Today’s Daily Devotonal

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1 JOHN 4:
9 By this the love of God was displayed in us, in that God has sent His [One and] only begotten Son [the One who is truly unique, the only One of His kind] into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation [that is, the atoning sacrifice, and the satisfying offering] for our sins [fulfilling God’s requirement for justice against sin and placating His wrath]. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us [in this incredible way], we also ought to love one another…
19 We love because He first loved us.

True Love Must Give 
Everyone desires to be loved and accepted. But many of us try to find happiness the wrong way. We attempt to find it in getting, but it is found in giving. The love of God is the most wonderful gift we are given. Once it flows to us, it needs to flow from us to others; otherwise, it becomes stagnant.

Love must give because that’s its nature. First John 4:11 highlights how we must give the love we receive: “Beloved if God loved us so [very much], we also ought to love one another.”

Living in God’s true love is a process. First, God loves us, and by faith, we receive His love. We then love ourselves in a balanced way, give love back to Him, and learn to love other people.

Love must follow this course or it is not complete. Once we have His love in us, we can give it away. We can choose to love others lavishly. We can love them as deeply and unconditionally as He has loved us.

Prayer: Father, we don’t want Your love to become stagnant in us. Help us to not only receive Your love but to complete the process by choosing to love others lavishly. Thank You. In Jesus name!!!

 

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Today’s Daily Devotional

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EPHESIANS 1:
1 Paul, an apostle (special messenger, personally chosen representative) of Christ Jesus (the Messiah, the Anointed), by the will of God [that is, by His purpose and choice],
To the saints (God’s people) who are at Ephesus and are faithful and loyal and steadfast in Christ Jesus: 2 Grace to you and peace [inner calm and spiritual well-being] from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Blessed and worthy of praise be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ, 4 just as [in His love] He chose us in Christ [actually selected us for Himself as His own] before the foundation of the world, so that we would be holy [that is, consecrated, set apart for Him, purpose-driven] and blameless in His sight. In love 5 He predestined and lovingly planned for us to be adopted to Himself as [His own] children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the kind intention and good pleasure of His will– 6 to the praise of His glorious grace and favor, which He so freely bestowed on us in the Beloved [His Son, Jesus Christ]. 7 In Him, we have redemption [that is, our deliverance and salvation] through His blood, [which paid the penalty for our sin and resulted in] the forgiveness and complete pardon of our sin, in accordance with the riches of His grace 8 which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and understanding [with practical insight] 9 He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, 10 with regard to the fulfillment of the times [that is, the end of history, the climax of the ages]—to bring all things together in Christ, [both] things in the heavens and things on the earth.

Key Verse- 5 He predestined and lovingly planned for us to be adopted to Himself as [His own] children through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the kind intention and good pleasure of His will—

What Is God’s Love Like? 
Why does God love us as imperfect as we are? Because He wants to, it pleases Him. It’s in His very nature to love us, no matter how sinful our actions may be.

Father God conquers evil with good (see Romans 12:21). He does that by pouring out His limitless grace upon us so that when we sin, His grace becomes greater than our sin. And just as it is impossible for Him not to love, so it is impossible for us to do anything to keep Him from loving us.

Father loves because that is His nature. He is love (see 1 John 4:8). He may not always love everything we do, but He does love us. His love is the power that forgives our sins, heals our emotional wounds and mends our broken hearts (see Psalm 147:3). His love is unconditional; it is based on Him, not us! Once you realize that He loves you regardless of what you have or haven’t done, you can experience an incredible breakthrough. You can quit trying to earn His love and simply receive it, enjoy it and live in it.

Prayer: Father God, Your love is incredible. Focusing on Your love reminds us that it’s based on Your goodness and grace, not our actions. Help us to receive Your love for us and live in that. Fill us up again with Yourself, Sir Holy Spirit. Thank You. In Jesus holy name!!!

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Today’s Daily Devotional

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PHILIPPIANS 4:
8 Finally, believers, (brothers and sisters), whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart]. 9 The things which you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things [in daily life], and the God [who is the source] of peace and well-being will be with you.
10 I rejoiced greatly in the Lord, that now, at last, you have renewed your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned about me before, but you had no opportunity to show it.
11 Not that I speak from [any personal] need, for I have learned to be content [and self-sufficient through Christ, satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or uneasy] regardless of my circumstances.
12 I know how to get along and live humbly [in difficult times], and I also know how to enjoy abundance and live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret [of facing life], whether well-fed or going hungry, whether having an abundance or being in need. 13 I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.] 14 Nevertheless, it was right of you to share [with me] in my difficulties.

Key Verse- 11 Not that I speak from [any personal] need, for I have learned to be content [and self-sufficient through Christ, satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or uneasy] regardless of my circumstances.

Learning to Be Content in Every Situation 
The Bible teaches us to be content no matter what our circumstances may be. The apostle Paul wrote, “Not that I am implying that I was in any personal want, for I have learned how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am.”

Contentment is a decision to be happy with what you already have. Unfortunately, we usually learn to be content by living discontented lives for a long time and then finally saying, “Lord, I don’t want to live this way any longer.’ But it doesn’t have to be that way.

You can choose to be content every day. This is worth more than all the material possessions you could possibly accumulate in a lifetime.

Paul made this clear when he wrote in 1 Timothy 6:6, “Godliness accompanied with contentment (that contentment which is a sense of inward sufficiency) is great and abundant gain.”

What is sure to make us happy? Choosing contentment in the Lord, every day. Saying to Father God, “Lord, I only want what You want me to have,” is the only way to have real peace and lasting happiness.

Prayer: Father, we only want what You want for us. Like the apostle Paul, we choose to be content in every circumstance. Thank You for Your many blessings on us. In Jesus name!!!

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Today’s Daily Devotional

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HEBREWS 13:
1 Let love of your fellow believers continue. 2 Do not neglect to extend hospitality to strangers [especially among the family of believers—being friendly, cordial, and gracious, sharing the comforts of your home and doing your part generously], for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it. 3 Remember those who are in prison, as if you were their fellow prisoner, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body [and subject to physical suffering]. 4 Marriage is to be held in honor among all [that is, regarded as something of great value], and the marriage bed undefiled [by immorality or by any sexual sin]; for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.
5 Let your character [your moral essence, your inner nature] be free from the love of money [shun greed–be financially ethical], being content with what you have; for He has said, “I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!” 6 So we take comfort and are encouraged and confidently say, “The Lord is my Helper [in time of need], I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?”

Key Verse- 5 Let your character [your moral essence, your inner nature] be free from the love of money [shun greed–be financially ethical], being content with what you have; for He has said, “I will never [under any circumstances] desert you [nor give you up nor leave you without support, nor will I in any degree leave you helpless], nor will I forsake or let you down or relax My hold on you [assuredly not]!”

Desiring God More Than His Blessings 
How many of us can actually say, ‘I am not jealous of anyone else or envious of what others have? If Father God gave it to them, then I want them to enjoy it”?

The Word says, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have” (Hebrews 13:5 NKJV). I believe Father tests us to see if we will live by this verse.

There are times when He will put somebody in front of us who has exactly what we want, just to see how we will respond. Until we can pass His “I am happy for you because you are blessed” test, we are never going to have any more than what we have right now.

If you have asked Him for something and He hasn’t given it to you yet, rest assured that He is not holding out on you. He simply wants to make sure that you rid yourself of jealousy and make Him your top priority.

Father wants us to prosper in every way. He wants people to see His goodness and how well He takes care of us. But we must desire Him more than we desire His blessings.

Prayer: Father God, we want You to show us the areas of our life where we’ve given in to jealousy and covetousness, and help us rearrange our priorities. We want to desire You more than Your blessings. Thank You. In Jesus name!!!

 


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Biblical Illiteracy: What Is It And How Bad Is It

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Biblical Illiteracy: What Is It And How Bad Is It

Recent Headlines-

The Scandal of Biblical Illiteracy: It’s Our Problem

The Epidemic of Bible Illiteracy in Our Churches

Lifeway Research: Americans Are Fond Of The Bible But Don’t Read It

Biblical Illiteracy Isn’t Funny, It’s Scary

 

Excerpt from Biblical Illiteracy Isn’t Funny, It’s Scary:

Last week biblical illiteracy in the news media was put on display like never before. First, the Wall Street Journal misquoted Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu as saying that “Moses brought water from Iraq.” What the prime minister actually said was that Moses “brought water from a rock,” a reference to either Exodus 17 or Numbers 20. This mistake was frankly hilarious, especially if you were raised (as I was) in a part of the country where the standard pronunciation for Iraq (“Iye-RAK”) would leave little room for such confusion. The next goof—this time from NPR—was less entertaining than dumbfounding. A piece on Pope Francis at NPR’s “Two Way” blog described Easter as “the day celebrating the idea that Jesus did not die and go to hell or purgatory or anywhere at all, but rather arose into heaven…” It takes effort to get the central fact of the New Testament this bizarrely wrong. “Purgatory”? What are they even talking about? If you don’t know that Easter “is the day Christians celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection,” as NPR’s corrected text reads—if you can’t get this most basic belief of the world’s largest religion right—then readers and listeners could justly ask what business you have reporting on religion, at all.

Excerpt from Lifeway Research: Americans Are Fond Of The Bible But Don’t Read It

Small wonder many church leaders worry about biblical illiteracy, said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. “Most Americans don’t know first-hand the overall story of the Bible—because they rarely pick it up,” McConnell said. “Even among worship attendees less than half read the Bible daily. The only time most Americans hear from the Bible is when someone else is reading it.”

Excerpt from The Scandal of Biblical Illiteracy: It’s Our Problem

While America’s evangelical Christians are rightly concerned about the secular worldview’s rejection of biblical Christianity, we ought to give some urgent attention to a problem much closer to home–biblical illiteracy in the church. This scandalous problem is our own, and it’s up to us to fix it.

Researchers George Gallup and Jim Castelli put the problem squarely: “Americans revere the Bible–but, by and large, they don’t read it. And because they don’t read it, they have become a nation of biblical illiterates.” How bad is it? Researchers tell us that it’s worse than most could imagine.

Fewer than half of all adults can name the four gospels. Many Christians cannot identify more than two or three of the disciples. According to data from the Barna Research Group, 60 percent of Americans can’t name even five of the Ten Commandments. “No wonder people break the Ten Commandments all the time. They don’t know what they are,” said George Barna, president of the firm. The bottom line? “Increasingly, America is biblically illiterate.”

I think it was in the 70’s or 80’s George Barna did one of his polls and ask the question, What is your favorite verse from the Bible? The answer was John 3:16- For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Then a decade or so went by and he did the same poll with the same question. The answer he got was, “I don’t know chapter and verse but ‘God helps those who help themselves’.” WOW!!! How times change.

We do have a huge problem today with Biblical Illiteracy and especially among those who call themselves Christian. They just don’t know what the Word of God says. They have become lazy and depend on the pastor or someone else to tell them what the Bible says and thus what God says. My question then is how can you have a personal relationship with God through His Son, Jesus, when you don’t spend time with Him every day and in His Word?

I have been a Christian, that is, I met Jesus personally, 50 years ago. I have a personal relationship with my Father God in and through Him. I spend time every day in His Word asking Sir Holy Spirit to guide me into all truth. Now even though I have been a child of God for 50 years, have read and studied the Bible ever since that doesn’t make me an expert but I strive for and think I know what Father has said in His Word. I have been a Sunday School and Bible teacher for years and even studied some in the original languages of Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic.

When I taught the Word, I told the students that we all have doctrine. And that doctrine is what you believe and why you believe it. So as Christians, we have to KNOW what the Bible says and then explain why we believe it based on what it says. I tried very hard to emphasize when I taught for the students to NOT just believe me but to study the Word for themselves.

Today I hear people say something that sounds ‘good’ but it is NOT Biblical and this may come from many who say they are Christian. For example, I hear people say that grandma is now in heaven after someone passes. Well, do you know for sure that they went to heaven? Did you personally ever ask them or tell them what the Bible says about it? Did you know that they knew Jesus personally Who is the ONLY Way to heaven and to Father God? Some today without knowing it believes in the ‘doctrine’ of inclusivity that is that everyone goes to heaven when they die. They don’t want to think about the possibility that they may be in Hell. Another example I recently heard was that someone passed away and yes they were a Christian and went to heaven but a family member said they ‘had finally gotten their wings and were flying high now’. Or, that they were now an angel in heaven. Both are Biblically incorrect and misguided. When a person dies in Christ, we DON’T gain our wings. We won’t need wings to fly. We don’t become an angel and get a halo. If we did become an angel, then we would be subject to chose to sin and if we did then there is NO sacrifice for angels who sin. They choose to go to hell on the judgment day. I read this in a book I am reading now and this principle jumped out at me- “Because humans must rely on faith alone, the penitent can be absolved of their transgressions. But angels have knowledge of the divine, so forgiveness is not possible for us. Our sins are irreversible.” Nevins, D.H… Wormwood (p. 146). Black Wraith Books. Kindle Edition. This was an angel or actually a Nephilim, half angel and half human, and is in a book of fiction but I can see that the author has read and studied and knows what the Bible says.

I felt compelled to share these words with you and ask you the question- Do you KNOW what God says? Do you know what the Bible, God’s Word, says? Open it up and join me on this amazing journey of KNOWING Him in His Word. If you don’t KNOW Him as your personal Savior and Lord, then let’s talk. Let’s have a discussion. Questions and comments welcomed.

Today’s Daily Devotional

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PSALM 25:
14 The secret [of the wise counsel] of the Lord is for those who fear Him, And He will let them know His covenant and reveal to them [through His word] its [deep, inner] meaning.
15 My eyes are continually toward the Lord, For He will bring my feet out of the net.
16 Turn to me [Lord] and be gracious to me, For I am alone and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart are multiplied; Bring me out of my distresses.
18 Look upon my affliction and my trouble, And forgive all my sins.
19 Look upon my enemies, for they are many; They hate me with cruel and violent hatred.
20 Guard my soul and rescue me; Do not let me be ashamed or disappointed, For I have taken refuge in You.
21 Let integrity and uprightness protect me, For I wait [expectantly] for You.

Key Verse- 20 Guard my soul and rescue me; Do not let me be ashamed or disappointed, For I have taken refuge in You.

The Difference Between Healthy and Unhealthy Shame 
Every day we encounter two different kinds of shame and it’s critical that we know the difference.

There is a type of shame that is normal and healthy. For example, if I lose or break something that belongs to someone else, I feel disappointed about my mistake. I wish I had not been so careless or negligent. I am sorry, but I can ask for forgiveness, receive it and go on with my life.

Healthy shame reminds us that we are imperfect human beings with weaknesses and limitations. It reminds us that we need God.

Unfortunately, when the healthy shame doesn’t stop there, it becomes unhealthy and poisonous. When a person doesn’t ask for or receive forgiveness, they can punish themselves and start to hate who they are.

Don’t spend your life in this position. Remember your rightful position as an heir and child of Father God (see Romans 8:17). Unhealthy shame will make you forget who you are in Christ, but healthy shame will remind you that you’re nothing without Him. Today, ask Father to help you discern the difference.

Prayer: Father, we don’t want to live under the weight of unhealthy shame. Help us to remember how much You love us. Because You have forgiven us, we don’t need to punish ourselves. Help us to remember who we are in and through You each and every day. Thank You. In Jesus name!!!

 

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Today’s Daily Devotional

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ISAIAH 61:
1 The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed and commissioned me
To bring good news to the humble and afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up [the wounds of] the brokenhearted,
To proclaim release [from confinement and condemnation] to the [physical and spiritual] captives And freedom to prisoners,
2 To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord, And the day of vengeance and retribution of our God, To comfort all who mourn,
3 To grant to those who mourn in Zion the following:
To give them a crown of beauty instead of dust or ashes [on their heads, a sign of mourning], The oil of joy instead of mourning, The garment [expressive] of praise instead of a disheartened spirit. So they will be called the trees of righteousness [strong and magnificent, distinguished for integrity, justice, and right standing with God],
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.
4 Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins, They will raise up and restore the former desolations, And they will renew the ruined cities, The desolations (deserted settlements) of many generations.
5 Strangers will stand and feed your flocks, And foreigners will be your farmers and your vinedressers.
6 But you shall be called the priests of the Lord; People will speak of you as the ministers of our God. You will eat the wealth of nations, And you will boast of their riches.
7 Instead of your [former] shame, you will have a double portion; And instead of humiliation, your people will shout for joy over their portion. Therefore in their land, they will possess double [what they had forfeited]; Everlasting joy will be theirs.

Key Verse- 7 Instead of your [former] shame, you will have a double portion; And instead of humiliation, your people will shout for joy over their portion. Therefore in their land, they will possess double [what they had forfeited]; Everlasting joy will be theirs.

Father Can Set You Free from Your Shame 
Do you ever wonder what life was like for Adam and Eve before they sinned?

Genesis 2:25 tells us that though Adam and Eve were naked in the Garden of Eden, they were not ashamed. I believe that in addition to indicating they were without clothes, this Scripture also implies they were totally open and honest with each other, not hiding behind any masks, not playing any games. They were free to be themselves because they had no sense of shame. Once they had sinned, however, they hid themselves (see Genesis 3:6-8).

If not for the work Jesus did on the cross, all of us would have to live with the overwhelming shame of sin. But because of His sacrifice, mankind has the opportunity to choose to enjoy perfect freedom with one another and with God as their Father.

Unfortunately, most of us still live with the burden of shame, even though the Word of God promises us and assures us that we can be free of it (see Isaiah 61:7).

Father can deliver you from shame. Pray and ask Him to set you free from the shame that tries to build up within you. The past is in the past. Today is a new day.

Prayer: Father God, we receive the freedom from shame that You purchased for us on the cross through Jesus sacrifice. No more hiding, no more feeling worthless. Our worth comes from You and in our relationship with You. You have erased our sin- the guilt, the penalty and its power and now we want to live free and open in and through You. Fill us again to overflowing, Sir Holy Spirit. Thank You. In Jesus name!!!

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