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Daily Devotional 8-23-19

Reconciliation
By Julie White  
 
“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he will joyfully carry it home on his shoulders. When he arrives, he will call together his friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away.”  Luke 15: 3-6
 
While Jesus was on earth, He purposefully and continually mingled with people who were most evidently lost so He might tell them the Good News of God’s salvation. In fact, He ate with them and exhibited such kindness toward them that they came in crowds to hear Him. Because Jesus spent time with those whom the Pharisees labeled riff-raffs, the Pharisees spoke as badly of Jesus as they possibly could. It seems like they wanted to restrict God’s blessings and grace to their own group, but Jesus refuses to be limited by the fences people build.
 
The meaning is simple, yet profound: lost humans need a loving, personal Savior. Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd.” The Shepherd who protects, provides and possesses His sheep, the Shepherd who knows His sheep by name. We are valuable to Him as individuals and if we wander from the fold, He will conduct a search—a personal, definitive, persevering, passionate, active, all-absorbing search to bring each one of us back home to Him. He goes after us until He finds us!
 
God loves you deeply. He loved you even before the earth was made. God cares about all people, but especially those who will admit they are lost and turn to Him. He knows the sorrow sin brings, so He searches for people who recognize they need a Savior. The self-righteous Pharisees, who followed all the rules and laws but exhibited no joy, never realized that they were just as lost.   Everything in Christ is about salvation.
 
PRAYER: We praise you, Lord, that you employ all of yourself for seeking and saving lost souls. Help me remember that the work of salvation You started in me was not intended to end with me, but to go out to other sheep.


Daily Devotional 8-22-19

Faithful Forever
By Julie White  
 
“He remains faithful forever.” Psalm 146:6
 
Trust. We all face the question, where do I put my trust? We have basically two places; trust people, including ourselves, and trust God. Most of us, if we’re honest, would admit that we spend a great deal of our time trusting other people. Let’s count them: financial planners with our money, government officials for our laws, professors with our education, and doctors with our health. And rightly so, but if everything fell apart in your outward life, where would you turn? Where would you turn if you felt empty inside? The answers lie in your priorities, your perspective, and the source of your power.
 
Developing and sustaining a personal relationship with God is a Christian’s top priority. Regular prayer, scripture reading, and meditation are vital. Honoring and maintaining this relationship with God provides us with a higher perspective on life, a clearer way of viewing where genuine and unshakeable trust lies. The Bible emphasizes the faithfulness and trustworthiness of the Lord from beginning to end:
 
First, Christ is called The Faithful High Priest who answers the prayers of His people. “For the Lord your God is a merciful God; He will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which He confirmed to them by oath.” Deuteronomy 4:31
 
Next, He is totally trustworthy in everything He says; He does not lie. “God is not a man that He should lie, nor a son of man that he should change His mind.” Numbers 23:19
 
He will remain faithful to us even if we are unfaithful to Him. “If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13
 
The Lord is the faithful creator. “So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” 1 Peter 4:19
 
Finally, He is faithful to forgive when we confess our sins. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:19
 
God is faithful. God, eternal and unlimited, always keeps His Word. He always fulfills His promises. He is always trustworthy. God Almighty is the Source of all power 24/7/365. You can count on that!
 
PRAYER: Almighty Lord, remind us that You want us to be faithful to You and to trust You, too, in the same measure and to Your very same degree. Help us to make choices that reflect your qualities of faith and trust to others.


Daily Devotional 8-21-19

Living the Good Life
By Julie White
 
“Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world to…live such good lives among unbelieving neighbors that, though they accuse you of wrong-doing, they may see your honorable behavior and glorify God on the day He visits us.”  1 Peter 2:11-12
 
While we are here on earth, Christ invites us to live a spirit-filled life in an exemplary manner. In doing this, our actions can clear up any misperceptions non-believers may have toward us. If our actions are above reproach, then even the most hostile people may end up praising God. This is the kind of life we’ve been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came His way; that’s how we know it can be done —and how to do it. Jesus never did anything wrong and not once did He say anything out of line. They called Him every name in the book yet He said nothing mean back. In fact, He often remained silent because He was content to let God set things right.
 
Here is a quote that tells how the message of this Scripture could be applied in practical ways:
 
People are often unreasonable and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you.
Be honest anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy.
Create anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you’ve got and it may never be enough.
Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God.
It was never between you and them anyway.
By Mother Teresa
 
We are called to live in such a way that our actions and words reflect our faith and God’s goodness to others. Our true loyalty is to God and His way of life. Remember, the Master we are serving is Christ.
 
Prayer: Holy Spirit, help us share your way of life by the way we live our lives. Remind us that, in doing this, the time may come when those who criticize and wrongly accuse us will choose to praise God with us.


Daily Devotional 8-20-19

United in the Spirit 
By Julie White
 
“Therefore, I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowances for each other’s faults because of your love.  Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.  For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.  There is one Lord, one baptism, and one God and Father who is over all and in all and living through all.”  Ephesians 4:1-5
 
The family of God includes all who have believed in Him in the past, all who believe in the present.  God’s church is a family because we have the same Father. There is one body,” says the apostle Paul. And we know that family unity doesn’t just happen, we all have to want it and do our part to achieve it and maintain it.
 
Sometimes differences can lead to division, but this should not be true within the church!  God has given His church (that’s us – you and me) an enormous responsibility: to make disciples in every nation.  This involves preaching, teaching, healing, nurturing, giving, administrating, building, and many, many other tasks.  If we had to fulfill these responsibilities as individuals we might as well give up without trying; it would be impossible.  But God calls us as members of One Body.  Working in synergy, and with the power of the Holy Spirit, the church can and should express the fullness of Christ.
 
No one is ever going to be perfect here on earth, so we are commanded to love others in spite of faults – ours and theirs.  I often wonder who’s trying to love me in spite of mine. The bottom line is, we should concentrate on and be ever so thankful for what unites us as a church, as the family of God: one body, one Spirit, one future, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God.
 
PRAYERDear Lord, help us be patient with each other, making allowances for each other’s faults because of Your love and making every effort to keep Your church united in the Spirit. Please urge us to refine our relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ by being ever more humble, gentle, and patient with one another.


Daily Devotional 8-19-19

Name Above All Names
By Julie White
 
“The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe.”  Proverbs 18:10
 
Rock of Ages. . .Redeemer. . .King of Kings. . .Bread of Heaven. . .Living Water. . .Son of God. . .Our Sure Fountain. . .Good Shepherd. . .Fairest of Ten Thousand. . .Savior. . .Mediator. . .Our Advocate. . .Alpha and Omega. . .Wonderful Counselor. . .Friend of Sinners. . .Great Physician. . .Anointed One. . .Healer of Broken Hearts. . .Lamb of God. . .Prince of Peace. . .Mighty Fortress. . .Our Atonement. . .Rabbi. . . Blessed Hope. . . .Shelter. . .Word of Life. . .The Narrow Gate. . .My Maker. . .Lord of Grace. . .The Ointment. . .A New Song. . .The Prince of Life. . .Refiner. . .God of All Comfort. . .Lily of the Valley . . Rose of Sharon. . .Immanuel. . . My Beloved. . .Bright and Morning Star. . .The Way, The Truth, and the Life. . . Glorious Lord. . .Living Word. . .Creator. . . Hope of Glory. . .Chief Cornerstone. . .The Eternal One. . . Author and Finisher of our Faith. . .Rock of My Salvation. . .Lifter Up of My Head. . .Restorer. . .Strong Tower. . . King of Glory. . .Lover of My Soul. . .King. . .Great Light. . .Master. . .My Strength and My Song. . Crown of Glory. . . Sure Foundation. . .Jehovah. . .The Holy One. . .The Reconciliation. . .Governor. . .Righteous Servant. . .Our Potter. . .Ruler. . .Prince of Princes. . . Stronghold . . .Purifier. . .The Bridegroom. . .The Lion of Judah. . .Spiritual Rock. . .The Christ. . .Good Master. . .The Highest. . .The Word. . .Son of Man. . . Almighty God. . .The Resurrection and the Life. . . Everlasting Father. . .Captain. . .Lord of Heaven’s Armies. . .Wisdom. . .The True Vine. . .Name Above All Names. . . Salvation. . . Shepherd of Our Souls. . .The Everlasting God. . . Tower of Strength. . .The Truth.
 
Prayer: Dear Lord, You are everything; my all in all. Thank you that I can embrace and meditate on any of your names or titles at any time, and in them, find safety. Help us run to You, our strong tower, today and every day.


Daily Devotional 8-16-19

Transforming Power
By Julie White
 
“As Jesus was walking along, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at his tax collector’s booth.  ‘Follow me and be my disciple,’ Jesus said to him. So, Matthew got up and followed Him.” Matthew 9:9
 
Matthew was a Jew who was appointed by the Romans to be the area’s tax collector. Tax collectors were expected to take a commission on the taxes they collected but most of them overcharged and kept the profits. So, tax collectors were hated by the Jews because of their reputation for cheating and because of their support of Rome.
 
Maybe more than any other disciple, Matthew had a clear idea of how much it would cost to follow Jesus, yet he did not hesitate a minute.  When he got up and left his tax-collecting booth—a lucrative career—he guaranteed himself unemployment.  For several of the other disciples, there was always fishing to return to, but for Matthew, there was no turning back.
 
Two changes happened to Matthew when he decided to follow Jesus.  First, Jesus gave him a new life.  Matthew not only belonged to a new group, he belonged to the Son of God.  He was not just accepting a different way of life; he was now an accepted person.  For a despised tax collector, that change must have been so wonderful!  Second, Jesus gave Matthew a new purpose for his skills. When he followed Jesus, the only tool from His past that he carried with him was his pen.  From the beginning, God had made him a record keeper.  Jesus’ call eventually allowed Matthew to put his skills to their finest work. Scripture says that Matthew was a keen observer, and he undoubtedly recorded what he saw going on around him.
 
Matthew couldn’t have known that God would use the very skills he had sharpened as a tax collector to record the greatest story ever lived. God’s message has transforming power. It can transform you too.
 
PRAYERDear Lord, help us reach out to others who are lost.  Empower us to connect others to You by our faith, our hope, but mostly by our love. Thank you, Lord.


Daily Devotional 8-15-19

Actions Have Impact 
By Julie White
 
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 14: 34-35  
 
Christ came to earth to demonstrate God’s love to us. He spent a large part of His ministry going from place to place, doing good, and thereby alleviating suffering. He instructs His followers to do the same: to love one another. Actions have impact. We tend to remember what people did for us rather than what they said or promised to do. If a picture is worth a thousand words, as they say, then an action must be worth ten-thousand or more! Through loving actions, in harmony with the will of God, people can see God at work.
 
Here are some examples of love in action, as described by children:
  • Love is doing things for people even when you’re sort of mad and don’t feel like it.
  • Love is when you tell someone you like their shirt and they wear it all the time.
  • When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know your name is safe in their mouth.
  • Love is when my dad makes coffee for my mom and he sips it first to make sure it tastes okay.
  • You really shouldn’t say, “I love you” unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot because people forget.
  • Love is when it’s really cold at night and my mom checks to see if I have a blanket on.
  • When my grandma got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So, my grandpa does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too.
“Let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. Our actions will show that we belong to the truth.” 1 John 4:18-19
 
“But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church.”  1 Corinthians 8:1b
 
PRAYERHoly Spirit, please move in our hearts.  Help us show our love in ways that are tangible and impactful for Your kingdom. Bring our post-Christian nation back to You and let it begin with me.


Daily Devotional 8-14-19

The Source 
By Julie White
 
He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water! John 7:38
 
Water in rivers eventually reaches places that its pathways don’t know about.  Jesus says if we have received of His fullness, out of us will flow rivers of living water that will bless the outermost parts of the earth.  Many rivers are victoriously persistent.  While the water moves steadily on its course, sometimes it comes to an obstacle.  But soon the water makes a path around that obstacle.  And sometimes a river will drop out of sight for miles and then emerge, grander than ever.
 
Living Water has its Source in God and the Bible says it flows through us, the body of believers.  You may notice God working in someone else’s life for His glory, but into your life an obstacle has come and you don’t think you’re of any use; that’s how it may feel anyway.  But remember, even though good things don’t seem to be happening for you at any given time, just know that you might be the good thing happening to others. Obstacles are a matter of indifference to the river of Living Water which will steadily flow through you if you remember The Source. The river of the Spirit of God overcomes obstacles and reaches places that its pathways don’t always know about.
 
It’s true that some people seem like the Dead Sea, always taking in but never giving out because they are not rightly related to Christ.  As surely as we receive from Him, He will pour out through us, and in the measure we are not pouring Him out, there is a defect in our relationship to Him. I don’t want to be like that.  So, I search myself and ask, ‘Is there anything that is in the way of my relationship with you, God?’  If not, Jesus says, out of your heart will flow rivers of living water. The verb tense indicates that this is not a one-time experience; that the rivers will be continually flowing!  Let me encourage you to keep looking to The Source, Christ Jesus, and through you, He will send mighty torrents of life-giving blessings.
 
PRAYERLoving Father, help us keep our attention on You, our great and sovereign Source. May we always be tributaries of Your love, peace, and grace in the world.


Daily Devotional 8-13-19

Binding Love   
By Julie White
 
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:12, 14
 
The Japanese character for love is pronounced ‘ai’ and is pictured with a symbol for a belt found on a traditional Japanese gown known as a kimono. Called an ‘obi,’ the wide silk belt wraps around the outside of the kimono to hold it together.  The ‘obi’ is both functional and beautiful.
 
I wouldn’t doubt, that God, in His sovereignty, had the Japanese people reserve that character to symbolize something He would communicate to the Colossian Church through the apostle Paul. Just as a Japanese woman puts on many layers of clothing as part of the kimono, Paul urges us to layer virtues of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Each layer of a kimono has its purpose and adds to the overall effect of beauty. Such should be our clothing of character – functional and beautiful.
 
Paul then urges us to bind our virtues with the ‘obi’ of love; our qualities of the Spirit are to be held together by our relationship with God. Without that bond, we could not reflect the unity that Christ obtained for us. Not only is the ‘obi’ functional, it also allows the beauty of the woman and the kimono to be seen. The people of God who bind themselves in love are strikingly beautiful, and the world cannot help but be attracted to them.
 
Let’s layer the virtues of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience on our lives. And then bind that ‘obi’ of love tightly.
 
PRAYER: Dear Lord, I desire simple beauty in my life. Work from the inside out and help me be a binding spirit of love to those around me, always, drawing them closer to You.