Come Closer! by Joyce Meyer

Come Closer! by Joyce Meyer

 

Come close to God...and He will come close to you.  James 4:8 (AMP)

 

Not everyone is willing to pay the price required to be close to God. Not everyone is willing to simply take the time required or make the investments needed for spiritual growth. God doesn’t ask for all of our time. He certainly wants us to do things we don’t consider “spiritual.” He designed us with bodies, souls (minds, wills, and emotions), and spirits, and He expects us to take care of all these areas.

 

Exercising our bodies and caring for our souls takes time and effort. Our emotions need to be ministered to; we need to have fun and be entertained, and we need to enjoy being with other people. Our minds need to grow and be renewed daily. In addition, we have a spiritual nature that needs attention. To stay balanced and healthy, we must take time to take care of our entire being.

 

I believe the whole issue of intimacy with God is a matter of time. We say we don’t have time to seek God, but the truth is that we take time to do the things that are most important to us. Even though we all have to fight distractions every day, if knowing God and hearing from Him is important to us, then we will find time to do it. Don’t try to work God into your schedule, but instead work your schedule around time with Him.

 

Getting to know God is a long-term investment, so don’t get discouraged if you don’t get instant results. Be determined to honor Him with your time, and you will reap the benefits.

 

Prayer Starter: Father, I can’t live without You. Help me to put You first in my life and take the time to develop a deeper, more intimate relationship. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Let Your Light Shine by Joyce Meyer

Let Your Light Shine by Joyce Meyer

 

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Matthew 5:14

 

As believers in Christ, we can be bubbling over with life. We can be vibrant, alive, active, energized, peaceful, and joy-filled.

 

It is our approach to God that determines our attitude and countenance. When we approach God with boldness, thankful for His grace and confident that He loves us and He is for us, we can’t help but be full of life. However, a legalistic, religious approach to God steals life. It does not nourish it. Remember, Paul said, “The Law kills, but the Spirit makes alive” (see 2 Corinthians 3:6). When we follow the Spirit, we feel alive.

 

Each of us should ask ourselves the question, "Would people want what I have by watching my life and looking at my countenance? Is my life reflecting a thankful, expectant heart, excited about what God is going to do each new day?"

 

We are to be the light of the world. Make sure your light is shining brightly today.

 

Prayer Starter: Father, I am thankful that I can come boldly to Your throne because of Your amazing grace. Thank You for Your joy that brightens my life. Please help my light to shine brightly for the world to see. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

There's Great Value in Variety by Joyce Meyer

There's Great Value in Variety by Joyce Meyer

 

Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot.  Ecclesiastes 5:18

 

If we do the same thing over and over, sooner or later we’re going to get bored. We don’t have to wait for something nice to happen to us, we can be aggressive and do something nice for ourselves. For many of you, I know this is a new thought that may seem foreign and even unspiritual. But I can assure you that it is part of God’s plan. You can create variety, and it will keep your life more exciting.

 

I sat with my computer on my lap for about four hours this morning and then stopped for a while to do some other things I needed to do. When I went back to my writing, I decided to sit in a different part of the house just for variety. I chose a place that had plenty of light where I could look out the window. Simple little things like this cost nothing, but they are very valuable.

 

No day needs to be ordinary if we realize the gift God is giving us when He gives us another day to live and enjoy. An extraordinary attitude can quickly turn an ordinary day into an amazing adventure. Jesus said He came so that we might have and enjoy life (see John 10:10). If we refuse to enjoy it, then it’s no one’s fault but our own.

 

I would like to suggest that you take responsibility for your joy and never again give anyone else the job of keeping you happy. Add a little variety to your life—break up your routine, do something different, and so on. When you do, expect God to meet you and help make your ordinary...extraordinary!

 

Prayer Starter: Father, thank You for Your joy. Please help me to approach my life with adventure, choosing to enjoy each and every day...and adding variety all along the way. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

You Can Be Brave by Joyce Meyer

You Can Be Brave by Joyce Meyer

 

for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.  2 Timothy 1:7

Brave: Courageous; bold; daring; intrepid; fearless of danger; as a brave warrior.

The only way to conquer fear is to confront it and to do the thing you are afraid of. If you don’t, you will be a prisoner all your life.

 

When we do confront things, we always think that the worst part of the fear was in our minds, and the reality of the thing wasn’t as bad as we had imagined.

 

If you truly want to be free, understand that facing a fear is better than being afraid all your life. Fear is a terrible burden to live with.

Bravery to overcome life’s fears comes when you ask God for His help, trust He is with you, and face that fear head-on.

Prayer Starter: Father, Your Word tells me to “fear not.” Help me today to place my trust in You and face the fears that are holding me back. Help me to step out...even if I have to “do it afraid.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Don't Quit! by Joyce Meyer

Don't Quit! by Joyce Meyer

And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint.  Galatians 6:9 (AMPC)

 

“I’ve been a Christian for 23 years,” Cheryl said. “I’m just not getting anywhere. I’m as weak as I was when I first accepted Christ as my Savior. I still fail. I just don’t know if it’s worth it.”

 

Tears streamed down her cheeks as she continued to talk about her failures. “By now I know all the right things to do, but I don’t do them. Sometimes I deliberately do something mean-spirited or unkind. What kind of Christian am I?”

 

“Probably a growing Christian,” I said.

 

A startled look appeared on Cheryl’s face. “Growing? Did you hear—?”

 

“Yes, I heard. But if you weren’t growing, you wouldn’t lament your failures. You’d be satisfied about your spiritual level or tell yourself how good you are.”

 

“But I’m so discouraged, and I fail God so many times.”

 

I went on to tell Cheryl she was correct—that she had failed. All of us do at times. None of us is perfect. If we’re not careful, we allow Satan to point to what we haven’t accomplished and where we have been weak. When that happens, it’s easy to feel bad or want to give up.

 

That’s not the way of the Spirit. No matter how we mess up our lives, God doesn’t give up on us. The Spirit constantly nudges us.

 

We can allow our thoughts to dwell on what we haven’t done, why we ought to be more spiritual, or how spiritual we ought to be after all these years in our Christian faith. That’s a trick of the enemy—to make us think of our defects and shortcomings. If we focus on what we’re not or what we haven’t accomplished, we are allowing Satan to make advances on the battlefield of our minds.

 

The fact that my troubled friend was upset was a healthy sign, even though she didn’t see it that way. With the Holy Spirit’s help, she can push back the enemy. She can regain the territory Satan has stolen from her.

 

Cheryl seemed to think that holy, victorious living came from one major victory after another. Yes, we do have times when we have great breakthroughs; however, most of our victories come slowly. They come little by little. It’s as if we inch forward.

 

Because we move slowly in our spiritual growth, we are often unaware of how far we have moved. If the enemy can make us think that we must have one decisive spiritual victory after another or we’re losers, he has gained an important stronghold.

 

My advice to Cheryl, and to all Christians who face those dark moments, is to listen to the words of the apostle Paul. He exhorted us not to grow weary, or as another translation says it, “not to lose heart.” He’s saying, “Don’t quit. Keep fighting.”

 

Life is a struggle, and Satan is determined to defeat and destroy us. We don’t ever reach the place where we never have to fight. But it’s not just our fight. Jesus is not only with us, but He is for us. He’s at our side to strengthen us and to urge us onward.

 

My friend kept remembering the times she had failed, but I reminded her of the times she had succeeded. “You think the enemy is in control, but that’s not true. You have failed, but you have also succeeded. You have stood your ground and you have made progress.”

 

“Don’t quit. Don’t give up.” That’s the message we need to hear. I think of the words of Isaiah: …Fear not, for I have redeemed you... I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned or scorched, nor will the flame kindle upon you (Isaiah 43:1–2).

 

This is God’s promise. He doesn’t promise to take us completely out of troubles or hardships, but He does promise to be with us as we go through them. “Fear not,” He says. That’s the message we need to ponder. We don’t need to fear because God is with us. And when God is with us, what is there to worry about?

 

Prayer Starter: God, despite my failures, I know You are with me, encouraging me to never give up. Please help me to focus on how far I have come and strengthen me to keep moving forward and make progress, even in the tough times. Thank you for never giving up on me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Cultivate Healthy Relationships by Joyce Meyer

Cultivate Healthy Relationships by Joyce Meyer

 

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.  Proverbs 18:24

 

Everyone wants friends, and God wants us to have them. He encourages relationships throughout His Word, but it is important to have healthy, safe, and godly relationships.

 

Some relationships are not safe for us because we are being used, manipulated, and taken advantage of. God wants us to pray for and love everyone, even our enemies, but that doesn’t mean we should let people take advantage of us.

 

I personally am not interested in having what I call one-sided relationships in which I do all the giving while the other party does all the taking. God does use us at times in the lives of selfish, self-centered people, and we do make sacrifices, but there is a point at which we are hurting people if we let them manipulate us for their own pleasure.

 

Stand up for yourself and always be willing to confront unhealthy relationships. Speak the truth in love (see Ephesians 4:15). You are very valuable and entitled to have good friends who will respect and honor you properly.

 

Prayer Starter: Father, help me always be a good friend. I ask You for safe, healthy relationships in which I can flourish and grow. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

 

In Everything, Give Thanks by Joyce Meyer

In Everything, Give Thanks by Joyce Meyer

 

Through Him, therefore, let us at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name.  Hebrews 13:15 (AMP)

 

We should not just praise and offer thanksgiving when there is a reason to do so. It is easy to give thanks and praise if we have a reason. But then it is not a sacrifice. We should, of course, offer up praise and thanksgiving at all times, being mindful to thank God for all the blessings in our lives and for the favor He has shown us.

 

If we started making a list of blessings, we would be quickly enlightened concerning just how good we really have it. There are many things we take for granted because we have an abundance of them, when people in other countries would think they were wealthy if they had them. Clean, fresh water is an example...

 

In India and many other parts of the world, water is a commodity that is not easy to come by. Some people must walk miles just to get a day's supply of it. We take baths in it, swim in it, do dishes in it, wash our hair in it, cook with it, etc. We can have it hot or cold, as often as we like, as much as we desire.

 

There are times while I am taking a hot shower, especially if I am tired, when I stop to give thanks to God for hot water. There are many things to be thankful for if we decide we are going to be people who continually offer up thanksgiving. The flesh looks for things to complain about, but the spirit searches for reasons to give God glory.

 

Prayer Starter: Father, I want to take a moment right now to thank You for all of the wonderful blessings in my life. Most of all, thank You for Your great love and for sending Jesus so we can have a relationship with You. Help me to always have an attitude of thanks and focus on the good things You are doing in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Enjoy the Reward by Joyce Meyer

Enjoy the Reward by Joyce Meyer

 

Mankind will say, "Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges on the earth."  (Psalm 58:11)

 

Taking time to enjoy the fruit of your labor is one of the main things that will keep you pressing on in difficult times.

 

God gave many men and women in the Bible difficult tasks to perform, but He always promised a reward. Looking to the reward helps us endure the difficulty. The Bible says in Hebrews 12:2 that Jesus despised the cross, but He endured it for the joy of obtaining the prize that was set before Him. He is now seated at the right hand of the Father.

 

I encourage you not to look merely at the work you do, but look also at the promise of the reward. Take time to be thankful for and enjoy the fruit of your labor, and then you’ll be energized to finish your course.

 

Prayer Starter: Thank You, Father, that I can always look forward to Your reward in my life. I am grateful that difficult times never last forever, but I can learn from them and expect Your goodness in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Learning to Expect Good Things by Joyce Meyer

Learning to Expect Good Things by Joyce Meyer

All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and forebodings], but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast [regardless of circumstances].  Proverbs 15:15 (AMPC)

Shortly after I began to seriously study the Bible, I felt an oppressive atmosphere around me. Everything seemed gloomy—as if something bad was going to happen. It wasn’t anything I could explain, just a vague, dreaded sense of something evil or wrong about to happen.

 

“Oh, God,” I prayed. “What’s going on? What is this feeling?” I had hardly uttered the question when God spoke to me. “Evil forebodings.” I had to meditate on that for several minutes. I had never heard the phrase before. God had spoken to me, and I stayed quiet before Him so I could hear the answers.

 

I realized, first of all, that my anxieties weren’t real—that is, they were not based on true circumstances or situations. I was having problems—as most of us do —but they were not as critical as the devil was making it appear. My acceptance of his lies, even though they were vague, was opening the door for the evil forebodings.

 

I eventually realized that I had lived in the midst of similar gloomy feelings most of my life. I was expecting something bad to happen instead of aggressively expecting something good. I felt a dread, an unexplained anxiety around me. I couldn’t put my finger on anything specific—only that sense of something evil or terrible.

 

The Living Bible says, “When a man is gloomy, everything seems to go wrong.” That’s how I felt, as if something—maybe everything—was wrong or was about to go wrong.

 

As previously stated, I realized that for most of my life, I had been miserable because of evil thoughts and anxious forebodings. As I continued to meditate on evil forebodings, God broke through and gave me a clear revelation. I was miserable because my thoughts were miserable—my thoughts were poisoning my outlook. My thoughts robbed me of the ability to enjoy my life.

 

I should have been saying, “Thank You, God, for today. Thank you for Dave and my children and my friends and all Your blessings.” But, instead of being positive, I found myself even dreading to answer the phone when it rang, for fear it might be bad news.

 

All of this gloom and doom that surrounded me began in my abusive childhood. I endured a great deal of misery, and most of my life was unhappy and filled with disappointments. I began to live in a vague fear and dread of the future. I had not been taught to let go of what was behind.

 

I couldn’t rejoice in what I had now and the good things going on in my life. I focused on the past and what might lie ahead—and what lay ahead was usually gloom and doom and chaos because that was what I was expecting.

 

Satan had built a stronghold in my mind, and I was trapped until I learned I could tear down that negative, evil stronghold by applying God’s Word to my life and circumstances.

 

I once had a friend whom I’ll call Marlene. She lived in a state of constant chaos. One day she had health problems. The next day Marlene’s son had lost his job, and they were going to have to support him and his family. As soon as that was over, another traumatic situation would erupt.

 

Marlene was a Christian, but she lived in fear of bad news. Marlene would not have known how to live a life that was not filled with chaos. All of her conversation was negative and gloomy. Even her countenance was sad and gloomy.

 

I realized that I had started to become like Marlene—I was miserable because I had allowed Satan to rob me of the ability to enjoy my life. It took a while before I was able to be positive most of the time, but little by little, my thinking changed, and so did my life.

 

I no longer live in evil forebodings, expecting to hear at any moment of a new problem. Now I purposely expect good things to happen in my life. I realize now that I can choose my thoughts. I don’t have to accept Satan’s lies.

 

Like everyone else, negative things do happen to me from time to time, but I don’t become negative because of them. I remain positive, and that helps me enjoy my life even in the midst of the storms.

 

Prayer Starter: Father, I thank You for the great future You have planned for me. Please help me to choose positive thoughts that line up with Your Word and expect Your goodness in every area of my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

THE MOST IMPORTANT THING

Learning to Expect Good Things by Joyce Meyer

All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and forebodings], but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast [regardless of circumstances].  Proverbs 15:15 (AMPC)

Shortly after I began to seriously study the Bible, I felt an oppressive atmosphere around me. Everything seemed gloomy—as if something bad was going to happen. It wasn’t anything I could explain, just a vague, dreaded sense of something evil or wrong about to happen.

 

“Oh, God,” I prayed. “What’s going on? What is this feeling?” I had hardly uttered the question when God spoke to me. “Evil forebodings.” I had to meditate on that for several minutes. I had never heard the phrase before. God had spoken to me, and I stayed quiet before Him so I could hear the answers.

 

I realized, first of all, that my anxieties weren’t real—that is, they were not based on true circumstances or situations. I was having problems—as most of us do —but they were not as critical as the devil was making it appear. My acceptance of his lies, even though they were vague, was opening the door for the evil forebodings.

 

I eventually realized that I had lived in the midst of similar gloomy feelings most of my life. I was expecting something bad to happen instead of aggressively expecting something good. I felt a dread, an unexplained anxiety around me. I couldn’t put my finger on anything specific—only that sense of something evil or terrible.

 

The Living Bible says, “When a man is gloomy, everything seems to go wrong.” That’s how I felt, as if something—maybe everything—was wrong or was about to go wrong.

 

As previously stated, I realized that for most of my life, I had been miserable because of evil thoughts and anxious forebodings. As I continued to meditate on evil forebodings, God broke through and gave me a clear revelation. I was miserable because my thoughts were miserable—my thoughts were poisoning my outlook. My thoughts robbed me of the ability to enjoy my life.

 

I should have been saying, “Thank You, God, for today. Thank you for Dave and my children and my friends and all Your blessings.” But, instead of being positive, I found myself even dreading to answer the phone when it rang, for fear it might be bad news.

 

All of this gloom and doom that surrounded me began in my abusive childhood. I endured a great deal of misery, and most of my life was unhappy and filled with disappointments. I began to live in a vague fear and dread of the future. I had not been taught to let go of what was behind.

 

I couldn’t rejoice in what I had now and the good things going on in my life. I focused on the past and what might lie ahead—and what lay ahead was usually gloom and doom and chaos because that was what I was expecting.

 

Satan had built a stronghold in my mind, and I was trapped until I learned I could tear down that negative, evil stronghold by applying God’s Word to my life and circumstances.

 

I once had a friend whom I’ll call Marlene. She lived in a state of constant chaos. One day she had health problems. The next day Marlene’s son had lost his job, and they were going to have to support him and his family. As soon as that was over, another traumatic situation would erupt.

 

Marlene was a Christian, but she lived in fear of bad news. Marlene would not have known how to live a life that was not filled with chaos. All of her conversation was negative and gloomy. Even her countenance was sad and gloomy.

 

I realized that I had started to become like Marlene—I was miserable because I had allowed Satan to rob me of the ability to enjoy my life. It took a while before I was able to be positive most of the time, but little by little, my thinking changed, and so did my life.

 

I no longer live in evil forebodings, expecting to hear at any moment of a new problem. Now I purposely expect good things to happen in my life. I realize now that I can choose my thoughts. I don’t have to accept Satan’s lies.

 

Like everyone else, negative things do happen to me from time to time, but I don’t become negative because of them. I remain positive, and that helps me enjoy my life even in the midst of the storms.

 

Prayer Starter: Father, I thank You for the great future You have planned for me. Please help me to choose positive thoughts that line up with Your Word and expect Your goodness in every area of my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

All One

All One

https://www.josh.org/daily-devo/all-one/

by Rob Shiflet

Bible Reading: Galatians 3:26-28

There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:28, NIV

WHAT DID JESUS look like?

We don’t really know the answer to that question, but many Americans and Europeans picture Jesus of Nazareth with brown hair, brown eyes, handsome—and white. Caucasian. Suntanned, maybe, but definitely white. The kind of “white” you might meet in Minneapolis. Cincinnati. Or Peoria, Illinois.

But that’s a myth. In all probability, Jesus was much darker in complexion than the average white American or European. He was born a Jew, he lived as a Jew, and he remained a Jew throughout his life. More importantly, even though he entered the stage of humanity at a specific place and time and possessed specific racial charac­teristics, in a larger sense Jesus transcends the barriers of race and color.

He was a Jew, yet he spoke freely and respectfully to a Samaritan woman. (See John 4.)

Custom prohibited Jesus, a Jew, from entering the home of a Gentile; yet when a Roman centurion pleaded on behalf of his servant, who lay sick at home, Jesus replied, “I will come and heal him.” (See Matthew 8:5-13.)

When he was hounded by a Canaanite woman (Canaanites were historic enemies of the Jewish people), Jesus commended her faith and healed her daughter. (See Matthew 15:21-28.)

Jesus, though, was a victim of racial prejudice himself. On one trip through Samaria, he was rejected because the Samaritans guessed that he was a Jew bound for Jerusalem. (See Luke 9:51-56.)

The society that Jesus entered when he became a man drew three primary distinctions among people: They were divided by their race (Jew or Gentile), class (slave or free), and sex (male or female). The Good News that Jesus brought presented a radical departure from those class distinctions, however. Paul summarized it eloquently when he wrote, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus…. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26-28, NIV).

The followers of Jesus must be like him, not in their color or racial characteristics, but in accepting and loving and living in harmony with all people-regardless of sex, class, or race distinctions.

REFLECT: God commands unity—or living in harmony—among all people. How do 1(7 you usually treat people who are different from you? Are you living in harmony with all people—regardless of sex, class, or race distinctions?

PRAY: Say a special prayer today for victims of discrimination, particularly among the people you know.

 

Family Feuds

Family Feuds

https://www.josh.org/daily-devo/family-feuds-3/

by Rob Shiflet

Bible Reading: Psalm 13 3:1 – 3

How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! Psalm 133:1, NIV

ANNOUNCER: Today on Okra, we will talk to three people whose sordid stories of family feuding have made them famous-or should I say infamous?

First Voice: Yeah, hi. See, it’s like this: I didn’t exactly get along with my brother. Well, OK, that’s an understatement. I killed him.

Second Voice (clears his throat): My uncle and I were business partners. Everything had been going along fine, but our herds were gettin’ too big for the land. Besides, my employees and his employees didn’t see eye-to-eye on a lot of things. Neither did Uncle and I, really. We had to part company.

Third Voice: He never acted like he wanted it anyway. My brother, I mean. When I tricked his inheritance out of our father … well, my brother went crazy. He woulda killed me if I hadn’t skipped town.

Announcer: Three tragic stories. Today on Okra. Stay tuned!

Well, maybe you’ve figured it out. Okra’s first guest was Cain, who killed his brother, Abel, in a fit of jealousy. The second voice belonged to Lot, who separated from his godly uncle at a crucial time in his life. The third guest was Jacob, who cheated his brother, Esau, out of his inheritance and his father’s blessing, and had to run for his life.

But do you know the rest of their stories? Cain (Genesis 4) was banished far from his parents and lived the rest of his life in exile. Lot (Genesis 13-14, 18-19) thought he got a great deal from his uncle; he chose the finest land in the area, moved his flocks into the plains of Zoar, and settled in a doomed place called Sodom. Jacob (Genesis 25, 27-33) ran to a strange place called Paddan Aram, where he spent fourteen years in servitude to a man as devious and deceitful as himself.

Each of these individuals paid a high price for his inability to live in harmony and unity with others. That’s the way it usually goes. People who can’t get along with others usually succeed only in making things more difficult for themselves. Such people’s lives become full of anger, strife, revenge, and all sorts of unpleasant things.

How much better it is when people live together in unity and harmony! Such people often experience the appreciation, kindness, and cooperation of others. They may never appear on Okra, but they understand that unity is better, nonetheless.

REFLECT: Do you agree that it’s better when people live together in unity and harmony? Why or why not? Does the experience of Cain, Lot, or Jacob sound like any of your relationships? Why or why not?

PRAY: “I need your help today to live in harmony with_________.”

The Line Between Good and Evil

The Line Between Good and Evil

https://www.josh.org/daily-devo/the-line-between-good-and-evil-3/

by Rob Shiflet

Bible Reading: Romans 7:21-25

It seems to be a fact of life that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. Romans 7:21

LOOK AT THIS LIST:

Adolf Hitler

Attila the Hun

Josef Stalin

Jack the Ripper

Benedict Arnold

Genghis Khan

Compare the above list with these names:

Mother Teresa

St. Nicholas

Abraham Lincoln

Joan of Arc

Francis of Assisi

Martin Luther

Most people would label the first list of names as “bad” people and the second list of names as “good” people. Ah, but there’s a problem with those categories. The line between good and evil doesn’t separate us (people like you, me, and Mother Teresa) from them (people like Hitler, Stalin, and your seventh grade P.E. teacher); as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, a famous author, once wrote:

If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.*

Like Paul in today’s Bible reading, as much as we want to be “good people,” all of us do wrong. Sometimes we do good. Sometimes we do evil. It’s not that we want to be rotten people, but the evil that lived in Hitler’s heart lives in our heart, too. Pretty crummy, huh? Paul would agree. He said, “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:24-25).

In other words, we don’t have to give in to our sinful natures. We don’t have to keep sinning. God sent his Son, Jesus, to take the punishment for our sins; he sent his Spirit to live in us and deliver us from the power of sin, day by day, decision by decision. He can overcome the evil in our hearts and help us to do good.

REFLECT: Have you accepted Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross as punishment for your sins? Do you trust his Spirit to deliver you from the power of sin, day by day, derision by derision? If not, why not do it today, right now?

PRAY: “Loving and righteous God, I need you. I admit that I’m a sinner and that evil lives in my heart. Please forgive me for the wrong things I’ve done. Thank you for forgiving my sins through Christ’s death on the cross. Please take charge of my life through your Holy Spirit, who lives in me. Help me to trust him to deliver me from the power of sin, day by day, decision by decision. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

*Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago (New York: Harper and Row, 1973).

Faithful in All He Does

Faithful in All He Does

https://www.josh.org/daily-devo/faithful-in-all-he-does-3/

by Rob Shiflet

Bible Reading: Psalm 33:1-4

For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. Psalm 33:4, NIV

“THE COURT CALLS Abraham of Ur to the stand!”

A bearded figure leaning on a tall stick walks slowly to the front of the courtroom. The bailiff swears him in, and the man sits down.

“You are Abraham, originally of the city of Ur?” asks a lawyer in an expensive suit. The old man nods. “You did not always understand the defendant or agree with him, did you?” he asks, pointing to the defense table, where another attorney sits next to an empty chair.

Abraham shakes his head. “No. But there is no friend more faithful. I often let him down-in Egypt, and at Gerar, and many other times-but he never let me down.”

The lawyer calls another witness. A man named Joseph, wearing a multicolored robe, takes the stand.

“You were in trouble a number of times because of the defendant, weren’t you?” the lawyer asks.

“I was in trouble, all right-twice. I was sold as a slave because of my own arrogance. And I was imprisoned because I was wrongly accused of a crime. But he,” Joseph says, nodding to the empty chair at the defense table, “stuck with me through thick and thin. He delivered me from these troubles-he didn’t cause them.”

The lawyer dismisses Joseph and calls a third witness, Jonah.

“Your so-called friend nearly made fish bait out of you, didn’t he?” the lawyer asks.

Jonah answers. “I gave him every reason to give up on me. In fact, when the fish swallowed me, I thought that’s exactly what had happened. But he didn’t give up! He never gives up.” Jonah stands. “My friend-my God-is faithful. Not sometimes. Not most of the time. All the time. He is faithful in all he does. And you wanna know why? Because that’s just who he is. Faithfulness isn’t something he does. It’s who he is!”

Jonah gazes at the lawyer with a mixture of contempt and compassion. “And you, who have brought this case against the God of heaven and earth, cannot truly judge God’s faithfulness, because it is his nature alone that shows you what faithfulness is. And his nature alone shows you that faithfulness is right and unfaithfulness is wrong.”

The lawyer turns away, but Jonah is not done speaking. “If your actions had been like God, your soul would be at peace. But your actions have always been wrong, Judas Iscariot, because you are not like God, who is faithful in all he does.”

REFLECT: If you were called to testify in court about God’s faithfulness to you, what would you say? What evidence would you give of God’s faithfulness?

PRAY: “Thank you, God, for your faithfulness to me.”

Faithfulness is Good

Faithfulness is Good
https://www.josh.org/daily-devo/faithfulness-is-good/

by Rob Shiflet

Bible Reading: Hebrews 3:1-6

[Jesus] was faithful to God, who appointed him, just as Moses served faithfully and was entrusted with God’s entire house. Hebrews 3:2

“HE’S NOTHIN’ BUT a quitter.”

“You’d better watch yourself; she’ll think nothing about stabbing you in the back.”

“He’d betray his own mother for a few bucks.”

Ever heard these kinds of statements? Maybe not in real life, but maybe you’ve read them in books or heard them on television. Would you want to be the kind of person those statements describe? You wouldn’t, would you? But think about it-why not? What is it about those statements that makes you not want someone to think such things about you?

Nobody wants to be known as a quitter or a backstabber. Nobody wants a reputation as someone who would betray his own mother. But why not? Because you seem to know, almost instinctively, that unfaithfulness-disloyalty, betrayal, un­reliability-is a bad thing.

How much better it would be to have people say of you:

“He’s a stand-up kind of guy.”

“If she said she’ll be here, she’ll be here.”

“You can count on him.”

“She’s never let me down before.”

That’s the kind of reputation you want, right? Why? Because you know that faithfulness is a good thing. And it’s universally recognized as a good thing, even by people who claim that there’s no such thing as right and wrong. Even those people don’t want friends who will betray them or let them down.

That’s because faithfulness is a godly virtue. Faithfulness is good, and unfaithful­ness is evil. Faithfulness is right, and unfaithfulness is wrong. But, then, you knew that already, didn’t you?

REFLECT: Today’s Bible reading describes two people as faithful. Who were they? Does the reading speak about faithfulness as a good thing or a bad thing?

In the reading above, which set of statements comes closest to describing you? If a friend or family member were asked to rate your faithfulness, how do you think that person would score you: excellent, good, fair, or poor? Why?

ACT: Be alert and Listen this week for statements people make around you that indicate a person’s faithfulness or unfaithfulness (such as, “He never showed up” or “She’s a true friend”).

PRAY: Ask God to help you live so that the following description is true of you: “Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing” (3 John 5, NIV).

True to the Original

True to the Original

https://www.josh.org/daily-devo/true-to-the-original-2/

by Rob Shiflet

Bible Reading: Deuteronomy 7:6-9

Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and constantly loves those who love him and obey his commands. Deuteronomy 7:9

A COMMERCIAL APPEARED on television some years ago featuring a famous singer. She started singing an impressive operatic-style song and then let loose with a piercing high note. Suddenly, the focus of the camera shifted, and the singer’s form was in the background while the camera focused on a fine crystal wine glass. As the singer hit the high note, the glass shattered.

Immediately, however, the camera angle widened to reveal a tape machine running, and an announcer’s voice posed the question, “Is it live-or is it Memorex?”

The point of the commercial, of course, was that a Memorex cassette tape could duplicate a sound so accurately that even the recorded version might conceivably shatter glass. In other words, the recorded version was so true to the original that it was difficult to tell the difference.

That’s a pretty fair description of what faithfulness means: to be true to the original.

God has shown us what faithfulness looks like. The Bible says that “he is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and constantly loves those who love him and obey his commands” (Deuteronomy 7:9). He keeps his word-even for a thousand generations! He never stops loving those who love him. He never disappoints those who count on him. He never deserts those who need him.

We Christians are faithful when we are true to the original, to the example that God has given us. Faithfulness means keeping our word, never giving up on those we love, never withdrawing our love from those who love us, never consciously trying to disappoint those who count on us, never deserting those who need us. That’s faithfulness-being true to the original, our faithful God. And being true to God has benefits: “A faithful man [or woman] will be richly blessed” (Proverbs 28:20, NIV).

REFLECT: Faithfulness means being true to the original—obeying God’s commands and being like him in our relationships with others. How true are you to the original? How good are you at keeping your word? How good are you at not giving up on those you love? at not withdrawing love from those who love you? at not disappointing those who count on you? at not deserting those who need you? If you need help, don’t try to do it yourself; rely on God to do it in you through his Holy Spirit.

ACT: Look up the dictionary definition of faithful. Copy it onto an index card or slip of paper and place it in… a prominent place where you’ll be likely to see it often in the next few days.

PRAY: “I want to be true to you today, God. Help me to be faithful, especially when I_______________________________.”

 

A Worthy Life

A Worthy Life

https://www.josh.org/daily-devo/full-moon-faithfulness-3/

by Rob Shiflet

Bible Reading: Titus 1:15-2:1

Nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are defiled. Such people claim they know God, but they deny him by the way they live. Titus 1:15-16

THE SCENE: Glamorous Los Angeles, California.

The place: The Academy Awards ceremony at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, where an Oscar is being handed out for best actor in a motion picture.

Thunderous applause breaks out as Howard Handsome wins the award for Best Actor. He climbs the steps to the platform, takes the Oscar, kisses it, and raises it over his head in victory.

“Thank you, Hollywood, for this fabulous tribute,” Howard intones as the commotion dies. “I’d like to thank my fellow actors whom I treated like dirt as we worked together on this film; my director; my live-in girlfriend, Susie Stunning; and, most of all (Howard pauses for dramatic effect), I’d like to thank God for making all this happen.”

Stop action! Wait a minute! What’s wrong with this picture? A man who has just admitted to mean-spiritedness, lying, and immorality is thanking God for making all this happen? I don’t think so. God does want to be part of our life, but he doesn’t want to be part of our sin.

Statements like those made by the fictitious Howard Handsome are sometimes made by people who want to justify their actions by trying to put God’s seal of approval on them. Sometimes they’re made by people who have totally lost touch with their conscience because of the overwhelming number of bad decisions they’ve made. “They are despicable and disobedient,” the Bible says, “worthless for doing anything good” (Titus 1:16).

Of course, movie stars and sports figures are not the only ones whose consciences can become dull and useless. That can happen with anyone’s conscience. If you deny your conscience often enough and suppress its warnings, you could someday come to the point where you can no longer tell the difference between right and wrong.

That doesn’t have to happen, though. The way to prevent it is to listen to God when he pricks your conscience. Obey him when he convicts you. Repent when you know you’ve done something wrong, and you’ll keep your conscience clean-and sharp! Then you can say with Paul, “I always try to maintain a clear conscience before God and everyone else” (Acts 24:16).

REFLECT: What kinds of things do people do to dull their consciences? When was the last time you felt a pang of conscience? Did you heed its warning or ignore it? How can you be more sensitive to your conscience in the future?

PRAY: “Lord, keep my eyes open and my conscience sharp. I don’t want to fall in the way of sin and live a life unworthy of you.”

Full-Moon Faithfulness

Full-Moon Faithfulness

https://www.josh.org/daily-devo/full-moon-faithfulness-3/

by Rob Shiflet

Bible Reading: Psalm 57:1-11

[God’s] faithfulness reaches to the skies. Psalm 57:10, NIV

Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each day. Lamentations 3:23

DID THE SUN come up this morning?

“Don’t be ridiculous,” you answer. “Of course it did!”

Well, are the rivers still running to the sea today?

“What kind of question is that?” you might say.

Have you floated off into the atmosphere yet?

“Of course not!” is your likely response. “What is your problem?”

Those are pretty silly questions, aren’t they? Crazy, right? Absurd! The sun rises every morning. The rivers run constantly to the sea. Gravity holds you firmly on the ground all the time. Nobody even has to think about such things.

Right. You can count on Halley’s comet to streak across the heavens every seventy-seven years. You can count on the seasons coming and going every year. You can count on a full moon appearing in the sky every 27 days, 7 hours, and 43 minutes. Because faithfulness is built into God’s creation. And faithfulness is built into God’s creation because God is faithful. His creation reflects his nature.

We should reflect God’s nature, too. God wants us to be faithful. He wants friends to be faithful to each other. He wants husbands and wives to be faithful to each other. He wants his children to be faithful to him because he knows that faithfulness is an important part of any good relationship.

Being faithful means keeping one’s promises, being someone others can count on. That description fits God. Does it fit you, too?

REFLECT: Faithfulness is built into God’s creation because God is faithful. Where can you see God’s faithfulness reflected in his creation?

Who are your most faithful friends? Are you faithful in your relationship with God? with friends? with others? In what ways can you be more faithful?

ACT: After dark tonight go outside and notice what phase the moon is in. Is it full? half? just a sliver? Take a few minutes under the night sky (unless it’s raining) to talk to God and thank him for his faithfulness to you. (You may even want to pray the words of Psalm 57.)

PRAY: “God, I know you’ll always be faithful to me. Thank you for your faithfulness when_________. Help me to be faithful to you today when __________.”

Washing Feet

Washing Feet

https://www.josh.org/daily-devo/washing-feet-3/

by Rob Shiflet

Bible Reading: John 13:1-5

[Jesus] poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel he had around him. John 13:5

YOU’VE HEARD THE story before. They arrived in groups of two or three, talking loudly, laughing uproariously. They were Jesus’ disciples: men of the sea, men of the soil, and a couple of men of the sword. They entered the second-floor room with the low ceiling, where they had occasionally met before.

By the time Jesus entered the room, they were already uncomfortable. Though no one spoke of it, everyone in the room faced the same problem: Who would wash their feet?

You see, the roads and alleys these men traveled on their way to this “upper room” were not paved. Their feet were caked with the mud, dirt, and sweat of their travels. Usually the host of a banquet would provide a slave-equipped with a pitcher of water, a pan, and a towel-at the door of his home to wash the feet of the guests as they arrived. Though no one said anything, all had noticed that there was no servant to wash their feet.

The table in the center of the room was surrounded by cushioned couches, and the head of each couch was pushed against the table, like spokes in a wheel. The table was spread with plates and cups, and the fragrance of roasted lamb and herbs and fresh bread mingled with the odor of their unwashed feet.

So Jesus started to wash the feet of his disciples. Tenderly, he washed the feet of James and John and the others. He even washed the feet of Judas.

Jesus knew that Judas had made arrangements to betray him. But he washed Judas’s feet anyway. He treated Judas kindly and lovingly, even though he knew the terrible thing Judas planned to do to him.

It’s easy to be kind to those who are kind to us. Everybody agrees that treating nice people kindly is a good thing. But kindness is right even when it isn’t easy.

“If you are kind only to your friends,” Jesus said, “how are you different from anyone else? Even the pagans do that” (Matthew 5:47). But Jesus said we are to be kind even when it’s hard because kindness is right-whether it’s easy or not.

REFLECT: Have you missed any opportunities to be kind to someone recently? If so, is it too late to be kind to that person? Can you think of five different ways to show kindness to someone today? Remember that kindness has very little to do with the person you’re being kind to and everything to do with what you are like.

ACT: Keep a towel (like the towel Jesus used to wash the disciples’ feet)… this week to remind you to be kind to everyone. Or go out of your way to be “a servant” to your family this week.

PRAY: “God, thank you that you’ll help me follow through on being kind to _________ today.”

Playing the Waiting Game

Playing the Waiting Game

https://www.josh.org/daily-devo/playing-the-waiting-game-3/

by Rob Shiflet

Bible Reading: Ephesians 4:1-2

Accept life with humility and patience, generously making allowances for each other because you love each other. Ephesians 4:2, Phillips

THE LITTLE TYKE shuffled to his bed, his pajama-clad feet making only the slightest noise on the hardwood floor. He knelt beside the bed and closed his eyes tight, his fingers squeezed together in a tight clasp.

“Dear God,” the youngster said, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to get in trouble.” He paused. “Mommy says I need patience. She says I need to ask you to help me. So God, please give me patience so I won’t pester Mommy so much.”

The boy paused again. Then he opened his eyes and looked upward, as if he were looking at the ceiling. “Well, God,” he said, “I’m waiting!”

It can be hard to be patient. It doesn’t come naturally, does it? After all, that’s why we have fast food; instant coffee; express lanes; rapid tax returns; quick-drying paint, nail polish, and correction fluid; “speedy” printing; overnight delivery services; “Zip” Drives; and Jiffy Lubes. We hate to wait. And sometimes our impatience annoys other people and gets us in trouble. Like when you try to move a big school project before the glue dries. Or when you cut in front of someone in line. Or when you yell at your best friend and hurt his or her feelings because you wanted to be first in line when tickets to the Counting Cannibals concert went on sale, and because your friend just had to have an emergency appendectomy, you ended up fourth in line!

But no matter how hard it is, no matter how few people seem to have it, patience is a virtue. It’s a good thing to have. In fact, it’s necessary if you want to do right and please God, because a person who is patient reflects the image of God, who is “slow to anger” (Exodus 34:6; Numbers 14:18; Psalm 86:15) and “patient with you” (2 Peter 3:9, NIV).

God also tells us to “Be patient with everyone” (1 Thessalonians 5:14). So what are you waiting for? Start being patient. And do it right now!

REFLECT: When are you most patient? When are you most impatient? Do you need more patience? How can you develop more patience? Remember that patience is a virtue and a fruit of the Holy Spirit. If you have experienced salvation through Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit lives in you, and patience will show in your life as you let the Spirit control you day by day.

PRAY: “God, help me to accept life with humility and patience. Help me to patiently make allowances for others because of your love for them and my love for them, especially for_________.”