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HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

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Post  Admin on Mon 14 Sep 2015, 8:33 pm

What Love Looks Like!" — A Year with Jesus for 09/14/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

In the first part of Paul's letter to the Roman believers, he gave his great explanation of how all people have sinned and fallen short of the Father's standards for holy character (Romans chapters 1-3). Next he explained how all people, both Jews and non-Jews, are invited into the Father's family by grace that they receive through faith in My death, burial, and resurrection (Romans chapters 4-6). He then explained that will-power and works of law cannot make anyone, or keep anyone righteous. Everyone needs the power of the Holy Spirit living in them to be the kind of people they want to be as the Father's children (Romans chapters 7-8). Paul finished his great explanation of grace by writing about the place of both Jews and Gentiles in God's plan of salvation (Romans chapters 9-11). 

Yesterday's note focused on Paul's great outburst of praise (Romans 11:33-36). This burst of praise finished the first section of Romans. Paul then began his challenging call for holy behavior. In My family of faith, all disciples need to offer themselves as living sacrifices to the Father (Romans 12:1-2) because of all He has done for them to bring them grace. Today's verses focus upon some of the principles for living this kind of life to bless others. 

If you recall, I had told you that loving your neighbor as you love yourself is second only to loving God. These two love principles form the foundation for all of God's demands for right living in relationship with Him and with others (Matthew 22:36-40). In today's verses, Paul laid down principle after principle, all of which find their foundation in loving your neighbor as yourself. If you want to know what loving your neighbor looks like, read these verses very carefully. These are not laws to be obeyed but principles that must be adopted and which show what the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) looks like in everyday living. Not only is this behavior your goal in loving others, but this behavior is also "Spirit-natural." It is the expected result of the Spirit's work to transform into having the character and compassion of Christ. When you make the effort to live this way, the Holy Spirit will furnish the power to produce this holy fruit as the Father pours His love into your heart through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5).
Verses to Live

The phrase that best summarizes Paul's principles in the verses below is "Live in true devotion to one another..." This dedication is the kind of behavior and the kind of love that I am calling you to incorporate into your life as My disciple!
Love others well, and don't hide behind a mask; love authentically. Despise evil; pursue what is good as if your life depends on it. Live in true devotion to one another, loving each other as sisters and brothers. Be first to honor others by putting them first. Do not slack in your faithfulness and hard work. Let your spirit be on fire, bubbling up and boiling over, as you serve the Lord. Do not forget to rejoice, for hope is always just around the corner. Hold up through the hard times that are coming, and devote yourselves to prayer. Share what you have with the saints, so they lack nothing; take every opportunity to open your life and home to others. 

If people mistreat or malign you, bless them. Always speak blessings, not curses. If some have cause to celebrate, join in the celebration. And if others are weeping, join in that as well. Work toward unity, and live in harmony with one another. Avoid thinking you are better than others or wiser than the rest; instead, embrace common people and ordinary tasks. Do not retaliate with evil, regardless of the evil brought against you. Try to do what is good and right and honorable as agreed upon by all people. If it is within your power, make peace with all people. Again, my loved ones, do not seek revenge; instead, allow God's wrath to make sure justice is served. Turn it over to Him. For the Scriptures say, "Revenge is Mine. I will settle all scores." But consider this bit of wisdom: "If your enemy is hungry, give him something to eat. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink; because if you treat him kindly, it will be like heaping hot coals on top of his head." Never let evil get the best of you; instead, overpower evil with the good. 
(Romans 12:9-21)
Response in Prayer

O Father, I so desperately want my life to be full of the character, conduct, and compassion that Paul calls on these early Roman disciples to have in their lives. Empower me by the power of Your Holy Spirit to be transformed to be ever more like Christ in all these qualities as I live in relationship with those around me as Your child. Please help me to hold onto the passion I feel right now as I long to love others in Jesus' name and follow His example. 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! To subscribe send a blank email to: ayearwithjesus-subscribe@maillists.heartlight.org
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 13 Sep 2015, 8:46 pm

"Be a Living and Holy Sacrifice" — A Year with Jesus for 09/13/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

Paul spent the first two-thirds of his letter to the Romans explaining the principle of salvation by grace through faith. In Romans chapters 9-11, he has tried to explain how the Jewish people and the promises of the Father to Abraham fit into that plan. This explanation was important with many Jews in Paul's time rejecting the Father's message of grace through Me and many Gentiles accepting this message. As Paul came to the end of this powerful teaching, he finished with a burst of praise. Then in the first verses of chapter 12, he began the next part of his letter with a call to these Roman Christians to offer themselves to God as living sacrifices and to live for Him. Today's Scripture is one of the most beautiful and cherished passages in your New Testament. 

First, Paul acknowledged that the Father's plan is challenging and not necessarily easy to understand. It is both glorious and challenging. Paul's words are an admission in praise that you cannot begin to understand all of the Father's ways. Your finite mind cannot begin to imagine the plans of mercy and grace of the infinite and almighty Holy One of heaven. Your mortal brain cannot plumb the depths of meaning and heights of grace in the mind of YAHWEH, the Immortal One. So when you reach the point that your ability to understand the Father's goodness is exhausted, praise Him! When your mind is confused about the ways of the Father and His plan of salvation, but astounded at His grace, then praise Him! No matter what you may not understand completely, know this: your Father in heaven loves you completely, sacrificially, and completely! 

In the last paragraph, Paul gave a concise but challenging summary of the response that should be made. This choice that the Roman Christians were challenged to make is also the choice you need to make today — and each day. 

My beloved disciple, you — like these first-century believers in Rome — were redeemed at great cost. I did not, and I still do not, regret that high price. However, the love behind this sacrifice that brought you mercy should capture your heart. It should convict you to refuse to live like the rest of the world that does not know My love and the Father's grace and mercy. Offer all that you are to the Father. That is what it means to love Us — Father, Son, and Spirit — with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:28-30). Please notice that Paul pointed out that We will assist you in your efforts to know the Father's will and to be transformed as you live for Us. Most of the remainder of this letter to the Romans was devoted to help you love the Father with your all and loving each other as the Father's children (Mark 12:31).
Verses to Live

While the words speak for themselves, I want to ask you to do three things with today's Scripture. First read the first set of verses down to "Amen" several times. Read these verses slowly. Read them out loud. Let the beauty of these words wash over you. Next, take a few minutes and pray a prayer of praise. Don't ask for anything in this prayer. Instead, offer the Father praise for Who He is and what He has done as declared in Scripture to redeem you and adopt you into Our family. Finally, I want to encourage you to memorize the last paragraph. Even if you know it in another translation, put these words to memory and recite them each morning and each evening over the next week.
Oh, how great are God's riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! 
For who can know the Lord's thoughts? 
Who knows enough to give him advice? 
And who has given him so much 
that he needs to pay it back?
For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen. 

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice — the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. 
(Romans 11:33-36 NLT; Romans 12:1-2 NLT)
Response in Prayer

O Father, You are "the highest God above, Who is and always will be, the only One Who is holy"! I am thankful that even though You "live in a high and holy place" You also have chosen to live with people like me — "the low, the weak, and the humble" to "renew [our] vitality and revive [our] strength." I thank You for both Your awesome ways and Your gracious and merciful love. I offer myself to You because You alone are worth all that my life can be. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen. 
"Be a Living and Holy Sacrifice" — A Year with Jesus for 09/13/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

Paul spent the first two-thirds of his letter to the Romans explaining the principle of salvation by grace through faith. In Romans chapters 9-11, he has tried to explain how the Jewish people and the promises of the Father to Abraham fit into that plan. This explanation was important with many Jews in Paul's time rejecting the Father's message of grace through Me and many Gentiles accepting this message. As Paul came to the end of this powerful teaching, he finished with a burst of praise. Then in the first verses of chapter 12, he began the next part of his letter with a call to these Roman Christians to offer themselves to God as living sacrifices and to live for Him. Today's Scripture is one of the most beautiful and cherished passages in your New Testament. 

First, Paul acknowledged that the Father's plan is challenging and not necessarily easy to understand. It is both glorious and challenging. Paul's words are an admission in praise that you cannot begin to understand all of the Father's ways. Your finite mind cannot begin to imagine the plans of mercy and grace of the infinite and almighty Holy One of heaven. Your mortal brain cannot plumb the depths of meaning and heights of grace in the mind of YAHWEH, the Immortal One. So when you reach the point that your ability to understand the Father's goodness is exhausted, praise Him! When your mind is confused about the ways of the Father and His plan of salvation, but astounded at His grace, then praise Him! No matter what you may not understand completely, know this: your Father in heaven loves you completely, sacrificially, and completely! 

In the last paragraph, Paul gave a concise but challenging summary of the response that should be made. This choice that the Roman Christians were challenged to make is also the choice you need to make today — and each day. 

My beloved disciple, you — like these first-century believers in Rome — were redeemed at great cost. I did not, and I still do not, regret that high price. However, the love behind this sacrifice that brought you mercy should capture your heart. It should convict you to refuse to live like the rest of the world that does not know My love and the Father's grace and mercy. Offer all that you are to the Father. That is what it means to love Us — Father, Son, and Spirit — with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:28-30). Please notice that Paul pointed out that We will assist you in your efforts to know the Father's will and to be transformed as you live for Us. Most of the remainder of this letter to the Romans was devoted to help you love the Father with your all and loving each other as the Father's children (Mark 12:31).
Verses to Live

While the words speak for themselves, I want to ask you to do three things with today's Scripture. First read the first set of verses down to "Amen" several times. Read these verses slowly. Read them out loud. Let the beauty of these words wash over you. Next, take a few minutes and pray a prayer of praise. Don't ask for anything in this prayer. Instead, offer the Father praise for Who He is and what He has done as declared in Scripture to redeem you and adopt you into Our family. Finally, I want to encourage you to memorize the last paragraph. Even if you know it in another translation, put these words to memory and recite them each morning and each evening over the next week.
Oh, how great are God's riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand his decisions and his ways! 
For who can know the Lord's thoughts? 
Who knows enough to give him advice? 
And who has given him so much 
that he needs to pay it back?
For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen. 

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice — the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. 
(Romans 11:33-36 NLT; Romans 12:1-2 NLT)
Response in Prayer

O Father, You are "the highest God above, Who is and always will be, the only One Who is holy"! I am thankful that even though You "live in a high and holy place" You also have chosen to live with people like me — "the low, the weak, and the humble" to "renew [our] vitality and revive [our] strength." I thank You for both Your awesome ways and Your gracious and merciful love. I offer myself to You because You alone are worth all that my life can be. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen. 


Note: Today's prayer is a response both to Isaiah's words in Isaiah 57:15 and also to Paul's words in the Scripture above.
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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! To subscribe send a blank email to: ayearwithjesus-subscribe@maillists.heartlight.org
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.

Note: Today's prayer is a response both to Isaiah's words in Isaiah 57:15 and also to Paul's words in the Scripture above.
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! To subscribe send a blank email to: ayearwithjesus-subscribe@maillists.heartlight.org
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.
Admin
Admin
Admin

Posts : 59547
Join date : 2008-10-25
Age : 74
Location : Wales UK

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Post  Admin on Sat 12 Sep 2015, 12:11 pm

"Receiving God's Promises Through Faith" — A Year with Jesus for 09/10/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of grace, 

Many people in your fallen world accept or reject others based on race. They exclude those who are not of their race. The Christians in Rome, and really all over the world during the time Paul wrote his letter to the Roman Christians, struggled with the issue of race. The separation between Jew and Gentile was a hard one for many of the early Christians to overcome. 

As I look at your time, My heart breaks at both the physical violence done in the name of race and also the more subtle forms of exclusivity, prejudice, bigotry, and racial arrogance. Sometimes this racial prejudice is acted out publicly. Other times it goes on in people's hearts as they fake racial acceptance to get along in culture. 

Please understand something that Paul made very clear to My disciples. I came to tear down racial divisions and bring about a new humanity not based on race (Ephesians 2:11-22). I came to establish "one new humanity" based on faith. I came to create peace between different peoples through My sacrifice on the cross (Ephesians 2:15-16). The future I will bring has all nations, races, languages, and peoples joined together in joyous worship, praise, and fellowship (Revelation 7:9-12). 

My human racial identity was Jewish. I came as the answer to the Father's promise to Abraham and David. I came as the Anointed One, the Messiah of Israel. The Father chose Israel to be His people. He did not choose them because they were better, wiser, more numerous, or more powerful. The Father chose Israel because of His love and faithfulness to His promises to the great Israelite patriarchs — Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and later King David. 

John the Baptizer, My cousin and forerunner, had warned people that being Jewish descendants of Abraham didn't guarantee their righteousness. John reminded the people that the Father "is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham" (Matthew 3:7-9). Both John and I warned that if a person claims to be a descendant of Abraham, he or she must live a life like Abraham (Romans 4:13; Galatians 3:6-9). So what Paul said in chapters 9-11 of Romans shouldn't be a complete surprise. We will be looking at Paul's message in these chapters for a few days. 

Paul wanted everyone to know that just as all have sinned, both Jew and Gentile, all can be children of God through faith in My sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection. Race is not what makes a person a part of God's Israel, his chosen people. Faith is what makes one a child of Abraham (Galatians 3:26-29). The Father, in His Sovereignty, chose Israel and gave Israel the great benefits of "the glory, the covenants, the gift of the law, the temple service, and God's promises" as "their rightful heritage". So the Jewish people should be loved and respected because they provided the story, the heritage, the Scriptures, the promises, and the Messiah (Me) that make salvation available to all people. 

However, Paul reminded Jewish Christians:
The truth is that not everyone descended from Israel is truly Israel. Just because people can claim Abraham as their father does not make them his true children.
For a time, all but a small group of Jews had stumbled because of the truth that is found in Me, the Anointed, the "rock". But just as many Gentiles have been brought into My family through faith, a time is coming, and indeed has already begun, when My fellow Israelites will find themselves a part of the Father's promises by faith.
Verses to Live

Today and the next several days, you will be reading from Romans chapters 9-11. Paul's discussion can appear confusing at times because he was using the way of teaching he learned as a young rabbi. But the basis of his reasoning is fairly clear. The Father is sovereign. He works in the way He does to fulfill His promises and to fulfill His desire to bring salvation to all people who will receive His grace. Rather than race, ethnicity, law-keeping, or heritage being the guarantee of this salvation, the Father accepts people based on their faith in Me. In this way, salvation can come to all people, and all people can be accepted into My family without prejudice or racial division or any other distinction. 

Spiritual Israel, the people of God, is made up of those who receive the promises of God by faith and choose to share this grace with the nations.
Now let me speak the truth as plainly as I know it in the Anointed One [Christ Jesus]. I am not lying when I say that my conscience and the Holy Spirit are witnesses to my state of constant grief. It may sound extreme; but I wish that I were lost, cursed, and totally separated from the Anointed — if that would change the eternal destination of my [Jewish] brothers and sisters, my flesh and countrymen. They are, after all, Israelites who have been adopted into God's family; the glory, the covenants, the gift of the law, the temple service, and God's promises are their rightful heritage. The patriarchs are theirs, too; and from their bloodline comes the Anointed One, the Liberating King, who reigns supreme over all things, God blessed forever. Amen. 

Clearly it is not that God's word has failed. The truth is that not everyone descended from Israel is truly Israel. Just because people can claim Abraham as their father does not make them his true children. But in the Scriptures, it says, "Through Isaac your covenant children will be named." The proper interpretation is this: Abraham's children by natural descent are not necessarily God's covenant people; what matters is that His children receive and live the promise. 
(Romans 9:1-8) 

So what does all of this mean? Did the non-Jews stumble into a right standing with God without chasing after it? Yes, they found it through faith. And has Israel, who pursued the law to secure a right standing with God, failed to keep the law? Yes again. And why is that? Because Israel did not follow the path of faith. They thought that whatever they needed to be right with God could be accomplished by doing the works of the law; they tripped over the stumbling stone. As the Scriptures say,
Look what I am going to do in Zion. I'll put in place a stone that makes them stumble, a rock that trips them up, and those who trust in it will not be disgraced.
(Romans 9:30-33)
Response in Prayer

O Father, thank You for Your grace that has saved me. Thank You for the promise to Abraham to bless all nations and peoples through him. Thank You for Jesus, the Messiah of spiritual Israel. Thank You for the promises You have kept, the people You have preserved, the story You have woven, and the gift of grace You have extended through Israel to all nations because of Jesus' sacrifice. Give us — give me — courage to share this message of grace with all people and include them into the family and fellowship of Your grace. 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! To subscribe send a blank email to: ayearwithjesus-subscribe@maillists.heartlight.org
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.

So All Can Be Saved!" — A Year with Jesus for 09/12/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

You are saved by grace. You received that grace through faith. There is no room for boasting about being saved. Neither is there any room for belittling Jews who have rejected the message of grace. This rejection by ethnic Jews opened the way for Gentiles to hear the message of grace, to become My disciples, and to become recipients of Abraham's promises. However, this is no reason for non-Jewish believers to feel superior. They — including you, if you are not Jewish — have been grafted into the Father's covenant people and promises. Non-Jews depend upon the root, the history, and promises of the Father to Abraham and to his Jewish descendants for their salvation. 

In Paul's day, there was a righteous remnant of Jewish people who had faith in Me, just as the prophets had prophesied. In addition, the hardening of Jewish hearts toward Me was part of the Father's plan to redeem all people. Some Jewish believers had seen faith in Me among the Gentiles, and they became jealous that these Gentiles were being included as recipients of the promises to Abraham. Their jealousy led them to re-examine Me and come to faith in Me. In the future, after the "full number" of Gentiles has come to Me, those who are part of ethnic Israel will be brought to faith in Me. Through that faith, they will be received back into the family of Abraham's promises. The Father will not forget His promises to His Jewish people. So since the hardening of Jewish hearts in Paul's time meant salvation for the non-Jews, think of how much greater the joy of salvation will be when the descendants of Israel come to faith in Me as their Messiah. They will also be joined with all the non-Jewish people who have faith in Me!
Verses to Live

The Father's wonderful and mighty plan was to reach all people of every nation with the message of grace. He wants all who truly trust in Me as their Lord and Savior to be saved, both Jews and non-Jews alike. There is no room for arrogance if you have been saved. You have been saved by grace and you received this salvation by faith. Instead, there should be a deep appreciation for the Jewish heritage on which you stand. Be joyous as you anticipate the celebration when all of My family, both Jews and non-Jews, celebrate My victory in the presence of the Father (Revelation 7:9-12). Read carefully, as Paul explains this truth to the Christians in Rome.
So I ask: did God's people stumble and fall off the deep end? Absolutely not! They are not lost forever; but through their misconduct, the door has been opened for salvation to extend even to the outsiders. This has been part of God's plan all along, and so is the jealousy that comes when they realize the outsiders have been welcomed into God's new covenant. So if their misconduct leads ultimately to God's riches coming to the world and if their failure turns into the blessing of salvation to all people, then how much greater will be the riches and blessing when they are included fully? 

But I have this to say to all of you who are not ethnic Jews: I am God's emissary to you, and I honor this call by focusing on what God is doing with and through you. I do this so that somehow my own blood brothers and sisters will be made jealous; and that, I trust, will bring some to salvation. If the fact that they are currently set aside resolves the hostility between God and the rest of the world, what will their acceptance bring if not life from the dead? If the first and best of the dough you offer is sacred, the entire loaf will be as well. If the root of the tree is sacred, the branches will be also. 

Imagine some branches are cut off of the cultivated olive tree and other branches of a wild olive (which represents all of you outsiders) are grafted in their place. You are nourished by the root of the cultivated olive tree. It doesn't give you license to become proud and self-righteous about the fact that you've been grafted in. If you do boast, remember that the branches do not sustain the root — it is the system of roots that nourishes and supports you. 

I can almost hear some of you saying, "Branches had to be pruned to make room for me." Yes, they were. They were removed because they did not believe; and you will stay attached, be strong, and be productive only through faith. So don't think too highly of yourselves; instead, stand in awe of God's mercy. Besides we know that God did not spare the natural branches, so there is no reason to think He will spare you. Witness the simultaneous balance of the kindness and severity of our God. Severity is directed at the fallen branches withering without faith. Yet kindness is directed at you. So live in the kindness of God or else prepare to be cut off yourselves. If those branches that have been cut from the tree do not stay in unbelief, then God will carefully graft them back onto the tree because He has the power to do that. So if it is possible for you to be taken from a wild olive tree and become part of a cultivated olive tree, imagine how much easier it would be to reconnect branches that originally grew on that olive tree. 

My brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be in the dark about this mystery — I am going to let you in on the plan so that you will not think too highly of yourselves. A part of Israel has been hardened to the good news until the full number of those outside the Jewish family have entered in. This is the way that all of Israel will be saved. As it was written, so it also stands:
The Deliverer will come from Zion; 
He will drive away wickedness from Jacob. 
And this is My covenant promise to them, 
on the day when I take away their sins.
It may seem strange. When it comes to the work of the gospel, the fact that they oppose it is actually for your benefit. But when you factor in God's election, they are truly loved because they descended from faithful forefathers. You see, when God gives a grace gift and issues a call to a people, He does not change His mind and take it back. There was a time when you outsiders were disobedient to God and at odds with His purpose, but now you have experienced mercy as a result of their disobedience. In the same way, their disobedience now will make a way for them to receive mercy as a result of the mercy shown to you. For God has assigned all of us together — Jews and non-Jews, insiders and outsiders — to disobedience so He can show His mercy to all. 
(Romans 11:11-32)
Response in Prayer

Thank You, Father, for including me in Your family because of Your amazing grace. I pray that all, both Jews and non-Jews, who do not know Jesus as their Savior will come to faith in Him and receive Your grace. 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! To subscribe send a blank email to: ayearwithjesus-subscribe@maillists.heartlight.org
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 Fri 11 Sep 2015, 10:46 pm

"All Who Call on My Name" — A Year with Jesus for 09/11/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Follower, 

Paul was My apostle to the Gentiles, but he deeply loved and was deeply concerned about his fellow Israelites who had not come to faith in Me. In Romans chapter 9, Paul powerfully and emotionally said these gut-wrenching words:
Now let me speak the truth as plainly as I know it in the Anointed One. I am not lying when I say that my conscience and the Holy Spirit are witnesses to my state of constant grief. It may sound extreme; but I wish that I were lost, cursed, and totally separated from the Anointed — if that would change the eternal destination of my brothers and sisters, my flesh and countrymen. 
(Romans 9:1-3)
What Paul wrote was a display of overwhelming love — he was willing to be lost eternally so his fellow Jewish people could be saved. This makes his words in this section of Romans (chapters 9-11) all the more poignant. He did not write out of anger or hostility, but out of love. He wrote these truths to heal the racial divide between Jew and Gentile in the church in Rome. He wrote wanting to help the Christians there understand the message of salvation. That message was clear. All can be saved, both Jew and non-Jew. However, salvation comes only through the Father's grace received through faith in My death, burial, and resurrection as God's Anointed, the Messiah of Israel and Lord of all peoples. 

While there were Jews in Paul's time who accepted this message — "God has preserved a remnant, elected by grace" (Romans 11:5) — most rejected it. For these Jews, I was a "stumbling stone" (Romans 9:32-33). In fact, if you go back and re-read about Peter's sermon and the events on Pentecost in the book of Acts (Acts 2:17-41), you will find the message of salvation Peter preached that day to Jews was the same basic message as what Paul wrote the Roman's in today's verses (Romans 10:9-13). That basic message from Peter and from Paul was:
Believe in your heart the Father raised Me from the dead.
Confess Me as your Lord.
Call on My name as your Savior in baptism.
Be saved.
Paul had experienced this same kind of conversion himself. If you go back and read the accounts in Acts of his conversion, you will find these same things were emphasized (Acts 9:15-18; Acts 22:8-16). 

Paul wanted believers in Rome to realize three truths that are so important for those who love Me and believe in Me. These are important for every generation of believers! 

First, as I mentioned in My Sermon on the Mount, I AM the fulfillment of the law (Matthew 5:17). Paul said it this way:
You see, God’s purpose for the law reaches its climax when the Anointed One arrives; now all who trust in Him can have their lives made right with God.
Second, no one is going to be saved based on law-keeping. All who are saved, both Jew and non-Jew, are saved because they have been called by the Father's grace that they received through faith in my crucifixion and resurrection (Romans 10:3-4; Romans 9:30-32). 

Third, those who send others and those who share My good news with others are very important because people cannot be saved unless they believe. They cannot believe unless they hear about the Father's love demonstrated by My incarnation, death, burial, and resurrection. People cannot go and share this message unless someone sends them. As Paul did so frequently throughout chapters 9-11 in Romans, he quoted the (Old Testament) Scriptures and wrote:
Because what Isaiah said was true: "The one who trusts in Him will not be disgraced." Remember that the Lord draws no distinction between Jew and non-Jew — He is Lord over all things, and He pours out His treasures on all who invoke His name because as Scripture says, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
So send those who will proclaim this message. Share this message yourself when you meet people who are open to receiving it. Know that the Father wants all peoples — Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, slave and free, male and female, young and old — to hear His call to grace and to receive that message with faith!
Verses to Live

Paul wanted all people saved. He made clear in these verses how that salvation comes to people. I hope you will read these verses and not only be heartened, but also be motivated to send and share the message of the Father's love demonstrated by My life, death, and resurrection.
My brothers and sisters, I pray constantly to God for the salvation of my people [the Israelites]; it is the deep desire of my heart. What I can say about them is that they are enthusiastic about God, but that won't lead them to Him because their zeal is not based on true knowledge. In their ignorance about how God is working to make things right, they have been trying to establish their own right standing with God through the law. But they are not operating under God's saving, restorative justice. You see, God's purpose for the law reaches its climax when the Anointed One arrives; now all who trust in Him can have their lives made right with God. 

Moses made this clear long ago when he wrote about what it takes to have a right relationship with God based on the law: "The person devoted to the law's commands will live by them." But a right relationship based on faith sounds like this: "Do not say to yourselves, 'Who will go up into heaven?'" (that is, to bring down the Anointed One), "or, 'Who will go down into the abyss?'" (that is, to bring the Anointed One up from the dead). But what does it actually say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the good news we have been called to preach to you). So if you believe deep in your heart that God raised Jesus from the pit of death and if you voice your allegiance by confessing the truth that "Jesus is Lord," then you will be saved! Belief begins in the heart and leads to a life that's right with God; confession departs from our lips and brings eternal salvation. Because what Isaiah said was true: "The one who trusts in Him will not be disgraced." Remember that the Lord draws no distinction between Jew and non-Jew — He is Lord over all things, and He pours out His treasures on all who invoke His name because as Scripture says, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." 

How can people invoke His name when they do not believe? How can they believe in Him when they have not heard? How can they hear if there is no one proclaiming Him? How can some give voice to the truth if they are not sent by God? As Isaiah said, "Ah, how beautiful the feet of those who declare the good news of victory, of peace and liberation." But some will hear the good news and refuse to submit to the truth they hear. Isaiah the prophet also says, "Lord, who would ever believe it? Who would possibly accept what we've been told?" So faith proceeds from hearing, as we listen to the message about God's Anointed. 
(Romans 10:1-17)
Response in Prayer

Father, open my eyes to those who need Your grace who are around me. Help me know when and how to share the story of Jesus with them. Forgive me for the times my heart has been closed toward those who need support in going to share your message, especially those who share Your message with other cultures. Be with those who are sharing Your message in places where they are persecuted and reviled. Thank You for Your great grace and Jesus' willingness to accept the brutal consequences that have brought me this grace. I pray this in His sweet and mighty 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! To subscribe send a blank email to: ayearwithjesus-subscribe@maillists.heartlight.org
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 09 Sep 2015, 12:47 pm

"Blessed Assurance!" — A Year with Jesus for 09/09/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of the Father, 

All creation waits on tiptoe for the day I return and bring you home to the Father. On that day, you will experience "the total redemption of [y]our bodies that comes when [y]our adoption as children of God is complete." However, I want you to realize that the Holy Spirit not only is your "guarantee, a down payment of the things to come," but He is also My sustaining power and presence in your life and will help you in many ways. Here are three truths you will find in the verses today:
The Spirit intercedes for you when you pray and even "steps in and articulates [your] prayers... with groaning too profound for words" when you can't find the words to pray.
The Spirit's presence is a constant reminder that, because of My presence at the Father's side, nothing can ever separate you from the His love.
The Spirit Whose power raised Me from the dead is your assurance of ultimate victory just as I was victorious over sin, death, and hell.
Treasure these assurances. Trust in the Spirit's presence. Glory awaits!
Verses to Live

There are so many good things that await you. Yet I know that, even though you cannot see them now, you yearn for them. That is why I promised not to leave you alone, but that I would send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to be with you and to help you until I come back for you (Acts 2:32-33; Titus 3:3-7; John 14:18-26). So today, I want you to read these verses several times. Find a few especially meaningful sentences to memorize. Then when times are tough, let the Holy Spirit remind you of these truths and fill your heart with assurance that you are the Father's child, My beloved co-heir of the kingdom of God, and a person in whom the Spirit of the almighty God lives. 
Now I'm sure of this: the sufferings we endure now are not even worth comparing to the glory that is coming and will be revealed in us. For all of creation is waiting, yearning for the time when the children of God will be revealed. You see, all of creation has collapsed into emptiness, not by its own choosing, but by God's. Still He placed within it a deep and abiding hope that creation would one day be liberated from its slavery to corruption and experience the glorious freedom of the children of God. For we know that all creation groans in unison with birthing pains up until now. And there is more; it's not just creation — all of us are groaning together too. Though we have already tasted the firstfruits of the Spirit, we are longing for the total redemption of our bodies that comes when our adoption as children of God is complete — for we have been saved in this hope and for this future. But hope does not involve what we already have or see. For who goes around hoping for what he already has? But if we wait expectantly for things we have never seen, then we hope with true perseverance and eager anticipation. 

A similar thing happens when we pray. We are weak and do not know how to pray, so the Spirit steps in and articulates prayers for us with groaning too profound for words. Don't you know that He who pursues and explores the human heart intimately knows the Spirit's mind because He pleads to God for His saints to align their lives with the will of God? We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan. From the distant past, His eternal love reached into the future. You see, He knew those who would be His one day, and He chose them beforehand to be conformed to the image of His Son so that Jesus would be the firstborn of a new family of believers, all brothers and sisters. As for those He chose beforehand, He called them to a different destiny so that they would experience what it means to be made right with God and share in His glory. 

So what should we say about all of this? If God is on our side, then tell me: whom should we fear? If He did not spare His own Son, but handed Him over on our account, then don't you think that He will graciously give us all things with Him? Can anyone be so bold as to level a charge against God's chosen? Especially since God's "not guilty" verdict is already declared. Who has the authority to condemn? Jesus the Anointed who died, but more importantly, conquered death when He was raised to sit at the right hand of God where He pleads on our behalf. So who can separate us? What can come between us and the love of God's Anointed? Can troubles, hardships, persecution, hunger, poverty, danger, or even death? The answer is, absolutely nothing. As the psalm says,
On Your behalf, our lives are endangered constantly; we are like sheep awaiting slaughter.
But no matter what comes, we will always taste victory through Him who loved us. For I have every confidence that nothing — not death, life, heavenly messengers, dark spirits, the present, the future, spiritual powers, height, depth, nor any created thing — can come between us and the love of God revealed in the Anointed, Jesus our Lord. 
(Romans 8:18-39)
Response in Prayer

O Father, thank You for the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. Thank You for the Spirit's ministry of intercession for me, His work in me to transform me, and His presence in me to be my Comforter. I ask, dear Father, that I will always be aware of the Spirit's presence, especially in times of hardship, trials, and temptations. I ask that the Holy Spirit open my mind and my heart to know, remember, and apply the Scriptures that He inspired. Thank You, Lord Jesus, for pouring out the Holy Spirit on me when I was born anew into the Father's family. I find great comfort in knowing that I am never alone and that the Spirit, who empowered Your resurrection is working in me. 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! To subscribe send a blank email to: ayearwithjesus-subscribe@maillists.heartlight.org
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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"Miserable or Relieved?" — A Year with Jesus for 09/07/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Faithful Follower, 

Today's verses share different selections from Paul's letter to Christians in Rome (Romans 7). He had written in previous chapters about grace being made available through:
My sin-offering on the cross (Romans 3),
Your faith in My sacrifice for your sins being credited to you as righteousness (Romans 4),
My sacrifice being given to you out of the Father's loving grace, not because you deserved it (Romans 5), and
Your having shared in My saving death, burial, and resurrection as you died to sin with Me through baptism (Romans 6).
Paul wanted you to know that as a baptized believer saved by grace you are dead to sin and alive to live for God as His righteous child. 

But how? How do you live for God righteously? How do you live up to the Father's demands to be righteous as His child? Do you go back to law-keeping and obey the law to continue to be considered righteous? That was the easy answer for those who grew up living under the Mosaic law. So in today's verses, Paul explained that any attempt to be considered righteous by living under a law — any law, but especially the Mosaic law — is ineffective. 

Paul wanted to help you understand that law-keeping cannot make you righteous. The problem is not the law — it is holy and just; the problem is the deceptive power of sin that takes the law and uses it to lead you to sin. Your fleshly nature — "living in the flesh" also called "the fallen human realm, owned by sin" — "awakened [y]our lust for more" sin. 

While My sacrifice saves you from sin and death, if you go back to trying to be righteous by law-keeping, you end up "absolutely miserable" and in bondage to sin once again! You do what you do not want to do — you fall back into sin again and again. Sin "owns you" and "has taken up residence in" you. The only relief is to remember that you died to sin and to the whole law-keeping way of trying to be righteous and that you can rely on the Holy Spirit to lead you to righteous living. Paul said it this way:
But now that we have died to those chains that imprisoned us, we have been released from the law to serve in a new Spirit-empowered life, not the old written code.
The Spirit's power will be the focus in tomorrow's verses. 

The Father's grace brings you salvation and righteousness by providing the sin offering (My death on the cross) that atoned for your sin and by giving you the Holy Spirit to empower you to righteous living. Everything about your salvation is a gift so don't go back and try to earn your salvation or think yourself superior because you obey the law, any law. Recognize that the Father's grace is the only way you stand before Him as His righteous child!
Verses to Live

Pay attention as you read these verses. They remind you that you are dead to the whole law-keeping principle because obeying the law cannot save you. Your fleshly nature and sin's deceptive power to use the law to trip you up lead you back to the principles of sin and death. Your faith in My sacrifice for your sins and the indwelling Spirit's power to help you become the person you want to be, provides your only way to live righteously as the Father's child.
My brothers and sisters who are well versed in the law, don't you realize that a person is subject to the law only as long as he is alive? So, for example, a wife is obligated by the law to her husband until his death; if the husband dies, she is freed from the parts of the law that relate to her marriage. 
(Romans 7:1-2) 

My brothers and sisters, in the same way, you have died when it comes to the law because of your connection with the body of the Anointed One. His death — and your death with Him — frees you to belong to the One who was raised from the dead so we can bear fruit for God. As we were living in the flesh, the law could not solve the problem of sin; it only awakened our lust for more and cultivated the fruit of death in our bodily members. But now that we have died to those chains that imprisoned us, we have been released from the law to serve in a new Spirit-empowered life, not the old written code. 

So what is the story? Is the law itself sin? Absolutely not! It is the exact opposite. I would never have known what sin is if it were not for the law. 
(Romans 7:4-7) 

There was a time when I was living without the law, but the commandment came and changed everything: sin came to life, and I died. This commandment was supposed to bring life; but in my experience, it brought death. Sin took advantage of the commandment, tricked me, and exploited it in order to kill me. So hear me out: the law is holy; and its commandments are holy, right, and good. 
(Romans 7:9-12) 

This is what we know: the law comes from the spiritual realm. My problem is that I am of the fallen human realm, owned by sin, which tries to keep me in its service. 
(Romans 7:14) 

I know that in me, that is, in my fallen human nature, there is nothing good. I can will myself to do something good, but that does not help me carry it out. I can determine that I am going to do good, but I don't do it; instead, I end up living out the evil that I decided not to do. If I end up doing the exact thing I pledged not to do, I am no longer doing it [myself] because sin has taken up residence in me [and is causing me to do it]. 
(Romans 7:18-20) 

I am absolutely miserable! Is there anyone who can free me from this body where sin and death reign so supremely? I am thankful to God for the freedom that comes through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One! So on the one hand, I devotedly serve God's law with my mind; but on the other hand, with my flesh, I serve the principle of sin. 
(Romans 7:24-25)

Special Note: 
Today's verses end with a somewhat negative tone. The next verses, which will be included tomorrow, have a completely different and incredibly positive tone as Paul will begin his discussion of life in the Spirit and the relief for the predicament stated in these last verses.
Response in Prayer

O Father, thank You for Your grace! I am saved by Your grace. I am sustained by Your grace. I am transformed by Your grace. I have access to Your presence because of Your grace. Thank You for Your grace. Without Your grace, I know I would be without hope. In the name of Christ Jesus, I thank You. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! To subscribe send a blank email to: ayearwithjesus-subscribe@maillists.heartlight.org
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.

"Animated by the Spirit" — A Year with Jesus for 09/08/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious One, 

Live animated by the power of the Father's "indwelling presence," the Holy Spirit, within you! Your flesh — "your fallen, corrupt nature" — cannot overcome the power and pull of sin unless you live led by the Spirit. As yesterday's note emphasized, trying to be righteous by law-keeping awakens the power of sin to use your fleshly nature to corrupt the righteous demands of the law and lead you to become enslaved to sin. Your power to overcome your fleshly nature is found when you partner with the Holy Spirit and allow Him to work in you. 

Today and tomorrow, I want to use Paul's teaching in Romans chapter 8 to help you recognize what a great gift of grace the Spirit is for you. When you live "animated," led, empowered, and guided by the Spirit, you are freed from law-keeping that is weakened by your flesh. The Spirit, on the other hand, helps you "live up to the justice demanded by the law" by helping you with "life-giving power" and giving you assurance that you are the Father's child. As "you have invited the Spirit to destroy these selfish desires [of your flesh], you will experience life." You will be transformed and liberated to become more and more like Me with ever-increasing glory (2 Corinthians 3:17-18) and begin to more fully display the fruit of the Spirit's presence in your life (Galatians 5:22-23). 

Today, begin to ask the Holy Spirit to take a more forceful lead in your life. Specifically ask the Spirit to transform you to become more like Me each day and to help you display the Holy Spirit's fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. When you pray, address the Father as "'Abba! Father!' as [you] would address a loving daddy," reminding yourself of the precious and tender relationship the Father wants to have with you. When you struggle with doubts about your worthiness or My presence in your life, ask the Holy Spirit to give you comfort. Pray for the Holy Spirit to minister to your spirit continually, even as you sleep. Ask the Spirit to give you discerning eyes to distinguish between God's truth and the world's lies and to give you the power to live according to God's truth.
Verses to Live

Today's verses are the beginning of an extended teaching from Paul on the power and presence of the Holy Spirit within those who are My disciples. Tomorrow we will cover the remainder of his teaching in this chapter of Romans. However, I encourage you to get a notepad or use your computer or mobile device and note the things that are promised about the Holy Spirit in both today's and tomorrow's messages. Living by the Spirit liberates you from law-keeping and the power of the flesh to control you. So seek for all that Paul teaches that the Spirit longs to bring you! 
Therefore, now no condemnation awaits those who are living in Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King, because when you live in the Anointed One, Jesus, a new law takes effect. The law of the Spirit of life breathes into you and liberates you from the law of sin and death. God did something the law could never do. You see, human flesh took its toll on God's law. In and of itself, the law is not weak; but the flesh weakens it. So to condemn the sin that was ruling in the flesh, God sent His own Son, bearing the likeness of sinful flesh, as a sin offering. Now we are able to live up to the justice demanded by the law. But that ability has not come from living by our fallen human nature; it has come because we walk according to the movement of the Spirit in our lives. 

If you live your life animated by the flesh — namely, your fallen, corrupt nature — then your mind is focused on the matters of the flesh. But if you live your life animated by the Spirit — namely, God's indwelling presence — then your focus is on the work of the Spirit. A mind focused on the flesh is doomed to death, but a mind focused on the Spirit will find full life and complete peace. You see, a mind focused on the flesh is declaring war against God; it defies the authority of God's law and is incapable of following His path. So it is clear that God takes no pleasure in those who live oriented to the flesh. 

But you do not live in the flesh. You live in the Spirit, assuming, of course, that the Spirit of God lives inside of you. The truth is that anyone who does not have the Spirit of the Anointed living within does not belong to God. If the Anointed One lives within you, even though the body is as good as dead because of the effects of sin, the Spirit is infusing you with life now that you are right with God. If the Spirit of the One who resurrected Jesus from the dead lives inside of you, then you can be sure that He who raised Him will cast the light of life into your mortal bodies through the life-giving power of the Spirit residing in you. 

So, my brothers and sisters, you owe the flesh nothing! You do not need to live according to its ways, so abandon its oppressive regime. For if your life is just about satisfying the impulses of your sinful nature, then prepare to die. But if you have invited the Spirit to destroy these selfish desires, you will experience life. If the Spirit of God is leading you, then take comfort in knowing you are His children. You see, you have not received a spirit that returns you to slavery, so you have nothing to fear. The Spirit you have received adopts you and welcomes you into God's own family. That's why we call out to Him, "Abba! Father!" as we would address a loving daddy. Through that prayer, God's Spirit confirms in our spirits that we are His children. If we are God's children, that means we are His heirs along with the Anointed, set to inherit everything that is His. If we share His sufferings, we know that we will ultimately share in His glory. 
(Romans 8:1-17)
Response in Prayer

O Father of mercy, thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit. I recognize Your presence in Me through the Holy Spirit. I voluntarily submit myself and ask for the Spirit to take control of my heart and my life. I want the Spirit to lead me and empower me. I ask that the Spirit help me put to death the power of the flesh at work within me. I invite the Spirit to transform me to become more and more like Christ each day and give me assurance of being Your child. I do not want to be enslaved to my fleshly nature, O Lord, so transform me through and through by the power of Your Holy Spirit. I ask this in Jesus' mighty 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.
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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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"United with Me!" — A Year with Jesus for 09/06/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

You have received grace. I died for you when you were "far from God... powerless... weak... wasting [y]our lives in sin" and "in the heat of combat [enemies]" in your hearts toward the Father (Romans 5:6-10). (See yesterday's note also.) Because of My sacrificial death, the Father's love welled up into this great flood of grace. 

So what do you do with that grace? 

Do you keep sinning so that grace covers more and more sins? That was the kind of reasoning some in Paul's day had about grace. What Paul wrote the Romans in today's verses reminded them that something transformational happened in their lives when they were baptized because of their faith. 

In today's verses, Paul reminds you that in baptism you were "joined with" Me and "united with" Me in My death; you were "buried with" Me after your "old sinful selves were crucified with" Me. Because you have been "united with" Me in My death and burial through baptism, you "will also be raised to live as" I now live to honor the Father. Your faith in My death, burial, and resurrection empowers your baptism to be a participation in these saving events from My life (1 Corinthians 15:1-5). You died with Me and "were set free from the power of sin" and now you are "alive to God through" My power over sin and death. 

Not only have you received grace to be forgiven and cleansed from your sinful past, but you have also received grace to help you overcome the power of sin in your life. You are motivated not to sin because you recognize the sacrificial love and the cost of your redemption. But more than motivation, you have the power to "put to death" the sin in your life through the Holy Spirit. 

In a few days, you will read what Paul says about the Holy Spirit's power. I want you to know that the Holy Spirit's presence gives you the power to overcome the pull of sin and the allure of your selfish and sinful desires:
For if your life is just about satisfying the impulses of your sinful nature, then prepare to die. But if you have invited the Spirit to destroy these selfish desires, you will experience life. 
(Romans 8:13)
The Holy Spirit's power helps you do what no law could ever do: to be transformed to be like Me (2 Corinthians 3:18) as the Spirit's fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23) is formed into your new holy life. This new life is yours because of grace. This grace gives you the right and power to be forgiven and cleansed of past sin. It also gives you the power through the Holy Spirit to live this new life. So Paul closes this powerful chapter on grace with these incredible words of promise:
The payoff for a life of sin is death, but God is offering us a free gift — eternal life through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, the Liberating King.
Verses to Live

I want you to notice as you read these powerful words from My servant, the apostle Paul, that your baptism joins you to Me and unites you with Me and My saving work because of your faith. By faith, you are united with Me in your baptism. My life is now yours. My power over sin is available to you. My future is now your shared future. Paul later writes about this in his letter to the Colossians:
For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. And when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. 
(Colossians 3:3-4 NLT)
So don't go back to trying to earn your salvation — something Paul talks about in the next chapter of Romans — because you have already received salvation by grace through faith. But as Paul emphasizes here, don't disregard grace or the commitment you made when you were saved. In baptism, you died to sin, so don't go and give yourself back to that cruel task master. Live for your Father because you have tasted the sweetness of His grace!
Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. 

Since we have been united with him in his death, we will also be raised to life as he was. We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin. And since we died with Christ, we know we will also live with him. We are sure of this because Christ was raised from the dead, and he will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. When he died, he died once to break the power of sin. But now that he lives, he lives for the glory of God. So you also should consider yourselves to be dead to the power of sin and alive to God through Christ Jesus. 

Do not let sin control the way you live; do not give in to sinful desires. Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God. Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God's grace. 

Well then, since God's grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! 
(Romans 6:1-15 NLT) 

Forgive me for using casual language to compensate for your natural weakness of human understanding. I want to be perfectly clear. In the same way you gave your bodily members away as slaves to corrupt and lawless living and found yourselves deeper in your unruly lives, now devote your members as slaves to right and reconciled lives so you will find yourselves deeper in holy living. 
(Romans 6:19) 

[N]ow that you have been emancipated from the death grip of sin and are God's slave, you have a different sort of life, a growing holiness. The outcome of that life is eternal life. The payoff for a life of sin is death, but God is offering us a free gift — eternal life through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, the Liberating King. 
(Romans 6:22-23)
Response in Prayer

O Father, thank You for Your amazing grace. Thank You for the grace to not only be saved, but to also live life knowing that My future is tied to Jesus because I have been united with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection. Forgive me for my times of weakness when I turn back to sin. Thank You for the power of the Holy Spirit Who enables Your new life to take hold in my life. Thank You for the power of the Holy Spirit Who helps bring Your righteous character and gracious compassion into my life through His transforming power. I thank You in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ. 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! To subscribe send a blank email to: ayearwithjesus-subscribe@maillists.heartlight.org
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 05 Sep 2015, 3:36 pm

Credited as Righteousness" — A Year with Jesus for 09/04/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

The promise of today's verses focuses on your answer to one question: Do you believe? 

Do you believe that the Father took My lifeless body and raised Me back to life as the conqueror over sin, death, and hell? 

Believing that the Father can bring life out of death as well as beauty and order out of nothing is a fundamental aspect of Christian faith. This belief is the kind of faith Paul talks about in the verses you will read today from his letter to Roman Christians. 

When you base your life on faith in My resurrection, everything changes. However, having faith in My resurrection in the face of life's most difficult challenges is not easy. Like the philosophers in Athens did with Paul, some in your day will laugh "in contempt" at you because of your faith (Acts 17:32 NLT). You may find yourself doubting, like My apostle Thomas, who wanted physical proof of My resurrection (John 20:24-29). You may find yourself like some of My disciples who "disbelieved for joy" (Luke 24:41 ESV). After all, if something seems too good to be true, then you assume it can't be true. Some of My disciples doubted all the way up to My ascension (Matthew 28:16-17). 

You may be like the father who had a son controlled by a demonic spirit (Mark 9:17-29). He wanted Me to help his son... if I could! I told that man, and I am telling you today, "Everything is possible for one who believes" (Mark 9:23 NIV). If you struggle with believing in My resurrection, this father's prayer can become your own: "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" (Mark 9:24 NIV). 

The kind of faith the Father calls you to have is not easy, but it is life-changing. This faith also comes with a blessing. When Thomas finally came to faith after I showed Myself to him, he confessed, "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28 NLT). I told Thomas:
"You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me." 
(John 20:29 NLT)
I know that believing in My resurrection will be hard for some of you. But please know that your commitment to believe comes with My promised blessing! 

My closest disciples had been afraid and failed Me during My trials, crucifixion, and burial. However, they were made strong, bold, and fearless when they became convinced of My resurrection by spending time with me after My resurrection. Their testimony is written across the Roman Empire as they gave their lives to tell the world that My resurrection was true and that they were witnesses of this truth (Acts 1:8; Acts 2:32-36). As Peter so eloquently said to disciples years after My resurrection as they were about to face bitter persecution for their faith:
You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls. 
(1 Peter 1:8-9 NLT)
Paul explained to the Christians in Rome that the Father counted them as righteous because of their faith. Today, I tell you that your "right standing before God" comes from the same place that Abraham's did: faith. For Abraham, the Father credited his faith as righteousness because he believed that the Father could take his old and impotent body and Sarah's lifeless womb and create a new nation through the gift of a son out of his seed and Sarah's womb. Like Abraham, your faith is credited as righteousness. 

All who stand before the Father as His righteous children do so because they believe as Abraham believed. Like Abraham, you believe that your Father "creates out of nothing and holds the power to bring to life what is dead." You believe that this is what the Father did to raise My dead and lifeless body and liberate Me from the tomb. As Paul wrote:
The story of how faith was credited to Abraham was not recorded for him and him alone, but was written for all of us who would one day be credited for having faith in God, the One who raised Jesus our Lord from the realm of the dead. He was delivered over to death for our trespasses and raised so that we might be made right with God.
Your faith in Me is powerful, life-transforming, sin-forgiving, hope-restoring, and righteousness-giving.
Verses to Live

Paul wrote in the verses below about Abraham's great faith in the Father Who is also the One Who did the humanly impossible and raised Me from the dead. Your faith in the Father's action means He receives you as His righteous child!
The promise given to Abraham and his children, that one day they would inherit the world, did not come because he followed the rules of the law. It came as a result of his right standing before God, a standing he obtained through faith. If this inheritance is available only to those who keep the law, then faith is a useless commodity and the promise is canceled. For the law brings God's wrath against sin. But where the law doesn't draw the line, there can be no crime. 

This is the reason that faith is the single source of the promise — so that grace would be offered to all Abraham's children, those whose lives are defined by the law and those who follow the path of faith charted by Abraham, our common father. As it is recorded in the Scriptures, "I have appointed you the father of many nations." In the presence of the God who creates out of nothing and holds the power to bring to life what is dead, Abraham believed and so became our father. 

Against the odds, Abraham's hope grew into full-fledged faith that he would turn out to be the father of many nations, just as God had promised when He said, "That's how many your descendants will be." His faith did not fail, although he was well aware that his impotent body, after nearly 100 years, was as good as dead and that Sarah's womb, too, was dead. In spite of all this, his faith in God's promise did not falter. In fact, his faith grew as he gave glory to God because he was supremely confident that God could deliver on His promise. This is why, you see, God saw his faith and counted him as righteous; this is how he became right with God. 

The story of how faith was credited to Abraham was not recorded for him and him alone, but was written for all of us who would one day be credited for having faith in God, the One who raised Jesus our Lord from the realm of the dead. He was delivered over to death for our trespasses and raised so that we might be made right with God. 
(Romans 4:13-25)
Response in Prayer

O Father, I believe, but help my unbelief. As I live trusting in Jesus' victory over sin, death, and hell, I ask that the Holy Spirit not only empower me to live for You but also increase and grow my faith. I want to not only hold this faith in my heart with conviction, but to also help others find their faith in Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection. Give me courage, O God, so that I can be a living witness to Jesus and the grace that You have given me and all who have this faith. 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! To subscribe send a blank email to: ayearwithjesus-subscribe@maillists.heartlight.org
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.

"Lovingly Paid" — A Year with Jesus for 09/05/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

Today's verses are full of deeply significant words, but they are not hard to understand. Read them and let them fall into your welcoming heart as the assurance of the Father's love for you, My sacrifice for you, and the Holy Spirit's presence in you! 

Since Adam, all humans have lived under the cloud of inevitable death (Romans 5:12-19). Death is the handmaiden of sin. As sin's toxic effect has permeated each generation of people and left its toxic residue, death has held every mortal in its vice-grip of futility and pain. Human rebellion against the Father brought this inescapable toxic cloud of sin and death. There is no human way to escape, so you need Me as Savior, Liberator, Redeemer, and Reconciler. 

What you received from the Father through your faith in Me is glorious. Paul's opening words in the verses below emphasize this gift of grace and reconciliation with the Father, a gift that I have brought to you:
Since we have been acquitted and made right through faith, we are able to experience true and lasting peace with God through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, the Liberating King.
Who you are now after being saved by grace is a far cry from who you were without Me. Paul's words in today's verses were written to the believers in Rome. However, the attributes Paul described are the true spiritual condition of all people before their reconciliation to the Father. Look carefully at the phrases and words listed below — you can find them listed here and also in the bold text in the verses that follow. These phrases and words illustrate who you would be without your reconciliation to the Father through Me:
far from God
powerless
weak
wasting... in sin
enemies
This is certainly not a glorious list of attributes. Nevertheless, regardless of how good anyone has tried to be or how far any person may have fallen, these terms depict the condition of each person who does not take advantage of My sacrifice to be reconciled to the Father. 

As Paul wrote, in spite of the fact that you and everyone else were "far from God" and "in sin", I lovingly came to earth to pay the high price to redeem you. My sacrificial death was needed to pay that ransom price. Paul shared these words to remind you that the Father's grace is not only sufficient for you but that His grace can also reach you no matter where you are! 

Look at the cost I paid to save you. Think about the love that led Me to pay the price to redeem you from the power and guilt that enslaved you. Notice the price I willingly paid to reconcile you from your isolation from the Father. The cost was lovingly paid, but it was exorbitantly high — see the text that is underlined in the verses below and copied here. These are truths that Paul wrote about Me:
the Anointed One died for us
the blood of Jesus has made us right with God
His [God's] Son reconciled us by laying down His life
saved by Jesus' resurrection life
Paul makes clear that I undid all that Adam had ruined by sin. I did it because of the Father's love and My love. I did it at great cost; I did it for people who did not deserve it. Because I did it, you can now be declared righteous or right with God, liberated from sin, reconciled to God, and brought into a new and eternal life that death cannot end.
Verses to Live

All the proper sounding religious language in the following verses explains what I purchased for you in My incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection. But to put it in the language you use every day, the truth is much simpler and clearer. I loved you too much to lose you, so I paid the ultimate price to reclaim you and bring you home to our Father. You are the Father's beloved and precious child. I AM your older brother in a family that will be reunited to celebrate glory together because of the Father's radical grace.
Since we have been acquitted and made right through faith, we are able to experience true and lasting peace with God through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, the Liberating King. Jesus leads us into a place of radical grace where we are able to celebrate the hope of experiencing God's glory. And that's not all. We also celebrate in seasons of suffering because we know that when we suffer we develop endurance, which shapes our characters. When our characters are refined, we learn what it means to hope and anticipate God's goodness. And hope will never fail to satisfy our deepest need because the Holy Spirit that was given to us has flooded our hearts with God's love. 

When the time was right, [Jesus] the Anointed One died for all of us who were far from God, powerless, and weak. Now it is rare to find someone willing to die for an upright person, although it's possible that someone may give up his life for one who is truly good. But think about this: while we were wasting our lives in sin, God revealed His powerful love to us in a tangible display — the Anointed One [Jesus Christ] died for us. As a result, the blood of Jesus has made us right with God now, and certainly we will be rescued by Him from God's wrath in the future. If we were [enemies] in the heat of combat with God when His Son reconciled us by laying down His life, then how much more will we be saved by Jesus' resurrection life? In fact, we stand now reconciled and at peace with God. That's why we celebrate in God through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed. 
(Romans 5:1-11) 

So here is the result: as one man's sin [Adam's sin] brought about condemnation and punishment for all people, so one man's act of faithfulness [Jesus' faithfulness] makes all of us right with God and brings us to new life. Just as through one man's defiant disobedience every one of us were made sinners, so through the willing obedience of the one man many of us will be made right. 
(Romans 5:18-19)
Response in Prayer

Father, Your grace is truly amazing. Your love is breathtaking. Dear Father and my precious Lord Jesus, I cannot thank You enough for the cost You paid to redeem me from sin and death. You cleanse me of all unrighteousness, You lovingly bring me back into the family of Your grace, and You give me the assurance of life with You and with all who have loved You through the ages. Thank You! Holy Spirit, please empower me and use me to share the news of this grace with others. Empower me to practice Your kingdom grace with those still in bondage to the ways of sin and death. I pray this because of the redeeming work of Jesus and in His powerful 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! To subscribe send a blank email to: ayearwithjesus-subscribe@maillists.heartlight.org
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 03 Sep 2015, 2:54 pm

Everyone Needs Grace!" — A Year with Jesus for 09/02/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

Unfortunately, much of the world has repeatedly given up honoring the Creator. Most in the world have chased after worthless and depraved things. In addition, even those who seek to honor the Creator have also sinned. However, some of these religious people think that their religious knowledge and rules will save them. This belief was true of many of the Jews in Paul's day. It is, unfortunately, true for some religious people in your day as well. They think because they have made a religious confession and have read My book and have gone to religious meetings that they are somehow better. They forget my own words:
"Not everyone who calls out to me, 'Lord! Lord!' will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, 'Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.' But I will reply, 'I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God's laws.'" 
(Matthew 7:21-23 NLT)
Paul wrote the parts of Romans that are now chapters 2, 3 and 7 to remind all people — religious and non-religious, Jews and non-Jews — that their deeds, their rules, their book, their religious pedigree, and their church attendance will not get them into My grace. Salvation is by the Father's grace (Romans 3, Romans 5). This grace is received through faith (Romans 4). You share in this grace by participating in My death, burial, and resurrection through baptism (Romans 6). This grace is empowered by the Holy Spirit, Who brings the Father's will to life in you (Romans 8). 

So the collection of verses today is a reminder of what Paul said in Romans chapters 2 and 3. Paul was emphatic: nothing and no one except Me can make you right — not law, not Scripture, not race, not religious pedigree. Ultimately, all of these have failed to help people live up to the Father's perfect standard of holiness. When you fail in one part of law-keeping, you are guilty of all (James 2:10). If you break one law, you are a lawbreaker. 

Paul wanted the Roman believers, and other believers who followed them, to understand that no one can be saved without the Father's gift of grace purchased by My death on the cross and empowered by the Holy Spirit. By their failure, all people stand condemned to live righteously without flaw and have missed Our holy standard. Jews have failed to live up to the full standards demanded by the Mosaic law. Gentiles have failed to live up to the righteous standards of holiness. Everyone needs a Savior. No one can claim religious superiority. Everyone needs My grace!
Verses to Live

Tomorrow you will read verses about grace. Today you will be reminded in the verses below that, without that grace, no one can stand justified before the Father. All people need Me. I AM the only true Savior, Who can bring God's grace to anyone, including you.
So you can see there are no excuses for any of us. If your eyes shift their focus from yourselves to others — to judge how they are doing — you have already condemned yourselves! You don't realize that you are pointing your fingers at others for the exact things you do as well. There's no doubt that the judgment of God will justly fall upon hypocrites who practice such things. Here's what is happening: you attack and criticize others and then turn around to commit the same offenses yourselves! Do you think you will somehow dodge God's judgment? Do you take the kindness of God for granted? Do you see His patience and tolerance as signs that He is a pushover when it comes to sin? How could you not know that His kindness is guiding our hearts to turn away from distractions and habitual sin to walk a new path? But because your heart is obstinate and shameless, you're storing up wrath that will count against you. On the day of His choosing, God's wrath and judgment will be unleashed to make things right. As it goes, everyone will receive what his actions in life have cultivated. 
(Romans 2:1-6) 

Here's my point: just because a person hears the law read or recited does not mean he is right before the one True God; it is following the law that makes one right, not just hearing it. 
(Romans 2:13) 

Listen, if you claim to be a Jew, count on the law, and boast in your relationship with God; if you know His will and can determine what is essential (because you have been instructed in the law); and if you stand convinced that you are chosen to be a guide to the blind, a light to those who live in darkness, a teacher of foolish wanderers and children, and have in the law what is essentially the form of knowledge and truth — then tell me, why don't you practice what you preach? 
(Romans 2:17-21) 

So what then? Are we Jews better off? Not at all. We have made it clear that people everywhere, Jews and non-Jews, are living under the power of sin. Here's what Scripture says:
No one is righteous — not even one. There is no one who understands the truth; no one is seeking after the one True God. All have turned away; together they've become worthless.
(Romans 3:9-12) 

We want to be clear that whatever the law says, it says to everyone who is under its authority. Its purpose is to muzzle every mouth, to silence idle talk, and to bring the whole world under the standard of God's justice. Therefore, doing what the law prescribes will not make anyone right in the eyes of God — that's not its purpose — but the law is capable of exposing the true nature of sin. 
(Romans 3:19-20)
Response in Prayer

Father, I confess that without the grace of Jesus, I would stand before you as a sinner. I have stumbled and failed. I am so thankful that because of Jesus I am now righteous in your sight, and You welcome me into Your family and fellowship as Your dear child. I praise and thank You 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! To subscribe send a blank email to: ayearwithjesus-subscribe@maillists.heartlight.org
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.

"The Only Way for All" — A Year with Jesus for 09/03/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Believer, 

No one can rightfully boast about being more righteous than others. No one can rightfully claim to be righteous because of the superiority of his or her race, religious heritage, religious law, or even religious behavior. Each person has failed to be what the Father called people to be. No one measures up to the Father's righteousness. All need My sacrifice as the sin offering that paid for their sins and opened the door for a new way to be righteous based upon their trust in Me and in what I did to save them. Paul wanted both Jewish and Gentile believers in Rome to know, and I want people in your day to know, that all "people are justified, that is, made right with God through faith, which has nothing to do with the deeds the law prescribes." 

Law-keeping cannot make anyone righteous. The Jews needed to admit this. Law can convict of sin. Law can make clear what the Father's standards are for people. The law can make clear how they have fallen short. However, law cannot pay the price for sins. Trying to live without the law isn't better. Non-Jews have to acknowledge this. No one has lived up to the Father's standards with or without the law. 

The only way to be righteous before the Father is the same for both Jew and Gentile alike:
So since God is one, there is one way for Jews and outsiders, circumcised and uncircumcised, to be right with Him. That is the way of faith.
My death satisfied the Father's justice. I paid the atoning price for sin and provided grace for all who receive the Father's gift of mercy and grace by faith. For the next several days, you will join Paul as he explains this amazing grace — how it was provided for you out of the Father's love and how you receive this grace. For today, it is enough for you to know and believe these words of Paul:
...that He [God] is just and righteous and that He makes right those who trust and commit themselves to Jesus.
That's the bottom line. That's the standard of all standards. That's the ultimate gift of grace purchased through My cross, celebrated at and validated by My resurrection, and received by faith.
Verses to Live

Paul's words to the Romans you find below come after he has strongly emphasized that all have sinned. No one has measured up to the righteousness of the Father. Jews had failed to live up to the Mosaic law. Gentiles had failed to live up to the righteous demands of the Father that they knew in their hearts as true goodness. Every person who has lived has fallen short of being holy and righteous. With the words that follow, Paul began to shift the focus toward salvation that is found in My sin offering for all people. Salvation is the gift of God's grace and it is accepted by faith. Paul acknowledged that the penalty of Adam's sin has been passed on to all of us: we will all sin and we will all die. We need mercy and grace, so the Father provided mercy and grace through Me.
Now for the good news: God's restorative justice has entered the world, independent of the law. Both the law and the prophets told us this day would come. This redeeming justice comes through the faithfulness of Jesus, the Anointed One, the Liberating King, who makes salvation a reality for all who believe — without the slightest partiality. You see, all have sinned, and all their futile attempts to reach God in His glory fail. Yet they are now saved and set right by His free gift of grace through the redemption available only in Jesus the Anointed. When God set Him up to be the sacrifice — the seat of mercy where sins are atoned through faith — His blood became the demonstration of God's own restorative justice. All of this confirms His faithfulness to the promise, for over the course of human history God patiently held back as He dealt with the sins being committed. This expression of God's restorative justice displays in the present that He is just and righteous and that He makes right those who trust and commit themselves to Jesus. 

So is there any place left for boasting? No. It's been shut out completely. And how? By what sort of law? The law of works perhaps? No! By the law of faith. We hold that people are justified, that is, made right with God through faith, which has nothing to do with the deeds the law prescribes. 

Is God the God of the Jews only? If He created all things, then doesn't that make Him the God of all people? Jews and non-Jews, insiders and outsiders alike? Yes, He is also the God of all the outsiders. So since God is one, there is one way for Jews and outsiders, circumcised and uncircumcised, to be right with Him. That is the way of faith. So are we trying to use faith to abolish the law? Absolutely not! In fact, we now are free to uphold the law as God intended. 
(Romans 3:21-31) 

When the law came into the picture, sin grew and grew; but wherever sin grew and spread, God's grace was there in fuller, greater measure. No matter how much sin crept in, there was always more grace. In the same way that sin reigned in the sphere of death, now grace reigns through God’s restorative justice, eclipsing death and leading to eternal life through the Anointed One, Jesus our Lord, the Liberating King. 
(Romans 5:20-21)
Response in Prayer

O Father, I believe that You sent Jesus as the sacrifice for my sin. I believe that Jesus is my atoning sacrifice providing what no one else and nothing else but Jesus' sacrifice could provide. I believe Jesus was crucified, was buried, and rose from the dead three days later, defeating sin and death. I believe that Jesus has invited me to participate in His death, burial, and resurrection through baptism. I believe I receive these mercies and Your grace through faith. So I gladly offer myself to Jesus to be used in Your work of building Your kingdom on earth, just as it is in heaven. Thank You, dear Father, for Your amazing grace and mercy. 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! To subscribe send a blank email to: ayearwithjesus-subscribe@maillists.heartlight.org
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"The Destructive Path" — A Year with Jesus for 09/01/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

What you find in the verses below from the early part of Romans will appear to be a collection of harsh words and strong language. It is certainly not what you might expect from the premiere letter of Paul about the Father's grace, My sacrifice, the Holy Spirit's power, and your faith that connects you to salvation. And yes, I acknowledge these words are hard words, bold words, and frank words. But, dear child of the Father, these are true words. Part of what Paul was doing was demonstrating the need for the salvation and spiritual blessings that We offer. He will discuss these at length later in this letter. First, however, Paul needed to address what happens when folks worship created things instead of the Creator! 

Paul had powerfully proclaimed the nature of the one true God — Us as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — in his sermon in Athens. He had called on people to turn away from idols. They must seek after the One Who "made the universe and all it contains, the God who is the King of all heaven and all earth" (Acts 17:24). We made the universe and all that is in it so that all people would seek after Us and find Us. We are close to you, not far away (Acts 17:27-28). 

Unfortunately, much of humanity has often refused to believe in Us even after seeing the evidence in nature of Our glorious presence and the indications in the universe of Our eternal existence. In fact, people have often drifted into celebrating and worshiping the things that We created to bless them instead of celebrating Us, the source of all their blessings! 

Paul told the Roman believers that people became so caught up in chasing the thrills of their existence that they had forgotten about the Father's love, My creative attentiveness, and the Spirit's work throughout creation. They then gave themselves so completely to reveling in the created things and celebrating the created experiences that they abandoned the love, grace, and power of their Creator. They gave themselves over to all sorts of depraved distortions of Our creative gifts because they forgot the origin of these gifts. They failed to see that their ravenous desire for more of these is the sinfully destructive hook repeatedly baited by Satan to enslave them in their own depraved desire for more. They experienced one thing after another, but never had enough and never found satisfaction in what they had because they lost sight of the Father. Their hearts grew so cold to the Father's love and grace that He turned them over to their own lustful drives and to the destructive consequences they bring. 

Beloved, what you see so prevalent in your own culture is a similar process happening before your own eyes. The Creator has largely been forgotten in your world. Those who have been created have forgotten their Creator and become more and more self-absorbed. The result has been the exaltation of created things and special experiences to the point that they are made common. They have become debased because they have lost their grounding in the intent of the Creator and the purpose of their creation. 

So what was the punishment for those who pursued this "counterfeit" path of self-indulgence? The Father stepped out of the way of these sinners and "turned them loose to follow the unseemly designs of their depraved minds and to do things that should not be done." They were allowed to lose themselves in the depravity they pursued. Their destruction was of their own making and breaks the heart of their Creator! 

Be warned. What was true in Paul's day is also true in your own day.
Verses to Live

I challenge you as you read these verses not to assign them to long ago and far away. Think of how your own time and culture are reflected in the following verses. Then, choose to give thanks and praise to the Father, your Creator, as the One from Whom all good and perfect gifts have come (James 1:17)!
For the wrath of God is breaking through from heaven, opposing all manifestations of ungodliness and wickedness by the people who do wrong to keep God's truth in check. These people are not ignorant about what can be known of God, because He has shown it to them with great clarity. From the beginning, creation in its magnificence enlightens us to His nature. Creation itself makes His undying power and divine identity clear, even though they are invisible; and it voids the excuses and ignorant claims of these people because, despite the fact that they knew the one true God, they have failed to show the love, honor, and appreciation due to the One who created them! Instead, their lives are consumed by vain thoughts that poison their foolish hearts. They claim to be wise; but they have been exposed as fools, frauds, and con artists — only a fool would trade the splendor and beauty of the immortal God to worship images of the common man or woman, bird or reptile, or the next beast that tromps along. 

So God gave them just what their lustful hearts desired. As a result, they violated their bodies and invited shame into their lives. How? By choosing a foolish lie over God's truth. They gave their lives and devotion to the creature rather than to the Creator Himself, who is blessed forever and ever. Amen. This is why God released them to their own vile pursuits, and this is what happened: they chose sexual counterfeits — women had sexual relations with other women and men committed unnatural, shameful acts because they burned with lust for other men. This sin was rife, and they suffered painful consequences. 

Since they had no mind to recognize God, He turned them loose to follow the unseemly designs of their depraved minds and to do things that should not be done. Their days are filled with all sorts of godless living, wicked schemes, greed, hatred, endless desire for more, murder, violence, deceit, and spitefulness. And, as if that were not enough, they are gossiping, slanderous, God-hating, rude, egotistical, smug people who are always coming up with even more dreadful ways to treat one another. They don't listen to their parents; they lack understanding and character. They are simple-minded, covenant-breaking, heartless, and unmerciful; they are not to be trusted. Despite the fact that they are fully aware that God's law says this way of life deserves death, they fail to stop. And worse — they applaud others on this destructive path. 
(Romans 1:18-32)
Response in Prayer

Father God, the Creator of the universe and the God of all grace, thank You! I recognize that every good and perfect gift comes from You. I believe that You long to bless me. So I choose to see Your call to holiness and to righteous behavior to be the outgrowth of Your desire to bless me. I believe that Your words about holy living are not arbitrary rules that were given to bind me and deny me of blessings but that they are there to channel me to even deeper blessings. Forgive me for the many times I have enjoyed Your gracious gifts and assumed that I deserved what I received rather than being thankful for Your grace. 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! To subscribe send a blank email to: ayearwithjesus-subscribe@maillists.heartlight.org
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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"Closing Words, Closing Grace" — A Year with Jesus for 08/30/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Committed Follower, 

As Paul came to the end of his very challenging letter to the Corinthians, the letter you call 2 Corinthians, he had several things he wanted to imprint on the hearts of these disciples. Paul closed his letter with both a blessing and an encouragement for holy living. He had repeatedly defended his right to be My special emissary (or apostle) against the charges that he wasn't really special, important, or equal to other emissaries. As Paul finished this letter, he emphasized the behaviors and attitudes that the Corinthians needed to have to honor Me. Whether they accepted his ministry or not, Paul wanted them to focus on living in ways that were consistent with My character and compassion. 

Notice the words in bold in the verses below. Use them as a good guide for yourself. These qualities are the good fruit from having a heart that belongs to Me and a commitment to honor Me as Lord. Realize that these character qualities are the fruit of being led by the Spirit to conform your character and compassion to be like My own. They show that you are "being transformed, metamorphosed, into [My] image from one radiance of glory to another, just as the Spirit of the Lord accomplishes it" (2 Corinthians 3:18). 

Here are some behaviors to use as your guide. As Paul said, "Examine yourselves." So I've put this down as an evaluation tool for you to use on yourself. I put this list in the first person so you could ask yourself if these qualities are really yours:
Do I stay away from evil?
Do I try to do what is right?
Do I act honorably... even in difficult situations?
Do I align myself with truth rather than trying to find a way around it?
Do I trust in the Spirit to help me find wholeness and completeness in Jesus?
Do I rejoice in the Father's presence in my life and the many blessings He shares with me?
Am I committed to repairing what is broken in my relationships and my own personal life, with the help of the Holy Spirit?
Do I encourage others?
Do I seek to live in unity with my brothers and sisters in Christ by serving others as Jesus did?
As far as possible, do I seek to live in peace with all people — believers and unbelievers?
Do I greet others as brothers and sisters?
Remember, these are words to help you examine the fruit in your life to see if it is consistent with My way of life. These attributes are not a "color-by-numbers" list to gain salvation or a list to help you feel superior to others. Nor is this a checklist to discourage and humiliate you for your failures. Paul gave these check-up characteristics to help the Corinthians refine their focus on the things that matter! 

Are you growing in these qualities? 

Are you committed to this kind of fruit in your life? 

Are you being "transformed" by the Spirit to be more and more like Me in these areas? 

If you are, then great! If not, re-focus on Me and seek to walk with Me each day so that My character permeates your life as the Holy Spirit does His work of transformation.
Verses to Live

This whole last message from My great emissary Paul to the Corinthian disciples reveals his heart. While he wanted them to love and appreciate him, their spiritual character was much more important to him than his own acceptance and appreciation by them. Even if the Corinthians rejected him, Paul wanted them to follow Me and to reflect Me in their thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors. So Paul ended this letter with a beautiful blessing. The last words he wanted the Corinthians to hear from him were words of blessing because he wanted them to live a blessed and holy life.
Examine yourselves. Check your faith! Are you really in the faith? Do you still not know that Jesus the Anointed is in you? — unless, of course, you have failed the test. Surely you will realize we have not failed the test, but we pray to God that you will stay away from evil. What's important is not whether we appear to have passed the test, but that you do what is right and act honorably, even if it appears that we have failed. For there's nothing we can do to oppose the truth; all we can do is align ourselves with it. 

You see, we celebrate when we are weak but you are strong. Our prayer is simple: that you may be whole and complete. How I hope I am saving you by writing this to you in advance; this letter will spare me from using the Lord's authority to come down on you when I arrive. His intention in giving me this authority is to build you up, not tear you down. 

Finally, brothers and sisters, keep rejoicing and repair whatever is broken. Encourage each other, think as one, and live at peace; and God, the Author of love and peace, will remain with you. Greet each other with a holy kiss, as brothers and sisters. All the saints here with me send you their greeting. 

May the grace of the Lord Jesus the Anointed, the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit remain with you all. Amen. 
(2 Corinthians 13:5-14)
Response in Prayer

O precious Father, You are the Almighty God Who is holy, merciful, righteous, and compassionate. I open my heart to be willingly transformed through the work of the Holy Spirit. Each day I want to find myself more like Jesus. I want my thoughts, words, and behaviors to reflect the presence of Jesus in my life. I want these qualities Paul describes in the passage above to become the qualities found in my own character. In Jesus' name, I ask for this transformation in me. 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! To subscribe send a blank email to: ayearwithjesus-subscribe@maillists.heartlight.org
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.


"Paul's Reasons for the Road" — A Year with Jesus for 08/31/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved Disciple, 

Paul had many reasons to be on the road. He traveled extensively all over the regions bordering the northern and eastern Mediterranean Sea. He traveled to share the good message of the Father's grace with people who had never heard it. He strengthened house churches he had helped plant on previous trips. He matured and appointed leaders in those house churches. He carried communication from one group of disciples to another. As Paul left for Jerusalem on the trip described in the verses below, he was bringing a special financial gift to Jerusalem. He wanted to bless the impoverished Jewish disciples in Jerusalem with a gift from Gentile Christians. He was hoping to tie together the whole brotherhood through this project. 

As you read the verses below, you will find all of those reasons for Paul's travels through Asia Minor (with key cities of Troas & Ephesus), Macedonia (with key cities of Philippi, Berea, & Thessalonica), and Greece (with key cities of Corinth & Athens) on his way back to Syria (Antioch) and ultimately to Judea (Jerusalem). After concluding this trip to Jerusalem, Paul was determined to go to Rome, the capital of the empire. Then from Rome, he planned to go to Spain to share My story and the good message of salvation. 

The first set of verses below (from the book of Acts) is a very simple summary of a few years when Paul wrote the incredible letter of Romans while in Greece. (We will be reading parts of Romans together over the next several days.) As you read from some of the beginning and ending verses of Romans today, you will also find information and hints about Paul's travels and what motivated him to take these trips. 

Underneath all of these travels during this stage of Paul's life, there were three predominant influences:
Paul was My chosen emissary (apostle), especially to the non-Jewish peoples of the world.
For I am not the least bit embarrassed about the gospel. I won't shy away from it, because it is God's power to save every person who believes: first the Jew, and then the non-Jew.
He was passionate about fulfilling this call. He had a special fervor to take the good news to people who had never heard it:
I have dreamed of preaching the gospel in places where no one has ever heard of the Anointed so that I do not build on a foundation laid by anyone else.
Paul wanted to bring the brotherhood of Jews and non-Jews together through the offering from the Gentile churches for their brothers and sisters in faith in Jerusalem:
But right now I must make the journey to Jerusalem to serve the saints there. Those in Macedonia and Achaia decided it was a good idea to share their funds to help the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. I must tell you that they were thrilled to be able to help. They realize that they are indebted to the believers in Jerusalem. If the nations share in the Jews' spiritual goods, then it's only right that they minister back to them in material goods.
Since some people were seeking to stop and, if necessary, kill Paul, he could and would alter his travel strategies based on their hostility. However, he was determined to complete his travels:
He [Paul] spent three months there [in Greece], and then he planned to set sail once again for Syria. But he learned that a group of Jewish opponents was plotting to kill him, so he decided to travel through Macedonia.
While in Greece, he wrote about possible additional opposition he would face when he returned to Jerusalem:
Pray that I [Paul] will be rescued from those who deny and persecute the faith in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem will meet the approval of all the saints there.
As Paul traveled to share My good news, he wrote the nearest complete document on grace, faith, baptism, the Holy Spirit, and holy living in his letter called the book of Romans in your Bible. This is the letter we will share together in the coming days. First, however, I want you to get a feeling for the passion that drove Paul along the many roads he traveled!
Verses to Live

As you read today's verses, you will find much more depth of emotion than can be highlighted in this short note. So I want you to read through these verses several times listening for the passion of Paul to fulfill his call to share the gospel. As you read, also pray for the Spirit to release this same kind of passion in you and through you in your day!
As soon as the uproar ended [in Ephesus], Paul gathered the disciples together, encouraged them once more, said farewell, and left on foot. He decided to pass through Macedonia, encouraging believers wherever he found them, and came to Greece. He spent three months there, and then he planned to set sail once again for Syria. But he learned that a group of Jewish opponents was plotting to kill him, so he decided to travel through Macedonia. 

... 

Paul:
Now I feel that the Holy Spirit has taken me captive. I am being led to Jerusalem. My future is uncertain, but I know — the Holy Spirit has told me — that everywhere I go from now on, I will find imprisonment and persecution waiting for me. But that's OK. That's no tragedy for me because I don't cling to my life for my own sake. The only value I place on my life is that I may finish my race, that I may fulfill the ministry that Jesus our King has given me, that I may gladly tell the good news of God's grace.
(Acts 20:1-3; Acts 20:22-24) 

Paul, a servant of Jesus the Anointed called by God to be His emissary and appointed to tell the good news of the things promised long ago by God, spoken by prophets, and recorded in the Holy Scriptures. All of this good news is about His Son: who was (from a human perspective) born of David's royal line and ultimately designated to be the true Son of God with power upon His resurrection from the dead by the Spirit of holiness. I am speaking of Jesus, the Anointed One, our Lord. 

And here's what He's done: He has graced us and sanctioned us as His emissaries whose mission is to spread the one true and obedient faith to all people in the name of Jesus. This includes you: you have been called by Jesus, God's Anointed. 

To all those who are God's beloved saints in Rome: 

May grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, surround you. 

First, I thank my God through Jesus the Anointed for all of you because we are joined by faith as family, and your faith is spreading across the world. For I call God as my witness — whom I worship in my spirit and serve in making known the gospel — He alone knows how often I mention you in my prayers. I find myself constantly praying for you and hoping it's in God's will for me to be with you soon. I desperately want to see you so that I can share some gift of the Spirit to strengthen you. Plus I know that when we come together something beautiful will happen as we are encouraged by each other's faith. 

If, my brothers and sisters, you did not already know, my plans were set to meet you in Rome, but time and circumstances have forced every trip to be canceled until now. I have deeply desired to see some good fruit among you just as I have seen with so many non-Jewish believers. You see, I am in tremendous debt to those of various nationalities, from non-Jews to barbarians, from the wisest of the wise to the idle wanderer. So you can imagine how eager I am to join you and to teach the good news in the mighty and diverse city of Rome. 

For I am not the least bit embarrassed about the gospel. I won't shy away from it, because it is God's power to save every person who believes: first the Jew, and then the non-Jew. You see, in the good news, God's restorative justice is revealed. And as we will see, it begins with and ends in faith. As the Scripture declares, "By faith the just will obtain life." 
(Romans 1:1-17) 

My brothers and sisters, I am ultimately confident that you are full of goodness, knowledge, and the ability to help and instruct one another. I have written to you with unflinching honesty on many topics because I do not want you to ever lose sight of the tremendous grace God has given me. His grace makes me who I am, a minister of the Anointed One, Jesus, called to serve the nations. 

The good news of God is the focus of my priestly work. In effect, these nations have become an offering to God, totally acceptable, indeed made holy by the work of the Holy Spirit. So in Jesus, the Anointed One, I have reason to celebrate the things I do for God. I don't want to be presumptuous, so I will restrict myself to what the Anointed has accomplished through my words and actions, which has culminated in the obedience of the nations. My words and actions have been rooted in Spirit-empowered signs and miracles. The upshot is this: I have been able to preach the good news of the Anointed One in city after city from Jerusalem all the way around the Mediterranean to Illyricum. I have dreamed of preaching the gospel in places where no one has ever heard of the Anointed so that I do not build on a foundation laid by anyone else. But as the Scriptures say,
They will see Him even though they've never been told about Him; they will understand even though they never heard of Him.
Because of many issues, I have not been able to visit you in the city of Rome. But my time to serve those here is coming to an end, there's no room left for me in this region, and I have longed to come to you for many years. So I plan to visit you on my journey to Spain. I am hoping that I will not only see you face-to-face, but that you will assist me in the journey west after I have enjoyed our time together. But right now I must make the journey to Jerusalem to serve the saints there. Those in Macedonia and Achaia decided it was a good idea to share their funds to help the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. I must tell you that they were thrilled to be able to help. They realize that they are indebted to the believers in Jerusalem. If the nations share in the Jews' spiritual goods, then it's only right that they minister back to them in material goods. When this work is complete and the funds we've collected are delivered, I will make my way to Spain through your grand city of Rome and enjoy some of your hospitality. I'm sure that when I come to you I will come as a blessing and as one fully blessed by the Anointed One. 

My brothers and sisters, I urgently plead with you by the name of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed, and by the love of the Spirit to join together with me in your prayers to God for my success in these next endeavors. Pray that I will be rescued from those who deny and persecute the faith in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem will meet the approval of all the saints there. If that happens, then my journey to you will be filled with joy; and, if God wills, I can rest and be refreshed in your presence. I pray the God of all peace will be with you all. Amen. 
(Romans 15:14-33)
Response in Prayer

O Father, I find Paul's travels amazing. He journeyed to so many places, used different modes of travel, reached out to such diverse people, and took such great risks to share the message of Jesus. Open my eyes, O LORD, to see the opportunities near me to share your message of grace. Be with me as I seek to share that message with kindness, compassion, courage, and conviction. Open my eyes as well, O LORD, to the opportunities to share your grace with the lost all over the world. Whether it is in going, praying, or sending, O Father, please use me to bless Your world-wide mission. 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! To subscribe send a blank email to: ayearwithjesus-subscribe@maillists.heartlight.org
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 29 Aug 2015, 8:43 pm

Beyond 'a Rock and a Hard Place'" — A Year with Jesus for 08/29/2015
Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

Nearly every one of My leaders through the ages has been stuck between a rock and a hard place. I'm talking about being in a situation where they had to defend themselves, or defend the truth they were trying to communicate, against unfair accusations. These leaders were stuck because defending themselves would mean revealing confidential information or speaking about themselves in self-promoting ways that made them feel uncomfortable. As true servants, they weren't self-promoting kinds of people. Since My servants were attacked by unfair accusations or because of misunderstanding, they needed to defend their actions for the good of the congregations they were leading. Most managed to find effective and ethical ways to address the issues of concern, but that doesn't mean that it was easy for them to do it. 

Paul was stuck between a rock and a hard place when he wrote 2 Corinthians. He was being called less than the "so-called great emissaries" (2 Corinthians 12:11) — others of your translations use the term "super apostles". Because Paul had previously been reluctant to boast to the Corinthians about his qualifications, speak about his special spiritual experiences, or give a list of his greatest accomplishments, many of the Corinthians quit respecting him. Plus, Paul didn't ask for monetary support, so the Corinthians assumed that he wasn't as worthy a minister as those who demanded support. 

In the letter you call 1 Corinthians, Paul confronted the Corinthian believers for their divisions rooted in their pride about the different groups to which they belonged. He also confronted their pride about the spiritual gifts they had been given. So Paul was careful in 1 Corinthians not to boast about anything other than My cross. He was careful not to take money or depend upon their support. Paul didn't trumpet his accomplishments or spiritual qualifications because that would have only fed into the Corinthians own misguided sense of greatness, status, and importance. 

In 2 Corinthians, Paul emphasized that his qualifications that really mattered were the ones that showed My power at work in his weaknesses, hardships, and persecutions. He said:
I am at peace and even take pleasure in any weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and afflictions for the sake of the Anointed because when I am at my weakest, He makes me strong.
Near the end 2 Corinthians, Paul had to address his critics directly. He had to confront the Corinthians' concept of the "so-called great emissaries" who trumpeted their own accomplishments and highlighted their spiritual qualifications while taking money from the Corinthians. 

Paul told the Corinthians that he was "out of [his] mind" (2 Corinthians 11:23 NIV) and having to resort to "foolishness" (2 Corinthians 11:1) to defend himself, but the Corinthians had left him no other choice (2 Corinthians 11:16-21; 2 Corinthians 12:11). Paul exposed the "so-called great emissaries" for the charlatans and frauds they were (2 Corinthians 11:12-15). 

Even when Paul finally resorted to boasting about his supernatural experience and his powerfully fruitful ministry, he ultimately came back to his weakness, his "nagging nuisance" from Satan, as his sign of integrity. Even though Paul asked the Father three times to remove his "nagging nuisance" — also called his "thorn in the flesh" — the Father did not remove it. Paul emphasized that this "nagging nuisance" was present in his life to keep him from becoming "too high and mighty." Paul was being reminded that the Father's "grace [was] enough to cover and sustain" him. He was challenged to see that the Father's "power is made perfect in weakness." 

Bottom line: Paul wanted the Corinthians to know that My example of being a sacrificial servant must be the primary mark of authenticity that they used for greatness. A great emissary, apostle, or minister is known by her or his willingness to sacrifice and serve. If the credibility of their "so-called great emissaries" was not found in sacrificing for others like I did, then their ministry was not really empowered by Me.
Verses to Live

As you read these verses, use them to help you assess the value and importance of anyone who claims to minister in My name. I want you to keep asking yourself if your standard is like the Corinthians' standard or like Paul's standard.
Boasting like this [as in the preceding verses] is necessary, but it's unbecoming and probably unavailing. Since you won't hear me any other way, let me tell you about visions and revelations I received of the Lord. 

Fourteen years ago, there was this man I knew — a believer in the Anointed who was caught up to the third heaven. (Whether this was an in- or out-of-body experience I don't know; only God knows.) This man was caught up into paradise (let me say it again, whether this was an in- or out-of-body experience I don't know; only God knows), and he heard inexpressible words — words a mortal man is forbidden to utter. I could brag about such a man; but as for me, I have nothing to brag about outside my own shortcomings. So if I want to boast, I won't do so as a fool because I will be speaking the truth. But I will stop there, since I don't want to be credited with anything except exactly what people see and hear from me. 

To keep me grounded and stop me from becoming too high and mighty due to the extraordinary character of these revelations, I was given a thorn in the flesh — a nagging nuisance of Satan, a messenger to plague me! I begged the Lord three times to liberate me from its anguish; and finally He said to me, "My grace is enough to cover and sustain you. My power is made perfect in weakness." So ask me about my thorn, inquire about my weaknesses, and I will gladly go on and on — I would rather stake my claim in these and have the power of the Anointed One at home within me. I am at peace and even take pleasure in any weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and afflictions for the sake of the Anointed because when I am at my weakest, He makes me strong. 

I have become a fool, but you drove me to it. Why didn't you stick up for me? I may not be much, but you could have shown me the same respect as you did the other so-called great emissaries. I am not inferior to them in the least. Miracles, wonders, and signs were all performed right before your eyes, proving I am who I say, a true emissary of Jesus. With the exception of not asking you to shoulder the burden of my care, I have treated you no differently from any other churches. Forgive me for wronging you by not charging for my services! 
(2 Corinthians 12:1-13)
Response in Prayer

O Father, please forgive me. When I evaluate those who serve in Your kingdom, I catch myself using the earthly standards of success so many others use. Tune my heart to Jesus and His example of ministry, shepherding, and serving. I ask for the Holy Spirit's help to discern what is true and what is false about myself, about my standard of judgment, and about the integrity of those who serve. Most of all, Father, give me the patience to trust You, not myself, to judge the value and worth of Your servants. 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! To subscribe send a blank email to: ayearwithjesus-subscribe@maillists.heartlight.org
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Post  Admin on Fri 28 Aug 2015, 7:45 pm

"Grow in this Gracious Gift of Giving" — A Year with Jesus for 08/28/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of the Father, 

You are never more like the Father than when you generously give to bless others, especially others in need. The Father has graciously poured out His blessings on you in so many ways. My life on earth was an example of the Father's love. That love led the Father to bless and graciously give the best of life to you. So I want you to read carefully through the passages below from Paul. He is addressing the Corinthians about a gift they had promised to give for the poor brothers and sisters in Jerusalem. But after Paul left, they began to procrastinate on bringing this gift to completion. 

Paul had high hopes for this gift from the Corinthians. Their gift was part of a larger gift from Gentile Christians given to help the needy Jewish Christians in Jerusalem. The last paragraph of your reading today gives you Paul's words about this. In addition to helping the impoverished and persecuted believers in Jerusalem, Paul had a goal to bless the Christians throughout Macedonia, Achaia, and Asia with a connection to the Christians in Jerusalem through their giving. This connection would bind Jewish and Gentile Christians together into one loving family. Unfortunately, as the Corinthians grew cold toward Paul and his ministry, they also grew cold toward helping their brothers and sisters in Jerusalem. Paul felt that he needed to address this situation in his letter to them in the following ways.
He taught, reminded, and challenged the Corinthians to reawaken their hearts toward generosity. You will read about some of what he taught, reminded, and challenged in the verses below.
He told the Corinthians about their Macedonian brothers and sisters who had been through suffering and persecution in addition to being poor:
...in the face of severe anguish and hard times, their elation and poverty have overflowed into a wealth of generosity.
Paul wanted the example of the Macedonian Christians to motivate the believers in Corinth into generous action.
He told the Corinthians that he was sending one of his apprentices, Titus, to Corinth to help them complete their gift. This gift was to be a "gracious work of charity."
Paul connected to their sense of pride at being a spiritually gifted church that was "rich in everything." He then challenged them to "invest richly in this gracious work" of giving to the needs of the Jerusalem Christians. He wanted them to be great in this gracious gift of giving, too!
He didn't command the Corinthians to participate in this offering for the believers in Jerusalem. Instead, he challenged them to prove that their love for Me and their love for these brothers and sisters in faith were genuine. In response to the costly grace they had received and by following My example, they were to share with their Christian brothers and sisters who were in deep need. Their love would be proved genuine through their loving action, or it would be proved false by their inaction.
Paul reminded the Corinthians about a rule of the harvest: "the one who plants little harvests little, and the one who plants plenty harvests plenty." They were not going to receive nearly all the blessings the Father intended for them if they were miserly and neglectful! The Father longed to bless them so that they could bless others even more. They would never out give the Father. In fact, they would actually be blessed more the more they blessed others in need:
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. .. You will be made rich in everything so that your generosity will spill over in every direction. Through us [Paul and his co-workers] your generosity is at work inspiring praise and thanksgiving to God. For this mission will do more than bring food and water to fellow believers in need — it will overflow in a cascade of praises and thanksgivings for our God.
At the end of both passages you will read today, Paul finished speaking to their hearts about being generous by reminding them of Me. I was the Father's greatest gift. I was given to redeem them at great cost. (See the sentences in bold below.)
Verses to Live

While this message was directed specifically to the Corinthian disciples about helping their poor brothers and sisters in Jerusalem, the basic principles of Paul's teachings are very powerful for you to remember. You need to grow in the grace of generous giving. The more you share, the more the Father will entrust you to share with others. You will always have enough to share if you share generously. Your motivation for giving should never be to get more. Instead, your desire to give should be based on your love response to the generous gifts you've received from the Father. You should want to give because you have a desire to bless those in need. You should give because you desire to grow in the grace of giving and be like your Father in heaven.
Now, brothers and sisters, let me tell you about the amazing gift of God's grace that's happening throughout the churches in Macedonia. Even in the face of severe anguish and hard times, their elation and poverty have overflowed into a wealth of generosity. I watched as they willingly gave what they could afford and then went beyond to give even more. They came to us on their own, begging to take part in this work of grace to support the poor saints in Judea. 

We were so overwhelmed — none of us expected their reaction — that they truly turned their lives over to the Lord and then gave themselves to support us in our work as we answer the call of God. That's why we asked Titus to finish what he started among you regarding this gracious work of charity. Just as you are rich in everything — in faith and speech, in knowledge and all sincerity, and in the love we have shown among you — now I ask you to invest richly in this gracious work too. 

I am not going to command you, but I am going to offer you the chance to prove your love genuine in the same way others have done. You know the grace that has come to us through our Lord Jesus the Anointed. He set aside His infinite riches and was born into the lowest circumstance so that you may gain great riches through His humble poverty. 
(2 Corinthians 8:1-9) 

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:
"They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; 
their righteousness endures forever."
Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 

This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! 
(2 Corinthians 9:6-15 NIV)
Response in Prayer

Almighty and righteous Father, so much in my world pulls at my heart to live for myself and to protect the stuff that is "mine"! Yet I know, dear Father, that all I have is really Yours. I believe that You have entrusted what I have to bless others as you would want them blessed. So I ask that the Holy Spirit work on my heart as I seek to be more generous. Have the Spirit open my eyes to what You are trying to teach me in Your Word about generosity. Have the Spirit help me to filter out the messages of selfishness and greed that are so prevalent in my world. Have the Spirit help me see the ways I can effectively help others with my treasure, talent, and time. I ask this in the name of Jesus, Who gave everything so that I can be Your child. 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! To subscribe send a blank email to: ayearwithjesus-subscribe@maillists.heartlight.org
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 27 Aug 2015, 5:42 pm

"Move Toward Perfect Beauty & Holiness" — A Year with Jesus for 08/27/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious and Holy One, 

When you became My disciple, you were made "holy, blameless, and totally free of imperfection" by My blood that "bled peace into the world" and My flesh that "reconciled you in [My] body" (Colossians 1:19-22). As Paul told My Corinthian disciples:
Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who comes from God and dwells inside of you? You do not own yourself. You have been purchased at a great price, so use your body to bring glory to God! 
(1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
I left My place of power, security, and position in heaven. I left it to come and live among you and endure the worst of your world (Philippians 2:5-11) to make you precious and holy. The cost was high and the process was painful. However, My sacrifice was worth every drop of blood, every lash upon My skin, and every puncture wound in My body to make you precious and holy. So please, as Paul urged the Corinthians, don't pollute what is pure. Don't make what is precious into something ordinary and profane. Don't make common what is holy and reserved for honoring Us — Father, Son, and Spirit.

I know that some people bristle at the thought of behaviors being either good or bad. They don't want anyone to tell them what is righteousness and what is evil. They don't like morality to be defined in black and white, light and darkness. I know righteous-looking behaviors can cloak a bad heart. So I understand the skepticism some people have. That's why I often answered questions about hard issues with questions. My questions made people examine their own hearts. I did this so that My disciples would have to look deeper within themselves rather than My simply giving them another set of rules that they could manipulate and appear to be holy while having evil in their hearts. 

Many of life's behaviors can fall into what you might call a gray area. However, the gray area is in your behavior, not in the underlying motive or intention of your heart. Read that again. Accept it for the truth it is. Either you do what you do because of your love for your Father and your love for your neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40), or you do it for some other questionable or bad motive. The behavior may not be wrong, rebellious, sinful, or unholy in itself. Yet if your heart is trying to get away with as much as possible without technically violating a command, then the behavior is wrong because your heart is wrong. 

Don't intentionally live in the gray areas of life. Don't spend your time trying to stay in the gray as close as possible to what is wrong. This legalistic game reveals the real desires of your heart. It shows that your heart has not been captured by the cost of My love to make you "holy, blameless, and totally free of imperfection"! Your response to My love should be as Paul urged the Corinthians in the verses below. You should want to "scour the filth from [your] flesh and spirit and move toward perfect beauty and holiness."
Verses to Live

The verses below come from both the apostle Paul and the apostle Peter. These words were challenging to My first-century disciples. They should also be challenging words for you... but not impossible words or unimportant words or words of suggestion. These are words based on love and call for a response to the loving gift you have been given!
Don't develop partnerships with those who are not followers of Jesus' teachings. For what real connection can exist between righteousness and rebellion? How can light participate in darkness? What harmony can exist between the Anointed and Satan? Do the faithful and the faithless have anything in common? Can the temple of God find common ground with idols? Don't you see that we house the temple of the living God within us? 

Remember when He said, "I will make My home with them [My holy people] and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be My people. So then turn away from them [people and practices of unrighteousness], turn away and leave without looking back," says the Lord. "Stay away from anything unclean, anything impure, and I will welcome you. And I will be for you as a father, and you will be for Me as sons and daughters," says the Lord Almighty! 

Because we have these promises, dearly loved ones, out of respect for God we should scour the filth from our flesh and spirit and move toward perfect beauty and holiness. 
(2 Corinthians 6:14-18; 2 Corinthians 7:1) 

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. 
(1 Peter 2:9-10)
Response in Prayer

Father, I know the duplicity that sometimes lives in my heart. Most of the time, I long to be righteous. I want to treat people justly. I want to walk humbly with You. But as You know, dear Father, sometimes I hide and like to keep my "love for playing in the gray" hidden in my heart. So today, I ask You to forgive me. Forgive me not just for my specific behaviors, but for taking the cost of my holiness lightly and for taking the costly love that Jesus demonstrated for granted. I want my heart to be pure and motivated by my love 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! To subscribe send a blank email to: ayearwithjesus-subscribe@maillists.heartlight.org
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 26 Aug 2015, 9:29 pm

"A Whole New Creation" — A Year with Jesus for 08/26/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

What controls you? I don't want you mastered by any substance, secret sin, or destructive habit. You are meant to be free. That's how you were designed by the Father. When you were re-made, you were given the Holy Spirit to liberate you to become all that you are meant be (Romans 8:13-14; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18; Galatians 5:1; Galatians 5:13). 

I want love to be the guiding and controlling force in your life. I do not want fear or compulsion, and certainly not bondage to addictions, to control and destroy your life. I want to liberate you from those traps that lead to both spiritual and physical bondage. Your love for Us — Father, Son, and Spirit — along with your love for your neighbors can help you freely decide how to live a life that is both blessed and a blessing to others. This life style has always been Our design for our people (Genesis 12:1-3). Living like this is what both the Torah, the Old Testament books of Law, and the New Testament teach (Matthew 22:36-40). 

I died for the forgiveness of your sins and was raised to bring you back into a right relationship with your Father (Romans 4:25). You shared in My death, burial, and resurrection as you called on My name in baptism because of your faith in Me (Romans 6:3-11; Acts 22:14-16; Romans 10:9-13). You were made into a new creation. Paul said it this way: "...a new life has begun"! You are now alive in Me to live for Me through My power at work in you. That means you should no longer view people from a merely human point of view. 

This gift of a new life comes from the Father. He didn't sit idly hoping for you to return, but he "pursued" and "brought" you into a "restored... relationship" with Us. Yet My gift of new life is not just for you. I want you to share this new life with others. I want you to help people around you to realize that their broken relationship with Us can be healed. This healing comes through My sacrifice on the cross and my triumph over death when I rose from the dead and left behind an empty tomb. I want you "to proclaim the message that heals... broken relationships with God and each other." 

As a new creation, you have been re-created in love and re-made to "embody the very righteousness of God." You are my agent of grace and my missionary of love in your world. I gave you your circle of influence — the people you know and the relationships you share — to be a place of your redemptive work in the broken world that needs My healing. When you see people, I want you to see them through the eyes of the Father's saving love. No longer view people from a merely human point of view. I want you to think about how you can share My grace with them and how you can invite them to find new life in Me.
Verses to Live

What controls your life? With the Father's help, the controlling force and the inexhaustible and enabling power of the Father's love can be yours through the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). Use that love to be My agent of reconciliation!
You see, the controlling force in our lives is the love of the Anointed One. And our confession is this: One died for all; therefore, all have died. He died for us so that we will all live, not for ourselves, but for Him who died and rose from the dead. Because of all that God has done, we now have a new perspective. We used to show regard for people based on worldly standards and interests. No longer. We used to think of the Anointed the same way. No longer. Therefore, if anyone is united with the Anointed One, that person is a new creation. The old life is gone — and see — a new life has begun! All of this is a gift from our Creator God, who has pursued us and brought us into a restored and healthy relationship with Him through the Anointed. And He has given us the same mission, the ministry of reconciliation, to bring others back to Him. It is central to our good news that God was in the Anointed making things right between Himself and the world. This means He does not hold their sins against them. But it also means He charges us to proclaim the message that heals and restores our broken relationships with God and each other. 

So we are now representatives of the Anointed One, the Liberating King; God has given us a charge to carry through our lives — urging all people on behalf of the Anointed to become reconciled to the Creator God. He orchestrated this: the Anointed One, who had never experienced sin, became sin for us so that in Him we might embody the very righteousness of God. 
(2 Corinthians 5:14-21)
Response in Prayer

O Father, thank You for re-creating me and working through me. I invite the Holy Spirit to complete His work of transforming me to be like Jesus. I open my heart to receive the love You pour into it through the Spirit. I release all of myself to the lordship of Jesus without reservation to be used to be Your ambassador and agent of grace and reconciliation. Use me to share Your grace and mercy. 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! To subscribe send a blank email to: ayearwithjesus-subscribe@maillists.heartlight.org
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 25 Aug 2015, 10:16 pm

"Decaying into Glory" — A Year with Jesus for 08/25/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

Paul's words in your verses today are as beautiful as they are powerful. They can help you deal with an inescapable reality of your existence: your body is mortal. Your body is in the process of decay. While you can strengthen it, fortify it, exercise it, and tighten parts of it, you cannot save it. Ultimately you will fail at your most basic human task — keeping your body alive. However, that task is not your most important purpose and not your ultimate problem. Since the rebellion in the garden (Genesis 3:1-24), death has stalked every single human who has walked the earth (Romans 5:12-14) — even Me when I walked among you as one of you (John 19:29-34). 

You must have a purpose more important than keeping your body alive or your purpose in life will end in failure. This resolve is why what Paul says in these verses is so terribly important for you to hear, understand, and make the foundation for your life. Paul speaks the truth very clearly when he describes your human purpose:
Ultimately it does not matter whether we are here or gone [to be with Christ Jesus]; our purpose stays fixed, and that is to please Him [Jesus].
You have no reason for despair about your mortal body or your eternal future. Death cannot ultimately claim anyone who has entrusted her or his future into My hands. Even though moaning, groaning, and aching are natural for your decaying mortal body, you do not need to moan, groan, or ache because of the fear of death. In fact, as Paul said for himself, those who have entrusted their lives to Me may moan, groan, and ache with a yearning to set aside the mortal body and be clothed with the heavenly one:
Currently, in this tent of a house, we continue to groan and ache with a deep desire to be sheltered in our permanent home because then we will be truly clothed and comfortable, protected by a covering for our current nakedness.
Paul taught the Corinthians in another letter that they would receive their glorious resurrection bodies when I returned in glory (1 Corinthians 15:35-58). He told them that their new immortal bodies would be glorious like My resurrected body. He told them that their physical bodies were like seeds, and their immortal bodies would be like the flowers on the full grown plant that emerged from the seed. Once again, Paul was thinking of the following contrasting terms — mortal vs. immortal, seen vs. unseen, weakness vs. strength, naked vs. clothed, fleeting and fading away vs. eternal, earthly vs. heavenly, and temporary tent vs. permanent dwelling. Just as you have shared in a mortal body like the first human, you will certainly share in the heavenly body like Mine (1 Corinthians 15:49). 

In the verses today, Paul elaborates and helps the believers in Corinth understand a new truth: when they die, as My disciples they come to be with Me:
...in the end we prefer to be gone from this body so that we can be at home with the Lord.
Paul will elaborate a little more on this subject when he writes the Philippians from prison and is facing his own death (Philippians 1:19-23). For the Corinthians, this new information was enough to remind them of their purpose — to live to honor Me — and their future — to be clothed in their heavenly dwelling and be with Me and share in eternal glory. This conviction allowed them to live for Me by faith with "daring passion." 

Like the Corinthian believers, you have to walk this path by faith without fully seeing the fulfillment of your hopes during your mortal existence. However, every time you sense a stirring of the Holy Spirit enlightening you as you read the inspired Scriptures, every time you rely on the Spirit's intercession as you pray, every time you sense the comforting and reassuring presence of the Spirit in times of sorrow, and every time you find yourself strengthened by the Spirit in the face of temptation or trial, you can be assured of this: Just as surely as the Spirit is within you and works for you, you can also be sure that the Spirit is your guarantee that all of Paul's promises about your glorious future with Me are true!
Verses to Live

Please read these verses several times and let the promises found here settle into your soul and permeate your being. Use them to speak to your heart in times of grief and share them with those who need a comforting reminder about their future with Me, a future that transcends physical decay and death. Our future together will be glorious! Let Paul's words reassure you of this truth!
So we have no reason to despair. Despite the fact that our outer humanity is falling apart and decaying, our inner humanity is breathing in new life every day. You see, the short-lived pains of this life are creating for us an eternal glory that does not compare to anything we know here. So we do not set our sights on the things we can see with our eyes. All of that is fleeting; it will eventually fade away. Instead, we focus on the things we cannot see, which live on and on. 

We know that if our earthly house — a mere tent that can easily be taken down — is destroyed, we will then live in an eternal home in the heavens, a building crafted by divine — not human — hands. Currently, in this tent of a house, we continue to groan and ache with a deep desire to be sheltered in our permanent home because then we will be truly clothed and comfortable, protected by a covering for our current nakedness. The fact is that in this tent we anxiously moan, fearing the naked truth of our reality. What we crave above all is to be clothed so that what is temporary and mortal can be wrapped completely in life. The One who has worked and tailored us for this is God Himself, who has gifted His Spirit to us as a pledge toward our permanent home. 

In light of this, we live with a daring passion and know that our time spent in this body is also time we are not present with the Lord. The path we walk is charted by faith, not by what we see with our eyes. There is no doubt that we live with a daring passion, but in the end we prefer to be gone from this body so that we can be at home with the Lord. Ultimately it does not matter whether we are here or gone; our purpose stays fixed, and that is to please Him. In time we will all stand in judgment before the throne of the Anointed [Christ Jesus], the Liberating King, to receive what is just for our conduct (whether it be good or bad) while we lived in this temporary body. 
(2 Corinthians 4:16-18; 2 Corinthians 5:1-10)
Response in Prayer

O Father, fill my heart with joy and the knowledge that my future is secure with You because of Jesus and assured by the presence of the blessed Holy Spirit. In Jesus' name, I thank You and praise 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! To subscribe send a blank email to: ayearwithjesus-subscribe@maillists.heartlight.org
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Post  Admin on Mon 24 Aug 2015, 9:44 pm

"Treasure in Fragile Clay Pots" — A Year with Jesus for 08/24/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious Follower, 

In Paul's day, the Greek language had two words for two different types of pots. One was called an amphiphora. An amphiphora was a beautifully decorated pot that was sometimes fired to have a beautiful ceramic glaze. These kinds of pots were works of art and used decoratively and as part of a very special meal. The other word for a pot was skeuos. A skeuos was an ordinary clay pot used for just about anything. It was unimportant and insignificant. This kind of pot was used for routine things, could be easily discarded, and was without much consequence even if broken. 

When Paul described himself and his fellow gospel messengers, he didn't use the word amphiphora. Instead, he emphasized the fragile and inconsequential nature of a skeuos pot to describe himself. He described himself as a simple vessel made of earth and clay for ordinary and everyday use. Paul emphasized that he and each person who ministered for Me was a simple "fragile clay pot" whose purpose was to carry something significant. My messenger, My clay pot, is not necessarily fancy, flashy, or consequential in his or her personal importance. The true significance of My messenger is determined by the "treasure" he or she carries as My clay pot. 

Paul's ministry was not about himself, but about declaring the good news of the Almighty Father. This was the good news of My coming to earth, My going to the cross to pay for sins, My being buried in a tomb sharing your human mortality, and My triumph over death through My resurrection. The Father used Me to begin His new work of re-creation just as surely as We — Father, Son, and Spirit — created everything when We spoke, "'Let there be light.' And light flashed into being" (Genesis 1:3). I entrusted the message of good news about Me and God's power of re-creation to My disciples who were ordinary people made extraordinary because of the good news they shared and because of the Holy Spirit Who empowered them. They were clay pots carrying glorious treasure! 

These ordinary people faced extraordinary challenges. They endured repeated abuses. They were often threatened and sometimes tortured. Some were martyred for sharing this good news about Me. Yet nothing could stop them or the message that they shared about Me. The Holy Spirit within them empowered them to speak My good news. Their ordinariness as fishermen, tax collectors, those formerly possessed by demons, fathers, mothers, men and women, young and old made their courage and their impact all the more extraordinary. These ordinary people, these fragile clay pots, brought the treasure to the lost world. They brought the treasure of true life to those who feared death. They carried the treasure of light to those trapped in Satan's darkness. They delivered the treasure of hope to those lost in monotonous mortality. They brought the treasure of re-creation to those too old or too set in their ways to expect new things. 

Paul insisted in the verses for today, and he will insist again and again in 2 Corinthians, that the Father's strength and wisdom are made perfect through human weakness. The Father's "transcendent character" was at work within these normal people. This power at work within them was not human power, human wisdom, or human charisma. This was Holy Spirit power. This was the Father's power released through the Holy Spirit's presence within My disciples. This power was available to all people who follow Me. This was the power that could transform every human life it touched. That same power is available to you, today!
Verses to Live

Don't depend on the charm, charisma, and persuasiveness of your public Christian personalities. The world needs to discover real treasure, not focus on the person who is the vessel to bring My treasure to the lost world. This lost world needs to see the Father's grace delivered into the world through ordinary people made extraordinary by the Spirit's work through them. 

This transcendent power is also at work in you as another ordinary and "fragile clay pot" made extraordinary by the treasure that you carry. Listen carefully as Paul teaches about this treasure that is now alive in you!
We do not preach about ourselves. The subject of all our sermons is Jesus, the Anointed One. He is Lord and Master of all. For Jesus' sake we are here to serve you. The God who spoke light into existence, saying, "Let light shine from the darkness," is the very One who sets our hearts ablaze to shed light on the knowledge of God's glory revealed in the face of Jesus, the Anointed One. 

But this beautiful treasure is contained in us — cracked pots made of earth and clay — so that the transcendent character of this power will be clearly seen as coming from God and not from us. We are cracked and chipped from our afflictions on all sides, but we are not crushed by them. We are bewildered at times, but we do not give in to despair. We are persecuted, but we have not been abandoned. We have been knocked down, but we are not destroyed. We always carry around in our bodies the reality of the brutal death and suffering of Jesus. As a result, His resurrection life rises and reveals its wondrous power in our bodies as well. For while we live, we are constantly handed over to death on account of Jesus so that His life may be revealed even in our mortal bodies of flesh. So death is constantly at work in us, but life is working in you. 
(2 Corinthians 4:5-12)
Response in Prayer

O Almighty Father, there are times when the devil abuses and batters my sense of significance. Sometimes, dear Father, I feel too inconsequential to make a difference in Your work. As I read Paul's words, I was reminded that Jesus and the powerful good news about Jesus are the treasure. I am Your vessel. I recognize that my sufficiency and significance are found in You and in living for You. So I ask for the Holy Spirit to reawaken my passion to live for Jesus and empower me to share Jesus in word and deed with those around me. Help me do this humbly and compassionately, but courageously by the power of Your Spirit. I ask 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! To subscribe send a blank email to: ayearwithjesus-subscribe@maillists.heartlight.org
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 23 Aug 2015, 10:28 pm

"Transformed!" — A Year with Jesus for 08/23/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

How does one of My ministers prove his or her legitimacy, worth, and right to serve and lead? 

Paul will return to this question over and over again in 2 Corinthians. His answer in today's verses is important because it is built upon the coming of the Holy Spirit to each Christian as a sign of God's glorious and transforming presence inside each believer. 

The Holy Spirit is at work transforming those who are My disciples into something the law of the old covenant could never do. Later, in his letter to the Roman Christians, Paul will state this point with these words:
Therefore, now no condemnation awaits those who are living in Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King, because when you live in the Anointed One, Jesus, a new law takes effect. The law of the Spirit of life breathes into you and liberates you from the law of sin and death. God did something the law could never do. You see, human flesh took its toll on God's law. In and of itself, the law is not weak; but the flesh weakens it. So to condemn the sin that was ruling in the flesh, God sent His own Son, bearing the likeness of sinful flesh, as a sin offering. Now we are able to live up to the justice demanded by the law. But that ability has not come from living by our fallen human nature; it has come because we walk according to the movement of the Spirit in our lives. 
(Romans 8:1-4)
In Paul's day, it was common for people to carry letters of recommendation to prove their trustworthiness and legitimacy. Also, the reputation of the sponsor was extremely important. This practice was in place in early churches so that when a guest arrived, My assembled disciples would know the guest was trustworthy (Romans 16:1-2; 1 Corinthians 16:10-11; 3 John 1:5-8). 

Paul was dealing with criticism from some opponents in the Corinthian house churches. They were saying that he was not much of a minister, especially when compared to the "super apostles" who were making strong demands for support by the Corinthian churches (2 Corinthians 2:17; 2 Corinthians 12:11-13). These critics were wanting Paul to show letters of recommendation proving the validity of his ministry even though he was the one who first planted these house churches in Corinth. 

Paul's answer was clear:
You are our letter, every word burned onto our hearts to be read by everyone. You are the living letter of the Anointed One, the Liberating King, nurtured by us and inscribed, not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God — a letter too passionate to be chiseled onto stone tablets, but emblazoned upon the human heart. 

...any competence or value we have comes from God. Now God has equipped us to be capable servants of the new covenant, not by authority of the written law which only brings death, but by the Spirit who brings life.
He didn't need a literal letter of recommendation; the Corinthians were his letter written by the Holy Spirit! 

Paul then spoke emphatically to the difference between the old covenant and the new covenant based on the work of the Holy Spirit. The old covenant was chiseled into stone tablets at Mount Sinai with Moses (Deuteronomy 5:1-24). The new covenant was written on human hearts by the Spirit and brought to the Corinthians through Paul's ministry. This new covenant is rooted in the promises of the great prophets Ezekiel and Jeremiah. They promised a new covenant with the coming of the Holy Spirit — a time when God's will would be written on human hearts and not stone tablets (Ezekiel 11:19-20; Ezekiel 36:26-27; Jeremiah 31:31-34). Paul's competence came from his being equipped by God to be a capable servant of the new covenant. That competence was validated by the coming of the Holy Spirit Who brought life to the Corinthians. 

While the old covenant given to Moses on Mount Sinai came with great glory, this glory was outshone by the far greater glory of the new covenant. Moses' face reflected the glory of the Father after being in the Father's presence. Yet that glory dimmed as Moses was away from the Father's glorious presence. The far greater glory of the second covenant never grows dim. Paul said:
In fact, what seemed to have great glory will appear entirely inglorious in the light of the greater glory of the new covenant. If something that fades away possesses glory, how much more intense is the glory of what remains?
Because Paul's ministry brought the transformational power of the Holy Spirit, he had great confidence to speak and act as a minister of God's new covenant. Unlike Moses, who hid his face as God's glory began to disappear from him, Paul shared a message and ministered through the power of the Holy Spirit Whose glory doesn't diminish or depart. Instead, the Spirit's power transforms you to increasing glory to become more and more like Me!
Verses to Live

As you read these verses, please take the time to read the bold highlighted sentences at the end of today's verses especially carefully. The new covenant, the covenant of the Holy Spirit, brings life and transformation. As you seek Me, the Spirit transforms you — you "are being ... metamorphosed" is what Paul literally says!
Are we back to page one? Do we need to gather some recommendations to prove our validity to you? Or do we need to take your letter of commendation to others to gain credibility? You are our letter, every word burned onto our hearts to be read by everyone. You are the living letter of the Anointed One, the Liberating King, nurtured by us and inscribed, not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God — a letter too passionate to be chiseled onto stone tablets, but emblazoned upon the human heart. 

This is the kind of confidence we have in and through the Anointed toward our God. Don't be mistaken; in and of ourselves we know we have little to offer, but any competence or value we have comes from God. Now God has equipped us to be capable servants of the new covenant, not by authority of the written law which only brings death, but by the Spirit who brings life. 

Now consider this: if the ministry of death, which was chiseled in stone, came with so much glory that the Israelites could not bear to look at Moses' face even as that glory was fading, imagine the kind of greater glory that will accompany the ministry of the Spirit. If glory ushered in the ministry that offers condemnation, how much more glory will attend the ministry that promises to restore and set the world right? In fact, what seemed to have great glory will appear entirely inglorious in the light of the greater glory of the new covenant. If something that fades away possesses glory, how much more intense is the glory of what remains? 

In light of this hope that we have, we act with great confidence and speak with great courage. We do not act like Moses who covered his face with a veil so the children of Israel would not stare as the glory of God faded from his face. Their minds became as hard as stones; for up to this day when they read the old covenant, the same veil continues to hide that glory; this veil is lifted only through the Anointed One. Even today a veil covers their hearts when the words of Moses are read; but in the moment when one turns toward the Lord, the veil is removed. By "the Lord" what I mean is the Spirit, and in any heart where the Spirit of the Lord is present, there is liberty. Now all of us, with our faces unveiled, reflect the glory of the Lord as if we are mirrors; and so we are being transformed, metamorphosed, into His same image from one radiance of glory to another, just as the Spirit of the Lord accomplishes it. 
(2 Corinthians 3:1-18)
Response in Prayer

O Father, thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Thank You for the new covenant. Thank You that this new covenant is not made up of laws written on tablets of stone, but is written by the Spirit's work of implanting and etching Your will into my heart. I commit to offering myself to Jesus. I commit to seeking after Him, to obeying Him, and to becoming more and more like Him. I commit to joyfully partnering with the Spirit in His transforming work in me. In Jesus' name, I offer you my heart to be set free like a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis and to be transformed into the new person You created me to be Christ 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! To subscribe send a blank email to: ayearwithjesus-subscribe@maillists.heartlight.org
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 22 Aug 2015, 10:39 pm

"Aroma" — A Year with Jesus for 08/22/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

As Paul gets ready to talk about the new covenant of the Spirit in 2 Corinthians chapter 3, he pauses long enough to make an important point about his authority as My messenger. He uses the image of a conquering warrior or king returning with the spoils of war. This image includes the prisoners that follow along in the victory procession. Those who are the victors enjoy the sweet aromas of incense burned in celebration as well as the sweet smell of perfumes worn by the women welcoming their warriors home. Behind the victors came the defeated enemy as prisoners. They were dying, on their way to death, or on their way to being imprisoned or becoming slaves. 

For these vanquished warriors, an awful stench permeated everything. The horses ahead of them were defecating and urinating on the road they had to travel. Their body odor from hand-to-hand combat was awful and mingled with the dreadful smell of rotting and dying flesh from their war injuries. Mingled with all of this stench was the smell of fear in their sweat as they marched in shame toward their death, imprisonment, or enslavement. 

Paul uses these powerful images to talk about his authority to minister for Me. He says that I have conquered him. He has yielded his heart without reservation to serve Me and follow Me. I am the triumphant King of Kings. As a vanquished warrior, he is happy to be part of My victory procession and celebration of life. As one vanquished, he had gladly given up his old life to live a new one for me. 

For people who do not know Me as their Lord and Savior, Paul's voluntary service to Me seems crazy and wrong-headed and a huge waste of his life. These skeptics cannot see how surrendering to Me as Lord brings them any gain. They look on those who have yielded to Me with disdain or pity. They do not recognize the truth of what I taught My disciples in My earthly ministry:
Jesus warned his disciples not to tell anyone who he was. "The Son of Man must suffer many terrible things," he said. "He will be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He will be killed, but on the third day he will be raised from the dead." 

Then he said to the crowd, "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but are yourself lost or destroyed? If anyone is ashamed of me and my message, the Son of Man will be ashamed of that person when he returns in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels." 
(Luke 9:21-26 NLT)
Paul believed My promise. Paul surrendered his heart, his life, and his future to Me to do My work. Those who do not believe in Me cannot understand Paul's behavior. However, for those who have come to love Me and call on Me as their Lord, Paul's service in My kingdom has the aroma of life, everlasting life that cannot be defeated or taken away! 

Paul placed himself in bondage to Me, but I empowered him and liberated him to do My work, the work he was made to do. His surrender to Me as his Lord didn't mean that he lost out on life, but that his life was caught up into something bigger and better with a future that is forever glorious. For those who believe, Paul may have entered My triumphal procession as a captive, but he is not marching to death, but to life, purpose, and triumph.
Verses to Live

Paul is open with the Corinthians about his struggles and his doubts and concerns about them. He talks about the challenges he faced in places all over the world where he served Me and My people at great risk and endured great hardships. Despite his challenges, what emerged was the life that only I can bring — meaningful life for Paul and new life for all who were impacted by his words and turned to Me! So in this letter to the Corinthians, he repeatedly focuses on the source of his sufficiency. This sufficiency was not found in himself, but in the power only I can give him (2 Corinthians 2:14-17; 2 Corinthians 3:4-6; 2 Corinthians 4:1-16; 2 Corinthians 9:8; 2 Corinthians 12:6-12). So Paul boasts in his weakness because in his weakness My power is revealed. He wants the Corinthians (and you) to know that this is truly the procession that leads to life because I am leading the procession!
When I [Paul] came to the city of Troas to preach the Good News of Christ, the Lord opened a door of opportunity for me. But I had no peace of mind because my dear brother Titus hadn't yet arrived with a report from you. So I said good-bye and went on to Macedonia. 

But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ's triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? 

You see, we are not like the many hucksters who preach for personal profit. We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ's authority, knowing that God is watching us. 
(2 Corinthians 2:12-17 NLT)
Response in Prayer

O Father, may my glory be the cross of Jesus and the surrender of my heart to follow Him as Lord. I know that such surrender seems silly and pitiable to some people. However, I believe that I find my greatest freedom, joy, and future in living for Jesus as My Lord. Help me keep my focus on Jesus. I ask this prayer in His name. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! To subscribe send a blank email to: ayearwithjesus-subscribe@maillists.heartlight.org
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 Fri 21 Aug 2015, 9:42 pm

"Correct and Restore!" — A Year with Jesus for 08/21/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

Occasionally in an earthly family, a family member can lose his or her way. That person's behavior can become bizarre, erratic, hurtful, rebellious, sinful, or dangerous. The same is true in My spiritual family. Occasionally one of My disciples will rebel and run after another lifestyle and become enmeshed in sin. Others can stumble or wander away from the truth ensnaring themselves in a life of sin and depravity. Still others simply let their hearts grow cold to My way of life and lose passion for Me and the life of faith. 

As in any family, discipline sometimes must be exercised to protect other family members who might be easily led astray by a rebellious brother or sister. Discipline can also be useful in preventing shame from being brought on the family of believers because a rebellious person is identified as one of My followers but yet is living in hypocrisy with blatant disregard for My way. This discipline is also important as a loving strategy to bring the sinful person back into the family fellowship. Today's verses speak to these kinds of issues in My family of believers. In the first two passages, Paul addresses specific situations in the Corinthian church. The third passage is My teaching during My earthly ministry. 

Spiritual discipline is for someone who has become entrenched in a lifestyle of sin. This loving discipline is practiced when that person has refused to change his or her lifestyle even after being privately, lovingly, and carefully approached about the sin (Matthew 18:15-17). This kind of discipline must not be done carelessly or selfishly, but lovingly and carefully in an effort to bring that person back into full fellowship with Me and My spiritual family. The approach to this person should never be done arrogantly, but in humility and with deep compassion. One must recognize that any of my disciples could succumb to a number of sins and be dragged away into a lifestyle of destruction (Galatians 6:1-2; James 1:13-15). 

Discipline in My spiritual family has two goals: correction and restoration. I want My rebellious followers to change their behaviors and return to Me. I want each person who has wandered away, for whatever reason, to be brought back into full fellowship with Me. Spiritual discipline is a recognition that someone is far away from Me and needs to return to Me and My way of life. Spend time in prayer for the one who has wandered from My way and who has been captured by the allure of sin. Ask the Father to be at work in this person's life to provide an opportunity to come to his or her senses and return to Me (Luke 15:11-24). Work to restore this lost person to your fellowship. After exercising discipline, go in search of this lost one and seek to bring him or her home to My family (Luke 15:1-10). I don't want you to push people farther away from Me, but to call each person back to grace and to restore each person to active fellowship. Restoration is the ultimate purpose of all spiritual discipline!
Verses to Live

As you read Paul's words to the Corinthians about the person they have spiritually disciplined, remember the principles I have shared with you today. Read both of Paul's messages to the Corinthians — there are two passages in the verses below — and then read My words from My ministry. Feel the deep emotions of Paul's words and also his deep concern for the person who has been disciplined. Most of all, notice the goal in spiritual discipline, a theme that runs through each of these passages:
I encourage you to offer him [the person who was disciplined] the grace of forgiveness and the comfort of your acceptance. Otherwise, if he finds no welcome back to the community, I'm afraid he will be overwhelmed with extreme sorrow and lose all hope. So I urge you to demonstrate your love for him once again.
Your group has great power to lead someone to repentance and forgiveness, so please use this power by demonstrating your love for all those who have wandered away from Me and restore these precious children of the Father. Please bring My lost sheep home to Me!
I finally determined that I would not come to you again for yet another agonizing visit. If my visits create such pain and sorrow for you, who can cheer me up except for those I've caused such grief? This is exactly what I was writing to you about earlier so that when we are face-to-face I will not have to wallow in sadness in the presence of friends who should bring me the utmost joy. For I felt sure that my delight would also become your delight. My last letter to you was covered with tears, composed with great difficulty, and frankly, a broken heart. It wasn't my intention to depress you or cause you pain; rather, I had hoped you would see it for what it was — a demonstration of the overwhelming love I have for all of you. 

But if anyone has caused harm, he has not so much harmed me as he has — and I don't think I'm exaggerating here — harmed all of you. In my view, the majority of you have punished him well enough. So instead of continuing to ostracize him, I encourage you to offer him the grace of forgiveness and the comfort of your acceptance. Otherwise, if he finds no welcome back to the community, I'm afraid he will be overwhelmed with extreme sorrow and lose all hope. So I urge you to demonstrate your love for him once again. I wrote these things to you with a clear purpose in mind: to test whether you are willing to live and abide by all my counsel. If you forgive anyone, I forgive that one as well. Have no doubt, anything that I have forgiven — when I do forgive — is done ultimately for you in the presence of the Anointed One. It's my duty to make sure that Satan does not win even a small victory over us, for we don't want to be naive and then fall prey to his schemes. 
(2 Corinthians 2:1-11) 

Because of my deep love for you, I must express my concern about the report brought to me regarding the lewd and immoral behavior exhibited in your community. This scandal has come to my attention because this kind of thing is unheard of even among the outsiders around us: I understand a man is having sexual relations with his father's wife. You have turned into an arrogant lot who refuse to see the tragedy right in front of your eyes and mourn for it. If you would face these hard realities, the one living in this sin would be removed from the community. 

Despite the fact that I am not physically present with you, I am there in spirit and already have spoken judgment against the man who has engaged in this conduct. When you gather in the name of the Lord Jesus and I am present with you in spirit, and the infinite power of our Lord Jesus is present also, I direct you to release this man over to Satan so his rebellious nature will be destroyed and his spirit might be rescued in the day the Lord Jesus returns. 

Your proud boasting in this matter is terrible. Don't you understand that the tiniest infraction can bring about an unwelcome chain of events? That just a little yeast causes all the dough to rise? Get rid of all the old yeast; then you'll become new dough, just as you are already a people without sin's leavening influence. You see, the Anointed One is our Passover lamb; He has been sacrificed for us. So let the real feast begin. Get rid of all the old yeast, the yeast of hatred and evil. Throw it out so we can feast on the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 
(1 Corinthians 5:1-8) 

[Jesus taught them,] "If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won't he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost? And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn't wander away! In the same way, it is not my heavenly Father's will that even one of these little ones should perish. 

"If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won't accept the church's decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector. 

"I tell you the truth, whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven. 

"I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you. For where two or three gather together as my followers, I am there among them." 
(Matthew 18:12-20 NLT)
Response in Prayer

O Father, several people are on my heart today as I think about what Jesus and Paul taught about spiritual discipline. Please use me to help bring these precious lost sheep back to You. Guard my heart from pride. May I always realize that I am a sinner myself. In Jesus' name, I ask for wisdom, compassion, courage, and grace as I seek to be Your instrument of restoration. 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! To subscribe send a blank email to: ayearwithjesus-subscribe@maillists.heartlight.org
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 20 Aug 2015, 8:07 pm

"Depending Upon God" — A Year with Jesus for 08/20/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious Child of the Father, 

My people have had to face hostile trials for their faith all throughout history. I'm not talking about the challenges, agonies, and suffering that sometimes go with being mortal or about loving broken people who can disappoint you. These difficulties are part of being human. These burdens of mortality are part of the reason I came to earth and lived among you as one of you (Hebrews 2:14; Hebrews 4:14-16). The trials I am addressing today are ostracism, the seizure of property, the loss of jobs, imprisonment, beatings, persecutions, and martyrdom because you entrust your life to Me. 

I want you to read and be changed by what Paul wrote to the Corinthians. I want you to notice what is in today's verses as well as in the parts of 2 Corinthians you will be reading over the next several days. Paul faced many difficult challenges in his life of ministry (2 Corinthians 11:16-30). Some of these difficult challenges nearly cost him his life (Acts 9:22-31; Acts 14:19-20; Acts 23:12-35) years before his actual death (2 Timothy 4:6-8). 

There are things in 2 Corinthians that Paul wrote after having faced severe challenges in Asia, especially in Ephesus (2 Corinthians 1:8-11; 1 Corinthians 15:32). He was close to losing his life and endured many hardships that are not reported to you in the book of Acts. Yet if you carefully read Acts and 1 and 2 Corinthians, you get a glimpse of his living through very difficult ordeals while faithfully serving Me and My people. Paul came to realize that he had no power to protect his own life or to deliver himself from death. He had no choice but to rely on Us — Father, Son, and Spirit — to deliver him from death and deliver him back to ministry. 

In the middle of these horrible ordeals and in spite of the long time he had spent in Corinth, Paul felt the need to explain and defend himself to the Corinthians. He explained how the money for the church in Jerusalem was being handled (2 Corinthians 8:10-24) "so that no one can claim that we [Paul and those with him] are mishandling the funds we've collected" (2 Corinthians 8:20). He explained the change in his plans to visit them and that he was sincere in wanting to be with them again (2 Corinthians 1:12-24). He defended himself as being really as good of an apostle as those who were claiming to be "super apostles" — also called "great emissaries" (2 Corinthians 11:5). In particular, he explained that his message and God's power were the important things. It was not important that he was not an imposing physical presence, not as accomplished an orator, or not as successful by human standards as these "super apostles" who demanded support from the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 10:1-12; 2 Corinthians 11:4-20). 

Paul demonstrated in 2 Corinthians the character of a true Christian leader. A true Christian leader finds his or her sufficiency in Me by serving like Me, depending upon Me, and living for Me. A leader's outward appearance, charisma, and worldly success are not indicative of being My chosen instrument. Too often because of the representations of Me in your movies and paintings, people forget the great prophet Isaiah's statements about Me as the Suffering Servant of the LORD:
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. 
(Isaiah 53:2-3 NIV)
When Paul spoke of his qualifications as an apostle, he pointed to Me as the Suffering Servant of the LORD. The Corinthians were being lured away by those who appeared to be very talented and charismatic leaders. These false leaders called themselves "super apostles." Paul challenged the Corinthians to see how their "super apostles" measured up to My life and ministry as the Suffering Servant of the LORD. My strength is made perfect in those recognizing their weaknesses, those who know that their strength is found in trusting in My power and relying upon Me as their all-sufficient Lord!
Verses to Live

As you enter into the world of 2 Corinthians in the third passage below, I want you to enter through the same door that Paul did. He had walked a very difficult path as he journeyed through Ephesus, other parts of Asia, and Macedonia, as noted in the first two passages. In the end, Paul realized that there was only One on Whom he could truly depend. He discovered that he could trust "solely in God, who possesses the power to raise the dead"!
As soon as the uproar ended [in Ephesus], Paul gathered the disciples together, encouraged them once more, said farewell, and left on foot. He decided to pass through Macedonia, encouraging believers wherever he found them, and came to Greece. He spent three months there, and then he planned to set sail once again for Syria. But he learned that a group of Jewish opponents was plotting to kill him, so he decided to travel through Macedonia. 
(Acts 20:1-3) 

And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour? I [Paul] face death every day — yes, just as surely as I boast about you in Christ Jesus our Lord. If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die." 
(1 Corinthians 15:30-32 NIV) 

Paul, an emissary of Jesus the Anointed pressed into service by the will of God, and our brother Timothy to God's church that gathers in Corinth and all the saints in the region of Achaia. 

May grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, surround you. 

All praise goes to God, Father of our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One. He is the Father of compassion, the God of all comfort. He consoles us as we endure the pain and hardship of life so that we may draw from His comfort and share it with others in their own struggles. For even as His suffering continues to flood over us, through the Anointed we experience the wealth of His comfort just the same. If we are afflicted with such trouble and pain, then know it is so that you might ultimately experience comfort and salvation. If we experience comfort, it is to encourage you so that you can hold up while you endure the same sufferings we all share, unshaken and unshakable. That's because we know that as you share in our sufferings, so you will also share in our comfort. 

My brothers and sisters, we have to tell you that when we were in Asia the troubles we faced were nearly more than we could handle. The burdens we bore nearly crushed us. Our strength dwindled to nothing. For a while, we weren't sure we would make it through the whole ordeal. We thought we would have to serve out our death sentences right then and there. As a result, we realized that we could no longer rely on ourselves and that we must trust solely in God, who possesses the power to raise the dead. Miraculously God Himself delivered us from the cold hands of death. We again place our hope in Him alone, and we know He will deliver us. Join us in this work. Lend us a hand through prayer so that many will give thanks for the gift that comes to us when God answers the prayers of so many. 
(2 Corinthians 1:1-11)
Response in Prayer

O Father, give me a faith like Paul's faith. Help me develop the courage that comes from depending solely upon You, the One who raises the dead and pours resurrection power into the lives of Your children. I ask this humbly 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! To subscribe send a blank email to: ayearwithjesus-subscribe@maillists.heartlight.org
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 19 Aug 2015, 3:04 pm

"Riot!" — A Year with Jesus for 08/19/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

Your world is filled with many influences that vie for the control of your heart and the practice of your faith. In the multi-cultural and pluralistic world that is open to all religions, be careful of the devil's lies about freedom and openness. Some people don't like the exclusive claim of the authentic Christian faith and they work to silence My message and My disciples.The efforts of these people never have succeeded in stamping out My message and never will. My own words, along with the claims of My early disciples, didn't sit well with some people in Paul's day and they don't sit well with some people in your day:
Jesus:
I am the path, the truth, and the energy of life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
(John 14:6) 

Peter (filled with the Spirit):
There is no one else [other than Jesus] who can rescue us, and there is no other name under heaven given to any human by whom we may be rescued.
(Acts 4:12)
These exclusive claims met with strong resistance as Paul shared My message with the multi-cultural people of Ephesus. However, I want you to notice in the verses below that it was when Paul's preaching about idols began to have an economic impact that people became a riotous mob. Underneath much of the criticism that comes to My people and My message can be found in two issues:
The economic impact of My message on those who want to operate based upon greed and exploitation of others.
The personal impact and loss of the freedom of moral choice — some people don't want anyone telling them what is right and wrong.
Paul and his mission team faced the first issue in Philippi with the freeing of the woman who had an "occult spirit" (Acts 16:16-24). The men who were profiting from her fortune-telling were furious that her liberation from demonic power meant they could no longer make money by exploiting her condition. Later Paul met both issues — spiritual conflict and economic conflict — in the city of Ephesus. 

I also want you to know that Paul was blessed by the rule of law in both Philippi and Ephesus. Paul and Silas were Roman citizens and this citizenship entitled them to certain legal rights. Paul was not afraid — in Philippi or wherever he found himself — to insist on these legal rights (Acts 16:35-40; Acts 22:25-30; Acts 25:1-12). You cannot and must not submit to the coercion of political or religious authorities that oppose your efforts for Me. (I will share more on this when I guide you through the books of 1 Peter and Revelation.) When you have legal recourse to protect yourself and your rights, please know that you can and should avail yourself of these rights and privileges (Romans 13:1-7). 

What defused the crowd in Ephesus was the clear-headed and legal approach to the matter taken by the city clerk. Part of what made conditions "the right time" (Galatians 4:1-4 NLT) for My coming and for the launch of My message was the influence of Rome — the Romans had a system of laws, commerce routes, and the acceptance of one language as the language of commerce. As long as they could, My early disciples made use of all three of these conditions to help spread My message.
Verses to Live

The town clerk in the events described below in Ephesus was not My disciple but he was a good and decent man who was concerned for order in his city. I have used, and will continue to use, such good people to help My disciples in every era. Don't be afraid to make friends of such people, just as Paul did in his ministry (Acts 19:31).
Eventually Paul felt he should move on again [from Ephesus]. The Holy Spirit confirmed that he should first travel through Macedonia and Achaia and then return to Jerusalem. 

Paul:
I must eventually see Rome.
So he sent Timothy and Erastus, two of his helpers, ahead to Macedonia while he stayed a while longer in Asia. It was during this time that a major incident occurred involving the Way. 

An idol maker named Demetrius had a profitable business, for himself and for others, making silver shrines for Artemis (also known as Diana by the Romans), one of the deities worshiped in Ephesus. 

Picture this: Demetrius calls a meeting of all the artisans who are similarly employed in idol making. Everyone in the idol industry comes together. 

Demetrius:
Men, we are all colleagues in this fine line of work. We're making a good living doing what we're doing. But we'd better wake up, or we're all going to go broke. 

You've heard about this fellow Paul. Here in Ephesus, he's already convinced a large number of people to give up using idols. He tells them that our products are worthless. He's been doing this same kind of thing almost everywhere in Asia. It's bad enough that he is slandering our fine and honorable profession, but do you see where this will lead? If his lies catch on, the temple of Artemis itself will be called a fraud. The great goddess of our region, the majestic deity who is revered here in Asia and around the world, will be disgraced.
The crowd goes wild with rage. They start chanting. 

Crowd:
Great is Artemis of the Ephesians! Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!
Soon the whole city is filled with confusion, and a mob forms. They find Paul's Macedonian travel companions, Gaius and Aristarchus, and drag them to the theater. Paul wants to go confront the crowd and protect his friends, but the disciples hold him back. Even some provincial officials of Asia who are friendly to Paul send him an urgent message, warning him to stay away from the theater. 

Enraged voices are shouting on top of each other, some saying one thing, some saying something else. The crowd is completely out of control. Most of the people don't even know what caused the commotion in the first place. Some of the Jewish people push a man named Alexander to the front of the crowd, hoping he can calm the disturbance. He raises his hands to silence the crowd and gets a few sentences out; but then the crowd realizes he's a Jew, and once again they start chanting. 

Crowd:
Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!
For two solid hours they keep the chant going. 

Finally the town clerk manages to calm the crowd. 

Town Clerk:
My fellow citizens of Ephesus, everyone in the world knows that our great city is the caretaker of the temple of Artemis! Everyone knows that we are the home of the great statue that fell from heaven! Our status as the economic center of the idolmaking industry is not in danger, so please, calm down. Don't do anything rash. The men whom you have seized aren't temple robbers, nor have they blasphemed our great goddess. If Demetrius and the artisans who share his important trade have a legal complaint, don't bring it here to the theater; take it to the courts — they're open today. If you need to charge someone with a crime or launch an inquiry, take the matter to the regional judges. We need to do this according to regulations, or we'll all be charged with rioting. This kind of behavior can't be justified.
So he succeeds in dispersing the crowd. 

As soon as the uproar ended, Paul gathered the disciples together, encouraged them once more, said farewell, and left on foot. 
(Acts 19:21-41; Acts 20:1)
Response in Prayer

Father, I know that You are at work in the affairs of the world in ways that I do not and cannot recognize. I believe You are at work in the movement of nations and the rise and fall of leaders. Today, as I look at the persecution and martyrdom of some of Your precious people in Africa and the Middle East and parts of Asia, I unashamedly ask for Your intervention. Help us and Your people in other countries know how best to influence our leaders to take appropriate action. As I look at the loss of some of our religious freedoms in the practice of our faith in the West, I pray that you give Your people wisdom, character, respect, and courage. Help us know how to navigate the cultural opposition we face and help us do this wisely and considerately. May our actions protect Your people, protect our rights to the practice of our faith in Jesus, and also influence others to follow Jesus by the way we conduct ourselves. I ask this prayer in His name. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! To subscribe send a blank email to: ayearwithjesus-subscribe@maillists.heartlight.org
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 18 Aug 2015, 2:55 pm

"Spiritual Power" — A Year with Jesus for 08/18/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend, 

To understand your verses today from the book of Acts, you need to know two important things about the city of Ephesus.

The first situation involves disciples of John the Baptist. John was both My cousin and My predecessor in preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God. John had gained a huge following before I started the primary part of My earthly ministry. Many people were baptized by John as they turned their lives from sin (repented) and got ready for My coming. Many who never heard the full story of My coming and the full good news about Me were baptized (Mark 1:4-8). Paul met a group of these disciples of John in Ephesus. They had a fundamental gap in their understanding: they knew nothing about the Holy Spirit and the Spirit's connection to spiritual rebirth, to the gospel, and to baptism (John 3:3-7; Acts 2:36-39; Titus 3:3-7). Paul taught the importance of the Spirit:
But you do not live in the flesh. You live in the Spirit, assuming, of course, that the Spirit of God lives inside of you. The truth is that anyone who does not have the Spirit of the Anointed living within does not belong to God. 
(Romans 8:9)
So Paul taught these disciples of John in Ephesus the truth about Me and the Spirit and then baptized them. Paul then laid his hands on them, and they received the Spirit in a demonstrable way just as Jews did at Pentecost (Acts 2:14-21; Acts 2:32-39), Samaritans did after Philip's ministry (Acts 8:14-17), and Gentiles did with the conversion of Cornelius and his household (Acts 10:34-48). The Holy Spirit also made clear that John's disciples in Ephesus had become My disciples. 

A second issue was the challenge of demonic power for faithful discipleship in Ephesus. Not only was Ephesus one of the world's four largest cities and an important seaport, but this city was also the most important banking center in the Mediterranean world. When you think of banking centers in your world today, you think of financial institutions. However, Ephesus was an important banking center for Asia Minor because of the many temples, the places where money was exchanged, held, and connected to religions. Ephesus was a huge place where eastern cultures, western cultures, and ancient magical spiritual practices collided. Pilgrims came from all over the world to receive healing, to have demons cast out of people they loved, and to connect to spiritual powers of all kinds. In addition to preaching and teaching, Paul did all sorts of miracles showing My power at work through him. The people of Ephesus had to know I was more powerful than the false gods and demons they worshiped. 

If Paul's great miracles were not enough to convince them, the confrontation of demons with the sons of Sceva demonstrated that My power was stronger than the demons and could not be manipulated! This story, both humorous and sad, should serve as a reminder to you of what Paul said to the Ephesians when he wrote to them later:
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. 
(Ephesians 6:10-12)
I want you to realize today that when I sent the Holy Spirit to you at your conversion, I sent you Our — Father, Son, and Spirit's — presence and power. My victory over sin, death, and demons in the cross and in the resurrection gives you spiritual power. While you live in a world where sin, death, and demons influence many things, these forces no longer have power over you and can no longer control you if you follow Me (Colossians 1:9-13).
Verses to Live

The challenge for believers in Ephesus revolved around Our spiritual power — My disciples had it and there were impostors aligned with demons who didn't have that ultimate power. My disciples demonstrated through their lives and their actions that I had the power over all demonic forces and that the Holy Spirit gave My disciples confidence to not live in superstition and fear.
While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul's overland journey brought him back to Ephesus. He encountered a group of about a dozen disciples there. 

Paul:
Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?
John's Disciples:
We've never heard about the Holy Spirit.
Paul:
Well then, what kind of ceremonial washing through baptism did you receive?
John's Disciples:
We received the ritual cleansing of baptism that John taught.
Paul:
John taught the truth — that people should be baptized with renewed thinking and turn toward God. But he also taught that the people should believe in the One whose way he was preparing, that is, Jesus the Anointed.
As soon as they heard this, they were baptized, this time in the name of our Lord Jesus. When Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them in the same way the original disciples experienced at Pentecost: they spoke in tongues and prophesied. 

For three months, Paul continued his standard practice: he went week by week to the synagogue, speaking with great confidence, arguing with great persuasiveness, proclaiming the kingdom of God. Once again, some members of the synagogue refused to believe and insulted the Way publicly before the whole synagogue community. Paul withdrew and took those with him who had become disciples. For the next two years, he used the public lecture hall of Tyrannus, presenting the Word of the Lord every day, debating with all who would come. As a result, everyone in the region, whether Jews or Greeks, heard the message. Meanwhile, God did amazing miracles through Paul. People would take a handkerchief or article of clothing that had touched Paul's skin and bring it to their sick friends or relatives, and the patients would be cured of their diseases or released from the evil spirits that oppressed them. 

Some itinerant Jewish exorcists noticed Paul's success in this regard, so they tried to use the name of Jesus, the King, in an exorcism they were performing. 

Imagine this: There are seven of them, all sons of a Jewish chief priest named Sceva, gathered around a demonized man in a house. 

One of the Jewish Exorcists:
I command you to depart, by the Jesus proclaimed by Paul!
Evil Spirit:
Jesus I know. Paul I know. But who are you?
Then the man leaps up, attacks them all, rips off their clothing, and beats them so badly that they run out of the house stark naked and covered in bruises. 

Word of this strange event spread throughout Ephesus among both Jews and Greeks. Everyone was shocked and realized that the name of Jesus was indeed powerful and praiseworthy. As a result, a number of people involved in various occult practices came to faith. They confessed their secret practices and rituals. Some of them had considerable libraries about their magic arts; they piled up their books and burned them publicly. Someone estimated the value of the books to be 50,000 silver coins. Again, word spread, and the message of the Lord overcame resistance and spread powerfully. 
(Acts 19:1-20)
Response in Prayer

O Father, please tear every idol, every demonic influence, and every connection to any false god from my heart. I want to serve You and You alone. I believe that Jesus has given me power over sin and death when I came to Him and called on Him as my Lord and Savior and as I joined with Him in His death, burial, and resurrection in baptism. I believe that Jesus poured the Spirit out on me so that I could have the power to live as Your child in my world. So I ask, dear Father, please strengthen me by the power of the Holy Spirit. Help others see the transformational power of the Spirit at work in my life and be drawn to follow Jesus, too. I pray this in His name. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! To subscribe send a blank email to: ayearwithjesus-subscribe@maillists.heartlight.org
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 17 Aug 2015, 7:10 pm


"Caring for the Family of Believers" — A Year with Jesus for 08/17/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of the Father,

You live in an interconnected world more than any other human beings in the history of planet earth. You can travel quickly by air, sea, and land. You can speak to people on the other side of your planet by phone or the internet. You can rally people for great causes through social networking, special funding tools, and circles of online friends. For you, the world is an interconnected place. So I will share with you a great disappointment that I have: those of you who have much seem so reluctant to share it with your brothers and sisters who have so little. Please remember what My apostle John said so many years ago:
We know what true love looks like because of Jesus. He gave His life for us, and He calls us to give our lives for our brothers and sisters.

If a person owns the kinds of things we need to make it in the world but refuses to share with those in need, is it even possible that God's love lives in him? My little children, don't just talk about love as an idea or a theory. Make it your true way of life, and live in the pattern of gracious love.
(1 John 3:16-18)
One problem is that you have not put in the effort you should to learn about the needs of others. Unfortunately, your preachers and elders have not been as diligent as they should in informing you of the needs that exist. They also have not been diligent in calling you to share with your brothers and sisters who are in need in your own area and in other parts of the world. But today, I want you to know that I have called you to share!

You have brothers and sisters who are enduring great atrocities because of their faith. They have been tortured, beheaded, crucified, mutilated, sold into sexual slavery, raped, and imprisoned. Help them. Use your governmental system to cry out for justice and protection. Research organizations that help those in My church who are persecuted.

In addition, well-trained and passionate evangelists and church planters have opportunities to take My message to many places all over the world. Support these messengers. You can encourage and build up churches in other areas and in other nations when you go on vacation or travel for business; so don't forget to assemble with believers when you travel. Bless them and encourage them by sharing your offering with their congregation. Go on mission and service trips. Connect with these churches and give them encouragement and financial support. You have brothers and sisters who are hungry and who need medical care. Support programs and people that are ministering to these needs and get involved yourself.

When you see the elaborate and comfortable places rich Christians have built for themselves, I want you to remember two things. First, I want you to think about your poor and suffering brothers and sisters in other places and how monies that have gone into buildings could have been used to bless them. Second, while some of these buildings can be marvelous tools of outreach, I want to remind you that every building will one day be nothing more than rubble. However, every lost person who is saved and every brother and sister in need who is helped is eternal. Each is someone who will share with you in My glory. Think about these things and invest wisely in growing My kingdom!

My earliest followers were generous with each other and offered hands-on care to each other. Today the final reading from Paul's letter you call 1 Corinthians is among the passages below. As you read these verses, let them remind you of the generosity of the early Christians. I want you to let the Holy Spirit touch your heart with greater generosity for those in need in your own spiritual family — both those who are geographically near and those who live in places far from you.
Verses to Live

Your verses today come from several places in the New Testament. The first verses are from Galatians and relate to a meeting of Paul with key leaders in Jerusalem. They recognized his ministry to Gentiles but requested that he help the poor in the Jerusalem church. The remaining passages show Paul doing this and encouraging Gentile churches to participate. The last passage, written in a later letter to the Corinthians, holds up the Macedonian churches as an example to the Corinthian church and to you: be generous, excel in the grace of giving to the needs of your brothers and sisters in Christ. This kind of generosity offers tangible love to those in need who are part of your spiritual family.
As a result of a revelation, I returned to Jerusalem 14 years later; and this time Barnabas and Titus accompanied me. When I arrived, I shared the exact gospel that I preach to the outsiders. I first shared God's truth privately with those who were people of influence and leadership because I thought if they did not embrace the freedom of my good news, then any work I had done for Jesus here and any in the past would be spoiled.
...
When James, Cephas (whom you know as Peter), and John — three men purported to be pillars among the Jewish believers — saw that God's favor was upon me to fulfill this calling, they welcomed and endorsed both Barnabas and me. They agreed that our ministries would work as two hands, theirs advancing the mission of God among the Jews and ours toward the outsider nations, all with the same message of redemption. In parting, they requested we always remember to care for the poor among us, which was something I was eager to do.
(Galatians 2:1-2; Galatians 2:9-10)

During that year, some prophets came north from Jerusalem to Antioch. A prophet named Agabus stood in a meeting and made a prediction by the Holy Spirit: there would be an expansive, terrible famine in the whole region during the reign of Claudius. In anticipation of the famine, the disciples determined to give an amount proportionate to their financial ability and create a relief fund for all the believers in Judea. They sent Barnabas and Saul [Paul] to carry this fund to the elders in Jerusalem.
(Acts 11:27-30)

Through all this upheaval, God's message spread to new frontiers and attracted more and more people. Meanwhile, the time Barnabas and Saul [Paul] spent in Jerusalem came to an end, and they reported back to Antioch, bringing along John, who was also called Mark.
(Acts 12:24-25)

Now I call you, just as I did the churches gathering in Galatia, to collect funds to support God's people in Jerusalem. On Sunday, the first day of the week, I want each of you to set aside an amount, as God has blessed you, so the funds will be collected by the time I come. When I get there, I will send those you recommend by your own letters to carry your generous and gracious donation to Jerusalem. If you think it seems appropriate for me to travel with them, then we'll go together.
(1 Corinthians 16:1-4)

Now, brothers and sisters, let me tell you about the amazing gift of God's grace that's happening throughout the churches in Macedonia. Even in the face of severe anguish and hard times, their elation and poverty have overflowed into a wealth of generosity. I watched as they willingly gave what they could afford and then went beyond to give even more. They came to us on their own, begging to take part in this work of grace to support the poor saints in Judea. We were so overwhelmed — none of us expected their reaction — that they truly turned their lives over to the Lord and then gave themselves to support us in our work as we answer the call of God. That's why we asked Titus to finish what he started among you regarding this gracious work of charity. Just as you are rich in everything — in faith and speech, in knowledge and all sincerity, and in the love we have shown among you — now I ask you to invest richly in this gracious work too. I am not going to command you, but I am going to offer you the chance to prove your love genuine in the same way others have done. You know the grace that has come to us through our Lord Jesus the Anointed. He set aside His infinite riches and was born into the lowest circumstance so that you may gain great riches through His humble poverty. Listen, it's been a year since we called your attention to this opportunity to demonstrate God's grace, so here's my advice: pull together your resources and finish what you started.
(2 Corinthians 8:1-11)
Response in Prayer

Father, open my heart to the needs of my brothers and sisters who need help. Please help me find ways to bless them. Help me find ways to invest in their needs so that my monies will not be wasted or squandered. Please help me to give wisely so that my gifts actually bring help. Use me to empower others to know of the needs of our spiritual family both near and far. I ask for the Holy Spirit to partner with me in giving me a generous heart. 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! To subscribe send a blank email to: ayearwithjesus-subscribe@maillists.heartlight.org
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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"Our Glorious Future" — A Year with Jesus for 08/16/2015

Note from Jesus

Dear Follower,

Resurrection is coming. I will return for those who belong to Me. At My coming, everyone who belongs to Me will be given an immortal body. Just as you have carried the body that has been part of your human existence and that is mortal because of Adam's rebellion against the Father, you also will be transformed because of My victory over death. You will have an immortal body far more glorious than you can fully imagine. My resurrection from the dead is the assurance of your resurrection. My glorious body after My resurrection is the assurance of your glorious body after your resurrection.

I know you would like to know all the details about life after death. Let it be enough to know that when you are My disciple, the Holy Spirit Who is alive in you ensures that you will never be separated from Me and that your resurrection is assured (Romans 8:32-39). When death claims your physical body, you come to be with Me (Philippians 1:19-24; 2 Corinthians 5:1-8). Then, when the Father says it is time, I will return and change all who belong to Me to have immortal bodies to share in the resurrection and reunion (Philippians 3:20-21). You will share in the glory of all that the Father has promised you.

Your future existence in this immortal state is impossible for you to fully grasp now. Paul helps you catch a glimpse of this glorious future by using an example from your earthly existence. A seed that you place in the ground is not particularly beautiful. It is simple and earthy. Yet when it is placed in the ground and dies to its current existence, a transformation happens that is a part of a new life. The seed germinates, grows, and becomes something glorious. The seed is not glorious when compared to the flower of the fully-grown plant. Your physical bodies, though marvelously made, are just a seed compared to the glory of the new bodily existence that you will enjoy with Me when we share in glory together.

Death is an intruder that wounds hearts. Yet when someone you love and who is My disciple is separated from you by death, remember that death is not only My enemy, but that I also have ultimately defeated death and its power. While death may separate you for a short time from those you love, My resurrection ensures your resurrection and your reunion with all those who are Mine! That means that no matter what your earthly life throws at you — how it disappoints you, wounds you, beats you down, or discourages you — I have defeated death. Death will not have the ultimate victory over you. Death will not determine the outcome of your life. You are Mine! Your future glory beyond death is in My hands! Transformation, reunion, victory, and a life in glory are your future!
Verses to Live

The following words come from what many people have called the resurrection chapter of the Bible. Paul wanted the Corinthians to know that because I was raised from the dead, they will be raised from the dead. Please, take the time to savor Paul's words. Dwell on them. Let them give you hope. Commit the phrases that mean the most to you to memory for those times when you need them most. Remember, your faith in Me is not wasted, and your hope in Me is not in vain!
Now if we have told you about the Anointed One (how He has risen from the dead and appeared to us fully alive), then how can you stand there and say there is no such thing as resurrection from death? Friends, if there is no resurrection of the dead, then even the Anointed hasn't been raised; if that is so, then all our preaching has been for nothing and your faith in the message is worthless. And what's worse, all of us who have been preaching the gospel are now guilty of misrepresenting God because we have been spreading the news that He raised the Anointed One from the dead (which must be a lie if what you are saying about the dead not being raised is the truth).

Please listen. If you say, "the dead are not raised," then what you are telling me is that the Anointed One has not been raised. Friends, if the Anointed has not been raised from the dead, then your faith is worth less than yesterday's garbage, you are all doomed in your sins, and all the dearly departed who trusted in His liberation are left decaying in the ground. If what we have hoped for in the Anointed doesn't take us beyond this life, then we are world-class fools, deserving everyone's pity.

But the Anointed One was raised from death's slumber and is the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep in death.
(1 Corinthians 15:12-20)

Now I know what some of you are thinking: "Just how are the dead going to be raised? What kind of bodies will they have when they come back to life?"

Don't be a fool! The seed you plant doesn't produce life unless it dies. Right? The seed doesn't have the same look, the same body, if you will, of what it will have once it starts to grow. It starts out a single, naked seed — whether wheat or some other grain, it doesn't matter — and God gives to that seed a body just as He has desired. For each of the different kinds of seeds God prepares a unique body.

Or look at it this way: not all flesh is the same. Right? There is skin flesh on humans, furry flesh on animals, feathery flesh on birds, and scaly flesh on fish. Likewise there are bodies made for the heavens and bodies made for the earth. The heavenly bodies have a different kind of glory or luminescence compared to bodies below. Even among the heavenly bodies, there is a different level of brilliance: the sun shines differently than the moon, the moon differently than the stars, and the stars themselves differ in their brightness.

It's like this with the resurrection of those who have died. The body planted in the earth decays. But the body raised from the earth cannot decay. The body is planted in disgrace and weakness. But the body is raised in splendor and power. The body planted in the earth was animated by the physical, material realm. But the body raised from the earth will be animated by the spiritual. Since there is a physical, material body, there will also be a spiritual body.

That's why it was written, "The first man Adam became a living soul"; the last Adam has become a life-giving spirit. Everything has an order. The body is not animated first by the spiritual but the physical; then the spiritual becomes its life-giving source. The first man, Adam, came from the earth and was made from dust; the second man, Jesus, has come from heaven. The earth man shares his earth nature with all those made of earth; likewise the heavenly man shares His heavenly nature with all those made of heaven. Just as we have carried the image of the earth man in our bodies, we will also carry the image of the heavenly man in our new bodies at the resurrection.

Now listen to this: brothers and sisters, this present body is not able to inherit the kingdom of God any more than decay can inherit that which lasts forever. Stay close because I am going to tell you a mystery — something you may have trouble understanding: we will not all fall asleep in death, but we will all be transformed. It will all happen so fast, in a blink, a mere flutter of the eye. The last trumpet will call, and the dead will be raised from their graves with a body that does not, cannot decay. All of us will be changed! We'll step out of our mortal clothes and slide into immortal bodies, replacing everything that is subject to death with eternal life. And, when we are all redressed with bodies that do not, cannot decay, when we put immortality over our mortal frames, then it will be as Scripture says:
Life everlasting has victoriously swallowed death.

Hey, Death! What happened to your big win?

Hey, Death! What happened to your sting?
Sin came into this world, and death's sting followed. Then sin took aim at the law and gained power over those who follow the law. Thank God, then, for our Lord Jesus, the Anointed, the Liberating King, who brought us victory over the grave.

My dear brothers and sisters, stay firmly planted — be unshakable — do many good works in the name of God, and know that all your labor is not for nothing when it is for God.
(1 Corinthians 15:35-58)
Response in Prayer

O Father, please carve these words on my heart so that I can remember them when times of discouragement come because of the death of those I love. Bring these words back to me when I face my own mortality. I cannot help, dear Father, but think of those who are hanging onto these words right now as they are being martyred for their faith at the hands of those who preach hate and death in the name of religion. Please, dear Father, work in our human history to stop this hate-based genocide of our Christian brothers and sisters and their children because of their faith. And, dear Father, please give those who face death because of their faith in Jesus a sense of His being with them every step of the way until they are blessed by His presence with them, until death is swallowed up in life. I pray this in Jesus' name. 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! To subscribe send a blank email to: ayearwithjesus-subscribe@maillists.heartlight.org
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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