Your source of joy

TODAY’S VERSE
There I will go to the altar of God, to God—the source of all my joy.
Psalms 43:4 (NLT)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
Joy is the great equalizer. It is what our soul strives for, that spiritual homeostasis that keeps life in balance. But joy isn’t something we can conjure up by ourselves. Deep, rich joy comes from a loving relationship with God. When we find ourselves out of sorts, when our emotions seem to be at the edge, it is our relationship with God that bring us back to joy. The Psalmist knew where his joy came from. That is why he wrote that he went to the altar of God, and through praise, worship, and prayers, he found the source of all his joy. Jesus knew this too. When people came to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” He replied, “You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” Jesus said that because it was the right moral choice, but I believe He also knew that it was the best solution to all that bothers us as human beings. He knew that our heart, mind, and soul is the true altar of God. Knowing God with our heart, mind, and soul is our true source of joy.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Dear Father, how I long to know You in deep and personal ways. Help me worship You at the altar of my heart, mind, and soul, for You are the source of all my joy.
AMEN

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always pray

TODAY’S VERSE
One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up.
Luke 18:1 (NLT)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
Jesus was a master storyteller. His parables had deep meaning and were full of spiritual truth. He was on a mission and teaching certain truths was a very important part of His visit on earth. “Love one another.” “Love God with all your heart, mind, and soul.” “Do to others as you would have them to do to you.” These are a few of His major themes. But in today’s passage, Luke shares one of the most important life principles Jesus came to tell us. The message was, “Always pray and never give up!” It’s simplicity, yet profound spirituality leaves me overwhelmed. Pray? That’s it? Could it be this simple? And yet anyone who has had strife in their life knows how hard it is to keep praying. Complain, no problem. Fret, have it covered. Avoid any action at all? Been there. Pray a little? I can do that. But Jesus was specific. And He said it out of love and complete understanding of how this life works. He knew the balance between Heaven and this world. He said it clearly, “Always pray and never give up!” So today, what will it be? Christ bids us follow Him. He knows our situation and commands us to “Always pray and never give up.” 

TODAY’S PRAYER
Dear Jesus, You never ask me to do anything that You won’t enable me to do.  You have asked me to bring everything to You in prayer and to keep bringing it, never giving up. Lord, I desire to do this. Help me, empower me, increase my faith, encourage my heart. Today, I put my faith in You and will not give up.
AMEN  

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Meditate on his love

TODAY’S VERSE
O God, we meditate on your unfailing love as we worship in your Temple.
Psalms 48:9 (NLT)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
There are many things that vie for our attention. Multiple situations face us at any given moment. Our minds move from issue to issue at blinding speeds. Feeling, observing, assessing, and predicting is often done in milliseconds as we multitask our way through the day. This is why it is so important to renew our minds every day. We need to make a conscious effort to slow down and meditate on God’s unfailing love. Paul knew this. He writes, “That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.” But how? How did Paul renew his mind? He continues, “We don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.” This “gaze” is a deliberate focus. It is what the Psalmist refers to in today’s verse as meditating. It is putting focused attention on a particular issue. It is this personal consideration of what the thoughts of His love mean and their personal application to our life that makes meditating so enriching. Today, don’t just read God’s word about His love; stop and meditate on it and let it affect you in profound and meaningful ways.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, I am so thankful for Your love. You are so real, so relevant to my life. Help me to stop all the madness and slow down long enough to mediate on how extraordinary your love for me is. Today, as I spend time with You, renew my mind. In Jesus’ name.
AMEN

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Hard hearts

TODAY’S VERSE
For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes—so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.
Matthew 13:15 (NLT)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
God wants His word to penetrate our very being. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” and this includes the way we comprehend truth. Jesus took the writing of Isaiah and applied it to the people of His day. He warned them that their “eyes” were not seeing the truth, their “ears” were not comprehending the truth, and their “hearts” were not sensing the implications of the truth. It was a result of hardening themselves toward God. Turning away from Him, they ended up ignoring God’s truth. How often have we done the same thing? But it is not too late. It is through self-reflection, repentance, and being purposeful in believing in God’s word, that we can turn this around. Today, might God help you, and I read the word, hear the word and most of all, believe the word with our whole heart.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, forgive me for the times I have hardened my heart toward You. Help me today to see Your word, hear Your word, and most of all apply Your word to my life. In Jesus’ name I pray.
AMEN

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Move In Closer

TODAY’S VERSE
And Peter followed at a distance.
Luke 22:54 (NLT)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
Is that how your spiritual life seems? Jesus was taken away by an angry mob. Most of the disciples scattered in fear. Peter, too was fearful, but at least he decided to follow Jesus, albeit at a distance. Fear does that. We become consumed with it. We think of the past and our failures, and as a result, we look to the future with more pessimism. This worry and fear cause us to miss the present closeness of the Lord. We don’t give up our faith, but its relevance to influence the immediate is lost in all our anxiousness. Today decide to move in closer to Jesus. He has not abandoned you. He has not turned His back. Peter failed to remember what Jesus had told him only hours earlier. “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift each of you like wheat. But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail.” Jesus also intercedes for you. There is no reason to keep at a distance. Instead, you can do what the author of Hebrews tells us to do. He writes, “Let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”

TODAY’S PRAYER
Dear Jesus, I confess I have been following You at a distance. I have let fear, doubt, and worry take the place of my faith. I come today in obedience, boldly to Your throne and ask for Your mercy and Your grace. Thank You for interceding for me. Thank You that You have promised to help me when I need it the most.
AMEN

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Slave To My Beliefs

TODAY’S VERSE
For you are a slave to whatever controls you.
II Peter 2:19 (NLT)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
We like to think that we are so independent. What could ever have control over us? But it is not usually one significant controlling factor we need to worry about. Rarely would just one influence control our whole life. No, the author of Proverbs said it wisely, “It is the little foxes that spoil the vine.” It is the many controlling issues that either set us free or enslave us. Beliefs are that way. It is not one large belief that controls our life. It is a whole series of beliefs that shape who we are. What we believe affects our desires, emotions, aspirations, faith, hopes, predictions, limitations, and behavior. Beliefs can enslave us, or they can set us free. Jesus came to help shape our ideas. Beliefs about life and beliefs about ourselves. So, what do you believe? What limiting thoughts do you have? When you think of yourself, what do you accept as true? When you think of opportunity, what thoughts hold you back? Beliefs can control the way you live. Paul wrote, “We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments.” Today, if you are going to be a slave, be a slave of Christ. Bring your thoughts and beliefs to Christ and let Him shape them, hone them and when necessary, change them.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Dear Lord, I confess that so many of my beliefs are negative, painful, limiting, carnal, angry, lustful, and ungodly. I need Your forgiveness and Your help. Holy Spirit, purify my mind. Sanctify my thoughts and help me bring everyone into captivity and under Your influence. Today I give You my mind. Influence my beliefs, I pray.
AMEN

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Gently Restore

TODAY’S VERSE
Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Galatians 6:1-2 (NIV)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
There are many sins that you can fall into. Many habits, addictions, and sins are hard to break. That is why we need each other. There is so much talk about accountability. But you need something more than a watchdog. You need someone who knows your struggles and loves you, even when you fall. Someone who is there for you without judgment. They understand about “slips” and are there to lift you back up. Their goal is to restore, not scold or shun. God has called you to do the same. He has asked that you “restore” someone gently, not reprimand or ostracize them. Today, follow Christ and help carry someone else’s burden.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, forgive me for judging others. Instead, help me gently restore those in need and bear their burdens. Help me to remember my own sins and how You have forgiven me. In Jesus’ name.
AMEN

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Walk In The Light

TODAY’S VERSE
You have kept my feet from slipping. So now I can walk in your presence, O God, in your life-giving light.
Psalms 56:13 (NIV)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
It makes a difference where you walk. I’ve hiked in many different terrains, in all kinds of weather, but the hardest of all was along a mountain path in the dark. There is nothing more treacherous than walking along a cliff when it is slippery and pitch dark. Some of our team tried to make it and slipped down the side of the mountain. Life can be that way too. How many times does it feel we are on a slippery path in the dark? All around us is dangerous, but we can’t see the path. David knew what that felt like, but he cried out to God. Today we have a choice. We can keep slipping trying to make it on our own, or we can do what David did. He decided to trust God and walk in His presence. He chose to walk in God’s life-giving light. You can too. Come to God today; He will stop you from slipping. He will lead you from the darkness into His life-giving light.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Oh Father, how often I end up on a slippery path in the dark. Thank You for loving me and providing a way out. I come to You now and ask that You keep me from slipping. Help me today to walk in the awareness of Your presence, in Your life-giving light.
AMEN

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Less disbelief

TODAY’S VERSE
Still they stood there in disbelief, filled with joy and wonder.
Luke 24:11 (NLT)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
There were reports that Jesus had risen from the dead, and the disciples found it very disturbing. It was one thing to see Jesus raise Lazarus from a tomb, but Jesus from the crucifixion? His death was so brutal, so hateful, and now they feared for their own lives. Perhaps the most disturbing was the “How?” questions echoing in their heads. “How could someone who loved so much die so despised? How could someone so supernatural die so naturally? And so, they had a hard time believing. Even when Jesus “showed up” in the Upper Room, they stood there in disbelief, filled with joy and wonder. Aren’t we the same way? We hear of a miracle or witness one, and don’t we react with disbelief and wonder at the same time? Where did this unbelief come from? We need to be more like the man to whom Jesus said, “Everything is possible for one who believes.” The man turned to Jesus and said, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Today, choose to have less disbelief and more joy and wonder.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, forgive me for my unbelief. Help me be filled with more joy and wonder at all You are and do. In Jesus’ name.
AMEN

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Perfect Love, No Fear

TODAY’S VERSE
We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. – Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear.
I John 4:16, 18 (NLT)

TODAY’S THOUGHT
Depending upon our upbringing, we bonded with our caregivers one of two ways. We either had a strong bond based on love, or we had a bond that was based on fear. A fear bond is based on the fear of rejection, punishment, abandonment, or shame. A fear bond is insidious. Like Skinner’s rats, we are conditioned to respond to stimuli, in this case, fear. Years later, it leaves us vulnerable, destined to perfectionism or people-pleasing, anxious, never believing that we are unconditionally loved. But Hallelujah, God isn’t finished with us yet! David wrote, “Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.” John wrote in today’s verse, “We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.” And here is the clincher, “Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear.” I love it. What does fear have to be afraid of? Love! God’s love for us can expel any and every “fear bond.” Today, examine your heart. Is there fear? Are you living in constant anxiety over rejection, shame, or abandonment? Cast it away and embrace God’s love for you. His love will expel all your fear.

TODAY’S PRAYER
Dear Father, I come to You, calling You Father. Not a father that I have to please or fear, but a Heavenly Father, that has an unconditional love for me. Cast out all fear from my heart, I pray. In Jesus’ name.
AMEN

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