I Am To Blame

TODAY’S VERSE
Who is to blame for Israel’s rebellion? Samaria, its capital city! Where is the center of idolatry in Judah? In Jerusalem, its capital!
Micah 1:5

TODAY’S THOUGHT
God’s chosen people, the Jews, had divided into two nations. Most of the twelve tribes went north and called themselves Israel. Their capital was the city of Samaria. Those left were in the south called themselves Judah. Their capital was Jerusalem. God was trying to call the people back to Himself through His prophets. Micah comes and says, “The Sovereign LORD is making accusations against you.” Next, he explains all the bad things that God is going to do to them. He then asks, “Who is to blame for the rebellion that Israel is doing?” and “Where is the center of idolatry?” What makes this passage so significant is not the questions, but the answer. It was the people living in the capital cities that were responsible for the spiritual bankruptcy of the nation. Those that should be the closest to the Lord were the ones rebelling against the Lord and practicing idolatry. This should serve us notice lest we think we are any better. It is only through reading God’s word, keeping close to Him in prayer, and surrendering to the guidance of the Holy Spirit, can we have any chance of living the life that He wants us to. Today commit yourself to God. Repent of any rebellion toward Him. Put away your “idols,” anything in your life that you put above your allegiance to God.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, I confess that I have been the one that has stumbled. I am to blame for rebelling against You. I have ignored my relationship with You. I have made other things in my life more of a God to me than You. Forgive me. Today, I choose to follow You. Today I put away those things that cause me to stray and commit myself to following You. In Jesus’ name.
AMEN

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Joy

TODAY’S VERSE
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!
Philippians 4:4 (NLT)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
I remember years ago reading a book that deeply touched me. It was called Happiness is a Choice! Often we are tempted to think that joy is the result of our circumstances. However, the premise of Happiness Is A Choice is that we don’t have to be subject to all the variables around us. We can choose to be happy. We can choose joy. Webster defines joy as “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.” As a Christian, we can agree with the first part. Our joy does come from a deep sense of well being. However, unlike the rest of the definition, our joy is not dependent on success, good fortune or prospect of possessions. Rather, our joy is an emotion that is evoked by a faith in a God that loves us. Nehemiah tells us that joy that comes from God is a great source of strength. Paul takes our joy to a new level and says, “no matter what happens, we should be joyful.” In fact, he says we should “Always be full of joy in the Lord.” He meant it so much that he repeated it for emphasis when he wrote, “I say it again – rejoice.” What are you facing today? What circumstances do you find yourself in? It doesn’t matter; you can choose joy! If you are struggling and not sure how you can be joyful, ask God to supernaturally open your eyes to who He is and to give you a joyful heart. He will.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, today I choose joy. Fill me from the top of my head to the depth of my soul with joy. Help me rejoice today in my well being in You. Help me rejoice today, dear God, in who You are, and that I am Your child. Help me rejoice that all my sins are forgiven, that You know me personally and love me unconditionally. This is a fantastic reality and today, Lord, I choose joy! In Jesus’ name.
AMEN

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Prayer And Thanksgiving

TODAY’S VERSE
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

TODAY’S THOUGHT
Prayer changes things. Karl Barth, a twentieth-century theologian wrote, “He is not deaf, He listens; more than that, He acts. He does not act in the same way whether we pray or not. Prayer exerts an influence upon God’s action, even upon His existence. That is what the word ‘answer’ means. The fact that God yields to man’s petitions, changing His intentions in response to man’s prayer, is not a sign of weakness. He Himself, in the glory of His majesty and power, has willed it.” Paul knew this. That is why he tells us to stop being anxious. Instead, we are to pray, petitioning God, with thanksgiving in our heart. Why? Because we are coming to our Heavenly Father, who loves us, cares for us, is all powerful and will work everything according to His will. We can trust God with the ultimate outcome and in exchange, He gives us something greater than any answer we could ever ask for. He gives us a promise to guard our heart and mind with His own peace. Not just any peace, but a peace that transcends anything that we can imagine. What is bothering you? What is it you need? What is breaking your heart? Talk to God about it. Today, right now, bring your requests to God and let His peace guard your heart and mind.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, You know my needs. You know my anxious thoughts. I bring my circumstances to You and ask for Your help with all my requests. Thank You, Lord, for hearing me. Thank You for caring. Thank You most of all for the peace that You bring to my heart and my mind. In Jesus’ name.
Amen

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The Real Deal

TODAY’S VERSE
My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.
Job 42:5

TODAY’S THOUGHT
It is so easy to walk in our Christian experience and really believe that we know God. We are like a baseball fanatic. You know the kind. He can tell you everything about a certain player. He can quote their batting average, the number of homers, lifetime RBI’s. He knows where they played college ball, the names of his wife and children. He even has an autographed baseball. Yet, he has never met the player. Never went to his house, never sat with him at dinner or even had a discussion. Everything he knows is from reading or listening to commentators. Now don’t get me wrong, there is passion! Chances are he will fight you if you say something derogatory about the player. There is a passion but it is based on admiration, not friendship. Job came to a place where everything he thought he knew about God seemed empty and vain. And then He met God. Job knew all about God, He “worshipped” God, He even lived the way he thought God wanted him to; but when he saw God, it all changed. Knowing God in a personal and intimate way changes everything. And the beauty is that God created each of us with the ability to know Him. He has equipped us with the Holy Spirit who is to teach us all things and bring us into intimate fellowship with God. But the choice is yours. You can choose to spend time with God and ask Him to reveal Himself to you or you can continue to “know” about Him. Cry out to God today and ask Him to open your eyes like He did Job’s and you will be able to say, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.”

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, sometimes I feel so phony inside. I talk about You, I read about You, I pray to You, but I don’t seem to really know You. Today, Lord, help me be conscious of Your presence. Father, speak to me. Help the eyes of my heart to see You. I want to know You in a deep and personal way. Help me Lord I pray. In Jesus’ name.
AMEN

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Be Like Elijah

TODAY’S VERSE
Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
James 5:17-18

TODAY’S COMMENT
I love the way James starts his example of Elijah and his miraculous prayer life. He says, “Elijah was a man just like us.” No wonder we feel pressure to be a super saint. You know, go to church with the halo just right and “S” on our chest. But that was not the point James was trying to make. James was really saying, “There are no perfect people needed to get God’s work done!” I am sure that the image of Elijah that James had in his mind wasn’t just the praying for rain to stop and start again; not just the fire coming from heaven to consume the altar; not just the flour and oil continuing to be supplied to the widow and her son; nor was it just the image of Elijah asking God to raise the widow’s son from the dead. I am sure that James also remembered the fact that Elijah was afraid of Jezebel’s threat to kill him and he ran, fleeing for his life. He knew that Elijah became exhausted and sat down under a tree and prayed that he would die. James knew that Elijah was a person just like you and I. Elijah had emotions that could lead to despair. He had depression, doubt, and fear. Like us, Elijah exercised doubt and faith; fear and courage, advance and defeat. But James also saw God work through Elijah’s life and prayers. God used Elijah even with his imperfections. God can do the same for you and I. We do not have to be perfect. We do not have to pretend to be something we are not. We can be like Elijah, real with God about our deepest feelings and fears. God will meet us where we are and give us the strength to live for Him. Be real with God today.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, thank you for the example of Elijah. What a wonderful testimony of Your grace. How You took this person who could be so courageous one moment and so afraid the next and used him for Your glory. Father, use my life. I give it to You in all its complexity and contradictions. Thank You that I do not have to be perfect, just available. Use me for Your glory, I pray. In Jesus’ name.
AMEN

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Do Something

TODAY’S VERSE
Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it?
James 2:15-16

TODAY’S THOUGHT
It is so easy to get wrapped up in our own life that we forget about those all around us who are in need. We can’t save the whole world, so we don’t try to save just one. “Someone else will help”, we think as we walk away. But James says that we have to do more than just “care” about the poor, we need to help. In his book Irresistible Revolution, Shane Claiborne shares about a survey he took of American Christians. He found that 80% believed that Jesus spent time with the poor. When asked if they spent any time with the poor, only 20% of the same group said “yes.” Shane concluded, “We can admire and worship Jesus without doing what He did. We can applaud what he preached and stood for without caring about the same things. We can adore his cross without taking up ours.” James talks about our apathy toward the poor in this way, “But someone will say, ‘You have faith; I have deeds.’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.” It is not good enough to care about the poor. If we follow Christ, we need to do something.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, there are so many people hurting and in desperate need. It is overwhelming. My heart aches but I don’t know what to do. Please forgive me for my inactivity and help me today find something that I can do. Help me make a difference in someone’s life, even if it is just a small difference. In Jesus’ name.
AMEN

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Be Still

TODAY’S VERSE
He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”
Mark 4:39-41

TODAY’S THOUGHT
I have never been on a stormy sea. I can only imagine how fierce the storm must have been. Here are seasoned fishermen and they were exceedingly afraid. Now it did not help that they were going across the lake. The deep part of the lake in the center regions was referred to as the “abyss.” Many frightening fishermen stories were based on journeying into the abyss. Add to that the fact that they left in the evening. It was dark! Finally, they were going to the “other side”. Everyone knew what the “other side” was. It was where that horrific demon processed person lived in the caves. Jesus knew where they were going and fell asleep on the back of the boat. The storm was fast, furious and fierce and they cried out to Jesus. What they saw happen next was shocking to them, and they had seen healing miracles! Jesus stood and commanded the sea to be still! And it did. Now I don’t know about storms on the sea, but I know about storms inside the “sea” of my mind. There is an abyss, there is an “other side” that frightens all of us. Dread, fear, worry, remorse, addictions, obsessive thinking; it seems that our ship is going to sink. When you feel all is lost, do what the disciples did — cry out to Jesus. Name your fear, tell Him exactly what it is that you dread; be specific with your doubts. This same Jesus that said to the sea “Be still” says to you, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

TODAY’S PRAYER
Dear Jesus, You calmed the sea; please calm my troubled heart with the peace only You can give. I take the horrific storms of my life and submit them to Your command. You say “peace be still” so I choose not to be troubled or afraid. In Jesus’ name.
AMEN

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Outward

TODAY’S VERSE
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe him.
Isaiah 58:6-7

TODAY’S THOUGHT
The children of Israel had forgotten that God had them here on this earth to be His representatives, to show people the way to God. They were to love people and share the importance of knowing Jehovah. Instead, they were fasting and showing God how religious they were. They were like so many churches today. They were inwardly focused. However. God was not listening to their religiosity. Why? Because God wanted them to be outwardly focused. He wanted His people to stand for equality, justice and love among all people. The prophet Isaiah asked, “What is it that God has required of each of us?” He answered with a sobering indictment, “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter— when you see the naked, to clothe him.” God wants us to serve others. He has called us to be His representatives of love. Let’s do all we can to help those in need.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, You take the plight of the poor seriously. You hate injustice and love mercy. Help me to love others the way You do. Help me live my true calling, as a productive steward working for the well-being of others in need. Show me today, Lord, how I can make a difference. In Jesus’ name.
AMEN

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Be Still

TODAY’S VERSE
Be still, and know that I am God.
Psalms 46:10 (NLT)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
Have you ever noticed how we hate silence? I don’t mean the momentary silence after you walk inside from loud street noise. I mean the “quiet yourself down and think” kind of silence. It is so hard to shut off the inward noise. We are obsessed with busyness. It’s as if we are afraid to face who we really are and where we are in our journey. But we must face our loneliness. Leanne Payne makes this point in her book Listening Prayer. She writes, “Our Pastoral task is to help all needy individuals face their inner loneliness, and there begin to hear God and their own true self. Everyone one of us – not just those who are the most visibly wounded by the darkness in humanity and the world – has to face the inner loneliness and separation from God. We all need to begin the rigorous but sternly magnificent work of converting the ‘desert of loneliness’ within into the spaciously beautiful ‘garden of solitude’ where the true self-comes forward and flourishes. This is the self-capable of friendship and Christian fellowship.” As we face our life, we need to stop filling in the gaps with empty “busyness.” Instead, we need to consider who we are and all that God is. This will lead us on a beautiful journey of the soul. Why not start today? Throughout this day, stop and listen to your inner self; bring it to God and dialog with Him. May you begin to hear God and embrace your true self in Him.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Lord, so many times during the day You cry out my name, but I am too busy “keeping busy” that I do not hear You. How many times, Lord, You have wanted me to turn to You in my loneliness but I fill the void with noise. Lord, I am sorry. I want to hear You, I want to know You. Help me start today to convert my “desert of loneliness” into a “garden of solitude.” In Jesus’ name.
AMEN

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Remain In Him

TODAY’S VERSE
But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
John 15:7, 8

TODAY’S THOUGHT
How do we bring glory to God in our life? Jesus was pretty clear with the answer. He said that we need to remain in Him and produce the kind of fruit that His disciple would. Paul later explains what that fruit is. He wrote that when we follow Christ that the Holy Spirit produces the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in our life. So how do we remain in Jesus? We do it by creating a strong relationship with Him. We spend enough time with Jesus to know what He wants. We relate to Him in meditation and prayer. We listen to Him. We make Him Lord of our life and ask Him to guide our life. As we remain in Jesus, we will see the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control more and more present in our life. This will bring glory to God

TODAY’S PRAYER
Dear Jesus, help me relate to You in a more personal way. Help me draw near to You and listen. Help me desire You above all things. Teach me, guide me, reveal Yourself to me so that I may bear the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in my life.
AMEN

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