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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.


Daily Devotional 8-12-19

Love You Were Born to Find 
By Julie White
 
“Can anything separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean that Christ no longer loves us if we have trouble, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loves us. And nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:35, 37-39
 
No one can steal the Love you were born to find.
 
They can try, but it won’t happen. They will not be successful. Once you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior, it is impossible to be separated from the love of God. God’s love for you is unlimited and forever, steadfast and unchanging. God’s love for you is a moment-by-moment action of a living God!
 
This passage may contain the most comforting promises in all of Scripture. It reaffirms God’s profound love for His people. The apostle Paul wrote it to lift up Christians who were suffering appalling hardship, and persecution because of their unceasing commitment to Christ and the Gospel. Through this Scripture, Paul is equipping and encouraging us too, with the knowledge that we, also, have the ability to persevere through trials and to conquer difficulties that happen to us every day, when Christ is our strength. God’s love changes things. Once you accept it, no one can take it away.
 
And the extent to which we understand the love God has for us – feel it and live it daily — is the extent to which His love enables us to live victoriously. No matter where we are on this earth, no matter what happens to us, we can never be separated from God’s love. No one can steal the Love you were born to find.
 
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for your all-encompassing love embodied in Christ and magnified by the Holy Spirit. Thank you that our hearts are safe with you, that Your love protects us, and that in its giving, more is created to be given.


Daily Devotional 8-9-19

Re-Energized 
By Julie White
 
“Then Jesus explained, ‘My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing His work.’”  John 4:34
 
Jesus and the disciples had been travelling and all of them were tired. So, Jesus sat down by a well to rest while the disciples went into the town to find some food. They knew that eating a good meal provides the body with refreshment and strength. When the disciples came back, Jesus was re-energized. They kept offering Him food, but He said He wasn’t hungry anymore. “I have food you don’t know about,” He told them. Then, He began two days of ministry in the town near where they had stopped to rest!
 
Jesus wasn’t refreshed simply by doing more work. That’s an exhausting way to try to live. He wasn’t refreshed by getting back in touch with the Spirit. No, the Spirit was fully present in Jesus at all times. But, when the Spirit manifested the work of God through Jesus in an encounter with a woman who was at that well where He was resting, He was energized by it. Following the will of God gave Him a Spiritual boost. That’s what happens when The Presence gets stirred up. We get filled with His enthusiasm and His strength.
 
The food of our spirit is obeying the will of God. We’ve all experienced a second wind; that boost of energy that comes when we’re worn out but then something captures our interest and we perk up. And when we align our hearts with God’s purpose for us, we’re re-energized. We were created to glorify God, so it makes sense that we feel best when we’re obedient to accomplishing His purpose.
 
That’s why it’s essential to notice the passion(s) God has put within you. That’s the very special area where He designed you to work and build up His kingdom. Our food is to do His will, and whatever His will is for you, following it out of obedience and love for Him will refresh you too and those around you.
 
Prayer: Father, thank you for the gift of being nourished by doing Your will. Help me notice my passions and employ them for You. Thank you for refreshing me as I live from my heart for Your purposes, for the sake of others. 


Daily Devotional 8-8-19

SEND ME By Julie White  

“Then I heard the Lord asking, ‘Whom shall I send as a messenger to this people? Who will go for us?’ I said, ‘Here I am.  Send me.’” Isaiah 6:8
 
Trees and prophets share at least one important characteristic: both are planted for the future. Yet seedlings are easily overlooked and prophets are often ignored. The prophet Isaiah may be one of the best examples of this. The people of his time could have been rescued by his words. Instead, they refused to believe him and, because of their choice, they refused to believe God.
 
Isaiah was active as a prophet during the reigns of five kings, but he didn’t set out to be a prophet. Up until the death of King Uzziah, Isaiah was established as a scribe in the royal palace in Jerusalem. It was a respectable career, but God had other plans for His servant.
 
Isaiah had an encounter with God that permanently affected his character. He had a vision of God that was unforgettable. Isaiah’s account of God’s call motivated the prophet for the next half-century. The more clearly Isaiah saw God, the more Isaiah became aware of his own powerlessness and inadequacy to do anything of lasting value without God in his life. God did not encourage him with predictions of great success. In fact, God told Isaiah that people would not listen to him. But, God also told Isaiah that he was to speak and write his messages anyway because, eventually, some would listen.
 
You and I are part of that future that God told Isaiah about – the some who would listen. Those, who stay close to God through Scripture reading and prayer, can see that many of the promises that God gave through Isaiah have been fulfilled in Christ. We also can have the hope of knowing that God is active in all of history, including our own.
 
Isaiah was willing to be God’s spokesperson. He reflected the God he represented. In the future when God calls on us, I pray that we too will say, “Send me!” and that our reflection of Him will rescue people and give someone else hope in a better future with Him at the center.
 
PRAYER: Lord, may our personal commitment always be to you first. I want to be a willing servant of Your court, a servant to The King of Kings. Here I am, Lord. Send me!


Daily Devotional 8-7-19

Fountain of Joy
By Julie White
 
On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity. Zechariah 13:1
 
One really hot summer day when I was a little girl, my grandmother took me to the park.  I remember a big fountain just over the hill from a playground and a petting zoo. As she and I strolled around the fountain, I watched all the other kids wading and splashing in the pool of that fountain. I begged her to let me join them and my grandmother did the most amazing thing—she let me—and she joined us!
 
We took off our shoes and socks, and we splashed in that fountain with all the other kids. My shorts and shirt were soaked, but I didn’t care. We were a bunch of laughing boys and girls (and a grandma) with arms and smiles widespread. Our hearts were free. Uninhibited. Full of life and full of happiness. That fountain was a place of joy. That’s what I think of when I hear this hymn:
 
There is a Fountain
by William Cowper
 
There is a fountain filled with blood
drawn from Immanuel’s veins;
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains.
 
God has opened up a fountain to you too, through Jesus. He invites you to step in and enjoy His refreshing love! Don’t stand at the edges of His joy. If you just ask, He will do the most amazing thing: He will wash away your sins! And you, like a child, can be free and full of joy.
 
Prayer: Dear Lord, I believe that Jesus died for me, was buried, and rose from the dead. Thank you for cleansing me from sin and washing away all my impurity.  I lift my face and spread my arms in worship of You. Thank You Lord! In Jesus’s name, amen.


Daily Devotional 8-6-19

Harvest of Joy
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful
 
May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy. Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.  Psalm 126:5-6
 
There is nothing as sweet as enjoying the fruits of your labor. A line in a favorite Caribbean Christian song of mine said, “the hotter the battle, the sweeter the victory.” Many people in the second half of their life are enjoying the harvest of good work output during their active working times. For such people, retirement is a pleasure, apart from the nostalgic feelings they may have about their active working days. They employed themselves in hard work, and are now enjoying their later days. Life is simply made of cycles of reaping and sowing.  And a people reap whatever they sow.
 
The Christian life is also filled with this cycle as well as many paradoxes. In Christ, dying leads to living, giving leads to receiving, pain leads to power, trials leads to triumphs, and tests leads to testimonies.
 
In today’s scripture, the Psalmist encourages us not to give up in the season of sowing. This season of sowing can be very painful and difficult.  It is a time where one feels weary and dry.  It is also a period of waiting with great expectation. However, just as the farmer harvests grains after a long period of waiting, so do those who sow goodness in life will reap great harvest of blessings.
 
Therefore, do not be tired in well doing. Do not give up when it seems your labor in God’s kingdom is futile. Do not give up when no one appreciate your little efforts.  Do not give up when it seems no one understand the vision and dream God had given you. I encourage you to press on until you see the harvest of your labor.
 
PRAYER: Lord, give me the strength to continue to sow seeds of goodness and righteousness.


Daily Devotional 8-5-19

Spirit of Truth
By Julie White  
 
When He, the Spirit of truth has come, He will guide you into all truth for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. John 16:13
 
We hear voices. They aren’t audible voices, at least not for most of us. But despite their subtleties, we have a stethoscope to hear three distinct messengers within us: our own thoughts, God’s voice, and the adversary’s lies. The predicament is that all three voices wrap themselves in our own vocabulary and speech patterns. They sound like us. If we aren’t discerning, we can hardly tell the difference.
 
That’s where the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit comes in. He is the review board among these voices, distinguishing His own from ours and the enemy’s. If we listen for Him, the flaws in our own thinking are revealed and the lies of the evil one are exposed like x-rays showing fractures. The more we focus on His truth through prayer and scripture reading, the more we recognize the deviations from it. Intimacy with Him makes voices clearer.
 
My question in matters like this is “how?” I tend to want a procedure check list for things of this sort, and, in this case, for cultivating deeper intimacy; to hear His voice (feel His leading) even more clearly–and more often. And God’s answer, as always, is to keep listening, keep asking, keep searching; not physical therapy, but Spiritual therapy.
 
Scripture says, don’t look for a step-by-step plan, look to HIM. Ask the Holy Spirit to be an alarm signal in your heart to alert you to false perceptions and to present His words with such vitality that they come alive as you hear them. Then, expect God to do surgery within you, separating corrupted and cancerous ideas from the life-giving inspirational ones He provides. We may not notice the process, but we’ll feel the results; a greater discernment and sensitivity to His leading.  And His insurance plan comes with a generous promise: The Spirit of truth will guide you into all truth.
 
PRAYER: Holy Spirit, thank you for helping me sort out the voices in my mind. Thank you for your promise to protect me from deception and lead me in Truth. Please fill me with the life-giving inspiration of Your heart and help me communicate it to others.