the glory of God.  

There is nothing God cannot due and by extension there is nothing you cannot do when you are joined with the Holy One. You can even pray for your enemies and bless those who persecute you. Your glory is the Lord himself and He will lift you up and He will enable you to do all things. You are half of an unbeatable team. Now, what will you do?

Jesus Reveals Himself

John 14: 21, 23 – 24

Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him. If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. He who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

What powerful words from our Lord Jesus! One thing you might find interesting is discovering how many times the Lord spoke about words. It is quite fascinating. In this passage Jesus makes an outstanding promise to us. To paraphrase; if we will keep Jesus’ commandments then he and the father will love us AND Jesus will show himself to us. Those seem like enormously great promises. One of the techniques you can use in helping you glean fullness from scriptures is to look at the reward and work backward. I want Jesus and the Father to love me. I want Jesus to reveal himself to me so all I have to do is to look backward and I can see what I need in order to see that promise fulfilled. It is honoring the words of Jesus that yield the reward. We begin by reading our Bibles but we do not stop there. Reading the Bible is great but think about it for a moment, a lot of folks read the Bible who are not Christians. That which makes us Christians is the implementation of what we read in the Bible.

We can work backward in the second part of the passage as well. When we do so we discover that those who do not obey Jesus’ teachings do not love him. This might cause us each to pause and consider our ways. Are we following Jesus’ teachings? If we do not then do we really love Jesus? Do we say we love Jesus but fail to do the things that show that love? Has our love grown cold? 

These verses certainly cause me moments of quiet contemplation. We might very well ask, “What are these words, teachings and commandments that we are supposed to be obeying.” Well, I say start with the red letters and work your way out. Every word in the Bible is divine because Jesus is the word. He has given us each of the books of the Bible in order to teach us vital lessons, sometimes even what not to do. When all is said and done, though, you will find all of Jesus’ teachings encapsulated in the One Commandment, the commandment of love but it takes the whole book including the divine revelations given to Paul and John for us to even know what love means much less how to walk in a command to love.

Further, when we understand that Jesus is in the Father and the Father is in Jesus then we should embrace immediately Jesus’ statement that the words that he speaks are not his own. He spoke what he heard the father speak. This is a good model for us as well. Once we learn what Jesus spoke and how he spoke, once we connect with Jesus inside of us, then perhaps we can say that the words we speak are not our own but rather those given us by our savior and Lord.  

Ultimately, when we heed the words that Jesus gave us, the words of life, then we experience the life of Christ growing within us. When we honor his commandments with obedience we give permission for our life in Christ to swell and fill us. As we give way from our ideas to God’s ways the love of God and of His dear son fill us and we will see Jesus revealed to us. More importantly, others will see Jesus revealed through us. Amen.

The Character of Love

Romans 12: 9 – 10

Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.  

The Apostle Paul cuts us no slack. He was called by God to receive and deliver the revelation of Christ to the world and with a calling that big he just didn’t have time to mince words. We can skate over the first two sentences fairly easily but that last one creates immediate friction. There is a foot note on the last sentence which reads, “outdo one another in showing honor.” To do otherwise is to paint our love with hypocrisy. That is a hard message Paul.

So what are we to do? I have to begin with the most powerful prayer I know, “Help me Lord.” I know I cannot do this in my own strength. My soul wants to defend and promote itself. There is only one way. Of course, he, Jesus is that way. But how do I avail myself of the way? Ivey must die and be buried. In her place must be the life of Christ which is my right and my inheritance and in whom I can do all things. “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Galatians 2: 20). 

I remember when God began teaching me this lesson in a loud way. I was still practicing law. There was a person who had made a mistake but instead of owning up to it he lied and made up a story about my practice. Well, I was incensed when I heard this lie and not one to take things lying down. I had my guns loaded and was headed to town when God stopped me. He told me that I was not allowed to defend myself. What? A lawyer is primed for these moments. I was not only confused but also astounded. My reputation was at stake and I valued my reputation but God was teaching me a new thing and it did not involve my might, and my power but rather His spirit (Zechariah 4: 6). Although I lived by the strength of my arguments and persuasive personality I loved God more, but believe me, this was hard. God used my training against me too. He showed me that when I represented a client, I was the one who spoke for him. He did not speak and defend himself. Jesus is my counselor and advocate. It is His job to defend me and to speak for me. Now, I do not say this is easy but for those who love Christ, it is the command.

We have a clear directive from our Lord, “Give preference to others over your own preferences. Honor them.” We can determine in our hearts to do just that and it works fine when you are associated with other Christians who have decided to make Christ first in their lives. I have a friend that makes this so easy. She is a blessing, and blessing others is what she does. I recently tried to bless her and she out blessed me. You can’t promote her enough because she turns around and honors the one trying to honor her. She is a living example of this verse so we end up just blessing one another. It is great! 

What happens, though, when you encounter that person who is self-absorbed, who makes everything about them and their preferences? Okay, now it gets hard. Your personality and your human character kick in and begin to push back. You may not want “everything” to be about you but you begin to feel like you’ve been run over by a truck.” This is when Christ has to be big in your life because you will need all of his strength. If you have truly died to self and are living to Christ then the things of the world don’t impact you and this is easy for you. If, instead, you are like many of us and have not completely buried that old man or are very good at resurrecting him when you feel a threat then this is going to push a few buttons. My advice is to stop and take a deep breath. Don’t say anything until you can get out of the flesh and back into Jesus. Then bring Jesus up before your eyes. Put your mind on his word. Remind yourself that nothing is more important that your love for him and his commands. It is not much consolation that you are the one acting mature and the other person is just selfishly denying Christ’s commands but it is God’s job to promote and honor you and you will receive from him what the devil steals from you through these selfish people. Give Jesus glory by honoring the command in today’s verse and he will turn around and shine that glory on you. It’s hard, I know, but your love for Jesus is bigger than any challenge. Be blessed.

You Shall Know Me

You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.           John 8: 32 

I am … the truth.                          John 14: 6 
If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.              John 8: 36 
Truth and freedom are all in one nice package; Jesus. If we will come to know Jesus who is the truth, the life and the way, then we shall at last experience true freedom and the peace which comes with it.

Jesus longs for us to come to know him in truth. He came into the earth to bring us back into close fellowship with the Father and he, Jesus, is the way to that close, personal fellowship. This is a key difference between Christianity and all the world religions. It also marks a significant departure from the Old Testament ways. It is not at all different, however, from how it was in the beginning when God first created humanity. Adam and Eve used to walk with God in the cool of the evening. Can you imagine taking an evening stroll through the garden with God? Can you see Him reach out and put His arm around you as you walk along the little stream that flows through the garden? Just as you cross over a little footbridge there is a bench and the two of you sit and visit. Maybe you don’t talk about anything important today. Perhaps some bugs draw your attention and you watch them. Can you imagine watching ants work while you sit and watch them with the one who created them? What might you say to Him? I suppose it would be a very interesting conversation. Before a few sentences pass I bet He will reveal some dazzling information about when He made the ant or some profound wisdom He draws from their example. Can you see the peace and joy that you experience as you sit there with your beloved Father? And Jesus looks upon the two of you and says, “It was all worth it.” Glory, Hallelujah! It is for that reunification, for that walk in the garden that both Jesus and God gave all. It is for this complete freedom in your spirit and the complete relaxation of your personality that all was done.

We read in Galatians 5: 1 that it was for freedom that Jesus set us free. This is a strange sentence, isn’t it? But it really does make a good point. Jesus did not suffer all that he endured just so that we can continue to live in bondage. We may answer Paul like the Jews answered Jesus in the eighth chapter of John saying that surely we are not in bondage. Are we not free people? Jesus said that anyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. Likewise, many of us are slaves to a variety of things. Perhaps we are bound by a bad temper when Christ has told us that we are to be gentle. Maybe there are still fetters on us from our past and we still react in ways that are not our free choice but rather spontaneous responses when certain buttons are pushed. Jesus is telling us that he came to set us free from all of that. Here is the key, though. This freedom, this life in Christ does not come from saying the sinner’s prayer. It comes through renewing the mind (Romans 12: 2). We must abandon self and come into close unity with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

You know, we have the promise that if we draw near to God, he will draw near to us (James 4: 8) and God is not a man that He should lie (Numbers 23: 19). That is a good word. Has He not said it, will He not do it (ibid). We think we are waiting on God to make a move in our lives but the truth is that He is waiting for us to draw nigh to Him and then He will draw unto us. He will not violate the free will that He has given us, so our relationship with Him is always in our hands. We have and can have whatever relationship we choose. I should warn you, though, this is not a decision that we can make in our minds. A quality decision of this magnitude can only be implemented by the heart. Your heart holds the keys. So even if your mind says, “Yeah, I want that kind of intimacy with the Father”, only your heart can open the doors and let Him in. When you do, though, in rushes freedom and overcoming love.

I pray that you find the strength of heart, the courage of soul, and the conviction of mind to reach out to your beloved Father and draw Him into the deepest folds of your being. I pray that you will be liberated from every tie which seeks to bind you to a life that is in any measure less than what God intended for you. May the truth set you free indeed.

Impossibly Victorious

Mark 10: 27

Looking at them Jesus said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”

Let’s face it; when God calls you to do something it is often impossible in your own strength. And it is often humbling. We hear God or feel Him pulling us in a certain direction and then the next thing we do is look at ourselves. Immediately we know that the job is bigger than we are.

I confess that I know this feeling all too well. As God has ministered dreams, visions and plans to me I take inventory of myself and find that I am not enough. It is a very threatening feeling and can even be overwhelming. Recently, though, I have discovered something that is helping me. Taking a personal inventory as a result of something God has called you to do is actually self-centered egotism. Now don’t take that as bad news because you will find it is very liberating. Discovering the truth is freeing. Jesus told us that knowing the truth would set us free (John 8: 32). If we will take our eyes off of ourselves; our strengths, weaknesses and gross inadequacies and instead put them on Jesus then the pressure and stress immediately leave. Now, between you and me, I didn’t like God having to tell me that I was being self-absorbed but the trade-off was well worth it. Now I know that the impossible is His responsibility. I know that I am not capable of doing some of the things He requires. I do not feel personally up to the task sometimes but I am discovering that the anointing of God is well able to carry the day.  

If you are feeling stressed because of your responsibilities and heavy load, then look to Jesus and put the burden on him. Be yoked with him and let him do the heavy pulling. As soon as you are able to take your eyes off of yourself you will experience great relief. If God has called you to some office or position that you know is beyond you, fear not. You are in the best possible place. If it is too big for you, if the task is impossible for you then it will necessarily have to rest on Jesus’ shoulders. If you can’t do it anyway, then what is there for you to worry about? Just call on your big brother who is well able to do all things for nothing is impossible for him.

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