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DAILY DEVOTIONAL

I REALLY CAN’T EVEN IMAGINE

The song, “I Can Only Imagine”, won the award for Song of the Year at the Dove Awards, 2002. Songwriter/Singer Bart Millard of the group, Mercy Me won the award. I was so excited. It is a wonderful song that always stirs my heart.

In the song, the thought is presented that we “can only imagine” what it will be like when we stand before God. As I listened to the song on the radio, I envisioned myself in heaven. I was standing in the middle of a large crowd of people that were all facing Jesus, who was standing in front of His throne.

Then all of a sudden, I felt God speak to my heart. He spoke to me, and I felt His presence. I saw a bright light shine over me at the very spot where I was standing. He said He was with me and He made me feel like I was the only one there. His presence was so sweet. I knew I was so important to Him. I felt His awesome love for me.

He knows how to make each of us feel special; as if we are the only ones around. Even in the crowd, I felt like He saw only me. And yet the people beside me felt the same way. God’s presence is so powerfully wonderful. It brings us into a oneness with God that cannot be explained and barely fathomed.

I can only imagine. What about you? Can you see yourself smiling in the face of God? Can you laugh with great joy knowing God loves you so much that others seem to disappear? Imagine it, because it’s real.

“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” (1 John 5:20)

GOD’S PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE
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DAILY DEVOTIONAL

JESUS

Twenty plus centuries have come and gone and today He is the center-piece of the human race and the leader of the column of progress. I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched and all the navies that ever were built, and all of the parliaments that ever have sat, and all the kings that ever reigned put together have not affected the life of man upon this earth as powerfully as has that one solitary life, Jesus of Nazareth.

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DAILY DEVOTIONAL

MERRY CHRISTMAS

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DAILY DEVOTIONAL

GRACE OR LAW – LIFE OR DEATH

The Truth Is That Jesus Paid It All On The Cross At Calvary.

The question is whether or not you will fully accept, receive, and embrace what Jesus did for you or be deceived into attempting to add to His Finished Work On The Cross?

It is perfectly fine to abstain from certain things or practice certain things if done so to bring Glory To God – it is an affront to Jesus’ Sacrifice to do so in any attempt to in any way add anything to What Jesus Did as if to say: I must add this.

You may accept what The Lord did for you as full, final, eternal Payment In Full or you may set out to meet God’s Requirement Of Perfection on your own by keeping The Law – you must choose Grace Or Law but no mixture of the two – either Grace Of God Alone or you keep all of The Law on your own.

The Law on your own:

“For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.” James 2:10

The Grace Of God:

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

The Choice Is Yours To Make: Law Or Grace – with Law you will fail – with Grace The Victory Has Already Been Accomplished By Jesus On The Cross.

KEEP LOOKING TO JESUS!!!
GOD’S PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE
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DAILY DEVOTIONAL

BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS

Sometimes discussions about sharing our faith reveal an uncomfortable truth; many of us don’t have relationships with a lot of non-Christians. The longer one is a Christian, the easier it is to spend most of your time with and around other believers. Building relationships with people who don’t know the Lord requires some forethought.

Here are some suggestions for creating friendships with folks who need to hear the gospel.

1. Go where the need is

You have a lot of interests shared by people outside of the church. There are civic groups, workshops, classes, and clubs centered around everything from gardening to cars. If you love sports, join a community sports team or coach some little leaguers. Just do it with the purpose of forging new connections.

2. Introduce yourself to your neighbors

According to a recent Pew Research study, only 31 percent of Americans claim to know their neighbors. Getting to know one’s neighbors is such an easy way for Christians to begin the work of relationship building.

There are several ways to pull this off:

  1. Greet your neighbors when you see them.
  2. Deliver treats to them on holidays.
  3. Put together a summer barbecue or get together in your home.
  4. Offer to help when you see them working in their yard.
  5. Join your homeowners’ association.

3. Get to know the people that serve you

Do you have a regular postal worker who delivers your mail? Do you have a favorite restaurant where you could make a connection with a particular server? How about a checker at the grocery store or stylist at your hair salon?

Create a rhythm. Visit at specific times of the day and sit in the same areas. Make it a point to become a regular in establishments where you can create a rapport with particular individuals.

4. Pray for God to bring people to you

If you’re serious about making connections with non-Christians, tell Jesus. He’s more interested in seeing it happen than you are! Ask Him to create opportunities for new relationships and to open doors for discussions about the gospel.

Once we start praying for these opportunities, it’s critical that we keep our eye out for them. If we spend all of our time buried in our phone and not paying attention to people around us, we can miss those divine appointments. This is a two-part process that includes praying for people and then watching for ways Jesus answers those prayers.

Creating legitimate relationships

As we seek to build connections with people who don’t know Jesus, it’s critical that we don’t have a salesperson’s mindset. We’re not just looking for people to witness to (although sometimes that’s what we get), but we’re also looking for people to demonstrate Jesus’s love to. It’s fairly apparent when all we’re looking to do is evangelize, but when we create legitimate friendships and show genuine care, trust is created—and trust creates openness.

Don’t worry about feeling ready to share your faith. Look for ways to interact with people who need Jesus and pray for willingness to share.

KEEP LOOKING TO JESUS!!!
GOD’S PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE
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DAILY DEVOTIONAL

JESUS OUR ONLY HOPE

It seems more critical than ever that we enter into the Christmas season reflectively. For most people, this season evokes a sense of nostalgia and togetherness. Even when they don’t understand the holiday’s theological implications, it still prompts a desire to see love and peace prevail. 
For those of us who recognize Jesus as Lord, Christmas is even more significant. This holy infant came into the world to rescue humanity from our brokenness and division. He grew up and conquered sin and death, and He has commissioned the church to create more disciples who will follow after Him. 
If you’re looking to enter into the season on a high note, why not gather your family around the birth story from the “JESUS” film? Sometimes, our familiarity with this story can stop us from taking time to reflect. We hope this clip will help reignite wonder and awe of the Christmas story. 
As you watch this nativity clip, try to envision the birth of Christ for the first time again. Think about the impact that the angel’s words had on the young Mary. Consider the courage she showed in welcoming this experience into her life. Wrestle with the fact that God announced Jesus’s birth to a bunch of shepherds and not rulers and authorities. 
The Christmas story is not just an inspirational tale; it’s a critical historical event. Any hope humanity has for true and lasting peace is only possible because of a child born in a manger a couple thousand years ago.
May this season be an opportunity for you and your loved ones to reconnect with that life-changing story.

KEEP LOOKING TO JESUS!!!
GOD’S PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE
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DAILY DEVOTIONAL

HOW GOD SEES YOU

CHRISTIANS ARE NOT BORN-AGAIN AS MATURE FULL GROWN BELIEVERS!!!
“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,” EPHESIANS 1:18
KEEP LOOKING TO JESUS!!!

GOD’S PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE
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DAILY DEVOTIONAL

NEEDED ENCOURAGEMENT

“Now, friends, read these next words carefully. Slow down and don’t go jumping to conclusions regarding the day when our Master, Jesus Christ, will come back and we assemble to welcome him” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-2).

These words could’ve been written in 2020, but they are actually from about AD 51 or 52. After Paul’s first letter to the church in Thessalonica, he felt the need to write again and address their concerns, lest they be led astray in their faith.

Again, sounds much like 2020 — we still need encouragement and teaching.

There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t need to be inspired with courage for dark days, or boosted in confidence that God is still for us (and not against us). To encourage actually means to stimulate spiritually. It also means to boost, reassure, strengthen, comfort, fortify, gladden, and embolden.

Someone once said: “A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than an hour of praise after success”. If we tweak that a little for today, we might say: “A word of encouragement during 2020 is worth more than an hour of praise in times past.”

But not just any encouragement… the best reassurance is found in God’s Word. The news can’t give us what we need. Books of great literature or binge-worthy movies may sweep us momentarily into another world, but when we resurface, imaginary worlds from man’s imagination won’t suffice. 

God’s Word establishes us in hope, keeps us stable in unstable times, and repeatedly reminds us of truth— God’s Word is God’s truth. In fact, Jesus prayed this very thing for us:

“[Father] Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17).

And this is why we also need teaching. Each of Paul’s letters encouraged believers in their struggles, but the majority of what he wrote was instructional. By inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he imparted knowledge to help believers navigate their lives. They needed advisement, coaching, explanations, and truth to prepare them for the unforeseen. 

I have always held to this adage, that scripture always interprets scripture. In other words, instead of trying to figure things out on my own (the meaning and context of scripture), I believe God’s Word helps interpret His Word. God isn’t confused and as the author of time and space, He knows what is past, what is, and what is yet to come. God, and His Word, can be trusted. 

And what an encouragement trust can be! 

Even if we knew the exact day of Jesus’ return, we’d still have to remain focused and purposed. Our confidence is that He is coming again and we can trust Him to help us in the meantime. 

2020 will not be soon forgotten. But in the midst of all the oddities of this year, you can be confident without jumping to conclusions. Stay anchored in God’s Word and you’ll find all the encouragement you need as well. 

KEEP LOOKING TO JESUS!!!
GOD’S PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE
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DAILY DEVOTIONAL

THE MIRACLES OF JESUS

Have you ever read the remarkable story in Mark chapter two, where a crowd of people listening to Jesus speaking in a house were surprised by the interruption of a paralyzed man being lowered through the roof to his feet. As the makeshift stretcher slowly descended, all eyes would have been on the man, then on Jesus, then back on the man. What will Jesus do? Every person present would surely have hoped to see a miracle right in front of them.

But Jesus doesn’t heal him, at least not straight away. All he does is tell the young man that his sins are forgiven.

The teachers of the law, who have likely travelled from Jerusalem to be there are immediately critical: ‘This is blasphemy! Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ (2:7). Why would Jesus do this? He seems to be deliberately walking into conflict.

The Gospels, of course, are full of accounts of Jesus’ actions and sayings that intentionally point to his true identity – Emmanuel, God with us. So, Jesus, just to make clear to his audience that he does in fact have divine authority to pronounce forgiveness over the man, confirms it by also healing him. No wonder people in the crowd said, “we have never seen anything like this” (2: 12)

But I think there is another reason why Jesus forgave the man’s sins. Matthew’s version of the story has Jesus saying, “take heart son, your sins are forgiven” (Matt 9:2). Somehow Jesus felt he needed to speak to the man with deep compassion – as if he knew the man was weighed down with guilt. Perhaps the young man even believed that he deserved his physical condition because of something he had done. The text doesn’t give answers to these speculations, but I suggest that there are hints in Jesus’ words that what the man desperately needed was a clean conscience. And only God can give that.

When Jesus heals it is always a miracle, but perhaps his forgiveness is a miracle too. The once-paralyzed man walked away free from his physical suffering but also free from his guilt. I’m surprised we don’t see him skipping to a tune on his way out – maybe the dancing happened with his family later!

1 John 1: 9 tells us that if we confess our sins to Him, then He, being just and faithful will forgive us our sins. We all know what it feels like to carry a burden of guilt. We can try and hide it, suppress it, even try to justify the actions that caused it, but we can’t set ourselves free from it. Only forgiveness from the one who has the authority to forgive will work.

Is Jesus challenging you to repent of something? Have you been carrying a weight that you can’t shake off? Perhaps He wants to give you a miracle today – the miracle of forgiveness.

KEEP LOOKING TO JESUS!!!
GOD’S PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE
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DAILY DEVOTIONAL

AM I TRULY MAKING A DFIFFERENCE

Have you ever had the thought, “What’s the point?” “What am I doing here?” “Is what I’m doing even making a difference?”

I have to imagine you said yes. Who hasn’t wrestled with those thoughts? We can look back in time and find such questions being asked over two thousand years ago because it’s part of being human.

What I mean is, in our humanity, we’ve been given the ability to choose our own course of action— our destiny. Yet you don’t have to look far to begin wondering about life, choices, destinies — before that random thought flits across your mind: What’s the point?

This is exactly what happened to Solomon. And his thoughts are recorded in the Book of Ecclesiastes. 

I remember the first time I read these passages and thought, poor guy, he sure had a bad attitude. But 30 years later, with a little more life under my belt, I read his words and could relate. 

“Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher; “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.”

What profit has a man from all his labor in which he toils under the sun? One generation passes away, and another generation comes; but the earth abides forever. The sun also rises, and the sun goes down, and hastens to the place where it arose. That which has been is what will be, that which is done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:2-5,9)

The word vanity here isn’t referring to excessive pride, but instead is a reference to things done in vain. Solomon is calling life trivial or pointless. He reached a point where neither his wisdom nor his wealth satisfied anymore. He walked about his gardens observing how trees grow, produce fruit, drop their fruit, and then do it all over again— year after year. And he began to observe this was true of humanity too— a cycle of repetition — and he asked himself, “What’s the point?”

I think his question is valid for the person without Christ. It is vanity to chase riches and fame (for no other purpose than to achieve riches and fame), for in the end, they bring no real satisfaction. A person is born, grows, hopefully does something good with their life, and then they die — this is the cycle of a godless life. And if that’s all there is, then I agree with Solomon: What’s the point?

But thankfully, I have found the reason for my existence— the purpose of it all. It is the story of Jesus. As He came to the earth to point us to the Father, so now our lives are purposed with the same task. But it’s not redundant or trivial or pointless. 

Jesus told Nicodemus that we must be born again (John 3:3). Nicodemus didn’t understand this concept until Jesus said,

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

In other words, whoever puts their faith and trust in (clings to) Jesus doesn’t have to live a pointless, lost life. No, we understand now, there is more!

Eternal, everlasting life doesn’t start when we die. Eternal life starts the moment we give our hearts to Jesus. And this new, born again life has purpose. Despite the cycle of seasons and generations, our hearts look to the Creator of time and life, willingly laying aside everything else with the understanding that we are called to a greater purpose than just existing— we now carry a responsibility of bringing as many as possible with us into an eternal life — not just a life that cycles and ends.

Thankfully, Solomon discovered this same truth after all his wanderings: 

“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13)

And this is both enough and satisfying.

KEEP LOOKING TO JESUS!!!
GOD’S PLAN FOR YOUR LIFE