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Daily Devotional 7-22-19

Hide and Seek
By Julie White
I said to myself, “I will get up and roam the city, searching in all its streets and squares. I will search for the one I love.”  Song of Solomon 3:2
Hide-and-Seek is a game I played by the hour as a kid, and the more kids who played, the better. “Close your eyes and count to a hundred” and the game begins. The hiders find the most unexpected spots and the seeker finishes counting and goes looking and listening for friends who don’t (but really do) want to be found. It could be frustrating if it went on too long, but it didn’t. All the hiding places were eventually discovered. The locations of the hiders were only a matter of time.
It seems like God plays games of hide-and-seek too, and they are meant to be fun. He makes Himself obscure, frustratingly so for those who don’t understand there’s a game on, and waits for us to find Him. I like to think there’s something about our quest that warms His heart; He enjoys our searching. And He rewards it too. He doesn’t stay obscured so long that those with faith will get discouraged and give up. He reveals Himself to those who keep seeking.
If you look for Me wholeheartedly, you will find Me. Jeremiah 29:13
He wants to be found.
If God seems obscure to you, don’t give up your search. Let Him enjoy your seeking, an endeavor that He fully intends to reward. Like the beloved in the Song of Solomon, go into ‘all the streets and squares’ of your life in pursuit of the One who loves you. Proverbs 25:2 says, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter” and I think He does it to see who is serious enough about Him to search it out. If you really desire His presence, you won’t quit searching until you’ve found Him.  And He will make your quest worthwhile. As you commune with others in worship, pray daily, study the scriptures, and share His love with others—you are searching for Him.
PRAYER: Lord, I know you’re there. Please lead me deeper in my search for You. Give me the courage to search for others who don’t (but really do) want to be found and to show them where You are.

Daily Devotional 7-19-19

God’s Majesty
By Julie White
“I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. Above it stood two seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And he cried out to another and said,
‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!’”
Isaiah 6:1
Use your imagination for a minute and see if you can picture this: awesome, terrifying, winged creatures shouting in voices loud enough to shake the foundations of a massive stone temple. A loud chorus booming across the heavens, compelled to cry out in amazement that this infinite Being is completely different than any other being, indescribable in perfection and power. Hollywood’s best special effects cannot match it. And this scene plays out on the largest of screens: the sky!
This is what Isaiah the prophet saw for a moment in time. As he worshiped in the Temple, the curtains were pulled back on this heavenly vista, and the prophet was overwhelmed with the majesty of it all. In such a moment, he surely understood why Scripture suggests that no one can see God and live. Yet Isaiah lived, as Moses had. Still, this intense preview of heaven was enough to overload the human senses.
Isaiah saw this show for a brief moment in time, but it’s occurring at this very minute! The seraphs are, even now, shouting about God’s majesty; He’s still on His throne; and the universe is still charged with His glory. And we can know that Isaiah’s deep humility and serious desire to serve God are always an appropriate response.
PRAYER: Lord, God, you are holy, far beyond what I’m able to imagine. Help me contemplate what is happening around Your throne, and worship the One I see. Please give me courage to describe Your majesty to others and give them hearts that hear.

Daily Devotional 7-18-19

Divine Downloads
By Julie White
“I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me.” Psalm 16:7-8
God’s presence doesn’t leave us when we sleep. He doesn’t guide us only when we’re consciously focusing on Him and intellectually processing His word. According to Proverbs 16:9, “He determines our steps in spite of all of our plans;” and in Psalm 16:7, “He moves in our hearts, even while we sleep.”  When we download the Divine into ourselves, His Spirit is allowed to dwell freely within us and we are always being shaped.
That ought to put us at ease about getting directions for our lives. Yes, our path may look very uncertain sometimes, from our perspective, as we try to discern God’s will and sort out the opened and closed doors He puts in front of us. But, He isn’t worried at all. He has ways of moving us into the right spot at the right time. And He has ways of upgrading our hearts, even during the night.
We need to seek God’s will and passionately desire to walk in it. But we don’t have to feel pressure to perfectly know which steps He wants us to take. If we’re doing our best to follow Him, and make a mistake, He’ll get us back on the right path. Our God doesn’t lead us on a pass-fail basis. He is a God of re-boots and He knows how to get us from point A to point B.
Trust God’s presence within you, to guide you. Pay attention to the things He is doing in your heart, the core of your being. Ask Him every night before you go to sleep to fill you with His will; to program your heart with Divine downloads that set your course from within. Then be sensitive to the ways He leads.  You can let your heart command you, because He commands your heart.
Prayer: Father, I bless you as the Lord who guides me. Thank you for programming my heart while I sleep. Please teach me to hear and follow the instructions You give. In Jesus’ name, amen

Daily Devotional 7-17-19

God Knows You 
By Julie White
“Oh Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts, even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, to grand for me to understand. I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never go away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night – but even in the darkness, I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.
You made all the delicate inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex. Your workmanship is wonderful – how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.  You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day passed.” Psalm 139:1-16
God is all-seeing, all-knowing, all-powerful, and everywhere present. God’s character goes into the creation of every person. Confidence in the Lord’s ability to discern the nature and needs of His people comes from a belief in God’s purpose. He is the Creator and His creative concerns include individuals.  God knows us! God is with us, and His greatest gift is to allow us to know Him.
Prayer: Lord, we thank you for being with us through every situation, in every trial – protecting, loving, guiding. Thank you for knowing us and loving us completely. Help us to have as much respect for ourselves as You have for us. In Jesus’ precious name, amen.

Daily Devotional 7-16-19

A Future and a Hope 
By Julie White
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope. Then you will come and call to me and pray to me and I will listen to you.  When you seek me and search for me with all your heart, you will find Me.’ says the Lord.”  Jeremiah 29:11-14
Inspired by God, Jeremiah prophesied to the Kingdom of Judah, a nation full of God’s chosen people, who ignored everything he told them, from the King on down. Judah was captured and put into captivity for 70 years. Jeremiah tried to tell them what was coming, he tried to warn them, he tried everything he could to get their attention, but they would not change. Simply put, they had no need for God on a daily basis, they worshipped everything but God. Oh, they went through the motions, offering sacrifices of their money, time, and talents; attending worship services, assuming that by doing these things they would be considered Holy, but God knew their hearts. God always knows our hearts.
In this passage, God promised the people of Judah a future and a hope. He was saying they needed to hang in there, to search for His lead, to envision the future He described; and that His promises were contingent upon their repentance. Once this happened, the Lord would hear them and make Himself available to them.
There is a message for us here too. God is telling us to visualize a future of hope, but He doesn’t want us just sitting around waiting for it. Listen to the action words in those three verses in Jeremiah: Come to Him, Call on Him, Pray to Him, Seek Him, Search for Him. God says to do these things wholeheartedly and we will Find Him! The God of Our Future is telling us, that by way of His presence, the privilege of prayer, and His grace, He will be ours! Hmm, that gets my attention!
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, help me to seek you and pray to you wholeheartedly. Thank you for giving me a future and a hope. Help me to always come, call, pray, seek, search, and find You today and every day, and to encourage others to do the same.

Daily Devotional 7-15-19

God is a Call Away
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful
“Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” Jeremiah 33:3
911 is the number most people know to call an emergency situation. We pick up the phone and call this number without a second thought. First, we know there are people trained to offer assistance promptly; second, these trained people will respond at any time; third, they know their job very well; fourth, they have a track record for helping in emergency situations. For these workers, their sense of responsibility, technical know-how have been tried and tested. Thus, we have great trust in them.
In today’s text, we find the reliability and assurance of God. He takes the initiative to ask us to call on him. He knows we have needs and desires that only He can meet. We may try to hide from people because of trust issues, but the Omniscient God knows our deepest desires and needs. And, He knows what’s best for you among your needs. He gives you the invitation to call on Him. He promises to answer and even show you great things of which you aren’t aware. In Matthew 7:7 Jesus encourages us to, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”
I don’t have to disturb God with my needs. God is too big to think about my small issues. I have not been faithful enough so He will not care about my needs. These and many false thoughts prevent people from calling on God. If He cares about the birds of the air, the beasts in the field, and all His creation, then He cares more about you, because you bear His image. I encourage and invite you to reach out to Him, even when you don’t feel His presence. Remember it is not your feeling, but your faithing of his presence that matters.
He is waiting on the other end. Will you call on Him?
PRAYER: Grant me the faith and courage to know you are interested in my life; to know everything about me matters to you. Grant me the faith to see you bigger than my mountain.

Daily Devotional 7-12-19

Faith-Love Connection
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.” Galatians 5:6
Dealing with an outside enemy can be easy, but when it comes to an inside enemy things get complicated. The Church of Jesus Christ keeps struggling with the menace of false teachers who arise from within the Church. They basically twist the truth of the word of God to deceive many. Jesus prophesied about them, so we should not be surprised.
The Church in Galatia had bought into lies and false teachings from false teachers who had visited with them. They told the members of the church that in order to be saved they needed to practice some of the Jewish customs and laws, like circumcision. Therefore, Paul, had to write to remind the members of the church that the only condition for their salvation was faith in the finished work of Jesus on the cross. Nothing else was required! As a result of this faith in Christ, there is no distinction between the circumcised or the uncircumcised. And this faith in Christ works through love.
This means that love is the engine, or the foundation, of our faith in Christ. For all that we do in and out of the Church, love for God and others must be the driving motivation. That means, if I am serving in ministry and I am not motivated by love, but by other reason, what I do may appeal to people, but in the eyes of God it amounts to nothing.  Have you realized it is possible to do something for somebody not out of love but out of mere courtesy? Those works have no eternal value because love was not the motivation. If you ever want to grow in anything, desire that you may grow in God’s love.
The kingdom of God is built on the foundation of love, evidenced in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus always had compassion for the people he met, thus, He was able to work miracles for them. His heart was deeply moved by their needs, plight, and sufferings (Matthew 9:36).
My dear Christian friend, it is not the size of faith, but of love that matters!
That is why Jesus said, you can achieve great feats with a little faith as the size of a mustard seed (Matthew 17:20). I invite and challenge you today, to grow in all things. Grow in your business, family life, and relationships. Grow in your finances and economic standings. Grow in your social and professional status. But above all, grow in your love for God and others.
PRAYER: Holy Spirit, help me desire to grow in Christ’s love; grant me the boldness to share this love with others. And may Jesus’ love become the foundation for all I do.

Daily Devotional 7-11-19

Ups and Downs in Faith 
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful   
“And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, also how he had executed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by tomorrow about this time.” And when he saw that, he arose and ran for his life, and went to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.” 1 Kings 19:1-3
Idolatry was leading Israel away from God. Israel was bowing to the gods of the surrounding culture, and the prophet Elijah stepped in to intervene. He staged a contest with 450 prophets of Baal to prove who was the true god—Baal or the God of Israel.  After the God of Israel won the contest, Elijah executed all the 450 prophets of Baal. Ahab told his wife, Jezebel, of the execution of the 450 prophets, and she swore to kill Elijah. One would think, if the prophets of Baal did not survive Elijah, how would a woman stand him? However, Elijah fled from Jezebel for his dear life. How could a great prophet who had demonstrated great faith in God run away from a woman?
Where was the faith of Elijah?
I am certain there are many who can identify with Elijah’s situation! I am one of them. In one moment your faith is strong, you feel on top, you are full of zeal; then the next episode is filled with fear, doubts and intimidation. In one moment you demonstrate your faith in and love for Christ, and the next moment is a complete opposite. The nature of my service affords me the opportunity to encourage people, but there have been times I had to call on friends for encouragement and prayer support. All the great people that God used had their fair share of the ebb and flow of faith.
Elijah was tired. He felt alone. He was probably depressed and wanted to die. He felt surrounded by the idolatrous culture, and could no more bear the pressure of standing alone without any help. He was tired of being a lone ambassador of God. And being a human, he could no longer hold on. Thus, he desired to die (1 Kings 19:4). Are you tired of enduring the pressure of this world? Do you feel like no one cares about you? Are you scared to be labelled because of your faith in Christ? How do you feel holding on truth as found in God’s word?
Hear God’s promise: “Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall, But those who wait on the Lord, Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint,” Isaiah 40:30.
PRAYER: Holy Spirit, breathe on us again, baptize us with new strength, so that we may be faithful even to death.

Daily Devotional 7-10-19

Don’t Go Back to the World
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful
“Do thy diligence to come shortly unto me: For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world, and is departed unto Thessalonica…” 2Timothy 4:9-10
When I was young, we used to sing this song at church: I have decided to follow Jesus (3x)                                                                                                      No turning back (2x)
The cross before me, the world behind me (3x)
No turning back (2x)
Sometimes I have to sing some of these old Christian renditions to remind and encourage myself not to cave in to the pressures and biddings of the world. To receive God’s saving grace in Jesus is a decision which will be tested and tried. Some fall away from faith, others become lukewarm, while others remain resolute, and even grow stronger in their faith in the face of trials and temptations.
In today’s text, Paul was asking Timothy to visit him quickly because Demas has forsaken him because of the love of this present world. Demas had been partnering with Paul in ministry. However, it got to a point he could no longer continue serving in ministry. His reason is quite interesting. Paul said Demas loved this present world; therefore, he deserted Christ, and embraced the world instead. Watch out for the world!
So, what exactly is this world? Are we supposed to isolate ourselves from this world? Can’t we engage this world? When scripture talks about the world, it is important to take the context into consideration. In John 3:16, we are told that God loved the world to the point He sent His Son… However, in 1John 2:15, we are invited not to love the world or anything in it. So, does the bible contradict itself? No! God loves his created order, but does not love everything in the world.  God loves all people but does not love everything people DO. God does not love the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life people sometimes exhibit. These things in the world can draw us away from the love of God. Demas fell to the attractions of this world and deserted Paul.
Do not desert or forsake your relationship with Christ because of the attractions of this world. Do not lose the fervency of your love for Christ and his church because of the attractions of this world. With the strength of the Holy Spirit you will be able to keep to your love and commitment to God and not cave in to what God hates in the world.
PRAYER: Holy Spirit, strengthen me that I may stand faithfully to the end.