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Loving God

Today's Message

{ Day 243 }

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ ... that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death. —Philippians 3:7-8, 10, NKJV

Paul gave an autobiographical look at what motivated him. Without apology, Paul pointed us to the necessity of fierce abandonment for the sake of one thing. Paul was not saying that he suffered these things to earn Jesus's approval, but that in forsaking them, he removed what hindered his ability to experience Jesus to the fullest possible degree. He purposely narrowed his options. He willingly became a man of one thing. In verse 12, Paul revealed the inner activity of his soul: "I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." The Lord Jesus laid hold of each one of us for a very specific reason. God had something in mind for you when you were born and when you were born again. Beloved, we will not accidentally lay hold of the highest things God has called us to. We must press into them, knowing that the devil will press back. We must lay hold of the prize, and the only way to accomplish that is by being individuals and churches of extravagant devotion to Jesus. No other kind of devotion will survive the onslaught of the enemy.

{ PRAYER STARTER }

Lord, when my life draws to a close, may I be able, like Paul, to say I counted all things loss as I spent my life in learning how to know You more, to experience a greater intimacy with You, and to love You more.

Paul actually gloried in the privilege of having intimacy
with Jesus in suffering, which is a necessary
dimension of the kingdom of God.

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Daily Breakthroughs

Today's Message

Wilt Thou Be Made Whole?

When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole? —John 5:6

Jesus asked the man beside the Pool of Bethesda if he wanted to be made whole. This may seem to be an odd question, but it really is not. Many appear to be seeking a miracle, but do not really want a miracle. They have grown comfortable with their condition, enjoying their self-pity and the attention they receive. Or they may be wishing for a miracle, but don't really expect one to come.

How long will you wait on the banks, while rivers of living water course past you? Say good-bye to sympathy and complacency. Cast aside the maybe, the perhaps, and the someday. Do not allow yourself to become an impotent Christian, lying by the water, too blind to see God, and with no power to overcome. What keeps you from reaching out to Jesus? Is it fear, shame, or laziness? Whatever it is, get over it! Go beyond yourself to the One who will make you whole—Jesus.

Take the initiative. Get to know Jesus. Get to know His Word. Stop waiting for a man to help you. Stretch out your hand, and allow Jesus to lift you up.

Jesus, I am getting up from where I am and overcoming
every obstacle for the sole purpose of being made
whole by You. Thank you for offering
to make me whole. Amen.

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By Love Transformed

Today's Message

God's Church Includes Everybody

When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors. ... invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous. —Luke 14:12-14

I would think that a great sign of God's approval and anointing on any church is to see it filled with people with all kinds of handicaps, whether deaf, blind, or in wheelchairs. The reason is because such people obviously feel welcome. The word gets out that this church wants—and needs—the disabled. They know they will be treated with dignity and respect. People everywhere want to spend time with them; they will come and talk to them!

Do you do that at your church? Or do you hurry to be with the people you already know? God wants His church to include everybody. It's not just pain, difficulty, or the inconvenience; the real problem is the way disabled people are marginalized and cast aside.

There is more than one kind of handicap, and there are obviously various degrees of being disabled. There are generally two kinds of disabled people: those who are born disabled and those whose handicap affects them later in life.

Others become disabled through illness. This can happen to any of us. It can happen through an accident, or it may be the gradual loss of our hearing or sight. The loss of the use of limbs can be anyone's experience.

But there is another kind of handicap, mental impairment, those born with mental limitations. It may be a low IQ or those born with Down's syndrome. There are those who have a learning disability, such as dyslexia. Some lose the ability to think clearly. It may come from an accident, from an operation, or from senility—perhaps Alzheimer's disease.

Such people often love the Lord Jesus Christ with deepest devotion, but they wonder what's wrong with them. And yet God allows this because He has a purpose in it all. He loves us so much, and what is often seen as a negative in this life will be seen in the opposite way when we get to heaven.

Excerpted from The Thorn in the Flesh (Charisma House, 2004).

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Around the Word in 365 Days

Today's Message

The Pavilion of God

Psalm 31:19-24 Nothing can wound more than the accusations of others, especially if a friend accuses you. David had this experience. What causes a critical, judgmental spirit? The root cause is pride. When we are hurt by others, it is a sign that we have pride in our hearts. When we hurt and wound others with our words, we are also guilty of pride.

The best definition I ever heard of humility is "seeing others as Christ sees them and also seeing yourself as Christ sees you." Think about it. If we walked in such humility, we would not see the negative in others because we would see them as Christ sees them. Jesus values each person the same. We all were considered worthy of His great sacrifice on the cross. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. God gave His Son for the whole world, but the whole world sadly will not receive or believe in such a great sacrifice. If we saw ourselves as Christ sees us, we would not be easily hurt because we also would see ourselves as someone who has value and worth. No matter what others think of us, we are assured of the fact that there is One who loved us enough to die for us. This thought will be a pavilion to shield us when others come against us with accusations.

David learned how to overcome when others accused him. He knew there was a safe pavilion he could run to that protected him from the strife of tongues. That safe place was the presence of the Lord where he was comforted and restored. David says, "You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the plots of man; You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues" (v. 20).

Who is the "them" referred to in such a great promise? The "them" is all those who fear the Lord and put their trust in Him rather than in men. When I read this passage, I picture myself in a beautiful white pavilion or gazebo set in a field of wild flowers beside a peaceful lake. Inside that pavilion are soft, white satin pillows that protect my ears from hearing the accuser of the brethren (Satan). All sounds of strife cease, and I can only hear the voice of the Lord. Here I recognize who my true enemy is—not people, but the principalities and powers that operate through people. Here my perspective is restored and I can do warfare against the enemy instead of justifying myself to others when I am accused. Here I find peace and rest for my soul, and here the accuser is silenced and I can respond in love to my accusers. Here I can love the Lord and am empowered to transmit that love to others.

Lord, help me to run to this pavilion whenever others accuse me.

READ: Nehemiah 1:1-3:14; 1 Corinthians 7:1-19; Psalm 31:19-24; Proverbs 21:4


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Live Extraordinarily

Today's Message

You Were Expensive!

God's love for us is unconditional and unchanging. This is clearly seen in the words of Jesus' prayer the night before His crucifixion: "Then the world will know that you [God the Father] sent me [Jesus Christ] and will understand that you love them as much as you love me" (John 17:23, NLT).

Did you catch that? God loves you as much as He loves Jesus! That's almost too much to comprehend!

Scripture records that God's love "is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything [without weakening]. Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]" (1 Corinthians 13:7-8, AMP). His love for you can never weaken or become obsolete. It is impossible, for His love for you isn't based on your behavior but on His character of faithfulness. God's love for us is so all-encompassing that we simply cannot comprehend its scope.

He sent Jesus to die for us when we were still His enemies (see Romans 5:10). John the apostle writes, "For God so loved the world [you and me] that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

Why did God give Jesus? The answer is simple: to purchase us back. Our forefather Adam gave up himself and consequently all his offspring (including you and me) to a new lord when he heeded Satan's words in the Garden of Eden. Adam disobeyed God and separated himself and his descendants from their Creator. But since God loved humankind so much, He wasn't willing to assign us the same fate as Satan and his angels.

God needed a creative plan to purchase our freedom. He did this by sending Jesus Christ, the second person of the Godhead, who was fathered by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin. Jesus was all man and all God and lived a perfect life (the only man ever to walk the earth without sin). He went to the cross and paid the price for our disobedience to God. He took our judgment so we wouldn't have to.

The price of our soul is so expensive that nothing else could have bought us back besides Jesus Himself. Scripture states, "God bought you with a high price" (1 Corinthians 6:20, NLT). Then again it's recorded that the Father "is so rich in kindness that he purchased our freedom through the blood of his Son" (Ephesians 1:7, NLT). No person or thing is more valuable to God than Jesus. Yet God saw our value equal to that of what He prized most.

Now here is the amazing fact: If you and I had been worth one cent less to God than the value of Jesus, He would not have purchased us because God would never make an unprofitable deal. God does not make bad purchases. (Recall the above scripture, "God bought you with a high price.") A bad purchase is when you give something of more value for something of less value. In God's eyes, Jesus' value is the same as yours! Do you see how important you are to God? This is why Jesus prays, "You love them as much as you love me" (John 17:23, NLT).

That's extraordinary love!

Marked by boldness and passion, John Bevere delivers uncompromising truth through his award-winning curriculum and best-selling books now available in over sixty languages. His newest book is Extraordinary: The Life You're Meant to Live. More information is available at www.ExtraordinaryOnline.org.

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