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HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus - Page 6 Empty Re: HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

Post  Admin on Tue 15 Nov 2016, 10:41 pm

"My Messages for My Churches" — A Year with Jesus for 11/15/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

The apostle Paul talked about My church as My body, with Me as its head (Ephesians 5:23; Colossians 1:18). His point was that the church is an organism, a living body getting its life-giving direction and coordination from Me. As John recorded in his gospel, I used the image of sheep and a shepherd (John 10:11-16) to make the same point. I AM alive forever and live to bless, lead, protect, empower, and direct the work of My people. What happens to My church, My people, happens to Me. In today's verses, you will read about seven churches in Asia Minor and about a unique message I sent to each church. Even though these churches were located near to each other, each had its own situation with specific circumstances, problems, and opportunities. 

Over the years, My disciples have debated about the meaning of the seven churches. Most Bible students know the number seven represents perfection or completeness. So yes, these seven churches stand for My entire church and her needs. Some have talked about seven different eras and that each of these seven churches represents a different era in church history. Others point to the seven churches as the seven types of churches that are always in existence in the world at any given time. 

I want you to realize that these were seven actual congregations that existed at the end of the first century in Asia Minor, each facing very challenging circumstances. My words were first and foremost a message these churches needed to hear for their circumstances in their time. My messages to them were urgent and important. My chosen means of revealing these messages to them through the vision John saw of Me emphasizes that urgency. The commands to these churches were emphatic and pressing. They needed to respond to My messages, or they would cease to be My churches. Now you need to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to understand how you and your congregation should apply these messages. 

In The Apocalypse that you call the book of Revelation, I gave John a series of different sights, words, and sounds revealing Who I AM and what I do for My church. While I will identify Myself with a different image to each of these seven churches, the key image that stands over all seven churches and all seven letters is this one:
When I [John] turned around to see what sort of voice this was that was addressing me, I saw seven golden lampstands. And among the lampstands, I saw One like the Son of Man... 
(Revelation 1:12-13)
I revealed what I meant by seven lampstands with these words:
...the seven lampstands are the seven churches themselves. 
(Revelation 1:20)
I AM alive and move among My churches. 

I know what My churches do. I know how they are doing with their mission. I know who they are. I know what they need. I know if they are faithful, disloyal, persecuted, bordering on heresy, lukewarm, weak, arrogant, or passionate for Me and the work I have for them to do. You can pick up a commentary or study the Bible and find out how each letter is connected to the life and location of each congregation. So rather than go over that with you, I want you to read these seven letters several times. Ask the Spirit to help you hear My message for you in My letters to these seven churches.
Verses to Live

As you read these seven letters, notice how they are alike. Notice how they are different. Notice how I know everything about each congregation and the circumstances that congregation faces. Notice how I emphasize a different characteristic of My identity to each church and how each characteristic is tied to the message I share with them. Then realize this: I know about you and your church — house church, missional community, congregation, or group of believers with whom you meet. I care about what you do and how you live. The decisions you make and how you live My will before your neighbors matter. So find one or two churches in the verses below that seem to have similar problems to your congregation and similar opportunities. Then ask the Holy Spirit to help you apply My words of warning, encouragement, and comfort to your situation — both as an individual disciple and also as a part of the congregation.
Letter to Ephesus 

The One [Jesus the Anointed]:
Write down My words, and send them to the messenger of the church in Ephesus. 

"These are the words of the One Who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One Who walks and moves among the golden lampstands: 

"I know your deeds, your tireless labor, and your patient endurance. I know you do not tolerate those who do evil. Furthermore, you have diligently tested those who claim to be emissaries, and you have found that they are not true witnesses. You have correctly found them to be false. I know you are patiently enduring and holding firm on behalf of My name. You have not become faint. 

"However, I have this against you: you have abandoned your first love. Do you remember what it was like before you fell? It's time to rethink and change your ways; go back to how you first acted. However, if you do not return, I will come quickly and personally remove your lampstand from its place. But you do have this to your credit: you despise the deeds of the Nicolaitans and how they concede to evil. I also hate what they do. 

"Let the person who is able to hear, listen to and follow what the Spirit proclaims to all the churches. I will allow the one who conquers through faithfulness even unto death to eat from the tree of life found in God's lush paradise."
Letter to Smyrna 

The One [Jesus the Anointed]:
Write down My words, and send them to the messenger of the church in Smyrna. 

"These are the words of the First and the Last, the One Who was dead and returned to life: 

"I know your deeds and the difficult ordeal you are enduring and your poverty, although you are actually rich. I am aware of the offensive accusations preached by those who call themselves 'Jews.' But these people are not the Jews they pretend to be; they are actually the congregation of Satan. In the face of suffering, do not fear. Watch; the devil will throw some of you into prison shortly so that you might be tested, and you will endure great affliction for 10 days. Be faithful throughout your life, until the day you die, and I will give you the victor's wreath of life. 

"Let the person who is able to hear, listen to and follow what the Spirit proclaims to all the churches. The one who conquers through faithfulness even unto death will escape the second death."
Letter to Pergamum 

The One [Jesus the Anointed]:
Write down My words, and send them to the messenger of the church in Pergamum. 

"These are the words of the One with the sharp double-edged sword:

"I know your deeds and where you live. It is where Satan, the adversary, has established his throne. You have stayed true to My name, and you did not deny your trust in Me even in the eventful days of My faithful witness, Antipas. He was killed among you in that place where Satan dwells. 

"However, I have a few matters against you: some who live among you hold to the teaching of Balaam, who instructed Balak to set up a stumbling block before the people of Israel. As a result, some among you are eating food prepared for idol worship and committing immoral sexual acts. You have others who are holding firm to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore, change your ways and turn to Me. If you do not, I will quickly come to where you live and will battle them with the sword of My mouth. 

"Let the person who is able to hear, listen to and follow what the Spirit proclaims to all the churches. To the one who conquers through faithfulness even unto death, I will feed you with hidden manna and give you a white stone. Upon this stone, a new name is engraved. No one knows this name except for its recipient."
Letter to Thyatira 

The One [Jesus the Anointed]:
Write down My words, and send them to the messenger of the church in Thyatira. 

"These are the words of the Son of God, the One Whose eyes blaze like flames of fire and Whose feet gleam like brightly polished bronze: 

"I know your deeds, love, faithfulness, service, and endurance. Your labors greatly increase in quality as you travel along this journey. 

"However, I have this against you: you have tolerated that woman Jezebel, who is a self-anointed prophetess and who misleads My followers to commit immoral sexual acts and to eat food prepared for idol worship. I have provided her enough time to turn away from her indecency, but she refuses to turn from these immoral acts. Watch; I will throw her back into her sickbed with those who committed adultery with her, and I will make them a bed of great affliction if they do not abandon her indiscretions and turn to follow Me. I will punish her by striking her children dead. Through this all the churches will know I am the One Who relentlessly explores the mind and heart, and I will deal with each of you as you deserve according to your acts. 

"I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, those who have not held to the teachings of Jezebel and who remain ignorant of the real meaning of what is called the deep things of Satan, I will not burden you with anything more. Just keep on task, and keep the faith until I return. 

"And as for those who conquer through faithfulness even unto death and continue to labor with Me until the close of the final curtain,
"I will give them authority over the nations. 
And they will rule the nations with an iron scepter, 
as fragile clay jars are shattered to pieces.
"As I received this authority from My Father, I will bestow the morning star to the victor. 

"Let the person who is able to hear, listen to and follow what the Spirit proclaims to all the churches."
Letter to Sardis 

The One [Jesus the Anointed]:
Write down My words, and send them to the messenger of the church in Sardis. 

"These are the words of the One Who has the seven Spirits of God, the Perfect Spirit, and the One Who holds the seven stars: 

"I know the things you do — you've claimed a reputation of life, but you are actually dead. Wake up from your death-sleep, and strengthen what remains of the life you have been given that is in danger of death. I have judged your deeds as far from complete in the sight of My God. Therefore, remember what you have received and heard; it's time to keep these instructions and turn back from your ways. If you do not wake up from this sleep, I will come in judgment. I will creep up on you like a thief — you will have no way of knowing when I will come. But there are a few in Sardis who don't have the stain of evil works on their clothes. They will walk alongside Me in white, spotless garments because they have been proven worthy. 

"The one who conquers through faithfulness even unto death will be clothed in white garments, and I will certainly not erase that person's name from the book of life. I will acknowledge this person's name before My Father and before His heavenly messengers. 

"Let the person who is able to hear, listen to and follow what the Spirit proclaims to all the churches."
Letter to Philadelphia 

The One [Jesus the Anointed]:
Write down My words, and send them to the messenger of the church in Philadelphia. 

"These are the words of the holy One, the true One, and the One Who possesses the key of David, which opens the possibilities so that no one can shut them. The One Who closes all options so that no one can open: 

"I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door, which no one can shut. I have done this because you have limited strength, yet you have obeyed My word and have not denied My name. Watch, and I will make those of the congregation of Satan — those who call themselves 'Jews' but are not because they lie — come before you penitent, falling at your feet. Then they will know how much I have loved you. Because you have obeyed My instructions to endure and be patient, I will protect you from the time of trial which will come upon the whole earth and put everyone in it to the test. I will soon return. Hold tight to what you have so that no one can take away your victor's wreath. 

"As for the one who conquers through faithfulness even unto death, I will plant that person as a pillar in the temple of My God, and that person will never have to leave the presence of God. Moreover, I will inscribe this person with the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, New Jerusalem — which descends out of heaven from My God — and My own new name. 

"Let the person who is able to hear, listen to and follow what the Spirit proclaims to all the churches."
Letter to Laodicea 

The One [Jesus the Anointed]:
Write down My words, and send them to the messenger of the church in Laodicea. 

"These are the words of the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of God's creation: 

"I know your works. You are neither cold with apathy nor hot with passion. It would be better if you were one or the other, but you are neither. So because you are lukewarm, neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. You claim, 'I am rich, I have accumulated riches, and I need nothing'; but you do not realize that you are miserable, pathetic, poor, blind, and naked. So here is what I suggest you do: buy true gold from Me (gold refined by fire so that you can be truly rich), white garments (to cover you so that you can keep the shame of your nakedness from showing), and eye ointment (to treat your eyes so that you may see clearly). 

"Those I love I also correct and discipline. Therefore, be shamelessly committed to Me, and turn back. Now pay attention; I am standing at the door and knocking. If any of you hear My voice and open the door, then I will come in to visit with you and to share a meal at your table, and you will be with Me. 

"The one who conquers through faithfulness even unto death I will place next to Me on My throne, just as I Myself conquered and took a place of honor with My Father on His throne. 

"Let the person who is able to hear, listen to and follow what the Spirit proclaims to all the churches."
(Revelation 2:1-29; Revelation 3:1-22)
Response in Prayer

Lord Jesus, I know You are alive and move among Your churches. I know that You know all about my heart and the fruit of my life. We need Your help. I need Your help. I want us, your people, to live faithfully and vibrantly for You. I am sorry for our compromises with culture, and I commit to following you wholeheartedly. I want to see our open doors — our opportunities to reach our neighbors and all with whom we interact — so please open my eyes to these opportunities. Most of all, I want the Father to be pleased with us — to recognize our work as reflecting Your work on earth. I want the Holy Spirit to lead us and empower us. Lord Jesus, please find us faithful and use us to bring Your glory and grace to the situation in which we find ourselves. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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Post  Admin on Mon 14 Nov 2016, 10:59 pm

"In Your Difficulties, What Is Needed Most?" — A Year with Jesus for 11/14/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

When life crashes in... when the world is hostile and dangerous... when your faith is under attack... when your life is on the line, what is needed most? You need a clear vision of Me. You need to be reminded of Who I AM, what I have done, and Who I will be for you and with you in the future. That's why I revealed Myself in a vision to John when he was confined to the island of Patmos because of his faithful service to me (Revelation 1:9). On a special Sunday, John did what he had done on the first day of the week ever since that first Sunday I appeared to him and other disciples after My resurrection (John 20:1-23). Only on this special Sunday, I gave him the "apocalypse": "the revelation of Jesus the Anointed"! 

The book you call Revelation is an unveiling, a revealing of Me in My eternal glory. This was My message to John in vision form. It was shared with him to bless My people who were facing very difficult trials and persecutions. They needed to be assured their faith was not in vain. They needed to be assured that evil in its manifested forms, such as political propaganda, military might, and religious perversion, would be destroyed. However, what My people needed most was Me. They needed to know that I cared. They needed to know that I was still at work in history. They needed to know that the future was in My hands. They needed to know that I would act. They needed to know that I was there for them. So that is what I gave them through this revelation of Myself to John. 

As you read these verses, imagine John on the barren and harsh island of Patmos, separated from the churches and people he loved dearly. Imagine his concerns for these churches brought to Me in prayer on that Sunday morning. Now imagine his overwhelming encouragement to receive this vision, this reminder that I AM still connected to him and to those precious people undergoing persecution and that I AM always at work for their ultimate deliverance. 

Now try to imagine what he saw — this glorious vision of My glory. Join John and be amazed... reassured... and re-energized for your road ahead.
Verses to Live

Today's verses record the beginning of John's vision. The focus is on My glory. Open your imagination, rekindle your sense of wonder, and join John in the presence of My glory. Remember, even when you do not see Me, I AM... I AM still present... I AM still Lord... I AM still glorious. "I will never leave you or forsake you!" (Hebrews 13:5 NRSV)
A Voice:
[I am the Alpha and the Omega, the very beginning and the very end.] Make a book of what you see, write it down, and send it to the seven churches [which are in Asia]: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.
When I [John] turned around to see what sort of voice this was that was addressing me, I saw seven golden lampstands. And among the lampstands, I saw One like the Son of Man right in front of me dressed in a long robe. Across His chest was draped a golden sash. His head and hair were pure white, white as wool and white as snow; His eyes blazed like a fiery flame; His feet gleamed like brightly polished bronze, purified to perfection in a furnace; His voice filled the air and sounded like a roaring waterfall. He held seven stars in His right hand, from His mouth darted a sharp double-edged sword, and His face shone a brilliant light, like the blinding sun. 

When I saw Him, I fell at His feet. It was as though I were dead. But He reached down and placed His right hand on me. 

The One:
This is not the time for fear; I am the First and the Last, and I am the living One. I entered the realm of the dead; but see, I am alive now and for all the ages — even ages to come. Amen. I possess the keys to open the prison of death and hades.
Now write down all you have seen — all that is and all that will be. Regarding the mystery of the seven stars you saw in My right hand and of the seven golden lampstands: the seven stars are the heavenly messengers who preside over the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches themselves. 
(Revelation 1:11-20)
Response in Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank You! Thank You for always being the I AM on Whom I can depend. You are glorious, both in Your identity and in Your sacrifice. You are the perfect One to connect heaven's glory to our earthly struggles. I worship You. I adore You. I am in awe of You. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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Post  Admin on Sun 13 Nov 2016, 11:54 pm

The Apocalypse" — A Year with Jesus for 11/13/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious One, 

During the first few decades after the completion of My incarnation on earth, sporadic persecution, seizure of properties, ostracism, prejudice, oppression, and executions were brought against My disciples. These persecutions were not throughout the Roman Empire, but there were several times of intense persecution tied to emperors of Rome. 

Nero was well known as a persecutor because of his power and time in history, as well as a number of events that happened under his rule. For example, there was the fire in Rome and his distaste for Christians as evidenced by the blaming of Christians for the fire and the subsequent execution of many of My disciples. Near the end of the first century, persecution erupted in Asia Minor connected to a cult that honored the emperor Domitian as "lord and god" — language almost identical to Thomas' confession of Me after My resurrection (John 20:28). Some even hinted that Domitian was really Nero revived from the dead. 

Christians in Asia Minor — including in the cities listed at the end of your verses today — faced very difficult circumstances. My followers would call no one "Lord and God" but Me. Yet, any time they went to the market, visited the theater, went to their trade guild meetings, did business with the banks, or met politicians or members of the military in the street, they could be challenged to use those words to describe Domitian. When they refused, they faced severe reprisals as politicians in Asia Minor courted the favor and blessing of Domitian as they did with many emperors. The book of Revelation was written to give My disciples hope and remind them of their ultimate victory in Me. 

Over the next several days, we complete your journey through the New Testament. Our focus will be this Apocalypse: the message you now know as the book of Revelation. Because of his faith, My beloved disciple, John, was exiled off the coast of Asia Minor on the Isle of Patmos. I gave him this message on a Sunday. It was an unveiling or revelation in vision form that contained My message of encouragement to help the churches in Asia Minor as My precious people were facing hostility and persecution. The apocalyptic images of this book were well known when John wrote down this heavenly vision. The underlying message is pretty straightforward and clear. Unfortunately, this core message has often gotten lost in all the fascination with trying to identify the symbols and apply them to exact events and times in your day. 

The message basically is that Satan has used evil people to corrupt everything that humanity touches, especially places where humans come to power — for example, in the propaganda of politics, the use of the military, and the perversion of religion. In their corrupted form, the evil one has used these venues to mount pressure and persecution on My church and the people who are part of My family. Human and satanic powers were manipulating political agendas and propaganda, misusing the military, and corrupting religion. All these forces aligned to oppose My message, My church, and My people. The result was that the situation on earth looked bleak and hopeless when John received the Revelation. Yet, if My people remained faithful, they would share in My victory. The prayers of the martyrs and the persecuted were heard in heaven by the Father. The Spirit worked in the affairs of both human history and human powers to remove evil from its thrones of power. I would bring My people ultimate deliverance and victory. 

This cycle (evil people, alignment of powers, persecution, prayer for deliverance, and liberation) has been repeated down through history. Time is also moving toward an ultimate climax in which I will bring the final and ultimate victory for My church and her people. Evil will be banished. The evil one's power to inflict hurt, damage, and death on My people will be stopped completely and eternally. The separation of the faithful from the Father's throne will be removed. My people will enter into Our presence — the presence of the Father, Son, and Spirit. They will enjoy the blessings of unending life with Us in joyful fellowship and celebration. 

Today, we begin this last part of our year-long journey through the New Testament. Be blessed. Be faithful. Be confident. My resurrection guarantees your victory. My return guarantees your life, and your faithfulness will not be forgotten. My place in glory guarantees your joy will be unending.
Verses to Live

Read these verses slowly and carefully several times. Let the key words melt into your heart. Read these verses out loud. This is a book, an unveiling of My splendor and glory, that was written for your assurance and as a reminder that no matter when or where you live or how difficult the times, your victory with Me is assured and the evil that opposes and oppresses you won't last.
This is the revelation of Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King: an account of visions and a heavenly journey. God granted this to Him so He would show His followers the realities that are already breaking into the world and soon will be fulfilled. Through His heavenly messenger, He revealed to His servant John signs and insight into these mysteries. John, in turn, gave witness to the word of God and to the glorious truth revealed about Jesus, the Anointed One, the Chosen Ruler, by carefully describing everything he saw. 

Blessings come to those who read and proclaim these words aloud; blessings come to those who listen closely and put the prophetic words recorded here into practice. The finale is approaching. 

I, John, to the seven churches in Asia: 

May you experience God's favor and rest in the peace that comes from the One Who is, the One Who was, and the One Who is coming; from the seven Spirits, the Perfect Spirit, constantly before God's throne; and from Jesus the Anointed, the Witness Who is true and faithful, the first to emerge from death's cold womb, the chosen Ruler over all the kings and rulers of the earth. 

To the One Who loves us and liberated us from the grip of our evil deeds through His very own blood and Who established us to be His kingdom and priests for God, His Father. May glory and power be His throughout all the ages. Amen.
Look! He is coming with the clouds, in glory. 
He will capture every eye, 
Even of those who pierced Him through. 
All the nations of the earth will be pierced with grief when He appears. 
Yes, may all this be done according to His plan. Amen.
Lord God:
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the very beginning and the very end, the One Who is, the One Who was, and the One Who is coming: the All Powerful.
I, John, your brother who shares with you this journey in persecution and the establishment of the Kingdom and endurance in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the ministry of the word of God and my testimony about Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord's Day (the first day of the week), and I heard a voice behind me. It sounded like the blast of a trumpet. 

A Voice:
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the very beginning and the very end. Make a book of what you see, write it down, and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.
(Revelation 1:1-11)
Response in Prayer

O Father, with Christians facing martyrdom in many places in the world, with political powers in conflict, with many traditional enemies now at such great odds, I am thankful to have this closing Revelation from Jesus. Part of my human spirit is deeply troubled and upset with all that is happening and with worries about things rushing toward impending doom. I take comfort in Jesus' promise to be present, to be our Deliverer, and to be Lord through all times. I commit to being faithful no matter what history or the powers that dominate our world do. But I ask for strength and courage. I do not want to be cynical or despairing. I don't want to be blind and ignorant of realities. I don't want to be afraid or worried. I want to live for Jesus, in Whose name I pray and in Whom I know is ultimate deliverance. Amen.
Share on Facebook | Discuss this Verse
This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
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Post  Admin on Sat 12 Nov 2016, 2:23 pm

My Patience is Your Salvation!" — A Year with Jesus for 11/12/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of God, 

You are not forgotten. You are not abandoned. Your prayers are not ignored. 

My coming is assured. My salvation for you is closer to you now than ever before. My glory is nearer to you today than you can imagine. 

Yes, your world is a tough place for faith and for My faithful ones. However, remember what I said in My Revelation to John:
Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor's crown.

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death. 
(Revelation 2:10-11 NIV)
Hang in with Me in faith. Hang on with Me in hope. Trust that the Holy Spirit I poured out on you at your baptism (Titus 3:3-7) will strengthen and sustain you (Ephesians 3:14-21). My delay in coming is not because of unconcern or forgetfulness, but My patience is for salvation (2 Peter 3:9-15).
Verses to Live

Don't waver in your faith. I am coming. Your job is to be faithful, trusting in the Holy Spirit to fill you and empower you to godliness, faithfulness, and endurance. Yes, I know, the times are evil, and faithfulness can be hard. But, dear child of God, My coming is nearer to you now than when you first believed!
And now consider this. You know well the times you are living in. It is time for you to wake up and see what is right before your eyes: for salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The darkness of night is dissolving as dawn's light draws near, so walk out on your old dark life and put on the armor of light. May we all act as good and respectable people, living today the same way as we will in the day of His coming. Do not fall into patterns of dark living: wild partying, drunkenness, sexual depravity, decadent gratification, quarreling, and jealousy. Instead, wrap yourselves in the Lord Jesus, God's Anointed, and do not fuel your sinful imagination by indulging your self-seeking desire for the pleasures of the flesh. 
(Romans 13:11-14) 

So be careful how you live; be mindful of your steps. Don't run around like idiots as the rest of the world does. Instead, walk as the wise! Make the most of every living and breathing moment because these are evil times. So understand and be confident in God's will, and don't live thoughtlessly. Don't drink wine excessively. The drunken path is a reckless path. It leads nowhere. Instead, let God fill you with the Holy Spirit. When you are filled with the Spirit, you are empowered to speak to each other in the soulful words of pious songs, hymns, and spiritual songs; to sing and make music with your hearts attuned to God; and to give thanks to God the Father every day through the name of our Lord Jesus the Anointed for all He has done. 

And the Spirit makes it possible to submit humbly to one another out of respect for the Anointed. 
(Ephesians 5:15-21) 

So, my friends, while we wait for the day of the Lord, work hard to live in peace, without flaw or blemish; and look at the patience of the Lord as your salvation. 
(2 Peter 3:14-15) 
Response in Prayer

O Father, I want to be found faithful when Jesus comes. I commit to endure and be faithful. I commit to serve Jesus and seek to save the lost as He did. I ask, however, that You strengthen me with your Spirit, galvanize my faith with Your word, and renew my hope each day with the anticipation of Jesus' return. In His name, I hope, wait, and pray. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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Post  Admin on Fri 11 Nov 2016, 9:20 pm

"Glory Awaits!" — A Year with Jesus for 11/11/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

As My apostle Paul's death grew near, he was confident of his deliverance as well as My return. Hear his beautiful words of faith:
For I am already being poured out, and the last drops of this drink offering are all that remain; it's almost time for me to leave. I have fought the good fight, I have stayed on course and finished the race, and through it all, I have kept believing. I look forward to what's in store for me: a crown of righteousness that the Lord — the always right and just judge — will give me that day (but it is not only for me, but for all those who love and long for His appearing). 
(2 Timothy 4:6-8)
Glory awaits. A new heaven and a new earth await. Your reward for a life of faithfulness awaits. There will come a time when your suffering will melt away into the glorious deliverance that I will bring you. I will bring justice and comfort for all who have waited patiently and endured injustice, hardship, pain, and anguish for My sake (2 Thessalonians 1:5-10). 

Throughout the centuries since My first coming to earth, My disciples have awaited My triumphant return. I have not forgotten. I will return at the time appointed by the Father (Mark 13:32). I will come, and you will share in My glory because you have placed your faith, your life, and your future in My hands (Colossians 3:1-4). So be faithful. Don't give in to despair. Remember My promises for those who long for My appearing: At the end of time, I will bring the fullness of My kingdom and the full experience of My glory to My people forever. Your adoption into glory with Me is coming and will bring everlasting grace to you!
Verses to Live

Your world is struggling with its brokenness and decay. You struggle with your own mortality and the injustice and unfairness in your world. You are tired of saying goodbye in death to precious people you love. If you are bone-weary because of physical, emotional, and spiritual pain, please know, dear beloved, that these problems will all disappear with My return. Glory awaits!
Now I'm sure of this: the sufferings we endure now are not even worth comparing to the glory that is coming and will be revealed in us. For all of creation is waiting, yearning for the time when the children of God will be revealed. 

You see, all of creation has collapsed into emptiness, not by its own choosing, but by God's. Still He placed within it a deep and abiding hope that creation would one day be liberated from its slavery to corruption and experience the glorious freedom of the children of God. For we know that all creation groans in unison with birthing pains up until now. 

And there is more; it's not just creation—all of us are groaning together too. Though we have already tasted the firstfruits of the Spirit, we are longing for the total redemption of our bodies that comes when our adoption as children of God is complete— for we have been saved in this hope and for this future. But hope does not involve what we already have or see. For who goes around hoping for what he already has? But if we wait expectantly for things we have never seen, then we hope with true perseverance and eager anticipation. 
(Romans 8:18-25) 

The day of the Lord will come unexpectedly like a thief in the night; and on that day, the sky will vanish with a roar, the elements will melt with intense heat, and the earth and all the works done on it will be seen as they truly are. Knowing that one day all this will come to pass, think what sort of people you ought to be — how you should be living faithful and godly lives, waiting hopefully for and hastening the coming of God's day when the heavens will vanish in flames and the elements melt away with intense heat. What will happen next, and what we hope for, is what God promised: a new heaven and a new earth where justice reigns. 
(2 Peter 3:10-13) 

I looked again and could hardly believe my eyes. Everything above me was new. Everything below me was new. Everything around me was new because the heaven and earth that had been passed away, and the sea was gone, completely. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride on her wedding day, adorned for her husband and for His eyes only. And I heard a great voice, coming from the throne. 

A Voice:
See, the home of God is with His people. 

He will live among them; 
They will be His people, 
And God Himself will be with them. The prophecies are fulfilled: 

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. 

Death will be no more; 
Mourning no more, crying no more, pain no more, 

For the first things have gone away.
(Revelation 21:1-4)
Response in Prayer

O God, my Father, give me strength, courage, endurance, and faith to trust in Jesus' coming. I long for that day, Father. I trust that justice, mercy, and grace are on the way and will triumph over injustice, violence, and death and that I will share in Jesus' reign for ever and ever. In His name, I pray. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Post  Admin on Thu 10 Nov 2016, 8:28 pm

"Last Days" — A Year with Jesus for 11/10/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend, 

In a few days, I will be leading you through My Revelation to John; it contains My message to the churches of Asia Minor — and to you — about the last days. To prepare you for these messages in your Bible's last book, I want to remind you of some things Paul, Jude, and Peter wrote for My churches facing hard times. 

The last days began with the launch of My church in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-17). My return has been ever near (Philippians 4:5; James 5:8-9). My sudden and unexpected coming (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11) has been waiting for the Father's command — only the Father knows the day and hour of My coming (Mark 13:32). Even though you can't know when My return will be, you can know that it is certain. 

I want My followers — I want you — to pray always, constantly staying ready for My return, not losing heart, and remaining faithful to Me (Luke 18:1-8). Like my followers who came before you, the difficulties you face were to be expected. In fact, as the verses below indicate, they were predicted by My apostles and earliest servants of My people. So don't lose heart!
Verses to Live

Remember, dear friend, when people act in ungodly ways and treat you unfairly, don't be surprised. You live in the last days. However, don't despair. You have work to do. Redeem the lost. Reclaim the fallen. Restore those who have strayed. I know that there will be mockers, scoffers, persecutors, and doubters. Don't be surprised when they belittle you, ridicule your faith, and persecute you. These opponents of My way of life are to be expected. The Holy Spirit spoke through the writers of the New Testament to warn you of these times. Your brothers and sisters who have shared these last days with you since the beginning of My church have endured such things. Avoid these scoffers. Stand firm in your faith as you reclaim the fallen and restore those who have strayed. Be faithful to the end! 
And know this: in the last days, times will be hard. You see, the world will be filled with narcissistic, money-grubbing, pretentious, arrogant, and abusive people. They will rebel against their parents and will be ungrateful, unholy, uncaring, coldhearted, accusing, without restraint, savage, and haters of anything good. Expect them to be treacherous, reckless, swollen with self-importance, and given to loving pleasure more than they love God. Even though they may look or act like godly people, they're not. They deny His power. I tell you: Stay away from the likes of these. 
(2 Timothy 3:1-5) 

Anyone wishing to live a godly life in Jesus the Anointed will be hunted down and persecuted. But as for the wicked and the imposters, they will keep leading and following each other further and further away from the truth. So surely you ought to stick to what you know is certain. 
(2 Timothy 3:12-14) 

But you, friends, remember the words of the emissaries of our Lord Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King: "At the end of time, some will ridicule the faithful and follow their lusts to the grave." These are the men among you — those who divide friends, those concerned ultimately with this world, those without the Spirit. 

You, however, should stand firm in the love of God, constructing a life within the holy faith, praying the Spirit’s prayer, as you wait eagerly for the mercy of our Lord Jesus the Anointed, which leads to eternal life. 

Keep being kind to those who waver in this faith. Pursue those who are singed by the flames of God's wrath, and bring them safely to Him. Show mercy to others with fear, despising every garment soiled by the weakness of human flesh. 
(Jude 1:17-23) 

Remember the words spoken earlier by God's holy prophets and the commandment that our Lord and Savior gave to you through your emissaries. Above all, be sure to remember that in the last days mockers will come, following their own desires and taunting you, saying, "So what happened to the promised second coming of Jesus? For everything keeps going just the way it has since our ancestors fell asleep in death; since the beginning of creation, nothing's changed." 

When they make fun of you, it's as if the scoffers are deliberately forgetting that long ago when God spoke the word, the heavens came into existence and the earth formed from water and by water. The waters later flooded and destroyed that world. By that same word, the heavens and earth we see now are being reserved for destruction by fire, preserved until the time comes for the godless on the day of judgment. 

Don't imagine, dear friends, that God's timetable is the same as ours; as the psalm says, for with the Lord, one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like one day. 

Now the Lord is not slow about enacting His promise — slow is how some people want to characterize it — no, He is not slow but patient and merciful to you, not wanting anyone to be destroyed, but wanting everyone to turn away from following his own path and to turn toward God's. 
(2 Peter 3:2-9)
Response in Prayer

O God, You are the Almighty LORD Who loves Your people and Who will bring justice for us. We trust that You will send Your Son and our Savior, Jesus, to bring us home to You. We sometimes grow tired and weary in our waiting. We grow discouraged because of the ridicule that comes from those scoffers who doubt You and who doubt us and our faith. We grow discouraged because we see those who were once passionate followers of Jesus now grow cold in their faith and slip away from our fellowship. So we ask, O LORD, that you revive us by the power of Your Spirit. Give us strength to endure. Send the Lord Jesus to us soon. We pray in His name. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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Post  Admin on Wed 09 Nov 2016, 8:42 pm

Your Daily Worship" \u2014 A Year with Jesus for 10/12/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

In yesterday's note, I urged you to display your Father's righteous character and gracious compassion. Today, I apply that principle more fully to your personal daily life. Follow My example in living out the Father's character and compassion in your daily work, in your other activities, and in your relationships with friends and family \u2014 in all that you do. 

I submitted Myself to your needs and to the needs of the lost world (Philippians 2:5-11). I submitted to your needs to serve you and redeem you (Mark 10:45). Similarly, I want you to commit to a life of submission to redeem those in the world around you. Much of what Paul wrote to the Ephesians in today's verses centers on seeing your daily life, including with those closest to you, as worship. Paul wanted the Ephesians to know, and I want you to know, that proper living in a Christian household, in Christian relationships, and in whatever a Christian does ultimately comes back to Me, Who I AM, what I have commanded, and the manner in which I did what I did. (In the verses below, the bold text highlights implications that your commitment to Me has on how you live and how you interact with others.) 

Many documents that were written by the apostle Paul's contemporaries on virtue and proper living concluded with what were called "household codes" or "household rules." The important standard household in Paul's day consisted of husband and wife, parents and children, and often slaves (including household servants) and masters. 

Paul used this familiar form and filled it full of new meaning. He used this format to focus on Me as the motivating center, the key example, and the moral authority for the behaviors he commanded. My disciples were to follow My example, were to be moved by My sacrifice to do the right thing, and were to honor Me by obeying My will. This focus elevated Paul's words from admonitions to live the cultural norm to living a life of submission and worship empowered by the Holy Spirit. 

Also, Paul added another principle to his household rules, the principle of reciprocal submission. The flow of responsibility went both ways in Paul's teaching:
Wives to husbands and husbands to wives.
Children to parents and parents to children.
Slaves to masters and masters to slaves.
Those in the stronger position (husband, parent, master) were given specific instructions to live out their form of submission in challenging ways, just as I lived Mine as the Son of God (Philippians 2:5-11). This reciprocal submission was unheard of in Paul's culture. Culturally and legally in these three relationships, the husband, parent, and master had all the authority. The "lower" person in their culture and in their laws \u2014 the wife, the child, or the slave \u2014 had all the responsibility to submit, obey, and serve. Not so with Paul or with Me. 

The point of all of these principles, My beloved disciple, is that you must learn to live for others. I AM calling you to serve others before you benefit yourself. Follow My example of submission to the Father's will. Be willing to submit even at great cost. Learn to live this way depending upon the Holy Spirit for your power. Seek to follow My example as you obey My will. Offer the way you live and the way you consider and serve others as your worship to the Father (Romans 12:1-2). As you do, you begin to redeem the very situations in which you live these principles.
Verses to Live

What Paul wrote to the Ephesians in the verses below was said in the language of worship: "submit humbly to one another out of respect [holy fear or reverence] for the Anointed," Christ Jesus \u2014 Me. Early in this section, Paul gave the command "let God fill you with the Holy Spirit." Then Paul gave five ways the Holy Spirit is energized in the life of My disciple as that disciple lives a life of worship:
"speak to each other in the soulful words of pious songs."
"sing."
"make music with your hearts attuned to God."
"give thanks to God the Father."
"submit humbly to one another."
In this way, Paul moved the way My disciples were to relate to their families and others from a set of rules into making their home life and interpersonal relationships part of their worship. In other words, Paul gave much more to the Ephesians than a standard set of household rules. He called on My disciples (1) to follow My example in these daily relationships, (2) to live by the power of the Holy Spirit in these relationships, and (3) to recognize that the way they lived in their relationships was an important aspect of their worship. I hope you recognize these same truths as well! 
So be careful how you live; be mindful of your steps. Don't run around like idiots as the rest of the world does. Instead, walk as the wise! Make the most of every living and breathing moment because these are evil times. So understand and be confident in God's will, and don't live thoughtlessly. Don't drink wine excessively. The drunken path is a reckless path. It leads nowhere. Instead, let God fill you with the Holy Spirit. When you are filled with the Spirit, you are empowered to speak to each other in the soulful words of pious songs, hymns, and spiritual songs; to sing and make music with your hearts attuned to God; and to give thanks to God the Father every day through the name of our Lord Jesus the Anointed for all He has done. 

And the Spirit makes it possible to submit humbly to one another out of respect for the Anointed. Wives, it should be no different with your husbands. Submit to them as you do to the Lord, for God has given husbands a sacred duty to lead as the Anointed leads the church and serves as the head. (The church is His body; He is her Savior.) So wives should submit to their husbands, respectfully, in all things, just as the church yields to the Anointed One. Husbands, you must love your wives so deeply, purely, and sacrificially that we can understand it only when we compare it to the love the Anointed One has for His bride, the church. We know He gave Himself up completely to make her His own, washing her clean of all her impurity with water and the powerful presence of His word. He has given Himself so that He can present the church as His radiant bride, unstained, unwrinkled, and unblemished \u2014 completely free from all impurity \u2014 holy and innocent before Him. So husbands should care for their wives as if their lives depended on it, the same way they care for their own bodies. As you love her, you ultimately are loving part of yourself (remember, you are one flesh). No one really hates his own body; he takes care to feed and love it, just as the Anointed takes care of His church, because we are living members of His body. "And this is the reason a man leaves his father and his mother and is united with his wife; the two come together as one flesh." There is a great mystery reflected in this Scripture, and I say that it has to do with the marriage of the Anointed One and the church. Nevertheless, each husband is to love and protect his own wife as if she were his very heart, and each wife is to respect her own husband. 

Now to you, children, obey your parents in the Lord because this is right in God's eyes. This is the first commandment onto which He added a promise: "Honor your father and your mother, and if you do, you will live long and well in this land." 

And, fathers, do not drive your children mad, but nurture them in the discipline and teaching that come from the Lord. 

Slaves, respect and fear your earthly masters. Obey and serve them with the same sincerity of heart. Don't put on a show just because they are looking (as if you were a people pleaser); but as a slave of the Anointed, do the will of God from your heart. Serve them in good faith as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because all good deeds are gifted back from the Lord, and they are yours whether you are a slave or not. 

Masters, hear this: act in kind to your slaves. Stop terrorizing and threatening them. Don't forget that you have a Master in heaven who does not take sides or pick favorites. 
(Ephesians 5:15-33; Ephesians 6:1-9)
Response in Prayer

O Father, thank You for considering my everyday activities and my interactions with those who are part of my daily world as worship. I confess that there are some people in my life who are hard to treat as I know Jesus would treat them. I am trusting in the Holy Spirit to fill me and empower me as I serve all those around me and as I seek to display to them the grace of Jesus. Please be glorified in my life in both big and small ways as I offer all that I am and all that I do as worship to You! In Jesus' name, I ask that You receive the daily praise of my life. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. \u2014 Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice\u2122. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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Post  Admin on Tue 08 Nov 2016, 11:29 pm

The Truth about Sin" — A Year with Jesus for 11/08/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

As God's child, you need to know that some truth is very basic and very simple. You also need to realize that the evil one, whom John called the "diabolical one," wants to confuse you. He wants things to appear to be complicated, and he lies to you about what's important. Some believe him. However, you can tell those who are My disciples, God's adopted children, and My younger siblings by faith. They live good moral lives full of good deeds, but those who don't live this kind of life are not My disciples and are not God's children. 

You will not live life perfectly. None of the Father's children, except for Me, ever has or ever will. You will slip into an occasional sin. However, My disciples do not, as John describes it, live "a life of habitual sin." My disciples, the Father's children, don't "persist in sin": Sin is not their way of life and certainly not their desired way to live. 

My disciples long to live as I did, dedicated to the Father and reflecting His righteous character and gracious compassion. When they do stumble and sin, they confess it instead of trying to hide it. My sacrifice on the cross cleanses them of their sin (1 John 1:5-10). I don't want you to sin even one sin because it entraps, damages, and brings with it harsh consequences. However, I will forgive and cleanse you of these unwanted sins. It's the "habitual" nature of sin and the willingness to "persist" in sin that ultimately reveals the disloyalty to the Father in a person's heart. 

If you are struggling alone with your sin, please remember John's call for you to confess your sins (1 John 1:7-9). That doesn't mean that you confess them just to the Father or Me. You also need to get the help of another couple of brothers or sisters in the Father's family to walk alongside you and strengthen you (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12). 

Confess your sins to these spiritual partners. You need confidants in the faith who can walk beside you, encourage you, challenge you to live the life you want to live in Me, and help you overcome the power of sin's allure because it seeks to destroy you (James 1:13-15). 

No one should want the "moral anarchy" of sin and the damage it brings. As James said:
So own up to your sins to one another and pray for one another. In the end, you may be healed. Your prayers are powerful when they are rooted in a righteous life. 
(James 5:16).
Sin will not be your lifestyle because you are God's child — the Father's spiritual DNA is alive in you through the Holy Spirit. You have been adopted into My family of grace. So let the true Spirit-transformed you shine through in your daily life!
Verses to Live

John's words are simple and clear. Don't let anyone convince you of anything other than My high standards when it comes to morality. While none of you is perfect, the fruit of a good person's life shows through in good deeds as well as in an obedient and godly lifestyle. John makes that very clear in the following verses from his short letter of 1 John.
You are my little children, so I am writing these things to help you avoid sin. If, however, any believer does sin, we have a high-powered defense lawyer — Jesus the Anointed, the righteous — arguing on our behalf before the Father. It was through His sacrificial death that our sins were atoned. But He did not stop there — He died for the sins of the whole world. 

We know we have joined Him in an intimate relationship because we live out His commands. If someone claims, "I am in an intimate relationship with Him," but this big talker doesn't live out His commands, then this individual is a liar and a stranger to the truth. But if someone responds to and obeys His word, then God's love has truly taken root and filled him. This is how we know we are in an intimate relationship with Him: anyone who says, "I live in intimacy with Him," should walk the path Jesus walked. 
(1 John 2:1-6). 

So now, my little children, live in Him, so that whenever He is revealed, we will have confidence and not have to hang our heads in shame before Him when He comes. If you know that He is just and faithful, then you also know that everyone who lives faithfully and acts justly has been born into a new life through Him. 

Consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us — He calls us children of God! It's true; we are His beloved children. And in the same way the world didn't recognize Him, the world does not recognize us either. 

My loved ones, we have been adopted into God's family; and we are officially His children now. The full picture of our destiny is not yet clear, but we know this much: when Jesus appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him just as He is. All those who focus their hopes on Him and His coming seek to purify themselves just as He is pure. 

Everyone who lives a life of habitual sin is living in moral anarchy. That's what sin is. You realize that He came to eradicate sins, that there is not the slightest bit of sin in Him. The ones who live in an intimate relationship with Him do not persist in sin, but anyone who persists in sin has not seen and does not know the real Jesus. 

Children, don't let anyone pull one over on you. The one doing the right thing is just imitating Jesus, the Righteous One. 

The one persisting in sin belongs to the diabolical one, who has been all about sin from the beginning. That is why the Son of God came into our world: to destroy the plague of destruction inflicted on the world by the diabolical one. 

Everyone who has been born into God's family avoids sin as a lifestyle because the genes of God's children come from God Himself. Therefore, a child of God can't live a life of persistent sin. So it is not hard to figure out who are the children of God and who are the children of the diabolical one: those who lack right standing and those who don't show love for one another do not belong to God. 
(1 John 2:28-29; 1 John 3:1-10)
Response in Prayer

Father in heaven, I want my life to display the character and compassion of Jesus. As Your child, I want My life to be full of goodness, obedience, kindness, and high moral character. I want to display the kind of character in my life that my older brother Jesus displayed when He walked this earth. To be adopted into Your family, to be called Your child, to have Jesus as my brother as well as my Lord and Savior is such an incredible blessing. So may my life display my thanks for Your grace so richly poured out on me. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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Post  Admin on Mon 07 Nov 2016, 8:25 pm

"The Foundation" — A Year with Jesus for 11/07/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

The foundation for everything you hold dear as a Christian and as My disciple is this one fundamental truth: I came as God, in human flesh, Jesus the Christ, the Anointed One, the Son of the only true and living God. Peter confessed something very similar to this at a vital turning point in My ministry and in his life (Matthew 16:16). 

Over the centuries, many have tried to make Me less than God come in human flesh, but for Me to be the Son of the Father meant no less than this. When I identified Myself as the Father's Son, My Jewish opponents wanted to kill Me for "making himself [Myself] equal with God" (John 5:16-18 NLT). To come as the Son of God meant, and still means, that I was God in human flesh. I was God come in human flesh from conception through the cross to the resurrection and the ascension! 

People have speculated trying to determine someone specific who is the evil antiChrist. However, John reminded My disciples that they needed to be seriously concerned about those among them who were obviously antiChrists: the many religious people who were (and still are) trying to separate My identity from the Father. They want to make Me less than God in human flesh. Some even claim that I was a created being — that I was not always in existence and not really God. These false doctrines and notions undermine the power of My cross (1 Corinthians 1:17-18; Colossians 2:15; Philippians 2:5-11). They discount the incredible grace of My full humanity in My incarnation (John 1:1-18). They dispute what it means for Me to be the true, living, and complete Word and Message of God (Hebrews 1:1-3). I was with the Father at creation. Not only did I make all things, but I continue to hold them together by My will and power (John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:15-19). 

I sent you the anointing, the Holy Spirit, to be with you. The Spirit will guide you into all truth so that you will not be led astray by the antiChrists in your day (John 16:12-15). You don't need to fear these false teachers; just test the spirit of these teachers to see if they bring the truth about Me (1 John 4:1-6). If they do not, don't associate with them. Those who do not hold to My genuine identity undermine Who I AM and what I did to bring you salvation. 

If you hold to My true identity, if you believe in Me as Peter did, you can rest assured of this one certainty: you can be sure of your salvation!
Verses to Live

What follows is a collection of John's strong words about the antiChrists who seek to undermine My identity. They existed in the early days of My church, and they exist in your day. Please know this: you must heed John's words of warning, but not in fear. Trust in the Holy Spirit Whom I poured out on you when you were born into the Father's family (John 16:5-11; Titus 3:3-7). The Spirit is your anointing, your assurance that you have the truth and that you belong to the Father. So believe in Me and trust what I say to you: your anointing will guide you into all truth and will confirm what John says about Me!
My children, this is the final hour. You have heard that the antiChrist, the greatest enemy to His kingdom, is coming, but in fact, many antiChrists are already here. This development tells us how late it really is. A group has left us, but they were not part of our family. If they were truly our brothers and sisters, they would have remained for the duration with us. When they left, they made it ever so obvious that they were not part of us. 

You have been given an anointing, a special touch from the Holy One. You know the truth. I am not writing to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it. You know that no lie belongs to the truth. The liar is the one who says, "Jesus is not really the Anointed One." This is the antiChrist, the one denying both the Father and the Son. Anyone who denies the Son does not know the Father. The one affirming the Son enjoys an intimate relationship with the Father as well. 

Let the good news, the story you have heard from the beginning of your journey, live in and take hold of you. If that happens and you focus on the good news, then you will always remain in a relationship with the Son and the Father. This is what He promised us: eternal life. 

I also am writing to warn you about some who are attempting to deceive you. You have an anointing. You received it from Him, and His anointing remains on you. You do not need any other teacher. But as His anointing instructs you in all the essentials (all the truth uncontaminated by darkness and lies), it teaches you this: "Remain connected to Him." 
(1 John 2:18-27) 

There is a sure way for us to know that we belong to the truth. Even though our inner thoughts may condemn us with storms of guilt and constant reminders of our failures, we can know in our hearts that in His presence God Himself is greater than any accusation. He knows all things. My loved ones, if our hearts cannot condemn us, then we can stand with confidence before God. Whatever we may ask, we receive it from Him because we follow His commands and take the path that pleases Him. His command is clear: believe in the name of His Son, Jesus the Anointed, and love one another as He commanded. The one who follows His teaching and walks this path lives in an intimate relationship with God. How do we know that He lives in us? By the gift of His Spirit. 
(1 John 3:19-24) 

Any person who drifts away and fails to live in the teachings of the Anointed One, our Liberating King, does not have God. But the person who lives in this teaching will have both the Father and the Son. If any person comes to you with a teaching that does not align with the true message of Jesus, do not welcome that person into your house or greet him as you would a true brother. Anyone who welcomes this person has become a partner in advancing his wicked agenda. 
(2 John 1:9-11) 

My loved ones, I warn you: do not trust every spirit. Instead, examine them carefully to determine if they come from God, because the corrupt world is filled with the voices of many false prophets. Here is how you know God's Spirit: if a spirit affirms the truth that Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King, has come in human flesh, then that spirit is from God. If a spirit does not affirm the true nature of Jesus the Anointed, then that spirit does not come from God and is, in fact, the spirit of the antiChrist. You have heard about its coming; in fact it is already active in the world. My children, you have come from God and have conquered these spirits because the One Who lives within you is greater than the one in this world. But they are of this world, and they articulate the views of the corrupt world, which the world understands. We come from God, and those who know God hear us. Whoever is not from God will not listen to us. This is the way we discern the difference between the spirit of truth and the spirit of deception. 
(1 John 4:1-6) 

How can we be sure that He truly lives in us and that we truly live in Him? By one fact: He has given us His Spirit. We have watched what God has done, and we stand ready to provide eyewitness testimonies to the reality that the Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone unites with our confession that Jesus is God's own Son, then God truly lives in that person and that person lives in God. We have experienced and we have entrusted our lives to the love of God in us. 
(1 John 4:13-16) 

Everyone who trusts Jesus as the long-awaited Anointed One is a child of God, and everyone who loves the Father cannot help but love the child fathered by Him. Then how do we know if we truly love God's children? We love them if we love God and keep His commands. You see, to love God means that we keep His commands, and His commands don't weigh us down. Everything that has been fathered by God overcomes the corrupt world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith. 

Who is the person conquering the world? It is the one who truly trusts that Jesus is the Son of God, that Jesus the Anointed is the One Who came by water and blood — not by the water only, but by the water and the blood. 

The Spirit of God testifies to this truth because the Spirit is the truth. So there are three testifying witnesses: the Spirit, the water, and the blood. All three are in total agreement. If we accept the testimonies of people, then we must realize the testimony of God is greater than that of any person. God certified the truth about His own Son. Anyone who trusts the Son of God has this truthful testimony at the core of his being. Anyone who does not trust God calls God a liar because he ignores God's truthful testimony regarding His own Son. And this is the truth: God has given us the gift of eternal life, and this life is in His Son. If you have the Son, you have eternal life. If you do not have the Son of God, you are not acquainted with true life. 

I am writing all of this to you who have entrusted your lives to the Son of God — so you will realize eternal life already is yours. We live in the bold confidence that God hears our voices when we ask for things that fit His plan. And if we have no doubt that He hears our voices, we can be assured that He moves in response to our call. 
(1 John 5:1-15)
Response in Prayer

Father, I don't claim to comprehend all that it means for Jesus to be fully divine and fully human, to be Son of God and Son of a woman. But, dear Father, I do believe it even though I don't fully understand it. I recognize that this truth is part of Your divine grace to share our humanity as one of us to redeem us and bring us to Yourself. So thank You for Jesus, my Savior, my Lord, and Your Son. Thank You for the Son of God Who walked among us and was God with us. I am astounded by both Your unfathomable love and this gracious mystery that has made me Your child. In Jesus' mighty name, I praise and thank You. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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Post  Admin on Sun 06 Nov 2016, 10:32 pm

Love Each Other!" — A Year with Jesus for 11/06/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

You are the Father's child! 

You are precious! 

The Father adopted you into Our — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit's — family. I paid the purchase price for your adoption. You are a blood-bought and blood-redeemed child of the King of Glory! 

Despite your lack of perfection, you are a precious child in the Father's family. 

So is every other person who is a Christian! 

The point of these words is simple. We love you. We love all your brothers and sisters in our spiritual family. We expect you to love, accept, help, receive, and value your brothers and sisters as much as you hope We will love, accept, help, receive, and value you. 

Love one another!
Verses to Live

John was known for his teaching about love. He taught about the Father's love for a lost world (John 3:16-17). He proclaimed My love for My disciples as well as My expectation that My disciples will love each other (John 15:12-17). 

What follows is a collection of verses from 1 John about God's loving you and your loving each other as brothers and sisters. Read these words. More than reading them, let them linger in your heart and commit to living them. Love one another; not just in words, but from the heart demonstrate love for each other! People will recognize that you are My disciples because of the way you demonstrate My love with each other (John 13:34-35). Not only that, but your love is one way for you to reveal God to your world (1 John 4:12).
My loved ones, in one sense, I am not writing a new command for you. I am only reminding you of the old command. It's a word you already know, a word that has existed from the beginning. However, in another sense, I am writing a new command for you. The new command is the truth that He lived; and now you are living it, too, because the darkness is fading and the true light is already shining among you. 

Anyone who says, "I live in the light," but hates his brother or sister is still living in the shadows. Anyone who loves his brother or sister lives in the light and will not trip because his conscience is clear. But anyone who hates his brother is in the darkness, stumbling around with no idea where he is going, blinded by the darkness. 
(1 John 2:7-11) 

Consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us — He calls us children of God. 
(1 John 3:1) 

The central truth — the one you have heard since the beginning of your faith — is that we must love one another. Please do not act like Cain, who was of the evil one. He brutally murdered his own brother. Why would he do something so despicable? Because his life was devoted to evil and selfishness, and his brother chose to do what is right. 

Brothers and sisters, don't be shocked if the corrupt world despises you. We know that we have crossed over from death to real life because we are devoted to true love for our brothers and sisters. Anyone who does not love lives among corpses. 

Everyone who hates other members of God's family is a murderer. Does a murderer possess the beautiful life that never ends? No. We know what true love looks like because of Jesus. He gave His life for us, and He calls us to give our lives for our brothers and sisters. 

If a person owns the kinds of things we need to make it in the world but refuses to share with those in need, is it even possible that God's love lives in him? My little children, don't just talk about love as an idea or a theory. Make it your true way of life, and live in the pattern of gracious love. 
(1 John 3:11-18) 

His command is clear: believe in the name of His Son, Jesus the Anointed, and love one another as He commanded. The one who follows His teaching and walks this path lives in an intimate relationship with God. How do we know that He lives in us? By the gift of His Spirit. 
(1 John 3:23-24) 

My loved ones, let us devote ourselves to loving one another. Love comes straight from God, and everyone who loves is born of God and truly knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 

Because of this, the love of God is a reality among us: God sent His only Son into the world so that we could find true life through Him. This is the embodiment of true love: not that we have loved God first, but that He loved us and sent His unique Son on a special mission to become an atoning sacrifice for our sins. So, my loved ones, if God loved us so sacrificially, surely we should love one another. No one has ever seen God with human eyes; but if we love one another, God truly lives in us. Consequently God's love has accomplished its mission among us. 
(1 John 4:7-12) 

We have experienced and we have entrusted our lives to the love of God in us. 

God is love. Anyone who lives faithfully in love also lives faithfully in God, and God lives in him. This love is fulfilled with us, so that on the day of judgment we have confidence based on our identification with Jesus in this world. Love will never invoke fear. Perfect love expels fear, particularly the fear of punishment. The one who fears punishment has not been completed through love. 

We love because He has first loved us. If someone claims, "I love God," but hates his brother or sister, then he is a liar. Anyone who does not love a brother or sister, whom he has seen, cannot possibly love God, Whom he has never seen. He gave us a clear command, that all who love God must also love their brothers and sisters. 
(1 John 4:16-21)
Response in Prayer

Father, I know that Jesus taught that all people would recognize that we are His disciples because of our love for each other. Help me as I commit to demonstrating my love to my brothers and sisters as fully and completely as You have loved me. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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Post  Admin on Sat 05 Nov 2016, 9:10 pm

Confidence" — A Year with Jesus for 11/05/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

John was a masterful writer. He used a simple vocabulary to share nuances of truth and depths of theological insight. His use of such simple language to communicate such depths still astounds scholars. His messages intrigue the most educated, speak to the heart of the weary, and give a clear, easily understandable message of truth. So when John says something very clearly and forcefully, you won't miss his message. 

The verses today from 1 John emphasize how you can be confident of your salvation, how eternal life has already begun for My disciples, and how the Spirit of God in you is greater than the spirit at work in the world. John wanted his readers who faced doubts about their salvation to be confident about it! 

I did not come to create religious doubt. I came to find and save lost people (Luke 19:10). I came because We — Father, Son, and Spirit — love the lost people of the world and want them saved (John 3:16-17). I don't want My disciples worried about whether they are inside of grace's grasp. I don't want you worried about your eternal destiny. 

John also didn't want you to doubt. As he wrote 1 John, he had to deal with two opposite ends of a problem. Some of My disciples to whom he wrote were precious, good, sweet, kind people who believed in Me and were seeking to live as they should. Unfortunately, they were concerned about their salvation because they had been led to believe that they had to know enough or had to do enough to merit My salvation. They knew they had stumbled some and slipped into some sin. This ongoing struggle with sin made them feel worse and wrestle with doubt even more. 

However, there were others who were religiously arrogant. They talked about knowing Me at a special spiritual level, so they thought they didn't have to be worried about the sinful things they did on a fleshly level. They were saying they were good, even though they persistently and intentionally indulged in sin. They insinuated that if the first group of My disciples had enough special knowledge, they wouldn't be hung up on sin and could be confident in their salvation. 

John had the unenviable task of writing one simple letter to address both needs at the same time because both groups existed in the same churches. The Spirit did a masterful job of breathing truth through John and into the words that you read. John's writing addressed believing in Me, doing good and godly things, loving your brothers and sisters in Christ, and pursuing a relationship with Me instead of sinking into some religious system. These teachings allowed both groups of these believers to assess where they stood in their relationship with the Father. The doubters could see that they really were in fellowship with the Father. The arrogant could recognize that they needed to correct some things in their lives if they were to be in fellowship with the Father. 

The focus today for you, however, is confidence in your relationship with the Father. I want you to be confident of your eternal life. Today's message is for you. It is for your encouragement. I want it to boost your confidence in being the Father's child!
Verses to Live

Today I want you to focus on the verses that talk about the confidence you can and should have as My disciple. You believe in Me. You believe that I am the Father's Son, God come in human flesh. You are living a life full of goodness and obedience and not living a life that "persists" in sin. You love your brothers and sisters. You long to do more than know about Us and participate in religious exercises. You want to know Us and to enter into a relationship with the Father as His child. You want to experience Me, not only as Savior but also as your older brother and example. You want to recognize the presence of the Holy Spirit, Who is your anointing from the Father and Who teaches you and guides you into all truth about Me. These verses are for you.
We want to tell you about the One Who was from the beginning. We have seen Him with our own eyes, heard Him with our own ears, and touched Him with our own hands. This One is the manifestation of the life-giving Voice, and He showed us real life, eternal life. We have seen it all, and we can't keep what we witnessed quiet — we have to share it with you. We are inviting you to experience eternal life through the One Who was with the Father and came down to us. What we saw and heard we pass on to you so that you, too, will be connected with us intimately and become family. Our family is united by our connection with the Father and His Son Jesus, the Anointed One; and we write all this because retelling this story fulfills our joy. 
(1 John 1:1-4) 

If we walk step by step in the light, where the Father is, then we are ultimately connected to each other through the sacrifice of Jesus His Son. His blood purifies us from all our sins. If we go around bragging, "We have no sin," then we are fooling ourselves and are strangers to the truth. But if we own up to our sins, God shows that He is faithful and just by forgiving us of our sins and purifying us from the pollution of all the bad things we have done. 
(1 John 1:7-9) 

I am writing to you, my children, because your sins have been forgiven by the authority of His name. 

I am writing to you, fathers and mothers, because you have known Him as the Creator, as the One Who started everything. 

I am writing to you, young people, because He has given you the power to conquer the evil one. 

I have written to you, my children, because you have known the Father. 

I have written to you, fathers and mothers, because you have known Him, the Creator. 

I have written to you, young people, because the voice of God remains and is heard among you. Remember that you have conquered the evil one. 
(1 John 2:12-14) 

I also am writing to warn you about some who are attempting to deceive you. You have an anointing. You received it from Him, and His anointing remains on you. You do not need any other teacher. But as His anointing instructs you in all the essentials (all the truth uncontaminated by darkness and lies), it teaches you this: "Remain connected to Him." 

So now, my little children, live in Him, so that whenever He is revealed, we will have confidence and not have to hang our heads in shame before Him when He comes. If you know that He is just and faithful, then you also know that everyone who lives faithfully and acts justly has been born into a new life through Him. 
(1 John 2:26-29) 

There is a sure way for us to know that we belong to the truth. Even though our inner thoughts may condemn us with storms of guilt and constant reminders of our failures, we can know in our hearts that in His presence God Himself is greater than any accusation. He knows all things. My loved ones, if our hearts cannot condemn us, then we can stand with confidence before God. Whatever we may ask, we receive it from Him because we follow His commands and take the path that pleases Him. His command is clear: believe in the name of His Son, Jesus the Anointed, and love one another as He commanded. The one who follows His teaching and walks this path lives in an intimate relationship with God. How do we know that He lives in us? By the gift of His Spirit. 
(1 John 3:19-24) 

My children, you have come from God and have conquered these spirits because the One Who lives within you is greater than the one in this world. 
(1 John 4:4) 

Everything that has been fathered by God overcomes the corrupt world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith. 
(1 John 5:4) 

I am writing all of this to you who have entrusted your lives to the Son of God — so you will realize eternal life already is yours. We live in the bold confidence that God hears our voices when we ask for things that fit His plan. And if we have no doubt that He hears our voices, we can be assured that He moves in response to our call. 
(1 John 5:13-15)
Response in Prayer

O Father, thank You for Your generous and overwhelming grace that not only has saved me but also has enabled me to have confidence that I am Your child and enjoy Your salvation in this earthly life and also will enjoy it in the life that is to come. Thank You for the Holy Spirit Who is Your presence within me to guide me, intercede for me, help me know truth from error, and transform me to be more and more like Jesus. Thank You for the Son, Who paid the penalty for my sin, showed me how to live and treat people, and is not only my Savior but also my older brother. Thank You for Your grace and His sacrifice that have made all of this possible. Thank You for my confidence in You! Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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Post  Admin on Fri 04 Nov 2016, 10:37 pm

"Relationship with the Father" — A Year with Jesus for 11/04/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of the Glorious and Gracious Father, 

As John neared the end of his physical life, he wrote three short letters to help churches facing all sorts of challenges. He also wrote the Apocalypse, which you know as the book of Revelation. Each of these writings deals with real and problematic issues for My disciples near the end of the first century. For the next several days, you will be reading from the short letters of John. Today, your focus will be the first chapter and a little of the second chapter of 1 John. 

First John is a beautiful little tapestry of pastoral concern for My followers. John emphasizes what the Father wants and doesn't want in His relationship with you as His child. The Father doesn't want just a bunch of religious adherents going through religious motions. He wants a genuine relationship with you as His child. In this relationship, you are open and transparent with your Father. You bring everything into the light with nothing hidden. When you are open about who you are and about what is going on in your life and when you demonstrate My love, then you are walking in the Father's light (1 John 1:7). My sacrifice purifies you from all sin. 

This relationship in the light of My Father's glory and grace should bring you confidence in your relationship with Us. You know Us and have a relationship with Us as Father, Son, and Spirit. 

There are three ways that you can assure your heart that you are in this special relationship with us:
When you believe in Me as the Father's Son, God Who came in human flesh.
When love is demonstrated in your relationships with each other.
When there is goodness found in your actions.
These three qualities allow you to rest assured that your relationship with the Father is secured and life-giving. This is how you walk in the Father's light. 

The six themes emphasized by the words underlined above are woven into the tapestry of this short letter again and again. John doesn't have huge blocks of teaching about any one of these in one place. Instead, like a beautiful piece of symphonic music, he weaves these key themes into his music again and again with slight variations and connections. If you read this letter several times, the Spirit helps you pick these themes up as the soundtrack of your life. 

Here are these six key themes emphasized in 1 John:
Relationship with the Father is a genuine relationship, not a shallow religiosity.
Confidence comes from your relationship with the Father because of My sacrifice, His grace, and the Spirit's assurance in your heart.
Knowledge of Me and that I AM just and faithful leads My disciples to live faithfully and act justly.
Faith that I AM the Father's Son, Jesus, Who came as God in human flesh, is the key to your overcoming the world and living for Me.
Love for each other as brothers and sisters shows that you know the Father's love and are the Father's children.
Goodness is found in your actions, thoughts, and words when you are in a genuine relationship with the Father.
Listen for these themes. Since 1 John is so short, read it several times over the next several days. Don't try to dissect each short passage, but listen to the letter as you would listen to a great piece of music. Let the interplay of the themes seep into your heart and capture your life. Each of these six themes will repeat in different connections with each other as a short musical riff and then connect you to the next theme. And like all good music, the interplay of these themes brings a freshness to your life — and in this case, it brings you the assurance and joy of eternal life that actually has already begun for you as My disciple!
Verses to Live

Today's verses begin with a paragraph about your relationship with the Father and with each other. These relationships bring you an experience of eternal life. They provide you a connection with the Father and Me. This connection is about relationships and experiences that are intimately real and that bring you into Our family. These relationships are based upon My mission as God in human flesh Who lived among real people who could see Me, hear Me, and touch Me both before and after My crucifixion and resurrection. It was this mission that the Father sent Me to accomplish and that made your relationship with the Father as His beloved child possible. You don't have to pretend that you are perfect. Just bring who you are to the Father. Be open, honest, and transparent with Him in the light of His glory and grace. When you are, My sacrifice for you purifies you, connects you to others who are saved by this same grace, and prepares you to live for Me. So be filled with hope and joy as you read these words of assurance from My beloved disciple, John.
We want to tell you about the One Who was from the beginning. We have seen Him with our own eyes, heard Him with our own ears, and touched Him with our own hands. This One is the manifestation of the life-giving Voice, and He showed us real life, eternal life. We have seen it all, and we can't keep what we witnessed quiet — we have to share it with you. We are inviting you to experience eternal life through the One Who was with the Father and came down to us. What we saw and heard we pass on to you so that you, too, will be connected with us intimately and become family. Our family is united by our connection with the Father and His Son Jesus, the Anointed One; and we write all this because retelling this story fulfills our joy. 

What we are telling you now is the very message we heard from Him: God is pure light, undimmed by darkness of any kind. If we say we have an intimate connection with the Father but we continue stumbling around in darkness, then we are lying because we do not live according to truth. If we walk step by step in the light, where the Father is, then we are ultimately connected to each other through the sacrifice of Jesus His Son. His blood purifies us from all our sins. If we go around bragging, "We have no sin," then we are fooling ourselves and are strangers to the truth. But if we own up to our sins, God shows that He is faithful and just by forgiving us of our sins and purifying us from the pollution of all the bad things we have done. If we say, "We have not sinned," then we depict God as a liar and show that we have not let His word find its way into our hearts. 

You are my little children, so I am writing these things to help you avoid sin. If, however, any believer does sin, we have a high-powered defense lawyer [as our advocate and comforter] — Jesus the Anointed, the righteous — arguing on our behalf before the Father. It was through His sacrificial death that our sins were atoned. But He did not stop there — He died for the sins of the whole world. 
(1 John 1:1-10; 1 John 2:1-2)
Response in Prayer

Father, I bring to You who I am. I am not trying to hide anything. You know my secrets, both good and bad. You know my struggles, both those that I have overcome by Your grace and those that have caused me to stumble. You know that my heart longs to live for You, honor You, and celebrate Your goodness and grace. So I ask for Your help as I seek to live a life that reflects Your goodness and grace. I need the Holy Spirit to instill in me confidence in the eternal life I have with You. Open my eyes to the reality of this life that has already begun and will never end. Thank You for John's beautiful little letter. May its truths fill my heart with the music of Your holiness, grace, and joy. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Post  Admin on Thu 03 Nov 2016, 7:55 pm

Strong Words of Warning!" — A Year with Jesus for 11/03/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

The verses you will read today contain strong warnings and harsh language for false teachers. These false teachers were leading My followers astray. They were creating havoc in the fellowship meals ("love feasts") and gatherings of My disciples. These false teachers were self-absorbed and had perverted grace to justify their sinful lifestyles. 

The first set of verses you read comes from the first part of Jude. These verses are so similar to 2 Peter chapter 2 that I include only Jude's words for today's reading. The second set of verses comes from 2 Peter chapter 3. The third set comes from the end of Jude's short letter. He concludes his letter with praise for the Father. He reminds My disciples that the Father is the only One Who can save them and He will do just that! 

The short little letter called Jude is best understood more like a "tract for troubled times." It is an emergency note written with urgency. The second chapter of 2 Peter contains very similar wording:
Depraved souls who stand condemned have made a mockery of the grace given to you, using it as a pretext for a life of sinful excess, lived without any thought of God.
Both Peter and Jude used images from the Old Testament and also reminded their readers of the punishment the Father brought on rebellious and wanton sinners. These images were written as warnings to My disciples so that they would recognize the gravity of the false teaching and the false teachers who spread it. These false teachers were "dreamers who have slipped in and defiled your community, rejected those in charge, and insulted the glorious majesty of the heavenly messengers." 

Jude had intended to send a much happier letter of encouragement centered on the salvation the disciples shared. However, his heart was so troubled by these false teachers that he sent his short message about them instead. Peter had a very similar strong teaching that paralleled Jude's message as he addressed similar problems. He followed his warning about these false teachers with teaching about the judgment coming on those who are godless and make life difficult for My disciples and lead them astray. He described that coming judgment in terms consistent with the fate of the false teachers described in Jude's note. 

I want you to notice the strong language used for those who perverted grace into an excuse for immorality and who "lived without any thought of God." I also want you to recognize that both of these writers ended their messages with encouragement. They were confident that the Father would continue to work in the lives of My disciples and bring them complete salvation. 

Until the time they fully experienced salvation, Jude reminded My followers to care for each other. They were to deal with those who had been influenced by the false teachers based on their need and what led them to fall away:
[Y]ou must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives. 
(Jude 1:22-23 NLT)
Jude's last words are especially encouraging and helpful. Carefully notice the third set of verses below. They are beautiful, reliable, and very practical. Remember, you cannot save yourself; your salvation depends on the Father's grace and your trust in Him. Your Father is good. He can and will transform you and bring you to Himself as His pure and holy child.
Verses to Live

Please read straight through these verses as one continuous reading. I want you to get the flow of the message. Look for the strong language that Peter and Jude used to describe the false teachers. Also, look for the encouragement offered at the end of the second and third sets of verses. I AM confident in good things with you and your faith. But I also want you to be aware that there are false teachers who will try to lead you away from Me. So keep your focus on the Father, walk with Me in the Spirit.
Jude, a slave of Jesus the Anointed and a brother of James, to you, the ones whom God our Father loves and has called and whom Jesus, the Anointed One, has kept. Kindness, peace, love — may they never stop blooming in you and from you. 

Friends, I have been trying to write you about our common salvation. But these days my heart is troubled, and I am compelled to write to you and encourage you to continue struggling for the faith that was entrusted to the saints once and for all. Vile men have slithered in among us. Depraved souls who stand condemned have made a mockery of the grace given to us, using it as a pretext for a life of excess, lived without any thought of God. These poor fools have denied Jesus the Anointed, our one Lord and Master. 

You have heard the stories many times, and the Spirit has enlightened you about their meaning, but you still need to be reminded. Remember when the Lord saved our ancestors from the land in Egypt? He breathed life into their earthen lungs and took back the life from those who did not believe. And God has kept the rebellious heavenly messengers bound and chained in utter darkness — shadowy gloom — until the time when His judgment arrives, because they failed to keep their rightful positions and abandoned their appointed realms. Sodom and Gomorrah and all their neighbors were defeated by their own sexual perversions as they pursued the strange and unnatural impulses of the flesh. Let these who went their own way and are experiencing the eternal heat of God's vengeance — a punishment by fire — be a warning to you. 

These stories are examples to help you understand the fate of those dreamers who have slipped in and defiled your community, rejected those in charge, and insulted the glorious majesty of the heavenly messengers. Even their chief, Michael, when disputing with the devil over Moses' body, did not offer his own taunting judgment against him. Michael simply said, "May the Lord's rebuke fall on you." 

The deceivers among you despise what they do not understand; they live without reason like animals, reacting only with primal instincts; and their ways are corrupting them. Woe to these deceivers! They are doomed! They have followed in the footsteps of their father Cain, sold their souls for profit into Balaam's deceit, and suffered the devastation of Korah's rebellion. 

These men are cold stones on the warm hearth of your love feasts as they glut themselves without fear, thinking only of their own benefit. They are waterless clouds, carried away by the wind; autumn's lonely and barren trees, twice dead, uprooted; violent waves of the sea breaking over the bow, foaming with shame; lost and wandering stars destined to live forever in gloomy darkness. 
(Jude 1:1-13) 

This is now, my dear friends, my second letter to you. In both of them, I have tried to inspire you to a sincere and pure way of thinking by reminding you of what you already know. Remember the words spoken earlier by God's holy prophets and the commandment that our Lord and Savior gave to you through your emissaries. Above all, be sure to remember that in the last days mockers will come, following their own desires and taunting you, saying, "So what happened to the promised second coming of Jesus? For everything keeps going just the way it has since our ancestors fell asleep in death; since the beginning of creation, nothing's changed." 

When they make fun of you, it's as if the scoffers are deliberately forgetting that long ago when God spoke the word, the heavens came into existence and the earth formed from water and by water. The waters later flooded and destroyed that world. By that same word, the heavens and earth we see now are being reserved for destruction by fire, preserved until the time comes for the godless on the day of judgment. 

Don't imagine, dear friends, that God's timetable is the same as ours; as the psalm says, for with the Lord, one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is like one day. 

Now the Lord is not slow about enacting His promise — slow is how some people want to characterize it — no, He is not slow but patient and merciful to you, not wanting anyone to be destroyed, but wanting everyone to turn away from following his own path and to turn toward God's. 

The day of the Lord will come unexpectedly like a thief in the night; and on that day, the sky will vanish with a roar, the elements will melt with intense heat, and the earth and all the works done on it will be seen as they truly are. Knowing that one day all this will come to pass, think what sort of people you ought to be — how you should be living faithful and godly lives, waiting hopefully for and hastening the coming of God's day when the heavens will vanish in flames and the elements melt away with intense heat. What will happen next, and what we hope for, is what God promised: a new heaven and a new earth where justice reigns. 

So, my friends, while we wait for the day of the Lord, work hard to live in peace, without flaw or blemish; and look at the patience of the Lord as your salvation. 
(2 Peter 3:1-15) 

You, however, should stand firm in the love of God, constructing a life within the holy faith, praying the Spirit's prayer, as you wait eagerly for the mercy of our Lord Jesus the Anointed, which leads to eternal life. 

Keep being kind to those who waver in this faith. Pursue those who are singed by the flames of God's wrath, and bring them safely to Him. Show mercy to others with fear, despising every garment soiled by the weakness of human flesh. 

Now to the One Who can keep you upright and plant you firmly in His presence — clean, unmarked, and joyful in the light of His glory — to the one and only God, our Savior, through Jesus the Anointed our Lord, be glory and greatness and might and authority; just as it has been since before He created time, may it continue now and into eternity. Amen. 
(Jude 1:20-25)
Response in Prayer

Father, please help me discern Your truth and recognize false teachers. I don't want to be strident or arrogant in my faith. Neither do I want to tolerate doctrine and teaching that are harmful to Your people. Give me wisdom, dear Father, through Your Holy Spirit within me as I seek to discern Your truth, Your teachers, and Your will. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International..
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Post  Admin on Wed 02 Nov 2016, 10:39 pm

Peter's Parting Exhortations" — A Year with Jesus for 11/02/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious Disciple, 

Much as 2 Timothy serves as a farewell message for Paul as he nears the end of his life, 2 Peter plays a similar role for the apostle Peter. He writes this letter to help churches to be able to resist false teachers and to know how to live productive lives of service and faithfulness after he is gone:
I want to be certain you will be able to call these things to mind anytime you need them even after I am gone.
Your verses today emphasize continued growth — adding this virtue to that virtue and to that virtue another virtue and to another virtue yet one more virtue... As Peter states, continued growth is necessary so that:
[Y]ou will never be ineffective or unproductive in your relationship with our Lord Jesus.
[Y]ou will never fall along the way; and you can be sure that you will be richly welcomed into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King.
While each of these virtues from the verses below is important, the commitment to continued growth is especially important, and these virtues that Peter charges the disciples to have will then be byproducts of that continued growth. The Holy Spirit is at work transforming you to become ever more like Me (2 Corinthians 3:18), producing the character and compassion in you that you know as the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Paul talked about not having arrived to full maturity, but pressing on to reach it personally (Philippians 3:12-16). Here Peter makes a similar point with My disciples in their own walk toward becoming conformed fully to My "divine nature." 

The goal, as Peter states it, is this:
[T]o reflect God's true nature through the knowledge of the One Who called us by His glory and virtue. Through these things, we have received God's great and valuable promises, so we might escape the corruption of worldly desires and share in the divine nature.
So as long as Peter can "draw breath," he will "keep on stirring you [My disciples] up with these reminders"! 

As you read these verses, I hope you will feel the urgency in Peter's words and recognize the importance of not losing your passion for growing to be more and more like Me. The "eternal kingdom" awaits you, so pursue My character and compassion — "the divine nature" — and know with assurance that My glory awaits you!
Verses to Live

The last words of people before they die are often etched into the memories of their loved ones. Peter is hoping that is exactly what happens with the words of this letter he is sending to My disciples. I have preserved these words for you so that their message can be etched into your memory and displayed in your lives. Their theme is simple and clear: "<[G]row in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord."
Simon Peter, a servant and emissary of Jesus the Anointed One, to those who have received the same precious faith we share through the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus the Anointed. I wish you a full measure of grace and peace as you grow in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 

His divine power has given us everything we need to experience life and to reflect God's true nature through the knowledge of the One Who called us by His glory and virtue. Through these things, we have received God's great and valuable promises, so we might escape the corruption of worldly desires and share in the divine nature. 

To achieve this, you will need to add virtue to your faith, and then knowledge to your virtue; to knowledge, add discipline; to discipline, add endurance; to endurance, add godliness; to godliness, add affection for others as sisters and brothers; and to affection, at last, add love. For if you possess these traits and multiply them, then you will never be ineffective or unproductive in your relationship with our Lord Jesus the Anointed; but if you don't have these qualities, then you will be nearsighted and blind, forgetting that your past sins have been washed away. Therefore, brothers and sisters, work that much harder to confirm that God has called you and claimed you. If you do this, then you will never fall along the way; and you can be sure that you will be richly welcomed into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King. 

That is why I will keep reminding you of these things, even though I know that you believe them and have made these truths a part of your lives; as long as I draw breath, I know it is right for me to keep on stirring you up with these reminders. I know that soon I must die and lay down this old body that's been my home — our Lord Jesus the Anointed has told me so. But before my exodus from this life, I want to be certain you will be able to call these things to mind anytime you need them even after I am gone. 
(2 Peter 1:1-15)
Response in Prayer

Father, life can wear me down and distract me. I can become bored and chase after things that don't matter much, but that fascinate me. So I thank You for Peter's words today that urge me to keep growing and pursuing a life that seeks to share in Your "divine nature" by growing in knowledge and in the experience of Your presence and nature. I offer myself afresh today, to be molded and conformed to Jesus, in Whose name I pray. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Post  Admin on Tue 01 Nov 2016, 5:50 pm

Trial by Fire" — A Year with Jesus for 11/01/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Friends, 

Years before Peter wrote his short letter known as 1 Peter to My disciples, he was repeatedly persecuted. He regularly encountered strong opposition from the Sanhedrin, the same Jewish ruling council in Jerusalem that had called for My death. On one of those occasions when the Sanhedrin had threatened Peter and My other apostles, they left rejoicing. Luke described it this way:
As they left the council, they weren't discouraged at all. In fact, they were filled with joy over being considered worthy to suffer disgrace for the sake of His [My] name. And constantly, whether in public, in the temple, or in their homes, they kept teaching and proclaiming Jesus as the Anointed One, the Liberating King. 
(Acts 5:41-42)
Years later, Peter wrote to believers in Asia Minor as they faced the same kind of treatment he had endured. He reminded them to follow the example he set years earlier:
[I]f you should suffer for being a Christian, don't think of it as a disgrace... Praise God that you're permitted to carry this name.
In addition to rejoicing, Peter encouraged these believers facing their own "trial by fire" to do things that would help them in their time of persecution. He called on them to do the following:
Stay focused on what is eternally important.
Pray.
Love each other faithfully.
Share hospitality.
Use their gifts, whether they were speaking or serving gifts. These gifts enabled them to bless each other and honor the Father.
Consider themselves blessed as they rejoiced in suffering for My name, being fully assured that they would share in My coming glory with Me.
Remember the Holy Spirit rested upon and lived within them, so they were not alone even in times of suffering.
Make sure their suffering was for doing what was right and not what was wrong.
Praise God that they wore My name, Jesus, the Anointed One.
Be humble before the Father, knowing that He would lift them up at the right time.
Share their burdens and cares with the Father because He loved them, cared for them, and longed to help shoulder their hardships.
Be disciplined and on guard because the evil one was roaming like a hungry lion looking to devour people.
Don't fear the devil, but resist him using their strong faith knowing that they were not alone in their suffering.
Remember that the same Fa! ther Who will share His eternal presence with them in glory will also restore, support, strengthen, and establish them in their lives as they await participating in that glorious presence.
This list is especially important for all who are facing suffering, trial, and persecution. Not only is it practical, but it is also encouraging. Peter wanted My disciples facing their own "trial by fire" to have a readily available set of strategies to remain faithful. Despite the obvious and painful difficulties they faced, he wanted these disciples to remember that victory and glory awaited them. 

Near the beginning and the end of his letter, Peter rejoiced because of My victory over sin, death, and hell. He assured his readers that all who sincerely believe in Me will share in My glory. Near the beginning, he said:
Although you haven't seen Jesus, you still love Him. Although you don't yet see Him, you do believe in Him and celebrate with a joy that is glorious and beyond words. You are receiving the salvation of your souls as the result of your faith. 
(1 Peter 1:8-9)
You can find his rejoicing near the end of his letter toward the end of the second set of verses below.
Verses to Live

The following two sets of verses come from chapter 4 and chapter 5 in 1 Peter. The first part of chapter 5 has two exhortations that are related to leadership but are not included here. In those verses, Peter first makes an impassioned call for elders to serve as shepherds of My flock: they are not bosses that lord it over those they lead but are to be loving shepherds (1 Peter 5:1-4). Second, he calls for the younger men to follow the elders' leadership and to be humble (1 Peter 5:5). 

Strong leadership is essential always but especially when My people are facing persecution. These words and guidelines today are extraordinarily valuable to help My people know what to do when faced with persecution. I want you to incorporate them into your life as My disciple.
We are coming to the end of all things, so be serious and keep your wits about you in order to pray more forcefully. Most of all, love each other steadily and unselfishly, because love makes up for many faults. Show hospitality to each other without complaint. Use whatever gift you've received for the good of one another so that you can show yourselves to be good stewards of God's grace in all its varieties. If you're called upon to talk, speak as though God put the words in your mouth; if you're called upon to serve others, serve as though you had the strength of God behind you. In these ways, God may be glorified in all you do through Jesus the Anointed, to Whom belongs glory and power, now and forever. Amen. 

Dear ones, don't be surprised when you experience your trial by fire. It is not something strange and unusual, but it is something you should rejoice in. In it you share the Anointed's sufferings, and you will be that much more joyful when His glory is revealed. If anyone condemns you for following Jesus as the Anointed One, consider yourself blessed. The glorious Spirit of God rests on you. But none of you should ever merit suffering like those who have murdered or stolen, meddled in the affairs of others or done evil things. But if you should suffer for being a Christian, don't think of it as a disgrace, as it would be if you had done wrong. Praise God that you're permitted to carry this name. 
(1 Peter 4:7-16) 

So bow down under God's strong hand; then when the time comes, God will lift you up. Since God cares for you, let Him carry all your burdens and worries. 

Most importantly, be disciplined and stay on guard. Your enemy the devil is prowling around outside like a roaring lion, just waiting and hoping for the chance to devour someone. Resist him and be strong in your faith, knowing that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are fellow sufferers with you. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of grace Who has called you to His everlasting presence through Jesus the Anointed will restore you, support you, strengthen you, and ground you. For all power belongs to God, now and forever. Amen. 
(1 Peter 5:6-11)
Response in Prayer

Father, two things tug at my heart today after reading these verses. First, I think of those who are facing incredible persecution today for the sake of Your name. Give them strength and faithfulness. Please intervene in our world and bring them relief and rescue. Second, dear Father, give me strength so that my faith can stand in the face of challenge, ridicule, oppression, and persecution. I want to be faithful no matter what happens. Thank You for someone like Peter, who faced multiple persecutions. His words mean all the more to me because I know he did not share them lightly. I know he wrote inspired by the Holy Spirit as well as having endured great personal hardships. Thank You for such a heritage of faith and such straightforward teaching. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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Post  Admin on Mon 31 Oct 2016, 11:27 pm

"Unjust Suffering" — A Year with Jesus for 10/31/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

Life sometimes is not fair. If you have any doubts about that, just remember what you celebrate when you take part in Communion. My body was pierced and abused. My blood was shed because I was condemned based on the lies, jealousy, and politics of evil men. I was sinless, yet crucified as a heinous criminal. When you face unjust suffering, persecution, harassment, or abuse because you wear My name, remember that I also faced unfair and unjust treatment. 

If you suffer for doing what is wrong, you are only getting what you deserve. However, if you suffer unjustly and unfairly, people will usually notice. People of faith will be empowered and emboldened. Unbelievers will recognize your holy behavior. Except for the most hardened hearts under hell's influence, your godly behavior in the face of injustice and unfairness appeals to the hearts of those looking for truth. Don't be discouraged. Your suffering will neither be wasted nor be forgotten by the Father. 

In the face of ridicule, harassment, and abuse, your righteous character and gracious compassion will win the hearts of those who witness your life. Some will even want to know what your reason is for having hope in Me. So be ready to give an explanation of your hope in Me. But remember, do this "humbly and respectfully" in a manner consistent with your way of life as My disciple. Your goal is not just to win your case, protect your freedom, and safeguard your rights. Your goal is also to win the hearts of the unbelievers by using the character and compassion of your life.
Verses to Live

I selected your verses today from 1 Peter chapters 2 and 3. They are connected by the theme of righteous and compassionate behavior while facing unjust suffering. The principles Peter shares in these verses show his maturity and mellowing. 

I transformed Peter from the arrogant and impetuous apostle who sometimes overstated things into the loving shepherd who faced tough times and wanted to equip others for their tough times. Whether you face persecution, ostracism, injustice, unfairness, or passive-aggressive hostility from those around you, Peter's words in today's verses need to grab your heart. I want Peter's teaching to mold your behavior so that you can be an effective witness for Me.
For the Lord's sake, accept the decrees and laws of all the various human institutions, whether they come from the highest human ruler or agents he sends to punish those who do wrong and to reward those who do well. You see, it is God's will that by doing what is right and good you should hush the gabbing ignorance of the foolish. Live as those who are free and not as those who use their freedom as a pretext for evil, but live as God's servants. Respect everyone. Love the community of believers. Reverence God. Honor your ruler. 

If you are a slave, submit yourself to the master who has authority over you, whether he is kind and gentle or harsh as he deals with you. For grace is clearly at work when a person accepts undeserved pain and suffering and does so because he is mindful of God. For what credit is there in enduring punishment you deserve? But if you do what is right and yet are punished and endure it patiently, God will be pleased with you. For you were called to this kind of life, as Isaiah said,
He did no wrong deed, 
and no evil word came from His mouth.
The Anointed One suffered for us and left us His example so that we could follow in His steps. When He was verbally abused, He didn't return the abuse; when He suffered, He didn't make threats to cause suffering in return; instead, He trusted that all would be put right by the One Who is just when He judges. 
(1 Peter 2:13-23) 

Finally, all of you, be like-minded and show sympathy, love, compassion, and humility to and for each other — not paying back evil with evil or insult with insult, but repaying the bad with a blessing. It was this you were called to do, so that you might inherit a blessing. 

...

Why would anyone harm you if you eagerly do good? Even if you should suffer for doing what is right, you will receive a blessing. Don't let them frighten you. Don't be intimidated, but exalt Him as Lord in your heart. Always be ready to offer a defense, humbly and respectfully, when someone asks why you live in hope. Keep your conscience clear so that those who ridicule your good conduct in the Anointed and say bad things about you will be put to shame. 

For if it is the will of God that you suffer, then it is better to suffer for doing what is right than for doing what is wrong. The Anointed One suffered for sins once for all time — the righteous suffering for the unrighteous — so that He might bring us to God. 
(1 Peter 3:8-9; 1 Peter 3:13-18)
Response in Prayer

Holy and compassionate Father, please give me the strength to be gracious as well as faithful in the face of injustice, unfairness, ostracism, and intolerance. I want to demonstrate Your righteous character and Your gracious compassion. I ask You to fill and empower me with the Holy Spirit. I offer myself to You as Your willing servant and witness. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Post  Admin on Sun 30 Oct 2016, 9:03 pm

"Be Holy!" — A Year with Jesus for 10/30/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Holy One, 

You are a saint! The term means "holy one." That is what you are because of your redemption purchased with My blood. I have made you a "priest" and part of "a royal order of priests who offer up spiritual sacrifices." Like "living stones" you are being "assembled" into the holy dwelling place for Us — Father, Son, and Spirit. Being a saint means that you have dedicated and set apart your life to live for the Father's purpose in your world. 

I know a common saying in your world is, "I'm no saint!" However, if you have been reborn into My family, if you are truly My disciple, then you are not only a child of the Father, you are also a saint! You are a person living for God's purposes and seeking to reflect God's righteous character and gracious compassion in your life. You are part of My holy people who are a "royal order of priests, a holy nation... so that you may proclaim the wondrous acts of the One Who called you out of inky darkness into shimmering light." Don't downplay what I have made of you. Don't shortchange the role I have asked you to fulfill in a world of darkness and decay. 

Peter's point in the verses below is clear: Be holy! Live up to who you are! 

"Be holy in all you do" because of Who your Father is: He is holy, so you must reflect that holiness in all that you do. 

Be holy because you know a great "price was paid to redeem you" from your old life that led to destruction. Your redemption price was paid by My "precious blood" when I offered Myself as the "perfect and unblemished sacrificial lamb." 

Be holy because you have been reborn through the living and enduring "word of God." 

Be holy because "you have tasted and found the Lord to be good." 

Be holy because you are part of "a holy order of priests who offer up spiritual sacrifices." You are being "assembled into a spiritual" temple where We live. 

Be holy because you are "chosen" and "royal" and because you are designated to be "holy"! As Peter says it, you are "God's own"! 

Be holy because "you don't belong in this world. You are resident aliens living in exile" among people who don't understand you or appreciate you. However, as they get to know you, as they see your honorable behavior, as they witness your holy life, and as you live obediently to My will, you will be light to their darkness and salt to their decay (Matthew 5:13-16). Your influence upon the world around you will matter. 

Be holy. Live up to who you are. Be who the Father has made you to be based on your faith and rebirth into Our family. Even if you suffer for your faith, be holy in the face of suffering knowing that your example and sacrifice will influence others to know Me and be ready for My return.
Verses to Live

The following collection of verses comes from 1 Peter chapters 1 and 2. Peter wrote to folks facing trials and persecutions. He knew their suffering, especially suffering for doing what was right, was unfair. His first answer about how they should deal with their situation, the answer that I shared in My note yesterday, focused on praise. The disciples needed to rejoice in their living hope they had in Me. Today's verses are Peter's reminder to them of their new and exalted identity as My people who were purchased by My sacrifice and called to a clear purpose — "so that you may proclaim the wondrous acts of the One Who called you out of inky darkness into shimmering light." Tomorrow's verses will emphasize that if they were going to suffer, they needed to make sure they suffered for doing what was right and not for doing what was wrong.
So get yourselves ready, prepare your minds to act, control yourselves, and look forward in hope as you focus on the grace that comes when Jesus the Anointed returns and is completely revealed to you. Be like obedient children as you put aside the desires you used to pursue when you didn't know better. Since the One Who called you is holy, be holy in all you do. For the Scripture says, "You are to be holy, for I am holy." If you call on the Father Who judges everyone without partiality according to their actions, then you should live in reverence and awe while you live out the days of your exile. 

You know that a price was paid to redeem you from following the empty ways handed on to you by your ancestors; it was not paid with things that perish (like silver and gold), but with the precious blood of the Anointed, Who was like a perfect and unblemished sacrificial lamb. God determined to send Him before the world began, but He came into the world in these last days for your sake. Through Him, you've been brought to trust in God, Who raised Him from the dead and glorified Him for the very reason that your faith and hope are in Him. 

Now that you have taken care to purify your souls through your submission to the truth, you can experience real love for each other. So love each other deeply from a pure heart. You have been reborn — not from seed that eventually dies but from seed that is eternal — through the word of God that lives and endures forever 
(1 Peter 1:13-23) 

So get rid of hatefulness and deception, of insincerity and jealousy and slander. Be like newborn babies, crying out for spiritual milk that will help you grow into salvation if you have tasted and found the Lord to be good. 

Come to Him — the living stone — Who was rejected by people but accepted by God as chosen and precious. Like living stones, let yourselves be assembled into a spiritual house, a holy order of priests who offer up spiritual sacrifices that will be acceptable to God through Jesus the Anointed. 
(1 Peter 2:1-5) 

But you are a chosen people, set aside to be a royal order of priests, a holy nation, God's own; so that you may proclaim the wondrous acts of the One Who called you out of inky darkness into shimmering light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received it. 

Beloved, remember you don't belong in this world. You are resident aliens living in exile, so resist those desires of the flesh that battle against the soul. Live honorably among the outsiders so that, even when some may be inclined to call you criminals, when they see your good works, they might give glory to God when He returns in judgment. 
(1 Peter 2:9-12)
Response in Prayer

O Father, forgive me for not valuing who I am in Jesus. Forgive me for not living up to what You have made me and declared me to be. Too often I get caught up in the day-to-day messes of my world. I so easily forget that You have put me where I am to be a witness to Your grace, mercy, and redemption. I need strength to be bold. I yearn for holy wisdom. I long to boldly proclaim Your wondrous grace that has delivered me from my darkness into Your "shimmering light" of salvation and purpose. I ask for this strength and courage in Jesus' name. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Post  Admin on Sat 29 Oct 2016, 11:18 pm

"A Living Hope" — A Year with Jesus for 10/29/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Faithful One, 

Life is full of challenges when you are bound to the realities of mortality. I know, not just because I AM God, but also because I faced these realities in My physical body. I also know that many of My disciples have endured persecution and even faced martyrdom. 

As Peter addresses disciples facing imminent persecution and possible martyrdom, he doesn't begin with kind words of encouragement. Rather, he starts his letter with an outburst of praise to the Father. He is overwhelmed with joy because of "a living hope" and "an eternal inheritance... that will never fade or fail." 

Like the early disciples to whom Peter was writing, you did not witness My earthly life and ministry. As I promised Thomas, those who have not seen Me and yet still believe are blessed (John 20:29)! As Peter said, you are blessed because "you do believe in Him [Me] and celebrate with a joy that is glorious and beyond words. You are receiving the salvation of your souls as the result of your faith." 

While you look back in faith on what I did, know that angels — the "heavenly messengers" — stood on tiptoe in anticipation of My coming (1 Peter 1:12). They knew their waiting and wondering about Me were to serve you and your fellow disciples, the very people on whom the end of ages has come. 

In times of trial and persecution, genuine encouragement always begins with Me and involves praise for what the Father has done through Me. Hope is built on faith in Me and on praise of My resurrection and glorification and the glory that you will share with Me! Platitudes and slogans will not sustain people through the storms of persecution and martyrdom; praise rooted in the things I have done for you and promised to you will sustain you!
Verses to Live

As you read these words of praise immediately following the opening salutation in the letter you call 1 Peter, I encourage you to read these words several times. Instead of being intimidated by your times, your enemies, or the threats against you, focus on the assurance of your hope — I have conquered what you face, and I will share My "praise, honor, and glory" when I AM "revealed at last"!
Blessed is God, the Father of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One! Because He has raised Jesus the Anointed from death, through His great mercy we have been reborn into a living hope — reborn for an eternal inheritance, held in reserve in heaven, that will never fade or fail. Through faith, God's power is standing watch, protecting you for a salvation that you will see completely at the end of things. You should greatly rejoice in what is waiting for you, even if now for a little while you have to suffer various trials. Suffering tests your faith which is more valuable than gold (remember that gold, although it is perishable, is tested by fire) so that if it is found genuine, you can receive praise, honor, and glory when Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King, is revealed at last. 

Although you haven't seen Jesus, you still love Him. Although you don't yet see Him, you do believe in Him and celebrate with a joy that is glorious and beyond words. You are receiving the salvation of your souls as the result of your faith. 

The prophets who spoke of this outpouring of grace upon you diligently searched and inquired of the Lord about this salvation: to whom and to what time was the indwelling Spirit of the Anointed referring when He told them about the suffering of the Anointed and the honor that would follow it? The Spirit revealed to them they were not serving themselves but you. And you have learned from those who told you the good news by the Spirit that was sent down from heaven. Even the heavenly messengers would like to explore this news. 
(1 Peter 1:3-12)
Response in Prayer

O Father, thank You for my living hope, Jesus Christ, the Anointed One. Thank You for His victory over sin, death, and hell. Thank You for the character and compassion that He demonstrated while on earth. Thank You for the assurance of my victory over sin, death, and hell because I am united with Him. I pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Post  Admin on Fri 28 Oct 2016, 5:37 pm

"Worship in Your Daily World" — A Year with Jesus for 10/28/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

While involving yourself in Christian assembly and gathering together with believers for encouragement, exhortation and worship are important (Hebrews 10:19-25), your worship should be much more extensive than an hour or two of the week spent with other believers. We — Father, Son, and Spirit — want your whole life to be your worship. It must be much more than just a little sliver of your time offered one or two days of the week. I commanded you to love Us "with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength" (Mark 12:30). That means that everything you do should be done as part of your worship. Paul said it well when he wrote to Christians in Rome:
Brothers and sisters, in light of all I have shared with you about God's mercies, I urge you to offer your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice to God, a sacred offering that brings Him pleasure; this is your reasonable, essential worship. 
(Romans 12:1)
As My writer of Hebrews comes to the end of his "word of exhortation" (Hebrews 13:22), he calls on his readers — and I'm calling on you — to worship in all of your daily world with head, heart, and hands. 

Unfortunately, the chapter divisions in your Bibles can sometimes lead you to miss the Holy Spirit's message. With the chapter break, Hebrews chapter 12 ends with a call to worship with "awe and reverence." Some mistakenly think this is talking about being reverent when you gather for Christian assembly. Now, of course, all worship needs to be approached with "awe and reverence." However, this division between chapter 12 and chapter 13 in your Bibles may lead you to miss the main point being made by the Holy Spirit. This "awe and reverence" needs to be a part of your worship in the daily world. In fact, He tells how to worship in "awe and reverence" in the first 14 verses of chapter 13. He then returns to the thought He began at the end of chapter 12: "the praise of lips that confess His [My] name without ceasing" and doing "what is good" and sharing "what we [you] have." These are the "sacrifices" that please Us! 

So what specifically is this worship in your daily world that is done with "awe and reverence"? 

Here are some exhortations from this section of Hebrews:
Let your love continue toward each other.
Extend hospitality, including to strangers.
Don't forget to care for those in prison for their faith.
Value marriage and keep your marriage sexually pure and dedicated to the person to whom you are married.
Stay away from greed and the love of money; be content with what you have. Trust that We will never forsake you.
Follow your Godly leaders and live the kind of life they have lived.
Stay away from new and strange teachings.
Avoid the type of worship that values special foods.
Join Me and My work, even if it means being pushed outside the acceptance of the crowd. This principle is valid even if your holy life leads to suffering for My cause. Remember that you have a better future with Me.
This, My dear disciple, is true worship. Yes, I love it when you praise the Father and confess My name in word and song. However, don't forget to do good to all people and share what you have, who you are, and what you believe with others. This, My dear disciple, is also real worship. These are things that you can do each day to worship Us with "awe and reverence"!
Verses to Live

Writers and speakers in the first century often signaled that material went together by using a technique called inclusio. Basically, they put verbal brackets or bookends around their teaching. These bookends used similar language to show that the spoken or written words between them went together. The writer of Hebrews used this technique to frame this section on worship. He began with an emphasis on worship (Hebrews 12:28-29) and ended with this same theme (Hebrews 13:15-16). In between these two verbal brackets, he shared what this worship looked like in the everyday world of the disciples. 

Focus on two things as you read this material with its bookends:
Notice how this list from 2,000 years ago is still relevant, needed, and proper in your day.
Ask yourself what other things you could add to this list about how to worship the Father in your daily world.
Therefore, let us all be thankful that we are a part of an unshakable Kingdom and offer to God worship that pleases Him and reflects the awe and reverence we have toward Him, for He is like a fierce fire that consumes everything. 

Let love continue among you. Don't forget to extend your hospitality to all — even to strangers — for as you know, some have unknowingly shown kindness to heavenly messengers in this way. Remember those imprisoned for their beliefs as if you were their cellmate; and care for any who suffer harsh treatment, as you are all one body. 

Hold marriage in high esteem, all of you, and keep the marriage bed pure because God will judge those who commit sexual sins. 

Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have because He has said, "I will never leave you; I will always be by your side." Because of this promise, we may boldly say,
The Lord is my help — 
I won't be afraid of anything. 
How can anyone harm me?
Listen to your leaders, who have spoken God's word to you. Notice the fruits of their lives and mirror their faith. 

Jesus the Anointed One is always the same: yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried away by diverse and strange ways of believing or worshiping. It is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by regulations about what you can eat (which do no good even for those who observe them). We approach an altar from which those who stand before the altar in the tent have no right to eat. In the past, the bodies of those animals whose blood was carried into the sanctuary by the high priest to take away sin were all burned outside the camp. (In the same way, Jesus suffered and bled outside the city walls of Jerusalem to sanctify the people.) 

Let's then go out to Him and resolve to bear the insult and abuse that He endured. For as long as we are here, we do not live in any permanent city, but are looking for the city that is to come. 

Through Jesus, then, let us keep offering to God our own sacrifice, the praise of lips that confess His name without ceasing. Let's not neglect what is good and share what we have, for these sacrifices also please God. 
(Hebrews 12:28-29; Hebrews 13:1-16)
Response in Prayer

O Father, please help me tear down the wall in my mind that I use to separate my life into compartments of the secular and the sacred. Help me, dear Father, to live with all my life as sacred. Help me to recognize that all of my thoughts, emotions, and actions are part of my worship of You. I want to worship You with all of my heart, soul, mind and strength in every moment of my life. So please, dear Father, may my thoughts be worship. May my heart be full of Your praise. May the work of my hands and the path of my feet in my daily life bring You honor, glory, and praise. May my soul be filled with Your gracious compassion as well as Your passion for righteous character and sacrificial living. I ask this in the name of Jesus, Who lived a life of worship and praise in His daily world to bring Your grace to all He taught, loved, and touched. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
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Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
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Post  Admin on Thu 27 Oct 2016, 10:14 pm

"Encouragement Matters" — A Year with Jesus for 10/27/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious One, 

Encouragement matters! You were not created to do life alone. 

We — Father, Son, and Spirit — made Adam to need Eve and Eve to need Adam. We called Abraham to be the father of a nation, not a solo person of faith. That nation was Israel, and we formed Israel to be the redeeming influence on the world. Our intent was never that Israel would be a race that retreated from the world, but We called Israel to lead the world to faith in Us. Israel didn't fulfill that mission, but then I came as God in the flesh, Jesus of Nazareth. I did not live My life alone or conduct My ministry alone; I had many disciples. I called twelve apostles to be close to Me. I even had three disciples who were very close to me. Their names were Peter, James, and John. I shared some very important moments with them and them alone. I had a group of women who were close to Me, who helped support My ministry, and who accompanied My apostles as they followed Me. The point is, My precious one, I did not do life alone. Even with My close relationship with the Father as the Son of God, I entered into fellowship and companionship with people. 

After My death and resurrection, I poured out the Holy Spirit on My disciples at Pentecost. Peter preached a message that called on people to turn to Me in repentance, to be baptized for the forgiveness of their sins, to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, and to be added to My new people of faith (Acts 2:38-47). Immediately this group of followers began to meet publicly in big groups and in homes as small groups. The point is that they knew they needed to do life together as My spiritual family. In your New Testament, you will see My church referred to as a family (Galatians 6:10; Hebrews 2:11) and as My bodily presence on earth (Romans 12:4-8; 1 Corinthians 12:12-30). These two images are more than symbolic as they speak to the truth of your need for each other and for your connectedness with each other. 

After the writer of Hebrews had finished his detailed explanation of the new covenant, he returned to his main purpose in writing his "word of exhortation" (Hebrews 13:22): he encouraged My disciples not to forsake meeting together. They needed each other, and they needed to encourage each other. Then he gave a series of examples of ordinary people with great faith. These were My people, and they are your spiritual ancestors. He used these great stories of faith to be the motivation for his target audience to be faithful. In fact, he emphasized that the faith of these great heroes of faith didn't accomplish its clear objective if My disciples didn't live out their faith in their day:
These, though commended by God for their great faith, did not receive what was promised. That promise has awaited us, who receive the better thing that God has provided in these last days, so that with us, our forebears might finally see the promise completed. 
(Hebrews 11:39-40)
Yesterday's explanation of the better covenant emphasized My new covenant with you. This covenant is built on My better and once-forever sacrifice making Me a better High Priest. This teaching spoke to the disciples' intellect, to their heads. Today's examples and exhortations, however, appealed to their hearts, their emotions, and passions. After these examples and exhortations, the writer included these words:
So since we stand surrounded by all those who have gone before, an enormous cloud of witnesses, let us drop every extra weight, every sin that clings to us and slackens our pace, and let us run with endurance the long race set before us. 

Now stay focused on Jesus, Who designed and perfected our faith. He endured the cross and ignored the shame of that death because He focused on the joy that was set before Him; and now He is seated beside God on the throne, a place of honor. 

Consider the life of the One Who endured such personal attacks and hostility from sinners so that you will not grow weary or lose heart. 
(Hebrews 12:1-3)
Encouragement matters. You need it. Even in those few times in your life when you may not need encouragement to persevere, others around you will. So encourage each other. Be encouraged by your heroes of the faith — both living and those who have long been with Jesus. Don't lose heart and don't let your brothers and sisters in faith lose heart. Your encouragement of each other matters!
Verses to Live

As you read today's verses, hear first the importance of getting together with other believers. Encourage each other to live My life before your watching world. Then, I want you to be blessed and encouraged by the great examples of faith in Hebrews chapter 11. Remember, these are not "Bible characters" who are somehow different from you. These are simply everyday folks, ordinary characters, who lived by faith to honor the Father. They are in the Bible because of that faith, not because they were somehow better than anyone else. You, too, can be in the Father's faith hall of fame if you will stay connected with My other followers and encourage each other to live faithfully for Me! 
Since we have a great High Priest Who presides over the house of God, let us draw near with true hearts full of faith, with hearts rinsed clean of any evil conscience, and with bodies cleansed with pure water. Let us hold strong to the confession of our hope, never wavering, since the One Who promised it to us is faithful. Let us consider how to inspire each other to greater love and to righteous deeds, not forgetting to gather as a community, as some have forgotten, but encouraging each other, especially as the day of His return approaches. 
(Hebrews 10:21-25) 

My friends, we are not those who give up hope and so are lost; but we are of the company who live by faith and so are saved. 

Faith is the assurance of things you have hoped for, the absolute conviction that there are realities you've never seen. It was by faith that our forebears were approved. Through faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God; everything we now see was fashioned from that which is invisible. 

By faith Abel presented to God a sacrifice more acceptable than his brother Cain's. By faith Abel learned he was righteous, as God Himself testified by approving his offering. And by faith he still speaks, although his voice was silenced by death. 

By faith Enoch was carried up into heaven so that he did not see death; no one could find him because God had taken him. Before he was taken up, it was said of him that he had pleased God. Without faith no one can please God because the one coming to God must believe He exists, and He rewards those who come seeking. 

By faith Noah respected God's warning regarding the flood — the likes of which no one had ever seen — and built an ark that saved his family. In this he condemned the world and inherited the righteousness that comes by faith. 

By faith Abraham heard God's call to travel to a place he would one day receive as an inheritance; and he obeyed, not knowing where God's call would take him. By faith he journeyed to the land of the promise as a foreigner; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, his fellow heirs to the promise because Abraham looked ahead to a city with foundations, a city laid out and built by God. 

By faith Abraham's wife Sarah became fertile long after menopause because she believed God would be faithful to His promise. So from this man, who was almost at death's door, God brought forth descendants, as many as the stars in the sky and as impossible to count as the sands of the shore. 

All these I have mentioned died in faith without receiving the full promises, although they saw the fulfillment as though from a distance. These people accepted and confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on this earth because people who speak like this make it plain that they are still seeking a homeland. If this was only a bit of nostalgia for a time and place they left behind, then certainly they might have turned around and returned. But such saints as these look forward to a far better place, a heavenly country. So God is not ashamed to be called their God because He has prepared a heavenly city for them. 

By faith Abraham, when he endured God's testing, offered his beloved son Isaac as a sacrifice. The one who had received God's promise was willing to offer his only son; God had told him, "It is through Isaac that your descendants will bear your name," and he concluded that God was capable of raising him from the dead, which, figuratively, is indeed what happened. 

By faith Isaac spoke blessings upon his sons, Jacob and Esau, concerning things yet to come. 

By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed the sons of his son Joseph, bowing in worship as he leaned upon his staff. 

By faith Joseph, at his life's end, predicted that the children of Israel would make an exodus from Egypt; and he gave instructions that his bones be buried in the land they would someday reach. 

By faith Moses' parents hid him for three months after he was born because they saw that he was handsome; and they did not fear Pharaoh's directive that all male Hebrew children were to be slain. 

By faith Moses, when he was grown, refused to be identified solely as the son of Pharaoh's daughter and chose instead to share the sufferings of the people of God, not just living in sin and ease for a time. He considered the abuse that he and the people of God had suffered in anticipation of the Anointed One more valuable than all the riches of Egypt because he looked ahead to the coming reward. 

By faith Moses left Egypt, unafraid of Pharaoh's wrath and moving forward as though he could see the invisible God. Through faith, he instituted the Passover and the sprinkling of blood on the doorposts among the Hebrews so that the destroyer of the firstborn would pass over their homes without harming them. By faith the people crossed through the Red Sea as if they were walking on dry land, although the pursuing Egyptian soldiers were drowned when they tried to follow. 

By faith the walls of Jericho toppled after the people had circled them for seven days. By faith the prostitute Rahab welcomed the Hebrew spies into her home so that she did not perish with the unbelievers. 

I could speak more of faith; I could talk until time itself ran out. If I continued, I could speak of the examples of Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthah, of David and Samuel and all the prophets. I could give accounts of people alive with faith who conquered kingdoms, brought justice, obtained promises, and closed the mouths of hungry lions. I could tell you how people of faith doused raging fires, escaped the edge of the sword, made the weak strong, and — stoking great valor among the champions of God — sent opposing armies into panicked flight. 

I could speak of faith bringing women their loved ones back from death and how the faithful accepted torture instead of earthly deliverance because they believed they would obtain a better life in the resurrection. Others suffered mockery and whippings; they were placed in chains and in prisons. The faithful were stoned, sawn in two, killed by the sword, clothed only in sheepskins and goatskins; they were penniless, afflicted, and tormented. The world was not worthy of these saints. They wandered across deserts, crossed mountains, and lived in the caves, cracks, and crevasses of the earth. 
(Hebrews 10:39; Hebrews 11:1-38)
Response in Prayer

Almighty Father, thank You for not leaving me alone! I thank You for the Holy Spirit, Who lives inside me to comfort, strengthen, and lead me. Thank You for Jesus, Who lives to make intercession for me before Your throne of grace. Thank You for giving me a spiritual family that I can call my own family. Thank You for giving me all these great examples of faith. My prayer, dear Father, is that I can live a life of faithfulness to Your honor and glory. I don't do this to earn my way into Your family. I do it to thank You for already accepting me and adopting me into your family. I do this to demonstrate to You how blessed I am to be Your adopted child. I do this because I want to demonstrate Your righteous character and gracious compassion before the world. May I be found faithful, O LORD. May I encourage others to do the same. I pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Post  Admin on Wed 26 Oct 2016, 3:22 pm

"New Covenant People" — A Year with Jesus for 10/26/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of the Father, 

Today you are going to read excerpts from Hebrews chapters 7-10. The teaching in these chapters is challenging, especially for those not taught in the ways of Israel from the Torah. The Torah is what many of you call the Pentateuch, the five books of "law" that begin the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. I want to help you catch the gist of what these important chapters in Hebrews teach. I also want to remind you why this teaching was so important to early Jewish Christians. 

Some of My early Jewish disciples were growing a bit discouraged by their new life as Christians. Many had faced times of hardship and persecution. Also, some of the original vibrancy of their new Christian faith was beginning to slip away from them. Some of these Jewish disciples were being lured back into their old ways of religious life. This life was built on the old covenant with the Torah and all the teaching about the covenant God made with Israel. Their experience with the covenant was rich in tradition with sacrifices, special places, significant heroes, and festivals rich in religious and social meaning. 

The writer of Hebrews writes this section of his "word of exhortation" (Hebrews 13:22) to encourage My Jewish disciples not to go back to their old covenant practices. They must not surrender their faith in Me as their all-sufficient and once-and-good-forever sacrifice, their only true Savior, their perfect mediator of a better covenant, and their perfect High Priest in the presence of the Father forever. These principles are emphasized in the verses you are going to read today. The teaching in these verses includes several important lines of thought:
I AM the unique High Priest not descended from Levi like other priests, but a priest like Melchizedek — one of special origin, chosen by the Father. I AM the new High Priest — compassionate, blameless, and pure — and My priesthood lasts forever. I AM the "perfected Son, a High Priest for all time" (Hebrews 7:28).
As this eternal High Priest, I AM "the guarantee of a new and better covenant" (Hebrews 7:22) and "the Mediator of a better covenant established on better promises" (Hebrews 8:6).
If the first covenant had been perfect, there would not have been a need for My new and eternal covenant, but, in fact, since the time of Jeremiah, that covenant was fading away in its efficacy (Hebrews 7:11; Hebrews 7:18-20; Hebrews 8:7-13).
The first covenant was built on shadows and symbols — "simply a shadow of the good things to come" (Hebrews 10:1) — but I brought the substance of those shadows and symbols and fulfilled their meaning in every way to guarantee you the "good things" you find in heaven with the Father. (Hebrews 9:1-28; Hebrews 10:1-18).
Verses to Live

As you read this collection of verses from the book of Hebrews, please notice the emphasis on My sacrifice. That personal act brings you the better High Priest (Me) and better promises of a new and better covenant. My sacrifice was once-for-all, meaning it is good forever. No other animal sacrifices would be needed. I brought a new and eternal covenant. I live to make intercession for you with the Father forever. You can know with assurance that your sins are forgiven and that you can always come to Me. Your troubles, trials, and temptations don't separate you from Me. I shared in these same troubles, trials, and temptations in human flesh just as you do and overcame them all. You can come to Me and receive help from the One High Priest Who can sympathize, comfort, intercede, and deliver you! These are essential truths for you to know whether your background is in Judaism or not.
If a perfect method of reconciling with God — a perfect priesthood — had been found in the sons of Levi (a priesthood that communicated God's law to the people), then why would the Scriptures speak of another priest... Doesn't it seem obvious? Jesus... is someone Who has become a priest, not because of some requirement about human lineage, but because of the power of a life without end. Remember, the psalmist says,
You are a priest forever — in the honored order of Melchizedek.
Because the earlier commandment was weak and did not reconcile us to God effectively, it was set aside — after all, the law could not make anyone or anything perfect. God has now introduced a new and better hope, through which we may draw near to Him... 
(Hebrews 7:11-19) 

So we can see that Jesus has become the guarantee of a new and better covenant. .. He is able to save those who approach God through Him for all time because He will forever live to be their advocate in the presence of God. 

It is only fitting that we should have a High Priest Who is devoted to God, blameless, pure, compassionate toward but separate from sinners, and exalted by God to the highest place of honor. Unlike other high priests, He does not first need to make atonement every day for His own sins, and only then for His people's, because He already made atonement, reconciling us with God once and forever when He offered Himself as a sacrifice. The law made imperfect men high priests; but after that law was given, God swore an oath that made His perfected Son a high priest for all time. 
(Hebrews 7:22-28) 

But now Jesus has taken on a new and improved priestly ministry; and in that respect, He has been made the Mediator of a better covenant established on better promises. Remember, if the first covenant had been able to reconcile everyone to God, there would be no reason for a second covenant. 
(Hebrews 8:6-7) 

With the words "a new covenant," God made the first covenant old, and what is old and no longer effective will soon fade away completely. 
(Hebrews 8:13) 

When the Anointed One [Jesus Christ] arrived as High Priest of the good things that are to come, He entered through a greater and more perfect sanctuary that was not part of the earthly creation or made by human hands. He entered once for all time into the most holy place — entering, not with the blood of goats or calves or some other prescribed animal, but offering His own blood and thus obtaining redemption for us for all time. 
(Hebrews 9:11-12) 

This is why Jesus is the mediator of the new covenant: through His death, He delivered us from the sins that we had built up under the first covenant, and His death has made it possible for all who are called to receive God's promised inheritance. 
(Hebrews 9:15) 

Just as mortals are appointed to die once and then to experience a judgment, so the Anointed One, our Liberating King, was offered once in death to bear the sins of many and will appear a second time, not to deal again with sin, but to rescue those who eagerly await His return. 
(Hebrews 9:27-28) 

By God's will, we are made holy through the offering of the body of Jesus the Anointed once and for all time. 
(Hebrews 10:10) 

When there is forgiveness such as this, there is no longer any need to make an offering for sin. 
(Hebrews 10:18)
Response in Prayer

O God, I praise You. I praise You Father for Your boundless grace and for Your plan to redeem me from my sin. Thank You, Jesus, the Son. You took on flesh and blood, yet You were sinless. You gave Yourself as the perfect sacrifice for my sin, and now You are alive to make intercession for me before the Father. You provide grace to help me in my times of need. I thank You, Holy Spirit, for being the power and presence of the Almighty. You live in me to guide and lead me in the ways I should go. You help me understand the Scriptures and the will of the Father. I praise You O God — Father, Son, and Spirit — for Your awesome power, Your glory beyond description, Your holiness in perfection, and Your boundless grace that has made me Your own. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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Post  Admin on Tue 25 Oct 2016, 11:57 am

Don't Let It Slip Away" — A Year with Jesus for 10/25/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

Vibrant faith is precious. Time, troubles, trials, and temptations can act as the devil's acids to eat away at your faith until the passion of vibrant faith is eroded. Before long, passionate faith can become neglected faith and then ignored faith. One day you notice that your faith has slipped away from you. My writer of Hebrews first gently warned his readers about this problem with these words. (The words about faith slipping away are in bold while the words about avoiding this problem are underlined.)
That is why we ought to pay even closer attention to the voice that has been speaking so that we will never drift away from it. For if the words of instruction and inspiration brought by heaven's messengers were valid, and if we live in a universe where sin and disobedience receive their just rewards, then how will we escape destruction if we ignore this great salvation. 
(Hebrews 2:1-3)
Later, this original warning to "pay even closer attention" was followed by a second warning to "pay close attention":
Brothers and sisters, pay close attention so you won't develop an evil and unbelieving heart that causes you to abandon the living God. Encourage each other every day — for as long as we can still say "today" — so none of you let the deceitfulness of sin harden your hearts. For we have become partners with the Anointed One — if we can just hold on to our confidence until the end. 
(Hebrews 3:12-14)
This second warning is a little stronger. It describes the process of developing "an evil and unbelieving heart that causes you to abandon the living God". Notice the progression that can lead to total erosion of faith:
The deceitfulness of sin.
Hardening of the heart.
Developing an evil and unbelieving heart.
Abandoning the living God.
Importantly, in the warnings above, the writer of Hebrews reminds you that there are faith agents that can help neutralize the devil's efforts to erode your faith. The following faith agents are themes that run through the book of Hebrews:
Pay close attention to your faith, the promises of God, the great sacrifice that I made for you, and the great salvation you have received.
Involve yourself in a family of believers where you can encourage each other daily.
Remember that you are partners with Me in the great work of redemption and the coming glory.
Intentionally hold on to your confidence in Me, in your faith in Me, and in the promises you have in Me. Trust in your victory, confidently assured by My victory over sin, death, and hell.
Verses to Live

In the following verses, the author of Hebrews shares more warnings (again emphasized in bold). These strong and shocking warnings come after the warnings discussed above. They talk about what happens when people are not maturing in their faith and their service and actually reach the point when they "abandon the living God"! As harsh as these warnings are, I want you to notice that in these warnings, the writer emphasizes his confidence that the disciples who hear his message will not come to such a bitter and destructive disaster with their faith. 

The author gave the warnings to wake up My disciples from their lethargy and told them things to do (highlighted by underlining) to avoid or come out of their lethargy. He was confident that these warnings would work and that My disciples would respond. I am confident that the warnings will have the same effect on you, dear disciple. I do not want Satan's acids to eat away the vibrancy of your faith. Instead, I want the warnings to stir your heart and call you to trust fully in the power of the Holy Spirit to rekindle the vibrancy and passion of your faith and your promise of "such a great salvation"!
I have a lot more to say about this [blessing of having Jesus as your great High Priest], but it may be hard for you to follow since you've become dull in your understanding. By this time, you ought to be teachers yourselves, yet I feel like you want me to reteach you the most basic things that God wants you to know. It's almost like you're a baby again, coddled at your mother's breast, nursing, not ready for solid food. No one who lives on milk alone can know the ins and outs of what it means to be righteous and pursue justice; that's because he is only a baby. But solid food is for those who have come of age, for those who have learned through practice to distinguish good from evil. 

So let's push on toward a more perfect understanding and move beyond just the basic teachings of the Anointed One. There's no reason to rehash the fundamentals: repenting from what you loved in your old dead lives, believing in God as our Creator and Redeemer, teaching about baptism, setting aside those called to service through the ritual laying on of hands, the coming resurrection of those who have died, and God's final judgment of all people for all time. No, we will move on toward perfection, if God wills it. 

It is impossible to restore the changed heart of the one who has fallen from faith — who has already been enlightened, has tasted the gift of new life from God, has shared in the power of the Holy Spirit, and has known the goodness of God's revelation and the powers of the coming age. If such a person falls away, it's as though that one were crucifying the Son of God all over again and holding Him up to ridicule. You see, God blesses the ground that drinks of the rain and then produces a bountiful crop for those who cultivate it. But land that produces nothing but thorns and brambles? That land is worthless and in danger of being cursed, burned to the bare earth. 

But listen, my friends — we don't mean to discourage you completely with such talk. We are convinced that you are made for better things, the things of salvation, because God is not unjust or unfair. He won't overlook the work you have done or the love you have carried to each other in His name while doing His work, as you are still doing. We want you all to continue working until the end so that you'll realize the certainty that comes with hope and not grow lazy. We want you to walk in the footsteps of the faithful who came before you, from whom you can learn to be steadfast in pursuing the promises of God. 
(Hebrews 5:11-14; Hebrews 6:1-12) 

Now if we willfully persist in sin after receiving such knowledge of the truth, then there is no sacrifice left for those sins — only the fearful prospect of judgment and a fierce fire that will consume God's adversaries. Remember that those who depart from the law of Moses are put to death without mercy based on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Just think how much more severe the punishment will be for those who have turned their backs on the Son of God, trampled on the blood of the covenant by which He made them holy, and outraged the Spirit of grace with their contempt. For we know the God Who said, "Vengeance belongs to Me — I will repay," also said, "The Eternal One will judge His people." It is truly a frightening thing to be on the wrong side of the living God. 

Instead, think back to the days after you were first enlightened and understood Who Jesus was: when you endured all sorts of suffering in the name of the Lord, when people held you up for public scorn and ridicule, or when they abused your partners and companions in the faith. Remember how you had compassion for those in prison and how you cheerfully accepted the seizure of your possessions, knowing that you have a far greater and more enduring possession. Remember this, and do not abandon your confidence, which will lead to rich rewards. Simply endure, for when you have done as God requires of you, you will receive the promise. 
(Hebrews 10:26-36)
Response in Prayer

Relight the fire of vibrant faith in my heart, O Father! I want to live a passionate life of service for You. I want to live each day in confident trust in my future with You. Rekindle my passion through Your Holy Spirit as I focus my attention on Jesus. I recognize Jesus as the perfecter of my faith and the One in Whom I place my confidence and hope. I ask this in His name, Jesus the Anointed One, my Savior and Lord. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Post  Admin on Mon 24 Oct 2016, 7:21 pm

"I Came to Help You!" — A Year with Jesus for 10/24/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved Sibling, 

Yes, I know some of you who read this have trouble thinking of Me as your older brother. Through the Father's grace, that is Who I AM to you. I taught My disciples to pray to "Our Father..." (Matthew 6:9). As My beloved writer of Hebrews emphasized in the verses you will read today, My disciples are also My "brothers and sisters." You have been born into My family (John 3:5-8). I "took on flesh and blood" and lived among you, as one of you so you could be part of My family. 

My concern was not for My comfort and prestige. My focus was not on any heavenly messenger or angel. My concern was for you. My focus was on those I wanted to become My brothers and sisters. I came to honor the Father and to "destroy the one who held power over death." I came to free you from fear. I came to share your world. I came to assure you that you could come to the Father through Me and always "find mercy and grace to help when [you] need it most"! 

I AM your great High Priest. I not only offered a sacrifice for you, but I offered Myself as the once-for-all-time atoning sacrifice for your sin. I brought "reconciliation" between you and the Father. 

I AM your great High Priest. I AM now "approaching God on behalf of" you. 

I AM your great High Priest. I AM acquainted with "suffering." Like you, I also offered up "prayers and pleas, groans and tears" to the Father. 

As your great High Priest, I can promise you these things:
You don't have to fear death. I have conquered death and the devil who uses it to wound and maim and destroy.
Your sin is forgiven. You stand before God as righteous and holy.
You can be sure that I can help you when you are tested. I was tested as you are, yet I did not sin.
When you are facing trials and temptations — even if you succumb to these temptations and sin — you can come with confidence to the "throne of grace." You can come confidently knowing that you will "find mercy and grace to help when [you] need it most."
Verses to Live

Today's readings come from chapters 2, 5, and 4 in your book of Hebrews. I have put them in this order so you can have a deeper appreciation of what it means for Me to be your merciful and faithful High Priest! Read these passages in this order several times. The first time, jot down all I did and endured to experience mortality. You can be confident that I understand human weakness, not just as God the Son Who is omniscient, but as a mortal man, God in human flesh. Now, when you read through these verses again, jot down all that they mean for you as you approach the Father seeking grace.
It only makes sense that God, by Whom and for Whom everything exists, would choose to bring many of us to His side by using suffering to perfect Jesus, the founder of our faith, the pioneer of our salvation. As I will show you, it's important that the One Who brings us to God and those who are brought to God become one, since we are all from one Father. This is why Jesus was not ashamed to call us His family [His brothers and sisters], saying, in the words of the psalmist,
I will speak Your Name to My brothers and sisters 

when I praise You in the midst of the community.
And in the words of Isaiah,
I will wait for the Eternal One.
And again,
Look, here I am with the children God has given Me.
Since we, the children, are all creatures of flesh and blood, Jesus took on flesh and blood, so that by dying He could destroy the one who held power over death — the devil — and destroy the fear of death that has always held people captive. 

So notice — His concern here is not for the welfare of the heavenly messengers, but for the children of Abraham. He had to become as human as His sisters and brothers so that when the time came, He could become a merciful and faithful high priest of God, called to reconcile a sinful people. Since He has also been tested by suffering, He can help us when we are tested. 
(Hebrews 2:10-18) 

The job of every high priest is reconciliation: approaching God on behalf of others and offering Him gifts and sacrifices to repair the damage caused by our sins against God and each other. The high priest should have compassion for those who are ignorant of the faith and those who fall out of the faith because he also has wrestled with human weakness, and so the priest must offer sacrifices both for his sins and for those of the people.  

When Jesus was on the earth, a man of flesh and blood, He offered up prayers and pleas, groans and tears to the One Who could save Him from death. He was heard because He approached God with reverence. Although He was a Son, Jesus learned obedience through the things He suffered. And once He was perfected through that suffering He became the way of eternal salvation for all those who hear and follow Him, for God appointed Him to be a High Priest in the order of Melchizedek. 
(Hebrews 5:1-3; Hebrews 5:7-10) 

Since we have a great High Priest, Jesus, the Son of God Who has passed through the heavens from death into new life with God, let us hold tightly to our faith. For Jesus is not some high priest who has no sympathy for our weaknesses and flaws. He has already been tested in every way that we are tested; but He emerged victorious, without failing God. So let us step boldly to the throne of grace, where we can find mercy and grace to help when we need it most. 
(Hebrews 4:14-16)
Response in Prayer

O Father God, I cannot fully understand the complexities and deep truths about Your identity as Father, Son, and Spirit. However, I can understand this: You are God. You loved me so much that You became my God Who is near and Who understands. You are God Who has not only created my mortal flesh but also lived in it. You are God Who has promised to be near, merciful, and gracious. You are God Who hears when I cry out in my struggles. So I come to You now and lay my burdens, my fears, and my brokenness before you. I pour out my soul's cry to You. In Jesus' name, I thank You and pray to You. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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Post  Admin on Sun 23 Oct 2016, 6:15 pm

"Better!" — A Year with Jesus for 10/23/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of the Father, 

Today you begin a short journey through the wonderful "word of exhortation" (Hebrews 13:22) you call the book of Hebrews. This special document is a collection of short exhortations built upon the comparison of Old Covenant images with their fulfillment in the New Covenant brought by My sacrifice on the cross, by My resurrection, and through My pouring out the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost and subsequently to you also. 

Notice the word "better" when you read this "word of exhortation." It occurs repeatedly in later sections of Hebrews to refer to Me and the salvation that I offer. I brought the world a "better" covenant, built on "better" promises and leading to a "better" hope, provided by a "better" and once-for-all sacrifice so that I could become a "better" high priest for My people and ensure a "better" Sabbath rest for the people of God. 

Today's verses come from the first two chapters of the book of Hebrews. Even though the word "better" is not used in today's verses, they nevertheless have a clear message: I AM "better" than the angels or "heavenly messengers." I bring a "better," complete, fulfilled, and incarnated message from the Father. 

I came as the Father's Son. I was God's very presence among you (Matthew 1:23). I am superior to the angels who brought the first covenant and who were part of many messengers involved in the Old Covenant. As the Son, I came and brought the Father's greatest and final message. No messenger compares to Me as God's Son. 

My chosen vessel who wrote Hebrews adds a powerful exhortation to this truth of My superiority. You must "pay even closer attention" to My message than to any message you have previously received. You don't want to "drift away" from this message and ignore the "great salvation"! To "ignore" this message would invite your own "destruction"!
Verses to Live

Hebrews is not only a "word of exhortation," but it is also a message of urgency. It is a spiritual alarm clock sent to warn those who heard its message to awaken from their spiritual slumber. They needed to shake off their spiritual lethargy because of the better things they had received from Me. I hope you will hear the same alarm. I want you to awaken to the "better" things that I have planned for you.
Long ago, at different times and in various ways, God's voice came to our ancestors through the Hebrew prophets. But in these last days, it has come to us through His Son, the One Who has been given dominion over all things and through Whom all worlds were made. 

This is the One Who — imprinted with God's image, shimmering with His glory — sustains all that exists through the power of His word. He was seated at the right hand of God once He Himself had made the offering that purified us from all our sins. This Son of God is elevated as far above the heavenly messengers [angels] as His holy name is elevated above theirs. 

For no heavenly messengers have ever heard God address them with these words of the psalms:
You are My Son. 
Today I have become Your Father.
Or heard Him promise,
I will be to You a Father, 
and You will be My Son.
Now, when the Son, the firstborn of God, was brought into the world, God said,
Let all My heavenly messengers worship Him.
... 

And God continues,
In the beginning, You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth 
and set the skies above us with Your own hands. 
But while they will someday pass away, 
You remain forever; 
when they wear out like old clothes, 
You will roll them up 
and change them into something new. 
But You will never change; 
Your years will never come to an end.
Did God ever say to any of the heavenly messengers,
Sit here, at My right hand, in the seat of honor; 
and I'll put all Your enemies under Your feet?
No, of course not. The heavenly messengers are only spirits and servants, sent out to minister to those who will certainly inherit salvation. 

That is why we ought to pay even closer attention to the voice that has been speaking so that we will never drift away from it. For if the words of instruction and inspiration brought by heaven's messengers were valid, and if we live in a universe where sin and disobedience receive their just rewards, then how will we escape destruction if we ignore this great salvation? We heard it first from our Lord Jesus, then from those who passed on His teaching. God also testifies to this truth by signs and wonders and miracles and the gifts of the Holy Spirit lighting on those He chooses. 
(Hebrews 1:1-6; Hebrews 1:10-14; Hebrews 2:1-4)
Response in Prayer

O Father, I recognize that Jesus is Your greatest messenger Who brings Your greatest message. I commit to hearing that message and respond with urgency and passion. Open my eyes to Your truth in this interesting and challenging "word of exhortation." I ask for the Holy Spirit's help in understanding and applying its important messages to my life as I live to honor You. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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You Don't Have to Have an Apostle" — A Year with Jesus for 10/22/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

I appointed My apostles as My emissaries to the world. I commissioned them to take My message everywhere to everyone. The original apostles, except for Judas, of course, had all seen Me alive after My resurrection. They knew with certainty that the Father had raised Me from the dead. I entrusted them with authority to lead My early church. They mentored others to speak My message. They did signs and wonders to confirm their message about Me. My apostles were a special group. 

That being said, I want you to realize something that is very significant to your faith. You don't have to have a living apostle personally teach you for you to have received the truth. Living thousands of years after My resurrection and after the death of the last of My apostles, I know there are times when you long to be able to witness Me do miracles and teach the crowds. I know you would love to know an eyewitness and an apostle personally. But, dear child of the Father, you need to be confident that you have received and believed the truth. 

The apostle Paul made clear what this message of truth is when he wrote the Corinthians:
Let me remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I preached to you when we first met. It's the essential message that you have taken to heart, the central story you now base your life on; and through this gospel, you are liberated — unless, of course, your faith has come to nothing. For I passed down to you the crux of it all which I had also received from others, that the Anointed One, the Liberating King, died for our sins and was buried and raised from the dead on the third day. All this happened to fulfill the Scriptures; it was the perfect climax to God's covenant story. Afterward He appeared alive to Cephas (you may know him as Simon Peter), then to the rest of the twelve. If that were not amazing enough, on one occasion, He appeared to more than 500 believers at one time. Many of those brothers and sisters are still around to tell the story, though some have fallen asleep in Jesus. Soon He appeared to James, His brother and the leader of the Jerusalem church, and then to all the rest of the emissaries He Himself commissioned. Last of all, He appeared to me... 
(1 Corinthians 15:1-8)
Paul reiterated these same basic principles when writing to the Christians in Rome about the gospel and baptism:
Did someone forget to tell you that when we were initiated into Jesus the Anointed through baptism's... washing, we entered into His death? Therefore, we were buried with Him through this baptism into death so that just as God the Father, in all His glory, resurrected the Anointed One [Jesus Christ], we, too, might walk confidently out of the grave into a new life. To put it another way: if we have been united with Him to share in a death like His, don't you understand that we will also share in His resurrection? We know this: whatever we used to be with our old sinful ways has been nailed to His cross. So our entire record of sin has been canceled, and we no longer have to bow down to sin's power. A dead man, you see, cannot be bound by sin. But if we have died with the Anointed One, we believe that we shall also live together with Him. So we stand firm in the conviction that death holds no power over God's Anointed because He was resurrected from the dead never to face death again. When He died, He died to whatever power sin had, once and for all, and now He lives completely to God. So here is how to picture yourself now that you have been initiated into Jesus the Anointed: you are dead to sin's power and influence, but you are alive to God's rule. 
(Romans 6:3-11)
Paul emphasized that this message, this good news, should not be compromised by anyone. This simple message is still the gospel that you must believe in your day. It does not need some special new novel knowledge, fresh revelation, or deep philosophical additions to make it true, relevant, and effective. What makes My message trustworthy in every generation is the content of the message. 

However, people in the first century struggled with this gospel being so simple and clear, just as some struggle to accept it in your day. This struggling was a problem for the people in My church in Colossae. Paul had not preached the gospel there. They heard the message from one of their own, a man named Epaphras. Since he was one of them, he was no one special in their minds. 

Some false teachers inserted themselves into My church in Colossae. They taught certain forms of asceticism (denying the body and only eating certain foods), celebration of some days as more special than others, and worshiping angels, and they claimed to have secret wisdom that was necessary to be a spiritual person. Since the Colossians had not received their message from an apostle, they thought maybe they hadn't heard the whole gospel. They were being persuaded away from the gospel Epaphras had taught them. 

Paul specifically addressed the problem this way:
Make sure no predator makes you his prey through some misleading philosophy and empty deception based on traditions fabricated by mere mortals. These are sourced in the elementary principles originating in this world and not in the Anointed One (so don't let their talks capture you). 
(Colossians 2:8)
I want to warn you about the same kind of danger. There is a dangerous hunger in the fallen human appetite for something new and secret. Satan and his false teaching partners prey on people using this fallen appetite. Don't be misled by the faddish practices endorsed by some churches today. Don't buy into special seminars that claim to reveal things that make people more spiritual. My gospel, the good news about Me, remains as true and relevant today as it was thousands of years ago. You don't have to have an apostle teach you the gospel to have the truth!
Verses to Live

Dear child of the Father, I AM about to lead you through the book of Hebrews. No one in your world actually can be sure who wrote Hebrews. That does not make it any less important. If I felt it was important for you to know who wrote it, then I would have made sure you could know for certain. My human writer of Hebrews could say, "Listen now, to the voice of the Holy Spirit through what the psalmist wrote..." (Hebrews 3:7) and "...as the Holy Spirit keeps testifying to us through the prophet..." (Hebrews 10:15), when quoting the Old Testament Scriptures. I want you to realize the same thing about Hebrews: This message comes through the Holy Spirit's inspiration to guide you into a deeper understanding of the truth you already know. This message is to encourage you and re-awaken your passion for Me. You don't have to know the name of the author because the message comes through the Spirit. You don't have to know an apostle to have received My truth. Be reminded. Be blessed. Be confident in the good news that you have received! Most of all, live your life based on the power of this simple message and the Holy Spirit Who inspired it and now empowers it to life in you! 

Before beginning tomorrow to look at Hebrews, I want you to read some more things that Paul wrote — things to reinforce the fact that the truth and importance of the gospel message come from the content of that message, not from the one who delivers it.
Frankly I am stunned. I cannot believe that you have abandoned God so quickly — even after He called you through the grace of the Anointed One — and have fallen for a different gospel. Actually there is only one true gospel of the Anointed, and you — because of divisive prodding by others — are accepting a distorted version which is not the gospel at all! 

No matter the source of the false gospel, even if it is preached by us or a heavenly messenger, ignore it. May those who add to or subtract from the gospel of Jesus be eternally cursed! Listen again: if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than what you have accepted, may he find himself cursed! 
(Galatians 1:6-9) 

Paul, an emissary of Jesus the Anointed serving at God's pleasure, along with our brother Timothy to you, dear holy and faithful brothers and sisters in the family of the Anointed who live in Colossae. May grace and peace from God our Father [and the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One] envelop you. 

As always, we've been praying for you, thanking God, the Father of our Lord Jesus the Anointed, ever since we heard of your faith in Jesus the Anointed and your love for His holy ones — a faith and love that emerge from the hope you have heard about in the word of truth — the gospel — the very hope that awaits you in heaven. The same gospel that was brought to you is growing and bearing fruit all over the world, just as it has been growing among you since the day you heard and took in the truth of God's grace from our beloved fellow servant Epaphras. (He is a faithful minister of the Anointed on our behalf.) He was the one who told us how you demonstrate your love in the power of the Spirit. Since the day we got this good news about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We ask:
Father, may they clearly know Your will and achieve the height and depth of spiritual wisdom and understanding. May their lives be a credit to You, Lord; and what's more, may they continue to delight You by doing every good work and growing in the true knowledge that comes from being close to You. Strengthen them with Your infinite power, according to Your glorious might, so that they will have everything they need to hold on and endure hardship patiently and joyfully. Thank You, Father, as You have made us eligible to receive our portion of the inheritance given to all those set apart by the light. You have rescued us from dark powers and brought us safely into the kingdom of Your Son, Whom You love and in Whom we are redeemed and forgiven of our sins [through His blood].
(Colossians 1:1-14) 

This battle I am facing is huge. And I want you to know I do it for you, for all those at Laodicea, and for everyone else (even those who have never seen my face). I'm working hard to comfort and encourage them so that they will be knit together — that many hearts would become one through His love. I do it so they will be rich in understanding and have full knowledge of God's mystery, which is the Anointed One Himself — in Him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are concealed. I only tell you this to warn you about those who would try and deceive you with their arguments. They seem plausible enough; but in the end, they are false. Even though I cannot be there in the body, my spirit is with you; and I'm happy to know of your good order and your solid commitment to the Anointed One, our Liberating King. 

Now that you have welcomed the Anointed One, Jesus the Lord, into your lives, continue to journey with Him and allow Him to shape your lives. Let your roots grow down deeply in Him, and let Him build you up on a firm foundation. Be strong in the faith, just as you were taught, and always spill over with thankfulness. Make sure no predator makes you his prey through some misleading philosophy and empty deception based on traditions fabricated by mere mortals. These are sourced in the elementary principles originating in this world and not in the Anointed One (so don't let their talks capture you). 
(Colossians 2:1-8) 

Epaphras, another one of your hometown fellows and a servant of Jesus the Anointed sends his regards and wants you to know how passionately and sincerely he speaks to the Lord about you. He prays for your spiritual journey, that you will continue to mature and stand tall in the kind of confidence that comes from knowing God's will. I can testify to his zeal for you and those in Laodicea and Hierapolis. 
(Colossians 4:12-13)
Response in Prayer

Father, forgive my wandering and sometimes unconfident heart. Keep me from chasing fads that are distortions and perversions of Your simple good news message in Jesus. Help me be alert to false gospels that end up trusting in human achievement and human knowledge rather than relying on Your grace delivered in Jesus' death, burial, resurrection, and appearing. Thank You for this powerful, precious, and simple message that brings salvation. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
Share on Facebook | Discuss this Verse
This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc
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