Love Your Neighbor, Love yourself

TODAY’S VERSE
And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Matthew 22:39 (NIV)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
The first part of this passage is about loving God with our whole heart, soul, and strength. The second part was to love others in the way we love ourselves. I understand the “love God” part. I know we are commanded to “love others”, but isn’t “loving ourselves” prideful and selfish? Some would teach so, but in truth, it is in loving ourselves the way God loves us that frees us to love others. Dr. Benner in “Sacred Companions” says it this way, “I meditate on His love, allowing my focus to be on Him and His love for me – and slowly things begin to change. My heart slowly begins to warm and soften. I begin to experience new levels of love for God. And slowly, almost imperceptibly, I begin to see others through God’s eyes of love. I begin to experience God’s love for others.” God’s love for others includes His love for you. Today, consider how much God loves you. Agree with Him and love yourself too. Today, love God, love yourself, love others.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, thank You for Your great love for me. Help me love myself and with that love, help me love others.
AMEN

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Wisdom

TODAY’S VERSE
If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom.- But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.
James 3:13, 17 (NLT)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
We usually think of wisdom in terms of knowledge or the ability to solve a mystery. However, James describes something much more comprehensive. It is “relational” wisdom. The wisdom that God desires includes morality, prudence, humility, gentleness, love, mercy, and good deeds. It seems that God is more interested in how we apply what we know, especially in the way that we relate to others. You can be intellectually right, yet morally wrong in the way you use your knowledge. To be right, yet arrogant, unloving and proud is not real wisdom. Might God grant us the understanding that real wisdom is, “peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere.”

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, I ask for your wisdom in all that I do. With that wisdom, please help me be gentle, humble, loving and merciful.
AMEN

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All Your Heart

TODAY’S VERSE
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:13 (NIV)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
Have you ever really sought after something? Really longed to find it? When it is important to us, it is amazing to see how serious we can get. This is how God wants us to seek Him. He spoke through the Prophet Jeremiah, admonishing us that the only way we would really find Him was when we seek Him with our whole heart. Notice, Jeremiah did not say, “when you seek him with your whole intellect.” It is not knowing “about” God; it is about “knowing God” in a deep and intimate way. God is saying that if you would get passionate about Him, then you will begin to find Him. How intent are you on knowing God? Begin today by seeking Him with your whole heart.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, I come to You today. I really do want to know You. I want to have a deep intimate relationship with You. Help me discipline myself to take the time to know You. Take the time to hear You. Take the time to tell You my thoughts, hopes, and dreams. To share with You my fears, apprehensions, and doubts. As I seek You with all my heart, I pray that You would reveal more and more of Yourself to me.
AMEN

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Throw It Off

TODAY’S VERSE
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
Paul uses the analogy of running a race to describe the Christian life. He paints a picture of a poor runner who has come to the starting blocks with a large heavy weight tied to him and chains wrapped around his legs. There is no way this runner is going to finish the race, let alone win. Instead, Paul suggests that the runner first throw off everything that hinders them. That could be events, habits, environments, attitudes, anything that “triggers” the desire to do things that Christ would not want us to do, or prevent us from doing what we should. We need to throw off anything that leads us toward Spiritual apathy or complacency. In their book “True Faced” the authors point out that in reality there are two kinds of sins. These are sins that we commit resulting in guilt and sins that are committed against us resulting in hurt. Both of these “sins” can trip us up. If we allow guilt to grow, it will spread like cancer in our Spirit. If we allow hurt to go unchecked, it can fester into sadness, anger, fear, malice, bitterness and many other negative attitudes. We need to deal with the sin in our life — both those that we commit and those committed against us. Then we can run the race. Today let us consider our own life. Are we running the race that God has called us to? If not, what is weighing us down? What is entangling us? Pray today that God would help you throw it off.

TODAY’S PRAYER:
Father, You know that I need to run in this race of life. I confess that I have let burdens weigh me down. I have let sins, both that I have committed and those committed against me, trip me up. Help me, Lord, throw off these things. Help me run today, free from all these issues that hinder me. In Jesus’ name.
AMEN

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Quench My Thirst

TODAY’S VERSE
As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.
I thirst for God, the living God.
Psalms 42:1-2 (NLT)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
There is a deep thirst in our heart for God. David used the analogy of a deer that has been walking in rough terrain, foraging for food only to build an incredible need for water. Driven by thirst, the deer longs to drink from a stream. In the same way, David says that he had a thirst for God. Brennan Manning writes in his book, “Abba’s Child”, “The deepest desire of our hearts is for union with God. From the first moment of our existence, our most powerful yearning is to fulfill the original purpose of our lives – We are made for God, and nothing less will really satisfy us.” The meadows, though lush with grass, could not give the deer what it needed. The deer longed for water. Likewise, we can try everything imaginable to satisfy our needs but only God can fill the void in our hearts. Have you come to that realization yet? Have you satisfied your soul with the love of Jesus? If not, why not turn to Him today. He will hear you. He will quench your soul’s deepest thirst.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, I thirst. I thirst deep, deep in my soul. I ask You to come and fill me with Your living waters. Satisfy the longing in my heart and make me whole. In Jesus’ Name.
AMEN

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Deeply Loved By God

TODAY’S VERSE
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him.
Psalms 103:11-13 (NIV)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
Our belief in the love that God has for us is foundational to our Christian Faith. It has everything to do with our Christian walk. David Benner in his book “The Gift of Being Yourself” writes, “Neither knowing God nor knowing self can progress very far unless it begins with the knowledge of how deeply we are loved by God. Until we dare to believe that nothing can separate us from God’s love – nothing that we could do or fail to do, nor anything that could be done by anyone else to us – we remain in the elementary grades of the school of Christian transformation.—In order for our knowledge of God’s love to be truly transformational, it must become the basis of our identity. Our identity is who we experience ourselves to be—the I each of us carries within. An identity grounded in God would mean that when we think of who we are, the first thing that would come to mind is our status as someone who is deeply loved by God.” It is this kind of assurance that changes a person. It is this “Aha” awareness that changes the course of a life. It is this realization that gives us the courage to accept ourselves in Him and let go of who we think we have to be. David knew this. You can hear the joy in his voice, the childlike exuberance, as he writes, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him.” This is the kind of love, grace, and forgiveness that ignites a fire deep in our soul. Might this day begin with a fresh awareness of how precious you are to God.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, thank You for Your love for me. Thank You for Your amazing forgiveness. Help me not to take this for granted but instead help me find my true identity in the fact that I am someone who is deeply loved by You.
AMEN

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Love Others

TODAY’S VERSE
So now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart.
I Peter 1:22 (NLT)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
Love is the direct result of knowing Christ. He paid a terrible price that we could have our sins forgiven. And what does God ask for in return? Does he ask us to swim across the ocean? Walk across the longest desert? Climb the highest mountain? No, He asks that we love one another. Why would this be so important? Because Jesus said, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” It shows that our faith is real. The power of the Holy Spirit alive in our heart is never more noticeable than when we are loving another person. Do you know Christ as your personal Savior? Is He the Lord of your life? If so, let the world know how true it is, by sincerely loving those people around you. Love them deeply with all your heart.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, thank You for loving me. Thank You for Your grace and mercy in my life. Help me love those people that you have put into my life. Might my sincere love help them recognize that You are alive. In Jesus’ name.
AMEN

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Maturity

TODAY’S VERSE
Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.
I Corinthians 3:1-2 (NIV)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
Paul was concerned about the maturity of the Corinth believers. Paul says that when we are new in Christ we should desire to be spiritually mature. After a while, we should be eating spiritual “solid” food not continuing to drink spiritual milk. A new believer needs to get grounded in faith learning the basic truths and practicing the basic spiritual disciplines. However, as time goes by like a newborn child grows and needs a more comprehensive meal, so Christians should desire a deeper walk with God. Paul observed that the Corinth church was immature in their Christian walk. Their spiritual growth was stunted. How about you? How is your spiritual maturity? Can you look over the last year and say, “I know I have grown in Christ this year?” Have you read the Bible, spent time in prayer, let God work with your personal habits? Has God made a difference in your emotional life? Do you see yourself more mature in your relationships? There is so much to know and so many areas in which to grow. Pray today that God will help you begin on a healthy spiritual diet so you will grow as a Christian.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, I need to grow in You. Help my desire become a reality. Help me study Your word and talk to You in prayer. Help me be honest with You and then listen to what You say. I desire more of You and Your word. Feed me I pray. In Jesus’ name.
AMEN

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Unconditional Love

TODAY’S VERSE
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. — For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:1, 38-39 (NIV)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
It is so hard for me to accept the love that God has for me. I want to believe that He loves me with unconditional love and then I slip up. I fail to do something right, make a mistake, get someone mad at me and my life starts to unravel. The lies begin to fill my head and I find myself hopelessly lost in a system of “works” gone awry. A tyrannical voice banishes me to annihilation. After all, I have fallen from perfection. Does this sound extreme? For so many, it is not. We strive for perfection, saying God loves us but in reality, we do everything we can to make sure He will love us. We fear that He will reject us if we commit the “unforgivable sin”. The sad truth is, in our perfectionist mindset, every sin is unforgivable. We need to see this for what it is–a lie straight from the pit of Hell itself. The truth is, there is nothing we can do to have Jesus love us one ounce more. At the same time, there is nothing we can do to have Jesus love us one ounce less! Paul’s declaration cuts through our chains, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!” Let the truth of today’s passage set us free—nothing, not even our own mistakes, can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Today, settle it once and for all. Accept the unconditional love that God has for you.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Thank You, dear Jesus, for Your death and resurrection. Thank You for becoming the sacrifice for my sin. Thank You for Your salvation and Your unconditional love for me.
AMEN

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Do You Love Him?

TODAY’S VERSE
I love you, LORD.
Psalm 18:1 (NLT)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
Has your faith in God developed to the point where it has gone past religion to a relationship? Has your belief gone past your head and entered your heart? Has your worship matured beyond the praise songs you sing to where you have told God what David did? The Lord rescued David from Saul and his enemies, so David sat down and sang a song to the Lord. The first words out of his mouth were, “I love you, Lord.” Have you ever told God that? “I love you, Lord.” It isn’t Christianity until you can tell Him. Ask Peter. Peter spent three years with Jesus. He knew Him. He served Him. He pledged his allegiance to Him. But he also denied Him. When Jesus rose again from the dead He only had one question for Peter. Three times He asked, “Do you love me?” When Peter answered Jesus for the third time there was something earnest in his voice. He was moved and said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.” Both David and Peter used the word “Lord” when addressing God and then they both used the word love. Why? Because He can’t be your Lord without your love. Today, hear Him ask, “Do you love me?” What is your answer?

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, I come to You right now and tell You from the bottom of my heart, I love You. I commit my life to You. I truly do love You, Lord.
AMEN

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