Friday, January 31, 2014

January 31: He does not allow our feet to slip

Praise our God, you nations! Loudly proclaim his praise! He preserves our lives and does not allow our feet to slip. For you, O God, tested us; you purified us like refined silver. You led us into a trap; you caused us to suffer. You allowed men to ride over our heads; we passed through fire and water, but you brought us out into a wide open place. I will enter your temple with burnt sacrifices; I will fulfill the vows I made to you, which my lips uttered and my mouth spoke when I was in trouble. I will offer up to you fattened animals as burnt sacrifices, along with the smell of sacrificial rams. I will offer cattle and goats. Come! Listen, all you who are loyal to God! I will declare what he has done for me. I cried out to him for help and praised him with my tongue. If I had harbored sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. However, God heard; he listened to my prayer. God deserves praise, for he did not reject my prayer or abandon his love for me!  (Psalm 66:8-20 — NET)

This man of God (David) spoke from experience... from many experiences of God’s mighty, delivering power. He praised God for preserving his life and the lives of those who were with him. Though God had allowed them to be tested and refined like silver, though they had gone through both fire and water, had been trapped and allowed to suffer, though enemies had ridden over their heads on horseback… in the end God gave them victory and led them into a wide open place. This psalm is David’s testimony; he had cried out to God for help and praised Him even before the answer had come; he had kept his heart pure—and the Lord heard and answered him!

In another psalm David says: “Even young lions sometimes lack food and are hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.”

No one has promised that being a servant of God would be easy. We’re pictured in the Bible as strangers and aliens in this world, but at the same time the Lord Jesus Christ has promised to be with us, to help us, and to strengthen us. He even told us to rejoice in trials and persecutions, because our reward in heaven, and on earth, will be great. So refuse to get discouraged when it seems that God is not answering your prayers. Be strong when your faith is being tested. Hold firm to your confidence and faith in Him. In temptations, trials, delays, and times of refining, be strong and courageous. God will eventually lead you into a wide open place—a man or woman of greater spiritual power and resilience, who will be more determined than ever to never accept defeated. And when this happens, fulfill your vows to Him, bring sacrifices to His altar as a small demonstration of your thankfulness.

If this was David’s practice, it would be a good idea for us to follow in his footsteps. What he accomplished in life is proof that his ways work.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

January 30: God residing in you…

Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and take up residence with him. The person who does not love me does not obey my words. And the word you hear is not mine, but the Father’s who sent me.”  (John 14:23,24 — NET)

God is love, but He is also wrath. God forgives, but He also punishes. In today’s passage we see that anyone is free to love God regardless their past, nationality, race, or social status—but their love has to be proven by their obedience to His word. If we say we love God but refuse to obey His word, we are lying to ourselves, and cannot expect anything from Him. But if our love is backed up with obedience to His commands—our love is true, the Father will love us, and both He and Jesus will come and take up residence in our lives.

I challenge you to take a few minutes to be brutally honest with yourself. Are you really obeying Jesus’ word? Are you living according to God’s commands and desires, or according to your own? Are you actively going through the pain of denying your own will in order to do what God has asked you to do, even when you don’t understand? Most Christians say they love God and believe in His word, but their lives prove the exact opposite. And yet, it’s so easy to assume that everything’s okay, that we are saved, that God has taken up residence in our lives, when the total opposite is really true.

If God (Father, Son, and Spirit) has taken up residence in your life, you know it, and people around you know it too. If you’re on the path to having God take up residence in your life, you know it. And if God is no where near taking up residence in your life, if you take a good, hard, serious look at your life, that will be obvious too.

Whether you are doing a good or a lousy job of this, determine right now that from now on you will not have a love for God based on feelings, but one based on obedience to His word—no matter how hard it is, or what the world thinks of you. The result? … God will come and take up residence in you!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

January 29: Every promise of God is yours in Christ

For every one of God’s promises are “Yes” in him; therefore also through him the “Amen” is spoken, to the glory we give to God. But it is God who establishes us together with you in Christ and who anointed us, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a down payment.  (2 Corinthians 1:20-22)

The Bible is a book of promises—throughout the Holy Scriptures God and Jesus Christ are continually telling us what They want to do for us. In the verses above, we are assured that every promise in the Bible belongs to those who are in the Lord Jesus. Old Testament promises, New Testament promises, promises about health, prosperity, victory, power to overcome our enemies, promises about long life, spiritual power, and fruitfulness—no matter how many promises there are—all of them belong to us through Jesus. Because of Him, God says "Yes” to us and we can say "Amen" after every prayer.

For God's promises to come true in our lives, four things have to happen. First, we have to know what God is willing to do for us; many Christians do not have any real idea about all the riches that are available to them in Jesus. After we know what God promises, we must believe that those promises are true. The third step is that we need to fulfill any conditions, or do whatever we are supposed to do in order to receive what has been promised. The fourth step is to say, "Yes, God, I know what You’ve promised and believe You will do it. I’ve done my part, now I need You to do Yours!"

One of the greatest promises of God, is the Holy Spirit. The Bible uses the word “down payment” for the Spirit on a number of occasions. This word usually communicates the first payment of an object, that guarantees that the remainder will be paid at a later date, and that the object will be held for the purchaser. In the case of the Holy Spirit, He is God’s way of guaranteeing our salvation, and the many other blessings that come along with a life of faith. Not only does the Holy Spirit transform us into His temple, He is God’s tender way of guaranteeing our spot in heaven. 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

January 28: The big change

For we too were once foolish, disobedient, misled, enslaved to various passions and desires, spending our lives in evil and envy, hateful and hating one another.  But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us in full measure through Jesus Christ our Savior.  And so, since we have been justified by his grace, we become heirs with the confident expectation of eternal life. (Titus 3:3-7 — NET)   

The great contrast between what we used to be and what we are now is the theme of these verses. What we are now should be the exact opposite of what we were before we were saved. The washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit has accomplished great changes, and our futures have been transformed by the grace of God—by the kindness and love of God.   If there is not a sharp contrast between your past and your present life, you need to examine yourself. If you are still enslaved by passions and pleasures—if you are still foolish, disobedient, and filled with bad feelings toward others—you have not yet experienced the new birth that these verses talk about. But you don't need to despair, Jesus is waiting with outstretched arms to guide and empower you to make these changes happen. Put your faith totally in Him, give Him control over your life without reservation, and God will make this scripture your reality.   

The two things we all need to be new people in Jesus Christ are provided for. The washing or the cleansing from all sin—called here "the washing of rebirth," and the power of the Holy Spirit to be different—called here simply "renewal by the Holy Spirit." These two provisions of God make the big change possible! The Lord Jesus died for us and His blood cleanses us from all sin when we trust Him and repent of our sins. As we do this, He will give us His power to change, to be strong, and His Spirit will transform us into new men and women. 

If this has not already happened, this should be your goal for this year. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

January 27: Want to become well?

Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool called Bethzatha in Aramaic, which has five covered walkways. A great number of sick, blind, lame, and paralyzed people were lying in these walkways. Now a man was there who had been disabled for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and when he realized that the man had been disabled a long time already, he said to him, “Do you want to become well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up. While I am trying to get into the water, someone else goes down there before me.” Jesus said to him, “Stand up! Pick up your mat and walk.” Immediately the man was healed, and he picked up his mat and started walking. (Now that day was a Sabbath.) …After this Jesus found him at the temple and said to him, “Look, you have become well. Don’t sin any more, lest anything worse happen to you.” (John 5:2-9,14 — NET)

Jesus found this large group of sick people waiting at a pool; they thought there was healing power in the water when it was stirred and that the first one into the pool would be healed. Whether that was true or not we don't know, but Jesus came to one man who had been there a long time and asked him if he wanted to get well. Some people react in a passive way to illness, view it as fate, or look for sympathy, when illness is actually something to fight against. If you are sick, you have to want to get well; you have to reach out for your healing in faith.

Jesus told the man to get up, pick up his mat, and walk—and he did! A man who had been an invalid for 38 years was healed. This teaches us that it doesn't matter how long you, or your relative, has been sick. Jesus is a healer and our faith has the power to make healing a reality. If sin, unforgiveness, or bitterness has played a part in your sickness, get rid of it so that the door to God’s healing will be open. 

Do you want to get well? Do you want a better job? Is there a particular thing that you want in life? If so, grab a hold of it by faith! He said, "Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours."

Sunday, January 26, 2014

January 26: The gift of the Holy Spirit

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all those who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had accompanied Peter were greatly astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, for they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, “No one can withhold the water for these people to be baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?” So he gave orders to have them baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.  (Acts 10:44-48)

To understand this scripture completely you need to go back and read Acts chapter 1 and 2. The apostles of Jesus had followed Him for several years and had seen Him crucified and raised from the dead. After all these experiences and all this training, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to fill and empower them. But in this passage Peter is preaching to non-Jews for the first time, and before he even finishes his message, Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to baptize them. The Gentiles begin to speak in tongues and glorify God. With such an obvious testimony of God's approval, Peter commands them to be baptized in water in the name of Jesus.

Faith in Jesus, baptism in water, and the baptism in the Holy Spirit are all absolutely necessary. If you have faith in Jesus, and haven't been baptized in water—do it now! Just remember it is not a religious ritual or a magical ceremony, it involves dying to the flesh and repenting from all that the flesh wants us to do. 

If you have been baptized in water, but haven’t yet been filled with the Holy Spirit—tell Jesus you want His Holy Spirit and seek Him with all your strength. Remember, you can choose the day that you are baptized in water but not the day you will be baptized in the Spirit. He will descend upon you in power when He sees that you are ready, that you put Him first, that you are sincere and humble, and hungry for Him. 

It is obvious from this passage that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is for all Christians. How can we successfully serve Jesus Christ in this world without Him? …or stay faithful to Him through the many years and struggles that lay before us? The Holy Spirit and our salvation are the most important possessions in life.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

January 25: More than victorious

Who can separate us from the love of Christ? Can affliction or anguish or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: Because of You we are being put to death all day long; we are counted as sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 8:35-39 — Holman Christian Standard Bible)

Two phrases stand out in this passage of scripture: "In all these things we are more than victorious through him who loved us" and (nothing) "will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." One statement assures us of victory, the other that we will never be cut off from God. Obviously the Holy Spirit guided Paul to write this because the devil does everything he can to convince us of the opposite. He wants us to doubt our victory, and to be afraid that someone or something will separate us from God. So many situations are used by the devil to try and convince us that God will never forgive or that we are unworthy of His attention, or to convince us that our dreams and prayers will not be answered, or that we will be unable to be faithful to the very end.

When we’re living by faith, trusting in God and putting Him first, nothing can get between Him and us. Problems, persecution, hardship, and danger are all situations that we can not only handle, but be more than victorious in. That’s why we speak so much about boldness and audacity in the church; when we put this verse into practice we’re forced to be bold in every situation we are faced with, being certain that it will work out for our good and for God’s glory. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

January 24: A holy calling

He is the one who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not based on our works but on his own purpose and grace, granted to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but now made visible through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus. He has broken the power of death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. (2 Timothy 1:9,10 — NET)

Before time began Jesus was chosen to be the Savior of the world. Isn’t that an amazing truth? Before anything had been created God knew that people would rebel against Him and that His Son would need to be their Savior. If God knew all this from the very beginning, why was Jesus only revealed after thousands of years had passed? Why go through the Old Testament times and only bring Jesus into the world after countless servants like Abraham, Sarah, Jeremiah, and Deborah had served Him without the benefits of the Lord Jesus Christ? Why did some people have to live their lives in an age when life and immortality had not yet been brought to light through the gospel?

We don’t know all the answers to these questions, but we do know that God has had a plan from the very beginning and that there has been a purpose for everything that happened, even for those who lived before Jesus was revealed; we also know that God has a plan for each one of us even when we have not yet figured it all out. But one great truth is that we have the benefit of all that happened throughout the Old Testament, and that we of all people, live in an age when the power of death has been broken and the gospel of the Lord Jesus has been brought to life.

There is a holy calling on each one of us. If you’re not interested, He will not insist; if you are interested, He will need you to surrender your own will and desires and be start doing things His way. If you accept His plan, it’s going to be hard, legions of demons will be stirred up against you, friends and family will turn against you, and this world will hate you… but God’s plan will start to be fulfilled in your life, something far greater than anything you could ever imagine. 

It’s humbling to think that God has a holy calling on our lives… that the God who has everything, who is perfect, wants to add you to His possessions.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

January 23: Are you in need of something?

And my God will supply your every need according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.  (Philippians 4:19 — NET)

Paul was in prison when he wrote the letter to the Philippian church, and one of the main reasons for the letter was to thank them for a material gift they had sent him — an offering they had sent to help him in his work. In this passage, and the verses that come before it, Paul assures the church that it would be rewarded and that God would supply all their needs as a response to their gift. 

Reading through this chapter it becomes apparent that Paul considers his relationship with the Philippian church—and other churches—to be a two-way street. There was to be exchanges of both physical and spiritual gifts. This is a very touchy subject with most people because human nature hates giving; people are turned off by pastors asking for tithes and offerings; pastors give very little to their people but expect their people to give the very best to them; many feel that investing in a business is smart while investing in the work of God is dumb. But this is precisely why God teaches us to give; He wants us to kill our natural, human desires and to awaken trust and confidence in Him. Paul—like every true man of God—was not as concerned with the people’s material gifts as he was with the development of their spiritual ability to give, because that would bring both spiritual and physical blessings to him.

When we balk at giving to God, thinking that we’re being smart with our money, we don’t realize that we are insulting the One person that can make us abundantly rich in every way. Basically we have two choices: hold back from God, and learn to be generous with God. The choice we make will effect the rest of our lives. If we’re smart, we won’t go with the world’s idea of giving, but follow Jesus’ example.

Isn’t it interesting how some people argue that Jesus sacrificed so that we don’t have to sacrifice anymore? All I have to say is: if it was good enough for Jesus it should be good enough for us, and, we are all called to imitate Jesus.

Choose how you’re going to live, but remember, today’s choices create your tomorrows.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

January 22: We have been given everything

Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, overflowing with gratitude.  Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ.  For the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ, and you have been filled by Him, who is the head over every ruler and authority. (Colossians 2:6-10 —HCSB)

There is only one Savior; there is only one way to God, and there is only one name that can save us. The one Savior, the one way, and the one name, is Jesus Christ. If you diverge from Him, you can’t be built up or rooted in Him, which means you will become weak and unstable.  Anything that would lead you away from His truths or His Spirit is a deception and makes you an easy target for the devil’s attacks.   

There is fullness of life in Jesus. This means that everything you need, can be found in Him and Him alone.  Whatever philosophies or spiritual “enlightenings” pop up at any given time can never fill that void created for God’s presence alone.  But the attitude of do-it-yourself spirituality, based on your personality and favorite style of music, seems to be the gospel of our time.   People proudly repeat this popular mantra, “I don’t believe in Christianity, but I am very spiritual,” and proceed to invent the most convenient form of God to suit their desires.  Even Christian churches find ways to make God more palatable to those who love their flesh by removing all traces of sacrifice and death to sin.

Finding God is not a vague endeavor.  His Word is clear, His truths stand the test of time, and He has made no mystery about how to find and know Him. Don’t be drawn away by watered down versions of Jesus’ teachings.  Don’t be deceived by the lie that Jesus was a good teacher, but not God.  God’s entire fullness dwells inside of Christ, and our only hope of overcoming this evil world is in Him. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

January 21: God forgives + heals

My soul, praise the Lord, and do not forget all His benefits. He forgives all your sin; He heals all your diseases.  (Psalm 103:2,3 — HCSB)

David—King of Israel—praised God for all His benefits, two of which are forgiveness of all our sins and healing of all our diseases. It seems that David thanked God for doing this for him every day and I am certain that if God did this for His servant David, He wants to do it for every one of His children—for us. God doesn’t show favoritism, and what He does for one of His children He is ready to do for all.

Forgiveness is not granted by God when we live perfect lives, but rather when we accept the Lord Jesus as our Savior—as the one who died in our place on the cross. When we trust in Him we don't need to be burdened by sin even one minute more. As soon as we realize that we have sinned, our response should be to confess it to God and receive His forgiveness. We should never wait till we get home, till we go to church, or for our regular time of prayer. We should never carry the burden of sin and guilt over the period of a day, or even for an hour. It needs to be immediately confessed and cleansed so that it has no chance to harm us.

God is a healer. When we truly believe in the Lord Jesus, we have the right to claim all that He purchased for us on the cross, and part of that was healing. He has always been a healer—both Old and New Testaments—and because of that we can be sure that he will also heal us.

I want you to practice these two attitudes over the next month. Make them a habit in your life.

Monday, January 20, 2014

January 20: Want a miracle?

In Lystra sat a man who could not use his feet, lame from birth, who had never walked. This man was listening to Paul as he was speaking. When Paul stared intently at him and saw he had faith to be healed, he said with a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And the man leaped up and began walking. So when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” They began to call Barnabas Zeus and Paul Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. The priest of the temple of Zeus, located just outside the city, brought bulls and garlands to the city gates; he and the crowds wanted to offer sacrifices to them. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard about it, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting, “Men, why are you doing these things? We too are men, with human natures just like you! We are proclaiming the good news to you, so that you should turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything that is in them.  (Acts 14:8-15 — NET)

It doesn't have to take long for you to develop the faith to be healed or to receive a miracle from God. Here is a man who had never walked, but listened to Paul preach about Jesus, and began to have faith. When Paul looked at him he could see his faith, and when he gave the command, the man leapt up and began to walk.

This passage clearly places the responsibility for our healing on our own heads. There were other people there who had heard the same things that this man heard, some of them needed healing, and some of them had less barriers to cross to believe in their healing. This man had never walked, and so it was harder for him to believe in something he had never been able to do. Even a small child around the age of one requires 2 weeks to a month to learn to walk. But not this man. He had the faith to obey Paul’s loud command and began to walk immediately… something that physical therapists would say is impossible. But of all the people around Paul and Barnabas, this man responded with faith and received the reward. If this healing were up to Paul and Barnabas alone, many more people would have been healed.

An important lesson from this passage is that we should not worship people or objects. God is the only one worthy of worship.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

January 19: Everything is possible… #2

“…But if you are able to do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Then Jesus said to him, “‘If you are able?’ All things are possible for the one who believes.” Immediately the father of the boy cried out and said, “I believe; help my unbelief!” Now when Jesus saw that a crowd was quickly gathering, he rebuked the unclean spirit, saying to it, “Mute and deaf spirit, I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” It shrieked, threw him into terrible convulsions, and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He is dead!” But Jesus gently took his hand and raised him to his feet, and he stood up. Then, after he went into the house, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we cast it out?” He told them, “This kind can come out only by prayer.” (Mark 9:23-29 — NET)

God loves sincerity. The father of this boy did not hide that fact that he was struggling to have faith—like all of us at one time or another—and had the humility to ask Jesus to help him with his unbelief. He could have insisted that his faith was strong in an attempt to impress Jesus, but where would that have gotten him? Instead he was totally sincere, admitted his mistake, and threw himself at the mercy of Jesus… and his son was freed.

At the end of today’s passage we are given a small glimpse of the importance of prayer: “This kind can come out only by prayer.” When we develop the habit of prayer, not for a particular thing we need, but as a way of developing our relationship and dependence on God, something changes within us. We gain strength, show our dependence on Him, and develop a proper perspective of life. When we have a habit of praying to God with faith, certain problems will not be too much for us to handle, (like happened with the nine disciples).

Saturday, January 18, 2014

January 18: Everything is possible…

A member of the crowd said to him, “Teacher, I brought you my son, who is possessed by a spirit that makes him mute. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and becomes rigid. I asked your disciples to cast it out, but they were not able to do so.” He answered them, “You unbelieving generation! How much longer must I be with you? How much longer must I endure you? Bring him to me.” So they brought the boy to him. When the spirit saw him, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell on the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth. Jesus asked his father, “How long has this been happening to him?” And he said, “From childhood. It has often thrown him into fire or water to destroy him. But if you are able to do anything, have compassion on us and help us.” Then Jesus said to him, “‘If you are able?’ All things are possible for the one who believes.”  (Mark 9:17-23 — NET)

Here we see the two big problems in life: demons and people’s lack of faith (or ignorance of how to fight demons). This boy was being cruelly oppressed by demons, was scarred both physically and emotionally, and was incapable of living a normal life. We have not included the last part of the passage today, but Jesus solved this problem by simply casting out the demons in the boy. This is so crucial for us to understand: we live in a world where vicious, merciless demons also live, and if we don’t acknowledge their existence and respond to them in an equally vicious manner, we and our families will be their victims.

Jesus was not upset at the father, but he was at His disciples. The father had faith but was ignorant about how to go about helping his son in a spiritual way. Jesus even spoke a phrase to him that people all over the world should keep in mind: “All things are possible for the one who believes.” On the other hand, His disciples knew better than to let a demon win. They had seen Him do miracles and cast out demons, and for Jesus this was not a time for them to have doubt and fear. We can never allow the devil to intimidate us, we always have to be sure that we can overcome anything because the Lord Jesus is by our side.

Let’s get vicious with the work of the devil. Let’s cast him out whenever and wherever he raises his head.

Friday, January 17, 2014

January 17: If God is for us who can be against us?

If God is for us, who can be against us? Indeed, he who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, freely give us all things? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is the one who will condemn? Christ is the one who died (and more than that, he was raised), who is at the right hand of God, and who also is interceding for us.  (Romans 8:31-34 — NET)

One name for the devil is "accuser." He will try to discourage us, telling us that we are no good, that God doesn't love us, that we are terrible sinners who have no right to call upon God. But if we’ve sincerely put our faith in Jesus and are in the process of becoming the people He wants us to be, all these words of the devil are nothing but lies. Filthy lies.

God is for us! If we have faith in Him, he’s on our side, and since He was willing to go so far as to give His Son for us, there is nothing that He will not do for us… nothing.

When the devil and his demons come with condemning words, guilt, reminders of the past, or comparisons to other people, God’s response is “I’ve accepted them, who are you to say I haven’t?” If God has justified us, who are demons to contradict Him? They will always try — it’s their nature — but our response has to be rough an immediate, declaring that we are free.

Obviously, we cannot overlook sin when it is present, but what this passage is referring to is when the devil attacks us with guilt and condemnation, not in an attempt to correct our behavior, but to knock us down and steal our faith. So, not only do we need to watch out for sin, we have to watch out for the false accusations of the devil.

It’s amazing to know that the Lord Jesus is at the right hand of God in heaven, interceding for those of us who are living by faith. He is speaking to Him on our behalf, reminding Him that we are making an effort, all with the intent of bringing the father’s blessings into our lives.

Let’s keep us the fight!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

January 16: Ask, seek, knock

“So a I tell you: Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.  (Luke 11:9,10 — NET)

Prayer is a powerful force that changes the world around us—it opens seas, stops the sun in the sky, makes the dead come back to life, multiplies bread and fish, causes God to change His mind, and makes God’s Spirit descend on His people. It is our direct line to God, our short cut to the most powerful force in the universe, our link to a world far more real than our own. Anyone who makes the excuse that they don’t have time to pray is falling for a time-tested lie of the devil. If we’re smart, we make time to pray because it is one of the most important activities of our day.

If prayer does not stick to certain rules it will accomplish nothing. In fact, most of the prayers that are made everyday go unanswered, either because the people are praying to something or someone other than God, or because they are praying to the One, True God in a weak, doubtful manner. Real prayer expects an answer, and keeps trying until the answer comes.

I challenge you to start praying with real intent. Prayers that don’t expect results are a waste of time. If we pray, we need to go all the way and believe that it will change our world, our situation, our home. Philippians 4:6,7 is one of my favorite passages dealing with prayer, it explains that after a real prayer we will experience a peace that surpasses all understanding, and that it will guard our hearts and minds. Even when you haven’t yet received what you’ve asked for, you can be sure that it is on the way.

We are halfway through this month and I challenge you to pray this way till the end of the month. If you do, you will not fail to see amazing things.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

January 15: Because you are strong…

I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one. (1 John 2:14 — NET)

Here the apostle John addresses all Christians, but especially young men. Historians estimate that he was in his mid-8o’s when he wrote his epistles. He had been young and was now old, had lived with Jesus, had begun churches and built them up, had cast out many demons and healed countless sick, and had made it through some of the most horrendous periods of persecution the world has ever seen. After all that he was thoroughly qualified to speak to young men and instruct them on how to live their lives. He had seen how a small group of young men that followed Jesus had turned the world upside down, and how every single one had refused to deny the name of Jesus and had been martyred. He was the only one left… He knew what was possible for young men.

This advice is good for us all, but it is particularly good for young men. They have so much strength, drive, and potential, and yet are surrounded by powerful temptations to do wrong. Most young men obsess about their careers, pleasure, entertainment, and countless other things. When they turn to God and start to live for Him they stick out like a sore thumb among their friends at school, in the office, or on the construction site. But the real truth is that they have an inner strength and potential that is deadly for the evil one when they turn to the Lord Jesus in faith.

Some of the greatest moments of my life have been when I saw young men devote their youth and strength to serving God.

We all need to take this passage to heart and live it out. If we have surrendered our lives to the Lord Jesus and live by faith in Him, we are strong, have the word of God abiding in us, and have overcome the evil one. — We are already strong, no matter what your emotions tell you; the word of God abides in you when you have truly given your life to Him; the evil one has already been overcome, it’s simply a matter of us enforcing that victory.

Decide right now to make these three thoughts a habit in your life. Imagine what you will accomplish this year when you always think of yourself a strong, always allow the word of God to abide in you, and always consider the evil one already overcome.

Young men… the world is counting on you!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

January 14: Healing for the sick + possessed

When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “He Himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses.” (Matthew 8:16-17 — NET)

Chapters five, six, and seven of Matthew are the famous Sermon on the Mount, the longest, continuous preaching of Jesus in the Bible—a series of lessons about faith and the details of our Christian life. Then in chapter eight Jesus first heals a leper, then the Centurion’s servant, Peter’s mother-in-law, and in the evening—where today’s passage picks up—He casts out many demons and heals all who are sick. To round out the passage He calmed then calmed a stormy sea, and cast out a legion of demons from two men who lived in a cemetery among the tombs.

Jesus was bold. He was not afraid of demons, of leprosy, of the sick, or of a violent storm. He knew who He was, and knew that His Father would answer His prayers. This doesn’t mean that His life was perfect—a smooth path with no potholes. He was hated, attacked, laughed at, rejected, looked down on, and called demon-possessed. His life was a hard one, but He was bold when it came to the sick, the possessed, the suffering, and the sinner. Whenever we are bold in our faith, God will honor us, like He did Jesus. When we are insecure, doubtful, unsure of ourselves, and passive, God is saddened and blocked from using His power to save and transform us.

What Jesus was 2000 years ago, He still is today; what Jesus said in the Bible, He still says today; and what Jesus did, He still does today. "He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases"—this means that forgiveness, healing, freedom, and eternal life all belong to us because of the cross of the Lord Jesus.

Monday, January 13, 2014

January 13: Rock vs. sand

Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on the rock. The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of Mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded that house, and it collapsed. And its collapse was great. (Matthew 7:24-27 — Holman Christian Standard Bible)

This simple parable of Jesus teaches some important truths about life. If we build our lives on solid ground we’ll be able to withstand anything—temptation, hardship, persecution, injustice—but if we build our lives on shaky ground we can expect to lose everything when hard times come. The rock is the word of God—the sand is the mindset of the world, our own thoughts and desires.

Anyone can build their life on the rock, anyone who hears the word of God and acts on it. It’s not enough to read the Bible or attend church, we have to live those concepts out in our lives. It’s a fine thing to attend church faith—it should be an important, non-negotiable part of our lives—but church attendance turns into an empty gesture when we do not act on the things we hear. Faith is action, and though we may say we have faith, unless it is acted upon, it’s not real faith. Like the first chapter of James warns, a double-minded man should not expect to receive anything from God. 

The problem is that digging a foundation in rock is hard and time consuming; digging in sand is quick and easy. Whenever we take the easy way out, we can be sure we’re listening to the devil. His ways are easy now, but hard later. God’s ways are hard now, but extremely rewarding later on.

Make sure you’re building your life on the Rock.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

January 12: My heart is not afraid

The Lord is my light and my salvation — whom should I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life — of whom should I be afraid? When evildoers came against me to devour my flesh, my foes and my enemies stumbled and fell. Though an army deploys against me, my heart is not afraid; though a war breaks out against me, still I am confident.  (Psalm 27:1-3 — NET)

King David, a man who had experienced God’s deliverance over and over again, faced death many times, led armies into war, and taught an entire nation to follow God, here reveals one of the keys to his life: Have faith in God and reject fear. I’m sure he felt fear, we all do, but he fought against it and reasoned with himself that if God’s word was real, and if God had saved Abraham and Moses, then He would also save him. Not only did he decide to reject fear, he must have concentrated on using his reason.

We cannot hope to control fear in our lives until we put emotions and feelings in their rightful place. We all have feelings, and will always have them, but they must be controlled. We need to base our lives on reason and thought from the Bible; if feelings cooperate, fine, but if they don’t, they have to be rejected.

Fear is such an important subject because it is one of the most powerful tools of the devil and demons. Fear brings doubt and kills faith. When we give in to fear and neglect rational arguments based on God’s promises, our faith starts to shrink until we have nothing left. Fear means turning your back on God and the Bible, and faith means turning your back on the devil and demons. When we say by faith “my enemies are going to stumble and fall because God is the stronghold of my life” we are worshiping God and inviting Him to deliver us from the army of evildoers coming against us.

This week I challenge you to have no fear! Whenever it pops up its head, fight it — remember what He did for people in the Bible, or for you, and determine that you’re going to be victorious. If you do this, I guarantee this week will be an amazing one. You will have problems, but you will also overcome and feel God close to you.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

January 11: Ask + you will receive

So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. At that time you will ask me nothing. I tell you the solemn truth, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive it, so that your joy may be complete.  (John 16:22-24 — NET)

Jesus is talking to His disciples in the shadow of the cross. It would be a time of terrible grief for them, but the joy of His resurrection would take their grief way. They would then know their resurrected Lord who had defeated death and the devil, and who had all authority in heaven and on earth. But Jesus tells them about a new privilege and blessing they would have. He says that after His death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven; they could ask the Father in heaven for whatever they needed in His name. Jesus would be their great High-Priest and Intercessor at God's throne. Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name."

What words could be clearer and plainer than these? He tells us that all people who accept Him as Savior and Lord, have access through Him to the Father. He promises that God will answer our prayers and give us whatever we ask for in His name. He even encourages us to ask so that our joy may be full and complete.

What greater joy could a human being experience than to have his prayers answered by his loving God! To think that the eternal, all-powerful God listens to us! There is no way to misunderstand the words of Jesus here. He is promising exactly that. So let us devote our energy to asking and believing that God answers prayer. Don't tolerate any doubt or unbelief in your heart! Just believe and keep asking. If it takes one day or many days—one year or many years; don't quit and don't give up! Jesus spoke the truth in these verses, and you will experience it yourself if you keep on trusting and praying.

Friday, January 10, 2014

January 10: God will take away sickness

You must serve the Lord your God, and he will bless your bread and your water, and I will remove sickness from your midst. No woman will miscarry her young or be barren in your land. I will fulfill the number of your days.  (Exodus 23:25,26 — NET)

This passage is part of the promises and laws that God gave His people at Mount Sinai, after they had been delivered from 400 years of slavery in Egypt. The Ten Commandments are listed three chapters earlier, and God makes it clear that in order to receive these blessings of protection of health and long life, they need to be obedient to what He commands. That was His covenant. His people were to fulfill their end of the agreement, and He would be bound by this solemn pact to fulfill His.

But human nature is fleshly and selfish, and this simple, straightforward covenant was often tossed aside as God’s people preferred to live any way they wanted, and then had to suffer the consequences of their foolishness when they found that they were no longer under His protection. Over and over again.

We can see that God does not consider sickness, miscarriages, barrenness, and premature death what we were created for. But we live in a fallen world where these manifestations of evil exist all around us. Jesus’ death and resurrection destroyed the power of death and disease as Isaiah says, “by His stripes we are healed.” We should not accept these things as God’s will, but should fight for healing and the abundant life that Jesus promised. But first we have to ask ourselves, are we obeying His commands?  Do we truly serve God as our Lord, or do we serve our own comforts first? Do we just run to Him in trouble when we want Him to fix our problems, and then discard Him to live by our own rules?

God’s covenant to Israel was the foundation of the greater covenant He made with us by sending Jesus to die a sacrificial death to rescue us from the kingdom of darkness. The need for us to serve Him in obedience is just as crucial now as it was during the time of the Exodus. We can still expect protection for our health and families, but more than that, total victory over all evil that attacks us. Surrender our lives to Him, serve, follow, obey, and abundant blessings are ours. Only the blind would turn down this amazing covenant. No doubt, we’re getting the better end of the deal, by far! 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

January 9: The one who is in us is greater…

You are from God, little children, and have conquered them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.  (1 John 4:4 — NET)

These words were written to Christians who were being attacked. False prophets had appeared in the Church and were teaching ideas that ran counter to the truth about Jesus. Some members had been deceived while others were holding firm to their faith. When John says “you… have conquered them” he is referring to these false pastors.

This serves as a warning for Christians of every age. At any single point in history someone or something has attacked the Church of the Lord Jesus in an attempt to rob it of its effectiveness and salvation. In our age, the attacks come from people teaching an emotional-based faith, promoting feel-good Christianity that excuses people from sacrifice and dying to the flesh, and a gospel that ignores the existence of demons. Of the seven churches in the book of Revelation, the one that best describes our age would be the lukewarm church.

The same word that John used to encourage Christians two thousand years ago is still needed today: the One who is in us is greater than the one who is in the world. God’s Spirit in us is greater than the false doctrines of today, greater than the people who attack us for our faith, greater than the temptation to give up, greater than our track record of giving up halfway through everything we try.

The devil and his demons constantly whisper the opposite into our ears… constantly. We would have accomplished so much more at this point in our lives if we had only remembered that the power of God inside of us is greater than our problems and circumstances. It doesn't matter if our enemies are false teachers, corrupt governments, evil spirits, difficult circumstances, the attacks of illness or disease — whatever the devil uses to attack us — we will overcome because we are God's people. 

God has called us to help Him devastate and destroy the devil's kingdom. So be victorious yourself, and then help other suffering people get out from under the oppression and slavery of Satan. 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

January 8: The 4 works of Jesus

Jesus went throughout all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of disease and sickness among the people. So a report about him spread throughout Syria. People brought to him all who suffered with various illnesses and afflictions, those who had seizures, paralytics, and those possessed by demons, and he healed them. And large crowds followed him from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan River.  (Matthew 4:23-25 — NET)

Right before this passage Jesus called four fishermen to leave all they had and become His disciples — Peter, Andrew, James and John. Immediately afterwards all five traveled throughout Galilee “fishing for men”.

The type of fishing these two sets of brothers were used to was not rod and reel fishing, throwing in a line and waiting for a fish to bite. It was net fishing. There were no motors, only oars and sails, a heavy wooden boat, and a circular net with weights around the edges. Fishing in the Sea of Galilee in the time of Jesus was labor-intensive. We know from other passages that at times they would work all night and catch nothing — throwing out the net, hauling it back in, over and over again. Then at the end of a night of fishing they would have to clean and mend the nets. If they had fish, they would take them to the marketplace and sell them.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that today’s passage follows the calling of these four fishermen. The evangelistic work of Jesus, and now these four additional men, was also strenuous, it required traveling from one city to another, healing the sick, casting out demons, preaching the good news, and teaching them about spiritual truths. Just like fishing, it required hard work and at times brought few results, but required dedication and persistence. The one difference is that fish were caught, killed, sold and eaten, whereas catching people involved saving them from the grip of the devil, from sickness, freeing them from demons, and telling them the good news about God and salvation.

Crowds of people came to Jesus for help — from Galilee and Syria — because they were empty, sick, and possessed, or because a family member was. But the world is the same today. We should all be crowding around Jesus to receive the same type of help. No matter what we have or do, unless we find God and allow Him to change us, and then turn around and help Him change others, our lives will have been a total waste of time.

Jesus concentrated on four things: teaching, preaching the gospel, healing the sick, and casting out demons. Let’s allow Him to affect our lives in all four areas also.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

January 7: Your strength = your problem

So let the one who thinks he is standing be careful that he does not fall. No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it.  (1 Corinthians 10:13 — NET)

We need to be careful of being over-confident and proud. Satan prowls around like a roaring lion seeking people that he can devour, and he has destroyed many people who at one point were stronger and more experienced than we are, so we need to humbly remind ourselves that we are nothing without the Lord Jesus Christ. No one can afford to assume that sin and the devil have no hope of sneaking into his life — we are all sinners, and in need of God’s forgiveness and strength.

On the other hand, we can never throw a pity party for ourselves and believe the lie that our problems are worse than anyone else’s. Whatever trial we are experiencing, others around the world are experiencing also, and we all have what it takes to conquer. God will not allow us to be tried beyond what we are able to bear — in other words, your problems are the size of your faith. It may not feel that way at the moment, but we cannot trust our feelings. God’s promise is what we have to stand on.

Because of this, we need to be bold, determining that we will never be defeated. When we are confident in face of temptation, we will attract God’s power. God will provide a way out of each and every situation. At times the “way out” will be to run away from temptation like Joseph, when his master's wife tried to seduce him (Genesis 39:12). At other times the “way out” will be supernatural strength from God that empowers us to triumph over our trial. Other times it will be uncommon wisdom that gives us crystal clear vision about what is the right thing to do, or a person that God sends to warn, teach, or encourage. However it happens, God will come through for us!

Monday, January 6, 2014

January 6: Submit, then resist

Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble.” So submit to God. But resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you…Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.  (James 4:6-10 — New English Translation)

James quotes from the Old Testament (Proverbs 3:34) to prove his point at the beginning of this passage. When we submit to God’s commands and way of doing things, we will receive God’s power to overcome in life, but when we oppose Him we end up with a formidable foe — God Himself! He will oppose us when we insist on doing things our own way.

Notice the two commands in this passage that we have to follow, in the right order. First we have to submit to God, abandoning pride and the flesh. After we do that we will have the boldness and authority to resist the devil and demons and make them flee. They will not turn their backs and walk away, they will run. Obviously, one thing that is a part of submitting to God is putting on His armor — this enables us to fight him effectively. In addition, we have to rebuke the devil. This is not God’s job, but ours. This cannot be limited to a prayer, true resisting involves changing our thoughts and behavior. Resisting the devil involves saying “yes” to God more often, and “no” to the devil and demons more often. A pastor can pray for us and cast every demon out, but only when we submit to God and do what He wants us to do will they truly flee.

Evil has no choice but to flee when we belong to the army of the living God. Remember, the war has already been won by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross — all we are doing is enforcing it in our own lives.

We would all like to be exalted, especially by God, but this involves humbling ourselves. If we are smart we will gladly do it — the rewards far outweigh any pain or discomfort we might go through. Humility means lowering ourselves in relation to God, understanding that He is our Creator and Lord, and that we are His servants. Accepting Him as our supreme authority is something that this world increasingly looks down on — “What about you?” our flesh asks. “Don’t you have any say in this?”. The modern world sees our humble attitude as demeaning, when in fact it is a truly spiritual attitude that even the Lord Jesus had while He was on earth.

There are two things that we desperately need as we begin the new year: for the devil to flee from us, and for God to exalt us. Let’s make sure both of these things happen.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

January 5: Fathered of God

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been fathered by God, and everyone who loves the father loves the child fathered by him. By this we know that we love the children of God: whenever we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God: that we keep his commandments. And his commandments do not weigh us down, because everyone who has been fathered by God conquers the world. This is the conquering power that has conquered the world: our faith. Now who is the person who has conquered the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.  (1 John 5:1-5 — New English Translation)

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been fathered by God… everyone who has been fathered by God conquers the world. These two statements are a summation of the truth of God. Understanding and applying these truths will give us victory in life. If we are sick of defeat, if we are tired of being a victim of circumstances and the oppression of demons, the ideas spoken about in these verses have the power to turn our situations around.

Conquering the world means something completely different to most people. The world sees it as financial success, possessions, money, fame, holidays, being respected by their peers, driving a certain car or living in a certain neighborhood, having a family, etc. God sees conquering the world as having victory over sin, over demons, over the flesh, experiencing the presence of God, and adopting His nature. Conquering the world in God’s eyes is being saved, something that cannot be bought with money, and yet costs all that a person has (Jesus’ parable of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great price). When we are born of God — or fathered of God — that is when we truly conquer the world. All other attempts are false and short-lived.

If you have not yet undergone the radical change of being fathered of God, changed into His image, I encourage you to fight for this with all the strength you have as we start this new year. Our lives are a waste as long as we lack His presence. Tell God that you are not content with the life that your parents gave you, you want the life that only He can give.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

January 4: I am willing!

After he came down from the mountain, large crowds followed him. And a leper approached, and bowed low before him, saying, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” He stretched out his hand and touched him saying, “I am willing. Be clean!” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.  (Matthew 8:1-3 — New English Translation)

It’s common to hear people pray, “Lord, if it’s your will, heal so-and-so of his disease.” I would agree that we don’t always know what God’s plan is, but in general we should assume that healing is from God and sickness from the devil, long life from God and premature death from the devil, freedom from God and oppression from the devil. When it comes to certain requests we don’t need to wonder whether or not they are God’s will — He has already answered that question for many things in life. When we say, “I know God can heal, but I don't know if it’s His will to heal this person,” we are not speaking by faith. We can’t imagine Jesus saying that, and neither should we.

This passage mentions that the leper bowed low before Jesus. He did not just bow, he bowed low. He came to Jesus is humility, acknowledging his weakness and Jesus’ superior strength. This is an attitude that we need to develop. It’s so easy for us to be proud, and to make God feel unimportant. So many people, including Christians, daily insult Jesus by excluding Him from their lives, and by treating church attendance, financial giving, and the sacrifice of their own will as distasteful and unnecessary annoyances. This man was healed because he honored God… truly honored Him. When is the last time you did that?

A shocking thing that Jesus did was stretch out His hand to touch this man. The word for leprosy in the original Greek includes a number of skin diseases — not just leprosy. And yet anyone with a skin disease was considered unclean, was banned from the city, and forbidden from touching anyone. Leprosy itself was very contagious, and would infect with a simple touch. Jesus’ touch, according to the Law of Moses, would have made Him unclean, but His desire to help this man and respond to his humility and faith overrode everything else. But isn’t it the same with us? We are all unclean (if you don’t think so you’re in real trouble) and unworthy of Jesus’ touch, but He ignores that and reaches out to us when we come to Him in humility and faith.

Some or all of us need to learn from this outcast. He received what he needed from Jesus. Though he smelled bad and was deformed (characteristics of leprosy), and had virtually nothing to offer Jesus, he received healing that day. You may appear much better than him on the outside, but if you are not receiving what you need from God, that leper knows something that you don’t.

Let’s learn from him.

Friday, January 3, 2014

January 3: A spirit of power, not fear

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.  (2 Timothy 1:6,7 — New English Translation)

We cannot live in fear. The world wallows around in fear, and most people around us are constantly afraid of all kinds of things. But when we have surrendered our lives to God and are trusting in Jesus’ promises to come true in our lives… there is no room for fear. The only fear we should have is the fear of God. When we have that, we should not fear anyone or anything else. In fact, if fear is more than a temporary distraction that we brush aside — if it is constant and oppressive — that is a sign that we are in serious spiritual trouble. That level of fear will kill us unless it is pulled up by the roots and dealt with immediately.

The spirit of power, love and self-control mentioned in this passage does not refer to the Spirit of God, but our spirit. God’s Spirit obviously helps us, but Paul is here referring to our part in allowing God’s power to flow through us. We all have the choice to be fearful or powerful, hateful or loving, lazy or self-controlled. God cannot, and will not, do what we need to do. 

In everyday life this means that we have to choose to resist fear and determine that we are powerful even when we don’t feel like it. We have God’s promises and the many stories of people of faith in the Bible — and in the present — who have overcome impossible odds, and so there is no reason for us to give in to fear. When people attack us and lie about us, we have to fight against the natural tendency to hate. We have to choose love over hate, knowing that they are deceived and in need of a Savior. This way we avoid the wasteful, toxic attitudes of unforgiveness and grudges, and slam the door in the face of demons who would like to work in our lives.

I wonder if the daily thoughts you have about yourself match up with this passage. Do you think of yourself as powerful, loving, and self-controlled? Do you call yourself these three things every day? If not, if you are constantly telling yourself the opposite, how can you ever hope to live up to this ideal? With the help of demons, many people allow themselves to be brainwashed into believing the exact opposite of what these verses communicate.

Let’s all begin to define ourselves with these three words: powerful, loving, self-controlled… just like Paul encouraged the young Timothy to do.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

January 2: Everyone who believes…

For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through him. The one who believes in him is not condemned. The one who does not believe has been condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God.  (John 3:16-18 — New English Translation)

One of the most famous, frequently cited passages of the Bible — this is a short but profound description of God’s plan of salvation for the world. It’s hard for some to swallow because it makes several strong, unambiguous statements about how eternal life is only for those who believe in the Lord Jesus. The idea that we should be accepting of all religions because they all lead to God in the end, may sound nice and humble, but the simple truth is that it contradicts this verse and many others like it in the Bible. God’s word is very clear about who He is, and that He is the only way to salvation. 

C.S. Lewis said this about Jesus: “Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.”

Don’t treat the Lord Jesus as a “great human teacher”, and don’t treat His house — the Church — as one of a list of places you go each week or month. Jesus is God, and we need Him if we are going to survive life on earth… and His house is the most important place we visit during the week. As we begin the year, let’s make God and His house our top priorities in life.