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TODAY’S VERSE
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
Romans 12:12 (NIV)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
When things go bad, plans fail, sickness comes, or the economy tanks, how do you respond? You could despair, get angry, quit, or curse God. You could deny what happened or blame others. You could get depressed, discouraged, or anxious. Or you could listen to what Paul suggests. He gives us three choices. He writes that you can choose to be joyful, patient, and faithful. You can choose to be joyful because you have hope. Hope is the equalizer. It is the force behind miracles. Before faith, there is hope. You can choose hope and all the joy it brings. In the midst of your predicament, you can also choose to be patient, trusting in God. Finally, you can pray. Being faithful in prayer touches the heart of God. So today, when the opportunity presents itself, choose to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, help me to trust You more. Help me to be joyful in the hope that You give me. Help me to be patient with the problems I find myself in. Help me pray faithfully, trusting in Your power and love.
AMEN

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Real worship

TODAY’S VERSE
No, this is the kind of fasting I want – Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.
Isaiah 58:6-7 (NLT)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
What would God say about us at eleven o’clock on Sunday? You know, when we meet to worship. We sing our praise songs, we listen to the preaching, and we pass the offering plates. And then we go home, back to our own business, until we do it all over again a week later. All the while, just miles from the front door of our church, there are hundreds if not thousands of people hurting. Some hungry, some depressed, some broke, some addicted, some suicidal, some sleeping in their car. These all have families who are also hurting because of their plight. How many fathers and mothers are broken-hearted over the plight of their children? How many children suffer because of the plight of their parents? And yet we worship. And then drive right by on our way home. When is the church going to listen to Jesus when He said, “Go into all the world?” not “Come into my house.” Surely we need to worship God in song and praise. Yes, we must feed on the preaching of His word. But not at the expense of ignoring what else God commands us to do! Jesus said it best when he saw the crowds and had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. He said to his disciples, “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields.” Today, worship God by loving those hurting all around you.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, forgive me for only worshiping in Your house and not worshipping in Your world. Forgive me for ignoring the glory you receive when I help those in need. Help me worship you with my love for others.
AMEN

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The heartbeat of jesus

TODAY’S VERSE
Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Romans 12:13 (NIV)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
Loving others is the call of every Christian. It is the essence of what Jesus stood for. It is the “proof” that what we believe is true. Paul is writing to the church in Rome to practice hospitality by sharing with those in need. This was not optional. It was what people understood when Christians were called followers of “the way.” Jesus lived a life of self-sacrifice and love for others that has stood the test of time. It is what people love about Jesus. It is what they should love about His people. James puts it this way, “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?” Indeed it is no good. It does not represent the Jesus of the scriptures. John makes this point loud and clear when he wrote, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” Can it get any clearer than that? Paul writes, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” Loving others is our calling, our occupation, our duty, our responsibility; it is our privilege; it is the least we can do for our Savior.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Dear Jesus, help me to love the way You loved. Help me to share the way you shared. Help me give the way You gave. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit, empower me, give me Your heartbeat, I pray.
AMEN

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Be strong and courageous

TODAY’S VERSE
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
Josh 1:9 (NIV)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
It is so easy to let fear grip our hearts and influence our decisions. We rationalize why we can’t be strong and courageous. We justify why we should be discouraged and drown ourselves in self-pity. But, what is it that God commands? He commands, “Do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord, your God will be with you wherever you go.” Today you have a choice. God is with you, so decide to obey the Lord. Be strong and courageous in all you face.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, I am faced with so many opportunities for fear and discouragement, and yet You have commanded me to be strong and courageous. Help me, Lord, trust, and obey You.
AMEN

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Conscious Of His Abiding Peace

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 (NIV)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
What do we have to do to experience the peace that Paul is writing about? Do we have to strive for it? Is it something we have to earn? Is there a special prayer we need to recite? No, it is nothing we do; it is something we accept. Paul shares the secret. He shares that we need to present every situation to God and then rest in Him. He tells us not to be anxious about anything but to give everything to God in prayer. It is coming into His presence in prayer that we find our peace. It is focusing our attention on His almighty power, His extravagant love, and His particular awareness of our situation that we are suddenly ushered into a consciousness of His peace. This is our home. His peace transcends any circumstance. This is where we belong. But somehow, we so easily slip out of this awareness. We are like a bird that is flying, continually looking for the sky. All we need to do is open our eyes. We are loved by God, He is constantly aware of us, and His peace is there for all our circumstances. Today, let us open our eyes and our heart and become deeply aware of His peace.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, thank You for Your abiding presence. Thank You for Your constant love for me. Help me today be fully aware of all that You are. Help me experience the peace that You have for me.
AMEN

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Love and Obey

TODAY’S VERSE
Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you.
Romans 16:7 (NLT)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
At first glance, we skip right to the word obey. So often, our emphasis is on obedience to God’s word. But Paul added another word. As a Pharisee, he knew what obedience to the law was. He also knew that Jesus was not satisfied with compliance alone. That is why he added the word “wholeheartedly” to obeying his teaching.” Paul was emphasizing the fact that they were following God with their whole heart. Surrendering to God’s love and having a deep relationship with Him leads to obeying His word. In his book, “Surrender To Love,” David Benner writes, “By contrasting obedience and surrender, I do not want to put too much distance between them. Those who surrender obey. But not all who obey surrender. – Christian obedience is more like what lovers give each other than what soldiers give their superiors. Lovers demonstrate their love by doing what each other wants. And so it should be with Christians and their God.” Today surrender to God’s love. Build a deep relationship with Him. When you do, you will find obedience to be a natural outflow of your love for Him.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, I want to surrender to Your love. Help me know You, spend time with You and learn to trust You completely. Help me love You, so I will naturally obey.
AMEN

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In His Love

TODAY’S VERSE
I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. – I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!
John 15:9,11 (NLT)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
This is one of the most passionate speeches Jesus Christ ever made. He is before His disciples and encourages them to “abide” in Him. He uses the illustration of a vine and a branch. The branch is alive because it is connected to the vine. The vine is the source of life, and as long as the branch “abides” or “remains” connected to the vine, it will thrive. Jesus wanted the same for us. He comes and assures us, “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me.” How wonderful is this? Jesus loves us in the same way that God, the Father, loved Him. What a supernatural love, and it is ours. And what does Jesus ask of us? He asks that we remain in His love. Jesus is saying, “I love you just like God the Father loves me, and I want you to enjoy, bask in and take advantage of all the love I have for you!” No wonder He said that our joy would overflow. Today, remain in the awareness of His love.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Dear Jesus, thank You for Your love. I realize that You are the vine, and I am a branch. Today, help me remain in You. Help me recognize all the love I have from my connection with You. Fill me with Your joy.
AMEN

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So Send I You

TODAY’S VERSE
Then Jesus said again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, I now send you.” After he said this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
John 20:21-22 (NCV)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
It would be hard to imagine what it was like at that moment. The disciples of Jesus were huddled in a room, wondering what they were going to do. Jesus had been crucified. Their leader was dead, and now, to confuse the issue, some were saying He was back from the dead. Then grief mixed with doubt vanished in a moment. All of a sudden, three monumental events happened that would change the world! First, Jesus appeared to them. He was there. This same Jesus that was brutally murdered was alive right before them. And with His authority and power, Jesus initiated the second event, the commissioning of His disciples. Jesus said, “As the Father sent me, I now send you.” This meant that as Jesus was sent to earth to live a life of love and sacrifice and to bring a message of salvation to a needy world, so He was sending His followers. Finally, the third was Jesus giving them the Holy Spirit to guide and empower them. Jesus said, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Our Holy God’s Spirit was given to the disciples and thus began the pattern for Christ’s church. Today, let us commit ourselves to this truth: We are commissioned by the resurrected Christ to live in the same power that raised Him from the dead and to do the same work that He was sent to do. And we do this under the direction and through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Dear Jesus, thank You for coming to earth, dying for my sins, and rising from the dead. Help me to live in the reality of Your power and under the influence of Your Holy Spirit.
AMEN

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Praise God

TODAY’S VERSE
Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.
Psalms 145:3 (NIV)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
I don’t praise the Lord enough. How easily I forget. I become so familiar with Him that I take His presence for granted. Worst, I get so embroiled in my drama that I don’t take the time to consider God at all! I agree with the Psalmist, I can’t begin to fathom the greatness of God, but that’s no excuse for not praising Him. How about appreciation for the little I do know. Today, let’s start with what the Psalmist has said. The Lord is indeed GREAT. He is awesome, all-powerful and mighty, much more so than we can imagine! Let us commit ourselves to praise Him more and more.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Today, Father, I come to praise You. I praise You for Your greatness. I praise You for Your majesty. I praise You for Your awesome power. You are worthy Lord, to receive all my praise.
AMEN

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Unconditional Love

TODAY’S VERSE
We love him, because he first loved us.
I John 4:19 (KJV)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
John introduces a seeming paradox. It is God’s love for us that produces our love for Him. You would think that we would love God for who He is. Certainly, He is worthy! But it is not God’s worthiness that is under consideration here. It is our inability to love. It is impossible for us to love God without accepting His incredible love for us. You see, knowing that He loves us is not enough. It is when we make it personal that we can love God. It is when we let down our pretenses when we stop our striving to earn His love when we come to Him just as we are and trust Him at His word, that we can experience His unconditional love. David Benner writes, “It is not the fact of being loved unconditionally that is life-changing. It is the risky experience of allowing myself to be loved unconditionally. At that moment, when we permit ourselves to be loved by God, without any help of our own, our eyes are opened, our hearts set free and our Spirit says, “Amen.” It is then that we are able to say with John, “We love Him, because He first loved us.” Today, allow yourself to experience God’s love for you with all His tenderness and compassion. Then love Him back in return.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, today I come to You totally undeserving and allow myself to be unconditionally loved by You. Wash me in Your forgiveness, embrace me in Your tenderness. Help me accept Your love because You first loved me. Help me love You in return. In Jesus’ name.

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