Archive for August, 2011

Throw It Off

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

TODAY’S VERSE
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
Paul uses the analogy of running a race to describe the Christian life. He paints a picture of a poor runner who has come to the starting blocks with a large heavy weight tied to him and chains wrapped around his legs. There is no way this runner is going to finish the race, let alone win. Instead Paul suggests that the runner first throw off everything that hinders them. That could be events, habits, environments, attitudes, anything that “triggers” in us the desire to do things that Christ would not want us do, or prevent us from doing what we should. We need to throw off anything that leads us toward Spiritual apathy or complacency. In their book “True Faced” the authors point out that in reality there are two kinds of sins. These are sins that we commit resulting in guilt and sins that are committed against us resulting in hurt. Both of these “sins” can trip us up. If we allow guilt to grow, it will spread like a cancer in our Spirit. If we allow hurt to go unchecked, it can fester into sadness, anger, fear, malice, bitterness and many other negative attitudes. We need to deal with the sin in our life — both those that we commit and those committed against us. Then we can run the race. Today let us consider our own life. Are we running the race that God has called us to? If not, what is weighing us down? What is entangling us? Pray today that God would help you throw it off.
 
TODAY’S PRAYER:
Father, You know that I need to run in this race of life. I confess that I have let burdens weigh me down. I have let sins, both that I have committed and those committed against me, trip me up. Help me, Lord, throw off these things. Help me run today, free from all these things that hinder me. In Jesus’ name.
AMEN

TODAY’S AFFIRMATION & MEDITATION
I throw off those things that trip me up
Meditate on those “sins” that have caused you to stumble over and over again. A sin that you keep committing or one that was committed against you and you cannot let it go. Be an observer and visualize yourself begin to stumble. Experience the emotional pain that it brings you. But then, invite Jesus into the scene. Ask Him to help you. Ask Him to speak “truth” to you about the situation. Listen to Him and ask Him to help you “throw off” the sin, like you would a chain that has you bound. See yourself becoming free. Sense God’s power working in you. Feel the freedom and affirm out loud, “I throw off those things that trip me up.”

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All Your Heart

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

TODAY’S VERSE
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
Jeremiah 29:13 (NIV)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
Have you ever really sought after something? Really longed to find it? When it is important to us, it is amazing to see how serious we can get. This is how God wants us to seek after Him. He spoke through the Prophet Jeremiah, admonishing us that the only way we would really find Him was when we seek Him with our whole heart. Notice, Jeremiah did not say, “when you seek him with your whole intellect.” It is not knowing “about” God; it is about “knowing God” in a deep and intimate way. God is saying that if you would get passionate about Him, then you will begin to find Him. How intent are you on knowing God? Begin today by seeking Him with your whole heart.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, I come to You today. I really do want to know You. I want to have a deep intimate relationship with You. Help me discipline myself to take the time to know You. Take the time to hear You. Take the time to tell You my thoughts, hopes and dreams. To share with You my fears, apprehensions and doubts. As I seek You this way, that is with all my heart, I pray that You would reveal more and more of Yourself to me.
AMEN

TODAY’S AFFIRMATION & MEDITATION
I seek to know God with all my heart
Today start by telling God that you want to know Him with all your heart. Meditate on what that means. Ask God to reveal Himself to you in such a way that you can emotionally respond to Him. Ask Him to help you to have a heart felt love for Him. And then wait. Just wait for His love to come to you. Wait for Him. Visualize yourself in His presence and sense His love for you. Let His love for you fill your whole heart.

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Real Wisdom

Monday, August 29th, 2011

TODAY’S VERSE
“If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.- But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.”
James 3:13, 17 (NLT)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
We usually think of wisdom in terms of knowledge or the ability to solve a mystery. However James describes something much more comprehensive. It is “relational” knowledge. The wisdom that God desires includes morality, prudence, humility, gentleness, love, mercy and good deeds. It seems that God is more interested in how we apply what we know, especially in the way that we relate to others. You can be intellectually right, yet morally wrong in the way you use your knowledge. To be right, yet arrogant, unloving and proud is not real wisdom. Which is more wise, to know how to solve someone’s problem or to help them solve their problem? Solomon, was King David’s son. God asked Solomon what would he want if he could have anything? Solomon told God that he would want wisdom. God gave it to him. It was Solomon, certainly the wisest man in his day, who challenges us in Proverbs three different times, that when we get wisdom to make sure we also get understanding. Might God grant us the understanding that real wisdom is, “peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.”

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, I thank You, that when I ask for wisdom, You give me so much more. With wisdom you also give me understanding. Help me use your wisdom to help others. With the knowledge You give me, help me to be gentle, humble, loving and merciful.
AMEN

TODAY’S AFFIRMATION & MEDITATION
God’s wisdom helps me to be gentle, humble, loving and merciful
Visualize yourself being in different circumstances where you need wisdom. See yourself giving the right answers and more importantly the right actions. Sense the joy you get from being Godly in your response to your situations. Feel how gratifying it is to to do the right, good and loving thing. Today, dedicate your life to Christ and affirm that His wisdom will help you be gentle, humble, loving and merciful.

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Love Yourself

Friday, August 26th, 2011

TODAY’S VERSE
“And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Matthew 22:39 (NIV)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
The first part of this passage is about loving God with our whole heart, soul and strength. The second part was to love others in the way we love ourself. I understand the “love God” part. I know we are commanded to “love others”, but isn’t “loving ourself” prideful and selfish? Some would teach so, but in truth it is in loving ourself the way God loves us that frees us to love others. Dr. Benner in “Sacred Companions” says it this way, “I meditate on His love, allowing my focus to be on Him and His love for me – and slowly things begin to change. My heart slowly begins to warm and soften. I begin to experience new levels of love for God. And slowly, almost imperceptibly, I begin to see others through God’s eyes of love. I begin to experience God’s love for others.” Consider how much God loves you. Shouldn’t you agree with Him and love yourself too? Shouldn’t this help you love others?  Today, love God, love yourself, love others. 
 
TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, thank You for Your great love for me. Help me love myself and with that love, help me love others.
AMEN

TODAY’S AFFIRMATION & MEDITATION
I am free to love myself
Today, do an internal scan and listen for objection to the questions I ask. As you observe yourself, do you love the way you look? As you sense your intelligence, do you love the way you think and comprehend things? As you see your popularity, do you love the way you are socially? As you see your status and wealth, do you love your place in the world? When left to our own programmed judgments, it is difficult to love ourself. However, see Jesus come by and look at yourself through His eyes. Feel the love He has for you. Sense His acceptance of you and the pride He has in you as His beloved child. As you do, feel your heart warm up to loving yourself. Hear Jesus say, “Love yourself in the way I love you!”

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Don’t Judge, Love Instead

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

TODAY’S VERSE
“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.  And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?”
Matthew 7:1-3 (NLT)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
It is so easy to judge someone else isn’t it? If I am not careful, I will become judge and jury over someone else’s behavior and not even notice that I have committed the greater sin. Jesus had a lot to say about this behavior. He says to get rid of the log in our own eye first, then go after someone else’s speck! David Powlison has written, “We judge others–criticize, nit-pick, nag, attack, condemn–because we literally play God. This is heinous. The Bible says, ‘There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and to destroy; but who are you to judge your neighbor?’ Who are you when you judge? None other than a God wannabe. In this we become like the Devil himself. We act exactly like the adversary who seeks to usurp God’s throne and who acts as the accuser of the brethren.” How often have we become a “God wannabe”? Instead, today let us judge ourselves. Let us look at our own heart and behavior. Let’s repent of any judging we may be doing. When things irritate us or when we are tempted to judge someone else, let’s pray for them. Let’s ask God for discernment so we will know what we can do instead of judging. Let’s love the person. We need to see the person through the eyes of Jesus. After all, isn’t that what we would want people to do for us?

TODAY’S PRAYER
Dear God, I am so guilty of judging others. I have been forgiven so much by You and yet I confess that I so quickly forget Your mercy and show no grace to someone else. I judge with my thoughts. I judge with my mouth. I judge with my actions. Please forgive me. Help me today, not to judge, but to choose the better way, the way of love and forgiveness.
AMEN

TODAY’S AFFIRMATION & MEDITATION
I will not judge, I will love instead
Spend a few moments thinking about a time you were judging someone else. How productive was it? How did it make you feel? Picture Jesus saying, “There is a better way! Love one another.” Let that thought permeate your thinking. Love is a better way. LOVE is a better way. Feel the difference in your body between judging someone and loving them. Sense how right it is to love. Feel the Holy Spirit nudging your heart to confirm that love is the way. Today affirm, I will not judge, I will love instead.

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Take Courage

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

TODAY’S VERSE
“But Jesus immediately said to them: ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.’”
Matthew 14:27 (NIV)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
Have you ever been afraid? I mean afraid for your life? If so, you know how Jesus’ disciples felt. Jesus sent them on ahead in the boat while He went to the mountain to pray. Now even though many of the disciples were experienced fishermen, they had a healthy respect for the “Abyss”. There were many legends about “the deep” as it was referred to. It was where sea creatures lived, where ships were crushed by waves, where ghosts terrorized those foolish enough to be caught in a storm. Many went into the deep part of the sea never to return. This was different than fishing along the shore. So the disciples were in the middle of the sea when the storm came. Matthew writes, “the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.” Finally, at three in the morning, as they were rowing and not getting anywhere, Jesus came walking to them on the water. At first this only added to their fear. They thought it was a ghost. But then Jesus said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Peter wanted to test whether it was Jesus or not so he jumped out of the boat. At first, Peter stayed on top of the water with Jesus, but then he started to look at the waves around him and began to sink. Jesus ended up saving him and as they both got into the boat, the wind and waves immediately calmed down. What an incredible lesson. Today, if the storms of this life start to rock your boat, if terror attacks your heart, if all seems lost, hear Christ’s words, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, I thank You that when the storms of this life are terrorizing me and I begin to fear, You come and seek me. You are the one who comes to me and says, “Take courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.” How marvelous Your grace is toward me. How wonderful is Your love.
AMEN

TODAY’S AFFIRMATION & MEDITATION
Christ gives me courage
See yourself in a boat out on the sea. It is the middle of the night, all is dark and the wind begins to blow. The waves start pounding at your boat and you think you are going to drown. Feel the distress in your body. But then you see Jesus walking on the water coming toward your boat. Sense the power He has as He gets closer. See Him looking at you and hear Him say, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” You are floundering and He comes and lifts you up. As He does the waves calm down. Sense the relief in your body. Experience the comfort and peace that you have. Feel courage welling up inside of you as you know Jesus is there. Affirm that, “Christ gives me courage!”

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The War Is Over

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

TODAY’S VERSE
“We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.  For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.”
Romans 6:6-7 (NLT)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
It is hard to believe we are winning a war if we are in the trenches getting fired upon. Our army could be winning on all the other beach heads, but our own particular battle stands in the way of believing that we are a winner. It has happened before. Out in the remote posts of the Pacific where the word had not reached the soldiers that World War II was over, battles still went on. How many lost their lives after the war had already been won? It is this way in our battle with sin. Paul comes along and writes that our sinful selves have been put to death with Christ. Yet, we act as if it applies to everyone else but us. The battle is over but the news hasn’t reached our heart yet. When we became a Christian, we were emancipated from being a slave to sin. We were set free from the power of sin. Do we sin? Yes. But do we have to be under its control? No. We have been set free. Yet we act like a prisoner of war still living in our cell, oblivious to the good news. So what is stopping us from living free from the sin that is holding us down? Today hear the good news, “Our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.” Arise, the battle is won, we are free!

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, help me to really understand the freedom You have given me in Christ. Help me understand what it really means to be free from the power of sin. Help me today live in this new awareness, that my old sinful self is Crucified with Christ.
AMEN

TODAY’S AFFIRMATION & MEDITATION
I am no longer a slave to sin
Today meditate on the new life you have in Christ. Visualize yourself with a real peace because of the forgiveness you have in Christ. Don’t focus on “not sinning” instead see yourself loving Christ and doing what He leads you to do. Focus on your love for Him and the joy you have living for Him.

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Be Still Before Him

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

TODAY’S VERSE
“Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him.”
Psalms 37:7 (NIV)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
How much time do you spend meditating in the presence of God? That is to stop everything and spend quiet time before Him. This is more difficult than it seems. It does not matter if you have read the Bible for four weeks or four decades, you may know all about God and still not spend much time experiencing Him. Your knowledge may be in your head never making it into your heart. You will never truly know what it means to love God without spending meditative time in His presence. That is like saying you love your spouse and yet you never spend any time together. God is interested in us knowing Him through Scriptures, but He also desires a relationship that only comes through quiet “waiting” in His presence. Today, determine to know Him better. Choose some time where you can spend twenty minutes of solitude with Him. Don’t let another day, week, month or year go by and not treasure God in your heart through time spent still before Him.
 
TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, I know that one of the purposes You have for me in this life is to know You. Help me carve out the time it takes to be “still” before You. Help me learn to embrace Your presence and enjoy union with You in quiet times together. I ask this in Jesus’ Name.
AMEN

TODAY’S AFFIRMATION & MEDITATION
I spend quiet time with God
Practicing the presence of God is crucial to knowing Him. Today just silently sit before Him. You may choose an attribute of God and let it be your focus for your meditation. Today, let us choose love. Quietly whisper, “God is love.” After saying the phrase let your mind think about it. Visualize a time you have experienced His love. Think of His love for you right now. When this dissipates repeat the phrase again, “God is love.” Let it carry you again into meditation. This time thank God for His love and spend time visualizing Him loving you.

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Denial

Friday, August 19th, 2011

TODAY’S VERSE
“Peter declared, ‘Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.’ Jesus replied, ‘I tell you the truth, Peter—this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.’ – “Peter swore, ‘A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know the man!’ And immediately the rooster crowed. Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: ‘Before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.’ And he went away, weeping bitterly.”
Matthew 26:33-34, 75 (NLT)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
How hard it must have been for Peter to face the fact that he had denied Christ. It was obvious that he did not want to. He was sincere when he assured Jesus that he would not desert Him in His time of need. He loved Christ, but like so many of us, good intentions were not good enough. He did deny Christ. But I must be honest, I too have denied. I have denied Christ in my selfishness. I have denied Him in my lack of faith. I have denied Him in my lack of witness. I have denied Him in my lack of giving. Perhaps this is why Paul encourages us to grow in Christ. To participate in a process of growth so we learn from the past. This is what Christ allowed Peter to do. He did not chide Peter. He did not excommunicate him or shun him. Rather, He made it a goal to see Peter after His resurrection and specifically re-engage him into ministry. He cooked a breakfast and took Peter aside. He did not ask Peter three times if he denied him. He did not say, “Why not tell us all, Peter, how you claimed you would never deny me and then three times in one night you told people you did not even know me.” Instead, Jesus asked Peter three times, perhaps once for each time he denied, “Peter do you love me?” When Peter was convinced, Jesus sent him out to “feed my sheep.” Today, don’t let the guilt of past denials stop you from re-engaging with Jesus. Confess your sin and accept His forgiveness. He loves you and is waiting for you to serve Him again.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, I confess that I often deny You. I deny You in my talk, in my behavior, in my thought life. I ask Your forgiveness. Cleanse me and help me to live for You in a way that is pleasing to You.
AMEN

TODAY’S AFFIRMATION & MEDITATION
Today I will live for Christ
Focus on today. It is so easy to live with the past or future constantly making demands on us. Today, forget the past and see that Christ has asked you to live for Him today. Visualize yourself with Jesus. You are meeting with Him and He asks you what are you going to do today? Visualize what you think your day will be. Ask Him to guide you, to give you direction, to help you react to the situations He brings your way. See yourself happy and at peace as you live your life today in complete faith and trust in Him. Affirm, “Today I will live for Christ.”

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Go And Do The Same

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

TODAY’S VERSE
“Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt deep pity. Kneeling beside him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with medicine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him. – Now go and do the same.”
Luke 10:33-34, 37 (NLT)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
Sometimes we make Christianity way too complicated. Jesus illustrated the essence of following Him through this simple story. He told of a Jewish man who was robbed, beaten and left by the side of the road. You see Jesus was not impressed with the Jewish leadership of the day. He did not care for their portrayal of Holiness. Neither did He like their lack of love for those around them. He used this story to challenge their mentality. In the story, the first person to come upon the wounded person was a priest. I am sure to everyone’s shock, Jesus said that the priest walked by the wounded man, leaving him there to die. Perhaps filled with spiritual pride, the Priest felt the man was “unclean” and therefore unworthy of help. Next, Jesus said that a Levite walked by the hurting man. Perhaps a reason he walked by the dying man was to stay ceremonially “clean.” He could not defile himself with the bleeding man so he too passed him by. Finally, an enemy of the Jews, a Samaritan, stopped and showed compassion on the hurting and wounded Jew. The point Jesus was trying to illustrate was, “How did following God get so far from what God intended? How did we lose the very heart of God?” If we are to follow Jesus, then we must love those in need that we come in contact with. James writes it this way, “Pure and lasting religion in the sight of God our Father means that we must take care for orphans and widows in their trouble.” Today, as you walk on your own path to wherever you are going, what will you do for those in need? Let us think of the “good Samaritan” and hear Jesus say, “Go and do the same!”
 
TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, help me remember the story of the good Samaritan so when I see someone in need today, I will go and do whatever I can to help.
AMEN

TODAY’S AFFIRMATION & MEDITATION
I will stop and help those in need
Stop and visualize yourself in the place of the Good Samaritan. You see someone on the road, hurt and in need of help. Feel empathy rise in your heart. Sense the need to do something and see yourself being led by God to help the person. Feel the joy in knowing you made a difference. Sense God’s plesure in your obedience. Now that you visualized it, do what Jesus said, “Go and do the same.”

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