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HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

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Post  Admin on Fri 06 Nov 2015, 11:08 pm

"Strong Words of Warning!" — A Year with Jesus for 11/06/2015

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 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. 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, your salvation doesn't ultimately depend on you, but upon your trust in the Father. 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 these 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.
© 1998-2015, Heartlight Inc.
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Post  Admin on Thu 05 Nov 2015, 9:31 pm

"Peter's Parting Exhortations" — A Year with Jesus for 11/05/2015

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 even more important, and these virtues 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:
...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.
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 toward 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 what happens exactly 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.
© 1998-2015, Heartlight Inc.
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Post  Admin on Wed 04 Nov 2015, 11:20 pm

"Trial by Fire" — A Year with Jesus for 11/04/2015

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 sentenced Me to death. On one of those occasions when the Sanhedrin had threatened Peter and My other apostles, they left rejoicing. Luke describes 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 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 await 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 at 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. These passages are separated by 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 spoke 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.
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.
© 1998-2015, Heartlight Inc.
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Post  Admin on Tue 03 Nov 2015, 12:13 pm

"*Unjust Suffering" — A Year with Jesus for 11/03/2015

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 hearts of those looking for truth. Don't be discouraged. Your suffering will neither be wasted nor will it 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 for having hope in Me is. So be ready to give an answer as your defense for your hope in Me. But remember, do this "humbly and respectfully" in a way 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 those he led 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. 
(1 Peter 2:13-17) 

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 2:18-23) 

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. 
(1 Peter 3:8-9) 

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 3:13-18)
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 Mon 02 Nov 2015, 11:51 pm

"Be Holy!" — A Year with Jesus for 11/02/2015

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. To be 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 play 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 the "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 "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 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, 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, 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 Sun 01 Nov 2015, 9:47 pm

"A Living Hope" — A Year with Jesus for 11/01/2015

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. Also, many of My early disciples endured persecution and martyrdom. 

As Peter addresses disciples facing imminent persecution and possible martyrdom, he doesn't begin with kind words of encouragement. 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 these early disciples, 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. 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. Hope is built on faith in Me. Encouragement also involves praise for what the Father has done through Me. This hope is rooted in 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 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 Sat 31 Oct 2015, 10:11 pm

"Worship in Your Daily World" — A Year with Jesus for 10/31/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

While involving yourself in Christian assembly and gathering together with believers for encouragement, exhortation and worship is important (Hebrews 10:19-25), worship is 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 and with all your soul and 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 your daily world with head, heart, and hands. 

Unfortunately, the chapter divisions in your modern Bibles can sometimes lead you to miss the Holy Spirit's message. With your current 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 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 involves 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. 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 bring You honor, glory, and praise in my daily life. 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:
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 30 Oct 2015, 10:33 pm

"Encouragement Matters" — A Year with Jesus for 10/30/2015

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 or conduct My ministry alone as I had many disciples. I called twelve to be close to Me; I called them My apostles. 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; 1 Peter 4:17) 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 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 detailed 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)
That's My message to you today. 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 inspired 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 Thu 29 Oct 2015, 1:41 pm

"New Covenant People" — A Year with Jesus for 10/29/2015

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 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 times 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" — the things you find in heaven with the Father, but I brought the substance of those symbols and fulfilled their meaning in every way (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. My sacrifice brings you the better High Priest (Me) and better promises of a new 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. You can come to Me and receive help from the One High Priest who can sympathize, comfort, intercede, and deliver you! These are key 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 sunless. You gave Yourself as the perfect sacrifice for my sin and now 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.
© 1998-2015, Heartlight Inc.
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Post  Admin on Wed 28 Oct 2015, 10:11 pm

"Don't Let It Slip Away" — A Year with Jesus for 10/28/2015

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.)
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, My writer followed this original warning to "pay even closer attention" with 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 these first two warnings, the writer of Hebrews reminds you that there are faith agents that can help neutralize the devil's efforts to erode your faith. The four following faith agents are themes that run through the book of Hebrews:
Pay close attention to your faith, the promises of God, the great work I did in saving 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, 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, My writer of Hebrews shares two more warnings. These strong and shocking warnings are the culmination of the two previous warnings. They talk about what happens when people actually reach the point when they "abandon the living God"! As harsh as these warnings are, I want you to notice that in both of these warnings, the writer of Hebrews emphasizes his confidence that the disciples who hear his message will not come to such a bitter and destructive disaster with their faith (emphasized in bold in the verses below). 

My writer of Hebrews gave the warnings to wake up My disciples from 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 Tue 27 Oct 2015, 4:54 pm

"I Came to Help You!" — A Year with Jesus for 10/27/2015

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 glory. 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 four 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 there are four sets of verses coming from your book of Hebrews. These readings come from chapters 2, 5, and 4. 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 them in this order several times. 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 go back and 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. 
(Hebrews 5:1-3) 

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 5:7-10) 

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.
© 1998-2015, Heartlight Inc.
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Post  Admin on Mon 26 Oct 2015, 11:16 am

"Better!" — A Year with Jesus for 10/26/2015

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 the Old Covenant images that find 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" in this "word of exhortation." I brought the world a "better" covenant, built on "better" promises, 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. They have one 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. 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 have 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.
(Hebrews 1:1-6) 

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 1:10-14; 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 hear 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.
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Post  Admin on Sun 25 Oct 2015, 9:43 pm

"You Don't Have to Have an Apostle" — A Year with Jesus for 10/25/2015

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 the 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 messenger trustworthy in every generation is the message that the messenger proclaims and displays in his or her life. 

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 NLV) 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!
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.
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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 24 Oct 2015, 9:49 pm

"Be Faithful!" — A Year with Jesus for 10/24/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend, 

I want you to feel the urgency in Paul's words to Timothy. They come from the last of Paul's writings to his son in the faith. These words plead for Timothy to join Paul in his life of faith in two specific ways:
Be faithful to the call he had received to proclaim My message with truth and passion.
Join Paul in his last days so that these days could have an impact on the lost world and strengthen new churches to live for Me and the kingdom of God.
Paul was realistic but not pessimistic about the future awaiting him. He was fully confident in My coming with power and glory. This faith in Me helped him to remain loyal to Me, to be strong in his faith, to be inspired by the Scriptures, and to be faithful even to death. He was urging Timothy to be faithful, too. 

As Paul often did at the end of his letters, he mentioned people who were both faithful and unfaithful to him and to Me. This is just another way for Paul to appeal to Timothy's heart and challenge him to do the following:
"Accomplish the good work of an evangelist, and complete the ministry to which you [Timothy] have been called."
"[L]ove and long for His [My] appearing."
"Come to me [Paul] as soon as you can."
"Bring Mark with you because he is useful in this work and will help look after me."
"[P]ick up the cloak I [Paul] left with Carpus in Troas, and bring the scrolls — especially the parchments."
"[W]atch your back because he [Alexander the metal worker] has gone overboard to oppose our message."
"Give my regards to Prisca, Aquila, and everyone over at Onesiphorus's house."
At first glance, these excerpts from the verses below appear to be miscellaneous instructions and requests thrown in at the end of a letter. However, look closely and you will see Paul's focus on being faithful in every area of life: to all the people in his life, to the ministry he had been called to complete, and to the people to whom I had called him to mentor and serve. 

Most of all, Paul finished with a reminder of how I was faithful to him even when everyone else abandoned him:
He [Me, Jesus] stood by me, strengthened me, and backed the truth I proclaimed with power...
Paul's example of faithfulness was a challenge for Timothy to be faithful in every area of his life, relationships, and ministry. I want it to be a challenge to you to be faithful as well!
Verses to Live

Are you a faithful person? 

Do you live up to your word? 

Do you stand by your friends? 

Are you committed to faithfully living out your commitments to Me? 

I hope Paul's words to Timothy challenge you to be faithful in every area of your life and ministry. Be faithful!
And now I bring you this charge before God and Jesus the Anointed, the one destined to judge the living and the dead, at His glorious appearance and His kingdom: go out and preach the word! Go whether it's an opportune time or not! Reprove, warn, and encourage; but do so with all the patience and instruction needed to fulfill your calling because a time will come when some will no longer tolerate sound teaching. Instead, they will live by their own desires; they'll scratch their itching ears by surrounding themselves with teachers who approve of their lifestyles and tell them what they want to hear. They will turn away from the real truth you have to offer because they prefer the sound of fables and myths. But you must stay focused and be alert at all times. Tolerate suffering. Accomplish the good work of an evangelist, and complete the ministry to which you have been called. 

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). 

Come to me, Timothy, as soon as you can. You see, Demas has fallen for this world, abandoned me, and headed off to Thessalonica. Crescens took off for Galatia. Titus has gone to Dalmatia. Luke is the only one left. Bring Mark with you because he is useful in this work and will help look after me. I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. On your way here, pick up the cloak I left with Carpus in Troas, and bring the scrolls — especially the parchments. 

Keep your eye out for Alexander the coppersmith! He came against me with all sorts of evil — may the Lord pay him back accordingly — so watch your back because he has gone overboard to oppose our message. 

When it was time for my first defense, no one showed up to support me. Everyone abandoned me (may it not be held against them) except the Lord. He stood by me, strengthened me, and backed the truth I proclaimed with power so it may be heard by all the non-Jews. He rescued me, pried open the lion's jaw, and snatched me from its teeth. And I know the Lord will continue to rescue me from every trip, trap, snare, and pitfall of evil and carry me safely to His heavenly kingdom. May He be glorified throughout eternity. Amen. 

Give my regards to Prisca, Aquila, and everyone over at Onesiphorus's house. Erastus stayed in Corinth, and I left Trophimus in Miletus because he was sick. Try your best to come before winter blows in. Eubulus says hello and so do Pudens, Linus, Claudia, and all the brothers and sisters. May the Lord be with your spirit, and may His grace be with you. Amen. 
(2 Timothy 4:1-22)
Response in Prayer

O glorious Father, may the words of my mouth, the thoughts in my mind, my involvement with others, and the actions in my life all show an unquenchable desire to live faithfully for 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.
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Post  Admin on Fri 23 Oct 2015, 7:13 pm

"Be Inspired!" — A Year with Jesus for 10/23/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Faithful Follower, 

You need to be inspired if you are going to face the challenges of living in these last days. As Paul warned Timothy, there are a lot of people who are mean, uncaring, unrighteous, and spiritually counterfeit. Stay away from these kinds of people. They will seek to involve you and entrap you in their sin. 

The way to resist their influence is learning to recognize what is good, right, and holy. So stay close to godly people who live for Me. They display My righteous character in their lives. They show My gracious compassion to those in need. Read about the martyrs and heroes of the faith who were faithful even in the face of death. Look at the things they invested their time and efforts in doing. Spend time in the holy Scriptures. Read about My heroes of faith. The inspired Scriptures are given to you so you can understand the Father's will and live the way the Father intended for you. These holy Scriptures are God-breathed. They are inspired by the Father and breathed into the hearts of those who wrote them. These Scriptures are practical and useful. So spend time with the Scriptures, always asking the Holy Spirit to help you hear My voice. I want you to know what you are to feel and what you are to do based on what these Scriptures say. Rather than complicating and confining your life, these Scriptures are given to you to inspire you to holy living, courageous action, and victorious commitment. 

So be inspired!
Verses to Live

Paul didn't pull any punches with Timothy when he talked about how hard it was to live in the last days. Timothy knew Paul was imprisoned and awaiting death. He had known that this would likely happen because the first time Timothy was around Paul, he had been stoned and left for dead in Lystra by people who hated him (Acts 14:8-20). To remain loyal and to be strong, Paul knew Timothy needed to be inspired. I want you to be inspired by Paul's words today, too.
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. They're snakes slithering into the houses of vulnerable women, women gaudy with sin, to seduce them. These reptiles can capture them because these women are weak and easily swayed by their desires. They seem always to be learning, but they never seem to gain the full measure of the truth. And, just as Jannes and Jambres rose up against Moses, these ungodly people defy the truth. Their minds are corrupt, and their faith is absolutely worthless. But they won't get too far because their stupidity will be noticed by everyone, just as it was with Jannes and Jambres. 

You have been a good student. You have closely observed how I have lived. You've followed my instructions, my habits, my purpose, my faith, my patience. You've watched how I love and have seen how I endure. You have been with me through persecutions and sufferings — remember what they did to me in Antioch? in Iconium and Lystra? I endured all of it, and the Lord rescued me from it all! 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. All you have learned comes from people you know and trust because since childhood you have known the holy Scriptures, which enable you to be wise and lead to salvation through faith in Jesus the Anointed. All of Scripture is God-breathed; in its inspired voice, we hear useful teaching, rebuke, correction, instruction, and training for a life that is right so that God's people may be up to the task ahead and have all they need to accomplish every good work. 
(2 Timothy 3:1-17)
Response in Prayer

O Father, forgive me for not spending enough time in your Scriptures. I thank You for the inspiring stories of courage about men and women of faith. I thank You for the words of warning and the examples of those who do not heed those words. I thank You for the practical teaching in many of the Scriptures. Father, I thank You that as I read these words of inspiration, the same Spirit Who inspired the Scriptures is at work in me to apply them to my life, to open my eyes to Your deeper truths, and to conform me to be more like You each day. I ask for Your inspiration to be at work on me and in me to conform me to 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 Thu 22 Oct 2015, 2:11 pm

Be Strong!" — A Year with Jesus for 10/22/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

In today's verses Paul was urging Timothy to be strong. I urge you as well to be strong in Me. 

With Paul's impending martyrdom, he was passing the torch of leadership, mission, and equipping of new leaders to Timothy. To do all that Timothy needed to do, he had to choose to be strong and "empowered by the grace that is in" Me! He needed to soldier on through possible suffering. He needed to endure and complete his race of faith. He needed to work hard until he was able to enjoy the harvest of all of his work. 

Timothy needed to be strong in the simple and clear message of My good news. He needed to be strong and not let the threat of prison, or even death, steal away the truth that nothing can stop My message and the cause for which he lived. He needed to be strong in confronting those who dissipated the strength of My people with their "bickering over words" and "meritless arguments" and "ungodly babbling". Timothy needed to be strong in completing his mission and not being ashamed of My message. He needed to be strong morally and pursue the right things by avoiding immorality and evil in all its forms. 

My dear disciple, being strong is not just about your will power. However, being strong does mean you have chosen to be strong before your strength is tested. It is about a commitment to stay on track with things that matter. It is the discipline not to feel like you have to show yourself strong in things that don't matter. 

I want you to be strong in the Scriptures. I want you to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit. I want you to trust the Spirit to strengthen you to make the right choices and do the right things, especially when you are not sure you can do those things on your own. Choose to be strong and you will find that the holy reservoir of strength within you may surprise you! As Paul said to the Thessalonians:
[T]he Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance. 
(2 Thessalonians 3:3-5 NIV)
Verses to Live

As you read these verses, not only see how Paul encouraged Timothy to be strong, but also write down what the Holy Spirit is saying to you about being strong!
But as for you, my child, be empowered by the grace that is in Jesus, the Anointed One. Whatever you heard me teach before an audience of witnesses, I want you to pass along to trustworthy people who have the ability to teach others too. As a good soldier of Jesus the Anointed, be ready to suffer with me. Remember that soldiers on active duty don't get wrapped up in civilian matters because they want to satisfy those who recruited them. Look at it another way: if someone competes as an athlete, he won't win the race and be crowned with the wreath if he breaks the rules. And the farmer who exhausts himself in the field should be the first to taste his harvest. Think about what I am telling you, and let the Lord give you clarity on all of it. 

Remember Jesus the Anointed, raised from the dead, descended from David's royal line. This is the crux of my good news! This is why I suffer and why I am bound and chained like a lawbreaker. But God's word is not in chains! That's why I endure everything for the sake of God's chosen: so that they might experience salvation with lasting, eternal glory through Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King. Here's a statement you can trust:
If we died with Him, 
    we will live with Him. 

If we remain with Him, 
    we will reign alongside Him. 

If we deny Him, 
    we will be denied by Him. 

If we are unfaithful, 
    He remains faithful, 

For He is not able to deny Himself.
Remind others about these things that I'm telling you. Warn them before God to stop their useless bickering over words. After all, splitting hairs does no good; it only ruins those forced to listen to their meritless arguments. Timothy, do everything you can to present yourself to God as a man who is fully genuine, a worker unashamed of your mission, a guide capable of leading others along the correct path defined by the word of truth. Stay away from ungodly babbling because it will only lead deeper into a godless lifestyle. Once these empty voices start to speak, Timothy, they infect and spread; and soon the body is consumed with its cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus fell victim to it, and they walked away from the truth by claiming that the day of resurrection has already arrived. They are clearly disrupting the faith of some who are not well grounded. Regardless of what they do or say, God's foundation is strong and firmly in place, etched with this seal: "The Lord knows the ones who belong to Him," and, "Everyone who invokes the name of the Lord ought to stop doing what they know to be wrong." 

Look, in the mansions of the rich and powerful you will find everything from silver and gold serving bowls to wooden containers and clay jars; some are used for special occasions — where honor is important — others are used for more mundane tasks. So tell them, if they will clean up their lives and purify themselves from dishonorable teachings that lead people astray, then they can become honorable vessels, consecrated and useful to the Master, made ready for every good work He has in store. 

Timothy, run away from youthful desires. Instead, direct your passion to chasing after righteousness, faithfulness, love, and peace, along with those who call upon the Lord with pure hearts. Excuse yourself from any conversations that turn into foolish and uninformed debates because you know they only provoke fights. As the Lord's slave, you shouldn't exhaust yourself in bickering; instead, be gentle — no matter who you are dealing with — ready and able to teach, tolerant without resentment, gently instructing those who stand up against you. Besides, the time may come when God grants them a change of heart so that they can arrive at the full knowledge of truth. And if they come to their senses, they can escape the devil's snare and walk freed from his captivity and evil bidding. 
(2 Timothy 2:1-26)
Response in Prayer

Almighty and righteous Father, I need Your strength to be the person You want me to be. I commit to choosing the right things and to doing the right things and to honoring You. I also know there will be times when I will be tempted by sin or I will feel outnumbered by those who do not love You or feel overwhelmed by the circumstances against me. I commit to doing the right thing in those situations. I will trust that You will strengthen me with Your might through Your Spirit in my inner being. Thank You for Your might and power released into the lives of everyday people that I find in the Bible. I want to be one of those mighty and courageous people who honor You. In Jesus' name, I pray for this strength. 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 21 Oct 2015, 2:31 pm

"Be Loyal" — A Year with Jesus for 10/21/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

Today and the next three days, I want to share with you one key concept from each of the four chapters in your book of 2 Timothy. Today's key thought is this: be loyal! 

This short letter from Paul was an urgent message to his beloved son in the faith, Timothy. Paul knew his time before being martyred for his faith was short (2 Timothy 4:6-8). Some of Paul's cherished converts and even some his apprentices had turned back from him and from their faith in Me. This abandonment broke Paul's heart. Over the next several days, you will hear this brokenness in some of the words he wrote to Timothy. These circumstances also created a sense of urgency to share some important words of encouragement and challenge with Timothy. Leaders who would take My good news to the world were lacking. Leadership among My disciples was now going to rest in the hands of a new generation of people like Timothy. 

So in today's verses, the opening part of his letter, Paul reminded Timothy to be loyal. He challenged Timothy to be loyal to the gospel of grace that gave people "the promise of life" in Me. He was to be loyal to the calling and the anointing to ministry that he had received. Timothy was to show himself loyal to the upbringing and training he had received from his mother and grandmother. He was to remain loyal to Paul and to the message Paul proclaimed. He was to be loyal like Onesiphorus, who found Paul in prison and came to him and refreshed his spirit. 

Loyalty is an essential virtue. When loyalty is violated, broken, or abandoned, disloyalty deeply wounds all the people involved. Remember that My closest disciples forsook me and fled when I was arrested and crucified. Remember that Judas betrayed Me. Peter denied he knew Me. My other apostles abandoned Me. 

Abandoning loyalty to your call to minister to others short circuits My desire to use you to channel My grace to others. 

Disloyalty in marriage creates separation between lovers and sows the seeds of destruction in the relationship. 

Being disloyal in your relationships also breaks something inside of you. You hurt in your soul because you know that you have done something wrong. However, if you simply ignore your conscience and the Spirit within you calling to you to own your disloyalty, confess it, and turn from it, and if you refuse to seek forgiveness and reconciliation for your disloyalty, then that brokenness can become crippling to you and your relationships. Disloyalty to your faith does much the same thing. Worst of all, your abandoning loyalty to your faith impacts all those around you and affects you eternally. 

So I want you to feel the emotion of the old apostle Paul as he writes to his now "not so young" apprentice minister, Timothy. Paul is imprisoned and awaiting death. He is almost completely alone. Many have abandoned him. Others have abandoned the faith he shared with them. Just as he pleads for Timothy to be loyal to all those things that had been entrusted to him, I want you to hear My call to you to be loyal. Be loyal to Me, to My grace, to My work, to My call in your life, to My leaders, to My disciples, and to My message, all of which include being loyal to all of your commitments to others as well as to Me. 

Be loyal! It won't be easy. It might be costly. It could even be dangerous. But be loyal! Being loyal opens the door for My work in you to make you more than you are now, to make you better than you are now, and to make you more fully whole as a human being and as a child of your Father in heaven. 

Be loyal!
Verses to Live

As you read Paul's challenge to Timothy to be loyal in every area of his life and ministry, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the areas where you need to be more loyal. Also, ask yourself if there is a person to whom you have been disloyal and with whom you need to reconcile (Matthew 5:23-24).
Paul, an emissary of Jesus the Anointed commissioned by God's will according to the promise of life found only in Jesus the Anointed, to you, my dear child Timothy. 

May grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and our Lord Jesus the Anointed be yours. 

Timothy, you are constantly in my prayers. Day and night I remember you before God and give thanks to Him whom I serve with a clean conscience, as did my ancestors. I really want to see you, especially when I remember how you cried the last time we were together. Yes, I know it would make me joyful to see you again. What strikes me most is how natural and sincere your faith is. I am convinced that the same faith that dwelt in your grandmother, Lois, and your mother, Eunice, abides in you as well. This is why I write to remind you to stir up the gift of God that was conveyed to you when I laid my hands upon you. You see, God did not give us a cowardly spirit but a powerful, loving, and disciplined spirit. 

So don't be embarrassed to testify about our Lord or for me, His prisoner. Join us in suffering for the good news by the strength and power of God. God has already saved us and called us to this holy calling — not because of any good works we may have done, but because of His own intention and because eons and eons ago (before time itself existed), He gave us this grace in Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King. And now, the time has come! That grace was revealed when our Savior, Jesus the Anointed, appeared; and through His resurrection He has wiped out death and brought to light life and immortality by way of this good news. I was appointed a preacher, emissary, and teacher of this message. This is exactly why I am suffering. But I am not ashamed because I know Him and I have put my trust in Him. And I am fully certain that He has the ability to protect what I have placed in His care until that day. 

Remember the words that you heard from me. Retain them as the model for healthy and sound teaching in the faith and love that are available in Jesus the Anointed. As for the precious thing entrusted to you, protect it with the help of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. 

You may know by now that all those in Asia have turned their backs on me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes. But Onesiphorus was not ashamed of my chains. So when he arrived in Rome, he searched for me and found me. May the Lord show mercy to his house because he has often stopped by to refresh my weary soul. And may the Lord shower him with divine mercy on the last day. You are well aware of all he did to serve me in Ephesus. 
(2 Timothy 1:1-18)
Response in Prayer

Father, I confess that there are times when I think about Judas' betrayal of my Lord Jesus for 30 pieces of silver, I am dumbfounded how he could do such a thing. Then, dear Father, the Holy Spirit convicts me with this thought: "Judas betrayed his Lord for 30 pieces of silver. How many times have I done it for nothing?" So forgive me. I want to show steadfast loyalty to You, Father, and to the message of Your grace in Jesus. I want to be loyal to Your call in my life. I want to be loyal to my brothers and sisters in Your family. So I ask for strength from the Holy Spirit as I commit myself to being loyal. 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 Tue 20 Oct 2015, 6:10 pm

"How to Handle Money" — A Year with Jesus for 10/20/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of the Father in Heaven, 

In My earthly ministry, I taught My disciples this essential truth:
Some people store up treasures in their homes here on earth. This is a shortsighted practice — don't undertake it. Moths and rust will eat up any treasure you may store here. Thieves may break into your homes and steal your precious trinkets. Instead, put up your treasures in heaven where moths do not attack, where rust does not corrode, and where thieves are barred at the door. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. 
(Matthew 6:19-21)
Paul wrote about these issues to his ministry apprentice Timothy. He sent Timothy the words that you read in your verses today. Paul's message stressed three principles:
Timothy, teach these things, but also make sure you live them.
Money and wealth can be a blessing if used appropriately.
However, the desire for money and wealth often leads people to destruction.
Paul then reminded Timothy that there are three kinds of people:
Those who are rich with earthly riches.
Those who want to get rich with earthly riches.
Those who are truly rich because they have found contentment in what they have.
Paul was part of this last group. He could confidently say:
I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances. I know how to survive in tight situations, and I know how to enjoy having plenty. In fact, I have learned how to face any circumstances: fed or hungry, with or without. I can be content in any and every situation through the Anointed One who is my power and strength. 
(Philippians 4:11-13)
Paul instructed Timothy to follow his example. Timothy needed to learn to be content. He also needed to recognize that godliness has great gain — whether godliness results in worldly riches or not. In fact, many of My people are far wealthier with worldly riches than they realize. Some have gotten caught up in greed and covetousness. Greed and covetousness nearly always get people into serious financial problems as well as being spiritual problems themselves. If you struggle with greed, financial mismanagement, or debt, then spend some time in the book of Proverbs. Proverbs is full of very helpful financial advice that will help you avoid lifestyle things that are harmful and that will help you better know how to manage your money. 

As My disciple, you need to be generous and willing to share what you have with others. You are a child of heaven's grace because of the generosity of the Father (2 Corinthians 8:9)! You are most like your Father in heaven when you are generous with your time, your attention, your money, your home, your possessions — with everything that you have. You have been blessed with these things so that you can pass on your blessings to others. Your Father in heaven wants you to be a conduit of blessing. Paul taught the Corinthians this principle, and you will find it a powerful addition to Paul's words to Timothy. Particularly notice the underlined sentence where Paul pointed out that whatever you have is intended not only for your needs but also to help others.
Giving grows out of the heart — otherwise, you've reluctantly grumbled "yes" because you felt you had to or because you couldn't say "no," but this isn't the way God wants it. For we know that "God loves a cheerful giver." God is ready to overwhelm you with more blessings than you could ever imagine so that you'll always be taken care of in every way and you'll have more than enough to share. Remember what is written about the One who trusts in the Lord:
He scattered abroad; He gave freely to the poor; 

His righteousness endures throughout the ages.
The same One who has put seed into the hands of the sower and brought bread to fill our stomachs will provide and multiply the resources you invest and produce an abundant harvest from your righteous actions. You will be made rich in everything so that your generosity will spill over in every direction. Through us your generosity is at work inspiring praise and thanksgiving to God. 
(2 Corinthians 9:7-11)
Learn to be content and use the blessings of your resources to be a blessing to others. This is the essence of what it means to be a child of the Father!
Verses to Live

Some people have a tendency to think of spiritual blessings and material blessings as being separate. For My devoted disciple, no such separation exists. Whatever material things you have are intended to be part of your spiritual life. If you tend to think of spiritual and material things as being separate, carefully note the last two sentences below — the underlined ones — where Paul clearly pointed out that there is an eternal implication associated with how you use what you have.
[G]odliness, along with contentment, does put us ahead but not in the ways some imagine. You see we came into this world with nothing, and nothing is going with us on the way out! So as long as we are clothed and fed, we should be happy. But those who chase riches are constantly falling into temptation and snares. They are regularly caught by their own stupid and harmful desires, dragged down and pulled under into ruin and destruction. For the love of money — and what it can buy — is the root of all sorts of evil. Some already have wandered away from the true faith because they craved what it had to offer; but when reaching for the prize, they found their hands and hearts pierced with many sorrows. Timothy, don't let this happen to you — run away from these things! You are a man of God. Your quest is for justice, godliness, faithfulness, love, perseverance, and gentleness. 

... 

Here's what you say to those wealthy in regard to this age: "Don't become high and mighty or place all your hope on a gamble for riches; instead, fix your hope on God, the One who richly provides everything for our enjoyment." Tell them to use their wealth for good things; be rich in good works! If they are willing to give generously and share everything, then they will send ahead a great treasure for themselves and build their futures on a solid foundation. As a result, they will surely take hold of eternal life. 
(1 Timothy 6:6-11; 1 Timothy 6:17-19)
Response in Prayer

O gracious and generous Father, You have blessed me so graciously with so many blessings. I want to be a generous person so that the things that I think of as material blessings will be used as part of my spiritual worship to You. I ask for the Holy Spirit to continue His work on my heart and conform me to be like Jesus. I want to be generous and gracious like Jesus, dear Father, so I ask this by the authority and power of 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.
© 1998-2015, Heartlight Inc.
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Post  Admin on Mon 19 Oct 2015, 2:37 pm

"More than Moral Instructions" — A Year with Jesus for 10/19/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend, 

Today's verses again come from Paul's instructions to Timothy and Titus. At first glance, they appear to be nothing more than a list of moral instructions. However, if you dig a little deeper, you will notice some crucial principles that lie behind these instructions. Here are a few of those principles that I want you to take seriously, as is the case for all of Paul's teaching. These principles are essential if you are going to be salt and light to those around you — something we have been discussing the last few days and something I taught in My Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:13-16).
Don't limit your influence or you ministry because of your age whether you are young or old or in between. Let the character of your life give you the platform from which you serve.
No matter your age, you can keep growing and influencing people when they see your commitment to personal growth and purity.
Have your life illustrate what your words are trying to teach.
Focus on the core truth of the good news and on living a life of good deeds.
Recognize that your authority to call people to holy living arises out of the holy character of your life and words.
Have good, respectful, appropriate, holy relationships with people of all ages and genders.
Don't play favorites, especially when it comes to appointing and recognizing leaders in My church.
Verses to Live

After reading the verses below, you might be tempted to overlook these things if you are not a leader in your church. However, when you go back and look at them again, the Holy Spirit will help you recognize something very significant. Your godly influence on the lives of those around you is dependent upon living these principles. 

The people in your circle of influence are not the result of happenstance, luck, or mere chance. I have placed you in that position of influence for you to make an impact for Me on the lives of those people.
Don't let anyone belittle you because you are young. Instead, show the faithful, young and old, an example of how to live: set the standard for how to talk, act, love, and be faithful and pure. Until I [Paul] get there, make sure to devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, and to teaching. Don't neglect the gift that was given to you through the prophecy spoken when the company of the elders laid their hands on you. Cultivate all these practices; live by them so that all will see how you are advancing and growing. Take care of yourself, concentrate on your teaching, and stick with these things. If you do, then you will be effective in bringing salvation to yourself and all who hear you. 
(1 Timothy 4:12-16) 

As to you, Titus: talk to them [those who are not living holy lives]; give them a good, healthy diet of solid teaching so they will know the right way to live. Here's what I want you to teach the older men: enjoy everything in moderation, respect yourselves and others, be sensible, and dedicate yourselves to living an unbroken faith demonstrated by your love and perseverance. And here's what I want you to teach the older women: Be respectful. Steer clear of gossip or drinking too much so that you can teach what is good to young women. Be a positive example, showing them what it is to love their husbands and children, and teaching them to control themselves in every way and to be pure. Train them to manage the household, to be kind, and to be submissive to their husbands, all of which honor the word of God. Encourage the young men in the same way: in every situation, they should learn to control themselves. Titus, you have to set a good example for everyone. Go out of your way to do what is right, speak the truth with the weight and authority that come from an honest and pure life. No one can argue with that. Then your enemies will cower in shame because they have nothing bad to say against us. 
(Titus 2:1-8) 

Elders who are leading well should be admired and valued. Double up on the honor shown them; care for them well — especially those constantly and consistently teaching the word and preaching. For the Scripture agrees, "Don't muzzle the ox while it is treading out your grain," and, "The worker deserves his wages." Listen, when or if a charge comes against an elder, don't even acknowledge the accusation unless there are two or more witnesses. Bring any believers who persist in sinning before the community and publicly scold them so that all the rest will know to fear sin and its consequences. I challenge you — in front of God, Jesus His Anointed, and His select heavenly messengers — to keep these instructions. And don't do anything out of favoritism. Don't be too quick to lay hands upon anyone or share in the sins of others — stay clean. 
(1 Timothy 5:17-22)
Response in Prayer

O Father, thank You for the people You have placed in my life. I confess that I don't always notice all of them. I look past some. I ignore others. I simply haven't seen some others as significant or relevant to my life. Please, dear Father, forgive me. Work on my heart through the transforming influence of the Holy Spirit. Please help me to view others with the eyes of Jesus. I want to influence for good all those whom You place in my circle of influence. I want to be Your salt and Your light brought to the relationships where You have placed me, called me to impact, and empowered me to serve. In Jesus' name, I ask for this grace. 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.
© 1998-2015, Heartlight Inc.
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Post  Admin on Sun 18 Oct 2015, 7:23 pm

"Focus on What Is Core" — A Year with Jesus for 10/18/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

I walked the streets and footpaths of Galilee, Samaria, and Judea about two-thousand years ago. Satan has consistently used a tried and proven method to sabotage My disciples' work to build My church. The evil one gets people arguing about religious things that are not that important. If he can distract My followers with useless, foolish, and selfish arguments, he knows that they will lose their focus on the core truths of their faith. Paul's letters of 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus, as well as the letters of 2 Peter and Jude, speak directly to these problems. In today's verses from 1 Timothy and Titus, Paul addressed similar issues with Timothy who was in Ephesus and with Titus who was in Crete. 

Paul spoke in lofty words about "God's family" to remind My leaders and those to whom they ministered that My church is precious. My church is not thing or idea. The church is the blood-bought family of people who have the purpose of being My blessing and bringing My redemption to their lost world. However, to do the work of redemption, the people of My family have to remain focused on the core truths of the gospel. Without this focus, their fellowship can devolve into personality clashes. If this primary focus is lost or if there are arguments over inconsequential semi-religious issues, My people can be trapped by immorality in all of its forms. 

In today's verses, you see Paul as he addressed the issues that were distracting My beloved disciples in Crete (where Titus ministered) and in Ephesus (where Timothy served). He pointed these disciples away from the distracting issues of false teaching, "worldly fables," and "sensual cravings and pleasures." Paul encouraged Timothy and Titus to point My beloved disciples in Crete and Ephesus in the direction of the core gospel and the life-change that true faith puts in place of the world's foolish and destructive counterfeit approaches to life. Notice that some of the core teachings involve the following subjects:
My identity as the Christ, Son of God, and Savior
God's promises about Me and My fulfillment of My mission on earth
The validation of My resurrection and return to glory
The proclamation of the gospel all over the world
The importance of godliness in all things
My return to completely redeem and save you
The Father's great grace, mercy, and loving-kindness toward you when you were living in sin
Your rebirth through faith and the power of the Holy Spirit
The significance of baptism
The importance of living a humble and holy life full of good deeds
Verses to Live

My beloved disciple, I want you to focus on the core things of your faith. To the delight of the evil one, many people want to distract you from these core things. You can always find a way to argue about religious ideas. Instead, stick to what is core. Refuse to get distracted by what is not essential, by false teaching, or by the lure of immorality. I called you to be salt in a world of decay and light in a world of darkness (Matthew 5:13-16). Paul urged Timothy and Titus to teach the people to whom they ministered to be the same!
I [Paul] am writing all this to you, hoping I can come to you before too long; but in case I am delayed, you will know how one ought to behave as a member of God's family — the assembly of the living God, the pillar and foundation that support the truth — and I think you will agree that the mystery of godliness is great:
He was revealed in the flesh, 
proven right in the Spirit; 

He was seen by the heavenly messengers, 
preached to outsider nations. 

He was believed in the world, 
taken up to the heavens in glory.
But even so, the Spirit very clearly tells us that in the last times some will abandon the true faith because of their devotion to spirits sent to deceive and sabotage, and mistakenly they will end up following the doctrine of demons. They will be carried away through the hypocrisy of liars whose consciences have been branded with a red-hot iron, saying, "Don't marry. Don't eat such-and-such foods." But God created all these to be received with gratitude by people who hold fast to the faith and really comprehend the truth. For everything God made is good. That means nothing should be rejected as long as it's received with a grateful heart, for by God's word and prayer, it is made holy. 

Place these truths before the brothers and sisters. If you do, you will be a good servant of Jesus the Anointed, raised and fed on words of true belief, trained in the good instruction you have so clearly followed. Reject worldly fables. Refuse old wives' tales. Instead, train yourself toward godliness. Although training your body has certain payoffs, godliness benefits all things — holding promise for life here and now and promise for the life that is coming. This statement is worthy of trust and our full acceptance. This is what we work so hard for! This is why we are constantly struggling: because we have an assured hope fixed upon a living God who is the Savior of all humankind — especially all of us who believe. 
(1 Timothy 3:14-16; 1 Timothy 4:1-10) 

Be ready to do what is good and honorable. Don't tear down another person with your words. Instead, keep the peace, and be considerate. Be truly humble toward everyone because there was a time when we, too, were foolish, rebellious, and deceived — we were slaves to sensual cravings and pleasures; and we spent our lives being spiteful, envious, hated by many, and hating one another. But then something happened: God our Savior and His overpowering love and kindness for humankind entered our world; He came to save us. It's not that we earned it by doing good works or righteous deeds; He came because He is merciful. He brought us out of our old ways of living to a new beginning through the washing of regeneration; and He made us completely new through the Holy Spirit, who was poured out in abundance through Jesus the Anointed, our Savior. All of this happened so that through His grace we would be accepted into God's covenant family and appointed to be His heirs, full of the hope that comes from knowing you have eternal life. This is a faithful statement of what we believe. 
(Titus 3:1-8)
Response in Prayer

O Father, forgive me when I become distracted by the latest religious fad, by the newest debate about hard-to-understand things, or by the lure of immorality. There are times when each of these has tugged at my heart, distracted my mind, and muddied the clarity of my devotion. I believe that Jesus died for my sins. I believe that He was buried in a grave suffering the sting of mortality. I also believe that He rose from the dead victorious over sin, death, and hell for the lost people He came to save. Because of this, dear Father, I believe that my faith in Jesus and my participation with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection through baptism have given me the assurance of life forever with You. I believe that the Holy Spirit has given me a new birth into a new way of life because of Your grace. Thank You for Your mercy. Empower me, please dear Father, as I commit to living for You. I want my life to be full of good deeds to honor and thank You. You have done so much for me. I want to be Your salt and light in a world of decay and darkness. 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.
© 1998-2015, Heartlight Inc.
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Post  Admin on Sat 17 Oct 2015, 10:23 am

"Helping Churches on the Brink" — A Year with Jesus for 10/17/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

On Paul's last visit with the Ephesian elders, he warned them:
Here are my instructions: diligently guard yourselves, and diligently guard the whole flock over which the Holy Spirit has given you oversight. Shepherd the church of God, this precious church which He made His own through the blood of His own Son. I know that after I've gone, dangerous wolves will sneak in among you, savaging the flock. Some of you here today will begin twisting the truth, enticing disciples to go your way, to follow you. You must be on guard, and you must remember my way of life among you. For three years, I have kept on, persistently warning everyone, day and night, with tears. So now I put you in God’s hands. I entrust you to the message of God’s grace, a message that has the power to build you up and to give you rich heritage among all who are set apart for God’s holy purposes. 
(Acts 20:28-32)
In many ways, the issues Paul addressed to the Ephesian elders in these verses are the same ones in his letters of 1 Timothy and Titus. Paul sent these two letters to men he mentored from their youth to help them to be missionaries, church planters, and ministers. In their letters to churches, Jude and Peter also had to address those kinds of issues unequivocally and with urgency and strong language. Each of these faithful servants had to be bold in confronting difficult challenges. Many of My churches were on the brink of destruction as they faced a variety of difficult issues. 

As churches began to grow and age, problems arose. Some of those problems had to do with persecutions. Some had to do with people who refused to get along with each other. Some had to do with false teachers who spread gangrenous teaching that undermined the gospel. How could Paul guard new churches against these kinds of problems? Where could he turn to provide direction for these churches through their storms? He appointed elders and mentored ministers to appoint elders and to deal with these issues. They warned of coming heresies. They spoke directly about the lure of immorality that could infect and disable their churches and could harm their witness to a lost world. 

Paul appointed elders in the towns where he planted churches (Acts 14:23). These elders were sometimes called overseers (bishops) (Acts 20:28 NIV). Their job was to shepherd or pastor My people (1 Peter 5:1-4) just as I AM the shepherd for My flock of sheep (John 10:1-18). These elders were to protect the flock of God from false teachers, to correct My disciples when they were not living holy lives, to encourage them in their walk with Me, and to lead by example. 

At the end of Paul's life, he had to face several imprisonments while trying to make sure the new churches were stable and protected by wise spiritual leaders. In 1 Timothy and Titus, Paul gave character qualities for all sorts of both male and female leaders. He warned against fussing and fighting over meaningless arguments. He shared standards of behavior for young ministers as they dealt with different age groups. Paul entrusted this work with churches in Crete to Titus and with churches in Ephesus to Timothy. These men were to carry on Paul's work, appoint faithful leaders in churches, and be men of courage and character as they led. Paul saw their faithful ministry as the key for the church's future. His instructions make up what are commonly called the Pastoral Epistles of 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus. You will find similar kinds of teaching and concerns in the short letter of Jude and the letter of 2 Peter as they directly addressed these same issues.
Verses to Live

Today's verses come from 1 Timothy, Titus, Jude, and 2 Peter. Leadership for the future, guidance for the present, confrontation of false teachers at the moment, and a constant and clear focus on the core gospel and on My ultimate return give strength to churches on the brink. Too often these words are forgotten and ignored today, so I hope you will spend some time letting Paul, Jude, and Peter awaken you to the urgency of living faithfully both in the present and into the future.
Paul, an emissary of Jesus the Anointed commissioned by order of God our Savior and Jesus the Anointed, our living and certain hope, to you, Timothy, my true son in the faith. May the grace, mercy, and peace that come only from God the Father and our Lord Jesus the Anointed mark your life. As I said that day I left for Macedonia, stay in Ephesus and instruct the unruly people in the church, once and for all, to stop teaching a different doctrine. Tell them to turn away from fables and endless genealogies. These activities just cause more arguments and confusion. Instead, they should concern themselves with welcoming in and bringing about the reign of God, which is all about faith. 
(1 Timothy 1:1-4) 

Here's another statement you may trust: if anyone is seeking a position as overseer in the church, he desires an honorable and important work. Here are the qualifications to look for in an overseer: a spotless reputation, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, sensible, respectable, welcoming to strangers (allowing them into his home), and gifted to teach. Disqualify any drunk or violent man. Look for a gentle man; no belligerent fellow can follow this calling. And he should be free from money lust. He should exert good control over his own household, and his children should obey and honor him. (If someone can't manage his own household, then how can he take care of God's family?) He mustn't be someone recently converted; otherwise, he may become arrogant and fall into the devil's condemnation. He should also be respected for his character and known as an honorable person by people outside of the church so as to avoid the trips, traps, and pitfalls of the devil. 

The same standards apply to deacons: they should be dignified. Double-talking hypocrites, heavy drinkers, and those greedy for ill-gotten gain should not be considered. They should be people who hold tight to the great mystery of faith with a clear conscience. Put these deacon-candidates to the test first; and if they come through without stumbling, then send them out to serve. 

Again the same applies to women in key positions; they should also be dignified, not backstabbing gossips but self-controlled and faithful to the core. 

Now deacons should live faithfully as the husband of one wife and be in control of their households, including their children. Those deacons who serve well will achieve a good standing for themselves in the community and have great confidence to walk in the faith that is in Jesus the Anointed, our Liberating King. 
(1 Timothy 3:1-13) 

Paul, servant of God and emissary of Jesus, the Anointed One, on behalf of the faith that is accepted by God's chosen people and the knowledge of the undeniable truth that leads to godliness. 

We rest in this hope we've been given — the hope that we will live forever with our God — the hope that He proclaimed ages and ages ago (even before time began). And our God is no liar; He is not even capable of uttering lies. So we can be sure that it is in His exact right time that He released His word into the world — through the preaching that God our Savior has commanded into my care. 

To you, Titus, my dear son birthed through our shared faith: may grace and peace rest upon you from God the Father and Jesus the Anointed, our Savior. 

I left you on Crete so you could sort out the chaos and the unfinished business and appoint elders over communities in each and every city according to my earlier orders. Here's what you should look for in an elder: he should be above suspicion; if he is married, he should be the husband of one wife, raise children who believe, and be a person who can't be accused of rough and raucous living. It is necessary that any overseer you appoint be blameless, as he is entrusted with God's mission. Look for someone who isn't pompous or quick to anger, who is not a drunkard, violent, or chasing after seedy gain or worldly fame. Find a person who lovingly opens his home to others; who honors goodness; who is thoughtful, fair, devout, self-controlled; and who clings to the faithful word that was taught because he must be able, not only to encourage people with sound teaching, but also to challenge those who are against it. 
Titus 1:1-9 

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. 
(Jude 1:1-4) 

Just as false prophets rose up in the past among God's people, false teachers will rise up in the future among you. They will slip in with their destructive opinions, denying the very Master who bought their freedom and dooming themselves to destruction swiftly, but not before they attract others by their unbridled and immoral behavior. Because of them and their ways, others will criticize and condemn the path of truth we walk as seedy and disreputable. These false teachers will follow their greed and exploit you with their fabrications, but be assured that their judgment was pronounced long ago and their destruction does not sleep. 
(2 Peter 2:1-3)
Response in Prayer

O Father, we need strong and faithful leaders in our churches today. I pray for those who preach Your word, who serve as shepherds, and who equip us to serve You. Please help us pursue godliness and avoid foolish and divisive arguments. Strengthen us to overcome temptation and deliver Your people, and especially Your leaders, from the evil one. 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 Fri 16 Oct 2015, 6:52 pm

Head-to-Toe in the Full Armor of God" — A Year with Jesus for 10/16/2015
Note from Jesus

Dear Faithful Follower, 

Some of your churches are skilled at drawing big audiences. Unfortunately, not many large or small churches appear to be raising up much of a spiritual army even though all of My disciples are facing an all-out spiritual war. I've got the marks on My body to prove hell's fury toward the Father. Hell has a way of insidiously seeping into politics, government, religion, and personal relationships. When Satan gains a foothold, then it is literally "hell on earth." Look at the book of Revelation in your Bible and you will see the story of this war:
War in heaven.
War on earth.
War with religion.
War with government.
War through false teaching.
War because of weakness.
Yes, My disciples are at war with Satan and hell. This war has casualties and cost. 

That's why I need real followers. I don't need Twitter® followers or Facebook® friends. I'm looking for genuine disciples. I'm looking for friends who won't run out on Me even when hell breaks loose against you. That's why I've never been very excited just to get a big audience. If you don't believe me, ask those 5,000-plus folks I fed with 5 loaves and 2 fish and who wanted a sardine-sandwich Messiah (John 6:1-29). When I wouldn't be their kind of Messiah, these "followers" flaked out on Me (John 6:41-71). My audience dropped to way below 5,000 pretty quickly! 

Paul understood. He knew My disciples were under attack. He had smelled the breath of hell's fury in the form of religious haters and government lackeys. He had lost people he loved to hell's fury, people into whom he had poured his heart, his hopes, and his time. He also knew faithful friends who were so committed to My cause and his mission that they voluntarily shared his imprisonments and hardships. Paul knew the difference between an audience and an army! His army was willing to pay the price to prepare for the battle, to stand alongside him in the battle, and to give their lives with him in battle if it was required. 

Why? Why would they pay such a high price? Why would they take such risks to share Paul's worst moments? Simple. They were called to be part of the army. They never considered settling for being like Twitter® followers or Facebook® friends to Paul. They enlisted in My army to fight a war against hell, sin, death, and Satan. 

Read Paul's words in the verses below. He wrote them to the brothers and sisters in Ephesus along with other believers throughout Asia Minor. He was preparing them for spiritual warfare. More specifically, he was telling them to prepare themselves for the warfare that had already begun. 

They lived in the place where religions collided in the Roman Empire. Wealth and power came with many of those religions. Superstition and black magic went with others. Dark clouds were gathering on the horizon. These storms would crescendo into the emperor cult in Asia Minor, a pseudo-religion that thrived in the same cities that received Paul's words about spiritual warfare. This cult with its political power would propel the persecution of My followers. The war between hell and My disciples would lead to My Revelation to John, the book of Revelation John received in a vision and recorded. Paul wasn't looking for just an audience; he was trying to awaken an army. 

Today, as you read Paul's words, please know that the Holy Spirit is working to use these same words of Paul to awaken an army in your day. I don't want just more audience; I'm looking for a committed army. I don't need more Twitter® followers; I AM looking for genuine disciples. I don't need Facebook® friends; I AM looking for real friends. I AM looking for friends who do what I ask them to do. I am looking for genuine disciples who will follow even when they don't understand all I am doing in the world (John 15:9-15)! 

It's a war out there. Follow Me. But don't come unprepared. Pick up the weapons and the armor that win the war and be ready — because it's a war out there.
Verses to Live

Paul's words about those who see you as their enemies are powerfully descriptive and one hundred percent true. You don't need to be afraid, though; you just need to be prepared for the battle. Your ultimate victory is assured.
Finally, brothers and sisters, draw your strength and might from God. Put on the full armor of God to protect yourselves from the devil and his evil schemes. We're not waging war against enemies of flesh and blood alone. No, this fight is against tyrants, against authorities, against supernatural powers and demon princes that slither in the darkness of this world, and against wicked spiritual armies that lurk about in heavenly places. 

And this is why you need to be head-to-toe in the full armor of God: so you can resist during these evil days and be fully prepared to hold your ground. Yes, stand — truth banded around your waist, righteousness as your chest plate, and feet protected in preparation to proclaim the good news of peace. Don't forget to raise the shield of faith above all else, so you will be able to extinguish flaming spears hurled at you from the wicked one. Take also the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 

Pray always. Pray in the Spirit. Pray about everything in every way you know how! And keeping all this in mind, pray on behalf of God's people. Keep on praying feverishly, and be on the lookout until evil has been stayed. And please pray for me. Pray that truth will be with me before I even open my mouth. Ask the Spirit to guide me while I boldly defend the mystery that is the good news — for which I am an ambassador in chains — so pray that I can bravely pronounce the truth, as I should do. 
(Ephesians 6:10-20)
Response in Prayer

Father, forgive me for not praying with greater urgency. I forget the spiritual warfare in my environment, at my doorstep, and over the devotion of my heart. Please bless all who lovingly and courageously share Your truth in dangerous places. Give them supernatural strength to stand firm in their faith. Deliver them from harm's way. Forgive us for complaining about life in "church land" because things sometimes aren't being done in ways that please us. Please forgive us. Please awaken us. Move us from being satisfied as just an audience. Move us to be a passionate and prepared part of Your army on a mission. I ask for my own courage and strength 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.
© 1998-2015, Heartlight Inc.
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Post  Admin on Thu 15 Oct 2015, 10:41 am

"Your Daily Worship" — A Year with Jesus for 10/15/2015

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. 

I submitted Myself to your needs and to the needs of the lost world to redeem you (Philippians 2:5-11). 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, especially with those closest to you, as part of your worship. Paul wanted the Ephesians to know, and I want you to know, that proper living in a Christian household and in Christian relationships ultimately comes back to Me, Who I AM, what I have commanded, and the manner in which I did what I did. (See the highlights about this in bold in the verses below.) 

Many documents on virtue and proper living that were written by the apostle Paul's contemporaries 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 — the wife, the child, or the slave — had all the responsibility to submit, obey, and serve. Not so with Paul. 

The point of all of this, 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. 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 — 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 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 household relationships, and (3) to recognize that the way they lived in their household 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 — completely free from all impurity — 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 with those who are part of my daily world as part of my 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. — 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.
© 1998-2015, Heartlight Inc.
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Post  Admin on Wed 14 Oct 2015, 8:12 pm

"Essential Unity" — A Year with Jesus for 10/13/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Member of My Body, 

Paul emphasized in several of his letters to churches that My church is My bodily presence in the world (Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12:1-30). When I lived on earth in a physical body, I brought the touch and truth of the Father to a broken and confused world. Now as My body, you are called to do the same thing. 

You are a member of My body. The concept of being a member of an organization called a church is foreign to the New Testament. Such a concept is also foreign to My teaching. When My apostles used the term "member," they were talking about a member of a body. Each member is a vital part of a living body. How you treat others in My family, what you believe, and how you use your gifts impact My church in significant ways. How you live these dynamics either helps or hinders the church to live and serve as My bodily presence in the world. 

When Paul wrote the verses below, he used the emotional leverage of his imprisonment. In this way, he reminded My disciples in Ephesus and Asia Minor of the importance and urgency of three things:
Living with a definite character that reflected My character,
Agreeing on essential doctrinal truths centered in Our — Father, Son, and Spirit's — nature.
Using their spiritual gifts to help My body to impact the world with My character and compassion.
As My Asian disciples applied these three principles, My body on earth reflected and continued My ministry. These three things would help them resist false teaching and would restore My presence to the world through their lives as My church. However, these three practices were most effective as each member — each "body part" — did its work based on faith in a shared doctrinal core and lived with gracious compassion for each other.
Verses to Live

Paul wrote Ephesians to give My disciples a glorious view of the Father's intention for the church. In today's verses, Paul emphasized that essential unity among My disciples must have three dimensions. My people need to have unity based on gracious character (paragraph 1 below). My followers need to have unity rooted in faith essentials held in common (paragraph 2). My brothers and sisters need to have unity as My bodily presence through using their gifts (the remaining part of the verses). Unfortunately, the evil one can give My life, My message, and My church a bad name when My followers emphasize only one or two of these principles to the exclusion of the others. Please know that all three are important if you are to restore My presence to the world through My church!
As a prisoner of the Lord, I urge you: Live a life that is worthy of the calling He has graciously extended to you. Be humble. Be gentle. Be patient. Tolerate one another in an atmosphere thick with love. Make every effort to preserve the unity the Spirit has already created, with peace binding you together. 

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were all called to pursue one hope. There is one Lord Jesus, one living faith, one... washing through baptism, and one God — the Father over all who is above all, through all, and in all. 

This God has given to each of us grace in full measure according to the Anointed's gift as the Scripture says,
When He ascended to the heights, 
He put captivity in chains; 
And in His triumph, He gave gifts to the people.
(Well, when it says "He ascended," then that must mean that He had descended earlier to the lower levels, that is, to the earth. The One who descended is the same One who rose from the dead to ascend far above all the heavens so that He could fill all things.) It was the risen One who handed down to us such gifted leaders — some emissaries, some prophets, some evangelists, as well as some pastor-teachers — so that God's people would be thoroughly equipped to minister and build up the body of the Anointed One. These ministries will continue until we are unified in faith and filled with the knowledge of the Son of God, until we stand mature in His teachings and fully formed in the likeness of the Anointed, our Liberating King. Then we will no longer be like children, tossed around here and there upon ocean waves, picked up by every gust of religious teaching spoken by liars or swindlers or deceivers. Instead, by truth spoken in love, we are to grow in every way into Him — the Anointed One, the head. He joins and holds together the whole body with its ligaments providing the support needed so each part works to its proper design to form a healthy, growing, and mature body that builds itself up in love. 
(Ephesians 4:1-16)
Response in Prayer

Father, forgive us. We have been short-sighted children. Sometimes we grow weak on truth and end up compromising Your will. Sometimes, dear Father, we've gotten so hung up on our version of doctrine that we've forgotten to treat each other with gracious compassion. Other times, Father, we've forgotten to use our gifts and have gotten caught up in just going to church and being a member of a religious group. I am sorry that we so easily forget that each of us is a vital body part of Jesus' bodily presence. Open our hearts to recognize the importance of being the second incarnation of Jesus to the world, this time through the church. Please forgive us — and please forgive me in particular — for our short-sightedness, our contentious spirit, and our lack of involvement in Jesus' body, the church. While I cannot speak for everyone, O God, I do pledge my heart, my life, and my all to live out Your call to gracious compassion toward my brothers and sisters in Christ. I commit to center My faith in Your work and Your identity as Father, Lord Jesus the Son and Anointed One, and the Holy Spirit. I pledge to focus my attention doctrinally on the truths that center on Your identity. I also want, dear Father, to use the gifts You have given to me to bless Jesus' church and help it minister as Jesus' presence in my world. I ask for this forgiveness, and I make this pledge 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.
© 1998-2015, Heartlight Inc.

Displaying Your Father's Character & Compassion" — A Year with Jesus for 10/14/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious Disciple, 

Paul beautifully described the Father's grace in the first part of his letter to the Ephesians. He emphasized that the Father's grace saved you from sin, death, and the evil one:
As for you, don't you remember how you used to just exist? Corpses, dead in life, buried by transgressions, wandering the course of this perverse world. You were the offspring of the prince of the power of air — oh, how he owned you, just as he still controls those living in disobedience.
(Ephesians 2:1-2)
But Paul went on to say that the Father didn't just save you FROM this dead existence in bondage; he also saved you FOR a life of goodness and blessing:
For we are the product of His hand, heaven's poetry etched on lives, created in the Anointed, Jesus, to accomplish the good works God arranged long ago. 
(Ephesians 2:10)
In the second half of his letter, Paul described the character and compassion of the Father that must characterize the lives of these Christians living in Asia Minor. He emphasized that the old life of bondage should no longer characterize them. (Notice the underlined parts in the verses below.) Paul called these believers to take on a new way of life that clearly reflects the nature of the Father. The Father re-created them — and you — for this new life. (Especially note the parts in bold in the verses below.) One sentence from Paul summarizes this point well:
[A]lthough you were once the personification of darkness, you are now light in the Lord.
The motivation for this new way of living comes from Our work in You:
What the Father did to re-create you.
The price I paid as the sacrificial Son to redeem you.
The power the Spirit supplies to energize this new life.
You are a child of the Father, a child of light, so be certain that you are not living in the darkness; live in ways that reflect the light. Display the character and compassion of your Father in your daily life. Go back and read My Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapters 5-7. Notice how several of the truths that I taught are emphasized by Paul in a slightly different way in the last half of Ephesians. 

Your motivation for this new way of living is not a matter of obeying a set of rules or laws. You are trying to honor your Father for what He has done for you. You are remembering the price I paid to redeem you. You are being empowered by the Holy Spirit as you are transformed to become more and more like Me. As Paul said to the Ephesians, "So imitate God. Follow Him like adored children, and live in love as the Anointed One loved you — so much that He gave Himself as a fragrant sacrifice, pleasing God." Let the world see your family resemblance to the Father!
Verses to Live

At first glance, it might be possible to view the following passage from Ephesians as a Christian set of laws. However, Paul's emphasis on the new life versus the old life and on imitating the Father should remind you that this is about your relationship to God as Father, to Me as your older brother, and to the Spirit as the indwelling presence of Our family nature. This nature should "Spirit-naturally" come to life in you and produce this kind of fruit in your life. (Galatians 5:16-23 shares a similar understanding.) Let your family resemblance shine through you in all you do!
Therefore, as a witness of the Lord, I insist on this: that you no longer walk in the outsiders' ways — with minds devoted to worthless pursuits. They are blind to true understanding. They are strangers and aliens to the kind of life God has for them because they live in ignorance and immorality and because their hearts are cold, hard stones. And now, since they've lost all natural feelings, they have given themselves over to sensual, greedy, and reckless living. They stop at nothing to satisfy their impure appetites. 

But this is not the path of the Anointed One, which you have learned. If you have heard Jesus and have been taught by Him according to the truth that is in Him, then you know to take off your former way of life, your crumpled old self — that dark blot of a soul corrupted by deceitful desire and lust — to take a fresh breath and to let God renew your attitude and spirit. Then you are ready to put on your new self, modeled after the very likeness of God: truthful, righteous, and holy. 

So put away your lies and speak the truth to one another because we are all part of one another. When you are angry, don't let it carry you into sin. Don't let the sun set with anger in your heart or give the devil room to work. If you have been stealing, stop. Thieves must go to work like everyone else and work honestly with their hands so that they can share with anyone who has a need. Don't let even one rotten word seep out of your mouths. Instead, offer only fresh words that build others up when they need it most. That way your good words will communicate grace to those who hear them. It's time to stop bringing grief to God's Holy Spirit; you have been sealed with the Spirit, marked as His own for the day of rescue. Banish bitterness, rage and anger, shouting and slander, and any and all malicious thoughts — these are poison. Instead, be kind and compassionate. Graciously forgive one another just as God has forgiven you through the Anointed, our Liberating King. 

So imitate God. Follow Him like adored children, and live in love as the Anointed One loved you — so much that He gave Himself as a fragrant sacrifice, pleasing God. 

Listen, don't let any kind of immorality be breathed among you. Any demoralizing behaviors (perverse sexual acts, uncleanliness, greediness, and the like) are inappropriate topics of conversation for those set apart as God's people. Don't swear or spurt nonsense. Don't make harsh jokes or clown around. Make proper use of your words, and offer them thankfully in praise. This is what we know for certain: no one who engages in loose sex, impure actions, and greed — which is just a form of idolatry — has any inheritance in the kingdom of God and His Anointed. 

Don't be fooled by people whose sentences are compounded with useless words, empty words — they just show they are empty souls. For, in His wrath, God will judge all the children of disobedience for these kinds of sins. So don't be persuaded into their ignorance; and don't cast your lot with them because, although you were once the personification of darkness, you are now light in the Lord. So act like children of the light. For the fruit of the light is all that is good, right, and true. Make it your aim to learn what pleases our Lord. Don't get involved with the fruitless works of darkness; instead, expose them to the light of God. You see, it's a disgrace to speak of their secrets (so don't even talk about what they do when no one is looking). When the light shines, it exposes even the dark and shadowy things and turns them into pure reflections of light. This is why they sing,
Awake, you sleeper! Rise from your grave, And the Anointed One will shine on you.
(Ephesians 4:17-32; Ephesians 5:1-14)
Response in Prayer

Father God, thank You for redeeming me and saving me from a fruitless life of sin and death. I know that Satan is seeking to destroy all that is good in me. Help me remember Jesus' great sacrifice. Open my eyes to the Spirit's great power. I want Your righteous character and gracious compassion to shine through in my life. I want to lead people to glorify my beloved Jesus. I pray all this through the intercession of the Holy Spirit and in the name of my Savior, Jesus. 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.
© 1998-2015, Heartlight Inc.
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"Power and Praise" — A Year with Jesus for 10/12/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

One of the most remarkable gifts you have as the Father's child is the gift of your intercessory prayer for others. When the apostle Paul was in prison, his confinement prevented him from being with his beloved brothers and sisters in Ephesus. So as Paul was praising the Father, he seamlessly moved from praise into a prayer. The focus of Paul's prayer was for the Father to release the presence and power of the Holy Spirit into the lives of these Ephesian Christians. This same Spirit-power tore Me from the clutches of death and raised Me from the dead. 

Rather than spending a lot of time talking to you about what Paul said in the verses below, I want you to pay special attention to the two prayers in your verses for today. As you do, notice these three dynamics in Paul's prayers:
Paul moved from praise in prayer to intercession in prayer. 
This movement from praise to intercessory prayer was natural for Paul as he prayed led by the Holy Spirit. This kind of prayer carried great power.
Paul told the Ephesians what he prayed for them. 
Intercessory prayer is often most powerful when you share the specific petitions in your prayer with those for whom you are praying. In other words, don't just tell folks that you are praying for them; tell them what you are praying for them!
Paul prayed for the Ephesians to experience the Spirit's power at work within them. 
The same Holy Spirit, Who intercedes for My disciples when they pray, also releases the Father's power into their lives.
Spend more time in praise to the Father, and as you do, you will find more of the Holy Spirit's power being released into the lives of your brothers and sisters in My family.
Verses to Live

Paul's life and letters are full of his prayers. These prayers helped him stay connected with My disciples scattered all over the world. As you read two of Paul's prayers, let the Holy Spirit help you remember brothers and sisters for whom you need to pray. Pray for these dear people, and then let them know what you prayed for them. 

Paul inserts the first prayer in the first part of the letter. The other prayer comes at the middle as he shifts from talking about the truths of the gospel to talking about the ways the disciples must live out those truths. Your power as a disciple to live with My character and compassion comes from knowing the truth and having the power to live it. You can release this power through your prayers of praise and intercession!
To God be all praise and glory! This is why, when I heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus that is present in your community and of your great love for all God's people, I haven't stopped thanking Him for you. I am continually speaking to Him on your behalf in my prayers. Here's what I say:
God of our Lord Jesus the Anointed, Father of Glory: I call out to You on behalf of Your people. Give them minds ready to receive wisdom and revelation so they will truly know You. Open the eyes of their hearts, and let the light of Your truth flood in. Shine Your light on the hope You are calling them to embrace. Reveal to them the glorious riches You are preparing as their inheritance. Let them see the full extent of Your power that is at work in those of us who believe, and may it be done according to Your might and power.
Friends, it is this same might and resurrection power that He used in the Anointed One to raise Him from the dead and to position Him at His right hand in heaven. There is nothing over Him. He's above all rule, authority, power, and dominion; over every name invoked, over every title bestowed in this age and the next. God has placed all things beneath His feet and anointed Him as the head over all things for His church. This church is His body, the fullness of the One who fills all in all. 
(Ephesians 1:14-23) 

It is for this reason that I bow my knees before the Father, after whom all families in heaven above and on earth below receive their names, and pray:
Father, out of Your honorable and glorious riches, strengthen Your people. Fill their souls with the power of Your Spirit so that through faith the Anointed One will reside in their hearts. May love be the rich soil where their lives take root. May it be the bedrock where their lives are founded so that together with all of Your people they will have the power to understand that the love of the Anointed is infinitely long, wide, high, and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced. God, may Your fullness flood through their entire beings.
Now to the God who can do so many awe-inspiring things, immeasurable things, things greater than we ever could ask or imagine through the power at work in us, to Him be all glory in the church and in Jesus the Anointed from this generation to the next, forever and ever. Amen. 
(Ephesians 3:14-21)
Response in Prayer

I praise You, gracious Father. I praise You, Lord Jesus. I praise You, powerful Holy Spirit. I praise You for Your greatness, power, and sovereignty. I praise You for the plan to redeem the mess we have made. I praise You for entering our world and planting redemption into it through Jesus. I praise You for the power of the Holy Spirit that tore Jesus from the clutches of death and raised Him from the dead. I praise You for saving Me through My faith as I shared in Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection through baptism. I praise You for living inside Me through the Holy Spirit. And I ask that my spirit be fully redeemed and transformed by the Holy Spirit living within me so that Your character and grace shine out in my life. 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.
© 1998-2015, Heartlight Inc.
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