First Love

TODAY’S VERSE
I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. – Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.
Revelation 2:2, 4-5

TODAY’S THOUGHT
Remember when you first came to Christ? You were aware of your need. You were humbled by His love, appreciative of His sacrifice for you. You wanted to help everyone else know Him. What happened? How did we allow our intimate relationship with Christ to become a ritual? When did we trade our freedom? When did we forsake our joy? Have we traded our relationship with Christ for a religion? Have we given up grace for rules and regulations? Have we traded the mission of the church for membership in a country club? Paul wrote the church in Colossians, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” He asked them to continue to live in Christ just like they did the first day they tasted of salvation. The first day the Spirit of God was born in their heart, the first time the tears from God’s forgiveness stained their cheeks. John warned the church in Ephesus that even though they worked hard and persevered, they had lost their first love. He admonished them to repent and return to doing the things that they did at first. Oh, that we would never forget the wonder that God loves us. Today, examine your heart. Do you feel far from God? Who moved? Go back to the place you met Christ. Rededicate your heart to Him. Just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, take me back to the time I first knew You. Renew the joy in my soul. Reignite the fire that burned in my heart. Help me to remember and to live this day in the fresh awareness of Your love and forgiveness.
In Jesus’ name.
AMEN

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Change Your Clothes

TODAY’S VERSE
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Colossians 3:12-14

TODAY’S THOUGHT
I like to lay out my clothes the night before I have to get up and go to work. It is one less thing I have to think about when I get up. It allows me to be more objective and intentional instead of rushing to decide what to wear. Paul shares that intentionally is also important in wearing the wardrobe that God has for us. Paul uses the analogy of clothing because our behavior is something that people see about us. Paul admonishes us to clothe ourselves in love. He then says to accessorize love with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and forgiveness. What an ensemble. Can you imagine if we were intentional in putting on this behavior everyday? What a difference it would make in our life and the lives of those around us. Today, decide what you want to wear. It is your choice. God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, has custom made an outfit just for you. The clothes fit perfectly and bring out your true self. Go ahead, find a quiet changing room and go change. Clothe yourself today with love, compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and forgiveness.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, I know I need to wear something different in my heart. I haven’t been wearing the clothes You gave to me when I became a Christian. Help me today to change the outfit of my heart and put on love, compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and forgiveness. In Jesus’ name.
AMEN

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Jealousy and Selfish Ambition

TODAY’S VERSE
If you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.
James 3:14-16

TODAY’S THOUGHT
There is a plague in our world. It is the root of wars, poverty, hatred and injustice. In our everyday life it is what causes arguments, hurt feelings, disappointment and ungodly behavior. James calls this plague “jealousy and selfish ambition.” He goes further to call it “unspiritual and demonic behavior” and assures us that wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there is disorder and evil of every kind. Does this mean that it wrong to have ambition? Is it wrong to desire goals? “No!” Where wrong comes in is when our desires and ambitions are independent of God. We listen to the world and start to desire fame and fortune. We create goals that we think will lead us to the place we need to be and nothing better get in our way. The cure for this jealousy and selfish ambition is to develop a relationship with Christ. Talk to Him. Ask Him to help you create goals that will honor Him. When you do, you can also leave the results to Him. You are already accepted by Him and loved unconditionally. When you start to believe that, there will be no room in your heart for cheap imitations. There will be no reason for jealousy or selfish ambition.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, forgive me for taking my eyes off of You and setting up my own kingdom. I know that jealousy and selfish ambition have been prevalent in my life. I renounce these attitudes and ask that You would show me Your will for my life. Help me be content and live a life pleasing to You. In Jesus’ name.
AMEN

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Give God the Glory

TODAY’S VERSE
When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God – Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God.
Deuteronomy 8:10-14

TODAY’S THOUGHT
We have all heard stories about those that went through severe trial leaving them deeply hurt, dejected and wavering in their faith. Who of us would judge someone in such a tragic situation? Rather we pray and ask God to make Himself real to them in their time of sorrow. Yet, what is far more common is the ordinary story of tens of thousands of Christians who, growing up in the faith, buy into the American dream, give in to materialism and become nominal in their faith. God warns us to be careful, very careful that when things go good, we do not forget Him. How could that happen you ask? Moses says it can happen when we eat and are satisfied, build fine houses, settle down, earn income (sound like anyone you know?) and become proud. We start to believe that it is our ability, our skills, our intelligence, our savvy that has produced all that we have. We fail to give God glory and soon our heart grows cold toward spiritual things. There is hope for the wounded heart to be healed, but what hope is there for the callous, dried up heart? The only hope is to repent! Give God back His glory which you have stolen. Fall down before Him and praise Him for all that you have. Ask Him to renew your heart, to open your eyes to His goodness and give back all that you have to Him for His use. Make Him the Lord of your income and possessions. When you do, you will find that materialism will lose its hold on your heart and your soul will be free and alive with the love of God.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, to think that I have created my own income, am master of my own possessions and the sole reason for my own success is to rob You of Your glory. I know I have fallen to this temptation. It is so easy to forget that You are the giver of all good things. Forgive me, Lord. I give You back all that I have. Be Lord of everything I am and own. Help me to live my life for You and to give You praise and glory for every blessing You give me. In Jesus’ name. AMEN

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Beside You

TODAY’S VERSE
I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.
Psalms 16:8

TODAY’S THOUGHT
As a child I was afraid of going down to the basement by myself. It was dark and creepy. Yet, that is where my mom stored the canned vegetables. And everyday after school my mother would ask me to go and get a can and bring it upstairs. Once, after my brother turned off all the lights on me, I was really frightened. My father, who arrived home as I was expressing my panic and fear, asked what the trouble was. I explained to him my concern about the basement. He took me downstairs and had mom turn out the lights. I grabbed his hand and relaxed as I realized he was actually holding mine. He walked with me through the basement explaining to me that there was nothing to worry about. What a difference his presence made. What a relief to know that this giant of a man was beside me and that I had nothing to fear. David knew about darkness. He was a lonely shepherd, out many nights taking care of the sheep. But he knew the secret to overcoming the fear of the dark. He wrote, “I know the Lord is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.” Today, you can have that same assurance. Acknowledge His presence. Spend time with Him and allow Him to guide you throughout this day. He truly is right beside you.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, I thank You that You are with me. Help me today to be keenly aware of Your presence. Guide me, direct me and make me conscious that You are always at my side. In Jesus’ name.
AMEN

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Light Of The World

TODAY’S VERSE
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.
Matthew 5:14

TODAY’S THOUGHT
I love synergy. It is the result of different entities working together to create a bigger response than they could by themselves. Have you ever been to a “candlelight sing,” when at the end of the service one candle is lit and one by one each candle in the auditorium sends forth its illumination? What a beautiful sight. How amazing that one little candle combined with others can create such a brightness. This is the effect Jesus had in mind when He said that we were the “light of the world.” He was leaving this world and with the power of the Holy Spirit in each of our lives, together we would become a bright light. Dallas Willard in his book Hearing God writes, “Those who receive the grace of God’s saving companionship in His word are by that very fact also fitted to show humankind how to live. Collectively the ‘called out’ people of God, the church, is empowered to stand up for wandering humanity to see. When faced with starvation, crime, economic disasters, and difficulties, disease, loneliness, alienation and war, the church should be, because it alone could be, the certified authority on how to live to which the world looks for answers.” We are called to be the light where we are. Today, come to Him, bring Him your candle; let Him light it for you and then light up your corner of the world. I’ll light mine. If everyone reading this devotional would let Christ light his or her life, someone is bound to be affected. There are people all around us dying to come out of the darkness.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Lord, speak to me, ignite my heart and then help me shine that light today. Help me share the light that I have with those hurting in utter darkness so they, too, can live in the light of Your love and glory. In Jesus’ name.
AMEN

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Never, Never, NEVER Forsaken

TODAY’S VERSE
Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.
Deuteronomy 31:6

TODAY’S THOUGHT
One of the first things they teach you in marriage communications is to stay away from using emotionally fatalistic words like “never” or “always”, as in, “You never help around here!” or “You always waste money.” It is very rare that human behavior is “always” or “never”. But what about God? The Bible makes it clear that His ways are not our ways. In Romans 3:4 it says, “Even if everyone else is a liar, God is true!” Now consider today’s verse in light of the fact that God does not lie. Moses tells us to be strong and courageous and not afraid. Why all the optimism? Why the courage? Because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” God Himself has said to you and I, “Never.” Never. NEVER! Let it sink in – He will never leave you or forsake you! Today, right now, let this fact change your day. Let it reshape your emotions. Let it precede all your decisions. He will never leave you or forsake you.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, I wander through most days with so much apathy and doubt. I live as if You half exist. Forgive me. Help me be strong and courageous. Help me really grasp what it means that You will never leave me or forsake me. In Jesus’ name.
AMEN

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