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A wide door of opportunity for effectual [service] has opened to me [there, a great and promising one], and [there are] many adversaries. —1 Corinthians 16:9
Sometimes the only way to discover God’s will is to practice what I call “stepping out and finding out.” If I have prayed about a situation and still don’t seem to know what to do, I simply take a step of faith. God has shown me that trusting Him is like standing before an automatic door at a supermarket. We can stand and look at the door all day, but it won’t open until we take a step forward and trigger the mechanism that opens it.
There are times in life when we must take a step forward in order to find out, one way or the other, what we should do. Some doors open as soon as we take a step of faith and others never open no matter what we do. When God opens the door, then go through it. If He does not open the door, then be satisfied to take another direction. But do not let fear trap you in total inactivity.
In the verse for today, Paul mentions the door of opportunity before him, but he also mentions “many adversaries,” so we must be sure we don’t mistake opposition for a closed door.
Paul and his coworkers, Silas and Barnabas, did not sit and wait for an angel to appear or a vision to come from heaven while they were seeking God’s will. They took steps in the direction they felt was right. Many times God did open doors for them, but there were times when He closed doors. This did not discourage them, but they simply kept going forward in faith, searching for what God wanted them to do.
God’s word for you today: Walk boldly through the doors God opens for you, and don’t become discouraged when He closes one
But we have the mind of Christ (the Messiah) and do hold the thoughts (feelings and purposes) of His heart. —1 Corinthians 2:16 (b)
I reached the curb in front of the airport, where my friend would pick me up. I was calm and relaxed and thought of the great conversation we would have. To my surprise, she wasn’t there yet. That was odd because she’s the kind of person who is never late for anything. I remained calm and peaceful. I spotted what I thought was her car and took a step forward, but the car went past me, and there was a stranger in it.
Not more than three minutes had passed, but I realized I was anxious and worried. What had happened to her? Had she been in an accident? Did she forget me? From calmness to anxiety in less than three minutes, and nothing had changed—nothing except my mind. Worried thoughts struggled inside me.
I pulled out my cell phone and started to dial, when I heard a car honking, as she pulled up to the curb. My mind shifted once again to calmness, even joyfulness. How quickly my emotions had shifted in that short period of time.
My mind had quickly changed when my circumstances did. Sometimes I find it easy to hear God speak . . . and to believe without any difficulty. Yet at other times, worry and anxiety push their way into my mind. The Bible says we are to walk by faith and not by sight, but that day at the airport, I was definitely being led by what I saw. When we worry, we are not walking in faith and trusting God.
For a long period of my life, I had a critical, suspicious, and judgmental mind. That may seem normal for many nonbelievers, but I was a Christian. I was going along with the same thinking and mindset that I had known for years. It was normal to me—it was just the way I was. For years, I had no awareness that my wrong thinking was causing any problems.
Because no one had taught me, I didn’t know I could do anything to change my thought life. It simply had not occurred to me. No one had taught me about the proper condition for the believer’s mind. God offers us a new way to think and a new way to live.
God has called us to renew our minds (see Romans 12:2). For most of us, it is an ongoing process. We don’t control our thinking all at one time.
One day I read 1 Corinthians 2:16, where Paul says we have the mind of Christ. What could he have meant? I pondered that verse for days. I concluded that for us to have the mind of Christ doesn’t mean we’re sinless or perfect. It does mean we begin to think the way Christ thinks. If we have His mind, we think on those things that are good and honorable and loving.
I confessed to God how many times my mind had focused on the ugly, the mean, and the harsh.
In 1 Corinthians 2:14, Paul wrote, “But the natural, nonspiritual man does not accept or welcome or admit into his heart the gifts and teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God, for they are folly (meaningless nonsense) to him . . . because they are spiritually discerned and estimated and appreciated. . . .” Yes, I thought, that’s exactly how it works. The natural mind—even that of the Christians whose minds are tampered with by Satan—doesn’t grasp what God is doing. Those things seem foolish.
We must remind ourselves that we have Christ’s mind—we have the ability to think loving and caring thoughts. We can defeat Satan’s attacks.
Holy God, I want to live with the mind of Christ. I ask You to enable me to think positive, loving, caring thoughts about myself and about others. Help me to see and think on the good things in life and not the bad. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen. .
All things work together and are [ fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose. —Romans 8:28
Life is full of unjust situations that can create a great deal of pain for you, especially in your relationship with other people. You will experience some hurt and pain, but you don’t have to allow these experiences to destroy your happiness. You can’t always choose what happens to you, but you can choose how you respond to it.
If you’ve been hurt, God can take your bad experiences and make them work for your good. Believing this truth is a positive decision that can help stop your pain.
Choose to learn from the hurtful experiences instead of wasting your pain by allowing them to make you bitter. One way to do this is to overcome evil with good by making sure you don’t hurt others. It’s a good place to start!
For the rest, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on and weigh and take account of these things [fix your minds on them]. —Philippians 4:8
Negative people don’t enjoy life. Viewing each day with positive expectations is one of the key principles to godly happiness.
We act on what we believe, so positive thoughts cause positive actions. If you want a positive life, begin thinking positive thoughts. It is easy to do so if you read the Word and meditate on all that God wants to do for you and through you. Get alone today, and think about all the good, positive things God has done for you in the past, and all He has planned for you in the future.
Arise [from the depression and prostration in which circumstances have kept you—rise to a new life]! Shine (be radiant with the glory of the Lord), for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you! —Isaiah 60:1
"Step out and find out” is my slogan. I hate to see people shrink back in fear and be so afraid of making a mistake that they never try to do anything. I know a young man who quit a good job to go into music ministry. It was a bold step, and he did everything he could to make it work, but it just didn’t (at least not at this time). However, I am proud of him that he was bold enough to try. At least now he won’t spend the rest of his life wondering what could have been if only he had tried.
Unless you listen to God and follow your own heart, you will live an unfulfilled and frustrated life. Anyone who allows other people to control her and guide her destiny will eventually become bitter and feel used and taken advantage of. I think it is better to try and fail than never to try at all. Sometimes the only way we can discover what we are supposed to do with our lives is to try different things until we see what works and what fits right in our heart.
Lord, I don’t want to live with regrets. Help me to be bold and step out and follow what I believe You’ve put in my heart to do. Amen.
Lord, I don’t want to live with regrets. Help me to be bold and step out and follow what I believe You’ve put in my heart to do. Amen.
And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your minds, in that peaceful state] to which as [members of Christ's] one body you were also called [to live]. —Colossians 3:15
Peace is our inheritance from Jesus, but we have to choose to follow Him daily. Colossians 3:15 teaches us that peace is to be the "umpire" in our lives, settling every issue that needs a decision. To gain and maintain peace in our hearts, we may have to learn to say no to a few things.
For example, if we don't feel peace about something, we should never go ahead and do it. And if we don't have peace while we are doing something, then we shouldn't expect to have peace after we have done it. Many people marry others they didn't have peace about marrying, and then they wonder why they don't have peace in their marriages. Many people buy expensive items they didn't have peace about buying, then continue to lose their peace every month when they have to make payments on them.
Colossians 3:15 says to let the peace from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in our hearts. The presence of peace helps us decide and settle with finality all questions that arise in our minds. If you let the Word have its home in your heart and mind, it will give you insight and intelligence and wisdom (See v. 16). You won't have to wonder, Should I or shouldn't I? I don't know if it's right. I don't know what to do. If you are a disciple of Christ, He has called you to follow peace.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways . . . For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. —Isaiah 55:8-9
Did you know a lack of understanding of how God does things can wear you out?
If you don’t understand His ways, you could end up fighting and resisting things, thinking they are an attack from the devil, when in reality they are an attempt by the Lord to work something good in your life.
You know God does not do bad things. But sometimes you may fail to realize that everything that feels bad to you is not necessarily bad for you. Reminding yourself that His ways are not your ways will help you trust Him even when your circumstances are hard to understand.
As this busy day comes to a close, just put yourself in the hands of almighty God . . . and rest in the knowledge that He is good and knows what’s best.
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God. —Colossians 1:9–10 NIV
God’s Word encourages us to strive for perfection by growing into complete maturity of godliness in mind and character, having integrity, as our heavenly Father is perfect (See Matthew 5:48).
Paul said that even though he had not attained the ideal of perfection, he pressed on to grasp and make his own that for which Christ had laid hold of him (See Philippians 3:12). We, too, should press toward maturity and integrity today.
If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples. And you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free. —John 8:31–32
Two spiritual weapons available to you are praise and prayer. Praise and prayer should both be filled with the Word of God.
Jesus used the weapon of the Word in the wilderness to defeat the devil (see Luke 4:1–13). Each time the devil lied to Him, Jesus responded with, “It is written,” and quoted the Word. Likewise, you can use the Word to tear down the strongholds in your mind and defeat the devil.
Learn to fill your prayers and praise with the Word of God by abiding (staying, continuing) in God’s Word. Pray, speak, sing, and study the Word, and you will experience victory in all areas of your life.
Power Thought: I have the ability to know the Truth, and the Truth will set me free.
If they obey and serve Him, they shall spend their days in prosperity and their years in pleasantness and joy. —Job 36:11
One of the most important aspects of our Christian life is obedience, which reveals our love for God. We simply will not make progress with God unless we are willing to obey Him. Disobedience of any kind, on any level, is sin.
I encourage you to make up your mind that you are going to be extremely, even radically, obedient to God. First John 3:22 says: “We receive from Him whatever we ask, because we [watchfully] obey His orders.” Does that mean we have to be perfect? No. It is true that God in His grace will bless those who make mistakes, but we should not be satisfied to stay the way we are. God blesses us even though we are not perfect, but at the same time, our hearts need to be longing for growth and improvement. We cannot deliberately and habitually sin and then expect God to give us a life filled with His blessings. Our attitudes need to send God a message that says: “I don’t want to stay this way. I want to grow. I want to change and I’m pressing toward that mark.”
If we do the best we can and we are sincerely sorry when we make mistakes, then we know that God will continue blessing us because He is very merciful. But, on the other hand, if we remain in disobedience, knowing we are disobeying God, and not making an honest effort to grow spiritually, then we really do not need to be blessed because if God blesses us in the midst of that attitude or behavior, we will not want to change or grow.
We hurt ourselves every time we do not obey God. But when we do obey God, we position ourselves for great blessings and be people that God can work through for His glory.
Love God Today: Lord, I repent for my disobedience and ask you to help me obey you in every way.
However, when Simon saw that the [Holy] Spirit was imparted through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he brought money and offered it to them, saying, Grant me also this power and authority. —Acts 8:18–19
Make sure that whatever you are trying to do is something you are really meant to do and not just something you want to do to impress people. How do you know what you can do and what you cannot do? It’s important to understand this if you are to be well prepared. This will prevent you from wasting your time on something you won’t succeed at anyway. I am a good public speaker, but I quickly discovered that I had zero ability as a musician. Had I continued to insist on learning to be a musician, I would have felt like a failure. As hard as you may try, you cannot be properly prepared and feel confident to do something you are not meant to do.
Don’t be afraid to admit what you cannot do. Know your weaknesses and pray for God to send people into your life to do what you cannot do. I cannot play musical instruments, but God has always provided me musicians for my ministry. I am not afraid to say that I’m not good at something, and I don’t waste my time trying to develop my weaknesses.
Lord, it’s easy to be jealous of other people’s gifts. Help me to focus on what I was meant to do and keep me from wasting time on my weaknesses. Amen.
To Him Who, by (in consequence of) the [action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think [infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes, or dreams]. —Ephesians 3:20
Some people are so afraid of receiving bad news that they never think to pray for good news! That’s not a godly attitude. If we want to hear God’s voice and see His power released in our lives, we need to have attitudes that are pleasing to Him. We need to have positive expectations instead of negative ones. Our basic approach to life needs to be full of faith and hope and good expectations, because the Bible says that without faith it is impossible to please God (see Hebrews 11:6) and that hope will never disappoint us (see Romans 5:5). There is nothing negative about God; there is nothing in Him or in His actions that will ever disappoint us; everything He does is for our good—so that’s what we need to expect as we pray. We should not pray and then wonder if God will do anything at all; we should pray expecting God to do even more than we have asked.
The verse for today says that God can do “superabundantly, far over and above all” that we would ever dare to ask or even think to ask and infinitely beyond our “highest prayers, desires, thought, hopes, or dreams.” Now that is amazing—and it should give us all the confidence we need in order to pray expectantly. Personally, I would rather pray big prayers with great expectations and receive half of what I prayed for than to pray little puny prayers without any faith and get it all!
God’s word for you today: Expect big things from God.
But be doers of the Word [obey the message], and not merely listeners to it, betraying yourselves [into deception by reasoning contrary to the Truth]. —James 1:22
I recall a woman who attended one of my seminars. She had a lot of emotional wounds that had left her insecure and fearful. She desperately wanted to be free, but nothing seemed to work for her. At the conclusion of the seminar she told me that she now understood why she had never experienced any progress. She said, "Joyce, I sat with a group of ladies who all had a lot of the same problems in the past that I did. They also had emotional problems, but step-by-step God had been delivering them. As I listened to them, I heard them say, 'God led me to do this, and I did it. Then He led me to another thing, and I did it.' I realized that God had also told me to do the same things. The only difference was they did what He said to do, and I didn't."
To receive from God what He has promised us in His Word, we must obey the Word. There will be times when doing what the Word says is not easy. Obeying the Word requires consistency and diligence. There must be a dedication and commitment to do the Word whatever the outcome. "Yes," you may say, "but I have been doing the Word for a long time, and I still don't have the victory!" Then do it some more. Nobody knows exactly how long it is going to take for the Word to begin to work in this life. If you keep at it, sooner or later it will work.
I know it's a fight. I know Satan tries to keep you out of the Word; and once you do get into the Word, he tries everything in his power to keep you from putting the Word into practice in your life. I also know that once you do start putting the Word into practice, he does everything he can to make you think it won't work. That's why you must keep at it.
Ask God to help by giving you a desire to get into His Word and to do it no matter how hard it is or how long it takes to produce any results in your life.
For You cause my lamp to be lighted and to shine; the Lord my God illumines my darkness. —Psalm 18:28
The Bible says that God works through our weakness so that the grandeur and exceeding greatness of the power in our lives may be shown to be from Him and not from ourselves (See 2 Corinthians 4:7). God uses ordinary people like us with flaws and cracks in our pots (our earthen vessels), so that people will know that it has to be God working in us if we are doing good works.
If people knew us before we trusted in Jesus, they especially notice the difference that a few years of walking with the Lord has made in our lives. We become totally different creatures when we allow His love to shine through our weaknesses. We may look the same, but we don’t act the same. We just ooze with love when we are filled with God’s exceeding greatness. Let His glorious light shine through you all day.
. . . for in [your] faith (in your strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through Whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God) you stand firm. —2 Corinthians 1:24
One of the problems in the world today is that people want to “do their own thing” even if it makes them miserable. They don’t want to take direction from anyone or be told what to do, and they certainly don’t want to be accountable to God’s Word.
This kind of arrogant independence and rebellion is responsible for many unpleasant results and even tragedies. I am sure, if you stop and consider it, you know of situations in which people (maybe you) have been determined to go their own way and ended up with terrible problems. This does not have to happen!
To be able to enjoy life and avoid unnecessary problems, you and I must live according to the truth in God’s Word and not according to the lies we hear from other people, the world, or the enemy. We must know how to separate what is true from what is not. You can do this, but the battle for truth takes place in your mind, and you won’t win it without a fight. You must examine what you believe and why you believe it. It is wise to be firmly convinced so when the devil challenges you concerning God’s Word, you are prepared to stand firm.
We often find the children of Christian parents reaching an age where they begin to wonder if they really believe what their parents have taught them or not. Sometimes they go through a “crisis” period concerning their faith in God. They need to find their own faith because they can no longer live on the faith of their parents as they have done in the past. This can be a very healthy process. Most of them usually realize they do believe Jesus is their Savior, but it is a decision they need to make for themselves. You cannot stand through the storms of life based on someone else’s faith. You must be fully assured in your own heart and mind.
Trust in Him Knowing what you believe only makes a difference if you trust it enough to act on it. What transforming truth from Scripture do you need to apply today?
God is love, and he who dwells and continues in love dwells and continues in God, and God dwells and continues in him. —1 John 4:16
I remember when I began my ministry. When I was preparing for my first meeting, I asked the Lord what He wanted me to teach, and what came to my heart was, Tell My people I love them.
“They know that,” I said. “I want to teach them something really powerful, not a Sunday school lesson out of John 3:16.”
The Lord reminded me that if people really knew how much He loved them, they would act differently than they do.
As I began to study the subject of receiving God’s love, I realized I was in desperate need of the message myself. I had a sub- conscious, vague sort of understanding that God loved me, but I needed deeper revelation. The love of God is meant to be a powerful force in our lives, one that will take us through even the most difficult trials without our ever doubting God’s love.
Power Thought: I am actively aware of God’s love for me.
Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice! —Philippians 4:4
Many times, when people have problems or challenges, they focus so intensely on finding a solution or “surviving” the crisis that do not relax or enjoy life until the problems are solved. I want to encourage not to put off ‘joy’ any longer, because it will strengthen you and help you get through the crisis you are going through.. We can rejoice in spite of and the midst of our problems! God has given us an effective weapon called joy, and most of the time, if we will simply begin to use it, we will find ourselves overcoming the obstacles against us and being better able to handle our difficulties. God’s power is available to enable you to be joyful in the midst of a situation that is not joyful at all. You can rise above your circumstances and not be controlled by them.
The apostle Paul knew that joy gives us strength. He faced many, many hardships and difficulties during his life. He had plenty of reasons to be afraid, discouraged, and depressed! Paul could have decided to live his life in “survival mode,” but he chose to be joyful. We need to make the same choice Paul did—to rejoice always, even in difficult situations. This is one way we demonstrate our trust in God and prove our love for Him.
Jesus said in John 17:13: “. . . I say these things while I am still in the world, so that My joy may be made full and complete and perfect in them [that they may experience My delight fulfilled in them, that My enjoyment may be perfected in their own souls, that they may have My gladness within them, filling their hearts].”
What a scripture! Jesus wants His joy to be made full in us; He wants us to experience His delight. That’s what I’m praying for you today—that the joy of the Lord would fill your heart and be your strength. Don’t let circumstances or situations steal your joy, but love God (and do yourself a favor too) by being joyful.
Love God Today: Lord, I pray that no matter what difficulties or problems I face today, I will choose to rejoice anyway!
And the word of the Lord came to him, saying, Go from here and turn east and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, east of the Jordan. You shall drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there —1 Kings 17:2–4
When God called me into the ministry, I spent every free hour I could find studying God’s Word and reading books that taught me biblical doctrine and principles. Many of my friends did not understand my new zeal, and some got angry and rejected me when I said no to their invitations to do things. It was hard for me emotionally to be so misunderstood. I later learned that God was calling me to separate myself as part of my preparation.
I taught home Bible studies for five years to groups that consisted of twenty-five or thirty people. I was faithful and received no financial benefits during that time. As part of my preparation, God led me to quit my job so I would have some time to prepare. It involved sacrificing the salary I made and being willing to trust God for our needs to be met. Learning to trust God in this way was part of my preparation for the ministry we now have, where we must trust God for literally everything. Trust doesn’t just appear in our lives, but it grows as we take steps of faith and experience God’s faithfulness.
Lord, guide me to take steps of genuine faith in You today. I rest in Your faithfulness and abundance of provision. Amen.
Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he . . . [has a personal knowledge of My mercy, love, and kindness—trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake him]. —Psalm 91:14
God wants you to know you are not alone. Satan wants you to believe you are all alone, but you are not. He wants you to believe no one understands how you feel, but that is not true.
In addition to God being with you, many believers know how you feel and understand what you are experiencing mentally and emotionally. As God’s child, you can claim His wonderful promises. No matter what you are facing or how lonely you may feel, know that you are not alone.
As you meditate on God tonight, draw strength and encouragement from knowing He is always faithful and He will never forsake you.