Increased Faith and Love

TODAY’S VERSE
We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.
II Thessalonians 1:3 (NIV)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
Paul is writing about two marks of a healthy Christian, faith, and love. But it is not just faith and love, it is a faith that is growing more and more and a love that is increasing. But what is a growing faith and love? A growing faith is one that increases in its awareness and trust of God. It is one that believes God for great and mighty things. It is a faith that trusts even when circumstances scare us to the core. It is a faith that knows God and spends time understanding His love and power. It is a faith that is exercised in prayer and patience trusting God with every circumstance. And growing love, what of that? It is a love that is steeped in action. A love that reaches out to those in need. A love that drops superficiality and replaces it with genuine concern. A growing love is sacrificial and selfless. It is a love that forgives and then forgives again. It is a love prefers others above itself. Today, ask God to help you increase your faith and love.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Dear Father, help me exercise more faith. Help me increase my love. Help my faith and love grow as I serve You. In Jesus’ name.
AMEN

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Lord, Do It Again

TODAY’S VERSE
LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known.
Habakkuk 3:2 (NIV)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
What if we read what God did in Acts and prayed the prayer that Habakkuk prayed? What do you think would happen to the church today? We read in the book of Acts where God did mighty miracles. People were moved by God to share all they have with others. God was speaking through His Word and the power of the Holy Spirit, resulting in people all around the world being saved. Oh, when we read Acts and all that God did in the early church might our hearts react like Habakkuk’s did in his day. Might we join him in saying, “LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O LORD. Renew them in our day; in our time make them known.” Might this be the prayer of our heart until the day God brings revival.

TODAY’S PRAYER
LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of all you have done in the past. I pray, O LORD, please do the same in our day; in our time make your mighty power known. Along with Your power, use me and use Your church to bring Your love to a lost and dying world.
AMEN

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Help Me Rejoice

TODAY’S VERSE
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NIV)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
What qualifications do you put on happiness? So many times it seems as if we put conditions on whether or not we are going to rejoice. We must be liked. We must be successful. We have to have the right kind of car, house, clothes or social status before we can really find happiness. But what happens if those things that we feel are so important to “who we are” is taken away from us? What if we lose our job or a friendship tanks or we face bankruptcy? What if we are falsely accused of something or our friends turn on us? Then what happens to our peace, joy or happiness? Somehow Habakkuk found the secret. It was in his relationship with God. He was able to rejoice in Him no matter what. He had committed himself to God and when troubles began to brew, he was able to trade his commitment in for trust. Finally, when times were at its worst, his trust allowed him to return to joy from painful situations. This joy came from a deeply trusting relationship with God. Listen to what he said, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.” This didn’t happen by accident. Habakkuk had a relationship with God that he could return to over and over again. Today begin with trust. Trust Him with everything you have and everything you need. Trust Him with today, tomorrow and the future. Then, when you need it, just like Habakkuk, your trust will help you return to joy.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, help me to trust You in all things. Help me to put my hope in You. Help me to rejoice in You no matter what happens. I pray this in Jesus’ name.
AMEN

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It’s What Is Inside That Counts

TODAY’S VERSE
Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self.
I Peter 3:4 (NIV)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
Has there ever been a more materialistic society on the face of the earth than the United States? Fashion and body image permeates our media. You cannot find a magazine, newspaper or television show that does not have advertisements that force judgment on a person’s image. Our image could come from personal appearance or the appearance of the person’s belongings. This includes the car you drive, the house you live in, the clothes you wear or the gadgets you carry with you. Why have we let these things define us in the eyes of others? Why are we not more concerned about who we are on the inside than what others judge about our outside? It is time to stop this insanity! We need to stand up and say enough is enough! Peter did. He wrote, “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self.” Although this part of the passage was written to women, I believe when Peter refers to the inner self he is talking to the men today just as much as the women. The principle applies to both. So today, let’s begin an image revolution. Let’s focus on our inner self and make that our priority. Let’s stop giving in to the world’s standard putting an over-emphasis on all the outward trappings with their false standards. Instead, let us focus on the inner self. Here we will find joy and peace that we never experienced by outward appearance alone.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, forgive me for putting worldly standards ahead of Your Godly ones. Help me to work on my heart and all that I am inside instead of worrying about my outward image. In Jesus’ name.
AMEN

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Shine The Light

TODAY’S VERSE
You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
As Christ-followers we have a Holy purpose! We are part of a Holy Mission. Evil forces have invaded the earth’s domain leaving mankind in darkness. Yet God, in His mercy, has called you and me to bring the light to the world. Each of us to the part of the world He has put us in. Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. – Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Perhaps all this sounds over the top. Something you would see in a “Lord of the Rings” type epic. But the reality in this world is that most people are in a spiritual battle, struggling with sin or its effects, spending their time in spiritual darkness. Imagine being in utter darkness when all of a sudden someone comes by offering you eternal light. Being in blindness now you can see. That is the mission of the light bearer. People are searching for a light to illuminate their soul and God has asked us simply to shine the light. Live out our inward reality where other people can see it. Love others the way Christ loves us. Lay out our platter of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, so others can partake. Jobs are great, careers wonderful. If you have a vocation you are blessed, but you will never find a higher calling than bearing the light. Today, might God allow you to shine His light in every area of darkness you come in contact with.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, thank You for shining Your light into my dark world. Help me not forget. Today, help me carry Your light and shine it on all those in the darkness around me.
AMEN

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Love Others

TODAY’S VERSE
Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude. Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it.
I Peter 3:8-9 (NLT)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
Isn’t funny how we can spend so much time trying to figure out the “will of God” is for our life when so much of it is right in front of us? Peter wrote to the church, “Here is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it!” And what is it that God wants us to do? He wants His church to be of one mind. He wants us to sympathize with each other and to love each other as brothers and sisters. If we are to do His will we must be tenderhearted toward others and be humble. We cannot repay evil for evil and feel we are following Him. Neither can we retaliate with insults when people insult us. If we are going to do His will we need to pay those that hurt us back with a blessing. Simply said, if we are going to live out the will of God we must love. We must love! John wrote it this way, “Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” Today ask God to help you live out His will for your life. Ask Him to help you love others.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, thank You for showing me Your will for my life. Help me to love others, really love them the way You do. Help me behave toward others the way You would have me to. Empower me Lord through Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name.
AMEN

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Believe The Truth

TODAY’S VERSE
Do not withhold your mercy from me, O LORD; may your love and your truth always protect me.
Psalms 40:11 (NIV)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
Oh, the lies that we believe. Those insidious thoughts that drive us crazy. Our internal dialog so often leads us into unnecessary grief and pain. William Backus in his book, “Learning to Tell Myself The Truth” writes, “You can know the truth somewhere in your brain’s storage cells, but not know the truth in your internal monologue. All too often we make ourselves miserable and keep ourselves miserable by listening to a nonstop stream of inner nonsense – even when we know very well that the nonsense runs counter to divine truth.” In today’s passage, the Psalmist is crying out to the Lord for His mercy. He is asking God to protect him with His love and truth. It is knowing the truth that keeps us from all the madness. Martin Luther wrote, “We pray, ‘Lead us not into temptation’ so that God would guard and keep us lest the world, our flesh, and the devil lead us into misbelief, despair, and other great shame and vice.” Today might we let truth guide us. Might we challenge our negative thinking and any lies that would temp us from believing in the love and mercy that God has for us. May His love and truth protect us.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, do not withhold Your mercy from me. Please help me to trust in Your love and believe the truth you have given me in Your word.
AMEN

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Mind Your Mind and Heart

TODAY’S VERSE
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
Colossians 3:15-16 (NIV)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
William Backus, in his book “Learning To Tell Myself The Truth” writes, “Sadly, misbeliefs, whether verbal or visual, are the direct cause of emotional turmoil, maladaptive behavior, and most self-destructive behavior, such as overeating, smoking, lying, substance abuse, or adultery, to name a few.” It is true, the consequences of misbeliefs, misinterpretations of events and skewed predictions about outcomes all too often lead to us to despair and the dysregulation of our emotions. Therefore, it is crucial that we protect our heart and our mind. Paul shares how we can do this. First, he says that we are to let the peace that comes from knowing Christ rule in our hearts. The heart is where our emotions, imagination, visualizations, dreams, and aspirations come from. We need to let Christ rule in each of these areas. He should fill our imaginations, dreams, and visions with His peace. Satan uses our imagination. Have you ever noticed that you fear in technicolor, surround sound and 3-D? It is the same with anger, hopelessness and any other of our painful emotions. Our imagination goes wild. Instead, we need to let Christ’s peace fill our hearts. We need Him to be the Lord of our imagination. Second, Paul writes, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” It is the word of God that challenges and helps correct any negative core belief. As His word dwells in our minds we will begin to see it spill over into our belief system. This happens through, “admonishing one another with all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” Today give God both your heart and your mind. Let Him be the Lord of your thoughts and imagination.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, please let Your peace rule in my heart. Let Your word dwell in my mind. Help me grow with others as we admonish each other with all wisdom. May I be blessed through the singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. And may I be filled with gratitude in my heart to You dear God. In Jesus’ name, I pray.
AMEN

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Make Me A Blessing

TODAY’S VERSE
Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:2 (NLT)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
So many times we wonder what is required of us. We ask, “How does God want us to live. We see the answer in Jesus. Jesus was selfless, and an example of living one’s life for others. Paul, in asking us to follow Jesus’ example simply writes, “Share each other’s burdens.” How profound is that? God doesn’t make a bunch of demands on us. Simply to love God with everything we have and to love our neighbor as we do ourselves. Today as you go about your business, ask God who He wants you to help. Ask Him to help you share in someone else’s burden and assist them in any way you can. If you do, He will lead, He will provide, He will work through you to bless that person in need.

TODAY’S PRAYER
There is an old hymn that is a great prayer. “Make me a blessing, make me a blessing, out of my life may Jesus shine; Make me a blessing, O Savior, I pray, make me a blessing to someone today.”
AMEN

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Be Free

TODAY’S VERSE

My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.  He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.

I John 2:1-2 (NLT)

TODAY’S THOUGHT

There are many different ways to treat our sins. We can blame others for our actions. We can deny that what we have done is wrong. We can project those very things we do onto others. We can choose to ignore our behavior or better yet rationalize why we did what we did. There are other options. We can feel shame. We can feel helpless and get deeply depressed. We can choose to be bitter or give up and say, “It’s no use, that’s the way I am.” But thank God there is yet another way. John shared it with us. He says if we sin, we can come to Christ, who will go to God the Father on our behalf. He is the one who can assure us of forgiveness. He is the one who can comfort us. He is the one who can give us the strength to get up and start over. He is the one who can say to our accuser, “Be gone! Leave my child alone!” Today, if you have something bothering your conscience, if you feel burdened, bring it to Jesus. Confess it to Him and then let Him wash it away. Let Him clean your heart and free your soul. Let Him give you peace and joy that is greater than all of your sins. Hear Him say, “You are forgiven.”
TODAY’S PRAYER

Father, thank you for convicting me of sin. Thank you that when I come to You, confess my sin, the blood of Your son Jesus totally cleanses me. Thank You for your complete forgiveness. Thank You for a new direction and for giving me a fresh start. In Jesus’ name.

AMEN

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