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Daily Devotion and Scripture

The Next Step to God’s Plan for Your Life

The next step to God’s plan for your life.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (NIV)

 

God has a plan for your life. We know through the prophet of Jeremiah that God has a plan for each and every one of us. He has good works set aside for us to do. These have been ordained for us since before we were born. His plan is hope and prosperity throughout our future. Scripture reminds us that the pathway of the righteous is like the dawning of the sun unto the high point of the day at midday. God’s plan for our life is ever-increasing.

 

We can’t mistake this to mean that God’s plan will be easy. We can’t be fooled into thinking that when things are nice and easy that we are in the center of God’s will or that when things are tough, we have gone astray. Within this good, pleasing, and perfect will God has for us are trials and tribulations. Jesus promised us this much. They will happen all the way until we go Home or Jesus comes back.

 

The question is how do we find God’s will for our life. That is the entire premise of my first book: Prepare for Greater Things. It is not something easy to discover, but God teaches us principles to live by that help us find our next step.

 

The passage today is one of those steps. If you want to find God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will for your life; if you want to flourish in the here and now, if you want to have peace beyond comprehension, joy indescribable, and love that endures, you must…choose to be joyful in all circumstances. You must learn to walk in the communion of the Spirit each day. You must have a thankful spirit all the time.

 

Without these, your next step toward God’s will for your life will be a misstep in the wrong direction. Of course, the hard part is that these are essential to finding God’s plan even with all the trials and tribulations. Anyone can be joyful when everything is good, but to keep moving toward God’s plan, we must do these things when it is hard.

 

Biblically, we must take captive our thoughts and reframe them from an eternal perspective realizing that at times, the Lord will know what troubles we need to face to press us into greater love, greater faith, and greater obedience as the next step. This reframing can help us rejoice, pray, and be thankful.

 

Prayer: Lord, help me reframe my moment for joy, communion, and gratefulness that I might find Your will for my life. Amen.

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Daily Devotion and Scripture

Powerful and Effective Prayer

Powerful and effective prayer.

James 5:16
16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. (NIV)

 

By faith we receive the righteousness of God, but this is imputed righteousness. A person can still be full of sin, but having received salvation by faith, God attributes to Him the righteousness of Christ but he is anything but righteous. This credit of righteousness we receive allows us to receive the Holy Spirit who then begins to refine our spirit giving us the power and desire to please God. Someone who lives a life that is pleasing to God is a righteous man or woman.

 

To be righteous, a person must have a great deal of faith. Obedience comes from faith. We obey the Lord because we trust Him and have faith that what He has decreed in Scripture by the Holy Spirit will lead us to the best life. A righteous person’s faith causes them to obey the commands of God even if they are hard, confusing, or seemingly wrong. There is great faith in righteousness.

 

The fact that God allows Himself to be moved more powerfully by a righteous man makes it clear that He sees deep into our hearts. God hears the words of our prayers, but more importantly, He sees the level of faith in our hearts.

 

We know the right words to say and to pray in front of the right people. We can even fool ourselves. But God’s view of our hearts and our level of faith is unimpeded.

 

This could be intimidating, or it could bring relief. There is no reason to hide who we are from God. He knows. It is only when we can be honest with God about who we are that we will maintain a sincere spirit of confession. Confession is an act of faith trusting God will forgive. This faith cleanses sin from our souls

 

Purity of heart comes from the power of God working in us through confession, love, and forgiveness. This same power can be redirected in a powerful and effective way for the healing of others. Let’s confess our sin trusting God to forgive, allowing Him to cleanse us with His power so that our prayer might be powerful and effective.

 

Prayer: Lord, help me to remember my spiritual poverty and confess my sins so that You may cover them in grace and so my prayers will be powerful and effective.  Amen.

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Daily Devotion and Scripture

The Lord is our Inheritance

The Lord is our inheritance.

 

Lamentations 3:24
24 I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.” (NIV)

 

We love gifts. We love to open presents on our birthdays, anniversaries, and Christmas. And we have a God who loves to give gifts. We are taught that He is a Good Father who wants to give good gifts to His children. But there is a danger in receiving gifts from God. It becomes easy to reduce God to the gift-giver. God is not the gift-giver as much as He is the gift.

 

From a strictly materialistic perspective, is it better for someone to give you a house or the company that builds them? To be given a house is great. But to be given a home construction company allows you the resources to build a home any time you want whether it is for yourself, your Momma, or your neighbor. The source is always greater than the gift because the source never runs dry.

 

The Lord is our inheritance. It is not the gift He gives, but our relationship to Him that is greater. To have someone who loves us and who can do all things on our behalf is greater than any single gift. The love that moves God to give to us abundantly is greater than the gifts He gives.

 

The enemy would want you to become distracted by the gift so that your affection is focused more on what God would give than your relationship with Him. A house cannot sustain us in the dark nights of the soul. Money is good, but joy cannot come from it. A good spouse and children will enrich our lives, but they cannot transform us into the best version of ourselves. Most of what we crave will soon lose its luster, but the love of God never will.

 

A new car will one day break down. A new job will have its own troubles. A new husband or wife will soon get on our nerves. A new baby will become a teenager. A new church will disappoint. A new friend will move on. But God never changes. He is the same from everlasting to everlasting. Communion with Him is greater than all His gives.

 

Prayer: Lord, help me not become distracted by the gifts you give or the those I ask for, but let me remember that You are greater than all You will ever give. Amen.

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Daily Devotion and Scripture

A Prayer for the Nation

A prayer for the nation.

 

2 Chronicles 7:14
14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. (NIV)

 

How many times have we heard this passage that if the people of God would simply humble themselves and pray the Lord would come and heal their land? Yet, how many of us actually pray for our nation, for our leaders, for the social imaginary of the nation? We are more prone to complain about our country, politicians, and the direction we are heading. Why don’t we pray for our nation more?

 

Pride keeps us from prayer. And if we do pray without humility, arrogance contaminates the spiritual with the carnal so that our prayer is nothing more than a religious production to entertain ourselves or our congregations. We must humble ourselves first.

 

We are commanded by God to humble ourselves because our natural disposition is pride. We think we can handle it on our own. We think through our tweets, posts, rants, and political action, we can save the nation. We can’t save anything. We are part of the issue. When we spend more time in arguments and political efforts than seeking God in prayer, pride wins.

 

To humble ourselves is a decision, an action, something to be done each day. It is a mental exercise of reminding our own hearts and minds how small we are and how little power we actually have. But the command of God is to humble ourselves before the Lord. We remind ourselves of how little we can truly affect the world as we kneel before the God who created it and still has supreme power over it. Our thoughts move from our inability to do much to calling upon God who can do all things.

 

God’s response to our humility is to exalt us to a higher place. Christ was lifted to the highest place in Heaven because He humbled Himself. When we are diligent in humility, the Lord acts on our behalf. He knows our frustrations with the nation has turned us to Him and His reward is to lift us up. This can be spiritual, mental, emotional, and financial.

 

Our prayers give us peace. Our humility qualifies us to be used by God without danger of self-aggrandizement. He increases our peace, our influence, responsibility, and power for change.  We must remember that we can’t rescue a nation from apostasy, but God can. Let’s humble ourselves and pray.

 

Prayer: Lord, help me to stop complaining about the country but rather, in humility, call upon You to help us. Amen.

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Daily Devotion and Scripture

The Power of Hope

The power of hope.

 

Romans 12:12
12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. (NIV)

 

Joy goes deeper than happiness. Happiness is temporary and dependent upon the circumstances a person is in. Because of this happiness can come and go, it is never commanded to be happy all the time. Even Christ was not happy all the time. But joy is commanded by God to be present in us always. We are taught to even count trials and tribulations as joy. Be joyful or rejoice in all circumstances. But how can we do this?

 

Hope is the sense within us that God will do something. He may not do what we ask, but He will do something. Hope never holds God to a deadline. Hope gives God freedom to do what He knows is best. Faith believes for God to do a specific thing, but hope helps us when God doesn’t respond the way we want.

 

Faith maintains the choice to believe in something, but hope gives faith a foundation to stand on. Hope holds up our faith with the knowledge that even when it may seem that God has not heard our prayer, He is still going to do something which will be better than what we asked for because it is from His wisdom, not ours.

 

Faith rests in the power of God but hope rests in the character of God. Hope finds joy from the intimate knowledge and confidence in His character. God is love so He is always loving. God is always working for my good. He continually prepares me for greater things. He will not break His promises. He will never stop loving and working for me.

 

In faith, we pray, but our limited wisdom may not ask for what is best. Christ intercedes for us to perfect our prayer and present it to the Father on our behalf. What God finally does my look completely different. To not get frustrated with God when we have to wait or suffer through what seems like unanswered prayer, the hope we have sustains us and pushes joy to the top.

 

We have confidence that God will not let my imperfect desires or motives keep Him from acting on my behalf. My hope is in Him assured of His character that never changes.

 

Prayer, help me to know you so well that hope will sustain me with joy in all circumstances. Amen.

 

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Daily Devotion and Scripture

A Prayer to Prosper

A prayer to prosper.

1 John 5:14-15
This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. (NIV)

 

The key to our passage today is “according to His will.” The will of God cannot be contained within specific things we consider to be good. In the end, the will of God is full communion with His creation. This is made possible as we are purified from that which is not of Him so that what is of Him does not hinder the Holy Spirit in us from moving us back into His presence.

 

Most of us already know this, but the priority of our prayer tends to be our desire for a specific thing we perceive to be beneficial more than a spiritual union with God.

 

We pray for a job, but we don’t know if the environment of that job will facilitate our communion with God or hinder it. Perhaps, things will be so great that we praise God and commune more with Him in that praise. But it could be things are so great we take Him for granted and stop praying. It could be we learn to put our trust in the job more than God who gave it. We simply do not know.

 

Many times, our desires and prayers form our prayers outside of God’s will. For example, It is God’s will that we prosper. But financial prosperity that comes with great worry and stress could keep our souls from prospering. Soul prosperity however requires trials and tribulations. Only God knows the combination of ease and struggle necessary for our spiritual development into communion. Both ease and struggle can be blessings or curses depending upon the strength of our spirit on that day and in that season. However, we are poor in spirit meaning there is no way that we can determine for ourselves how much ease we need and how much struggle.

 

So, how do we pray?

 

We pray with the desires of our hearts that are godly with the understanding those same desires are purified through struggle. We ask God for the blessings we desire such as a job, a child, healing, and a friend. We also pray for strength to endure and find contentment if these do not come. This prayer keeps communion as our highest priority and will work to purify our hearts to receive more of His goodness.

 

Prayer: Lord, help me make my highest priority communion with you in all my requests. Amen.

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Daily Devotion and Scripture

Blessed by Others

Blessed by others.

Numbers 6:24-26
24 “‘“The LORD bless you
and keep you;
25 the LORD make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
26 the LORD turn his face toward you
and give you peace. (NIV)

 

People are now exploring their own spirituality without any sense of their need for formal religion. This especially includes Christians who claim no church or denomination and live out their faith in God without a practice of gathering with the Body of Christ for worship, prayer, meditation, teaching, and service. It begs the question of whether we need a formal religious experience for our own spirituality.

 

Today’s Scripture comes from the Old Testament when God is telling Moses to tell Aaron, the high priest, to bless the people of Israel. Does God need a priest to bless His people?

 

The short answer is ‘no.’ God doesn’t need another person to be a conduit of His blessings. We can be blessed right where we are. We can pray on our own. We can worship on our own. We can serve others without anyone else. Yet, time and again, God instructs us to bless others as His ambassadors. We are His ministers doing the work of disseminating the blessing of God to others. But if He doesn’t need us, what is the purpose?

 

The truth is that we need each other. Though we know intellectually who God is, that He loves us, that He never leaves us, we still go through valleys where it feels like He has forgotten us. If we are honest, there are times when what we know doesn’t compute. We find ourselves susceptible to anger, despair, and all kinds of temptations.

 

We know God speaks but rarely is it audible and it helps to hear someone actually remind us of His promises. We know God loves us, but sometimes, we need to feel the embrace of God through a brother or sister. God has compassion but to have someone sit with us during a hard night is invaluable. God is not a god of confusion, but we are not immune to confusion and we need someone to walk us through some Biblical principles.

 

This is why we need the church, a regular practice of gathering with the saints to commune with God and as His ambassadors bless one another.

 

Prayer: Lord, thank you for giving others to me and me to others. Let me gather to bless and be blessed by others.

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Daily Devotion and Scripture

To Imagine the Eternal

To imagine the eternal.

Job 19:25-26
25 I know that my redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
26 And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God; (NIV)

 

Did anyone suffer like Job? In one fell swoop, he lost everything, his children, his wealth, his health. If this wasn’t enough, there was no compassion from his friends or his wife. Yet, through it all, he found victory because he was able to see past the moment into the promise of God. Faith is the victory.

I say it often that we must decide that God is either God or He is not. We can’t be halfway in. We can’t choose to believe that Christ died to save our souls but choose not to believe that our suffering is temporary and working toward the purification of our souls. We must hold firm in our faith that God never breaks a promise. He has promised to deliver us out of all our troubles, if not now, then.

How is it that those who have a strong faith can find their life and their faith consumed by the fires of Hell reaching upward? How we imagine our existence in those moments will keep us down or resurrect our spirit. Faith is the victory.

Faith is to see and choose to believe what is unseen. Our physical sight is limited to our concept of time. Eternity operates outside of time so that what will be, has already been from the beginning. There has never been a moment within this realm of time that eternity did not know God is the Victor. When we imagine ourselves in the present, it can seem that God has been subdued. But we are not finite beings. We are eternal and must imagine ourselves so. To imagine the eternal is to know that the suffering marks the battle wounds of a war that has already been won. We are the bloodied champions with swords raised high amongst the enemy defeated. There is no victory without a battle and no battle without pain. But sweet is the pain of the champion and in Christ, you have already won.

In every hardship, we don’t have to wonder. It is not a mystery. We will overcome. Our physical body does not exist in the eternal, but our spirit does. In the pain, we must wrestle our spirit away from the grip of this moment and see the eternal for our victory is in the faith we have for the eternal God.

 

Prayer: Lord, help me take captive my thoughts in suffering and remember I have already won the battle I am still fighting. Amen.

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Daily Devotion and Scripture

The Desires of Your Heart

The desires of your heart.

 

Philippians 2:8
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death —
even death on a cross! (NIV)

 

Since the garden of Eden, the spirit of rebellion has been alive and well. Never before, however, has the spirit of rebellion been so justified. The idea of being fully authentic when authentic is defined by feelings is the spirit of rebellion. The prophet Jeremiah reminds us the heart is deceitful above all things. Our emotions and what we feel are very often untruth though the emotions are real.

The intensity of our emotions makes it easy to accept them as truth but how foolish are we to think our emotions were not corrupted with all creation from the sin of Eden? Just because we feel something, it doesn’t mean it’s true. It only feels true.

Since the breakout rebellion of the 1960s, such value has been placed on being authentically who we are but this has been equated to what we feel. If most of what we feel is untruth, our authentic self operates deceived by its own emotions leading to rebellion against our Creator and the destruction of our souls.

These emotions lead us to fully vent our anger, embrace our depression, take on opposite pronouns, leave our spouses, neglect our children, overeatting, excessive drinking, and everything else under the sun. Our emotions drive us and they are driving us into spiritual decay, but Jesus was obedient even unto death.

It was in the Garden of Gethsemane where the Son of Adam transposed Adam’s sin with righteousness. Jesus’ emotions were not in line with what God had asked, but rather than following His emotions, He spoke those beautiful words, “Not my will, but thine be done.”

Those with a lack of understanding of the Gospel might see the Lord as a monster to ask His Son to be obedient even unto death, yet the Father knew the Son’s greatest desire was to see every soul saved and none fall into eternal death. The Father knew the only way was to send His Son to live in perfect obedience to qualify Him to receive the punishment for our sin that we might live.

God knows the desires of your heart. Our heart knows what it wants, but remains ignorant of how to obtain what it wants. The Lord, however, knows what we must do to receive what the inmost place desires. If you will simply obey His command, He will give you the desires of your heart.

 

Prayer: Lord, help me to obey. Amen.

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