Daily Devotional 6-24-19

Intimacy with the Almighty  
By Julie White  
Deep things are intriguing. Deep jungles. Deep water. Deep caves and canyons. Deep thoughts and conversations. There is nothing like depth to make us dissatisfied with superficial, shallow things. Once we have delved below the surface and had a taste of the marvels and the mysteries of the deep, we realize the value of taking the time and going to the trouble of mining those depths. This is especially true in the spiritual realm. God invites us to go deeper. We read in scripture that the Spirit of God “Searches all things, even the depths of God,” (1 Corinthians 2:10).
Toward the end of his struggles, Job refers to the Lord’s deep, mysterious purposes as “things too wonderful for me, which I do not know,” (Job 42:3). The prophet Daniel stated that God “reveals the profound and hidden things” and that “He knows what is in the darkness,” (Dan 2:22). We read elsewhere “He reveals mysteries from the darkness, and brings the deep darkness into light.” (Job 12:22). The psalmist testifies that “Thy judgments are like a great deep,” (Psalm 36:6).
I think God waits to reveal insights and dimensions of truth to those who care enough to probe, to examine, and to ponder. And God’s ways are not discovered through normal human methods of research. He reserves these things for those whose hearts are completely His; for those who take time to wait before Him. To be profoundly aware of His presence, in touch with Him at the deepest level possible, thinking His thoughts, gleaning His wisdom, living as close to His heart as is humanly possible, operating in the nucleus of His will; only in this way can we experience intimacy with the Almighty.
[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him more [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His person more strongly and clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from His resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death. (Philippians 3:10).
PRAYER: Lord, the depth of our intimacy with you determines the level of impact our lives have in the world. Help us make our goal in life to become intimately acquainted with You. We love you, God. Amen.  

Daily Devotional 6-21-19

Walking in Light    
By Julie White  
Your word is a lamp to my feet, a light to my path. Psalm 119:105  
When you walk along a dense forest path with a small lantern on a pitch-dark night, you can see only one step ahead. Once you take that step, the lamp moves forward enough to light the next place to put your foot. Traveling this way, you reach your destination safely.
God’s guidance is very much the same. He goes before us to open up the way and also walks alongside us. The lamp of Scripture provides light to our spiritual pathway. It is a symbol of God’s word that gives us guidance in trials, and hope that, no matter what happens, He will “Bring me safely into His heavenly kingdom,” (2 Tim 4:18). God’s word is our spiritual compass. It’s like a sturdy walking stick you can lean on as you journey uphill with God. If you trust in God consistently, the staff will bear as much of your weight as is needed.
  I believe the word ‘path’ represents the general course of one’s life and ‘feet’ denotes a person’s particular actions and choices. When you need to make a decision, the best test is to ask, “Is the result of my decision in alignment with God’s word?” When you decide on a course of action that is in line with His will, nothing in heaven or on earth can stop you. God is with you and for you!
Another way God asserts His sovereignty is in the timing of events. Instead of grabbing the lamp from God and running headlong toward your goal, allow Him to set the pace. In this life, we may hike through a forest of obstacles, but God will not trip in the darkness. Stay close to God and do things His way, ask Him to show you the true path forward moment by moment, step by step.
PRAYER:  Holy Spirit, thank you for lighting up my life with your Word. Help me to keep my eyes opened for the path that You have already determined for me. Help my faith be a sturdy walking stick for others to lean on as they search for Your light in their lives.

Daily Devotional 6-20-19

Prayer-Power Connection
By Julie White  
Lord teach us to pray. Luke 11:1
Jesus gave stunning prayer promises and He set a compelling prayer example. He prayed before He ate. He prayed for children. He prayed alone and in crowds. He prayed for the sick. He prayed with thanks. He prayed with tears. He prayed in the desert, cemetery, and garden. He had made the planets and shaped the stars, yet He prayed. He is the Lord of Angels and Commander of heavenly hosts, yet He prayed. He is co-equal with God, the exact representation of the Holy One, yet He devoted Himself to prayer.  
The disciples witnessed Jesus find strength in prayer, banish fear through prayer, defy storms in prayer, and, being depleted, ascend a mountain to pray and then come off that mountain invigorated with the authority of a prince! When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, I believe it was at that moment, that they made the prayer-power connection.
Here is the prayer Jesus taught the disciples and still teaches His followers today:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the Kingdom and the Power, and the Glory, forever. Amen (Matthew 6:9-13).
What strikes me is the beautiful simplicity and the brevity of it. The Lord’s Prayer cites praise (for God’s glory), requests for help, forgiveness (for our good), lifting up of others (for the good of others), and thanks. It is the attitude in which we pray that is important; the creating of conditions of our heart that inspire the desire to pray.
Prayer is a personal, sincere conversation between a Father and his child. Prayer is not a method to persuade God to do something. God is trying to persuade us! He wants to do something for us and He’s trying to get us in a position to receive it. Trust that He wants to talk with you; so say hello! Turn on the power and let the conversation begin!
PRAYER: Holy Spirit, grant me an attitude of constant prayer. Help me remember that prayer is not the art of a chosen few, but is the very heart of a personal relationship with You.

Daily Devotional 6-19-19

Ambassadors of Reconciliation
By Julie White
So then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20  
An ambassador has the responsibility of establishing and maintaining friendly relationships. As believers, we are Christ’s ambassadors and the Gospel is our message. As messengers, God sends us into the world to share the Good News and to encourage others to be reconciled to Him in loving fellowship. People are watching us to see if our credentials are authentic; to observe how we demonstrate our faith during tough times as well as in good times.
The apostle Paul was an ambassador of reconciliation. He was arrested and put in jail for serving our Lord. He saw jail time as one more opportunity to spread the Good News of Christ. Paul realized that his current circumstances weren’t as important as what he did with them. Turning a bad situation into a good one, he reached out to the Roman soldiers who made up the palace guard and he encouraged Christians who were afraid of persecution.
We may not be in prison, but we may have other discouraging situations happen to us: times of indecision, family conflict, illness, financial burdens, untimely deaths, or the loss of our jobs. How we think and act in such situations reflects what we believe. We are reconciled to God because we believe that He has reconciled Himself to us. In everything He did, Paul remembered his credentials as ambassador and always considered what his actions communicated about Jesus.
We live in such a way that no one will stumble because of us, and no one will find fault with our ministry. In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God (2 Corinthians 6:3-4).
Paul stood faithful to God whether people praised Him or slandered Him. He remained joyous and content in hardships. Be firm as you stand true to God, and refuse to compromise the standards for living that you know are His credentials. By doing this, we exercise our divine duties as ambassadors of Christ’s reconciliation for others.
PRAYER: Dear Lord, help us live out our lives as true ambassadors of reconciliation by the choices we make, by the words we speak, and by the way we love You and point others to You. 

Daily Devotional 6-18-19

Praise the Lord  
By Julie White
Praise the Lord. Praise God in His Sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty heavens. 
Praise Him for His acts of power;
Praise Him for His surpassing greatness.
Praise Him with the sounding of the trumpet,
Praise Him with harp and lyre,
Praise Him with tambourine and dancing,
Praise Him with the strings and flute,
Praise Him with the clash of cymbals,
Praise Him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. P
raise the Lord! (Psalm 150)  
The book of Psalms is a collection of songs filled with praises to God. For Christians, the word ‘praise’ has deep meaning. Praise focuses on God’s power, mercy, majesty, and love and causes us to consider and appreciate God’s character. When we recognize and affirm His goodness, we are holding up His perfection for all to see.
Psalm 150 uses the term ‘praise’ thirteen times in six verses: The first verse tells where to praise God: Everywhere! The next verse tells why to praise the Lord: For His acts of power and surpassing greatness! Verses 3-6 note how to praise the Lord: With musical instruments and dancing!
Music has always been an integral part of praising God and is still inherent in worship today. In this Psalm, the plurality and variety of musical instruments represent the diversity of God’s people and our spiritual conditions. There is beauty and majesty in lifting our voices with others in songs of praise and worship. No one instrument alone can achieve this. We are many instruments, but only one God is worthy to be praised.
Praise lifts our perspective from the earthly to God’s heavenly realm. A condition of praise cited in this Psalm is the possession of breath. It leads us from the simple idea of wind instruments to the vocal, intelligent praise that is spoken by the breath of living people. The life-breath we received from God returns in praise to Him; He inhabits the praise of His people. When all of life is seen as praising God, praise becomes as common in our lives as breathing is. Triumphant comes to my mind, as we consider the souls of all the ages, all generations in unison, praising and magnifying the Almighty One.
PRAYER:  Holy Spirit, let praising You be, to us, the air we breathe in, which we cannot live without. Amen.

Daily Devotional 6-17-19

The Good Shepherd
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful
The Lord is my shepherd. I shall not want. Psalm 23:1
Many Christians can recite the entirety of Psalm 23. It is read at occasions such as funerals, etc.  Some read this Psalm to find refuge in God or relief from stress and anxieties. Others read when they need divine guidance in making crucial decisions. And, I bet, such people are never disappointed when they trust in God through His word.
David uses his experience as a shepherd boy to inform us of how God relates to us. In effect, whatever a shepherd does for his sheep, God does for us—even more. Now, I invite you to pause, ponder and make a list of the responsibilities of a shepherd. Now, look at your list. Has Christ, the good Shepherd, fulfilled any of the items you’ve listed?
David wants us to recognize the extent to which God is involved in our lives when he said, “the Lord is my shepherd.” We should be glad to know that we do not serve a remote God. He is always involved in our lives. He is a Person, and relates to us, just as we relate to people. I come from a part of the world where some people worship idols that do not communicate. In fact, they have to carry them around and repair them when the weather takes its toll on them. Sounds funny, right?
When the blind threatens to stone you, it means he/she stands on something. The psalmist makes a bold statement—“I shall not want”—because he stood on something. He knew his source. He knew the foundation of his life. He could rely on God. He knew God would never fail him no matter what. David was simply confident in his God. I wish this was my situation at all times. I wish I would never be anxious about anything. I wish I could be Christ-conscious all the time. I wish my confidence in the good Shepherd, Jesus, would be rock-solid all the time.
In this life, we will experience many setbacks, disappointments, and fears. Some people may treat you badly. But, be of good cheer. Your good Shepherd, Christ Jesus, is by your side. He will be to you. What He knows is best for you, so that you can shout out, “I shall not want.”
PRAYER:  Heavenly Father, grant me the confidence to be stable in you. Give me the faith to completely rely on you.

Daily Devotional 6-14-19

Safe and Secured
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful
Don’t fear, because I am with you; don’t be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will surely help you; I will hold you with my righteous strong hand. Isaiah 41:10
If you are in the land of the living, you are going to deal with the giant —fear. It manifests in many forms: fear of the unknown and uncertainties, fear of danger, fear of sickness, etc.  Fear is an enemy we deal with frequently! It is also a weapon Satan projects into your mind and heart that causes you to forget about the place of God in your life.  It will magnify your challenge and cast doubt in your spirit. It diminishes faith and exalts unbelief.  Fear gives you a negative lens through which you see people and events. It will intimidate you and change your language!
God does not leave us at the mercy of fear!  
In our text, God demonstrates his love for the Israelites through the words of the prophets. He recognizes their state of fear and panic in the face of an impending enemy’s attack. Through the prophets, God calms their fear by assuring them of His everlasting presence and ability to deliver them from the hand of the strong enemy. To add to the good news, He promises to hold their lives together so they don’t fall apart. Wow! We serve and defending and protecting God!
He is aware of your unspoken fears and anxieties. He knows your struggle and uncertainties. He knows how you’ve trusted Him all these years. You have believed in Him. You have been faithful in your commitment to Him. He will never allow you to be put to shame. He is not a person who promises and won’t deliver. You can rest be assured, that He’s got your life in His hand. You may lose control of a situation, but His hands are firm and will not grow weary.  Listen to His promise again, “I will hold you with my righteous strong hand.” This reminds of when I was a little boy. My dad and I would usually take a stroll in the town. He always held my hand throughout our walk. And so long as he held me, I felt secure and comfortable.
No matter what life presents to you, trust in God’s promise to strengthen, hold and protect you. I encourage you to choose to buy into the promise of God rather than the lies of Satan, the world, and your circumstance. Choose to live with confidence in the promises of God.
The Lord is our Shepherd; we shall fear no evil!
PRAYER: Holy Spirit, grant me the spirit of boldness to live out my life with confidence in you.

Daily Devotional 6-13-19

Getting the Greatest Commandment Right
By Rev. Emmanuel Afful
He replied, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.” Matthew 22:37-40
Love is the greatest commandment we find in the scriptures. From the Old Testament to the New Testament, God’s love for his people has been the major emphasis and theme. I believe over the years love has gradually lost its true essence and understanding. Love in the Christian circle has often times been spoken of in very generic term. However, Jesus’ response to the question: “Teacher, what is the greatest commandment in the Law?” opens our eyes about the greatest commandment.
Jesus introduces the order of priority in love. This may even play out in our human relationships.  For example, a wife may choose the kids over her husband, but after they become adults, the husband becomes her priority again. Others would prioritize their love for their spouse no matter what. Largely, prioritizing love in our human relationships could be contextual.
Jesus places our love for God as the top-most priority, followed by our love for others. This order is so important. In other words, Jesus is inviting us not to put anybody above him.
Whomever you love more than God becomes an idol to you.
“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”  Matthew 10:37
Our love for others reflects our love for God. If we truly love God we will love others. However, we must not make decisions or take actions that will displease God but make someone happy. In that case, that person takes the place of God in our lives.
We don’t have to compromise our love for God to show how much we love others.
PRAYER: Holy Spirit, grant me the courage and discernment to not place anything above you in my life. Show and forgive me when I have placed others above you.

Daily Devotional 6-12-19

Jesus In All 
 By Julie White
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong in Christ Jesus. Thessalonians 5:16-18
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials. James 11:2
Many things about the kingdom of God seem to be a paradox. As Kingdom citizens, we gain by giving, live by dying, and become great by becoming least. But perhaps the greatest paradox in the kingdom of God is when Christians find joy in pain and suffering. There is something that seems unnatural about that; about rejoicing in the midst of trials.
But a clarification should be made. God’s word says we are to give thanks “IN everything” not FOR everything. The Bible is transrational, not irrational; it represents thinking at a higher level, not a lower level. In the middle of trials and trouble, joy can still be found because we know that God works His good plans through the many things we experience.
We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God and who are called according to His purpose. Roman 8:28
If you are experiencing a painful moment in your life right now, you don’t have to fake having joy for the pain. Your joy is to be in the knowledge that God is in control and your faith in Him is unshakeable. Peter writes that trials and suffering come for that very reason: to prove that the faith we cling to is the real thing.
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while.  These trials will show that your faith is genuine.  It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold.  So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. (1 Peter 1:6-7).
Learning to accept trials, struggles, and persecutions as trusses of our faith is part of our personal refining process. This makes us more useful to God! So instead of asking, “Why me?” we could respond with a higher set of attitudes:
Confidence — that God knows, plans, and directs our lives for the good
Perseverance — when facing grief, anger, and sorrow; better days are ahead
Courage — because with Jesus as our Brother and our Savior, we don’t need to be afraid.
PRAYER: Dear Father, we praise you for your constant superintendence in our lives.  Thank you for carrying us in everything and through everything, to the other side.