Daily Devotions

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Take God Out of the "Emergency Only" Box!​



Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16)


I used to spend time with God once in a while or when my life was in big trouble.

Eventually I learned that if I ever wanted to stop living from one emergency to the next, I needed to seek God every day as if I were in desperate need of Him. It's true that God will always help us when we come to Him.

But if we want constant victory, we need to take God out of our "emergency only" box and invite Him into our everyday lives.

God wants us to get personal with Him. He proves this by the fact that He lives within us.

When Jesus died on the cross, He opened the way for us to get personal with almighty God. If God had wanted an "emergency only" relationship, He might just visit on occasion, but He certainly would not have come to take up permanent residence within us.

What an awesome thought! God is your personal friend! Will you remove Him from the "emergency only" box today?



Prayer Starter:
Lord, I know that the Christian life is so much more than an "emergency only" back-up plan. Because You live within me, I want to know You as a personal friend. Rather than just calling on You when I'm in trouble, I want to seek You every single day.

Promises for Your Everyday Life - Joyce Meyer
 

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Time to Worship​



He said, Come! So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water, and he came toward Jesus. But when he perceived and felt the strong wind, he was frightened, and as he began to sink, he cried out, Lord, save me [from death]! Instantly Jesus reached out His hand and caught and held him, saying to him, O you of little faith, why did you doubt? And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat knelt and worshiped Him, saying, Truly You are the Son of God!
—MATTHEW 14:29-33



Let’s take a closer look at this story. Peter believed and stepped out, and then doubt filled his mind, and he started to sink. His rational mind reminded him that people can’t walk on water. As soon as his mind turned from the spiritual and supernatural, he failed.

Jesus had already said, “Take courage . . . Stop being afraid!” (v. 27). Those few words were meant to assure the disciples that both the presence and power of Jesus were there to take care of them. Yet only one man responded—one out of twelve.

Peter stepped out and started walking toward the Master . . . then he faltered. He focused on the storm instead of the presence of Jesus, who was only a few feet away from him. As soon as he diverted his attention, doubt and unbelief pressed in on him.

I’ve often wondered if his feet slowly sank into the water or if he instantly plunged downward. The Bible account doesn’t give us that information, but it does tell us Jesus’ response. He grabbed Peter and saved him from the waves, the wind, and the storm.

Even that’s not the end of the story. After Jesus and Peter climbed into the boat, another miracle took place: The storm ceased. It’s easy to spiritualize this incident and point out that whenever Jesus is with us, the storms of life cease and peace fills our hearts. That is true, but this was a real storm, not a figurative or spiritual one, and the winds instantly stopped.

Matthew makes a point of telling us what happened after the storm. During the storm, Peter exercised faith. He believed and he proved it. The others watched and listened, but there was no response from them.

I believe they were still so scared that they hadn’t even moved. They heard Jesus’ voice telling them not to be afraid, but still they didn’t do anything. No one else moved or spoke a word.

Verse 33 tells us that after the storm, the other disciples knelt and worshiped Jesus. I would certainly hope so! Look at the miracles they witnessed. The storm came, the winds blew, and Jesus came to them, walking on the water. He tried to calm their fears by saying, “Stop being afraid,” but they were not ready to hear Him. Only after Peter exhibited his faith and Jesus calmed the storm were they able to say, “Truly You are the Son of God!” I’m glad they were able to say those words—finally. It shows that the message got through. But what took so long? How much proof did they need before they were ready to worship?

How much proof do you need of Jesus’ love and presence in your life?


Prayer Starter:
Lord Jesus, sometimes I’m like one of the fearful disciples, requiring all kinds of proof before I can believe You. How many miracles do I need to see before I can call You the Son of God? Help me to be more like Peter, ready and willing to walk with You in any and all storms of life. Thank You for loving me and encouraging me to follow You in faith. Amen.

Joyce Meyer Battlefield of Mind Devotional
 

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Christ Centered or Self Centered?​


READ THE SCRIPTURE: ACTS 8:5-24
Now for some time a man named Simon had practiced sorcery in the city and amazed all the people of Samaria. He boasted that he was someone great, and all the people, both high and low, gave him their attention and exclaimed, This man is rightly called the Great Power of God.
Acts 8:9-10
All false faith exalts personalities, makes much over men. It involves the inflation of an individual, usually by self-aggrandizement. These individuals are always egocentric, always pointing to themselves, exalting themselves, and using religious terminology to make a great deal over themselves. That is the quality of counterfeit Christianity. Genuine Christianity makes nothing of the individual. For what we preach is not ourselves, says the Apostle Paul, but Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves your servants, for Jesus' sake... (2 Corinthians 4:5). But here we have a man who exalts himself.

I remember a few years ago attending a service put on by one of the famous faith healers of our day, a man who has milked millions of dollars from earnest Christians. I attended this meeting just to hear what he was saying. He began preaching what I thought sounded like a good gospel message. He started out well, took his text from the Scripture, began to develop it well, and I began to settle back and say to myself, I've been wrong about this man! — until he came to the conclusion! Rather than giving an invitation to the thousands who were present to come to know Jesus Christ, this is what he said: If you want to know God, then have faith in my prayers. If you want to meet God, believe that my prayers will lead you to God. Come forward and kneel here, and I'll pray for you. The whole direction of his message was toward himself and his prayer.

That is false Christianity. It always attempts to interject a mediator between a believer and his God. But, There is God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, (1 Timothy 2:5); no other. Counterfeit Christianity tries to insert a priesthood of one sort or another, a mediator, someone great, someone who has an in with God, someone who has a special channel to God that other people don't have. When you hear that sort of thing, you know that you are hearing again the same kind of false Christianity that appeared here in the book of Acts.

Thank you, Father, for the exhortation of this passage to my heart — that I should be Christ centered instead of self centered.

Life Application​

Why is it sometimes easier to identify self-centeredness in others than in ourselves? Do we grasp the reality of our true identity in Christ, which sets us free to live for Him?

Daily Devotion © 2014, 2022 by Ray Stedman Ministries.
 

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Removing Distractions​



But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)


One of Satan's more cunning weapons is distraction. He knows if we become sidetracked by the cares of the world that, more than likely, we will begin to neglect our time with God.

To keep us faithful and in close fellowship and communion with Him, sometimes God wants us to remove distractions that are separating us from Him, even if it hurts.

For example, if our career or desire for money or social status are more important to us than pleasing God, we need to get our priorities straight.

Or maybe a relationship is keeping you from spending time with God and you're looking for that person's attention and approval more than God's.

The bottom line is, any situation or desire in our life that keeps us from being led by the Holy Spirit or living for God is an unhealthy distraction that's not good for us.

God wants us to be moved by His Spirit, not by distractions. So today, set aside all of the distractions of life and purposely focus on God.

When you seek God first with your whole heart, you will find Him. He's always there waiting for you.



Prayer Starter:
Lord, I ask You to help me remove all of the distractions in my life, even if it hurts. Help me to seek You above all else and be led by the Holy Spirit in my daily life. I want to live for You!


Promises for Your Everyday Life - Joyce Meyer
 

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Why the Storms?​



Why are you cast down, O my inner self? And why should you moan over me and be disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, my Help and my God.
—PSALM 42:5

O God, why do You cast us off forever? Why does Your anger burn and smoke against the sheep of Your pasture?
—PSALM 74:1



As I think about the storms we all face in life, I can understand why people sometimes ask, “Why the storms? Why do we have so many problems and struggles in life? Why do God’s people have to deal with so much suffering?”

As I considered these questions, I began to see that Satan plants these questions in our minds. It is his attempt to keep us focused on our problems instead of focusing on the goodness of God. If we persist in asking these questions, we’re implying that God may be to blame. I don’t think it’s wrong to ask God why things happen. The writers of the psalms certainly didn’t hesitate to ask.

I think of the story of Jesus when He visited the home of Mary and Martha after their brother, Lazarus, died. Jesus waited until Lazarus had been dead for four days before He visited. When He arrived, Martha said to Jesus, “Master, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21). She went on to say, “And even now I know that whatever You ask from God, He will grant it to You” (v. 22).

Did she really believe those words? I wonder, because “Jesus said to her, Your brother shall rise again. Martha replied, I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (vs. 23-24). She didn’t get what Jesus was saying.

I don’t want to be unkind to Martha, but she missed it. When Jesus came, she didn’t ask, “Why didn’t You do something?” Instead she said, “If You had been here—if You had been on the job—he’d be alive.”

When Jesus assured her that Lazarus would rise again, she didn’t understand that it was going to happen right then. She could focus only on the resurrection. By looking at an event that was still in the future, she missed the real meaning of Jesus’ words for the present.

But aren’t many of us like Martha? We want our lives to run smoothly, and when they don’t, we ask why? But we really mean, “God, if You truly loved and cared for me, this wouldn’t have happened.”

Let’s think a little more about the “why” question. For example, when someone dies in an accident, one of the first questions family members ask is why? “Why her? Why now? Why this accident?”

For one moment, let’s say God explained the reason. Would that change anything? Probably not. The loved one is still gone, and the pain is just as severe as it was before. What, then, did you learn from the explanation?

In recent years, I’ve begun to think that why isn’t what Christians are really asking God. Is it possible that we’re asking, “God, do You love me? Will You take care of me in my sorrow and pain? You won’t leave me alone in my pain, will You?” Is it possible that, because we’re afraid that God doesn’t truly care about us, we ask for explanations?

Instead, we must learn to say, “Lord God, I believe. I don’t understand, and I could probably never grasp all the reasons why bad things happen, but I can know for certain that You love me and You are with me—always.”


Prayer Starter:
Heavenly Father, instead of asking for answers to the why questions, help me to focus on Your great love for me. When Satan tries to fill my mind with troublesome questions, help me to feel the protection of Your loving, caring arms around me. Help me always to show my gratitude and devotion for all that You do for me. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Joyce Meyer Battlefield of Mind Devotional
 

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The Divine Wind​


READ THE SCRIPTURE: ACTS 8:25-40
After they had further proclaimed the word of the Lord and testified about Jesus, Peter and John returned to Jerusalem, preaching the gospel in many Samaritan villages. Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, Go south to the road — the desert road — that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.
Acts 8:25-26

An angel suddenly appeared to Philip. I've never had an angel appear to me. I do not know anyone else to whom an angel has appeared. You may ask, Does God still work through angels today? and the answer is a resounding Yes! He does. But they are not always visible. The ministry of angels, according to the Bible, goes on all the time. They are ministering spirits sent forth to serve those who are heirs of salvation (Hebrews 1:14). All of us are being touched and affected by the ministry of angels, but we do not see them. There have been well-documented experiences and incidences of the appearance of angels recorded in church history. I believe that, as we draw nearer to the days of the return of Jesus Christ, we may well expect to see a return of angelic manifestation.

Here is an unexpected agency through which the Holy Spirit works. An angel appears to Philip and gives him an unexplained command to go south and take the road that leads from Jerusalem to Gaza. He could not have picked an emptier stretch of road. It is desert road. There are no cities or villages there. The wonderful thing to me is the beautiful way in which Philip obeyed this command of the angel. He did not say, Well, I'll have to pray about this. He did not say to himself, Well, I wonder if this is a call to a larger field of service. He just went, that is all. He left the awakening that was going on at Samaria, with its demands for training and teaching. He arose and went down to a desert road.

This is a beautiful picture for us of what we might call the wind of God, the sovereign blowing of the Holy Spirit, and of the adventure that is always characteristic of someone who is being led by the Holy Spirit. Verse 25 and Verse 26 are both records of Spirit-filled activity. Peter and John were obeying the Holy Spirit when they testified, prophesied, and evangelized. But Philip is also obeying the Holy Spirit when he is being sent by an angel out to a desert place. Both are part of the Spirit-filled, Spirit-led life.

That needs to be made clear because we tend to run to extremes. The Spirit often leads through the ordinary, the usual, and he can be very effective that way. But that is not the only way. This is the lesson that God is forever teaching us. This is the creative strategy of the Holy Spirit, the freedom to interfere, the freedom to override a program, and to change it, and to make something new. The church has suffered terribly by ruling that out, by so organizing everything that there is no room for the Spirit to move.

Father, thank you for the sovereign ability of the Holy Spirit to direct me in ways that I cannot predict. What a note of excitement this adds for me, Lord! What a glorious sense of expectation becomes mine as I constantly wonder when you are going to break through and do the unusual again in my life.

Life Application​


Is the 'wind beneath our wings' the Holy Spirit, or are we guided by whim, or another lesser motivation? Are we missing the wonder and worship of being led by the Spirit of the Living God?

Daily Devotion © 2014, 2022 by Ray Stedman Ministries.
 

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When Life Doesn't Go According to Plan​



And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)


The apostle Paul tells us in Romans 8:28 that all things work together for good.

Notice Paul doesn't say that all things are good, but that all things work together for good. Paul also tells us in Romans 12:16 to "readily adjust yourself to [people, things]."

The idea is that we must learn to become the kind of person who plans things but who doesn't fall apart if that plan doesn't work out. Let's say you get in your car and it won't start.

There are two ways you can look at the situation.

You can think, "I knew it! My plans always flop." Or you can tell yourself, "Well, I can't leave home right now, but that's ok.

I believe this change in plans is going to work out for my good. God is in control." Allow God to be the glory and lifter of your head (see Psalm 3:3 ). He wants to lift everything: your hopes, attitudes, moods, head, hands, heart, your entire life.

Remember, even when life doesn't go according to plan, He is good.



Prayer Starter:
Lord, because I know that you are in control and work all things for good, I can be flexible when life doesn't follow my plan. When my plans don't work out, help me to find the good and stay positive.

Promises for Your Everyday Life - Joyce Meyer
 

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Doubt Is a Choice​



Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed and made appointment with them. And when they saw Him, they fell down and worshiped Him; but some doubted. Jesus approached and, breaking the silence, said to them, All authority (all power of rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Go then and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all the days (perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion), to the [very] close and consummation of the age. Amen (so let it be).
—MATTHEW 28:16-20




These verses give us some insights as to what happened immediately after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We often refer to this passage as the Great Commission. Jesus appeared to His disciples on a particular mountain in Galilee, and He told them that God the Father had given Him all authority in heaven and on earth. He then charged them to go out into the world and make disciples of all nations.

Matthew says that the disciples worshiped Jesus the instant they realized it was actually Him they were seeing. But then he adds the one sad, negative statement in this significant story: But some doubted.

How can that be? Judas was dead, but the others—those great Christians who later traveled throughout the known world and taught everyone about Jesus—doubted? How could they? Had they not witnessed miracles? Had they not seen the lame walk, the blind eyes opened, the demon-possessed healed? Had they not seen Jesus dying on the cross? Did they not—even now—notice His nail-scarred hands?

The answer to all of these questions, of course, is yes. Yet Matthew still says, “But some doubted.” Even these special, anointed, and handpicked followers of Christ struggled with doubt and unbelief.

Is it any wonder then that Jesus referred to the importance of faith on so many occasions? Why would Jesus rebuke these faithful men for not believing? Why would He urge them not to doubt? It was because He knew the hearts of men.

Earlier in his gospel, Matthew described what happened when Jesus saw a fig tree that had leaves but no fruit. A fig tree bears fruit at the same time or before it produces leaves, so it was reasonable for him to expect the tree to be bearing fruit. “And He said to it, Never again shall fruit grow on you! And the fig tree withered up at once” (Matthew 21:19b).

The disciples marveled and asked him, “How is it that the fig tree has withered away all at once?” (v.20).

Jesus’ answer about the fig tree also applies to faith. “Truly I say to you, if you have faith (a firm relying trust) and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, Be taken up and cast into the sea, it will be done” (v. 21).

His point is this: When we believe and do not doubt, we can accomplish miracles. Abraham believed, and God honored his faithfulness. Faith is a gift of God, but doubt is a choice. Doubt is a result of thoughts formed in the mind that are in direct opposition to God’s Word. That is why it is so important for us to know the Word of God. We are immediately able to discern the devil’s lies when we know the Word. Doubt is just another part of the devil’s arsenal of weapons aimed against our minds.

Throughout this book, I’ve pointed out that we can choose our thoughts. We have the option to decide whether to accept or reject our thoughts. That means when doubt knocks on the door of our minds, we have the option of inviting it in or calmly but firmly dismissing it. The choice is ours. We can believe or we can doubt. And we know the path of believing leads to the blessings of God.



Prayer Starter:
Dear Lord Jesus, I have allowed doubt to enter my mind; many times I have allowed Satan to torture me through my thoughts. I confess these things and ask for Your forgiveness. Now I ask You to fill me with faith and enable me to push away such thoughts. I rejoice that I believe only in You. Amen.

Joyce Meyer Battlefield of Mind Devotional
 

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Beloved Enemy​


READ THE SCRIPTURE: ACTS 9:1-19
In Damascus there was a disciple named Ananias. The Lord called to him in a vision, Ananias! Yes, Lord, he answered. The Lord told him, Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street and ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying. In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias come and place his hands on him to restore his sight.
Acts 9:10-12

Paul has been converted. Now he is a Christian. And what is the first thing he experienced as a Christian? The life of the body of Christ. That is wonderful, is it not? Two unknown, obscure Christians are sent to him. He meets them and is immediately helped by the strengthening that can come from the body, from other Christians. First there is a man named Judas. That is all we know about him. Saul is led to his house whom he has never met before. While he is there a man named Ananias is sent to minister to him.

Is there not a joyful, poetic irony about this, that the Holy Spirit has chosen two names which are tainted names elsewhere in the New Testament, Judas and Ananias. These names belong to two other people: Judas the betrayer of our Lord; and Ananias, the first Christian to manifest the deceit and hypocrisy of an unreal life. Yet, here are two people, bearing the same names, that are honored and used of God. It is just a little touch, but it seems so much like the Holy Spirit to use names like this.

These men come and minister to Paul. Ananias was understandably reluctant to come. Saul had been ready to drag people off to prison and put them to death because they were Christians, and so he is understandably hesitant. But the Lord reassures him, telling him to go because Saul is praying.

That is the first mark of a Christian; he begins to pray. He recognizes that God rules, and there is a relationship between man and God, and so he begins to pray. God says to Ananias, You needn't be afraid of a man who prays. Go to him, because he is praying. Thus Saul of Tarsus began to experience the joy of body life through these other Christians ministering to him.

Father, thank you for this amazing story of Saul of Tarsus. Thank you for the impact his life has had upon the world as a result of this encounter with you on the Damascus road. Thank you for this wonderful picture of one like Paul being included in the body of Christ. Teach me to include others with the same spirit of love.

Life Application​

Do we tend to think of non-believers as pariahs, enemies, adversaries? Have we forgotten our own state but for God's saving grace? Are we available to be instruments of Grace to whoever God leads us?

Daily Devotion © 2014, 2022 by Ray Stedman Ministries.
 

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Making a Decision to Forgive​



And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. (Mark 11:25)


When someone hurts us, we often react as though that individual has stolen from us

We feel that they owe us, yet God wants us to let it go. If we refuse to forgive, what hope do we have of receiving what we need?

To receive from God what He has promised in His Word, we must obey Him, regardless of how difficult it may be. We must forgive.

The greatest deception that Satan has perpetuated in the area of forgiveness is the idea that if our feelings have not changed, we have not truly forgiven.

When you decide to forgive someone, don't let the devil convince you that because you still have the same feelings, you have not really forgiven the person. You can make the right decision to forgive and not "feel" any differently.

That's when faith steps in. You have done your part, now wait on God. He will do His part and heal your emotions, make you whole, and change your feelings toward the person who hurt you.

Prayer Starter:
Lord, I choose to forgive those who have hurt me. I release them from their debt, in Jesus' name. Heal my heart and make me whole.


Promises for Your Everyday Life - Joyce Meyer
 

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A Tempting Offer​



Then Jesus was led (guided) by the [Holy] Spirit into the wilderness (desert) to be tempted (tested and tried) by the devil. And He went without food for forty days and forty nights, and later He was hungry.
—MATTHEW 4:1-2




After Jesus had gone through a forty-day fast, Satan approached Him with three tempting offers. The devil came to Jesus when he was weak and hungry. It’s natural to assume that the Lord was physically weakened after being without nourishment for such an extended period of time, so, of course, the devil’s first offer involved food. “If You are God’s Son, command these stones to be made [loaves of] bread” (v. 3).

Later Jesus performed several miracles that included food, such as changing a boy’s lunch into enough fish and bread to feed five thousand people and, at another time, to feed four thousand. All of Jesus’ miracles were for the good of others. He never performed miracles for Himself or to satisfy any need of His own. That’s one major lesson we learn from His temptation.

The devil then took Jesus to a mountaintop and showed Him the nations of the earth. He said, in effect, “You can have it all in exchange for one slight, easily excusable act. Worship me—just once—and You can have it all.” I can even imagine the devil saying, “It’s all right; God will understand. You’re so weak right now.”

It was as if Satan said, “You’re going to rule it all anyway. This is just a shortcut.” He implied that through one simple act of worship, Jesus could avoid the rejection, the suffering, and even the horrifying death on the cross. And either way, He would achieve the same goal.
As attractive as the offer may have sounded, Jesus turned it down. He recognized the deliberately crafted lie, and Jesus never hesitated. The world would be won for God, but it would be won by the way of sacrifice and obedience. The way of the cross would be Jesus’ pathway to victory.
Again, Jesus teaches us that His is not the easy way. Instead, we must take the right way. Whenever the devil tries to convince us there is an easier way—one that will make life better for us—we know we don’t want to listen.

As we read the story, the choice seems obvious. But suppose you had been in that wilderness for forty days and nights without food and water. Suppose you had faced such great temptations. Suppose the devil had whispered in your ear, “Just this one time and no one will know.”
This is one of the enemy’s most subtle lies. Not only does he tempt you to give in and to receive the things you’d like to have, but he also makes it sound simple and easy: “Just do this one thing, and it’s all yours.”

God never works that way. He wants you to have the best and only the best, but it has to come in the right way.
At the end of the temptation accounts, Matthew inserts a powerful statement. With each temptation, Jesus won because he relied on the Word of God for His strength. And the devil couldn’t fight the Word. Finally, Matthew records, “Then the devil departed from Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him” (v. 11).

The wisdom to be gleaned from this experience is powerful. Even after you’ve been battered and tempted, God doesn’t leave you. He remains with you to comfort you, to minister to your needs, and to encourage you. Never forget that He is as close to you as the mention of His name. He will never leave you nor forsake you.



Prayer Starter:
Blessed Lord Jesus, thank You for winning the victory over the devil. Thank You for not listening to Satan and for standing on the Word of God in the midst of every temptation. Lord, in Your name, I pray for the wisdom and the strength to defeat the same enemy when he tempts me. Amen

Joyce Meyer Battlefield of Mind Devotional
 

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Learning Meekness​


READ THE SCRIPTURE: ACTS 9:9-31
After many days had gone by, there was a conspiracy among the Jews to kill him, but Saul learned of their plan. Day and night they kept close watch on the city gates in order to kill him. But his followers took him by night and lowered him in a basket through an opening in the wall.
Acts 9:23-25

What humiliation! Here Paul was, equipped to win the day for Jesus Christ. He was going to show the world how much he could do for this new Master that he had found. But instead he finds himself humiliated, cast off, rejected, repudiated. His own friends finally have to take him at night and let him down over a wall. He walks away into the darkness in utter, abject failure and defeat.

The amazing thing is that many years later, as he is writing to the Corinthians and looking back over his life, he recounts this episode. He says, You ask me to boast about the most important event in my life? The greatest event in my life was when they took me at night and let me down over the wall of Damascus in a basket. That was the most meaningful experience I have ever had since that day when I met Christ... (2 Corinthians 11:32-33).

Is that not amazing? Why would this be so? Because then and there the apostle began to learn the truths which he records for us in the third chapter of Philippians, where he says, Whatever gain I had, I learned to count as loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus... (Philippians 3:7-8 RSV). That is, All the things that I felt were so necessary to do what God wanted I had to learn were absolutely useless, worthless. I did not need them at all. Everything that I thought I had and needed to serve him I had to learn I didn't need at all. The beginning of that great lesson was the night they let me down over the wall in a basket. There I began to learn something. It took me a long time to catch on.

But there I began to learn that God didn't need my abilities; he needed only my availability. He just needed me, as a person. He didn't need my background, he didn't need my ancestry. He didn't need my knowledge of Hebrew. He didn't need my knowledge of the Law. He didn't need these at all. In fact, he didn't have any particular intention of using them to reach the Jews, he was going to send me to the Gentiles. And though he did not understand it fully then, he began to assume the yoke of Christ and to learn that which Jesus Christ says every one of us must learn if we are going to be useful to him.

Jesus tells us what the curriculum is: I am meek and lowly in heart... (Matthew 11:29b KJV). Ambition and pride must die. We learn that we do not live to aggrandize ourselves any longer. We do not live to be a big shot, either religiously or secularly. We live only to be an instrument of the working of Jesus Christ. And we must learn the truth which Jesus taught his own disciples when he was here in the flesh, Without me you can do nothing... (John 15:5b). You can do what? Nothing! You may do a lot in the eyes of the world. What you do might be esteemed there. But in the eyes of God, without him it is nothing. If you are depending on yourself, God evaluates all you do as worth nothing. This is what Paul began to learn. Through this experience his pride began to die.

Lord, I pray that I will learn the lesson, and that I will be willing to be a person no longer holding onto control of the program myself but quite willing to follow where you lead, and to trust in your life in me to be all that it takes to do all that needs to be done.

Life Application​

Are we learning the liberty and beauty of humility, or are we still counting on our personal resources, real or imagined, to accomplish God's work in us or through us?

Daily Devotion © 2014, 2022 by Ray Stedman Ministries.
 

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Setting Your Enemies Free​



Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. (Romans 12:14)


When dealing with past hurts, we all know that it's right to forgive, even when it's difficult.

However, few of us rarely take the next step that God wants us to take. A common misconception is that all we have to do is make the decision to forgive and our job is finished, but Jesus also said, "Invoke blessings upon and pray for the happiness of those who curse you, implore God's blessing (favor) upon those who abuse you [who revile, reproach,

disparage, and high-handedly misuse you]" (Luke 6:28 AMP). In addition, Romans 12:14 says that we are to bless the people who persecute us and treat us cruelly.

We are to actively bless our enemies. God calls us to extend mercy to people who do not deserve it.

Why?

When you forgive, it opens a door for God to heal you, but honestly, it doesn't do much for the person who offended you.

But when you bless them, you ask God to bring truth to them so they can repent and experience the real freedom He provides. Forgiveness sets you free...blessing your enemies sets them free.



Prayer Starter:
God, I thank You for helping me walk in forgiveness, but I don't want to stop there. I ask You to bless those who have hurt me. In the same way that You have brought healing to my life, bring healing to them so they can experience Your goodness and walk in Your love.


Promises for Your Everyday Life - Joyce Meyer
 

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The Disobedience of Unbelief​



And Elisha said to him, Take bow and arrows. And he took bow and arrows. And he said to the king of Israel, Put your hand upon the bow. And he put his hand upon it, and Elisha put his hands upon the king’s hands. And he said, Open the window to the east. And he opened it. Then Elisha said, Shoot. And he shot. And he said, The Lord’s arrow of victory, the arrow of victory over Syria. For you shall smite the Syrians in Aphek till you have destroyed them. Then he said, Take the arrows. And he took them. And he said to the king of Israel, Strike on the ground. And he struck three times and stopped. And the man of God was angry with him and said, You should have struck five or six times; then you would have struck down Syria until you had destroyed it. But now you shall strike Syria down only three times.
—2 KINGS 13:15-19




It’s easy to say, “I believe,” but the true test comes when we have to act on what we believe. In this story, the king came to Elisha the prophet to seek his help in obtaining deliverance from the Syrians. The prophet told him to strike arrows on the ground as a symbol of Israel’s attacks against their enemy, but the king stopped after shooting only three arrows onto the ground.

Unbelief is disobedience. Period. Had the king believed, he would have struck arrows on the ground many times. Because of his unbelief, he stopped before he’d even gotten a good start. It is not surprising that Elisha became frustrated and angry with him.

Incidents of unbelief are recorded throughout the Old and New Testaments. Unbelief seems to be at work in nearly every direction we turn. Matthew 17:14-20 records the story of a man who brought his epileptic son to Jesus for healing. He said, “And I brought him to Your disciples, and they were not able to cure him” (v. 16).

This boy’s father was hurt and disappointed in the disciples’ lack of ability to emulate their Leader. We might have agreed with him had we been in his place that day. After all, Jesus had been traveling with these twelve men for several months. They had repeatedly observed as He performed miracles wherever they went. In Luke 10, we learn that Jesus sent out other followers, and they performed a number of miracles and healings. Why couldn’t the disciples do them in this instance? Jesus had constantly encouraged them to heal the sick and do the things that He did.

Yet they were unable to heal the boy, and Jesus said: “O you unbelieving (warped, wayward, rebellious) and thoroughly perverse generation! How long am I to remain with you? How long am I to bear with you? Bring him here to Me” (v. 17). Jesus cast out the demon, and the boy was cured. Unbelief leads to disobedience.

But here’s the end of the story. When the disciples asked Jesus why they couldn’t heal the boy, Jesus’ answer was clear: “Because of the littleness of your faith [that is, your lack of firmly relying trust] . . .” (v. 20).

I feel sure that Jesus’ answer caused the disciples to examine their hearts and to ask what held them back. Why didn’t they believe? Perhaps they had allowed negative thinking to enter their minds. Perhaps they weren’t able to grasp the fact that Jesus wanted to use them and empower them to perform miracles.

Of course, we know from reading the book of Acts that once they were filled with the Holy Spirit, the disciples demonstrated God’s supernatural power at work—but not in this story. He said to them, “I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, if anyone steadfastly believes in Me, he will himself be able to do the things that I do; and he will do even greater things than these, because I go to the Father” (John 14:12).

The promise remains valid to this day. Unbelief will keep us from doing what God has called and anointed us to accomplish in life. It will also hinder us from experiencing the sense of peace He wants us to enjoy as we find rest for our souls in Him (see Matthew 11:28,29 KJV).

When God tells us we can do something, we must believe that we can. It is not by our power or our might that we are able to do what He tells us to, but by His Spirit working on the inside of us that we win in the battle of unbelief.


Prayer Starter:
Lord Jesus, forgive my lack of faith. I know that when I don’t believe, I am disobeying You. In Your name, I ask You to help me push away every bit of unbelief so that I may focus on faithfully following You. Amen.

Joyce Meyer Battlefield of Mind Devotional
 
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The Cure for Death​


READ THE SCRIPTURE: ACTS 9:32-10:23
Peter sent them all out of the room; then he got down on his knees and prayed. Turning toward the dead woman, he said, Tabitha, get up. She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up. He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive.
Acts 9:40-41

This is a marvelous miracle — a restoration from the dead. Here is a woman known for her ministry of love and selflessness, and then this ministry was interrupted by death. But now, by the hand of God and the power of Jesus Christ, she is restored to ministry and she resumes her good works. Of course she later died again because this is but a picture, intended to teach us that this can happen to the human spirit too. Something can interrupt the progress of a spiritual life which is beginning to blossom, to flourish and bear fruit, to grow and minister to others. Some circumstance, some event or experience, can interrupt and change it and cause it to die. The person loses that zeal, earnestness, and eagerness, and becomes cold and hard, indifferent and unconcerned, bitter of spirit. He literally is like someone dead.

Many people are like that. Some have been dead for years and are still walking around. That reminds me of the famous comment by Dorothy Thompson, the newspaper reporter, when she heard of the death of Calvin Coolidge. She said, How could they tell? Many are like that. Their life of service has been interrupted by some incident which has been like the hand of death laid upon a zealous and earnest ministry. They have grown cold and indifferent, the very picture of death.

This can go on for years. Edwin Markham, the great Christian poet, once knew a banker whom he entrusted with the settlement of an estate. The banker betrayed him, and Markham lost all his money and was rendered penniless by the deed. It made him bitter and for several years he could write no poetry. Then one day as he was trying to write he was sitting at his desk aimlessly scrawling circles. As he doodled, making these circles, suddenly the thought struck him of the great circle of God's love, of how it takes us in. He was struck with inspiration and wrote these words:

I drew a circle and shut him out;
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But Love and I had the wit to win:
We drew a circle that took him in.

He forgave the banker and was able to resume his ministry. After that came some of his greatest poems. This is what Jesus Christ can do. He can heal a dead spirit, raise it to life and restore it. He can heal the bitterness that may be in your life, rendering you cold and indifferent to the needs of others.

Lord, I pray that your Spirit would keep me alive and responsive to you, confessing my sin and allowing your life to work through me.

Life Application​

'To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.' Are we choosing life, seeking the renewal of our minds through honest confession of named sins? The alternative is spiritual death, the wages paid by sin.

Daily Devotion © 2014, 2022 by Ray Stedman Ministries
 

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Passing Life's Tests​



Oh let the wickedness of the wicked come to an end; but establish the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins.(Psalms 7:9)


Life is filled with challenges that test our determination and our faith in God.

Whether we're faced with the impending threat of evil or with everyday hassles, the quality of our character is sure to be tested on a regular basis.

It would be a great mistake to overlook the fact that God tests our hearts, our emotions and our minds.

What does it mean to test something? It means to put pressure on it to see if it will do what it says it will do.

Will it hold up under stress? Can it perform at the level its maker says it can?

Is it genuine when measured against a true standard of quality? God does the same with us. Are you being tested today? The key is to keep trusting God, even if you don't understand.

There is no such thing as trusting God without unanswered questions, but when you push ahead, despite your doubts, He will build you up and make you strong.

Prayer Starter:
Lord, when tested, I want to be ready, holding up under pressure, following You no matter what. Show me daily how to put my trust in You, even when I struggle with unanswered questions


Promises for Your Everyday Life - Joyce Meyer
 

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A Sabbath Rest​



For he who has once entered [God’s] rest also has ceased from [the weariness and pain] of human labors, just as God rested from those labors peculiarly His own. Let us therefore be zealous and exert ourselves and strive diligently to enter that rest [of God, to know and experience it for ourselves], that no one may fall or perish by the same kind of unbelief and disobedience [into which those in the wilderness fell].
—HEBREWS 4:10-11



Under the Old Covenant, the Lord required the people of Israel to observe the Sabbath every week. They were to do no work from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday. It was a symbol to them of rest. Throughout the Old Testament, God says that He created the world in six days and ceased from His labors on the seventh.

The writer of the book of Hebrews used the idea of Sabbath as a way of talking about a rest that is available to God’s people. In chapter 3, he wrote about Israel’s unbelief and quoted from Psalm 95:11: “Accordingly, I swore in My wrath and indignation, They shall not enter into My rest. [Therefore beware] brethren, take care, lest there be in any one of you a wicked, unbelieving heart [which refuses to cleave to, trust in, and rely on Him], leading you to turn away and desert or stand aloof from the living God” (Hebrews 3:11-12).

The book of Hebrews makes it clear that although the Israel of old saw God at work every day in their lives and enjoyed the divine provision of manna and water and every other need they had, they still did not believe. The Israelites could not enter into that rest—that Sabbath.

Hebrews four makes it clear that the Sabbath rest—the peace of God—is still available to all believers. It is the privilege of every believer to refuse to worry or have anxiety. As believers, we can enter the rest of God. The promise is unchanged. The danger is that we may fail to reach it because of disobedience and unbelief.

The writer uses the word rest to mean more than just not working. It also implies setting aside those things that trouble our minds. In other words, to enter the Sabbath rest, we must not allow anything to prevent us from fully enjoying God’s peace.

Isn’t it interesting that although the Israelites regularly read the Ten Commandments and felt that they followed the Law, either they didn’t get what God was saying or—more likely—they didn’t believe it. God commanded them not to work, but it wasn’t just that He wanted them to take some time off. He was instructing them to do something far more important—to cease the daily routine of their busy lives and spend the Sabbath resting and reflecting on His abundant provision.

I know some people—and I’m sure you do, as well—who work every day of the year. They seem almost afraid to let up, as if they might lose momentum or money or not have enough to provide for their needs. Some people take on two or three side jobs for extra income, even though they don’t really need the money. It’s as though they think some measure of peace and happiness will come if they have accumulated enough “things” in life.

Sooner or later, they will find that peace doesn’t come that way. The Sabbath rest is God’s way of saying, “I’m in charge. I’ll take care of you if you’ll trust Me.”

And how do we trust God? One way is to begin to understand the importance of setting aside time to let our minds get quiet enough to recognize that God is truly with us. We don’t need to worry or be anxious about paying our bills or having enough food to eat. As long as we worry and fret about those things, we aren’t living in the Sabbath rest of God.

I am not suggesting that people quit their jobs and just sit around reflecting on the goodness of God. I believe we are to work hard and do our best at whatever God has given us to do. But ultimately, it is God’s love, His peace, and His provision that will see us through. The devil will whisper that it depends on us and we have to do it all. But once we have entered into the Sabbath rest, we know that God is the One who provides, and we can truly rest and enjoy our lives.


Prayer Starter:
O Holy One of Israel, forgive me. Too often, I worry or fret about not having enough. You are my God. You will always assure me that my needs are taken care of. My concern is to enter into Your Sabbath rest and take pleasure in Your presence. In the name of Jesus Christ, enable me to live in that Sabbath rest. Amen.

Joyce Meyer Battlefield of Mind Devotional
 

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Forgiven!​


READ THE SCRIPTURE: ACTS 10:23-11:18
All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.
Acts 10:43

Peter says, You may not appreciate this fully, but everything that Jesus did was predicted by the prophets. Long before he ever came, what he would be like and what he would do was written down. Every prophet bore witness to this one fact: The only way you could ever find forgiveness of sins is by believing in him. That is the great, final, glorious thrust of the gospel. The good news is that men have been given a way to be forgiven of their sins.

That is the basic need of every human heart. Each of us suffers from the terrible consciousness of guilt. We are guilty people; and we know it. That is what makes us so restless. That is why often we cannot stand to be alone with ourselves, because we are afraid of that sense of guilt which oppresses us. So the prime need of our lives is to be forgiven, to have nothing in the past to worry about, to have nothing that makes us uncertain of the future and, especially, nothing which makes us unwilling to appear before God. Through Jesus Christ sins are forgiven.

Have you reflected upon that, Christian friend? Have you recently stopped and thanked God that your sins are forgiven? Have you ever? Not just the ones you committed before you became a Christian; all your sins. All the future ones as well as those of the past are forgiven already in Jesus Christ. God therefore has no quarrel with you, he loves you, he accepts you. Whatever you do he will continue to love you and accept you.

No one can take that truth and use it as a license to sin, to go out and do as you like. To do so would indicate that you have never been regenerated, have never understood why God bore your sins. But if you have been born again you know that this is the greatest and most unending blessing of your life — to wake up every morning and remember that you stand as a beloved child in God's presence. He loves you and accepts you. You are his, and for that reason he will be with you all day long, in every circumstance of your experience.

Thank you, Father, for the forgiveness of my sins. Thank you for sending your Son to die for me so this could be possible. And thank you that he rose victorious over death to give me the hope of eternal life.

Life Application​

The apostle Paul exults: 'your life is hidden with Christ in God.' (Col.3:3) Such is our security, our identity in Christ, that nothing can separate us from Him. Are you living in the understanding of Christ's total forgiveness of you? Will you each day wake to the guilt-free joy of His presence?

Daily Devotion © 2014, 2022 by Ray Stedman Ministries.
 

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Let God Be Your Tour Guide​



For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.(Psalms 48:14)


When He walked on this earth, Jesus always knew the right thing to do because He did only what He saw His Father do.

As our Lord, we can trust Him to lead us down the right path every day. Psalm 48:14 says that God will be our guide even unto death!

How wonderful to know that we have a guide to get us from one destination in life to the next. When my husband, Dave, and I visit a new place, we often hire a guide.

Once we decided to explore by ourselves, but we quickly discovered that this was a complete waste of time.

We spent most of the day lost, desperately trying to find our way back. Sometimes I think we treat life the same way Dave and I treated that trip. It's always easier to follow an experienced guide than to wander aimlessly on your own.

44 Instead of going your own way, do what you see your Father do, and let Him guide you. God is committed to guiding us, so it's clearly important that we follow.

Prayer Starter:
God, I don't want to live life like a tourist without a guide, aimlessly going my own way. Only You can show me what to do and how to live, so I choose to follow Your guidance every day.


Promises for Your Everyday Life - Joyce Meyer
 

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From Faith to Faith​



For I am not ashamed of the Gospel (good news) of Christ, for it is God’s power working unto salvation [for deliverance from eternal death] to everyone who believes with a personal trust and a confident surrender and firm reliance. . . . For in the Gospel, a righteousness that God ascribes is revealed, both springing from faith and leading to faith [disclosed through the way of faith that arouses to more faith]. As it is written, The man who through faith is just and upright shall live and shall live by faith.
—ROMANS 1:16-17




Faith is a word the apostle Paul used often in his writing. When writing to the Thessalonians, he wanted to know about their faith. While the word faith means belief or absolute trust, it’s more than that—the word also implies loyalty and commitment.

Faith means being convinced that something is true. In 1 Corinthians 15:17, the apostle told the Corinthians that if Jesus did not rise from the dead, their faith was meaningless. He was saying that all they believed was utterly useless. True faith acknowledges that the message of Jesus’ death and resurrection is true.

True faith begins when we’re receptive—when we’re willing to listen. It starts with a kind of mental assent—it seems reasonable that it’s true. But that’s not true faith. True faith happens when we say, “Not only does it make sense to me, but I’m willing to stake my life on it.”

Paul quoted from Habakkuk 2:4, saying that the just—the righteous—shall live by faith. One way to think of the just is to think of those who were “justified,” or made right, by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. If we are justified, it means that God treats us as though we are not and have never been sinners. He treats us as His own—His beloved children. Instead of being God’s enemies, we’re His friends. Instead of fighting Him, we serve Him.

When God calls us just, or righteous, we enter into a relationship of love, confidence, and friendship. We need not fear or worry because there is no punishment for us.

When Paul says the one “who through faith is just and upright shall live and shall live by faith,” he means that those of us who have been made right with God live by our faith. That is, we live by our trust in the God who reaches out to us.

This is where many must fight the wiles of Satan. Instead of focusing on all God has done for us, they listen to the devil whisper, “Do you remember when you lost your temper?” “You’re worried about paying your bills, and if you worry, you don’t have faith, right?” “If you’re supposed to be a Christian, how could you have said what you did?”

The torments are there, and the devil never passes up the opportunity to remind us of past failures. All have failed, and we will continue to fail, but when we do, we can repent and move on.

I went through a particularly difficult time several years ago when there was absolutely no joy or peace in my life. Unhappiness filled most of my days. I repeatedly asked the Lord what was wrong with me, really wanting to know what my problem was . . . no kidding around. I was working so hard to please the Lord and trying to be the kind of Christian I thought I should be, but I certainly didn’t feel like any progress was being made.
Then one day, I came across Romans 15:13 in a box of scripture cards: “May the God of your hope so fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound and be overflowing (bubbling over) with hope.” That was it! I got it!

I had plunged into doubt and unbelief, allowing the devil to torment me with his evil lies. As a result, I had become negative, grouchy, short-tempered, and impatient. I was making myself miserable, and the devil was thrilled at the stronghold he had over me!
This scripture changed all of that old thinking! I knew the answer. Jesus loved me so much that He not only forgave all my sins of the past, but He also looked ahead and forgave me for those moments of weakness when I’d fail in the future. I’m not referring to deliberate sin, but to human weaknesses, those times when I just don’t live up to all the truth I know.

“Just think,” I told my husband, “two thousand years ago Jesus not only died on the cross for all my sins before I even knew Him, but for all of my sins and failures until the day I meet Him face to face.” That was such a powerful thought to me.

Then I pondered the words of Paul quoted at the beginning of this meditation: “For in the gospel, a righteousness which God ascribes is revealed, both springing from faith and leading to faith [disclosed through the way of faith that arouses to more faith].” I finally understood the concept of living from faith to faith. I don’t have to allow Satan to sneak in with questions or unbelief. I can live every moment moving from faith to more faith to more faith.

Prayer Starter:
Lord Jesus Christ, I am in awe of Your love for me, which is so great and so powerful that You not only died for all my sins before I was born, but You’ve provided for all my weak moments in the future. I am so thankful to You for Your love, and I rejoice in Your holy name. Amen.

Joyce Meyer Battlefield of Mind Devotional
 
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