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Laughter and Singing

Laughter and Singing

Today’s Scripture: “You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him—with laughter and singing.” 1Peter 1:8, (The Message).

Imagine Peter’s delight in watching a generation rise up of those who never saw Jesus — but yet loved and believed in Him. Not only that, but they believed in the face of great difficulties and strong opposition; they loved and trusted Jesus without seeing any evidence of His presence. And furthermore — they did all this with laughter and singing!

Their behavior proved their belief. Something far greater than this world held their hearts, and as a result their lives were unleashed with joy and praise — even though their world was falling apart!

It is indeed a mysterious thing that the Lord does when He lifts the loads we carry through life, and enables us to then lift our heads and see life from His point of view. Yes, we may have to put up with all kinds of aggravations, but we do so realizing that pure gold put in the fire comes out proved pure.

In the same manner, genuine faith put through suffering comes out of it proved genuine. And after all, isn’t that what you really want? To be proven pure and genuine?

So whatever is going on is this topsy-turvy world, filled with strife created by greed, lift your vision higher and look unto Jesus. And let your life be marked by laughter and singing — knowing that God has His eyes on you, and is committed to proving you true.

 

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The Future Starts Now!

The Future Starts Now!

Today’s Scripture: “What a God we have! And how fortunate we are to have him, this Father of our Master Jesus! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now!” 1 Peter 1:3-4 (The Message).

When Jesus came to earth He brought heaven with Him. His mission was thereby half completed. When he died on the cross and rose from the dead, He finished the job and reconciled earth with Heaven. Mission accomplished!

This Good News, called in a more formal tongue The Gospel, has been preserved by God through the ages and preached in every nook and cranny throughout our world. Some believe; some do not. Where do you stand?

For those who do believe — the future starts now.

The same Jesus who brought heaven to earth, and then reconciled us to God, now brings heaven into your life. And as a result, even though your feet are yet firmly planted upon the ground, your spirit soars to heights of glory as you hear God’s voice, see His wonders, learn His Word, experience His power, and fulfill His purposes in your life.

So, what are you waiting for? The future starts NOW!

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Bloom Where You Are Planted

Bloom Where You are Planted

Today’s Scripture: “I am writing to the exiles scattered to the four winds. Not one is missing, not one forgotten.” 1 Peter 1:1, (The Message).

From one point of view we see a national disaster — hundreds of thousands of citizens uprooted from their homes by an occupying army, and driven like cattle into the highways and byways; scattered to the four winds, and now known only as exiles. That’s a rather bleak picture.

But from another point of view we see something altogether glorious. The word for scattered in the Greek New Testament actually means “to be sown as seed.” In other words, while they may be viewed by man as exiles from their country; they were seen by God as seeds planted in new fields of glory.

If we would learn to always see our shifting circumstances from God’s point of view, we would not be caught up in the drift of a culture that stirs up strife and debate over things that inconvenience us. Rather, we would live as thankful people, praising God for His faithfulness in all things at all times — and we would bloom where we are planted.

God knows who you are, where you are, and what His plans for you are. If you will but humbly acknowledge that He is in control, a shift will occur in your heart and in your outlook — sunshine will break through the dark clouds and your life will sprout with new purpose and great effectiveness.

 

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On Assignment By Jesus

On Assignment by Jesus

Today’s Scripture: “I, Peter, am an apostle on assignment by Jesus, the Messiah” 1 Peter 1:1 (The Message).

Delightful thing this is, to be on assignment by Jesus. The word means to appoint a particular person to a specific use. As Guinness wrote, “Our passion is to know that we are fulfilling the purpose for which we are on earth. All other standards of success – wealth, power, position, knowledge, friendships – grow tiny and hollow if we do not satisfy this deeper longing.”

Deep in every heart is the God-planted desire to live a life that makes a difference. Many spend their lives looking for that one things to which they can give their all. Somehow we human beings are never happier than when we are expressing the deepest gifts that are truly us. The truest way to fully express those gifts is by being on assignment by Jesus.

How wonderful it is to be able to say, “I am on assignment by Jesus.” All my talents, gifts, abilities, experiences, discoveries, longings, dreams, thoughts, and labors are focused on doing His bidding at this time, in this place, for this reason.

May the grace of God so work in your life to bring you to the place of your assignment!

 

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Freedom In Christ

Freedom in Christ

Today’s Scripture: “Don’t you realize that your bodies are actually parts of Christ? Should a man take his body, which is part of Christ, and join it to a prostitute? Never!” 1 Corinthians 6:15

In his first letter to the church at Corinth, Paul tells Christians that freedom in Christ is a serious responsibility. Yes, we can eat what we want, spend our time as we please, and pursue activities we enjoy. However, as believers, we are inseparably joined to Christ’s church. This means that when we die, we are raised up to live with Him forever. And even before that time, while we live on this earth, our bodies and souls are united with Christ (1 Corinthians 6:14-15).Simply put, they are not our own.

As temporary owners of these bodies, we have the responsibility to find out what is and what is not good for them. We must exercise discipline with our God-given liberties because there is no value in “freedom” that spiritually cripples believers or causes pain, shame, and guilt.

Notice the distinction that Paul makes between freedom in Christ and reckless abandon: God’s grace and forgiveness cover our sins, but that doesn’t give us permission to engage in harmful behavior. As followers of Jesus, we’re to give ourselves over to the pursuit of godly living, not to self-serving pleasures. Christians are “earthen vessels,” created by God to fulfill His purpose and bring honor and glory to Him (2 Corinthians 4:7). Therefore, anything that violates the human body is not permissible for us.

True freedom means living without the chains of sin and destructive behavior. Jesus Christ paid a price to release you from those bonds. Therefore, do not put your body into slavery to damaging habits. Glorify God with your whole self—heart, mind, soul, and body.

 

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A Friend in the Diamond Business

A Friend in the Diamond Business

Today’s Scripture: “No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15

A Dutch businessman on a visit to New York entered one of the most renowned diamond merchant stores in the world. He was searching for a rare, one-of-a-kind gem.

The owner of the store had his top employee show the Dutchman the most beautiful and most costly diamond they possessed. He looked it over carefully and listened as the salesman described in great detail where the stone was mined, the precision of the cut, the size of each facet, the tone of light that was refracted under a variety of light settings, the splendor of its color, and the overall uniqueness of the stone.

At length the Dutchman decided that, while it was indeed a very exquisite jewel, it was not what he sought. Just as he was about to leave the store, the owner – now free from being with another customer – stopped the Dutchman. “I couldn’t help over-hearing your conversation with my employee. Would you mind if I showed you the diamond just one more time?”

The Dutchman agreed. The store owner took the diamond and carefully set it upon a plush sheet of black velvet. He then lowered a light toward the diamond and took a moment to describe with such clarity and passion the unrivaled magnificence of this solitary stone.

Suddenly the Dutchman exclaimed, “Why, that’s it! That’s the very jewel I have searched for these past several years! I’ll take it!”

After the Dutchman left the store, the salesman approached the owner and asked, “Why were you able to change his mind – seeing we both said basically the same thing?”

“My friend,” the owner replied graciously, “you are indeed one of the most knowledgeable and best workers I’ve ever had work in my store. The difference, however, is that you know diamonds – but I love them.”

There’s an old saying — “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” That’s the key in this Cause of ours as we seek to make Jesus known to others.

Do we merely come across as experts, full of knowledge, pushing a product so we can close the deal? Or, do we instead show the real affection we have for Christ and His work in our world, and the power of His grace to take anything and make it resplendent? And thereby help others see that THIS is what they’ve been looking for their whole lives?

Are we somebody’s friend in the diamond business?

 

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Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made

Today’s Scripture: “O LORD, You have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD. You go before me and follow me. You place Your hand of blessing on my head.  Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand! I can never escape from Your Spirit! I can never get away from Your presence!  If I go up to heaven, You are there; if I go down to the grave, You are there.  If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there Your hand will guide me, and Your strength will support me.”  Psalm 139:1-10

When God looked at the world He’d made, He declared it good. Making man—male and female—in His image was the crowning achievement of His creative work (Genesis 1:27). Psalm 139 reminds us that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.”

The Lord has given each of His children great potential for service in His kingdom. However, some of us have serious doubts that this is true. When we compare ourselves to other people, we notice the things we lack. At other times, we repeatedly criticize ourselves for mistakes we’ve made. How can we have awesome potential when we see so many ways in which we fall short?

When he was growing up in Pharaoh’s household, Moses appeared to have many advantages. Then he killed an Egyptian and fled the country. No longer did he seem a likely candidate to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. But God looked beyond what Moses had done and saw who he could become.

Before being saved, the apostle Paul vehemently opposed those who believed in Jesus. Yet through God’s mercy, he became a mighty evangelist and author of several New Testament books. Peter was a simple fisherman who denied—not once but three times—that he knew Jesus. Still, the Lord chose him to become the leader of the Jerusalem church.

Our Father sees beyond our human frailties to the potential we have in Christ. Because we were made in His image and His Spirit dwells in us, we have a greater capacity for spiritual transformation and service than we could imagine. Seek to become the person God desires for you to be.

 

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Don’t Despise The Small

Don’t Despise the Small

Today’s Scripture: “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” James 3:13 (NIV)

What seems small in your world? That place where your vision is grand but your reality isn’t. Your influence? Your opportunity? Your business? Your ability to give? Your ministry?

Look at that small place and tell me what you see. Now, might I be so bold as to slip a little note into your world to tell you what I see?

I see the strings of a gift that when appreciated will spill forth as wisdom and understanding you can’t get any other way. I see the possibility of James 3:13 churning to break free in your life, “deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.”

I see the place from which humility is birthed. That glorious rare quality that doesn’t take too much credit. That knows real success is laced with upward glances, bent knees and whispered praises to the One. The only One.

He who gives. And He who withholds. Not out of spite, not out of ignorance, not out of deafness, and certainly not out of comparisons where others are found to be more deserving.

No. He withholds out of protection. With more urgent restraint than we’ll ever possess, He presses back the big to protect the workings of the small.

The small we should not despise. The quiet nurturing taking place, the unfolding, the stir beneath where none can see.

Soon, a fork in the soul’s path must be chosen. One way to haughtiness. One way to humility.

If that soul has never tasted small, it will detest the humble pallet. And crave big, only big, until it is so full of big that being big inflates and distorts and eventually bursts. All things haughty will eventually be made microscopic.

But for the soul that has tasted small, humility becomes their richest fare. The taste that fits. The thing most desired to be consumed. All things humble will eventually be made great.

Oh the beautiful gift of small. The delight of knowing what small really is. Small isn’t a belittling of one’s calling nor an indication of one’s future.

It’s a place. A grand unnoticed place. A place to be protected and remembered. A place that keeps all things big in good and right perspective. Small isn’t what keeps us from that grand vision. Small is what keeps us for that grand vision.

Dear Lord, help me to embrace the small today. I want to see with Your eyes what You have planned for me today. Give me the ability to understand the beautiful gift of small. Thank You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

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God’s Resources

God’s Resources

Today’s Scriptures: “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”— Genesis 18:14.

“Ye Lord God! behold, Thou hast made the heaven and the earth by Thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for Thee.”—Jeremiah 32:17.

THERE IS no doubt as to the identification of these three guests that suddenly appeared before the tent-door of Abraham. We are expressly told that “Jehovah appeared unto him.” It was thus that our Lord anticipated His Incarnation. He came incognito, and “His delights were with the sons of men” (Proverbs 8:31). During His earthly life, He loved the homes of men, lodged with Peter and Zacchaeus, and in the dear home where Mary loved and Martha served. After His resurrection, He tarried with two of them in the village inn. So He will come to thy heart and mine. Though He is the High and lofty One, who inhabits Eternity, yet He will plead for admission to sup with us and we with Him (Revelation 3:20). But He often comes disguised as a wayfaring man, hungry and athirst. Let us “run to meet Him,” remembering Matatthew 5:40.

God is no man’s debtor; He always pays for His lodging, hence His promise to Sarah! She laughed with incredulity, but is anything too hard for the Lord? That is one of God’s unanswered questions. It has accosted the human conscience all down the ages. Let us look away from the difficulties imposed by nature, to Him who holds the oceans in the hollow of His Almighty hand. Then we can stand with Him on the mountainside, and plead for Sodom; then God Himself will draw us on to ask for more and yet more, till, when our faith gives out, He will do something far in advance of all that we asked or thought.

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Crowding Out the Things that Matter

Crowding Out the Things that Matter

Today’s Scripture: “What! Could you not watch with Me one hour?” Matthew 26:40.

A few years ago National Geographic magazine did a report on Yosemite National Park, and featured a story about Carl Sharsmith, an 81 year old guide at the historic site. Carl was in his tent after a long afternoon with tourists. His nose was flaked white and red with sunburn; his eyes were watery, partly from age but also from hearing again an old question after a half century of summers in California’s Yosemite National Park.

“I’ve only got an hour to spend at Yosemite,” a lady tourist declared, “What should I do? Where should I go?”

Carl sighed. “Ah, lady, only an hour?” he asked; and then softly added, “I suppose that if I had only an hour to spend at Yosemite, I’d just walk over there by the river and sit down and cry.”

The same could be said for those who have such little time to give to reading and reflecting upon the Word of God. Oh, what treasures we forfeit; what loss we incur – simply because we imagine ourselves too busy to take the time.

But, out of curiosity, just how much time do you think it would take to read from Genesis to Revelation? Well, if you would read the Bible out loud slow enough to be heard and understood, the full reading time would be seventy one hours. If you break that down into minutes and divide it into 365 days, you could easily read the entire Bible in one year by taking only twelve minutes each day.

The treasures you will find are of inestimable value. Here’s but one fine example — a prayer taken from the Psalms:

“Train me in your ways of wise living. I’ll transfer to my lips all the counsel that comes from your mouth; I delight far more in what you tell me about living than in gathering a pile of riches. I ponder every morsel of wisdom from you, I attentively watch how you’ve done it. I relish everything you’ve told me of life, I won’t forget a word of it. Be generous with me and I’ll live a full life; not for a minute will I take my eyes off your road. Open my eyes so I can see what you show me of your miracle-wonders. I’m a stranger in these parts; give me clear directions.” (see Psalms 119:12-19, The Message).