Daily Devotions

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The Young Church​


READ THE SCRIPTURE: ACTS 2:42-47
They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
Acts 2:42

One of the things the young church devoted themselves to was fellowship. Fellowship means holding all things in common — in other words, sharing together. They began to know and to love one another. Here are 3,000 people suddenly added to a little band of twenty. Most of them probably were strangers before this time. Many of them had come from other parts of the world into Jerusalem for that occasion. They did not know each other. But now they are one in Christ, and they begin to love each other and start to talk to each other, to find out what each other has been thinking and how each has been reacting, and to share their problems and burdens and needs, to talk about these together and pray together about them. There was a wonderful sense of community, of commonality, of belonging to each other. That is the fellowship which is the intended life for the body of Christ.

God has designed that his life should be manifest through a body. If the body is not operating, then the life is not manifest. That means there is no power, because the life of God is always power. The reason the church has been so powerless lately is that it has been so fragmented and broken. We have estranged ourselves from each other. In Ephesians, the Apostle Paul says, And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God... (Ephesians 4:30). Then he lists the things that grieve him: Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31-32)

If that is not happening, then the Spirit of God is grieved. When he is grieved, he does not act. There is no life. The church becomes dull and dead and sterile and mediocre. All this is manifest in an empty ritual, with no vitality in it. God intends that Christians should have fellowship, should share one another's lives and thoughts and problems — bear one another's burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ. It is not an option; it is an essential. This is why, when the Holy Spirit of God begins to move in any congregation, or in any assembly of Christians, he starts at this point. He begins to heal the brokenness of their lives and their relationships one with another, to get them to admit to each other their malice and their anger and their frustration and their grudges, and to forgive one another. This is when life begins to flow once again through the body of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Father, open my heart toward others and toward you. Break down and melt within me the resistance that I erect against others. Make me to be of one heart and one mind with others in the body, generous in giving, glad to participate in anything that advances this marvelous work going on in the midst of a world which is rapidly drifting into darkness and emptiness and coldness. Thank you, Lord, for the warmth of your Spirit, and for your power and your grace among your people.

Life Application​

What is the biblical meaning of 'fellowship'? When the Body of Christ becomes powerless, what remedy is indicated? Are we committed personally to building commonality among those with whom we worship and serve?

Daily Devotion © 2014, 2022 by Ray Stedman Ministries.
 

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Social Justice​



He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. (Deuteronomy 10:18)


It's simply wrong to see or hear of someone in need and do absolutely nothing. Let me explain... Awhile ago, the Lord revealed to me just how strongly He feels about wanting me to work for justice for the oppressed.

It's part of His calling for all in the body of Christ. He's been looking for people to help the fatherless, the widows, the oppressed, the poor, the lonely and forgotten since He gave the law in Old Testament times. Speaking through Moses, He said, "You shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child" (Exodus 22:22 AMP).

God is not partial, "He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger or temporary resident and gives him food and clothing" (Deuteronomy 10:18 AMP). God told the people that if they fed the strangers, the widows and the fatherless, He would bless the work of their hands (see Deuteronomy 14:29).

Some of the most lonely and forgotten people in the world today are the girls who have been forced into prostitution in order to survive, the orphan boy in Africa whose parents have died of AIDS.

The prisoner who spends day after day alone in a prison cell, the homeless man living on the streets...there are plenty of people in need out there. This can all seem overwhelming, and you might be thinking, "What can I do about this?'

God has taught me that while I cannot solve everything, if I relieve the suffering of just one person, I am making a difference. Please don't think that what you have to give isn't enough. The hurting, broken, hungry and homeless are all around.

Will you help them today?

Prayer Starter:

Lord, You clearly care about helping those who are poor and lonely. Give me Your heart for justice and show me the hurting and broken that You want me to help.


Promises for Your Everyday Life - Joyce Meyer
 

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God’s Vision for You​



For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.
—JEREMIAH 29:11



God’s plan for the people of the nation of Israel was only for their good. Yet they wandered around in the wilderness for forty years on what was actually an eleven-day journey. Why? Was it their enemies, their circumstances, the trials along the way, or something entirely different that prevented them from arriving at their destination in a timely manner?

God called the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt to go to the land He had promised to give them as a perpetual inheritance—a land that flowed with milk and honey and every good thing they could imagine—a land in which there would be no shortage of anything they needed—a land of prosperity in every realm of their existence.

But the Israelites had no positive vision for their lives—no dreams. They knew where they came from, but they did not know where they were going. Everything was based on what they had seen in the past or what they could presently see. They did not know how to see with “the eye of faith.”

We really shouldn’t view the Israelites with astonishment, because most of us do the same thing they did. We keep dealing with the same problems over and over again. The disappointing result is that it takes us years to experience victory over something that could have and should have been dealt with quickly.

I come from a background of abuse. My childhood was filled with fear and torment, and my personality was a mess! I built up walls of protection to keep people from hurting me, not realizing that while I was locking others out, I was also locking myself in. I was filled with fear, and believed that the only way I could face life was to be in control so no one could hurt me.

As a young adult trying to live for Christ and follow the Christian lifestyle, I knew where I had come from, but I did not know where I was going. I felt that my future would always be marred by my past. I thought, How could anyone with a past like mine ever be all right? It’s impossible!
But Jesus had a different plan. He said, “The Spirit of the Lord [is] upon Me . . . to preach the good news (the Gospel) to the poor; He has sent Me to announce release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to send forth as delivered those who are oppressed [who are downtrodden, bruised, crushed, and broken down by calamity]” (Luke 4:18).

Jesus came to open the prison doors and set the captives free—and that included me. However, I did not make any progress until I started to believe that I really could be set free. I had to get rid of my negative thinking and replace it with a positive vision for my life. I had to believe that neither my past nor my present could determine my future. Only then could Jesus free me from the bondage of my past—and free me, He did. What a marvelous miracle!

You may have had a miserable past; you may even be in current circumstances that are very negative and depressing. You may be facing situations that are so bad it seems you have no real reason to hope. But I say to you boldly: Your future is not determined by your past or your present!

Most of the generation the Lord called out of Egypt never entered into the Promised Land. Instead, they died in the wilderness. To me, this is one of the saddest things that can happen to a child of God—to have so much available and yet never be able to enjoy any of it.
Start believing that God’s Word is true. Mark 9:23 assures you that with God all things are possible. Because you serve a God who created everything you see out of the unseen realm (see Hebrews 11:3), you can give Him your nothingness and watch Him go to work on your behalf. All you have to do is have faith in Him and believe His Word—He will do the rest!



Prayer Starter:
Dear Father, I thank You for loving me and having a vision—a good plan—for my life. I pray that You will help me overcome any negative thoughts of problems, past or present, that come against my mind, and make my life what You want it to be. Amen.

Joyce Meyer Battlefield of Mind Devotional
 

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Look at Us!​

READ THE SCRIPTURE: ACTS 3:1-10
Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, Look at us!
Acts 3:4

Here was this man waiting at the gate of the temple. The striking thing about this is that when he asked alms of Peter, Peter stopped, and said to him, Look at us. This is very important, because it is right in line with the activities of Jesus whenever he wanted to heal anyone. He never walked up to someone and merely touched him and healed him, without first directing his attention to himself. He always captivated the attention of the individuals he wanted to heal, directed them to focus their gaze upon him. The reason is that this arouses a sense of expectation. It always quickens faith. This is what happened here. This man expected to receive something from Peter and John. He did not know what he was going to get, but his faith was quickened by Peter's words. This is very necessary in order to receive anything from God. You must expect something from him.

One of the reasons why there are people who attend church but whose lives are hardly any different than when they first came, is that they have never given their attention to God. They have never expected to receive anything when they came. Unfortunately there are those, young and old alike, who turn off their minds when they get into a church service. They start thinking of all kinds of other things, start taking mental trips and playing mental games. I have always thought it would be most interesting after service to know where everyone had been! But unfortunately, the life-changing truth that goes out from the Scriptures misses them, passes right by, and they can sit here for years and never be changed.

There are young people who have been raised in church, but who are no different, exhibit no evidence that God is at work. This is largely because they never have heard that word, Look at me, and paid attention. This is why Jesus always said to the crowds to which he preached, He who has ears, let him hear... (Matthew 11:15) Let him listen. This is always necessary for the working of faith.

The minute Peter had this man's attention, he did two things which are most interesting: First, he admitted his bankruptcy in the material realm: Silver or gold I do not have, he said. That's what you are looking for, but I can't help you there. He then demonstrated his amazing adequacy in the spiritual realm: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk. In that electric moment, as this man was looking at Peter and John, and heard these words, at the mention of the name of Jesus something remarkable happened. Strength came flowing into his ankles, and Peter, sensing it, took him by the right hand and lifted him up. The man rose and began to leap and shout and jump around, trying out this new found strength in his legs which he had never known, because he was lame from birth.

Father, thank you for the name of Jesus. It has lost none of its power. It is still transforming men and women, as it always has — and not only spiritually, but occasionally physically. Thank you for those demonstrations of your power yet today. We know that you can change a sick and ailing body and make it well. But also you can take a sick and ailing spirit and make it whole.

Life Application​

When people look at us are they drawn to the power and presence of the Lord Jesus Christ? Do we purposefully divert their attention and expectation from us to Him?

Daily Devotion © 2014, 2022 by Ray Stedman Ministries.
 

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Know God's Character​



O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him. (Psalms 34:8)


It's important that we know God's character. Why? It gives us discernment. If we don't know the character of God, how can we ever know who is from God and who is not from God?

Here are three character traits of God that help me stay in tune with who He is and what He is doing: 1. Justice: God is a God of justice. That word justice is so awesome because it means that He will always make anything that's wrong right.

This helps me to not worry when I am mistreated because I know God will bring justice. It's who He is. 2. Goodness: God is good, this fact never changes. And He's good all the time, not just once in a while or when things go your way.

Psalm 34:8 says, "Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him" (NIV). When things are bad, I find great encouragement in God's goodness. 3. Holiness: God is holy and righteous, and He desires to make us holy, pure and clean, free from the defilements of sin.

To be honest, it has helped me in my walk with God to realize that whatever He does is right, whether I like it or not. This helps me to stay in sync with Him. These three traits are not the only characteristics of God, but they are some of the most significant and powerful ones to me.

I encourage you to spend some time looking up these traits, and other traits of God that are important to you. When you study who He is, the Holy Spirit will help you incorporate His traits into your own personality. Begin to practice them in your daily life, and see what God does... You won't be disappointed.


Prayer Starter:
God, You are wonderful. Your justice, goodness, holiness, and countless other traits amaze me and remind me of how great You are. Continue to remind me of Your character so I can become more like You.

Joyce Meyer Battlefield of Mind Devotional
 

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The Peaceful Mind​



You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.
—ISAIAH 26:3


What is it about nighttime that makes us more vulnerable to satanic attack? Is it because daylight is gone and it’s dark? Is there some kind of association between evil and the dark hours of night? We are usually able to cope with whatever happens to us during the day, but sometimes it’s a different story at night.

My theory is that by evening, most of us are tired and weary, and we just want to lie down, close our eyes, and drift into peaceful sleep. That is one of Satan’s favorite times to engage us in the battle for our minds. He knows that when we are exhausted and sleepy, we are not as resistant to his attacks. And just as we are about to drop off to sleep, he makes his move.

If we recognize that we’re more susceptible to the attack of the enemy at night, we can take steps to be better prepared to stand against him. Some of my friends tell me that they find it helps to meditate on scriptures such as Philippians 4:8, which tells us to think on good things—things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and excellent. Or they claim the promise of Isaiah 26:3: “You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You. . . .” These words from the Bible enable us to remain vigilant even in the dark hours of night. By using the Word of God, we can defeat every onslaught of the enemy—even in our weakest hours.

But if we have not armed ourselves with the Word and spent some time in prayer, we will fall for Satan’s plan when he brings to mind some troublesome event of the day, and asks, “Why did you say that? How could you have been so insensitive?”

He takes advantage of us when he knows we are weak and the most vulnerable to his influence. His goal is to disturb our thoughts and rob us of the peaceful rest that our bodies need. One of his tricks is to cause us to focus on the problems of the day, suggesting that we must immediately—in the middle of the night—determine the best way to settle the issue.

I experienced nights like this years ago, and I didn’t always win the battle. But as a mature Christian, I now know how to fight the good fight of faith. Here’s one thing I figured out a long time ago: It is not wise to make decisions in the middle of the night. There may be times when God demands an immediate surrender, and those are powerful moments in our lives. But most decisions can wait until the next day.

Perhaps we spoke hastily or didn’t respond kindly to someone’s need. The issues are often little things that we probably could have handled better. But as Satan wages his battle in the dark of night, those little things seem to take on importance and urgency—so much so that we believe we will never sleep unless we settle the issue immediately.

When Satan tries to pull that nighttime trick on me, I’ve learned to say, “I’ll deal with this issue in the morning, when the sun is shining. After I’ve rested, I can cope.” I’ve also learned that I can say, “Lord, I surrender this to You. Give me Your rest, Your peace, and help me to make the right decision in the morning.” That works for me!


Prayer Starter:
Holy Spirit, thank You for being with me, for protecting me, and for guiding my life. When I face those dark nights and the enemy tries to attack my mind, protect me. I trust You and ask You to keep me in Your perfect peace. Amen.

Joyce Meyer Battlefield of Mind Devotional
 

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By Faith in His Name​


READ THE SCRIPTURE: ACTS 3:11-26
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you — even Jesus.
Acts 3:20-21

The healing for the lame man provides the back ground for Peter's address in which he makes this announcement: Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out — and two great things will happen: times of refreshing will come from the face of the Father, and he will ultimately send Jesus Christ to you to restore all the things. That is a remarkable statement. Peter is looking down the course of the whole age, and he says, Here are the principles by which God is going to operate: Wherever there is a turning back to him, there is immediately a dealing with the problem of guilt. God wipes out sins.

I do not know anything more difficult to get people to believe than that. It is amazing how many Christians have heard all their lives that God forgives their sins, blots out their sins, deals with this great problem of guilt which is at the root of all human ill — and yet they still do not believe it! They are still trying in some way to work out some standing or merit before God, or to do something in themselves which will make themselves acceptable to him. But Peter says God arouses guilt only because he has the solution to it, and that is the wiping out of sins in the name of Jesus. Faith in the name of Jesus wipes out your sins. And from that, Peter says, two things will happen: first, there will come times of refreshing, i.e., periods in human history which will be characterized by relative peace and prosperity, times of order and joy and happiness and relative contentment in society.

After the spiritual awakening of the Wesleys, England was saved from the disaster of revolution which the French had just gone through. The country was turned around, and there emerged a period of relative prosperity and joy and contentment. There were still many problems, granted, but it was a time of refreshing. There have been other such times in history. But these times of refreshing, seasons of refreshing, come only when a people turns to God and seeks the wiping out of sin.

Furthermore, says Peter, it will result, ultimately, in the return of Jesus Christ. Only when God's people turn back to him is God going to return his Son again from heaven. That confirms what I have long suspected from the Scriptures — that when Jesus Christ returns again, he is not coming back in a time of a low ebb of faith. He is not coming when faith is almost burned out and God's people are going through a time of barrenness, a spiritual desert. Rather, he is going to come back at the height of an awakening, a time when God's people have returned to him, and there has been a blotting out of sins, and there is a release of the fullness of the power of the Spirit. In the midst of that, Jesus Christ will return. The world around will be barren and disconsolate, despairing; but there will be a time of life and vitality in God's people.

Father, thank you that you are eager to deliver men and women from their sins. Thank you that you promise times of refreshing and the soon return of Jesus that will mean the fulfillment of the hopes and dreams of every heart.

Life Application​

When the Church and the culture are mutually dysfunctional, we can finger point widespread lack of repentance. What if 'the enemy is us'? Are we part of the blight, or of God's bountiful blessings?

Daily Devotion © 2014, 2022 by Ray Stedman Ministries.
 

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God's Agape Love​



For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)


The Bible talks about various kinds of love. There's the Greek word "phileo," which means friendship or tender affection.

Then there's "eros," which is the passionate love we feel for a lover.

But there's a third kind, a higher kind of love. "Agape" is the kind of love God has toward His Son and the human race. It's a love that sacrifices, the love that we see in John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son..."(NIV).

There are so many scriptures on this topic. It's really something you should sit down and study personally. Another scripture that teaches the concept of agape love is Matthew 5:44 . It tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us.

It's not difficult to pray for people who are good to you. But it does stretch you to pray for people who have wounded you. It's easy to hang out with your friends at church. But it's harder to seek out that person who looks like they're miserable and alone and just listen to them for awhile.

That's agape love. It's sacrificing your comfort to do what's righteous. You can "agape love' people by being patient with them, by being understanding with them, by saying something encouraging or by not saying anything when you could.

As humans, we are inherently selfish, constantly asking, "What about me?' It's time to declare war on selfishness with the power of agape love. It's time to be good and loving to people on purpose as we study and understand what scripture says about love. And let the agape love of God in you overflow to others.

Prayer Starter:
Lord, Your powerful agape love is amazing. Empower me as I declare war on selfishness and make a decision to, on purpose, live a life of agape love.


Joyce Meyer Battlefield of Mind Devotional
 

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A Wandering, Wondering Mind​



Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
—1 PETER 1:13 KJV



In the days when Peter wrote these words, men wore long, flowing robes that hindered fast progress or strenuous action. They wore broad belts (or girdles) about their waists, and when they wanted to move into action, they “girded up their loins”—that is, they shortened their robes by pulling them up inside their belts. That term is similar to what we mean when we say, “Roll up your sleeves.” Peter’s words here are a serious call to action—a reminder that when we lose our focus, it is time for us to do some serious thinking.

I’ve already talked about how staying too busy can result in an abnormal mind as opposed to a normal mind. Now I want to point out that another way the devil attacks your normal mind is by causing your thoughts to wander. It’s a mental attack. If you do not discipline your mind to remain focused on what is important, the devil will cause it to wander aimlessly to other things.

When this inability to concentrate goes on for a while, you may begin to wonder if there is something wrong with your mind. What you often fail to realize is that when you’ve allowed your mind to wander for so long, you’re hardly aware that it’s taking place.

In some cases, there may be physical causes for not being able to concentrate, such as anemia or certain B-vitamin deficiencies. You may not be eating properly. Or you may have become excessively fatigued. It’s a good idea to consider all the potential causes as you search for a solution. I’ve learned that when I’m excessively tired, Satan tries to attack my mind because he knows it’s more difficult for me to resist him during those times.

Sometimes a lack of concentration creates a lack of comprehension. Perhaps as you are reading the Bible, you find yourself hurrying to get through so you can do something else. Out of a sense of duty, you are determined to finish reading a chapter—and you do. But when you are finished, you can’t recall anything you have read. Your eyes scanned the pages, but your mind was engaged somewhere else.

Perhaps you have even experienced this battle for your mind in church. You attend regularly—and the devil can’t always stop that—but he can cause your mind to start wandering during the sermon. Have you ever been fully engrossed in listening to a sermon, and then you suddenly realize that your mind has wandered and you have no idea what was said?

If the devil can rob you of the benefits of reading the Bible and hearing God’s Word at church, he has won some major skirmishes in the battle for your mind. This is why Peter tells us to “gird up the loins of our minds.” You must take action by confronting your wandering mind and disciplining it to focus on what’s important.

In conversation, I used to fake it when I realized my mind had wandered. Now I deal with it honestly by asking, “Would you please back up and repeat that? I let my mind wander off, and I didn’t hear a thing you said.” This kind of behavior not only interrupts the plan of the enemy but also brings victory over the problem.

It’s not easy to discipline your mind when it has been allowed to wander aimlessly, but you can do it. When you discover that your thoughts have wandered, you must exercise discipline and make the necessary corrections. The devil would like to convince you that you can’t help yourself, but when you consistently come against his bid for your mind, he is defeated, and you have won another battle.



Prayer Starter:
Holy Spirit, I realize how quickly Satan distracts me and then capitalizes on my wandering mind. Forgive me for allowing him to lead me astray. I thank You for giving me a good, clear mind, and in the name of Jesus, I ask You to help me overcome every temptation to lose my focus. Amen.

Joyce Meyer Battlefield of Mind Devotional
 

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The Radical Resurrection​


READ THE SCRIPTURE: ACTS 4:1-12
Jesus is the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.
Acts 4:11-12

This is a startling declaration! It says that there is no other who can fulfill the place of being the cornerstone of authority in the world. No other name! None of the religious leaders, none of the political leaders of all time could possibly do this work. There is only One adequately equipped, qualified to be the foundation of human government, the basis of human authority. You take all the religious names of history — Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius, Mahatma Gandhi, Ramakrishna, Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy — whoever and whatever.

The most that can be said of these men and women is that they are moral teachers. The best we can say of them is that they taught what is right. Many of them did. Christians are often accused of being bigoted, of being intolerant of other faiths. There is a sense in which that accusation is perfectly just. We are intolerant of other faiths, in the final analysis. But this does not mean that Christians do not recognize that there is much truth in other religions.

Other great religious leaders have uttered fine moral teachings and precepts which have helped people. But there is one thing they could not do: They could tell us what was right; but they could not enable us to do it. That is the difference between Jesus of Nazareth and any other name that can be named in this world. That is why we can never consent to considering any other name to be equal with that of Jesus of Nazareth. No other has solved the problem of death. No other has broken through this ghastly terror that hangs over the human race — only Jesus of Nazareth. God has made him the cornerstone, and there is no other name by which we can be saved.

We do not need someone to tell us what to do; we know what to do. Most of us know better than we are doing! What we need is One who will change us, give us a new motivation, make us want to do what we ought to do, and give us a new heart, a new outlook, a new ability, a new capacity, a new life. This is what Jesus does.

Lord Jesus, thank you that you are ready to save any who will trust and believe in you, by this wonderful miracle that you have made possible — that wherever a heart in emptiness and loneliness, in pain and despair, cries out to you and asks you to enter that life and dwell within, you take up residence there.

Life Application​

What is the unique distinctive that makes Jesus' moral authority comparable to none other? Do we like the Apostle Paul want to know Christ and the life-changing, radical power of His resurrection?

Daily Devotion © 2014, 2022 by Ray Stedman Ministries.
 

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Being an Imitator of God​



Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; (Ephesians 5:1)


Being a Christian isn't about making a weekly trip to church. We need to develop the character of God so others can actually see Jesus working in a practical way.

Ephesians 5:1 says that we are to be imitators of God. Unfortunately, saying it is a lot easier than actually doing it. So many times we do things that don't reflect God at all.

It's easy to get discouraged, give up on and condemn ourselves when we fall short. Thankfully, God isn't bothered that we haven't arrived yet. He knows we're only human.

He knows that we're not going to instantly, perfectly mirror Him overnight, but He does want us to continue growing.

We're not meant to live stagnant lives, never moving forward in our faith. Where's the adventure in that?

We need to be able to look back on our life and see some changes taking place. I used to be a Pharisee. I think I could have been the chief of Pharisees. I had a real religious act going on, but I wasn't really doing anything to truly "imitate" God.

At some point, God led me to ask myself: "What am I doing to be more like God? Am I actually helping anybody? Am I just in this thing so God will make my life better?"

When we're in a place of questioning, that's the best place to be. It's a place of constantly striving toward being more like Christ. As you're striving, don't fall into the trap of perfectionism and self-condemnation.

We all make mistakes but the important thing is to be willing to take steps every day toward being more like God.

Prayer Starter:
God, I thank You that even though You see my mistakes, You still love me and help me live a godly life. While I refuse to be discouraged by my failures, I also refuse to stay the same. I choose to follow You and imitate You more and more each day.


Promises for Your Everyday Life - Joyce Meyer
 

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A Wondering Mind​



In the morning, when they were passing along, they noticed that the fig tree was withered [completely] away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to Him, Master, look! The fig tree which You doomed has withered away! And Jesus, replying, said to them, Have faith in God [constantly]. Truly I tell you, whoever says to this mountain, Be lifted up and thrown into the sea! and does not doubt at all in his heart but believes that what he says will take place, it will be done for him. For this reason I am telling you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it].
—MARK 11:20-24



When you say the words, “I wonder,” they sound innocent and honest. They also represent the way we avoid certainty in making decisions.
Suppose you’re the CEO of a business. Every day twenty people come to your office and ask you to make decisions. Yours is the final answer on everything that goes on in the corporation. Instead of giving decisive answers, you rub your chin, stare out the window, and say, “I wonder. I wonder what we should do about that?”

An indecisive CEO wouldn’t stay in that position very long. The position is much too important to the overall success and wellbeing of the organization and all who are associated with it. You are not in that position to wonder—you’re there to act.

Too many of us forget that this is the way it is with the Christian life, as well. Too often, instead of choosing what we need to do, we avoid facing the situation and say, “I wonder.”

I know because I’ve done it. In times past, when I’ve been invited to a party or to be the featured speaker at a banquet, I’ve said, “I wonder what I should wear.” It’s easy for me to waste a lot of time looking through my closet, considering the color and style, as I try to choose just the right outfit for a particular occasion.

This may seem like such a small thing—and it really is. The problem, however, is that if we allow enough of these “wonderings” in our lives, we not only fail to accomplish the things we need to do, but wondering becomes the normal way our minds function. Being indecisive keeps us from moving forward and can eventually defeat us.

In the verses quoted earlier, the incident started with a fig tree that wasn’t bearing fruit. The disciples could have wasted time wondering about the particulars of why the tree didn’t bear fruit. They could have wondered if it hadn’t received enough sunlight or water. They might have wondered why the owner hadn’t cut it down since it wasn’t productive. But wasting time wondering really wasn’t necessary.

When Jesus spoke and doomed the tree, He put a stop to any mental speculation. He used the incident as an object lesson for the disciples, encouraging them to believe. He wanted them to understand that if they truly believed, they could have whatever they asked of Him.
Sometimes God’s people are reluctant to ask boldly for big things. But Jesus has given us permission to step out in faith and ask boldly. And yet some still waste time just wondering. They wonder what it would be like if God would give them a better job. They wonder what it would be like if God would give them a larger house.

I can tell you that wondering is a waste of time. So stop wondering and start acting! That’s one of the most important things I’ve learned about the wondering mind. Rather than wondering what I should wear to a banquet, I look at my clothes and I decide. God gave me the ability to make wise choices, so I can just do it instead of wasting my time wondering.

Wondering and indecision can become strongholds in our minds that can leave us feeling confused, insecure, and ineffective. But that’s not God’s plan. He wants us to overcome the wondering thoughts by believing and then receiving the answer to our prayers from God, by faith.
Notice that Jesus did not say, “Whatever things you wonder when you pray, you will have.” Instead, He said, “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe (trust and be confident) that it is granted to you, and you will [get it].”



Prayer Starter:
Lord Jesus, help me to overcome any wondering tendencies that keep me from moving forward in Your good plan. In Your name, I ask You to help me reach out in faith, boldly asking for what I need. Then help me to believe it and receive it. Amen.

Joyce Meyer Battlefield of Mind Devotional
 

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When the Establishment is Wrong​


READ THE SCRIPTURE: ACTS 4:13-22
But Peter and John replied, Which is right in God's eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.
Acts 4:19-20

The inconsistency of these Jewish rulers led to what was basically an illegal act. They were the representatives of God to this nation and as such they were ostensibly committed to doing the will of God. Yet here, in spite of the evidence they had received of what God wanted done, they directly opposed the will and word of God, and forbade these apostles to speak in the name of Jesus. The disciples, very wisely and courteously, declined to obey this command. They pointed out that they had no choice, they cannot help speaking about the things they have seen and heard. The message they declared was so challenging, so transforming in its implications, both to the nation and to the world, that they cannot be silent and still be true to their relationship to God. It was a message desperately needed, so powerful in its implications and its effect that they cannot, out of sheer humanity, maintain silence. They thus respectfully declined to obey what these rulers commanded.

At this point the whole question of civil disobedience comes into view. These apostles were forbidden by the properly constituted authorities to preach in the name of Jesus. The apostles told them to their faces that they would not obey the rule. This incident had been used through the centuries to justify many activities such as racial strife, draft evasion, violent demonstration, boycotts, strikes, etc. We cannot read this account without the question being raised, and quite properly: Is it right for a Christian to disobey a law because of a conscientious scruple? The clear answer of this account is, Yes! There are times when it is necessary, when it is right to disobey properly constituted authority. The establishment can be wrong as well as right.

The Scriptures are clear that governments are given by God. Paul says that government authorities are the servants of God (Romans 13:1-7). The emperor on the throne when Paul wrote those words was none other than Nero, a wicked, vile, and godless man. Yet Paul could write that the governing authorities were the servants of God and those who resist them resist what God has ordained. He acknowledges that governments have certain powers, derived not from the people but from God — the power to tax, the power to keep law and order, the power to punish evildoing, even to the point of death. The Scriptures make perfectly clear that all this is right and ordained of God, and believers are exhorted to obey the authorities.

But there is a place for civil disobedience. Notice that it occurs here only because the conscience of these men rested directly on the word of God which contradicted the human law. The issue is so clear that Peter even calls on the rulers to be the judges of what the apostles should do. He says, Which is right in God's eyes? You are religious men. You know which is the higher authority. Who should we obey, God or man? The matter was so clear that these authorities cannot say a word. All they can do is threaten and bluster and try to maintain control by the threat of force. They feared the people who were convinced that this was a remarkable sign from God.

Preserve me, Father, from misguided zeal. Reveal to me the underlying turmoil in society that is the result of your Spirit at work among men, and to line up with you; to take my stand with these men and women of old.

Life Application​

Are we dutifully and earnestly seeking God's wisdom in the issue of civil disobedience? Jesus calls us to be salt and light, both desperately needed in our rapidly decaying culture. Are we both prayerful and obedient?

Daily Devotion © 2014, 2022 by Ray Stedman Ministries.
 

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God Approves of You​



The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. (Numbers 6:24-26)


We need to speak affirming words over people. We need to resurrect this benediction in Numbers 6:24-26:

"The Lord bless you and watch, guard, and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon and enlighten you and be gracious (kind, merciful, and giving favor) to you; the Lord lift up His [approving] countenance upon you and give you peace" (AMP).

In other words, God's smiling at you. Think about it. Every time you smile at someone, you're saying to them, "I approve of you. I accept you. You're cool." God not only approves of you, He's smiling over you. He loves you!

You need to get that so deeply rooted within your heart that nothing can ever take it from you. When you're rooted in God's love, He's going to help you stand up in faith and start walking in obedience to Him.

But you can't go ahead of Him trying to do good works on your own. You have to know the Word so that you can know who you are in Christ. In Psalm 18:19, David said, "God is pleased with me." David wasn't perfect, but he knew God delighted in him.

God is pleased with you too. Get that truth down inside you. He is smiling over you and He loves you very much. God approves of you!

Prayer Starter:
God, thank You so much for loving me and for approving of me. Thank You for smiling over me. Your love has changed my life and I know that it will only continue to do so as I grow in You.


Promises for Your Everyday Life - Joyce Meyer
 

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A Confused Mind​



If any of you is deficient in wisdom, let him ask of the giving God [Who gives] to everyone liberally and ungrudgingly, without reproaching or faultfinding, and it will be given him. Only it must be in faith that he asks with no wavering (no hesitating, no doubting). For the one who wavers (hesitates, doubts) is like the billowing surge out at sea that is blown hither and thither and tossed by the wind. For truly, let not such a person imagine that he will receive anything [he asks for] from the Lord, [for being as he is] a man of two minds (hesitating, dubious, irresolute), [he is] unstable and unreliable and uncertain about everything [he thinks, feels, decides].
—JAMES 1:5-8




My friend Eva received a summons for jury duty in a robbery trial. For two days, twelve citizens listened to the prosecuting attorney as he presented evidence to indicate that the accused had broken into a home and stolen many items. Eva was ready to convict him.

On the third day, the defense attorney presented the other side of the picture. The more Eva listened, the more confused she became. What had seemed very obvious at first now seemed ambiguous and contradictory.

Although the jury did convict the man, Eva said she struggled over making the right decision. Each attorney, when he was speaking, had seemed to be the most convincing.

Many Christians live much the same way day to day. They have become what James calls double-minded. They’re sure of one thing until something else happens, and then they flip-flop to the opposite opinion.

In their double-mindedness, they flit from one opinion to the other. They’re sure they know what to do, and then they switch again. The moment they feel sure they have made the decision they plan to stick with, they begin to wonder if it was the correct one. They continually doubt and question their reasoning.

This kind of behavior is not the same as being open-minded. To be open-minded means we’re willing to hear all sides of an issue—like jurors should be at a trial. But eventually we have to sort through the evidence or the circumstances in life and say, “This is what I’m going to do.”
That sounds good, but too many people have trouble being decisive. “What if I make a mistake?” they ask. “What If I choose the wrong thing?” Those are legitimate questions, but they are not meant to paralyze God’s people and prevent them from acting. Too often, these are tools that Satan uses to distract and prevent Christians from taking action.

I’m an expert on this. For many years, I was that double-minded person James wrote about. I didn’t like being that way. It took so much energy to keep rethinking the same problems. But I was so afraid of making a mistake that I didn’t know how to make good decisions. It took a long time before I realized that the devil had declared war against me, and that my mind was his personal battlefield. At that moment of awareness, I felt totally confused about everything, and I didn’t understand why.

So many of God’s people are living exactly where I was then. They’re reasonable people. That is, they have the ability to figure out causes and relationships and reasons. They sincerely try to understand all the implications of a situation and then find the most sensible or logical solution by putting their reasoning ability to work.

Too often, this is where Satan sneaks in and steals the will of God from them. God may speak to them about doing a certain thing, and it may not always seem to be the most sensible course of action. This presents an opportunity for the devil to cause them to question—to become double-minded.

For example, sometimes I sense that God wants me to bless people by giving to them—often an item of jewelry or clothing. On occasion, God wants me to give away a new and fairly expensive dress that I’ve never worn. It doesn’t make sense when I go through the natural reasoning process, but when I open myself to the Spirit of God, I have the assurance that it is the right thing to do.
God’s Spirit is always available to free you from natural reasoning that leaves you confused. Ask of the One who gives wisdom liberally, and He will free you of being indecisive and double-minded.



Prayer Starter:
Dear Father, in the past, I’ve been double-minded and confused, giving Satan an advantage over me. Please forgive me. I ask You now, in faith, to give me the necessary wisdom to overcome all of Satan’s confusion. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Joyce Meyer Battlefield of Mind Devotional
 

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The Mystery of History​


READ THE SCRIPTURE: ACTS 4:23-31
On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. Sovereign Lord, they said, you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them
Acts 4:23-24

After being released from custody of the Sanhedrin, the apostles did not go out to organize a revolutionary committee to overthrow them. They did not even try to arouse a popular demonstration. The clear evidence of this passage is that they had popular support. But the apostles do not rely for even one minute upon political or popular pressure. They cast themselves upon the unique resource of the church in any age, which, when it forgets it, becomes nothing more than an instrument of distortion. They cast themselves wholly upon the sovereign power of God at work in history. That is the greatest force to alter a power structure that the world has ever seen. It has been ignored by the church many times and thus Christians have frittered away their efforts in relatively useless activities which make a lot of noise but never accomplish anything.

The apostles found encouragement in two things: First, the sovereignty of God, his overruling control of human events. The very first word of their prayer recognizes this, Sovereign Lord. God holds the world in the palm of his hand, and is intimately involved in every human event. They found great consolation in that, but I find many Christians have forgotten it. These disciples openly recognized that God had even predicted the very opposition they faced. Later, they quote the second Psalm in support of it. They had clearly been doing what Christians ought to do under pressure: They had gone to the Scriptures. They had found in the second Psalm the prediction of the actual opposition they were facing.

This second thing they saw is what we might call, the mystery of history. You can see it in verse 28 where they say of the Sanhedrin, They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. In other words, the God of history uses the very opposition to accomplish his purposes! That is what they saw. God worked through the free will of man. These people opposed the plan of God. They tried to thwart God's purposes. They tried to derail his program. But God operates in such a marvelous way that he uses even this opposition to accomplish his will. That is the story of the cross and of the resurrection of Jesus.

That principle is what these Christians reckoned upon. They recognized a principle at work in human affairs which is the most powerful force known to man, and which the church frequently ignores to its peril.

Thank you, Father, that I can trust in your sovereign power and control even over those events which do me harm.

Life Application​

What are two important principles we derive from God's Word regarding our reactions to deepening moral decay and human suffering? Are we willing to act faithfully, while acknowledging the mystery and majesty of God's sovereignty?

Daily Devotion © 2014, 2022 by Ray Stedman Ministries.
 

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Eating the "Solid Food" of God's Word​



But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5:14)


I remember feeding my babies and as long as I was giving them bananas and peaches, everything was great. But when I'd slip in a spoonful of peas, they'd go "Phftt!"

So I'd scrape the peas off their chin and shove it back in their mouth again. It took me awhile, but sooner or later, they were eating peas. It's the same with baby Christians.

When we start consuming God's Word, we start growing up spiritually. We stop walking in the flesh and start doing what He wants us to do. Proverbs 4:18 tells us the path of righteousness shines brighter and clearer every day as we continue in God's Word.

The key word here is continue. We've got to love the Word, study the Word, and listen to the Word so it can transform us. Have you ever run a yellow light?

Maybe you're in a hurry and think, I can make it through this. If you do that over and over, you're bound to end up in a wreck. Well, it's the same with God's Word. If we go ahead and do what we know we shouldn't be doing and just try to sneak by, we can end up getting hurt.

God's Word is here to protect us. Hebrews 5:14 says, "Solid food is for those who are mature, who through training have the skill to recognize the difference between right and wrong" (NLT). The "solid food" of the Word will convict you, and that's a positive thing.

It's the Holy Spirit letting you know in your heart that your attitude stinks or that you're on the wrong path. Getting in the Word is the key to living life in the right direction. So don't be a baby...take in the solid food of the Word!

Prayer Starter:
God, I know that Your Word is the only path to maturity. Don't let me be a baby! Guide me and help me to grow as I take in the solid food of Your Word.


Promises for Your Everyday Life - Joyce Meyer
 

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Just Obey​



But the natural, nonspiritual man does not accept or welcome or admit into his heart the gifts and teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God, for they are folly (meaningless nonsense) to him; and he is incapable of knowing them (of progressively recognizing, understanding, and becoming better acquainted with them) because they are spiritually discerned and estimated and appreciated.
—1 CORINTHIANS 2:14




Many non-Christians don’t really understand the gospel. This isn’t a new thing that is unique to our day. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he pointed out that the Greeks thought it was foolish. And to the natural mind, it is. God sent Jesus, the sinless One, to earth for the express purpose of dying for wicked, sinful people. To unbelievers that is foolish. The natural man cannot understand the power of the gospel—it can only be “spiritually discerned.”

This is just as true in daily living. Sometimes God speaks to us, and if we try to explain it to people who don’t know Jesus, it doesn’t make sense. For example, I remember one couple that went to Africa as missionaries. They had no denomination or large church behind them, providing support. They sold everything they owned, including their wedding rings.

“Their wedding rings?” a skeptical relative asked. “You mean God wouldn’t provide for you, so you had to do it yourself?”
The wife smiled. “No, I think we had to decide if comfort and having things like everyone else was more important than serving Jesus.” The couple never doubted they were doing the right thing, but it never made sense to the skeptical relative.

It is difficult for many people to hear God speak and to obey without question. But Jesus did just that—and not only on the cross. John 4 relates the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. What most modern readers don’t get is the introduction to the story: “It was necessary for Him to go through Samaria” (John 4:4). Jesus had been in Jerusalem, and He wanted to go north to Galilee. The country of the Samaritans was in between, but Jesus didn’t have to take the route that passed that way. He could have taken another route and avoided going through Samaria. Most Jews avoided going through Samaria because they hated the Samaritans for mixing and marrying with people from other nations.
But Jesus went to Samaria, even though it wasn’t what we would have called the normal or reasonable thing to do. He went because there was a woman—and eventually a whole village—that needed to hear the message that only He could deliver.

The natural people—those whose minds have not been enlightened by the Holy Spirit—scoff at us. What we do doesn’t always make sense to them. But then, who says our actions have to make sense? The biblical principle is that the natural or carnal mind doesn’t understand spiritual things. Too often, a thought comes to us that we push aside, saying, This doesn’t make any sense, and we actually ignore divine guidance. It’s true, of course, that the devil can flood our minds with wild thoughts, but if we pray and open ourselves to the Spirit, we soon know the difference.

Consider the story of Peter who had fished all night and caught nothing. Jesus, a carpenter, came along and told him, a professional fisherman, “Put out into the deep [water], and lower your nets for a haul” (Luke 5:4).

Peter reasoned with Jesus, reminding Him that they had worked all night and caught nothing. But to his credit, Peter, exhausted from a long and unsuccessful night’s work, heard the Lord. I’ll say it again, Peter heard the Lord and said, “But on the ground of Your word, I will lower the nets [again]” (v. 5). And Peter was not disappointed. They caught so many fish that the nets almost broke.
This is an important principle of obedience that we must grasp: obey instead of reasoning. Or as one of my friends calls it, “The Nevertheless Principle.” She says that sometimes she feels God leading her to do things that don’t always make a lot of sense. When she hears herself expressing that sentiment, she quickly adds, “Nevertheless.” Then she obeys.
That is really all God asks of us: to obey instead of reasoning.


Wise and wonderful God, sometimes things don’t make sense to me, but nevertheless, I want to be in Your will. Help me to develop spiritual discernment, and don’t let me miss a divine opportunity to serve You. Teach me to trust You more, and help me to obey You quickly instead of trying to reason things out. Thank You for hearing me today. Amen.



Prayer Starter:
Wise and wonderful God, sometimes things don’t make sense to me, but nevertheless, I want to be in Your will. Help me to develop spiritual discernment, and don’t let me miss a divine opportunity to serve You. Teach me to trust You more, and help me to obey You quickly instead of trying to reason things out. Thank You for hearing me today. Amen.

Joyce Meyer Battlefield of Mind Devotional
 

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Body Life​


READ THE SCRIPTURE: ACTS 4:32-36
All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.
Acts 4:32

This is a beautiful glimpse of what life was like in the early church. After the dramatic events of the day of Pentecost, the healing of the lame man, and the great response of multitudes in Jerusalem, the church faced life in the world of that day — a world of darkness, despair, and death on every side — and met it with a flowing out of the life of Jesus Christ. This is ideal Christianity, true, genuine Christianity. Unfortunately there is also a counterfeit Christianity. It came in shortly after this in the early church, and evidences of it will be seen throughout the book of Acts. Wherever the true church has gone throughout the world, counterfeit Christianity has gone right along with it.

Counterfeit Christianity can be recognized externally as a kind of religious club where people, largely of the same social status or class, and bound together by a mutual interest in some religious project or program, meet together to advance that particular cause. But that is a far cry from true Christianity which consists of individuals who share the same divine life, who are made up of all ages, backgrounds, classes, and status-levels of society, and who, when meeting together, regard themselves as what they really are — brothers and sisters in one family. But of that mutual background of love and fellowship they manifest the life of Jesus Christ.

That is what we have here. The key idea is community, commonness, everything in common. They were of one heart and mind. The word heart is used for the human spirit. It denotes the deepest part of our life. It is the unconscious level of existence, the spirit, the most essential part of our nature. Here were people who, by the Holy Spirit, had been united into one life. They were of one heart. At the very deepest level of their lives they belonged to each other, and that is only possible by means of the Holy Spirit. They did not need to have met someone before to recognize that if he or she is a Christian they belong to each other, they are of the same family and they always have a vast area in common. This was true of these people.

Not only did they have it, but it also manifested itself in the fact that everyone had a new attitude toward the material life. This is not a forced distribution of goods. It is not an attempt to make everyone give up their material things and redistribute them to others. No, it is a change of attitude, saying, Nothing that I possess is mine, for my exclusive use, but everything that I possess is God's, and therefore it is available to anyone who needs it. So here were these early Christians, one in heart and mind and body, united together. That is the church as it ought to be.

Father, thank you for the renewed life being imparted to your body. How true it is that it flows through the interchange of those who belong to one another, made so by the life of Jesus Christ which we share, brothers and sisters together in Christ.

Life Application​

What can I as a member of Christ's body do to facilitate community among my fellow believers? Do I realize the importance of oneness as members together under the Headship of Christ, the Lord of the Church?

Daily Devotion © 2014, 2022 by Ray Stedman Ministries.
 

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Free to Think Positive Thoughts​



For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he: Eat and drink, saith he to thee; but his heart is not with thee. (Proverbs 23:7)


This scripture shows us how important it is to think healthy, positive thoughts about ourselves. You cannot love life if you're always thinking negative thoughts.

If you struggle with this, I encourage you to make up your mind to work toward changing your way of thinking.

I've found the best way to become a positive thinker is to ask God for a lot of help, and to ask for it often. That's really the hardest part of being set free from negativism: admitting that it's a problem and asking God for help.

But once you do that, you can overcome it because according to the Bible, you're a new person in Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:17 ). Many people are afraid to hope because they've been hurt so much in life.

Their philosophy is: "If I don't expect anything good to happen, I won't be disappointed if it doesn't." That's how I used to think. I had encountered so much disappointment and I was afraid to be positive.

When I began to study the Word and trust God to restore me, I realized my negative thoughts had to go. We need to practice positive thoughts in every situation. If you're going through a difficult time, expect that God will work things out for your good.

As a Christian, it's time for you to fight for your thoughts, because your mind won't automatically come into agreement with God's plans. I encourage you to spend time examining His Word and comparing it to your thought life.

Give God time to help you put your thoughts in line with His. He showed me how to be a more positive person, and He'll show you how to be one too.

Prayer Starter:
God, I admit that I struggle with negative thoughts and I need Your help. Line my thoughts up with Your Word. In every situation, remind me that You will work things out for my good.


Promises for Your Everyday Life - Joyce Meyer
 
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