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HEARTLIGHT — A Year with Jesus

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Post  Admin on Mon 13 Jun 2016, 6:23 pm

"Challenging, But Joyous Fellowship" — A Year with Jesus for 06/13/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of the King, 

You are royalty. However, your royal lineage is not established by your race, your culture, your language, your education, or your riches. You belong to My royal family because you were "born of water and the Spirit" (John 3:5 NIV). This Spirit birth made you a part of My body (1 Corinthians 12:13) and part of a family where normal social barriers are removed, and you find your identity in Me (Galatians 3:26-29). 

Such radical changes in identity are wonderful, but they are also very challenging to accomplish in the real world in which you live. It was the real world that My church sought to reach and transform from its early years. The divide between Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles was wide and reinforced by religion, festivals, and fears built on suspicion and ignorance. One of the most difficult places to overcome these barriers was in normal social fellowship — eating together, opening houses to one another, and building genuine relationships beyond a quick hello when gathering to worship. 

Cornelius was about as good a man as a non-Jew could be in the minds of other Jews. He cared for the poor. He believed in "the living and true God" and had already turned away from idols (Acts 10:2). However, he was still a Gentile. Being baptized didn't change that in the minds of many Christian Jews. When Peter went to his house and told him My story, I then poured out the Holy Spirit to signal to Peter that Cornelius and his household should be baptized and accepted as full family. But some Jewish believers balked, especially when Peter stayed with this Gentile Christian family for several days after the baptism (Acts 10:48). 

The story of Cornelius and his family became the watershed moment in My disciples' fully understanding My Great Commission to take My message to all peoples, baptize them into My family, and walk beside them until they became mature disciples (Matthew 28:18-20). The genuine change required a vision, an angel, and the leading of the Holy Spirit to help Peter overcome his prejudices. This change later also required a big meeting in Jerusalem and the combined voices of Barnabas, Paul, and My half-brother James to move the people to a commitment to fellowship everyone, of all races, who called upon My name as Lord and were baptized. 

Overcoming prejudices and barriers takes time. However, overcoming these barriers also requires commitment and a realization that genuine fellowship is something I have commanded and expect My people to accomplish. Be patient with the prejudices of others. Be impatient with your own prejudices. Display a heart of generosity, grace, and hospitality to all people who are My disciples. One of the most powerful testimonies to My identity and to My salvation will be your unity with other believers. When your fellowship crosses over the lines of easy association and embraces those who are different, the world will notice. When you do not do these things, the world will notice even more and be critical. 

I didn't die for just your sins; I died for the sins of all people (1 John 2:1-2). I want you to share in the same fellowship on earth as you will with Me at the Father's throne (Revelation 7:9-12).
Verses to Live

Your readings from Acts may seem quite long. However, these three readings take you through the conversion of Cornelius, the reaction to his conversion by many Jews, and how the early Jewish church came to terms with their acceptance of Gentiles as full brothers and sisters. Please read these Scriptures. Notice the emphasis given to this important issue of fellowship. Notice how My strongest leaders were needed to win the victory on reaching Gentiles with the good news and involving them in active fellowship. This problem was an issue that had to be resolved or My church would have been split along racial and cultural lines, something strongly displeasing to Us — Father, Son, and Spirit. 

Your first reading comes from Peter's message to the God-fearing Gentile named Cornelius. I sent Peter a vision, an angel, a representative of Cornelius, and the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit to prepare him for this important recognition: the Father wants all of His children, over every nation, in His family of faith.
Peter [to Cornelius and his household]:
It is clear to me now that God plays no favorites, that God accepts every person whatever his or her culture or ethnic background, that God welcomes all who revere Him and do right. You already know that God sent a message to the people of Israel; it was a message of peace, peace through Jesus the Anointed — who is King of all people. You know this message spread through Judea, beginning in Galilee where John called people to be ritually cleansed through baptism. You know God identified Jesus as the uniquely chosen One by pouring out the Holy Spirit on Him, by empowering Him. You know Jesus went through the land doing good for all and healing all who were suffering under the oppression of the evil one, for God was with Him. My friends and I stand as witnesses to all Jesus did in the region of Judea and the city of Jerusalem. The people of our capital city killed Him by hanging Him on a tree, but God raised Him up on the third day and made it possible for us to see Him. Not everyone was granted this privilege, only those of us whom God chose as witnesses. We actually ate and drank with Him after His resurrection. He told us to spread His message to everyone and to tell them that He is the One whom God has chosen to be Judge, to make a just assessment of all people — both living and dead. All the prophets tell us about Him and assert that every person who believes in Jesus receives forgiveness of sins through His name.
Peter wasn't planning to stop at this point, but the Holy Spirit suddenly interrupted and came upon all the people who were listening. They began speaking in foreign languages (just as the Jewish disciples did on the Day of Pentecost), and their hearts overflowed in joyful praises to God. Peter's friends from Joppa — all of them Jewish, all circumcised — were stunned to see that the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on outsiders. 

Peter:
Can anyone give any good reason not to ceremonially wash these people through baptism as fellow disciples? After all, it's obvious they have received the Holy Spirit just as we did on the Day of Pentecost.
So he had them baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. The new disciples asked him to stay for several more days. 
(Acts 10:34-48)
The events at Cornelius' house brought great celebrations of joy among the angels. The message of the Father's grace demonstrated through My life, death, and resurrection was now spreading outside of its Jewish roots. While there was rejoicing in heaven, some on earth were not so happy. This problem of racial exclusivity had to be overcome.
By the time Peter and his friends from Joppa returned to Jerusalem, news about outsiders accepting God's message had already spread to the Lord's emissaries and believers there. Some of the circumcised believers didn't welcome Peter with joy, but with criticism. 

Circumcised Believers:
Why did you violate divine law by associating with outsiders and sitting at the table with them for a meal? This is an outrage!
Peter patiently told them what had happened, laying out in detail the whole story. 
(Acts 11:1-4)
Cornelius and his house came to Me in faith and were baptized. They were made a part of My Christian family by their rebirth by the power of the Holy Spirit. The decisive events at Cornelius' house had been led by the Holy Spirit and witnessed by Jewish Christians from Joppa. This occasion provided the clear foundation that the Father had accepted Gentiles, so must His people! After awhile, the tension on this issue had to be addressed openly and clearly. The conference to resolve this issue happened in Jerusalem at a gathering of James, the apostles, Barnabas, Saul, elders in the church in Jerusalem, and church members. This decision was a major turning point for change in My church. Notice, however, that the favorable decision required the influence and leading of the Holy Spirit acting through the strong leadership of Barnabas, Saul (the apostle Paul), and James.
Upon arrival in Jerusalem, the church, the apostles, and the elders welcomed them [Barnabas and Saul] warmly; and they reported all they had seen God do. But there were some believers present who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees. They stood up and asserted, 

Pharisees:
No, this is not acceptable. These people must be circumcised, and we must require them to keep the whole Mosaic law.
The apostles and elders met privately to discuss how this issue should be resolved. There was a lot of debate, and finally Peter stood up. 

Peter:
My brothers, you all know that in the early days of our movement, God decided that I should be the one through whom the first outsiders would hear the good news and become believers. God knows the human heart, and He showed approval of their hearts by giving them the Holy Spirit just as He did for us. In cleansing their hearts by faith, God has made no distinction between them and us. So it makes no sense to me that some of you are testing God by burdening His disciples with a load that neither our forefathers nor we have been able to carry. No, we all believe that we will be liberated through the grace of the Lord Jesus — they also will be rescued in the same way.
There was silence among them while Barnabas and Paul reported all the miraculous signs and wonders God had done through them among outsiders. When they finished, James spoke. 

James:
My brothers, hear me. Simon Peter reminded us how God first included outsiders in His favor, taking people from among them for His name.
(Acts 15:4-14)
Response in Prayer

Almighty God, may Your inclusive grace be seen in my genuine acceptance of other believers without barriers or prejudices. That is my commitment, and I pray that the Holy Spirit empowers me to have this as my daily lifestyle. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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Post  Admin on Sun 12 Jun 2016, 1:18 pm

"Greater Things" — A Year with Jesus for 06/11/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

Even after I ascended back to the Father, the work of My apostles reminded people that My power and presence were still at work. I was calling Saul to turn from being the persecutor of My people to becoming the great proclaimer of My message, especially to Gentiles. I was also at work in the ministry of Peter to reach both Jewish people and non-Jewish people. Saul's conversion brought peace to My persecuted disciples. Peter's ministry also brought the true fullness of life — real peace, true shalom — to My people. 

When you read about the two events (the healing of Aeneas and the raising of Tabitha) from the ministry of Peter in the verses below, you should be reminded of My miracles when I was physically on earth. The healing of Aeneas should remind you of those I healed who were paralyzed (Luke 5:17-26). Peter makes it clear that I actually healed Aeneas:
Peter:
Aeneas, Jesus the Anointed heals you. Get up! Now you can make your own bed!
And immediately — he got up! All the local residents — both of Lydda and nearby Sharon — saw Aeneas healthy and strong again, so they turned to the Lord.
The raising of Tabitha (also called Dorcas) has language similar to two people I raised from the dead: the son of the widow at Nain (Luke 7:11-16) and Jairus' daughter (Luke 8:40-56). 

I want you to understand that My now being at the Father's side doesn't mean I have quit My ministry with you, to you, and through you. I promised you this:
I tell you the truth: whoever believes in Me will be able to do what I have done, but they will do even greater things, because I will return to be with the Father. Whatever you ask for in My name, I will do it so that the Father will get glory from the Son. 
(John 14:12-13)
What you see happening is that as My disciples were scattered by the martyrdom of Stephen and the persecution that broke out with his stoning, My power and presence went with them. I was present with them and powerful through them through the Holy Spirit. Instead of My work remaining confined to just the familiar areas of My earthly ministry — Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and Galilee — I was working through My disciples in many places around the world. 

So please, dear disciple, don't think I AM detached from your struggles, hardships, pains, and sorrows because I AM now in heaven. Your problems touch Me. I care about you. I work through your problems. Sometimes I even do astounding things to bring the Father glory in the middle of them. Please know that wherever My people call on My name in prayer and honor Me as Lord in praise and in their lives, I AM present and powerful. In fact, I AM actually doing more through My people than I could when I was limited to one place at one time while I was present in My earthly ministry (John 14:12-13; John 16:5-11). So believe that I AM with you and will do greater things through you than I did when I was in My earthly ministry!
Verses to Live

As you read these stories from Peter's ministry, listen to how they sound like My earthly ministry and realize I AM still among you and working through you to bring grace, healing, and hope!
And so the church enjoyed a period of peace and growth throughout the regions of Judea, Galilee, and Samaria. The disciples lived in deep reverence for the Lord, they experienced the strong comfort of the Holy Spirit, and their numbers increased. 

Peter hadn't been idle during all this time. He was having a number of amazing experiences of his own, traveling from group to group and visiting the various communities of believers. Once he came to a town called Lydda, a border town between Samaria and Judea, and met with God's special people there. He visited a man named Aeneas. This poor fellow had been paralyzed for eight years, unable to leave his bed. 

Peter:
Aeneas, Jesus the Anointed heals you. Get up! Now you can make your own bed!
And immediately — he got up! All the local residents — both of Lydda and nearby Sharon — saw Aeneas healthy and strong again, so they turned to the Lord. 

In a nearby coastal city, Joppa, there lived a disciple whose Aramaic name was Tabitha, or Dorcas in Greek. She was a good woman — devotedly doing good and giving to the poor. While Peter was in Lydda, she fell sick and died. Her fellow disciples washed her body and laid her in an upstairs room. They had heard Peter was nearby, so two of them went with an urgent message, "Please come to Joppa as soon as possible." 

Peter went with them and immediately entered the room where the corpse had been placed. It was quite a scene — the widows of the community were crowded in the room, weeping, showing the various items of clothing that Dorcas had made for them. 

Peter asked them to leave the room; then he got on his knees. He prayed for a while and then turned to her body. 

Peter:
Tabitha, get up!
She opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up. Giving her his hand, Peter lifted her up. Then he called in the other disciples — including the widows — and reintroduced them to their beloved friend. The news of this miracle spread throughout the city, and many believed in the Lord. Peter stayed in Joppa for some time as the guest of Simon, a tanner by profession. 
(Acts 9:31-43)
Response in Prayer

O Father, I pray in the mighty name of Jesus that You use me to be a blessing to others. I want to bring healing, hope, and tender care. May all I touch with grace know that I do it in the name of Jesus and for Your glory, dear Father. Amen.
Share on Facebook | Discuss this Verse
This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.

"Making My Grace for All Clear" — A Year with Jesus for 06/12/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of God, 

As I have shared with you before, I want all people saved and brought into My family of grace. I don't want any distinctions to divide My people. I don't want people left out because they are not the so-called "privileged" race, class, pedigree, or gender. I want all people to be saved. 

Few stories in the Bible tell this more directly than the conversion of Cornelius — a Roman Centurion — and his household. I had to convince Peter in a dream to be ready to go with Cornelius' servants when they called. I had to show Peter that it was important for him to be with these Gentiles socially. Then, through sending the Holy Spirit to Cornelius and his household, I had to show Peter that I accepted them. The gift of the Spirit showed Peter he should baptize Cornelius and his household and receive them into full fellowship. As recorded in today's Scripture, I also used Peter to show skeptical Jews that I had selected Cornelius and his household to become My disciples and members of My family just like Jewish disciples. 

I used visions, the direction of heavenly messengers, the timing of people coming to Peter's house, and the gift of the Holy Spirit to convince Peter. I wanted to make sure that Cornelius and his household heard My message, received baptism, and were joined into full fellowship with My Jewish brothers and sisters. Peter needed to know with certainty that My work to bring salvation to non-Jews wasn't an accident. This inclusion of Gentiles is My divine will. Peter received My message. Notice what Peter says:
It is clear to me now that God plays no favorites, that God accepts every person whatever his or her culture or ethnic background, that God welcomes all who revere Him and do right. 

Can anyone give any good reason not to... wash these people through baptism as fellow disciples? After all, it's obvious they have received the Holy Spirit just as we did on the Day of Pentecost.
I want you to share My good news with all people!
Verses to Live

Notice all the different "miraculous" ways I worked to make sure everyone knew that Cornelius' kindnesses and prayers had been heard and that My grace was for all people:
Cornelius, a Roman Centurion and a member of a unit called the Italian Cohort, lived in Caesarea. Cornelius was an outsider, but he was a devout man — a God- fearing fellow with a God-fearing family. He consistently and generously gave to the poor, and he practiced constant prayer to God. About three o'clock one afternoon, he had a vision of a messenger of God. 

Messenger of God:
Cornelius!
Cornelius (terrified):
What is it, sir?
Messenger of God:
God has heard your prayers, and He has seen your kindness to the poor. God has taken notice of you. Send men south to Joppa, to the house of a tanner named Simon. Ask to speak to a guest of his named Simon, but also called Peter. You'll find this house near the waterfront.
After the messenger departed, Cornelius immediately called two of his slaves and a soldier under his command — an especially devout soldier. He told them the whole story and sent them to Joppa. 

Just as these men were nearing Joppa about noon the next day, Peter went up on the flat rooftop of Simon the tanner's house. He planned to pray, but he soon grew hungry. While his lunch was being prepared, Peter had a vision of his own — a vision that linked his present hunger with what was about to happen: A rift opened in the sky, and a wide container — something like a huge sheet suspended by its four corners — descended through the torn opening toward the ground. This container teemed with four-footed animals, creatures that crawl, and birds — pigs, bats, lizards, snakes, frogs, toads, and vultures. 

A Voice:
Get up, Peter! Kill! Eat!
Peter:
No way, Lord! These animals are forbidden in the dietary laws of the Hebrew Scriptures! I've never eaten nonkosher foods like these before — not once in my life!
A Voice:
If God calls something permissible and clean, you must not call it forbidden and dirty!
Peter saw this vision three times; but the third time, the container of animals flew up through the rift in the sky, the rift healed, and Peter was confused and unsettled as he tried to make sense of this strange vision. 

At that very moment, Peter heard the voices of Cornelius's delegation, who had asked for directions to Simon's house, coming from the front gate. 

Delegation:
Is there a man named Simon, also called Peter, staying at this house?
Peter's mind was still racing about the vision when the voice of the Holy Spirit broke through his churning thoughts. 

Holy Spirit:
The three men who are searching for you have been sent by Me. So get up! Go with them. Don't hesitate or argue.
Peter rushed downstairs to the men. 

Peter:
I'm the one you're seeking. Can you tell me why you've come?
Delegation:
We've been sent by our commander and master, Cornelius. He is a Centurion, and he is a good, honest man who worships your God. All the Jewish people speak well of him. A holy messenger told him to send for you, so you would come to his home and he could hear your message.
Peter extended hospitality to them and gave them lodging overnight. When they departed together the next morning, Peter brought some believers from Joppa. 

They arrived in Caesarea the next afternoon just before three o'clock. Cornelius had anticipated their arrival and had assembled his relatives and close friends to welcome them. When Peter and Cornelius met, Cornelius fell at Peter's feet in worship, but Peter helped him up. 

Peter:
Stand up, man! I am just a human being!
They talked and entered the house to meet the whole crowd inside. 

Peter:
You know I am a Jew. We Jews consider it a breach of divine law to associate, much less share hospitality, with outsiders. But God has shown me something in recent days: I should no longer consider any human beneath me or unclean. That's why I made no objection when you invited me; rather, I came willingly. Now let me hear the story of why you invited me here.
Cornelius:
It was about this time of day four days ago when I was here, in my house, praying the customary midafternoon prayer. Suddenly a man appeared out of nowhere. His clothes were dazzling white, and he stood directly in front of me and addressed me: "Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your kindness to the poor has been noticed by God. God wants you to find a man in Joppa, Simon who is also called Peter, who is staying at the home of a tanner named Simon, near the seaside." I wasted no time, did just as I was told, and you have generously accepted my invitation. So here we are, in the presence of God, ready to take in all that the Lord has told you to tell us.
Peter:
It is clear to me now that God plays no favorites, that God accepts every person whatever his or her culture or ethnic background, that God welcomes all who revere Him and do right. You already know that God sent a message to the people of Israel; it was a message of peace, peace through Jesus the Anointed — who is King of all people. You know this message spread through Judea, beginning in Galilee where John called people to be ritually cleansed through baptism. You know God identified Jesus as the uniquely chosen One by pouring out the Holy Spirit on Him, by empowering Him. You know Jesus went through the land doing good for all and healing all who were suffering under the oppression of the evil one, for God was with Him. My friends and I stand as witnesses to all Jesus did in the region of Judea and the city of Jerusalem. The people of our capital city killed Him by hanging Him on a tree, but God raised Him up on the third day and made it possible for us to see Him. Not everyone was granted this privilege, only those of us whom God chose as witnesses. We actually ate and drank with Him after His resurrection. He told us to spread His message to everyone and to tell them that He is the One whom God has chosen to be Judge, to make a just assessment of all people — both living and dead. All the prophets tell us about Him and assert that every person who believes in Jesus receives forgiveness of sins through His name.
Peter wasn't planning to stop at this point, but the Holy Spirit suddenly interrupted and came upon all the people who were listening. They began speaking in foreign languages (just as the Jewish disciples did on the Day of Pentecost), and their hearts overflowed in joyful praises to God. Peter's friends from Joppa — all of them Jewish, all circumcised — were stunned to see that the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on outsiders. 

Peter:
Can anyone give any good reason not to ceremonially wash these people through baptism as fellow disciples? After all, it's obvious they have received the Holy Spirit just as we did on the Day of Pentecost.
So he had them baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. The new disciples asked him to stay for several more days. 
(Acts 10:1-48)
Response in Prayer

O Father, give Your sons and daughters in my day the passion to reach out to the people around us no matter who they are. Help us tear down the barriers of prejudice and welcome into our fellowship all people who love Jesus. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
Share on Facebook | Discuss this Verse
This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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Admin
Admin

Posts : 65799
Join date : 2008-10-25
Age : 75
Location : Wales UK

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Post  Admin on Fri 10 Jun 2016, 10:27 pm

A Servant Who Changes Everything" — A Year with Jesus for 06/10/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of God, 

A large part of the history of faith is written by people who are not considered the greatest servants of faith. However, the Father and I know these precious servants and their great faith. 

When you think of the most significant of My apostles, you most likely think of Peter, My apostle to the Jews, and Paul, My apostle to the Gentiles. This choice is true at one level. However, at another level and from the point of view of heaven, without Andrew's loving faithfulness to his brother, who would have led hard-headed Peter to Me (John 1:40-42)? As for Paul, who in Jewish circles was known as Saul, there was the great and daring Ananias in Damascus. This faithful servant risked everything to go to the house of Judas on Straight Boulevard to lead the "fuming, raging, hateful man who wanted to kill every last one of the Lord's disciples" in his response to My call to become My disciple. 

Behind every great moment and every great movement of My grace are people like Andrew and Ananias. My birth was prefaced by the servant heart of My mother, Mary, who was willing to accept all the ostracism and rejection of being pregnant before marriage with the following words:
Here I am, the Lord's humble servant. As you have said, let it be done to me. 
(Luke 1:38)
And remember, the first ones to experience My resurrection were some women who came to serve Me even though they were convinced I was dead, so they weren't motivated by thinking that I could do anything for them in return (Luke 24:1-7). 

Imagine the courage of My servant, Ananias. Think of the faith he mustered to go to that house to share My good news with the man who had come to Damascus to imprison and persecute him. However, his obedience to My call led to Saul's conversion. Yes, many were not nearly as courageous as Ananias and refused to fellowship Saul, who would later become known as the great apostle Paul. But, Ananias was My servant who led Saul along his way to the conversion of "My instrument to bring My name far and wide — to outsiders, to kings, and to the people of Israel as well."
Verses to Live

As you see the evidence of early persecution in this story, I want you to think about your brothers and sisters in difficult places. These precious disciples are facing ostracism, persecution, and martyrdom for their faith. Yes, many of them pray for deliverance from such hard times. However, still more pray that their persecutors will be like the persecutor Saul, who became the apostle later known as Paul. Support them with your prayers and your financial support. Even more, be bold in faith and serve those who do not know Me so that they too can become part of My family of grace!
Back to Saul — this fuming, raging, hateful man who wanted to kill every last one of the Lord's disciples: he went to the high priest in Jerusalem for authorization to purge all the synagogues in Damascus of followers of the way of Jesus. His plan was to arrest and chain any of Jesus’ followers — women as well as men — and transport them back to Jerusalem. He traveled north toward Damascus with a group of companions. 

Imagine this: Suddenly a light flashes from the sky around Saul, and he falls to the ground at the sound of a voice. 

Saul:
Lord, who are You?
The Lord:
I am Jesus. I am the One you are attacking. Get up. Enter the city. You will learn there what you are to do.
His other traveling companions just stand there, paralyzed, speechless because they, too, heard the voice; but there is nobody in sight. Saul rises to his feet, his eyes wide open, but he can't see a thing. So his companions lead their blind friend by the hand and take him into Damascus. He waits for three days — completely blind — and does not eat a bite or drink a drop of anything. 

Meanwhile, in Damascus a disciple named Ananias had a vision in which the Lord Jesus spoke to him. 

The Lord:
Ananias.
Ananias:
Here I am, Lord.
The Lord:
Get up and go to Straight Boulevard. Go to the house of Judas, and inquire about a man from Tarsus, Saul by name. He is praying to Me at this very instant. He has had a vision — a vision of a man by your name who will come, lay hands on him, and heal his eyesight.
Ananias:
Lord, I know whom You're talking about. I've heard rumors about this fellow. He's an evil man and has caused great harm for Your special people in Jerusalem. I've heard that he has been authorized by the religious authorities to come here and chain everyone who associates with Your name.
The Lord:
Yes, but you must go! I have chosen him to be My instrument to bring My name far and wide — to outsiders, to kings, and to the people of Israel as well. I have much to show him, including how much he must suffer for My name.
So Ananias went and entered the house where Saul was staying. He laid his hands on Saul and called to him. 

Ananias:
Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, sent me so you can regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.
At that instant, something like scales fell from Saul's eyes, and he could see. So he got up, received ... baptism identifying him as a disciple, ate some food (remember, he had not eaten for three days), and regained his strength. He spent a lot of time with the disciples in Damascus over the next several days. Then he went into the very synagogues he had intended to purge, proclaiming, 

Saul:
Jesus is God's Son!
Obviously this amazed everybody, and the buzz spread. 

The People:
Isn't he the man who caused so much trouble in Jerusalem for everyone identified with Jesus? Didn't he come here to arrest followers of Jesus and bring them in chains to the religious authorities? Now he's switched sides and is preaching Jesus?
As time passed, Saul's confidence grew stronger and stronger, so much so that he debated with the Jews of Damascus and made an irrefutable case that Jesus is, in fact, God's Anointed, the Liberating King. 

They didn't like being confounded like this; so after several days, the Jews plotted to assassinate Saul. But he learned of the plot. He knew they were keeping the city gates under constant surveillance, so they could follow and kill him when he left. To save Saul, the disciples came up with a plan of their own. During the night, they put Saul in a basket and lowered him by ropes from an opening in the wall of the city rather than passing through the gates. Their plan worked, and he returned to Jerusalem. 

He tried to join the disciples there, but they didn't think he was sincere. 
(Acts 9:1-26)
Response in Prayer

O gracious Father, I confess that my faith is often shallow, and I don't put myself in places and situations where my faith would be tested. I run from rejection and tend to pray prayers about my own welfare and not the needs of my persecuted brothers and sisters. Even more, Lord Jesus, I have forgotten to pray for my enemies. So today, renew my sense of connection to my family of faith under persecution. Give us all power through the Holy Spirit to be people of character and compassion so that Your grace can move through us and transform those who are hostile to faith in You. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International..
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Post  Admin on Wed 08 Jun 2016, 9:27 pm

"Servants to the Nations" — A Year with Jesus for 06/08/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend, 

Two powerful themes from the Bible converge in this one story in today's Scripture about Philip and the Ethiopian dignitary:
After My resurrection, I poured out the Spirit at Pentecost and the good news message about Me spread throughout the Mediterranean world. My message spread out from Jerusalem just as I had promised (Luke 24:45-49; Acts 1:8). The early disciples reached three of the Mediterranean area's four major cities to serve as hubs to send My message down the major highways and seaways to the nearby regions and to the rest of the world. The four largest cities at this time were Antioch in Syria, Ephesus, Rome, and Alexandria. Acts tells the story of how the good news of the kingdom of God reached the first three. Just as My disciples took the good news to all the Mediterranean region when they left Jerusalem because of persecution (Acts 8:1-4; Acts 11:19-22), Luke hints that the "dignitary from Ethiopia" took My message with him as he returned home to Ethiopia (Africa).
The last half of the prophetic book of Isaiah has a series of prophetic songs calling My people (Israel) to be the servant of the LORD — the servant who would lead the nations to follow the great "I AM" of Israel. In your day, these prophetic songs are called the "Servant Songs" of Isaiah (Isaiah 42:1-9; Isaiah 49:1-13; Isaiah 50:4-11; Isaiah 52:13-15 with Isaiah 53:1-12). When Israel did not fulfill the call of these prophetic songs, I came as their complete fulfillment. The Ethiopian was reading from one of these songs (Isaiah 52:13-15 with Isaiah 53:1-12) when the Spirit sent Philip to share My story with him. The passage the Ethiopian was reading has been known to most of My followers over the centuries. They have recognized this song as speaking about My sacrifice on the cross for them. Philip began with this song that looked forward to Me as the suffering servant and taught him about Me and then baptized him.
I want you to recognize several important principles from the Ethiopian's conversion:
Long before I came to earth (1 Peter 1:20), the Father had the plan to save the lost world He loves (John 3:16-17).
The Spirit inspired the prophets with messages that were intended to convict the people in their time, yet the messages also pointed to the Father's plan to send Me to the world to save the world (1 Peter 1:10-12; 2 Peter 1:19-21).
This plan always included the salvation of all people, just as Israel was to be a blessing and bring all people to honor the great "I AM" as the only true and living God (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10; Genesis 12:1-3).
The fulfillment of this world-wide salvation began to unfold through the leading of the Holy Spirit and the willingness of My disciples to share My story with all people (John 12:20-33).
The Father has the plan to save the world. As the primary part of that plan, I came as the Savior of the world. After My sacrificial death and return to the Father, the Spirit empowered My disciples to share that message with the world. Acts tells how My story was initially told to the Mediterranean world.
Verses to Live

As the book of Acts unfolds, you read about the Holy Spirit leading My disciples to share the saving message about Me (Acts 1:8). They began, first, to share that message with those in Jerusalem and then those in all of Judea. In Acts 8, you see the message shared in Samaria. In future readings from Acts, you will see the message go throughout the Mediterranean world. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, nothing had the power to stop that message. As Luke tells this unfolding story, the events in Acts 8 are huge stepping stones in the triumph of the good news about Me. Just as those early disciples fearlessly shared My message with their world, I want you to share that same message with your world. As you do, the Holy Spirit will lead and empower you, too!
A heavenly messenger brought this short message from the Lord to Philip during his time preaching in Samaria: 

Messenger of the Lord:
Leave Samaria. Go south to the Jerusalem-Gaza road.
The message was especially unusual because this road runs through the middle of uninhabited desert. But Philip got up, left the excitement of Samaria, and did as he was told to do. Along this road, Philip saw a chariot in the distance. In the chariot was a dignitary from Ethiopia (the treasurer for Queen Candace), an African man who had been castrated. He had gone north to Jerusalem to worship at the Jewish temple, and he was now heading southwest on his way home. He was seated in the chariot and was reading aloud from a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. 

Philip received another prompting from the Holy Spirit: 

Holy Spirit:
Go over to the chariot and climb on board.
So he started running until he was even with the chariot. Philip heard the Ethiopian reading aloud and recognized the words from the prophet Isaiah. 

Philip:
Do you understand the meaning of what you're reading?
The Ethiopian:
How can I understand it unless I have a mentor?
Then he invited Philip to sit in the chariot. Here's the passage he was reading from the Hebrew Scriptures:
Like a sheep, He was led to be slaughtered. 

Like a lamb about to be shorn of its wool, 
He was completely silent. 

He was humiliated, and He received no justice. 
Who can describe His peers? Who would treat Him this way? 
For they snuffed out His life.
The Ethiopian:
Here's my first question. Is the prophet describing his own situation, or is he describing someone else's calamity?
That began a conversation in which Philip used the passage to explain the good news of Jesus. Eventually the chariot passed a body of water beside the road. 

The Ethiopian:
Since there is water here, is there anything that might prevent me from being ceremonially washed through baptism and identified as a disciple of Jesus?
[Philip:] 1
[If you believe in your heart that Jesus the Anointed is God's Son, then nothing can stop you.]
[The Ethiopian said that he believed.] 

He commanded the charioteer to stop the horses. Then Philip and the Ethiopian official walked together into the water. There Philip baptized him... When they came out of the water, Philip was immediately caught up by the Holy Spirit and taken from the sight of the Ethiopian, who climbed back into his chariot and continued on his journey, overflowing with joy. Philip found himself at a town called Azotus (formerly the Philistine capital city of Ashdod, on the Mediterranean); and from there he traveled north again, proclaiming the good news in town after town until he came to Caesarea. 
(Acts 8:26-40) 

1 The brackets indicate material not found in all manuscripts.
Response in Prayer

O Father, awaken us, Your people, the church that Jesus bought with His blood, to share Your message of grace and the Lord Jesus' triumph over death and sin. Empower us by the Holy Spirit to be wise, courageous, gracious, and persistent in sharing this message. We want in our day, O God, to be your servants to the nations! In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Post  Admin on Tue 07 Jun 2016, 4:38 pm

Baptism Must Open the Door to Genuine Fellowship" — A Year with Jesus for 06/07/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

The early Christians were greatly encouraged by Luke's account of two disciples on the road to Emmaus. I joined those two disciples on their journey and shared a meal with them on the Sunday of My resurrection. The two disciples recognized Me when I blessed and "broke bread" with them (Luke 24:13-35). The early disciples believed My promise to them:
For when two or three gather together in My name, I am there in the midst of them. 
(Matthew 18:20)
For My early disciples, eating together was very important. Withholding table fellowship from someone signified a very serious loss of fellowship (1 Corinthians 5:9-11). 

When Samaritans and Gentiles began to become My followers, however, there were significant problems. Most non-Jewish people did not "keep kosher." That meant that non-Jews ate food and used eating and cooking utensils that were considered unclean by Jews. As a result, Jews avoided non-Jews, especially eating with them, to remain clean according to the Jewish food laws (John 4:9). This "law-keeping" generally remained true among My early Jewish disciples despite the fact that I had essentially declared all foods clean in My earthly ministry (Mark 7:19). 

I would later have to send My apostle Peter a vision, an angel, and the direct guidance of the Holy Spirit to help prepare him to have table fellowship with Gentiles and baptize them (Acts 8:25; Acts 10:1-29, 48). Even with Peter's great influence, many of My Jewish disciples were upset. The real problem was NOT that Philip baptized Samaritans or that Peter baptized Gentiles. The real problem was that they entered into full fellowship with them, stayed in their homes, and ate at their tables (Acts 11:1-3). Did baptism mean full fellowship or did Gentiles have to practice Jewish food laws and be clean by Jewish standards to be received into fellowship? That was a huge and enduring question for these early believers. Unfortunately, in almost every age, fellowship across lines of suspicion, fear, prejudice, and language and cultural differences has been difficult at first. But I died for all people! I gave My life to break down every barrier that would separate people from one another. Baptism must open the door to genuine fellowship! 

I want you to hear two truths from today's note:
True, authentic fellowship between people of diverse cultures, nationalities, ethnicities, races, and languages is hard. Misunderstandings happen easily. Prejudices go away slowly. Fear of others makes friendship hard and genuine fellowship harder.
For you to be My disciple, you must find a way to have this authentic fellowship. You must love, respect, and eat with each other. You cannot allow worldly prejudices and bigotry to keep you divided. You are either all one family in Me, or you are not part of Me!
Baptism must open the door of fellowship for all people of all races and all cultures to sit at the same table with each other. As Paul told the Corinthians:
For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body — Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 
(1 Corinthians 12:13 ESV)
Verses to Live

The Holy Spirit I sent you as a gift will always be at work to break down the barriers that separate you from other people. The Spirit will work to draw you together with love. 

As you read the book of Acts, you will see that My promise (Acts 1:8) to give you power through the Holy Spirit to become one family made up of people from all nations can come true. I want you to see how this unity happened through Philip, Peter, John, and the Samaritans. I also want you to see the plain words the Spirit said through Paul to stress that you are all one in Me. I paid a huge price to bring down the barriers that separate people so that I could make you one new humanity in Me.
Meanwhile [after many Samaritans responded to the preaching of Philip and were baptized,] word had reached the Lord's emissaries [the apostles] in Jerusalem that the message of God was welcomed in Samaria — a land of half-breeds and heretics in the minds of many Judeans. They sent Peter and John to pray for the Samaritans. They were especially eager to see if the new believers would receive the Holy Spirit because until this point they had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus but had not experienced the Holy Spirit. When Peter and John laid hands on the people, the Holy Spirit did indeed come upon them all. 

... 

Peter and John preached to and talked with the Samaritans about the message of the Lord; and then they returned to Jerusalem, stopping in many other Samaritan villages along the way to proclaim the good news. 
(Acts 8:14-17, 25) 

It is your faith in the Anointed Jesus that makes all of you children of God because all of you who have been initiated into the Anointed One through ... baptism have put Him on. It makes no difference whether you are a Jew or a Greek, a slave or a freeman, a man or a woman, because in Jesus the Anointed, the Liberating King, you are all one. Since you belong to Him and are now subject to His power, you are the descendant of Abraham and the heir of God's glory according to the promise. 
(Galatians 3:26-29) 

He [Jesus Christ] is the embodiment of our peace, sent once and for all to take down the great barrier of hatred and hostility that has divided us [Jews and non-Jews] so that we can be one. He offered His body on the sacrificial altar to bring an end to the law's ordinances and dictations that separated Jews from the outside nations. His desire was to create in His body one new humanity from the two opposing groups, thus creating peace. Effectively the cross becomes God's means to kill off the hostility once and for all so that He is able to reconcile them both to God in this one new body. 
(Ephesians 2:14-16)
Response in Prayer

O Father, Creator of all people, forgive us — forgive me. I am heartbroken at the racism, classism, ethnocentrism, and every other "ism" that we have created to divide us. Use me, O God, as an instrument of Your grace, mercy, peace, and unity. May I be used to tear down barriers that keep people from You and from each other. I ask for wisdom and determination as I do this, trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit to help me. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Post  Admin on Mon 06 Jun 2016, 6:48 pm

"The Spirit Cannot Be Bought" — A Year with Jesus for 06/06/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious Disciple, 

One of the great gifts you received with your salvation was the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38-39). I pour out the Spirit on all who come to Me in faith and are baptized (Titus 3:3-7). The Spirit cleanses you of all your sin as you call upon My name to save you, and you turn from your past sins and from living for yourself (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). 

When Philip went to Samaria because of the persecution in Jerusalem, he taught and baptized people there (Acts 8:12). The emissaries of the Jerusalem church, My apostles, needed to see that these Samaritans — "half-breeds and heretics in the minds of many Judeans" — received the Spirit so they would include these new believers in full fellowship. When these apostles saw the Samaritan's faith was genuine, they prayed for them to receive the Holy Spirit because I had not yet poured out the Spirit upon them (Acts 8:14-17). When the Spirit came upon them in a clear and demonstrable way, full fellowship was recognized with these new believers and full fellowship and acceptance with My Samaritan followers were achieved — I will share more about this tomorrow. 

One of the new believers was a magician named Simon. He had amazed people with his power. However, in the miracles performed by Philip, Simon saw a greater power that wasn't tied to magic. The coming of the Holy Spirit on My Samaritan disciples when Peter and John laid hands on them and accepted them into full fellowship revealed an unredeemed part of Simon's character. Simon had grown accustomed to being admired and held in high regard. His lust to be seen as amazing led him to offer Peter money for the power to give the Holy Spirit to others. 

Peter's response was clear, harsh, and right on target. The gift of the Holy Spirit is not something that can be purchased. I give the Holy Spirit to My disciples when they come to Me for salvation. The Spirit is My gift to give. The Spirit is My promised presence to be your Helper (John 14:15-27; John 15:26-27; John 16:5-15). He is your assurance that you will share with Me in resurrection and glory (2 Corinthians 1:21-22; 2 Corinthians 5:5; Ephesians 1:13-14), giving life to your mortal body (Romans 8:11). 

The Spirit's work is to conform you to Me (2 Corinthians 3:18), not to bring you glory, as Simon wanted. The Spirit works in you to bring about the character and compassion you have seen demonstrated by Me in My ministry (Galatians 5:22-23). The Spirit intercedes for you even when you don't have words to speak what is on your heart (Romans 8:26-27). The Spirit joins with your spirit and cries out to the Father using the very same name I used to address the Father when I was on earth — "Abba"! (Mark 14:36) The Spirit empowers you to overcome the very kind of things that were going on in the heart of Simon (Romans 8:13). 

Thankfully, Simon was willing to see the error of his request and the evil that needed to be eradicated from his heart. He wanted to be My disciple more than he wanted to be recognized as someone important or powerful. He was willing to leave his past glory as a magician using black magic and become My follower. The question for you, My dear one, is whether you are willing to be My disciple more than you want your own forms of recognition or your own sense of self-importance?
Verses to Live

Is there something that keeps you from fully following Me and being led by My Spirit? Do you wrestle with ways of feeling important other than your great importance to Me? Have you left your past life?
Jesus:
If any of you want to walk My path, you're going to have to deny yourself. You'll have to take up your cross every day and follow Me. If you try to avoid danger and risk, then you'll lose everything. If you let go of your life and risk all for My sake, then your life will be rescued, healed, made whole and full. Listen, what good does it do you if you gain everything — if the whole world is in your pocket — but then your own life slips through your fingers and is lost to you?
(Luke 9:23-25)
Look closely at Simon and how, in the end, he offered up everything to follow Me... just as every true disciple must do! Thankfully, Simon turned his heart to fully follow Me. Have you?
All those who had been scattered by the persecution [in Jerusalem] moved from place to place; and wherever they went, they weren't afraid or silent. Instead, they spread the message of Jesus. 

Philip, for example, headed north to the city of Samaria, and he told them the news of [Christ] the Anointed One. The crowds were united in their desire to understand Philip's message. They not only listened with their ears, but they witnessed miraculous signs with their eyes. Unclean spirits cried out with loud screams as they were exorcised from people. Paralyzed people and lame people moved and walked in plain view. So the city was swept with joy. 

There was a fellow named Simon who had a widespread and long-standing reputation as a sorcerer in Samaria. Everyone — not just poor or uneducated people, but also the city's elite — paid him great respect. Because he had amazed them with his magic, they thought, "This is a truly great man, full of the power of the God of Greatness." But they were even more impressed with Philip as he proclaimed the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus the Anointed. Both men and women received ... baptism — and even Simon himself became a believer. After his baptism, he shadowed Philip constantly, and he was as amazed as everyone else when he saw great and miraculous signs taking place. 

Meanwhile word had reached the Lord's emissaries in Jerusalem that the message of God was welcomed in Samaria — a land of half-breeds and heretics in the minds of many Judeans. They sent Peter and John to pray for the Samaritans. They were especially eager to see if the new believers would receive the Holy Spirit because until this point they had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus but had not experienced the Holy Spirit. When Peter and John laid hands on the people, the Holy Spirit did indeed come upon them all. 

Simon watched all this closely. He saw the Holy Spirit coming to the people when the apostles laid hands on them. So he came to Peter and John and offered them money. 

Simon:
I want to purchase this ability to confer the Holy Spirit on people through the laying on of my hands.
Peter:
May your silver rot right along with you, Simon! To think the Holy Spirit is some kind of magic that can be procured with money! You aren't even close to being ready for this kind of ministry; your heart is not right with God. You need to turn from your past, and you need to pray that the Lord will forgive the evil intent of your heart. I can see deep bitterness has poisoned you, and wickedness has locked you in chains.
Simon:
Please — you must pray to the Lord for me. I don't want these terrible things to be true of me.
(Acts 8:4-24)
Response in Prayer

O Father, I confess that many things distract me from fully trusting and serving Jesus as my Lord. I know that when my heart is divided between following Him and seeking my own good and glory, I end up interfering with the Spirit's work of transforming me to be like Jesus. So I ask for your forgiveness. I commit to seek to follow Jesus with my whole heart and not hold back. I do ask, Holy Spirit, that you strengthen me as I take each step of faith so that Your work can be completed in me to the glory of God the Father. In the name of Jesus, the Father's Son and my Savior, I pray. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Post  Admin on Sun 05 Jun 2016, 8:46 pm

"Near and Far" — A Year with Jesus for 06/05/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Friend, 

The verses you read below are from Acts chapter 8. They tell of the scattering of My followers from Jerusalem. This scattering began with escalating persecution and the martyrdom of Stephen. The religious leaders in Jerusalem thought this would crush My people and the movement I had begun. However, these oppositional leaders didn't know the promise I had made to My disciples:
[I, Jesus,] said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." 
(Acts 1:7-8 ESV)
My promise focused on three important things:
Power for the Mission: 
The Holy Spirit would be with My disciples wherever they went, empowering them.
Purpose of the Mission: 
My disciples would be My witnesses wherever they went, sharing My message with all peoples.
Place for the Mission: 
Their mission was to begin where they were, radiate out to the region, and eventually reach the people of the whole earth.
In other words, by persecuting and scattering My disciples, these leaders who sought to put out the fire of faith actually helped ensure that it spread. Eventually, the message was shared all over the world with all kinds of people. The Jewish leaders in Jerusalem persecuted and chased My disciples out of the city. This pressure pushed My message outside of Jerusalem throughout Judea and Samaria, and then the message was taken into other non-Jewish parts of the world. 

As you read the verses below, notice that the attempt to shut up My followers failed. As Luke puts it, "[W]herever they went, they weren't afraid or silent. Instead, they spread the message of Jesus." 

Up until this point, My disciples had not ventured with the gospel very much outside of the area of their Jewish roots. However, the persecution pushed them into non-Jewish areas. I then began to call people, like Philip, to share My good news with other cultures and races of people — with Samaritans and Gentile people, too. 

Acts chapter 8 is all about sharing My message among the non-Jews. Philip was a great witness and evangelist to Samaritans. The church in Jerusalem sent Peter and John to check on this new group. They confirmed that these Samaritans were Christians when the Samaritans received the Holy Spirit in recognizable ways. These important apostles from Jerusalem put the exclamation mark on the inclusion of these non-Jews by stopping and staying with Samaritans throughout the region. 

My disciples didn't just go to Samaria. Some disciples went up into nearby Gentile areas along the Mediterranean Sea (Phoenicia) while others headed to Cyprus and Antioch (Acts 11:19-20) taking My message to Jews and Gentiles. This sharing was especially significant in the important city of Antioch. Earlier, the Spirit had called Philip to go and meet an Ethiopian dignitary in the desert. Just as Philip had helped begin the mission to the Samaritans, the Spirit used him to speak to this special Gentile who was interested in following the one true and living God. He was reading from Isaiah 53, a prophetic passage about the servant Messiah of the LORD — Me! So Philip joined the Ethiopian in his chariot and taught this man the truth about Me. This Ethiopian dignitary turned his life around to live for Me and was baptized. 

Here are some key truths I want you to remember from these events: 

First, what the evil one intends for harm, I can turn around and use for good. Even when evil tries to snuff out and limit My people, I can use troubled times to spread My message to many others. 

Second, the power of the Holy Spirit, when joined with My disciples' commitment to sharing My message, cannot be stopped. You see this again and again in the book of Acts. In fact, you are living testimony to this truth. 

Third, I want all people — all races, nationalities, cultures, languages — to be a part of My family. My good news is for all people. The Holy Spirit can help make sure the message is spread in every era of My church. 

Fourth, you may never know all the great witnesses who led untold numbers of people to Me. You can, however, rejoice in being part of an unconquerable and unsilenceable kingdom. 

Fifth, while I had commanded My disciples to take My message to the whole world, they did not do it initially. However, with the persecution going on in Jerusalem, those forced out did what I had originally called them to do. My purposes will be fulfilled. My will is going to be done. All I desire will occur whether My people do it voluntarily, or it takes hardship to open their eyes to the people waiting to hear.
Verses to Live

Today there are three sections of Scripture from the eighth chapter of Acts. The first section starts with Christians scattering from Jerusalem and Judea because of persecution. They are forced out, but they leave empowered by the Holy Spirit to spread My message. The remainder of this section talks about Philip carrying My good news to Samaritans. The second section gives the account of Peter and John leaving Jerusalem to minister to the Samaritan Christians. The third section continues the account of Peter and John in Samaria. Luke then tells of another cross-cultural mission effort when the Spirit sent Philip to the Ethiopian dignitary, a God-fearing African Gentile who sought to know Me. 

Don't miss the unstated lesson here. Focus on the effect of My message on these disciples. My love flows through My disciples to ALL people. These very apostles reaching out to Samaritans and Gentiles are the same apostles who had previously looked down on Samaritans. They were once surprised to find Me talking with a Samaritan woman (John 4:27) because Jews did not usually associate with Samaritans (John 4:9). And on another occasion, they wanted to call down fire to consume a Samaritan village because it did not receive Me (Luke 9:51-56). Now, these same apostles were risking everything — their safety, their acceptance, and their credibility — to bring Samaritan and Gentile people inside My family of grace!
All those who had been scattered by the persecution moved from place to place; and wherever they went, they weren't afraid or silent. Instead, they spread the message of Jesus. 

Philip, for example, headed north to the city of Samaria, and he told them the news of the Anointed One. The crowds were united in their desire to understand Philip's message. They not only listened with their ears, but they witnessed miraculous signs with their eyes. Unclean spirits cried out with loud screams as they were exorcised from people. Paralyzed people and lame people moved and walked in plain view. So the city was swept with joy. 
(Acts 8:4-8) 

Meanwhile word had reached the Lord's emissaries in Jerusalem that the message of God was welcomed in Samaria — a land of half-breeds and heretics in the minds of many Judeans. They sent Peter and John to pray for the Samaritans. They were especially eager to see if the new believers would receive the Holy Spirit because until this point they had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus but had not experienced the Holy Spirit. When Peter and John laid hands on the people, the Holy Spirit did indeed come upon them all. 
(Acts 8:14-17) 

Peter and John preached to and talked with the Samaritans about the message of the Lord; and then they returned to Jerusalem, stopping in many other Samaritan villages along the way to proclaim the good news. 

A heavenly messenger brought this short message from the Lord to Philip during his time preaching in Samaria: 

Messenger of the Lord:
Leave Samaria. Go south to the Jerusalem-Gaza road.
The message was especially unusual because this road runs through the middle of uninhabited desert. But Philip got up, left the excitement of Samaria, and did as he was told to do. Along this road, Philip saw a chariot in the distance. In the chariot was a dignitary from Ethiopia (the treasurer for Queen Candace), an African man who had been castrated. He had gone north to Jerusalem to worship at the Jewish temple, and he was now heading southwest on his way home. He was seated in the chariot and was reading aloud from a scroll of the prophet Isaiah. 

Philip received another prompting from the Holy Spirit: 

Holy Spirit:
Go over to the chariot and climb on board.
So he started running until he was even with the chariot. Philip heard the Ethiopian reading aloud and recognized the words from the prophet Isaiah. 

Philip:
Do you understand the meaning of what you're reading?
The Ethiopian:
How can I understand it unless I have a mentor?
Then he invited Philip to sit in the chariot. Here's the passage he was reading from the Hebrew Scriptures:
Like a sheep, He was led to be slaughtered. Like a lamb about to be shorn of its wool, He was completely silent. He was humiliated, and He received no justice. Who can describe His peers? Who would treat Him this way? For they snuffed out His life.
The Ethiopian:
Here's my first question. Is the prophet describing his own situation, or is he describing someone else's calamity?
That began a conversation in which Philip used the passage to explain the good news of Jesus. Eventually the chariot passed a body of water beside the road. 

The Ethiopian:
Since there is water here, is there anything that might prevent me from being ceremonially washed through baptism and identified as a disciple of Jesus?
Philip:
If you believe in your heart that Jesus the Anointed is God's Son, then nothing can stop you.
The Ethiopian said that he believed. 

He commanded the charioteer to stop the horses. Then Philip and the Ethiopian official walked together into the water. There Philip baptized him, initiating him as a fellow disciple. When they came out of the water, Philip was immediately caught up by the Holy Spirit and taken from the sight of the Ethiopian, who climbed back into his chariot and continued on his journey, overflowing with joy. Philip found himself at a town called Azotus (formerly the Philistine capital city of Ashdod, on the Mediterranean); and from there he traveled north again, proclaiming the good news in town after town until he came to Caesarea. 
(Acts 8:25-40)
Response in Prayer

Father in heaven, give me the courage to speak the truth of Jesus to all people. Give me boldness just as the early disciples had after they fled from Jerusalem. If it takes hardship, difficulty, or even persecution to motivate me to action, then please do what it takes to move me to be faithful. Always, dear Father, I pray for the renewing and sustaining presence of the Holy Spirit to empower me, to give me courage, and to give me the words to say to bring others to know Jesus, in Whose name I pray. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Post  Admin on Sat 04 Jun 2016, 10:14 am

The Spirit of Grace Under Fire" — A Year with Jesus for 06/04/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Believer, 

Today I want to give you a glimpse of My servant, Stephen. In the verses below, you will see how he followed My example when faced with death:
He rested his trust in life after death in My hands; he said: "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit."
As he died, he forgave those who murdered him and asked Me to forgive them: "Lord, do not hold this evil against them."
As Stephen died, he was allowed to see Me in all My heavenly glory and know that his faith in Me was worth the high cost he was paying. He said:
Look, I see the heavens opening! I see the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.
Stephen had been one of those selected to help the neglected Grecian widows receive their needed food — neglecting these Grecian widows was a problem the early church addressed, and I visited with you about that problem yesterday. He was selected because he was "full of the Holy Spirit and full of wisdom" (Acts 6:3-5). 

Notice in the verses below that the power and influence of the Spirit on Stephen and through him continued to grow as he lived for Me and ministered in My name:
The Holy Spirit gave Stephen such wisdom in responding to their arguments that they were humiliated.
But Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit. Gazing upward into heaven, he saw something they couldn't see: the glory of God, and Jesus standing at His right hand.
The Holy Spirit not only empowered Stephen but also brought him words to say in the face of those who opposed My message and brought him personal comfort as he faced his death. 

Following My example as I went to the cross, Stephen faced death with courage and confidence. He ministered by the power of the Holy Spirit. Just as the Holy Spirit worked through Stephen in his life, the Spirit also worked through him in his death. The Spirit used Stephen's death to take the flame of faith and spread its sparks throughout the region as My disciples were driven from Jerusalem. My death and resurrection became the foundation for the wonderful things that happened on Pentecost for the thousands of Jewish people who were saved. The Holy Spirit similarly used Stephen's death as the initial impetus to spread My salvation outside of Jerusalem and eventually throughout the Roman Empire to non-Jews. What the evil one intended for harm, the Holy Spirit turned around and used for good. What the devil tried to use to snuff out the flame of faith, the Spirit used to spread that flame.
Verses to Live

Stephen's death was brutal and jarring. Just as My disciples were gaining momentum and increasing in number, Stephen was martyred. So as you read this account of his death, remember how the Spirit used this tragedy to begin the spread of the gospel to all nations. 

Saul, who was present when Stephen was martyred, later was called Paul and was the great evangelist, especially to non-Jews. The early believers were scattered, taking My story all around the surrounding regions to both Jews and non-Jews. The sparks of grace scattered after the death of Stephen become the spreading flame of grace to the Gentile world.
Stephen continually overflowed with extraordinary grace and power, and he was able to perform a number of miraculous signs and wonders in public view. But eventually a group arose to oppose Stephen and the message to which his signs and wonders pointed. (These men were from a group called the Free Synagogue and included Cyrenians, Alexandrians, Cilicians, and Asians.) The Holy Spirit gave Stephen such wisdom in responding to their arguments that they were humiliated; in retaliation, they spread a vicious rumor: "We heard Stephen speak blasphemies against Moses and God." 

Their rumor prompted an uprising that included common people, religious officials, and scholars. They surprised Stephen, grabbed him, and hauled him before the council. They convinced some witnesses to give false testimony. 

False Witnesses:
This fellow constantly degrades the holy temple and mocks our holy law. With our own ears, we've heard him say this Jesus fellow, this Nazarene he's always talking about, will actually destroy the holy temple and will try to change the sacred customs we received from Moses.
The entire council turned its gaze on Stephen to see how he would respond. They were shocked to see his face radiant with peace — as if he were a heavenly messenger. 
(Acts 6:8-15) 

Stephen:
You stubborn, stiff-necked people! Sure, you are physically Jews, but you are no different from outsiders in your hearts and ears! You are just like your ancestors, constantly fighting against the Holy Spirit. Didn't your ancestors persecute the prophets? First, they killed those prophets who predicted the coming of the Just One; and now, you have betrayed and murdered the Just One Himself! Yes, you received the law as given by heavenly messengers, but you haven't kept the law which you received.
Upon hearing this, his audience could contain themselves no longer. They boiled in fury at Stephen; they clenched their jaws and ground their teeth. But Stephen was filled with the Holy Spirit. Gazing upward into heaven, he saw something they couldn't see: the glory of God, and Jesus standing at His right hand. 

Stephen:
Look, I see the heavens opening! I see the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!
At this, they covered their ears and started shouting. The whole crowd rushed at Stephen, converged on him, dragged him out of the city, and stoned him. 

They laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul, while they were pelting Stephen with rocks. 

Stephen (as rocks fell upon him):
Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.
Then he knelt in prayer, shouting at the top of his lungs, 

Stephen:
Lord, do not hold this evil against them.
Those were his final words; then he fell asleep in death. 

Some devout men buried Stephen and mourned his passing with loud cries of grief. But Saul, this young man who seemed to be supervising the whole violent event, was pleased by Stephen's death. That very day, the whole church in Jerusalem began experiencing severe persecution. All of the followers of Jesus — except for the emissaries themselves — fled to the countryside of Judea and Samaria. Young Saul went on a rampage — hunting the church, house after house, dragging both men and women to prison. 
(Acts 7:51-60; Acts 8:1-3)
Response in Prayer

O Father, thank You for leaving Stephen's story for my encouragement. I am thinking today of the thousands of fellow believers who are martyred each year. Please use this ultimate evidence of their faith as shown through their deaths to spread Your grace to those who do not yet know the story of Jesus. I am also thinking today of the untold thousands upon thousands who have been martyred since the beginning of the church. I pray that I can be as courageous and faithful. I pray that the Holy Spirit will use me to share Jesus' story with others. Thank You for this great legacy of sacrificial faith and the assurance that, as an early church leader said, "[T]he blood of martyrs is the seed of the church." To Jesus' glory and in Jesus' name, I pray. Amen. 

The quote in the prayer is from Tertullian, found in Wikipedia, which explains: 
The 2nd-century church father Tertullian wrote that "the blood of martyrs is the seed of the Church," implying that the martyrs' willing sacrifice of their lives leads to the conversion of others.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Post  Admin on Fri 03 Jun 2016, 8:54 pm

"Growing through Problems" — A Year with Jesus for 06/03/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

The apostle Paul spoke the truth about Our — Father, Son, and Spirit's — desire for Our new covenant people when he wrote:
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 
(Galatians 3:26-28 NIV)
However, it often takes time for social reality to be brought into conformity with My will. So My disciples must always seek to live the values and ethics of My kingdom even if the world doesn't appreciate those values. 

Almost everyone in the earliest days of the church was Jewish. Prejudice was a significant problem. Sometimes that prejudice manifested itself toward non-Jews coming into My spiritual family — the dominant problem addressed in Acts chapters 10-15. However, prejudice was also an issue between sub-groups within the Jewish community. In the verses below, Grecian Jews who were in Jerusalem and who had become My disciples made an accusation of discrimination. Their widows who did not speak the native language in Jerusalem were being overlooked and were going hungry while the native-speaking widows were receiving better care and more ample provision as the early Christians shared their possessions (Acts 4:32-35). 

Rather than denying the accusation of prejudice or ignoring this charge of discrimination, My apostles acted very wisely. Notice what they did:
Openness 
The apostles brought all the community of disciples together to discuss this issue — no secret meetings and no sweeping the problem under the rug!
Calling 
The apostles pointed out that their primary calling was to proclaim the message they had received from God.
Involvement 
The apostles called on the church family to be involved in the solution to this problem — more than just being open with the communication, the apostles were asking for help in selecting men to find a solution.
Direction 
The apostles gave clear criteria for selecting those who would be part of the ministry team to the Grecian widows and asked the whole congregation to put forward leaders who fit this description.
Participation 
The congregation of believers selected seven men who fit the criteria of being full of the Spirit and wisdom.
Empathy 
The congregation recognized the need for those who could understand both the language of the Grecian widows and also their plight as hungry foreigners in the homeland of their ancestors. So they chose men who had Greek names — one was even a non-Jewish proselyte — and who would be familiar with the Greek language these widows spoke.
Appointment 
The apostles publicly commissioned or ordained these men for service and publicly prayed for their ministry.
Growth 
The problem was overcome, the message continued to spread, and many came to faith in Me.
Equipping 
Some of these men selected to serve the widows later became very important leaders in other ways.
Focus 
The apostles devoted themselves to their calling — prayer and sharing My message — while encouraging and equipping others to engage in ministry.
Before you read the verses below, review the ten principles of great leadership and congregational problem-solving that are listed above. These are great principles to put into practice among My people today. Every problem has a potential for disaster or development. Led by the Holy Spirit, the apostles turned this potentially crippling problem into an opportunity for the development and growth of My disciples.
Verses to Live

Imagine how unaddressed prejudice could have wrecked the growth of My early church. However, the Spirit's guidance through Godly leaders turned around this potential disaster. Instead of disaster, the actions of My leading disciples became the springboard for greater growth. It also provided a new group of leaders the opportunity for development and service.
Things were going well, and the number of disciples was growing. But a problem arose. The Greek-speaking believers became frustrated with the Hebrew-speaking believers. The Greeks complained that the Greek-speaking widows were being discriminated against in the daily distribution of food. The twelve convened the entire community of disciples. 

The Twelve:
We could solve this problem ourselves, but that wouldn't be right. We need to focus on proclaiming God's message, not on distributing food. So, friends, find seven respected men from the community of faith. These men should be full of the Holy Spirit and full of wisdom. Whomever you select we will commission to resolve this matter so we can maintain our focus on praying and serving — not meals — but the message.
The whole community — Greek-speaking and Hebrew-speaking — was very pleased with this plan, so they chose seven men: Stephen (a man full of faith and full of the Holy Spirit), Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas (a Greek-speaking convert from Antioch). These men were presented to the apostles, who then prayed for them and commissioned them by laying their hands on them. The message of God continued to spread, and the number of disciples continued to increase significantly there in Jerusalem. Even priests in large numbers became obedient to the faith. 
(Acts 6:1-7)
Response in Prayer

O Father, please bless our leaders in Your church today. Give us the courage to select leaders based on their Spirit-led wisdom and their ability to serve, with empathy, those who need to be served. I pray that Your leaders can be open and courageous in dealing with problems like prejudice, division, and hunger among Your people. Help us, O LORD, to demonstrate Your love for all people in the way we treat each other. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Post  Admin on Thu 02 Jun 2016, 12:09 pm

"Goodness and Deception" — A Year with Jesus for 06/02/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

Key transitions in the life and faith of My people need to be protected. In the early days of My church, this need for safety was especially true. My new disciples in Jerusalem endured repeated attacks from the Jewish religious leaders and those in power. The disciples persevered through threats, even death threats, beatings, and imprisonments from the same people who had Me crucified. Nothing outside their church family could derail this new movement of the Spirit. My message of good news triumphed throughout Jerusalem. 

However, My disciples soon faced critical junctures that you see described in the verses below and in the verses tomorrow. They faced several difficult challenges from inside My family of disciples. Pressure from the outside would continue to erupt. But, the more dangerous threats came from inside My household of faith. Some folks needed the basic necessities of life — food, water, and a place to stay. With people becoming disciples so quickly and many being from outside of Jerusalem, the challenge of caring for needy people became a valid concern. 

Because "the entire community of believers was deeply united in heart and soul," My disciples effectively and lovingly addressed these needs. Notice what Luke says:
Not a single person in the community was in need because those who had been affluent sold their houses or lands and brought the proceeds to the emissaries of the Lord.
Notably, Barnabas — who would become a great leader among My disciples — was exceedingly generous. The compassion that Barnabas and other disciples displayed was glorious! The principles of My kingdom were clearly in evidence as needs were soon addressed with grace and generosity. 

However, the devil was not content to let any great movement of My grace go unchallenged. So My disciples had to face two tough tests back-to-back. I will speak about the first challenge today and the second one tomorrow. 

Seeing Barnabas held in such high esteem, a couple named Ananias and Sapphira sold a piece of property. That was great. Unfortunately, these two schemed and said that they had given all their proceeds from this sale to the apostles — My emissaries — when they hadn't. Their gift was given so that the poor among My people would receive care. Although they said that they had given all the proceeds from the sale, they secretly kept back part for themselves. On one hand, their generosity was incredibly good. They gave a great amount to the needs of others. On the other hand, they lied. They lied to My people. They lied to My apostles. Most of all, they lied to Us — Father, Son, and Spirit. 

At this crucial moment in the early church, We protected the integrity of the disciples' generosity and the apostles' leadership. Our actions were quick, decisive, and firm. We wanted everyone to know that generosity is important, but duplicity is not tolerated. 

Harsh? Yes. 

Necessary? Yes! 

Effective? Absolutely! 

Why did we react so strongly, as you see revealed in the verses below? Why did we take such drastic measures? 

What is one of the most frequent criticisms hurled at My followers today? It's that you are hypocrites. How many people have been turned away from faith in Me because of hypocritical people claiming to be My disciples? How many have ruled out learning about Me and becoming part of My people because of hypocrisy, especially hypocrisy and greed among leaders? My answer is simple: way too many! 

So in the early days of the church, We acted to protect this fresh movement of grace. We wanted the disciples to practice undiluted goodness and honesty. Such blatant hypocrisy, lying, and duplicity would not be tolerated. (The Father acted in a very similar fashion in the early days of the conquest of Canaan concerning the sin of Achan at Jericho (Joshua 7:1-26).) 

There are several truths in the Scripture below that I want you to realize from this episode in the life of the early church. 

First, generosity is necessary if My movement is going to grow and reach the hearts of all people. When people are generous above their tithes, people are saved, lives are rebuilt, and My movement grows. 

Second, during any great Spirit-empowered movement, the evil one will do all he can to divert, distract, and derail My people. While the outside attacks of the enemy are obvious, the inside attacks are often more subtle and potentially more damaging. Examine your own heart. Look carefully at your own attitudes, motivations, and desires. Especially watch out for the lure of greed and the desire to be seen as important. There are plenty of warnings in the Scriptures against both of these sins! 

Third, don't let the false motives and bad behaviors of others keep you from continuing your walk of faith. Unfortunately, the evil one will lead some astray — sometimes even well-known or beloved leaders. Don't let that disillusion you. For every Ananias and Sapphira, there are others who are like Barnabas. For every hypocrite, there are unnamed others who do loving and sacrificial things for Christian brothers and sisters without recognition. 

Fourth, when My people are led by the Holy Spirit, nothing can stop My work through them. What Satan intends for harm can be turned around and used by the Father for good!
Verses to Live

You are about to read two parts to the same story. The first is about the goodness of My people. The second is about how easy it is to lose goodness to greed. It is a reminder of how a desire to be considered important can corrupt what otherwise would be generous giving. Greed and self-importance are false desires that hold so many hostage in your world. Don't let the evil one deceive you. First, these desires lead to spiritual death since they do not come from the Father (1 John 2:15-17). Second, remember Barnabas and the unnamed people like him. These people were generous because they cared and were led by My Spirit. So, after you have read both stories, come back and read the part about Barnabas again. Let this be the part that is an example for you!
During those days, the entire community of believers was deeply united in heart and soul to such an extent that they stopped claiming private ownership of their possessions. Instead, they held everything in common. The apostles with great power gave their eyewitness reports of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Everyone was surrounded by an extraordinary grace. Not a single person in the community was in need because those who had been affluent sold their houses or lands and brought the proceeds to the emissaries of the Lord. They then distributed the funds to individuals according to their needs. One fellow, a Cyprian Levite named Joseph, earned a nickname because of his generosity in selling a field and bringing the money to the apostles in this way. From that time on, they called him Barnabas, which means "son of encouragement." 

Once a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira fully cooperating, committed fraud. He sold some property and kept some of the proceeds, but he pretended to make a full donation to the Lord's emissaries. 

Peter:
Ananias, have you allowed Satan to influence your lies to the Holy Spirit and hold back some of the money? Look, it was your property before you sold it, and the money was all yours after you sold it. Why have you concocted this scheme in your heart? You weren't just lying to us; you were lying to God.
Ananias heard these words and immediately dropped to the ground, dead; fear overcame all those who heard of the incident. Some young men came, wrapped the body, and buried it immediately. About three hours had passed when Sapphira arrived. She had no idea what had happened. 

Peter:
Did you sell the land for such-and-such a price?
Sapphira:
Yes, that was the price.
Peter:
Why did the two of you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Do you hear those footsteps outside? Those are the young men who just buried your husband, and now they will carry you out as well.
She — like her husband — immediately fell dead at Peter's feet. The young men came in and carried her corpse outside and buried it beside her husband. The whole church was terrified by this story, as were others who heard it. 
(Acts 4:32-37; Acts 5:1-11)
Response in Prayer

Holy Father, I know that I am vulnerable to the sins of greed and the lust to feel important. Help me resist these temptations. I don't want these sins to steal my integrity or compromise my generosity. Neither do I want to grow skeptical when I see these sins in others. I want to honor You in every area of my life and bring Your grace to those in need. 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! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Post  Admin on Wed 01 Jun 2016, 1:32 pm

"Prayer Power!" — A Year with Jesus for 06/01/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

Yesterday I shared with you that while the key ruling council tried to intimidate My people, they were undaunted. Here was their answer to the threats of the religious leaders:
You are the judges here, so we'll leave it up to you to judge whether it is right in the sight of God to obey your commands or God's. But one thing we can tell you: we cannot possibly restrain ourselves from speaking about what we have seen and heard with our own eyes and ears.
My disciples responded to the threats of the ruling council with prayer! They reached back and incorporated part of Psalm 2 in their prayer recorded in the verses below, and they trusted in the promise of the closing lines of this prophetic psalm:
But blessings await all who trust in Him. They will find God a gentle refuge. 
(Psalm 2:12)
Notice the focus of the prayer My disciples prayed. They didn't pray to have their difficulties cease, but that they be given strength and boldness to declare My message:
And now, Lord, take note of their intimidations intended to silence us. Grant us, Your servants, the courageous confidence we need to go ahead and proclaim Your message while You reach out Your hand to heal people, enabling us to perform signs and wonders through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.
They didn't back down. Instead, they were "praying up" their work of sharing the good news and bringing My healing to those who were broken and lost. 

I had promised in My earthly ministry that the Father would send the Holy Spirit to those who asked (Luke 11:13). I promised I would never abandon My disciples as they shared My message (Matthew 28:18-20) and testified before hostile audiences (Mark 13:11). 

My early disciples believed in these promises. They believed in the power of the Holy Spirit. They believed in the great importance of their mission. Do you? 

Enduring persecution, they rejoiced and they prayed. Facing intense scrutiny, they testified to the truth. Being threatened with death, they were undaunted. They chose to be My faithful witnesses no matter the cost. Do you? Will you? 

Great blessing comes to those who are faithful under trial. Pray and ask for boldness. Seek the "courageous confidence" you "need to go ahead and proclaim" My message and do My work in your broken world. One of those blessings is experiencing the powerful movement of the Holy Spirit in your midst as you are empowered and inspired to do My work and speak My message. And notice, dear disciple, that this power and inspiration are for you, and not just a holy few who lived long ago:
All the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began speaking God's message with courageous confidence.
Verses to Live

Prayer is powerful because you place your trust in Us — Father, Son, and Spirit. You trust that We will enter into your world and into your lives. You trust that We will do Our will through you by the power of the Holy Spirit working through you. 

We long for you to invite Us to do in you, and through you, the very things that Our sovereign will longs to do. Often we are waiting for your faith to be displayed and for your prayers to ask Us to act. Look what can still happen when My disciples display that faith and, through their prayers, invite Us to act:
Jewish Leaders:
What do we do with these fellows? Anyone who lives in Jerusalem will know an unexplainable sign has been performed through these two preachers. We can't deny their story. The best we can do is try to keep it from spreading. So let's warn them to stop speaking to anybody in this name.
The leaders brought the prisoners [Peter and John] back in and prohibited them from doing any more speaking or teaching in the name of Jesus. Peter and John listened quietly and then replied, 

Peter and John:
You are the judges here, so we'll leave it up to you to judge whether it is right in the sight of God to obey your commands or God's. But one thing we can tell you: we cannot possibly restrain ourselves from speaking about what we have seen and heard with our own eyes and ears.
The council threatened them again, but finally let them go because public opinion strongly supported Peter and John and this man who had received this miraculous sign. He was over 40 years old, so his situation was known to many people, and they couldn't help but glorify God for his healing. 

Peter and John, upon their release, went right to their friends and told the story — including the warning from the council. The whole community responded with this prayer to God: 

Community of Believers:
God, our King, You made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything they contain. You are the One who, by the Holy Spirit, spoke through our ancestor David, Your servant, with these words:
Why did the nations rage? 

Why did they imagine useless things? 

The kings of the earth took their stand; 

their rulers assembled in opposition 

against the Eternal One and His Anointed King.This is exactly what has happened among us, here in this city. The foreign ruler Pontius Pilate and the Jewish ruler Herod, along with their respective peoples, have assembled in opposition to Your holy servant Jesus, the One You chose. They have done whatever Your hand and plan predetermined should happen. And now, Lord, take note of their intimidations intended to silence us. Grant us, Your servants, the courageous confidence we need to go ahead and proclaim Your message while You reach out Your hand to heal people, enabling us to perform signs and wonders through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.
They finished their prayer, and immediately the whole place where they had gathered began to shake. All the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began speaking God's message with courageous confidence. 
(Acts 4:16-31)
Response in Prayer

O Father, give Your disciples today the courageous confidence to proclaim Jesus and live before others as witnesses of Your grace. Fill us even more with the Holy Spirit, Who now lives in us. Fill us to overflowing so that not only will we display the fruit of the Spirit in righteous behavior and gracious compassion, but that we also will be bold in declaring the message of Jesus no matter the opposition or hostility we face. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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Post  Admin on Tue 31 May 2016, 9:45 am

"Undaunted!" — A Year with Jesus for 05/31/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Faithful Follower, 

Yesterday, I asked you to read about the paralyzed man that I healed through Peter and John. I wanted you to see the refreshing new life that I brought not only to that man but also to all who turn to Me. Peter and John spoke about My power and presence being available because I had been raised from the dead. The Sanhedrin, the highest ranking religious body in Israel, had asked that I be put to death. In today's verses, My disciples were standing before the same religious body, but they were not intimidated or afraid. Because of My resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, they were undaunted! 

As you might expect, the healing of the paralyzed man created a big stir among the religious leaders. "So they arrested Peter, John, and the man who was healed and kept them in jail overnight" (Acts 4:3). These religious leaders had a major problem: more than 3,000 people had already become My disciples, and the number was quickly becoming more than 5,000. The religious leaders hauled Peter and John in before them. This very same group that had asked the Roman Governor Pilate to have Me put to death now threatened My apostles. 

Peter and John were unafraid! They spoke powerfully to the Sanhedrin, unfazed by the threats of these religious leaders and their earthly power. Peter and John's opponents immediately recognized the problem:
Now the leaders were surprised and confused. They looked at Peter and John and realized they were typical peasants — uneducated, utterly ordinary fellows — with extraordinary confidence. The leaders recognized them as companions of Jesus... 
(Acts 4:13)
In the next several chapters in the book of Acts, you will find that My disciples were threatened, beaten, imprisoned, and even martyred. They were put to death because of their faith in Me and their commitment to sharing My message with others. But they were not intimidated! They were undaunted! 

As you look at their examples, I hope you will also be undaunted by those who oppose you, ridicule you, and ostracize you. Let your commitment to share My message of grace with the lost world around you propel you past your fear, and let My Spirit empower you to greater things than you can imagine.
Verses to Live

What you will read below comes from the continuing story of the religious leaders' failed attempts to keep My apostles quiet. My apostles were committed to sharing My message. They were committed to reaching the lost. They were committed to honoring Us — Father, Son, and Spirit — in spite of any threat from any human power or person.
The leaders brought the prisoners [Peter and John] back in and prohibited them from doing any more speaking or teaching in the name of Jesus. Peter and John listened quietly and then replied, 

Peter and John:
You are the judges here, so we'll leave it up to you to judge whether it is right in the sight of God to obey your commands or God's. But one thing we can tell you: we cannot possibly restrain ourselves from speaking about what we have seen and heard with our own eyes and ears.
(Acts 4:18-20)
After praying and being emboldened by the Spirit, My disciples continued to share the message about My life, death, resurrection, and grace. They continued to proclaim the good news, and their number grew rapidly as My power was demonstrated through them.
Those were amazing days — with many signs and wonders being performed through the apostles among the people. The church would gather as a unified group in Solomon's Porch, enjoying great respect by the people of the city — though most people wouldn't risk publicly affiliating with them. Even so, record numbers of believers — both men and women — were added to the Lord. 
(Acts 5:12-14)
After being arrested and then miraculously delivered from jail (Acts 5:19), the apostles continued to proclaim My message, undaunted by the threats, beatings, and imprisonment. When questioned by the High Priest and the ruling council they remained undaunted:
The temple police — this time, accompanied by their captain — rushed over to the temple and brought the emissaries of the Lord to the council. They were careful not to use violence, because the people were so supportive of them that the police feared being stoned by the crowd if they were too rough. Once again the men stood before the council. The high priest began the questioning. 

High Priest:
Didn't we give you strict orders to stop teaching in this name? But here you are, spreading your teaching throughout Jerusalem. And you are determined to blame us for this man's death.
Peter and the Apostles:
If we have to choose between obedience to God and obedience to any human authority, then we must obey God.
(Acts 5:26-29) 

The council... brought the apostles back in. They were flogged, again told not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released. As they left the council, they weren't discouraged at all. In fact, they were filled with joy over being considered worthy to suffer disgrace for the sake of His name. And constantly, whether in public, in the temple, or in their homes, they kept teaching and proclaiming Jesus as the Anointed One, the Liberating King. 
(Acts 5:40-42)
Response in Prayer

O Father, give us the courage to do Your will and the grace to share the message about Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. May we be as undaunted in our day as these early disciples were in their day! I pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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Post  Admin on Mon 30 May 2016, 10:59 pm

Times of Refreshing" — A Year with Jesus for 05/30/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

Are you stuck? 

Are your days too predictably monotonous? 

Do you feel that nothing is ever going to change? 

I want you to look especially at the words highlighted in bold in the verses below. I want you to realize that when I ascended back to the Father, I didn't abandon My disciples. I continued to be present in their lives. I worked in them through the Holy Spirit when they called on My name to help them. 

Notice the following four different sets of words that tell the story of a paralyzed man trapped by his circumstances and of My grace that brings "times of refreshing." Please realize that these "times of refreshing" are not just for the paralyzed man who was healed, but also for all who turn to Me! 

Predictable Unwanted Daily Sameness: 
The words "customary time" and "every day" help us enter the world of the lame man. His discouraging situation is also the world for every man and woman stuck in a rut that he or she wants to escape. The man whom Peter and John met had been "paralyzed since birth." His routine was set by his physical limitations, his limited opportunities in society, and the limited number of people who chose to help him in their limited ways and with their limited expectations of what his life could ever be. 

Power of My Name: 
While the man who was born lame faced severe limits, these limits were removed by My gracious power. My power was released through Peter and John as they proclaimed the power behind the man's healing: "faith in the name of Jesus of Nazareth." Even though I had ascended back to the Father, Peter and John knew that I wasn't gone. They knew My power and My grace were still available through the Holy Spirit to those who called on My name. They didn't have money, but they did have faith. So they called on the power of My "name" and brought My presence and power near to address this paralyzed man's needs. 

A New Day Dawning: 
The formerly paralyzed man's life was changed forever! After he had been healed, praise was not something he watched from afar. He could stand, walk, leap, and dance in joyous praise. He was no longer dependent upon his friends to get him to the place where he could beg from other people for a few meager coins to sustain him. And if you listen to what Peter said to the crowd, you realize that the people in the crowd were paralyzed as well. They were stuck in their ways with low spiritual expectations. However, even for them, "a new day can dawn." They, too, could experience "days of refreshing times flowing from the Lord." Just as miraculous as a paralyzed man given the power to walk, these religious people could be delivered from their paralyzed religious forms into a life filled with My power and presence. 

Life's Ultimate Turning Point: 
The folks stuck in their religious rut needed to "rethink everything and turn to God." They could call upon the Father believing in My name. Believing in Me is something that you may have decided in the past. However, I hope that you will do it afresh each day, beginning today. Rethink everything! Call on My name! Believe in Me. Trust in My power and My presence! I do long to be present and powerful in your life and bring you "days of refreshing"!
Verses to Live

My apostle Paul said it well:
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. 
(2 Corinthians 5:17)
Step away from the boring sameness of a predictable life. Leave behind dry religion if you find yourself caught in low expectations of what I can do. Turn your heart to the Father. Call upon My name. Trust that I will be present with you and powerful for you through the Holy Spirit. Even if you feel satisfied with your life, you can experience so much more through My power and grace that bring you "days of refreshing."
One day at three o'clock in the afternoon, a customary time for daily prayer, Peter and John walked to the temple. Some people were carrying in a man who had been paralyzed since birth. Every day they brought him to a place near the beautiful gate (one of the temple entrances) so he could beg for money from people entering to worship. He saw Peter and John coming and asked them for a contribution. Peter gazed intensely at him — so did John. 

Peter:
Look at us.
The man looked up at them, assuming they were about to give him some money. 

Peter:
I want to give you something, but I don't have any silver or gold. Here's what I can offer you: stand up and walk in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, the Anointed One.
Then Peter took the man's right hand and lifted him to his feet. Instantly the man's feet and ankles grew strong. He jumped and walked, accompanying Peter and John into the temple where he walked, jumped for joy, and shouted praises to God. A crowd ran to the commotion, and they gathered around this man in an open area called Solomon's Porch. There he was, standing on his own two feet, holding on to Peter and John. They knew exactly who he was — the beggar they passed at the beautiful gate every day. Everyone was absolutely amazed at this wonderful miracle; they were speechless, stunned. 

Peter (to the crowd):
Why are you so amazed, my fellow Israelites? Why are you staring at my friend and me as though we did this miracle through our own power or made this fellow walk by our own holiness? We didn't do this — God did! The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob — the God of our ancestors has glorified Jesus, God's servant — the same Jesus whom you betrayed and rejected in front of Pilate, even though Pilate was going to release Him. He is the Holy and Righteous One, but you rejected Him and asked for a murderer to be released to you instead. You not only rejected Him, but you killed Him — the very Author of life! But God raised Jesus from the dead, whom my friend John and I have seen with our own eyes. So that's how this miracle happened: we have faith in the name of Jesus, and He is the power that made this man strong — this man who is known to all of you. It is faith in Jesus that has given this man his complete health here today, in front of all of you. 

Listen, friends, I know you didn't fully realize what you were doing when you rejected and betrayed Jesus. I know that you, and your rulers as well, were acting in ignorance. God was at work in all this, fulfilling what He had predicted through all the prophets — that the Anointed One would suffer. So now you need to rethink everything and turn to God so your sins will be forgiven and a new day can dawn, days of refreshing times flowing from the Lord.
(Acts 3:1-19)
Response in Prayer

O Father, I call on the mighty name of Jesus. I pray to You by the power and presence of Jesus' name. Give me eyes to see and a heart to believe, O Father. I know that You long to bring times of refreshing to me and to bring Your refreshing grace to others through me. So I offer You my heart. I seek Your Holy Spirit to help me rethink everything and see my world, my circumstances, and my influence through Your eyes of grace and possibility. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Post  Admin on Sun 29 May 2016, 1:56 pm

"Heart Surgery" — A Year with Jesus for 05/29/2016
Note from Jesus
Dear Disciple, 
I've been sharing some reasons that the Scriptures, including the teaching of the apostles and others in the New Testament, are important to you. The Scriptures are alive because We — Father, Son, and Spirit — are all active as you read the Scriptures. The Father examines you as you read. The Spirit opens your heart to receive Our truth. The goal of the Scriptures is to transform you to be like Me in righteous character and gracious compassion. The Holy Spirit breathed out My message through human writing partners (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Spirit is also active in helping you understand the Father's message (1 Corinthians 2:6-16). The Spirit reminds you of My words, helps you to remember My deeds, and conforms you to the Father's will (John 15:26-27; John 16:12-15; Romans 8:1-4; 2 Corinthians 3:18). 
In the hands of the Spirit, the message of the Scriptures has the power to reach into your heart. As a tool of the Spirit, the Scriptures can do the delicate and drastic surgery necessary to help you understand the truth, receive correction, accept instruction, and understand Our will for your life. The Scriptures speak to your inner being ( "soul and spirit"), to your physical being ( "joints and marrow"), and to your mind and heart ( "thoughts and will of the heart"). Just as you are to love Us heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30), We work on you in each area of your being through the Spirit and using the word. 
So open your Bible and read it. Open your hearts to Our message. Offer yourselves to the Father. Invite the Spirit to work in you. Read the Scriptures to seek My truth and to follow Me as My disciple.
Verses to Live

In the two passages below, you will find the word of God described as a "sword", even a "double-edged sword" or very sharp dagger or scalpel. The word of God is alive because this scalpel is used by the Spirit as the Father looks into and works on every area of your being to bring it into conformity to Our will. You need to understand these Scriptures. In order to understand how to apply Our word to your life, ask the Holy Spirit to help and look at the things I taught and the way I lived and treated people.
The word of God, you see, is alive and moving; sharper than a double-edged sword; piercing the divide between soul and spirit, joints and marrow; able to judge the thoughts and will of the heart. No creature can hide from God: God sees all. Everyone and everything is exposed, opened for His inspection; and He's the One we will have to explain ourselves to. 
(Hebrews 4:12-13) 

Take also the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 
(Ephesians 6:17)
Response in Prayer

Father in heaven, I open my heart to You and ask that the Spirit work to bring every area of my being — soul, spirit, joints, marrow, thoughts, and heart — into conformity with Your will. My petition, dear Father, is that Paul's prayer for the Thessalonians will be true for me:
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify [me] through and through. May [my] whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. [I believe that the] one who calls [me] is faithful, and he will do it.
I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen. 

Part of this prayer is adapted from 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (NIV).
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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Post  Admin on Sat 28 May 2016, 11:35 pm

"God-breathed Scripture" — A Year with Jesus for 05/28/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

One of the great blessings that you have received from Us — Father, Son, and Spirit — is the Bible, the "holy Scriptures." Many people have died over the centuries because of their commitment to translate, protect, and preserve these Scriptures so that you could have them in your own language. 

We want you to appreciate the incredible blessings of having Our message to you written in human words. We used human partners to pass on Our message to you. The Spirit gave them Our message to convey the truth. To help you understand the message of these Scriptures, we have given you two great gifts. 

First, I came to you incarnate — God's greatest message and ultimate Word to you (John 1:1-18 NIV; Hebrews 1:1-3). My witnesses, whose words you read in your New Testament, emphasize that everything you know about the Scriptures needs to be filtered through Who I AM, what I taught, and how I lived God's truth:
...the holy Scriptures, which enable you to be wise and lead to salvation through faith in Jesus the Anointed. (2 Timothy 3:15)
...in these last days, it [God's message] has come to us through His Son... (Hebrews 1:2)
No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. (John 1:18 NIV)
In Jesus we hear a resounding "yes" to all of God's many promises. (2 Corinthians 1:20)
Listen again: if anyone preaches to you a gospel other than what you have accepted, may he find himself cursed! (Galatians 1:9)
"Here you are scouring through the Scriptures, hoping that you will find eternal life among a pile of scrolls. What you don't seem to understand is that the Scriptures point to Me [Jesus] ." (John 5:39)
"I [Jesus] AM the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6 NIV)
Second, We breathed Our message into inspired and authoritative human partners to write words of truth for you to understand, apply, and live. Before the New Testament was written and the various parts were put into an authoritative collection, the term "holy Scriptures" referred to what many of you call the Old Testament — the books of Moses, the Prophets, and the Writings. These writings were authoritative because they came from Us:
But notice first that no prophecy found in Scripture is a matter of the prophet's own interpretation. Prophecy has never been a product of human initiative, but it comes when men and women are moved to speak on behalf of God by the Holy Spirit. 
(2 Peter 1:20-21)
Verses to Live

During the first century of the church, the writings of the apostles were also being recognized as the "holy Scriptures" (2 Peter 3:15-16 NIV). So as you read the two passages below, remember two additional truths. First, the message of these New Testament witnesses should be regarded as Scripture. It carries the authority of the Holy Spirit speaking through them. Second, these words come to you through the partnership of the Divine — the Father's will, My example, and the Holy Spirit's action — and those who are human — those We used to transmit that message and to be a great example of that message. Please, take the Scriptures seriously. Use them to help you grow as My disciple. Offer yourself to the study of the Scriptures so that you can become someone trained to do My work and live My will in your world.
Take also the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 
(Ephesians 6:17) 

So surely you ought to stick to what you know is certain. All you have learned comes from people you know and trust because since childhood you have known the holy Scriptures, which enable you to be wise and lead to salvation through faith in Jesus the Anointed. All of Scripture is God-breathed; in its inspired voice, we hear useful teaching, rebuke, correction, instruction, and training for a life that is right so that God's people may be up to the task ahead and have all they need to accomplish every good work. 
(2 Timothy 3:14-17)
Response in Prayer

Father, words cannot describe how blessed we are to have received Your message in human words. It is indeed a blessing to know Jesus, the living Word, as our great example and teacher to help us know how to live Your truth. Thank You as well for the Holy Spirit, Who inspired and breathed out Your message through human partners. Thank You! I commit to use Your Word and your inspired Scriptures to change my life as you transform me to be like Jesus, in Whose name I pray. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International..
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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Post  Admin on Fri 27 May 2016, 10:08 pm

The Apostles' Teaching" — A Year with Jesus for 05/27/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Believer, 

Have you ever asked yourself questions like the following:
Why is the Bible important?
Is it really necessary?
Do I have to read it?
Do I have to obey it and live by its teachings?
If so, you are not alone in having these questions. So before we go further into the New Testament story in the coming days, I wanted to give you some insights into the importance of the Scriptures. We will spend today and the next two days with this focus. Then we will rejoin the church in its earliest days in the book of Acts and journey through the rest of the New Testament. Before we do this, I AM reminding you of some of the reasons the Scriptures are important to your discipleship. 

Today we join those who began following Me on the day of Pentecost. When 3,000 believed the apostles' message, repented and were baptized, I added them to My family, My church (Acts 2:40-47). So what would their new life together look like? How would all these people come together and form a real movement united around their faith in Me? 

The passage you find in the verses below gives you a glimpse of that new lifestyle. Luke, who wrote both the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts, helps you see four important commitments for their life together:
"learning what the apostles taught them",
"gathering for fellowship",
"breaking bread", and
"praying".
He then explains these four commitments in more detail. 

Each of these things is important as you come together with other believers as a community of disciples. However, today I want to focus on the first commitment: "learning what the apostles taught." I had promised My apostles that the Spirit of truth would remind them of the things that I had spoken to them (John 15:26-27; John 16:13-15). I gave them authority to teach, preach and cast out demons (Mark 3:13-15; Mark 6:7; Matthew 28:18-20; Galatians 2:7-9). This commission made their teaching authoritative, and something My disciples in every era need to receive as My authoritative message. 

One of the reasons I will take you through the New Testament during the remainder of this year is that I want to expose you to My authoritative truth shared through My witnesses, the apostles and also other witnesses. I want you to be like those early disciples and commit yourself to "learning what the apostles taught." You won't be alone in this journey. The Holy Spirit will be at work in you as you read these words of truth to help you understand them, be convicted by them, and apply them (John 16:8; John 16:13-15). The Holy Spirit will help you understand the spiritual truths given through His inspiration (1 Corinthians 2:6-16). So commit yourself, as the early believers did, to learning the apostles' teaching given in the Scriptures!
Verses to Live

Here is Luke's glimpse of the early believers and their Christian lifestyle. All of these qualities are essential and should be a part of your spiritual community and its lifestyle. Today, however, I want you to focus on the importance of the apostles' teaching.
The community [of believers] continually committed themselves to learning what the apostles taught them, gathering for fellowship, breaking bread, and praying. Everyone felt a sense of awe because the apostles were doing many signs and wonders among them. There was an intense sense of togetherness among all who believed; they shared all their material possessions in trust. They sold any possessions and goods that did not benefit the community and used the money to help everyone in need. They were unified as they worshiped at the temple day after day. In homes, they broke bread and shared meals with glad and generous hearts. The new disciples praised God, and they enjoyed the goodwill of all the people of the city. Day after day the Lord added to their number everyone who was experiencing liberation. 
(Acts 2:42-47)
Response in Prayer

Father, I thank You for Your word. I thank You for Your word given through Scripture. I thank You for Your word heard in the proclamation of the good news about Jesus. I thank You for Jesus, the living Word, Who is Your greatest message of all. Today, dear Father, I commit myself to be dedicated to listening to Jesus' voice in the Scriptures. I pray for the help of the Holy Spirit to convict me, correct me, direct me, and mold me to be transformed daily to be like Jesus, in Whose name I pray. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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Post  Admin on Thu 26 May 2016, 10:42 pm

"The Stubbornness of Unbelief" — A Year with Jesus for 05/26/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Follower, 

I challenge you to consider two questions about the verses you find below:
Why do you think that Mark included this story about the unbelief of the folks from My "hometown" and among My "own people" and in My "own household"?
Who are My hometown folks and family today?
If you are My disciple, you are part of My family. Mark included the episode below from My ministry to speak to My family and warn them (and warn you) of a great danger — the "stubbornness of their unbelief." This warning is about a specific kind of "stubbornness" and "unbelief." 

Over the centuries of church history, My disciples have often thought they knew what they could expect from Me. Many times they ended up under-expecting. They came up with theologies that limited My power and presence. They quit believing that I could or would do great things through them. In the process, they limited what I could do for them, with them, and through them because of the "stubbornness of their unbelief." Mark included this episode from My life to speak to this kind of loss of expectation, this "stubbornness" of "unbelief" in the people in his day. The gospel of Mark in your Bibles warns you about this same "unbelief." 

In a few days, we will begin an extended look into the book of Acts. Then, we will go through the rest of the New Testament story together. In the book of Acts, you will read about My disciples and what the Holy Spirit did for them, with them, and through them. You may be tempted to believe that the kinds of things you see in the book of Acts could never happen in your time. I want you to be aware that any lack of expectation still limits the power I can release into your life and the lives of those you love just as My relatives lack of expectation did in My hometown. 

The power of My gospel to reach lost people in every place in every age is still present through the work of My Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, the "stubbornness" of "unbelief" I confronted in My hometown also happens in your day. This lack of expectation contributes to My repeated frustration with My family — My modern-day "hometown" and My "own people" and "household." This "stubbornness" of "unbelief" prevents Me from doing any "great works" for them, among them, and through them. 

Please believe! Please expect more! Please read your Bibles to see that We — Father, Son, and Spirit — long to do in your day the things We've done before. Don't let it be said in your day that I AM limited "by the stubbornness of their unbelief."
Verses to Live

In the following verses, Mark reported things that happened in My hometown of Nazareth. Notice that the people there were astonished at My teaching. They also knew about My miraculous powers. However, they couldn't see past their own familiarity with Me, My family, and what they thought they knew about Me. They refused to accept My teaching and My miracles. Their lack of faith prevented them from experiencing all that I wanted to bring to them and do among them 

Don't let your past experiences place limits on what you think I can do for you, in you, and through you. Remember this about Us — Father, Son, and Spirit: We "can do so many awe-inspiring things, immeasurable things, things greater than [you] ever could ask or imagine through the power at work in" you (Ephesians 3:20).
Jesus went back into His own hometown where He had grown up, and His disciples followed Him there. When the Sabbath came, He went into the synagogue in Nazareth and began to teach as He had done elsewhere, and many of those who heard Him were astonished. 

Those in the Synagogue:
Where did He gain this wisdom? And what are all these stories we've been hearing about the signs and healings He's performed? Where did He get that kind of power? Isn't this Jesus, the little boy we used to see in Joseph's carpenter shop? Didn't He grow up to be a carpenter just like His father? Isn't He the son of Mary over there and the brother of James, Joses, Judas, Simon, and their sisters? Who does He think He is?
And when they had thought about it that way, they became indignant and closed themselves to His message. 

Jesus (seeing this):
A prophet can find honor anywhere except in his hometown, among his own people, and in his own household.
He could not do any of His great works among them except with a few of the sick, whom He healed by laying His hands upon them. He was amazed by the stubbornness of their unbelief. 
(Mark 6:1-6)
Response in Prayer

Today, O God, I pray as Habakkuk did many years ago:
Lord, I have heard of your fame; 
I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord. 
Repeat them in our day, 
in our time make them known.
In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen. 

Prayer from Habakkuk 3:2 NIV. 
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Post  Admin on Wed 25 May 2016, 7:07 pm

Living for Me no Matter the Cost" — A Year with Jesus for 05/25/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Follower, 

How do you find the strength to go on when times are tough? 

That's a really important question because a lot of people will follow Me only when things are going well and when they get everything they want out of life. However, life can be tough. This situation is especially true if you are My faithful disciple in a locale that does not accept My call to radical discipleship. 

In the verses below, the apostle Paul is imprisoned because of his faith in Me. He is not sure what will happen to him. However, he is confident that he will honor Me and that he will be delivered either from death to a life of service or through death into My presence. His goal is to live for Me no matter the cost. 

But how could Paul have this goal and live up to it? Notice three things highlighted in the verses below:
The prayers and encouragement of other believers for him.
The power of the Holy Spirit at work in him.
His intention to honor Me no matter what he faced.
These principles are not a magical formula, but they provide the time-tested power that fuels perseverance and assures ultimate victory. 

Build your relationship with brothers and sisters in Christ. Have them partner with you in prayer. Ask them to encourage you to be faithful, to serve selflessly, and to be strong. 

Take the time to learn about the work of the Holy Spirit to empower and strengthen you. Believe My promises to you about the Holy Spirit. Read My words on the eve of My crucifixion about the coming of the Spirit as your helper (John chapters 14-16). Trust in the Spirit to be at work in you to empower, purify, transform, and resurrect you. 

Finally, I challenge you to commit to living for Me no matter what comes your way. Be "all in" with that commitment. Choose to live for My glory with Me as your Lord. 

I want you to be able to join the apostle Paul in saying, "For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength." This concept is more than a slogan. It is a proven lifestyle that leads to eternal victory and glorious celebration!
Note from Heartlight: For more on the Holy Spirit, check out the daily devotional called SpiritFire. 
Verses to Live

The following words from the apostle Paul are powerful. He spoke them when facing possible death while he was imprisoned. Some opponents claiming to be believers were trying to cause him problems and hurt him. Through it all, Paul was confident. He was confident in Me, confident in his commitment to me, confident in the work of the Spirit to deliver him, and confident in the prayers of those who were faithful to pray for his well-being!
What matters is that in every way, regardless of the motives — whether pure or shady — the great story of the Anointed is a cause for joy. I will continue to rejoice because I know that through your encouragement and prayers and through the help of the Spirit of Jesus the Anointed, I will soon be released from this dark place. I don't expect that dishonor and shame will plague me in any way, but I do hope that I will continue to be able to speak freely and courageously about Jesus, and that now and forever the Anointed One will be glorified and placed above all else through this body of mine — whether I live or die. For my life is about the Anointed and Him alone. And my death, when that comes, will mean great gain for me. So, if it's His will that I go on serving here, my work will be fruitful for the message. I honestly wouldn't know how or what to choose; I would be hard-pressed to decide. I lean toward leaving this world to be with the Anointed One because I can only think that would be much better. To stay in this body of flesh — even with all its pains and weaknesses — would best serve your needs. Now that I think of it, I am sure of this: I would prefer to remain to share in the progress and joy of your growing belief. When I return to you, we will celebrate Jesus the Anointed even more. 
(Philippians 1:18-26) 

How I praise the Lord that you are concerned about me again. I know you have always been concerned for me, but you didn't have the chance to help me. Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. 
(Philippians 4:10-13 NLT)
Response in Prayer

O LORD, God Almighty! Thank You for being ever near through the Holy Spirit and through taking on human flesh in Jesus. Thank You for fellow disciples who love me and pray for me. Thank You for the confidence that I have in the Spirit to deliver me. Now I ask, please dear Father, that You strengthen my resolve and grow my confidence. Strengthen my commitment to serve You no matter what I may face. I confess that I am a little fearful in asking for this because I do not want to face trials. Nevertheless, dear Father, growing in character and commitment is more important to me than my comfort. So I ask this prayer — trusting in Your mercy and grace — to do what is best for me to Your glory. In Jesus' name. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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Post  Admin on Tue 24 May 2016, 11:24 pm

Praying in the Spirit" — A Year with Jesus for 05/24/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

Very few people have direct access to the leader of their nation. If you urgently needed to get your leader's attention, you would be out of luck since most of you don't have the personal relationship or the national importance to demand a meeting with an important leader. So I want you to reflect for a few minutes on what I hope you will see as an astonishing truth. 

Think of all the places you have visited or would like to visit. Think of the great variety of people who live in your world's different locations and cultures. Think of the incredible sites and the dazzling array of earth's beautiful wonders. Imagine the vastness of space and the glorious aggregation of planets into solar systems and galaxies. The One who made this all, Who knows the intricacies of each person, Who knows and has named every star in every system, knows you. The One Who knows all the world's wonders, both great and small, is always available to hear your words. This magnificent and holy Father understands every nuance of your emotions and grieves with every wound that is beyond your articulation. 

This gift of immediate access to the King of glory is always yours. This constant attentive care of the Creator of the universe is guaranteed to be yours. Why? Because of the presence of the Holy Spirit Who allows you to approach the Almighty Father as your "Abba" (Romans 8:14-17; Ephesians 2:18). 

Paul describes this grace with these powerful words:
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? 
(Romans 8:26-27)
So in the verses below Paul reminded the Christians of Asia Minor to "Pray in the Spirit." 

What does that mean? Well, I would remind you of how I taught you to pray:
Your prayers, rather, should be simple, like this:
Our Father in heaven, 
let Your name remain holy. 

Bring about Your kingdom. 
Manifest Your will here on earth, 
as it is manifest in heaven. 

Give us each day that day's bread — no more, no less. 

And forgive us our debts 
as we forgive those who owe us something. 

Lead us not into temptation, 
but deliver us from evil. 

But let Your kingdom be, 
and let it be powerful 
and glorious forever. Amen.
(Matthew 6:9-13)
As you pray in this way, the Holy Spirit is making your prayer more than the meaning of your words. So be intentional about praying in the Spirit. Ask your Gift of heaven's grace to intercede for you. Recognize that the Holy Spirit empowers such prayers. Trust that all the deep nuances that you cannot articulate in your prayer will be heard. Know that your prayer will be brought into perfect alignment with the will of the Father. Don't worry about perfect words; trust in the Spirit as your perfect Intercessor. Enter into your prayerful time as a young child who can cry out to the Abba Father with love, dependency, and intimacy. Don't try to make your prayer impressive. Pray in the Spirit and know that your heartfelt thoughts, feelings, and words are heard!
Verses to Live

There are all sorts of things that are good to pray. However, I want you to focus on one key phrase: "pray in the power of the Holy Spirit"!
But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God's love. 
(Jude 1:20-21 NLT) 

Pray always. Pray in the Spirit. Pray about everything in every way you know how! And keeping all this in mind, pray on behalf of God's people. Keep on praying feverishly, and be on the lookout until evil has been stayed. And please pray for me. Pray that truth will be with me before I even open my mouth. Ask the Spirit to guide me while I boldly defend the mystery that is the good news — for which I am an ambassador in chains — so pray that I can bravely pronounce the truth, as I should do. 
(Ephesians 6:18-20)
Response in Prayer

O Abba Father, I come to You knowing that the Holy Spirit is interceding for me now as I pray. I am so thankful to have the Holy Spirit living in me. I trust that the Spirit will empower me, transform me, and lead me. Today I am so thankful to know that I have access to Your heart at any time because of the Holy Spirit's presence within me. I am so thankful that even when the words that I need don't come, the Holy Spirit gives voice to my thoughts and emotions. For this gift, I thank You and praise You. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.

HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Post  Admin on Mon 23 May 2016, 2:44 pm

"Filled with the Holy Spirit" — A Year with Jesus for 05/23/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of Glory, 

The world is filled with many beautiful and precious people. Unfortunately, so many of them miss their greatest opportunities. Many miss these great opportunities because they do not have their lives tuned to the Holy Spirit. We — Father, Son, and Spirit — want you to "Make the most of every living and breathing moment because these are evil times." So much of the world is held in the grip of the evil one. Under the premise of "fun" and "freedom," the evil one gains hold of people little by little. He snuffs out the life that We intended for them; he addicts them to what is fleeting and cannot provide meaningful fulfillment. As Paul wrote in Ephesians:
As for you, don't you remember how you used to just exist? Corpses, dead in life, buried by transgressions, wandering the course of this perverse world. You were the offspring of the prince of the power of air — oh, how he owned you, just as he still controls those living in disobedience. 
(Ephesians 2:1-2)
However, when you are filled with the Spirit, you experience the delight of the Father. You live the life that reflects and shares My grace. In the verses below, Paul ties five spiritual blessings to being filled with the Spirit. These activities are the result of the Spirit's presence. They are also the way you can release the power of the Holy Spirit into your lives. (See the verses below and Ephesians 5:15-21 in the NIV as an alternative translation.). 

Notice these traits — these five blessings and activities — that both fill you with the Spirit and are also a result of being filled with the Spirit:
"Speak to each other in soulful words of pious songs, hymns, and spiritual songs."
"Sing."
"Make music with your hearts attuned to God."
"Give thanks to God the Father every day through the name of our Lord Jesus", i.e., through My name.
"Submit humbly to one another out of respect for the Anointed", i.e., out of respect for Me, your Lord and Christ.
The Holy Spirit gives you the power to enjoy life as you were intended to live it. The "law of the Spirit of life" means that you are not under condemnation, but the Spirit "breathes into you and liberates you from the law of sin and death" (Romans 8:1-4). This same Spirit works to transform you, day-by-day, to be more and more like Me (2 Corinthians 3:17-18). These are exactly the opposite effects of living under the false freedom of the world. 

You were filled with My spirit from the moment you were born from above (John 3:3-7; Titus 3:3-7). And you can seek to be filled ever more completely with the Spirit (Luke 11:13; Acts 4:29-31). The Spirit will guide you as your dance of life keeps in step with Me (Galatians 5:18; Galatians 5:25-26). The Spirit helps you put to death the vestiges of the flesh. The Spirit empowers you to get out of the evil one's life-sapping grip on your life. The Spirit enables you to live fully as the Father's beloved child and My co-heir of all the blessings of the Father's grace (Romans 8:13-17).
Verses to Live

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

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

Abba Father, I thank You for not only adopting me as Your child but also for filling me with the Spirit. I thank You that I live in the Spirit to experience Your true freedom of grace. As I am led by Your Spirit and filled with Your Spirit, bring Your righteous character and gracious compassion to life in Me. Transform me to be like Jesus as I wait for my full adoption as Your child and as a full heir with Jesus to all that You intend for Your children of 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! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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Post  Admin on Sun 22 May 2016, 10:52 pm

'Through the Power at Work in Us'" — A Year with Jesus for 05/22/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciples, 

I love My disciples to praise the Father! Look at Paul's beautiful prayer in the verses below. He not only praises the Father, but he also asks for the Father's help. In particular, this great church-planter and disciple-maker prays for the strengthening of the brothers and sisters he loves. He does not pray for generic strength, but for the Holy Spirit's empowered strength:
Father, out of Your honorable and glorious riches, strengthen Your people. Fill their souls with the power of Your Spirit...
The result of this prayer for strength should make your hearts beat a little faster. While the glory for the great things that the Holy Spirit does will go to God, the people through whom the Spirit works will be folks just like you, My disciples. Notice something else that Paul prays:
Now to the God who can do so many awe-inspiring things, immeasurable things, things greater than we ever could ask or imagine through the power at work in us...
God can and will do "awe-inspiring things" and He will do "things greater than we could ask or imagine." Now notice carefully how God will do these things: through the Holy Spirit, His "power that is at work in us"! 

So here are several things to ponder, and then take appropriate action:
Pray frequently for God to strengthen specific brothers and sisters in Christ through the Holy Spirit.
Pray regularly that their work inspired by the Spirit will bring God glory.
Pray passionately that these brothers and sisters will be used by God to accomplish — and that they get to experience — many "awe-inspiring things" done through them by the Spirit.
Paul prayed these things for the brothers and sisters who received his letter called Ephesians. You should pray these things regularly for each other. Imagine releasing the power that comes from Us — Father, Son, and Spirit — into the lives of people you love. Think about all the people in your spiritual family who need Our comfort, strength, and grace. I want you to invite the Holy Spirit to move mightily through you, your fellowship, your congregation, your home gatherings, and your small groups. Pray that you and your fellow Christians bring the Father glory and bring My grace to those around you. As you see this grace released, rejoice in the glory of Our grace and power for you!
Verses to Live

Paul's letter to the Ephesians is full of great bursts of praise and prayer. Today's verses are an example that comes in the middle of Paul's letter. It is part of what holds the whole message of the letter together. I want you to read through this prayer several times. Take time to write it out in your own words. Now begin to pray it for specific people. Let them know that you are praying it for them. Then give thanks when you see the Spirit at work in them!
So I [Paul] ask you not to become discouraged because I am jailed for speaking out on your behalf. In fact, my suffering is something that brings you glory. 

It is for this reason that I bow my knees before the Father, after whom all families in heaven above and on earth below receive their names, and pray:
Father, out of Your honorable and glorious riches, strengthen Your people. Fill their souls with the power of Your Spirit so that through faith the Anointed One will reside in their hearts. May love be the rich soil where their lives take root. May it be the bedrock where their lives are founded so that together with all of Your people they will have the power to understand that the love of the Anointed is infinitely long, wide, high, and deep, surpassing everything anyone previously experienced. God, may Your fullness flood through their entire beings.
Now to the God who can do so many awe-inspiring things, immeasurable things, things greater than we ever could ask or imagine through the power at work in us, to Him be all glory in the church and in Jesus the Anointed from this generation to the next, forever and ever. Amen. 
(Ephesians 3:13-21)
Response in Prayer

Father in heaven, please forgive me. I have spent too much time not expecting You to do any great things through me and others like me. I pray that as I read about the early church and the work of the Spirit over the next several weeks that You will help me to expect more. Help me to believe that the same Spirit Who empowered the early church will empower us today. Please strengthen us. Please strengthen me. Please strengthen those close to Me. Strengthen us with the power of Your Holy Spirit. Father, I do not pray this for us to receive glory, but so that others might believe and that You will receive the glory that is due You. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
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Post  Admin on Sat 21 May 2016, 3:49 pm

"The Power of the Resurrection in You" — A Year with Jesus for 05/21/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Beloved, 

I want you to notice especially the words highlighted in bold in the verses below. The apostle Paul is praying for the Ephesian Christians and other believers in Asia Minor. They live in a place fascinated with spiritual power. Their world is filled with superstition. So Paul prays for them to understand the great power at work in them. Paul knew this power. You will see this power at work in the coming weeks as we journey through the book of Acts. I want you to notice:
[T]he immeasurable greatness of his [the Father's] power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead.
Paul wanted these early believers to realize that the power behind My resurrection and behind the marvelous things that happened on the first Pentecost after My resurrection is at work in My people; I want you to realize this power is also at work in you. 

Paul emphasized that this power comes from the work and presence of the Holy Spirit in My people (Ephesians 3:14-21; Ephesians 5:15-21; Ephesians 6:17-18). I poured out the Holy Spirit on the disciples on that Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4; Acts 2:32-39). I also poured out the Spirit on you when you were saved (Titus 3:3-7). I blessed you with power, more power than you could ever imagine. The power that raised My lifeless body from the dead is now at work in you (Ephesians 1:17-21). I long for you to believe this. I yearn for you to experience this power. The power of the resurrection is at work in you. 

So when you face trying times and when you feel as if you cannot endure any more trials, remember Who is at work within you. The Holy Spirit, Who raised Me from the dead, is at work in you. Remember when you have great opportunities, you are not alone in your efforts. The Holy Spirit is at work in you. When you face big decisions, you don't need to make those decisions by yourself. The Holy Spirit is there with you and within you. When you worship with each other, and when you give your testimony to those who are lost, you are more than just you. The power of the Holy Spirit is there with you and within you to fill and empower and guide you. The Holy Spirit is not some figment of your imagination. The following verses were Paul's prayer for the Ephesians. Just as Paul prayed for the Ephesians, the Spirit's presence is My promise to you!
Verses to Live

Paul begins the book of Ephesians with a burst of prayerful praise and thanksgiving (Ephesians 1:3-14). He flows right into the following prayer for the believers in Asia Minor. In this prayer, Paul prays for them to realize the awesome power at work within all of My disciples:
In him [Jesus] you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. 

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. 
(Ephesians 1:13-23 ESV)
Response in Prayer

O Father, thank You for the amazing power at work in my life and the lives of Your people. I pray that I can know and experience this power and presence that come from the Holy Spirit living in me and filling me. Please, dear Father, use the Spirit's presence in me to conform me to Jesus, to empower me to holy living, and to use me to bless others and bring You glory. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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Post  Admin on Fri 20 May 2016, 9:36 pm

Spiritual Family!" — A Year with Jesus for 05/20/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Precious Brothers and Sisters, 

So many of My followers struggle in their lives of discipleship because each is trying to do everything by his or her own strength. The individualism so prevalent in many modern cultures has disconnected you from the way you were made. We — Father, Son, and Spirit — created you in our image (Genesis 1:26-27). You are hard-wired to belong in relationships. From the beginning, We proclaimed that it was not good for you to be alone (Genesis 2:18). Throughout the Scriptures you will find reminders about the importance of being genuine spiritual friends and family — brothers and sisters of each other brought into relationship by your love for your Father in heaven:
Two are better than one because a good return comes when two work together. If one of them falls, the other can help him up. But who will help the pitiful person who falls down alone? In the same way, if two lie down together, they can keep each other warm. But how will the one who sleeps alone stay warm against the night? And if one person is vulnerable to attack, two can drive the attacker away. As the saying goes, "A rope made of three strands is not quickly broken." 
(Ecclesiastes 4:9-12) 

He [Jesus] called the twelve to Him and began to send them out in pairs. 
(Mark 6:7) 

The Lord then recruited and deployed 70 more disciples. He sent them ahead, in teams of two, to visit all the towns and settlements between them and Jerusalem. 
(Luke 10:1) 

For when two or three gather together in My name, I am there in the midst of them. 
(Matthew 18:20)
In the New Testament, the connections of My followers with each other are described in multiple ways. One description is that My followers are branches connected to each other through Me, the vine. In other places, believers who gather in fellowship in My name are described as various members of My body who need each other and complement each other. I also taught My disciples to see themselves as family, brothers and sisters connected to one another through their heavenly Father. 

I could give you even more examples of the communal nature of discipleship, but I hope you get the point. You are made to be in fellowship with other believers! You need each other to serve Me best and share Me with the world! You won't make it if you try to live the life of discipleship on your own, alone. Even when you are cut off from other believers for a time because of illness, isolation, or even imprisonment, you need the prayers of those who love you to sustain you. Each of you has been given at least one spiritual gift to use as a part of the local body of believers so that together you can function as My bodily presence in your neighborhood and city (Romans 12:4-5). 

Some may be drawn to a big congregation with many people. Others may find their place in a small gathering of people in a home. What matters is that you live your life for Me in companionship with others. The verses below talk about the key elements of such a community, family, body, and fellowship. Seek this kind of community; don't settle for watered-down versions of community where you can be anonymous and alone without spiritual support or accountability. You were made to be part of a real, vital, and thriving community of believers.
Verses to Live

I love you... I know you... I made you... I care about you... personally, uniquely, and distinctly. I also remind you that I enjoy the most intimate of communities as God — Father, Son, and Spirit. Before I was betrayed, My prayer for you was this:
"Father, may they all be one as You are in Me and I am in You; may they be in Us, for by this unity the world will believe that You sent Me." 
(John 17:21)
So I'm asking you to read the following description of true Christian unity — a family, a body, a community joined in life, worship, and service. Then become part of one if you are not already... or form one... but don't try to do your life of discipleship alone! 

What you will find in the verses that follow is a description of genuine Christian community — people filled with the Holy Spirit, unified, and full of self-sacrificing generosity while maintaining their focus on prayer and on the apostles' teaching on the gospel. I'm not sharing this so that you can know church history. I'm sharing this because the same Holy Spirit longs to fulfill your spiritual hunger by helping you be part of a community like the one you find here!
[On the day of Pentecost, 3,000 people believed, repented, were baptized, and became part of My spiritual family.] The community continually committed themselves to learning what the apostles taught them, gathering for fellowship, breaking bread, and praying. Everyone felt a sense of awe because the apostles were doing many signs and wonders among them. There was an intense sense of togetherness among all who believed; they shared all their material possessions in trust. They sold any possessions and goods that did not benefit the community and used the money to help everyone in need. They were unified as they worshiped at the temple day after day. In homes, they broke bread and shared meals with glad and generous hearts. The new disciples praised God, and they enjoyed the goodwill of all the people of the city. Day after day the Lord added to their number everyone who was experiencing liberation. 
(Acts 2:42-47)
Response in Prayer

O Father, I have been hurt by people who claim to love You, to follow Jesus, and to be filled with the Holy Spirit. Because I carry these wounds and scars, I sometimes find it hard to invest myself fully in others. I pledge, dear Father, that I will welcome others as You have welcomed me into Your family. I also ask, dear Father, that You lead me to the people I most need or who most need me to be in their circle of fellowship. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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Post  Admin on Thu 19 May 2016, 11:10 pm

"The Power Behind My Growing Kingdom" — A Year with Jesus for 05/19/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Disciple, 

Pentecost came, and My church was born! The presence, power, and work of the Holy Spirit in every true disciple had finally arrived. All who truly believed in Me as Lord and Christ, who turned their hearts to live for Me, and who were immersed in My name on that great day were given the gift of the Holy Spirit to live in them and to work through them (Acts 2:36-41). 

When I first told the parable found in the verses below, the Holy Spirit had not yet been given to My followers (John 7:37-39). In the parable, I talk about the mysterious power that causes seeds to grow and produce fruit. The similar mysterious power in My people is the Holy Spirit. Beginning on Pentecost, all of My followers have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit. So for the next few days, I will share some great things about the Holy Spirit and power. It is this power that you see at work in the book of Acts and the power I want to see at work among My followers today. 

The result of the Spirit's presence in the hearts of people who truly believe is astounding. The small band of 120 disciples (Acts 1:13-15) soon became 3,000 people (Acts 2:41), then more than 5,000 people (Acts 4:4), and the number of disciples "increased rapidly" (Acts 6:1; Acts 6:7 NIV). To an outsider, the power may seem very mysterious — similar to the power behind the growth of the seeds in My parable. However, if you know Me and My promises, you know that I promised this power to propel My people, grow My church, and enlarge the kingdom of God (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8).
Verses to Live

Today's Scripture is very short, but it contains a parable packed with meaning and promise. In this parable, I talked about a farmer who doesn't see or understand how seeds grow into plants. This mysterious power at work in plants is similar to the power of the Holy Spirit that works in My disciples to grow the church. I send the Holy Spirit to empower My people to do My work and accomplish things for the Father. These things are greater than My disciples could imagine because the power behind these great things in the book of Acts is the Holy Spirit.
Jesus [teaching His disciples in a parable] :
Here is what the kingdom of God is like: a man who throws seeds onto the earth. Day and night, as he works and as he sleeps, the seeds sprout and climb out into the light, even though he doesn't understand how it works. It's as though the soil itself produced the grain somehow — from a sprouted stalk to ripened fruit. But however it happens, when he sees that the grain has grown and ripened, he gets his sickle and begins to cut it because the harvest has come.
(Mark 4:26-29)
Response in Prayer

I thank You, almighty and loving Father. I thank You, Lord Jesus, my Savior. I thank You, the ever-present and powerful Holy Spirit. Thank You, God, for Your power and presence available to me through the gift of the Holy Spirit. I pray for the Holy Spirit to bring renewal to Your people and strength to Your church. I pray for the Holy Spirit to bring a resurrection of hope to those who struggle, doubt, and grow weary. I believe, dear Father, that the Spirit can re-ignite us to do great things for our world and to honor You as the King of all nations. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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Post  Admin on Wed 18 May 2016, 9:47 pm

"Mustard Seed Effect" — A Year with Jesus for 05/18/2016

Note from Jesus

Dear Child of the King of Glory, 

The kingdom of heaven is powerful. You are a part of that kingdom. You are a child of the King. Great power is at work in you. Not sure about this? Don't really believe this? Remember My parable about the mustard seed? You can find it in the verses below along with Doctor Luke's ending to the book of Acts. I have put these together for you because I want you to realize something amazing: My mustard seed parable proved true! 

You are an example of just how far this mustard seed effect has spread both geographically and through time. As we read from the book of Acts in the coming days — after I have shared several key passages reminding you of the power at work in you — you will see the mustard seed effect produced through the power of the Holy Spirit! What began as a small movement in the backwaters of Galilee with Me and a few disciples reaches all over the world bringing people from all different races, cultures, nations, religions, and backgrounds into My family. 

Yes, there are some who reject the message and refuse to believe. However, an amazing number come to faith and that faith has kept growing and providing a family, a real home, for other people of different languages and cultures. 

By the time we finish the book of Acts, the apostle Paul will have reached his goal of going to Rome (Romans 1:9-13), the capital of the empire. He didn't arrive there in the way he anticipated or under the circumstances he would have planned. However, he arrived in Rome and effectively shared My good news there. This sharing is the final message Luke wanted you to hear: In Rome, Paul proclaimed My good news of the kingdom of God and taught about My grace "with great confidence and with no hindrance." 

Christianity went from such small beginnings to such powerful influence in such a short time period — in just three decades. All of this was done without the benefits and conveniences of your era in time. The disciples had no superhighways, automobiles, planes, high-speed trains, internet, telephones, text messaging, social media, or email. So imagine what I can do today through you if you keep sharing My message using all your modern tools and trusting that I will support your efforts with My power!
Verses to Live

Notice how the ending to the book of Acts complements My parable about the mustard seed. My movement really is the mustard seed effect: people doing normal things with extraordinary faith in the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Jesus told them another parable. 

Jesus:
The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a sower took and planted in his field. Mustard seeds are minute, tiny — but the seeds grow into trees. Flocks of birds can come and build their nests in the branches.
(Matthew 13:31-32) 

Some [of the Jewish leaders in Rome] were convinced, but others refused to believe. 

Paul (adding as they left in disagreement):
The Holy Spirit rightly spoke to your ancestors through the prophet Isaiah:
Go to this people and say, 

"You certainly do hear, 
but you will never understand; 
you certainly do see, 
but you will never have insight. 

"Make their hearts hard, 
their ears deaf, 
and their eyes blind. 

"Otherwise, they would 
look and see, 
listen and hear, 
understand and repent, 
and be healed."
So let it be known to you that God's liberation, God's healing, has been sent to the outsiders, and they will listen.
Then the local Jewish leaders left Paul to discuss all he had told them. 

For two full years, he lived there in Rome, paying all his own expenses, receiving all who came to him. With great confidence and with no hindrance, he proclaimed the kingdom of God and taught about the ultimate authority — the Lord Jesus, God's Anointed, the Liberating King. 
(Acts 28:24-31)
Response in Prayer

Father, I stand in amazement at how the message of Jesus has reached out and impacted such a significant part of the world. I believe that behind the incredible spread of Your gospel is the work of the Holy Spirit. I believe that behind the advances of the kingdom are the prayers of Jesus' followers who have invested their lives in His cause and who have kept on asking Him to release the power of the Holy Spirit through them. So I pray, dear Father, that you will use me to further Your mustard seed effect and that I can be a part of seeing people from all over the world come to faith in Your Son. I pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.
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This daily devotional is written to help us all reclaim Jesus as the daily Lord of our lives and to help us realize we are not alone as we seek to live for Him. — Learn More
The Thoughts and Prayers for 'A Year with Jesus' are written by Phil Ware. You can email questions or comments to phil@heartlight.org.
Thanks to our invaluable editors:
Dr. Edward Holley - Executive Editor
Ray Butts - General Editor
Heartlight is proud to support Compassion International.
HOW DO I SUBSCRIBE? It's FREE! Visit the website to subscribe by email.
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. © 1998-2015, Heartlight, Inc. 'A Year with Jesus' is part of the Heartlight Network.
© 1998-2016, Heartlight Inc.
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