Shame and Grace

TODAY’S VERSE
May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
II Thessalonians 2:15-17 (NIV)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
Shame and grace are perhaps the two of the most potent words in molding and shaping our beliefs about ourselves. Shame keeps us from accepting all the love God has for us. Grace invites us to embrace it. Lewis Smedes, in his book, “Shame and Grace,” writes, “The feeling of shame is about our very selves – not about something we did or said but about what we are. It tells us that we are unworthy. Totally. It is not a few seams in the garment of our selves need stitching; the whole fabric is frayed. We feel we are unacceptable.” How do we overcome such devastating feelings? How can we ever shake such deep emotion? Only through God’s grace. Paul says that it is God who loves us and by His grace gives us encouragement and hope. His grace encourages our hearts and strengthens us. Smedes writes, “Grace overcomes shame by simply accepting us, the whole of us, with no regard to our beauty or our ugliness, our virtue or our vices. We are accepted wholesale. Accepted with no possibility of being rejected. Accepted once and forever. Accepted at the ultimate depth of our being. We are given what we have longed for in every nook and nuance of every relationship.” Amazing grace, how sweet the sound. Are you listening? Today, read this devotional again and believe. God’s grace says it all. You are loved.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Oh, Father, melt my heart. Open me and pour your grace deep into my soul. I believe, but today help my unbelief. Lord, I renounce my shame and accept your unconditional love. Flood my being with the joy of Your grace I pray.
AMEN

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TODAY’S VERSE
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.
Ephesians 3:20 (NIV)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
God is so much more than we believe He is. We barely begin to know anything about His infinite power, wisdom, and love. Perhaps that is why we don’t dream big dreams for God. He has promised that He can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine and yet we live a life without the miraculous. We don’t honestly know Him, trust Him or believe Him, so we don’t ask. We need to ask God to help us comprehend who He is and begin to imagine doing great things for God. He created us to be His ambassador of dreams. He works through our visions, hopes, and aspirations. He longs for us to dream with Him, to create through Him, and to partner in being change agents in this world. Paul put it this way, “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Today, ask God to strengthen you with His power and fill you with His fullness so you will ask Him for the immeasurable and trust Him to do more than you can ever imagine.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, what immeasurable mighty dreams do You have for my life? What is it that You want me to trust You for? Strengthen me, Lord, with Your power. Fill me with Your fullness. Help me believe You for great things.
AMEN

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Love Your Enemies

TODAY’S VERSE
Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked.
Luke 6:35 (NLT)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
Sometimes I forget how radical the teachings of Jesus really are. When I am tempted to be benevolent to someone that doesn’t seem deserving, when I am considering forgiving someone who has offended me, when I am accepting someone into my inner community whose background is troubled, I begin to get second doubts. Others start to question what I am doing, and my anxiety begins to rise. And then I come to Jesus. I read a passage like today’s, and I start to understand that I don’t even begin to understand. I see the depth of God’s love, and I am so far removed. I am so short of what He demanded. Love my enemies? Do good to them? Be kind to those who are unthankful and wicked? Sure, He has done that for me, but He is God. How can I love the way He does? It starts by committing myself to be like Him and then realizing the only way I can do it, is with the help of His Holy Spirit. I must be willing to let Him love others through me. If I do, His ways will become my ways. Today, decide to love the unlovely. Be kind to those who are unkind. Be patient with those that invade your space. Christ is our example. We are called by His name and empowered by His Spirit.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, thank You for Your high standards when it comes to love. Where would I be without it? Surely You have loved me with abandonment. Help me to go and radically love others.
AMEN

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Aware Of His Presence

TODAY’S VERSE
And so I walk in the LORD’s presence as I live here on earth!
Psalms 116:9

TODAY’S THOUGHT
What a gift we have been given. God has asked us to walk in His presence. But it is our choice to make. We don’t have to be alone and alienated from God. We can choose to live with the awareness of His presence and build a real and vital relationship with Him. Or we can choose to be conscious of Him only while we are at church or in one of life’s crises. Of course, we don’t have to walk with God at all. We can spend all our time walking through this world, barely paying attention to His love for us. But why? God has an incredible love for you. He desires for you to fellowship with Him. He is ready to share with you His very presence. So why not commit yourself to Him? Ask Him to fill your heart and open your eyes to all that He is. He will. And then you can say with the Psalmist, “I walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth!”

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, today I choose to follow You. I want to be conscious of Your presence. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and help me live in the awareness of Your love for me.
AMEN

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Love God

TODAY’S VERSE
And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.
Deuteronomy 6:5 (NLT)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
According to Jesus, today’s verse is the greatest commandment given to us from God. All other commandments can be summed up in this request. But how do you love God with all your heart, soul, and strength? In “The Climate of Monastic Prayer,” Thomas Merton, writes that we should have an “attitude or outlook of faith, openness, attention, reverence, expectation, supplication, trust and joy.” Faith, the ability to trust God for everything we need. Openness, being transparent with God, sharing all our thoughts with Him. Attention, to focus on and attune ourselves to God and His presence in our life. Reverence, living with the deep respect that God deserves. Expectation, living with that childlike confidence that He is our loving Father and will provide all we need. Supplication, sincerely and humbly asking God to act on our behalf. Trust, a deep assurance that sends peace throughout our being, knowing that what God says, He will do. Joy, what we keep returning to every time we bring our painful emotions to Him. Today, love God with all your heart, soul and strength through your faith, openness, attention, reverence, expectation, supplication, trust, and joy.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, how I love and worship You. How I desire to know you with all my heart, soul and strength. Help me, Holy Spirit, to this end I pray.
AMEN

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Press On

TODAY’S VERSE
I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
Philippians 3:13-14 (NLT)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
It is so easy to live in the past. Remorse, grief, disappointment, bitterness, so many painful emotions can keep us in a state of limbo. Paul had regrets; he had persecuted Christians. Paul had disappointments and hardships, but he knew the secret to living with all of life’s ups and downs. He pressed on. He knew when the appropriate time came; it was time to forget. It was time to quit looking behind and trust God for the future. God doesn’t remain in the past, and neither should we. Today, what is keeping you in the past? What has you locked in painful emotions? Give it to God. Forget the past and look forward to what God has ahead. He is not finished with you yet!

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, I have hung on to my past. Today, I surrender to You. I quit looking back with regret, sorrow, remorse, and bitterness and will look forward with anticipation, joy, and excitement toward what lies ahead. Today, I choose to trust You. In Jesus’ name.
AMEN

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Strength and Song

TODAY’S VERSE
The LORD is my strength and my song; He has given me victory. Songs of joy and victory are sung in the camp of the godly. The strong right arm of the LORD has done glorious things!
Psalms 118:14-15 (NLT)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
I love the two words, “strength” and “song” together. They go hand in hand; His strength, our song. Here is the Psalmist. He had seen God’s strength move on his behalf resulting in a great victory, and his heart bursts out in singing. That’s because sometimes words alone are not enough. Our soul must express itself in melody. And yet, how many times do we fail to respond to all that God has done for us? Remember the ten lepers that Jesus healed? Only one came back to give thanks. Can you imagine? Forget a victory in battle. Their body, full of putrefying skin, had just been miraculously healed! Yet nine out of the ten that were healed did not even say, “Thanks.” And sadly, Jesus noticed. He asked the one who returned, “Where are the other nine?” Unfortunately, we do the same today. Where are our praising hearts? Where are the songs of our souls that lift to the heavens in adoration for all that He has done for us? We have no excuse. We have been so blessed. Today let’s raise our voices in praise for all His strength on our behalf.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, my heart sings in praise and adoration for all You have done for me. You are the Almighty and all-loving God who has saved me for all eternity. I thank You and praise Your Holy name.
AMEN

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