Devotionals

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Loving God

Loving God

Today's Message

{ Day 305 }

Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning. I charge you, in the sight of God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, to keep these instructions without partiality, and to do nothing out of favoritism. Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure. —1 Timothy 5:20-22

God has mercy on weak vessels and will manifest His gifts through them even when things are not totally right inside. But don't be deceived. This will not go on forever. It's like a dog on a long leash. He can chase after a cat to a limit, but eventually and suddenly, he'll come to the end of the leash. Some of God's people have been displayed as examples that He is patient with their sin and that His gifts are without repentance. Others are examples of another fact—that God eventually calls His servants to give account of their stewardship. God's disciplines are manifest more openly to this group, and it causes us to fear God. The message for prophets, leaders, and church people is this: God's gifts are freely given as a sign of His mercy, not His approval. Don't disdain valid spiritual gifts manifested through spiritually immature people. But also, do not be fooled by God's grace and patience with prophetic vessels who remain anointed for a season as they continue in their carnality. Eventually He will call us all to account as stewards of the gifts He has entrusted to us.

{ PRAYER STARTER }

Father, teach me to focus on You, the giver of gifts, rather than on the gifts themselves. Make me a good steward of Your revelation, and help me to leave the judging of others to You.

God's gifts are freely given as a sign
of His mercy, not His approval.

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Daily Breakthroughs

Daily Breakthroughs

Today's Message

The Sanctity of Marriage

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. —Ephesians 5:31-32

God sanctioned and blessed only two institutions: the family and the church. He even used the marriage relationship to illustrate the relationship between Christ and the church, showing us the high value He places on marriage.

Ephesians 5 discusses in detail the way God intends marriage to be. A sanctified marriage is a harmonious union between a man and a woman who cherish each other and willingly give up their own self-interests on behalf of the other.

The church is the model for wives, submitting to their husbands just as the church follows the leadership of Christ. Jesus is the model for husbands, who are told to "love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it" (v. 25). Couples who commit to living out Ephesians 5 in their marriage are a living witness to all those around them. Make your commitment today!

Jesus, make our marriage holy. Sanctify us
as one in You. Give us the same love for
each other that You have for
the Church. Amen.

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By Love Transformed

By Love Transformed

Today's Message

How Does God Speak?

And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood; and the three are in agreement. —1 John 5:6-8

How does God speak? Primarily through His Word, the Bible. As far as I know how, I only preach what the Scriptures ask me to preach. I don't make up things or come up with ideas; I just follow the Bible and let it speak for itself. It means that when I speak the Holy Spirit can use my words, and thus they are not merely my words. At some stage, you become conscious that God Himself is speaking.

Sometimes God will speak in a particular context. You may be in a situation where you are suffering. Perhaps something traumatic has happened to you. Maybe you have gone through a particular kind of trial, and you happen to be in the service, and, lo and behold, the word that is spoken is so relevant and so intimate that it's almost embarrassing. You think that the preacher knows all about you, but it's only the Holy Spirit applying the Word.

In other words, once we hear God speak, it's as if we suddenly understand it. The person who hears the same old gospel week after week may say, "I have heard it before, and I know all of that." Then suddenly the truth hits him, and he says, "Oh, I see it! I see that Jesus lived on this earth, kept the law for us, and because He did, He is our righteousness. I am actually saved by what someone else did. Jesus died on the cross as my substitute, and God punished Him instead of me. The blood He shed satisfied God's justice."

"You've got it. Well, you've heard it a thousand times."

"Yes, but tonight I heard it for the first time."

Someone has said that no one has the right to hear the gospel twice until all have heard it once, which is a fine statement. But a truer statement would be that nobody hears the gospel once until they have heard it twice, and suddenly they realize that God is speaking to them. You see, only the Holy Spirit can make you understand the gospel.

Excerpted from All's Well That Ends Well (Authentic Media, 2005).

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Around the Word in 365 Days

Around the Word in 365 Days

Today's Message

What Do You Love the Most?


John 21:1-25 The water gently washed over the heart-shaped rocks that were formerly pillars to an ancient temple. We looked in the distance across the Sea of Galilee and relived the story written in John 21. We were standing in one of my favorite spots on the shore of the Galilee. The place is called Peter's Primacy, and it is the place where Jesus cooked a meal for His disciples after He was resurrected. It was at this place that Peter had the opportunity to confirm his love to the Master three times after denying Him three times. This was Jesus' last meal with His disciples before He ascended, and something essential for their future happened here during their dinner conversation. Jesus told them of their future occupation in the kingdom.

The disciples had gone fishing and had caught nothing. They heard a voice on shore calling, "Children, have you any meat?" Still not recognizing Jesus, they responded, "No." Then Jesus instructed, "Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and you shall find." Peter then realized it was the Lord, and he girded himself and swam to shore to meet Jesus. The other disciples did as Jesus told them, and they followed Peter to shore, dragging a great catch with them. When they arrived, Jesus already had bread waiting and a fire going to cook the fish. Then Jesus asked Peter a very important question. "Simon, son of Jonas, do you love Me more than these?" Peter responded, "Yes, Lord; You know I do." Jesus said, "Feed My lambs." Then Jesus asked him again, Simon, son of Jonas, do you love Me?" Peter responded, "Yes, Lord, You know I love You." Jesus instructed, "Feed My sheep." Then Jesus asked the third time, "Simon, son of Jonas, do you love Me?" Peter responded, "Lord, You know all things. You know I love you." Jesus again instructed, "Feed My sheep."

When Jesus first asked Peter if he loved Him more than these, I believe Jesus was not pointing at the disciples; instead, He was pointing to the great catch of fish they had just brought to shore. Peter's livelihood was fishing, and it was something he loved to do. Every day his goal as a fisherman was to have a great catch. What Jesus was asking Peter was, "Do you love Me more than what you love to do the most?" What Peter loved the most was fishing. What do you love the most? It may be your job, your family or even yourself. It is easy for us to say "I love you" to Jesus and to others, but love demands action. Jesus knew Peter loved Him, but He gave Peter a specific way he could demonstrate his love to Jesus. Jesus told him first to feed His lambs (the little children). Then Jesus told him twice to feed His sheep. Children are so important to Jesus. Remember Jesus called the disciples "children." He sees us as children and He loves us, but He also sees us as those who can feed His Word to those both younger and older than us in the spirit and most of all to the unbeliever. Do you love Jesus? Feed His lambs then.

READ: 2 Samuel 19:11-20:13; John 21:1-25; Psalm 120:1-7; Proverbs 16:16-17


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Live Extraordinary

Live Extraordinary

Today's Message

Finishing Well

When we produce fruits of holiness through the power of God's grace, we have no reason to fall back into a life of sin and bondage. They are free, empowered and whole. However, this promise does not apply to believers who do not walk in true holiness. Hear what Peter says about this:

"But those who fail to develop these virtues of [holiness] are blind or, at least, very shortsighted. They have already forgotten that God has cleansed them from their old life of sin. So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Doing this, you will never stumble or fall away." (2 Peter 1:9-10, NLT)

We will never stumble or fall away. We are an invincible people, not because of our own ability, but because of the ability grace provides. So, in essence, grace gives us the power to walk the highway of holiness, which secures for us the promise of finishing the race well. It keeps us from becoming shipwrecked in our faith and falling short.

Peter covers the opposite side as well. Those who do not walk in the power of grace fail to develop the virtues of holiness. The result is blindness and forgetting that God has cleansed them from their old life of sin. This blindness makes it very difficult, almost impossible, to stay on the narrow road of holiness. Quite easily they will venture back to a lifestyle captive to sin (and most often still believing they are covered and protected by God's grace).

Paul penned to Christians: "Don't you know that you are slaves of anyone you obey? You can be slaves of sin and die" (Romans 6:16, CEV). When we willfully and repetitively follow sin's desire, we become entangled in it and are once again its slave.

God has indeed given us His grace. We've been given the nature of Jesus Christ and have been freed from the dominion of sin! Why would anyone who has been made free want to venture back into sin's captivity and flirt with death?

So, my friend, don't fight for your right to habitually live in sin and still make it to heaven. That is the wrong way of viewing life. Rather, realize God has given you an amazing gift—freedom! You don't have to sin any longer; what you couldn't free yourself from before, you now can live free from through the power of His amazing grace!

Marked by boldness and passion, John Bevere delivers uncompromising truth through his award-winning curriculum and best-selling books now available in over sixty languages. His newest book is Extraordinary: The Life You're Meant to Live. More information is available at www.ExtraordinaryOnline.org.

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