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[After all] the kingdom of God is not a matter of [getting the] food and drink [one likes], but instead it is righteousness (that state which makes a person acceptable to God) and [heart] peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. —Romans 14:17
A wise person does not allow the moods of other people to alter theirs.
There is a story of a Quaker man who was walking down the street with a friend when he stopped at a newsstand to purchase a newspaper. The storekeeper was very rude and unfriendly. The Quaker man responded respectfully and was quite kind in his dealing with him. After paying for his paper and continuing to walk down the street, his friend asked, “How could you be so cordial to that man considering the terrible way he was treating you?” The Quaker man replied, “Oh, he is always that way; why should I let him determine how I am going to act?”
This is one of the amazing traits we see in Jesus—He changed people, they did not change Him. I encourage you to follow the example of Jesus. Do what God expects you to do and don’t live under the tyranny of other people’s moods and attitudes.
Prayer of Thanks Father, I thank You that I can be joyful in every circumstance. Today, I choose not to let other people determine how I am going to live. With Your help, I am going to live in joy regardless of the circumstances around me.
Come and see what God has done, how awesome his works in man’s behalf! —Psalm 66:5 NIV
We give attention to whatever we love the most. God wants to be first in our life (see Exodus 20:3). Jesus said, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment (Matthew 22:37–38 NIV).
What might happen in your life if you became so intent on seeking God that you hired a babysitter to watch your children, or used a vacation day, in order to spend time with the Lord? You can’t afford not to spend time with God. Give Him your full attention, and make a point to observe all He is doing for you
For it is by free grace (God's unmerited favor) that you are saved (delivered from judgment and made partakers of Christ's salvation) through [your] faith. And this [salvation] is not of yourselves [of your own doing, it came not through your own striving], but it is the gift of God; not because of works [not the fulfillment of the Law's demands], lest any man should boast. —Ephesians 2:8
I like to define faith in a very basic, easy-to-understand way: living with a positive attitude that comes from a deep trust in God. Living by faith is looking at everything in a positive way and trusting in the power of God, Who loves us and wants the best for us. When we have faith, we can say with confidence in our hearts:
"I don't know what to do, but God does."
"I don't understand what's going on in my life, but God will make a way for me."
"I don't know how I can pay my bills this month, but God will provide."
"This trial I have doesn't feel good; I don't like it, but I believe God works all things out for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose" (see Rom. 8:28).
"I don't like the situation I'm going through, but what Satan means for my harm, God intends for my good" (see Gen. 50:20).
These statements and the attitudes they represent demonstrate faith. Having faith means always trusting in God's love and looking beyond where you are to see the end result. Having faith means always being hopeful and refusing to accept defeat. People who live by faith can enjoy every day of their lives.
Trust in Him What are you currently facing that is uncomfortable or that you don't understand? Choose to have a positive attitude about your situation and trust God to work it out for good.
Fear not; stand still (firm, confident, undismayed) and see the salvation of the Lord which He will work for you today . . . The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace and remain at rest. —Exodus 14:13-14
When troubled times come our way, one of our biggest challenges is to stay calm. Our natural tendencies are to fear, to worry, and to try to do something to fix the situation or solve the problem. But we must learn to get our emotions under control so we can think clearly, act wisely, and pray in faith.
Moses often had to help the Israelites calm down. When Pharaoh's army was gaining ground on them, they kept running, but knew they were headed straight into the Red Sea. Death seemed certain! Exodus tells us the people were frightened and angry with Moses, and they decided they would have been better off as slaves to the Egyptians than trying to outrun Pharaoh's forces.
Moses was saying in today's scripture, "Stop it! I know the situation looks hopeless, but don't be afraid. Just be still for a minute and watch what God is going to do for you."
Before Pharaoh's army reached the Israelites, God rolled back the waters of the Red Sea so His people could cross over on dry land. When they were all on the other side, the sea closed again and Pharaoh's fight¬ers drowned. This same miracle-working God is on your side today. He still fights for His people. Your job, if you belong to Him, is simply to "hold your peace and remain at rest."
Love God Today: "Lord, I will not fear. I will stand still, stay calm, and watch what You will do on my behalf."
If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just (true to His own nature and promises) and will forgive our sins [dismiss our lawlessness] and [continuously] cleanse us from all unrighteousness [everything not in conformity to His will in purpose, thought, and action]. —1 John 1:9
I don't know about you, but every day I tell the Lord, "Father, You are looking at a desperate woman. I need You, Lord. Without You I can do nothing."
The Bible teaches us that if we admit our sins and confess them, He will forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Start by freely admitting all your faults. Hold nothing back. Admit them to God and to people. Don't make excuses or place blame elsewhere. As you do this, you will experience a new freedom, and your relationship with Jesus and with people will improve greatly. I have found that if I tell people my faults before they find them on their own, neither one of us is as bothered by them. Be open with people. Most people respect and admire honesty and openness. It is what we try to hide that comes back to haunt us.
Invite Jesus into every area of your life. Don't hide your faults from Him. He knows all about them anyway. Don't hold anything back; give God everything!
Lord, I ask You to come into every area of my life. I confess my sins and faults to You and ask Your forgiveness. Cleanse me from all unrighteousness and make me whole. Amen.
Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. — Psalm 30:5
I gained an excellent piece of wisdom through personal experience: Do not be afraid of pain! As strange as it may seem, the more you dread and resist the pain of healing, the more you increase the effect that pain has upon you.
An example of this truth happened years ago when I went on a fast for the first time in my life. God called me to a twenty-eight-day juice fast. In the beginning, I went through some really hard times. I was very, very hungry. In fact, I was so famished that I was in actual pain. As I cried out to the Lord, complaining that I just could not stand it any longer, He answered me. Deep within me I heard the "still small voice" (1 Kings 19:12 KJV) of the Lord say to me, "Stop fighting the pain; let it do its work." From that time on, the fast was much easier, even enjoyable, because I knew that every time I felt discomfort, it was a sign of progress.
The rule is that the more pain is resisted, the stronger it becomes. When a pregnant woman goes into labor, the advice she is given by her attendants is, "Relax." They know that the more she fights the pain, the stronger it will become, and the longer the delivery process will take.
When you are experiencing pain, do not fight it. Allow it to accomplish its purpose. Remember this promise, They who sow in tears shall reap in joy and singing. (Psalm 126:5) Learn to endure whatever you need to, knowing that there is joy on the other side!
At all times and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father. —Ephesians 5:20
Part of prayer’s power is the power of thanksgiving . . . because there is not powerful living apart from a life of thanksgiving. During His earthly ministry, Jesus lived a life of thanksgiving. He gave thanks to the Father on many occasions and for many things.
For example, He gave thanks to God when He broke the loaves and fishes and fed the 4,000 people (see Matthew 15:36). He thanked God that He had heard His prayer concerning the raising of Lazarus from the dead (John 11:41– 42).
And He gave thanks to God when He gave the bread and wine to His disciples at the Last Supper even though He knew His suffering and death were very close (see Mark 14:22– 23).
If it was important for Jesus to live a life of thanksgiving, it should certainly be important for us to do the same thing.
Prayer of ThanksThank You, Father, for the example of Jesus and the thankful life He modeled for us. Help me to enter Your gates with thanksgiving every time I come to You in prayer. You are good and You are worthy of my thanksgiving and my praise.
God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. —1 Corinthians 10:13 NIV
The world is full of people struggling with trials and temptations and looking for a way out. If you have ever felt pressed on every side and couldn't find a way out or confused and didn't know what to do, you know what a desperate and lonely feeling that can be.
The Word tells you God is faithful and He will provide a way for you, but He doesn't always show us the way immediately. That is when you must wait . . . and trust. Waiting on God purifies your faith and builds character in you. You don't like waiting, but God's way is perfect! So be assured God has not forgotten you. Trust Him, and in His time He will reveal His perfect plan for you.
But I say, walk and live [habitually] in the [Holy] Spirit [responsive to and controlled and guided by the Spirit]; then you will certainly not gratify the cravings and desires of the flesh (of human nature without God). —Galatians 5:16
Many believers serve God with their time, but still miss spending personal time in His presence. God wants us to abide in Him, not just visit Him occasionally. Jesus said, If you abide in My word [hold fast to My teachings and live in accordance with them], you are truly My disciples (John 8:31).
Jesus will actually dwell, settle down, abide, and make His permanent home in your heart! His presence will cause you to be rooted deep in love so that you may experience His love and be filled through all your being with the fullness of God (see Ephesians 3:17–19).
Why are you cast down, O my inner self? And why should you moan over me and be disquieted within me? Hope in God and wait expectantly for Him, for I shall yet praise Him, my Help and my God. —Psalm 42:5
Ask twenty-first-century women, "How do you feel about yourself?" and many will confess, "I hate myself." Or perhaps their opinion of themselves is not that severe, but they will admit they really don't like themselves.
Our world has created a false, unrealistic image of what women are supposed to look like and act like. But the truth is that every woman was not created by God to be skinny, with a flawless complexion and long flowing hair. Not every woman was intended to juggle a career as well as all of the other duties of being a wife, mother, citizen, and daughter. Single women should not be made to feel they are missing something because they are not married. Married women should not be made to feel they must have a career to be complete. We must have the freedom to be our individual selves.
Many women hate themselves and have no self-confidence because they have been abused, rejected, abandoned, or in some way damaged emotionally. Women need to experience a revival of knowing their infinite worth and value.
Lord, You know exactly how I feel about myself. You know how deeply I've been influenced by the messages of our culture and how confusing it is. Help me to discover the truth of my worth and value in Your eyes. Amen.
Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and spacious and broad is the way that leads away to destruction, and many are those who are entering through it. But the gate is narrow (contracted by pressure) and the way is straitened and compressed that leads away to life, and few are those who find it. —Matthew 7:13-14
Here in this passage, Jesus speaks of two different ways: the broad way that leads to destruction and the narrow way that leads to life. As I was meditating on this passage, the Lord spoke to my heart and said, Joyce, on the broad way there is room for all kinds of fleshly things like bitterness and unforgiveness and resentment and vindictiveness. But on the narrow way there is only room for the Spirit.
In the flesh it is easy to take the broad path, but the end result is destruction. Emotions move us to take the easy way, to do what feels good for the moment. Wisdom moves us to take the hard way that leads to life. The question is: Which will we choose?
No matter what has happened to you in your lifetime, even if you have been abandoned by your spouse or abused by your parents or hurt by your children or others, if you'll stay on that narrow path and leave all your excess baggage behind, sooner or later you will find the peace, joy, and fulfillment you seek.
Jesus is the Way, and He has shown us the way in which we are to walk. The Lord has sent upon us His Holy Spirit to lead and guide us in the way we are to go, the narrow way that leads to life and not the broad way that leads to destruction. We must keep walking in the ways of the Lord: And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint. (Galatians 6:9)
At all times and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father. —Ephesians 5:20
Throughout the Bible, we see people celebrating progress and victory in a variety of ways. One of those ways was to specifically take the time to give an offering to God and to thank Him. Noah did it. Abraham did it. And we can do it too.
We would quickly add a lot of celebration time to our lives if we would take the time to give thanks when God does amazing things for us. An attitude of gratitude shows a lot about the character of a person. It keeps God first, knowing that He is the source of every blessing we receive. Gratitude is never about feeling entitled— it’s an attitude that says, I know I don’t deserve God’s goodness, but I am sure grateful for it.
Prayer of Thanks Father, I am thankful that You have blessed me with so many good things in my life. Today, I take time to meditate on Your goodness and thank You for Your blessings.
Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the Lord! Seek the Lord and His strength; yearn for and seek His face and to be in His presence continually! [Earnestly] remember the marvelous deeds which He has done, His miracles, and the judgments He uttered. —1 Chronicles 16:10–12
Many people don’t realize how important the morning is, especially those first moments of time that we are awake. God calls the sun to rise for us. He is eager for us to wake up and talk to Him again.
David the psalmist talked a lot about mornings, saying “This is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it” (see Psalm 118:24). David didn’t always feel like rejoicing, but he decided to rejoice in God’s new day.
As soon as you get up, look at yourself in the mirror, smile, and say, “I am going to have a good day because Jesus loves me.”
Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is for one to eat and drink, and to find enjoyment in all the labor in which he labors under the sun all the days which God gives him—for this is his [allotted] part. —Ecclesiastes 5:18
If we do the same thing over and over, sooner or later we're going to get bored. We don't have to wait for something nice to happen to us, we can be aggressive and do something nice for ourselves. For many of you, I know this is a new thought that may seem foreign and even unspiritual. But I can assure you that it is part of God's plan. You can create variety, and it will keep your life more exciting.
I sat with my computer on my lap for about four hours this morning and then stopped for a while to do some other things I needed to do. When I went back to my writing, I decided to sit in a different part of the house just for variety. I chose a place that had plenty of light where I could look out the window. Simple little things like this cost nothing, but they are very valuable.
No day needs to be ordinary if we realize the gift God is giving us when He gives us another day to live and enjoy. An extraordinary attitude can quickly turn an ordinary day into an amazing adventure. Jesus said He came so that we might have and enjoy life (see John 10:10). If we refuse to enjoy it, then it's no one's fault but our own.
I would like to suggest that you take responsibility for your joy and never again give anyone else the job of keeping you happy. Add a little variety to your life—break up your routine, do something different, and so on. When you do, expect God to meet you and help make your ordinary . . . extraordinary!
Trust in Him What are two specific things you're going to do differently today? Add some variety to your ordinary, daily routine, and trust that God is going to bless it.
For we all often stumble and fall and offend in many things. And if anyone does not offend in speech [never says the wrong things], he is a fully developed character and a perfect man, able to control his whole body and to curb his entire nature. —James 3:2
According to this scripture, the one thing proving our level of spiritual maturity isn't how religious we are—whether we can quote Scripture, or the good works we do—it is the words from our mouths.
James 1:26 says, If anyone thinks himself to be religious (piously observant of the external duties of his faith) and does not bridle his tongue but deludes his own heart, this person's religious service is worthless (futile, barren) (emphasis added).
No matter how religious you think you are, the true test proving your spirituality is whether you bridle your tongue or not. Bridle means "to restrain or control." If we aren't controlling our tongues, we are not operating in the level of maturity God wants us to have.
Power Thought: I am able to control the words I speak by God's grace.
It is through Him that we have received grace . . . And this includes you, called of Jesus Christ and invited [as you are] to belong to Him. —Romans 1:5, 6
Not long ago I read today's scripture and thought about how marvel¬ous it is and what a message of acceptance it brings. It made me think of the fact that when we are invited to a party, one of the first questions we ask is, "How should I dress?" Most of us like it best when we feel we can go "as we are." We like it when we can relax and be ourselves.
God will work in you by His Holy Spirit and help you become all you need to be, but you can come to Him just as you are. You don't have to stand far off and only hear the music of the party; you are invited to attend.
You have joy and peace today. You are redeemed, accepted, and made right with God because of the way He sees you in Christ. You are already loved and accepted by Him. Not "you will be someday."
You are destined to be molded into the image of Christ, and noth¬ing can stop that from happening if you will simply cooperate with the Holy Spirit and spend time with God. You don't have to clean up your act first. You can come as you are, and God will make you what you ought to be.
There are stories all over the world of people who came to know God when they were in all kinds of bondage. Some were alcoholics; some were prostitutes; some couldn't keep their anger under control; and some were deeply wounded because of the pain of their past. These people are now completely transformed because they were willing to go to God as they were.
When people will come as they are, God will work miracles.
Love Yourself Today: You don't have to wait for anything; you can go to God just as you are.