Religion

Ron Guitar

Faith is Something We Do

Tuesday 05.22.18

“Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator-who is forever praised. Amen” Romans 1:24-25 New International Version (NIV)

The boiling frog is a fable describing a frog being slowly boiled alive. The premise is that if a frog is put suddenly into boiling water, it will jump out, but if the frog is put in tepid water which is then brought to a boil slowly, it won’t perceive the danger and will be cooked to death. The story is often used as a metaphor for the inability or unwillingness of people to react to or be aware of threats that arise gradually.

Our nation is suffering from the “boiled frog syndrome” analogy. Decisions that seem innocent enough later deeply impact us. Whether the issue is abortion, euthanasia, or simply a lack of spiritual influence over society, the changes seem logical to the unregenerate mind but reveal the moral compass of the nation has been removed.

Sadly, church attendance is rapidly declining. More and more believers are seeing the local church as irrelevant to the world they live in and believe they are not being taught how to apply the Bible to the complex world of work where they spend 60-70% of their time. It is not a question of them being taught the Bible; it is a question of making it relevant to their world.

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Monday 05.21.18

“Noah did everything just as God commanded him” Genesis 6:22 (New International Version NIV)

9 This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God. 10 Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth. Genesis 6:9-10 (New International Version NIV)

17 This is what the Lord says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. Isaiah 48:17 (New International Version NIV)

5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5 (New International Version NIV)

When God chooses to do something on the earth He uses people to accomplish it. It is a partnership that is very one sided. God got the worst part of the deal.

God got to a very bad place with the human race. He decided to start over. He was going to wipe out the entire population and begin afresh. God placed His entire plan around one man. The Bible says Noah did everything just as God commanded him. He didn’t argue with God. He didn’t take short cuts. He listened, and he obeyed.

When it came time to execute God’s plan, God told Noah how to build a boat. He gave him the dimensions; the height, width, space requirements – everything he needed to complete the task.

God will instruct us in performing our work too. He has given us the tools, the creativity, and the drive to accomplish what He placed us on earth to do. That partnership requires us to listen and obey.

Dear God,

Grant me Your wisdom and understanding to succeed in Your call. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Sunday 05.20.18

26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 1 Corinthians 1:26-27 New International Version NIV)

17 This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. Isaiah 48:17 (New International Version NIV)

God is raising up believers who are experiencing the power of God in their daily life and how the spiritual impacts the physical. Because of their obedience God is giving them victories in very unusual ways.

When is the last time you allowed God to give you a strategy to be successful in your life’s call and bring glory to His name? This is His desire for you.
If you pray regularly, irregular things will happen on a regular basis.

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Saturday 05.19.18

58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58 (New International Version NIV)

Dear God,

In the days I have left on this earth give me the strength to stand firm. Let nothing move me from the purpose You have for me. Give me the desire to always give myself fully to Your work, and remind me that my labor is not in vain. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Friday 05.18.18

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. Hebrews 11:6 (New International Version NIV)

Some folks serve God out of fear, a sense of obligation or perhaps because their parents did. How about because of your faith in what God has done and will do for you?

I believe that God sent Jesus to die for my sins so I could be forgiven, cleansed, and adopted as His child and share in His presence forever. God longs to share His blessings and reward those who believe in His love and grace.

Dear God,

Thank You for my faith and all those who helped me come to know You and Your grace. Bless me as I seek to share this faith with my family and friends. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Thursday 05.17.18

How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? Hebrews 10:29 (New International Version NIV)

God’s saving grace and the sacrificial death of Jesus is incredible. But to reject it, to reject Jesus and all that He did to bring it, is to court disaster and reject any source of true grace.

Dear God,

Thank You for Your gift of grace. Empower me with the ability to share it so others can know Your salvation. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Wednesday 05.16.18

27 But some scoundrels said, “How can this fellow save us?” They despised him and brought him no gifts. But Saul kept silent. 1 Samuel 10:27 (New International Version NIV)

Some folks didn’t want Saul to serve them as King because of his simple background and non-aristocratic family history. We tend to do the same thing today. We label people and discount their ability to lead or serve because of their heritage or past. God, however, doesn’t look at a person’s pedigree. He searches the heart. If you choose to serve in God’s Kingdom, stick close to the Lord, because you will be criticized. Don’t react to every little criticism; instead, devote yourself to serving the Lord boldly.

Dear God,

Forgive me when I doubt Your selection of leaders. Grant our congregation the ability to discern who Your leaders are in our midst. Give them courage to lead unselfishly and faithfully. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Tuesday 05.15.18

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; 6 in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 (New International Version NIV)

How much time do you spend every day “leaning on your own understanding”? How far are you going into your day before you ask God what He has for you that day? When you start your day acknowledging God, you can hear more clearly what He has for you. Try starting each day acknowledging your Father and then notice if your path doesn’t become clearer.

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Monday 05.14.18

God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good…

Genesis 1:31 (New International Version NIV)

The first chapter of Genesis describes how God created light from darkness, brought order out of chaos, separated the land from water, and created the human family. God looked at all He had made and found it very good. God’s love surrounds us today with the same intensity as it did on that very first day of Creation.

Dear God,

Help me be a person who reflects Your goodness, especially to those who are most in need of a sign of Your love and kindness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Sunday 05.13.18

Dear God,

It’s hard to fight the battles in life. However, it is in the midst of battles that we learn to be truly effective warriors. Likewise, during living, let me learn to be an effective Christian. Guide and direct me. Give me wisdom and strength for the day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Saturday 05.12.18

Dear God,

Bless those who are weary in their labors. Give them strength, encouragement, peace, motivation, wisdom, guidance, and rest. Provide for their every need. Answer the desires of their hearts. Restore their exhausted minds and bodies. Invigorate their spirits. Give them the grace to trust Your ever-present help. Help those who suffer from unbelief, that they will believe as they see Your love and power at work in their lives. Bless those who love You. Thank You in the name of Jesus, who promised to give rest to those who are weary and heavy-laden, amen.

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Friday 05.11.18

22 For the sake of his great name the Lord will not reject his people, because the Lord was pleased to make you his own. 1 Samuel 12:22 (New International Version NIV)

God won’t be unfaithful. He will act to show His character and honor even when His people don’t deserve His grace. God loves and preserves us by His grace, love, and faithfulness.

Dear God,

Your grace sustains me even when evil tries to use my own failures to make me doubt Your love for me. Thank You for triumphing over my unworthiness and giving me righteousness so that I will be fit for Your kingdom and glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Thursday 05.10.18

21 Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21(New International Version NIV)

One of my mentors used to remind me that the number one goal in dealing with difficult people or circumstances is this: Don’t become what you hate. He wasn’t talking about hating the person, but despising their evil, wicked, petty, and sinful actions and motivations. We don’t overcome the evil with underhanded and dishonorable means. We overcome evil by doing what is right and filling our hearts and lives with goodness.

Dear God,

Bless me with the character to resist those who are critical, cynical, and vengeful toward me. Help me respond in a way that reflects the character and Lordship of Christ. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Wednesday 05.09.18

15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:15 (New International Version NIV)

While misery may love company, grief tends to make us withdraw and hide. Let’s remember those who have lost loved ones Let them know how you valued their loved one and miss him or her, too. Keep these folks in your prayers and in your social plans, as well.

Dear God,

Give me eyes to see and a heart to offer loving care to those around me who are grieving. Make me a blessing to those in sorrow. Grant me the grace to encourage and support the joy of those who are rejoicing around me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Tuesday 05.08.18

26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 1 Corinthians 1:26-27 New International Version NIV)

17 This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. Isaiah 48:17 (New International Version NIV)

God is raising up believers who are experiencing the power of God in their daily life and how the spiritual impacts the physical. Because of their obedience God is giving them victories in very unusual ways.

When is the last time you allowed God to give you a strategy to be successful in your life’s call and bring glory to His name? This is His desire for you.
If you pray regularly, irregular things will happen on a regular basis

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Monday 05.07.18

6 The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. 1 Samuel 10:6 (New International Version NIV)

22 So they inquired further of the Lord, “Has the man come here yet?” And the Lord said, “Yes, he has hidden himself among the supplies.” 1 Samuel 10:22 (New International Version NIV)

If you want to experience something you’ve never done, you must do something you’ve never done. You can’t go with God and stay where you are.

God often must radically change us if we are going to fulfill His purposes. Saul was about to be anointed by Samuel as the first king of Israel. Samuel told Saul that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon him in power; he would prophesy and be changed into a different person. Up to this point, Saul had never prophesied or led a group of people. He had also never had to be accountable to a prophet and to God for his every action.

Saul took a leap of faith right away and prophesied with the prophets just as Samuel said he would. How exciting that must have been. Yet, when Samuel called the entire nation of Israel together to announce him as Israel’s first king in history, Saul was nowhere to be found. This part of the story is humorous. When they call Saul’s name, he doesn’t come forward. He has hidden himself among the supplies.

The story of King Saul should be an encouragement to us all. God continues to pick the foolish things of this world to confound the wise. Your greatest setback can be thinking that there’s no way that God can use you. However, the reality is that He can and will, if we respond to the unfamiliar places He takes us.

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Sunday 05.06.18

Dear God,

Protect and bless our Christian leaders. Grant them wisdom and guidance and surround them with Your angels for their tasks are difficult. Block Evil’s attempts to harm them or sidetrack them. Help them stay focused on the tasks and the missions to which You have called them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Saturday 05.05.18

Dear God,

Calm my spirit today. Forgive me of gossip or worry about the people and circumstances that surround me. Replace anger with peace. Keep me focused on Jesus. Help me to focus on what I need to accomplish today, and what You want me to do. Put away all wrong thoughts and keep me from wrong actions. I want to be a steady, stable, godly person who is a pleasure to be around and a loving witness of Your mercy and glory. May I be an instrument that produces a sweet, soothing sound, uplifting spirits and pleasing the Master Conductor. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Friday 05.04.18

20 “Do not be afraid,” Samuel replied. “You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. 1 Samuel 12:20 (New International Version NIV)

Israel wanted a King. This crushed Samuel’s heart and angered God with the people’s lack of faith. Samuel, however, reminds them that while they have stumbled and fallen, they must not abandon the Lord himself. Instead, their political concerns must give way to their total allegiance to God and their willingness to serve him fully.

Dear God,

Forgive me for the sinfulness, short-sightedness, and silliness that I have, at times, shown. I want to serve You with my all of my heart, cleansed by Your forgiveness and the transforming power of Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Thursday 05.03.18

19 Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment. Proverbs 12:19 (New International Version NIV)

Speaker of the House, Sam Rayburn said “Tell the truth the first time, then you won’t have to remember what you said.” This truism is good advice. Telling a lie seems gratifying at the time, but it nearly always catches up with us and gives us the added burden of trying to remember what we said and why. Truth endures; a lie is a momentary illusion that ends up a trap filled with burdens.

Dear God,

Forgive me for lying, exaggerating, and withholding the truth when it is needed. I want my heart and my lips to be invested in forever. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Wednesday 05.02.18

14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. 1 Corinthians 12:14 (New International Version NIV)

The human body is an amazing collection of parts, vital organs, systems, and interdependent structures. When the body is healthy and these different elements of the body work in concert with one another, the human body can do amazing things. The same is true with the Body of Christ. If we do our part and offer it for the good of the whole, Christ can do amazing things through us.

Dear God,

Help me know my place in the Body of Christ so that I can serve faithfully and productively and bring glory to the Lord and his Body. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Tuesday 05.01.18

17 So Ruth gleaned in the field until evening. Then she threshed the barley she had gathered, and it amounted to about an ephah. 18 She carried it back to town, and her mother-in-law saw how much she had gathered. Ruth also brought out and gave her what she had left over after she had eaten enough. Ruth 2:17-18 (New International Version NIV)

The story of Ruth provides an excellent illustration of the connection between spending time in the presence of God and receiving physical provision. Naomi was married to Elimelech. They had two married sons. Elimelech died and ten years later both sons also died. Ruth was married to one of the sons.

The other daughter-in-law moved back to her family, but Ruth, despite Naomi’s encouragement, insisted on staying with Naomi. The only way for the family line to continue would have been for Ruth to marry another son or direct relative. Now, through a custom known as the kinsman redeemer, Ruth could be married to a relative in the family line. Times were tough, and most people made a living by farming. Naomi had a relative named Boaz who was a prominent land owner and farmer. She sent Ruth to glean in the fields of Boaz all day in hopes of picking up excess grain left behind by the harvesters.

Ruth stayed in the fields all day and yielded just one ephah of grain. It is a picture of sweat and toil for very little return. However, something happens later in the story. Naomi realized the only way Ruth was going to have any kind of future is if a kinsman redeemer came to her rescue. She instructed Ruth to go to the threshing floor where Boaz would be and to quietly sit at the feet of Boaz all night. This would be a sign of submitting her life to Boaz. He would have to exercise his right to be her kinsmen redeemer.
Later, Boaz sends Ruth home and takes the necessary steps to become her redeemer. But before he sends her home, he gives her six ephahs of barley – six times what she got spending all day in the fields.

If we are going to succeed in fulfilling God’s destiny for our lives, we must have a life of intimate worship and devotion to Jesus. Why not start spending more time at the feet of Jesus.

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Monday 04.30.18

15 The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15 (New International Version NIV)

Living a balanced life is evidence of a Spirit-led life. People work long hours for many reasons which can lead to significant problems in our lives.

One reason people over work is that they often think they must work longer hours to keep up with their workload. This is often the surface reason people give to the question of working long hours. Like any compulsive behavior, there is usually something beneath this behavior. As a recovering workaholic myself, I can tell you the root of overworking is often a fear of loss and a need for self-acceptance created by performance.

The fear of loss issue can be a fear of what will happen if we don’t work long hours. A fear that there may not be enough money or an inaccurate view of what is enough makes us drive ourselves to greater levels of achievement, believing a financial reward will insure us against potential financial disaster. This usually operates at a subconscious level. When one operates at this level you often find those around them will feel shamed if they don’t work at the same level and can be intimidated by the unspoken or spoken directive that long hours are required. This leads to a whole new set of problems.

A second reason people work long hours is their need to gain self-acceptance and esteem from their jobs. It is rewarding to see something come from our efforts. However, when we begin to be driven to work, it becomes an unhealthy condition. We are looking to gain self-esteem needs from our performance instead of being secure in our position in Christ.

To avoid work becoming an idol and a compulsive behavior, we must maintain a balance that provides time to spend quality time with the Lord, our families and fellow believers. Sometimes the greatest exercise of faith is to work only forty hours a week. This insures that the outcome of our work is dependent upon God, nor our self-effort.

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Sunday 04.29.18

Dear God,

It’s hard it is to see Your children hurting when they don’t communicate with You and one another, when they are self-centered, out of Your will, and following the wrong paths. They get too busy to nourish the important relationships in their lives. I pray for husbands and wives who have grown apart or are on the verge of divorce, for children who are rebellious, for parents who are too busy and for those who are bitter or hurt. Touch their hearts and minds and show them the way. Expose the root of the problem through the Holy Spirit and through Your Word. Turn around those lives that are headed the wrong direction. And God, for the families that are doing well, protect them from the evil one; surround them with Your angels; and keep them under Your wings of love and guidance. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Saturday 04.28.18

Dear God,

I pray for Christian men: that husbands will love their wives as Christ loved the church; that fathers will patiently nurture their children; that men will answer Your call to serve in the church, home, and community; that You will help men to find the careers You want for them and to exercise the gifts and abilities You have given them. Help them to manage their money well for You and to give to Your work and take care of their responsibilities. I pray for men in leadership positions, that You will give them a servant’s heart and eyes to see and think like Jesus. Encourage men to stand strong for what is right and bless them when they do. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Friday 04.27.18

18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 1 Corinthians 12:18-20 (New International Version NIV)

10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. 11 So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? 12 And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else’s property, who will give you property of your own?

13 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Luke 16:10-13 (New International Version NIV)

14 “Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. 15 To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. 16 The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. 17 So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. 18 But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

19 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. 20 The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’

21 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

22 “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’
23 “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things .Come and share your master’s happiness!’

24 “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. 25 So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’

26 “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? 27 Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

28 “‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. 29 For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. 30 And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ Matthew 25:14-30 (New International Version NIV)

7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8 Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Galatians 6:7-8 (New International Version NIV)

The Apostle Paul reminds us that God assigns our roles in the Body of Christ. Several principles interact with God’s choice. First, be faithful in what God has given you to do. Until we are faithful with little things, He will not entrust us with big ones. Second, if we don’t use what He has given us, it will be taken away. Third, we reap what we sow. Irresponsible behavior can create consequences that limit the effectiveness of our service. We need to be faithful with what God has given us, let’s serve Him when given new opportunities, and let’s honor Him with our choices so that Evil can’t use our failure to interfere with our service.

Dear God,

Help me see my opportunities to serve in Your Kingdom. Grow my effectiveness in Your service so that I can bring You glory and be a blessing to the Body of Christ. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Thursday 04.26.18

13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 1 Corinthians 12:13 (New International Version NIV)

In God’s family, the Holy Spirit makes us one. The Spirit is not only God’s presence and power in us, but the Spirit is also God’s spiritual DNA that connects us to each other and to Him. This spiritual bond transcends human family, race, nationality, gender, and any other human barrier. The Spirit’s presence ensures that we are God’s children and function as Jesus’ Body here on earth.

Dear God,

Thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Thank You for making my body a place that is a holy dwelling place for Your presence. May the Holy Spirit continue to work in my heart to tear down any wall of prejudice that may exist toward any of my brothers and sisters in Christ. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Wednesday 04.25.18

12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12 (New International Version NIV)

Living according to rules and regulations and by our own human efforts is a trap set by a spirit of religiosity that we can all fall into. The religious spirit discourages a genuine love of God and will thwart the activity of God under the banner of religious righteousness and dogma. It also motivates believers to live out their faith in legalistic and rigid ways.

This often causes believers to compartmentalize faith activities to their local church alone and discount the idea that Christianity could transform their community, city, or nation as “overzealous,” “naïve” or even doctrinally wrong.

Beware of this when trying to encourage faith in your life. Remember, Stephen was the first martyr in the early church at the hands of religious leaders. You will find your greatest resistance often comes from those in the religious community.

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Tuesday 04.24.18

So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and eat from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant” Joshua 24:13 (New International Version NIV)

God called the people of Israel to leave Egypt and come out of slavery in order to enter their own Promised Land. It meant they had to change the only way of life they had known. Instead of being told what to do by a taskmaster, they were now being led by God into the desert with the ultimate goal of entering the Promised Land.

Every believer has a Promised Land. It’s the place where you receive all God intended for you to receive. However, many of us are still living in Egypt where we sweat and toil in response to the taskmaster of our work and lifestyle of busyness.
You will know when you are beginning to experience your Promised Land when you experience God’s rest while simultaneously fulfilling your life’s call. You will begin to receive things you never built or planted. Things become easier because we are receiving them as a fruit of our call instead of a goal.

I began to experience this new way of living as I began to be obedient to doing things based on His direction versus my perceived outcome. Provision began to follow obedience. Projects began to get done. God brought the people to me to get things done. There was no longer a tendency to manipulate outcomes that I wanted to have happen. God was giving me my Promised Land as I yielded to Him.

Are you living in your Promised Land?

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Monday 04.23.18

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17 New International Version (NIV)

20 Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. Hebrews 13:20-21 New International Version (NIV)

Evil always defines your life based on your past; God defines you by your future.
“You’re never going to change!” “You always do that!” Perhaps you’ve heard these words or something similar. Words can define us if we let them. Failure can motivate change or sends us into self-sabotage and shame.

The cross paid the price for that. Have you accepted the payment on your behalf?
Allowing others to define who we are is contrary to who God’s word. It allows a spirit of rejection and shame to define us.

When we come to know Christ our spirit is reconciled to Him. However, our soul requires regeneration. This is a long-term process. The Bible calls it sanctification. It is God’s responsibility to guide our maturity process as we yield ourselves to Him.

The next time someone tries to define you based on your past, remind them you are “becoming” a new creation. No one is righteous enough to judge another. Accept God’s process in yourself and in others. Judge not lest you be judged.

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Sunday 04.22.18

Dear God,

Here I am to worship You. Here I am to declare that You are my God and lift up Your name. I praise You above all things in heaven and earth. You are the Almighty, all-powerful and all-knowing God. Hold me in Your hand and watch over me. Thank You for Your love and protection and Your tender mercies. Thank you for reminding me of who You are and who I am. Without You, I am nothing. With You, I am forgiven, blessed, and victorious. Through Christ Jesus, I am made righteous. Thank You for saving my soul and carrying me through this life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Saturday 04.21.18

3 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly. 2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.

3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

James 3 (New International Version NIV)

The Book of James tells us all about the tongue. It’s so small but can do so much harm. I can speak words that bless and words that curse. A few words can uplift, encourage, and do positive things in a person’s life and a few words can also put down, discourage, and ruin a person’s life.

Dear God,

Forgive me of allowing words to leave my mouth that harm others and dishonor You. Grant me the grace to keep my words honest and positive; that they will inspire and challenge others to greatness. Show me who You want me to encourage through my words. Help me to affirm someone close to me today, that they will be blessed, and You will be glorified. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Friday 04.20.18

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:17-18 (New International Version NIV)

Jesus lived to make a difference in the lives of others. His goal wasn’t getting even, getting what was rightfully His, or even winning the arguments. His focus was to interact with people and to leave them more blessed than where He found them.

Dear God,

Forgive me for the grudges I’ve harbored and the evil things I’ve thought about others. Help me to see and to value them as Jesus does. In His name I pray. Amen.

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Thursday 04.19.18

12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans 12:12 New International Version (NIV)

We can keep our circumstances from determining our mood; emancipate ourselves from the limitations that life deals us; rejoice in hope and be patient in affliction if we are faithful in prayer. No matter what our situation, we can pray with joy because of our hope in Christ. We can remain patient and persevering through affliction by presenting our requests and intercessions to God with thanksgiving.

Prayer is God’s gift to us so that we can be patient and joyful, even when things don’t appear to be going well.

Dear God,

Thank You that no matter what struggles I face, You assure me of ultimate victory. No matter the hardship or burden, I know You will help me through it and bring me to Your presence with boundless joy. Until that day of ultimate victorious joy, please deliver me from discouragement by the power of Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Wednesday 04.18.18

9 Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare for war! Rouse the warriors! Let all the fighting men draw near and attack. 10 Beat your plowshares into swords and your pruning hooks into spears. Let the weakling say “I am strong!” Joel 3:9-10 (New International Version NIV)

God is assembling an army of believers who are willing to profess their faith in the workplace. This segment of society has been largely silent, yet it has the greatest potential for societal transformation.

God’s people will begin to see their vocations as instruments to defeat the forces of evil and usher in the Kingdom of God.

God has called you to transform your view of yourself and your work. He desires to use you and your work life to impact your community. Are you ready to beat your plowshare into a sword and your pruning hook into a spear?

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Tuesday 04.17.18

13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14 One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. Acts 16:13-14 New International Version (NIV)

Paul encountered a business woman named Lydia. Some believe she was Paul’s first known convert. I find it interesting that his first known convert was a woman and an entrepreneur.

This encounter with Lydia and her women associates ultimately opened the way for ministry in that region. God often worked in and through women in the early church. Lydia was an influential businesswoman, and the gospel was affecting all strata of society, just as it does today.

Lydia was a dealer of cloth mainly used by members of the royal families and Roman senators who were required to have a purple band around the edge of their togas, or robes. Purple cloth was both valuable and expensive in the culture of the first century. It was often worn as a sign of nobility or royalty. Lydia’s ministry would be to the upper-class business community.

Lydia’s heart was like the good soil in the parable of the sower. When she heard the word of God, she received it with joy and obeyed the words of the apostle.

Dear God,

Who are the “Lydias” You have placed in my circle of influence? Like Paul, make me an instrument to bring the Gospel to influential women. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Monday 04.16.18

4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. 1 Corinthians 2:4-5 New International Version NIV)

Dear God,

Grant me the grace to be obedient and dependent upon You and give You all the praise and glory, so that You will demonstrate Your power that all people may know of Your mighty acts and the splendor of Your Kingdom. My desire is to be able to say, with the Apostle Paul, “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power”. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Sunday 04.15.18

Dear God,

Thank You for this day and for meeting my needs. Increase my faith to be as constant as Your love for me. Strengthen my spirit through Your Holy Spirit. May I be a faithful witness for You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Saturday 04.14.18

Dear God,

Grant me the grace to love other people the way You want me to. Prepare me so that I respond in righteousness when attacks come from those who would act under an unholy power. Help me to be a vessel of honor to You and a light in the darkness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Friday 04.13.18

16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Romans 12:16 (New International Version NIV)

For most of us “Don’t be conceited” is a command for someone else. I’ve never met someone who felt they were conceited. But, when we’re looking for someone with whom we want to associate, we seldom look for someone ignored by the crowd, forgotten by the pretty people, and easily overlooked by others. We want to “hang out” with those who are important, who are superstars, or at least who carry some clout. We believe we deserve to be noticed and valued, too. On second thought, perhaps that’s where the commands in this verse come from.

Dear God,

Thank You for making and designing me in Your image to bring You glory. Help me to not be proud and conceited. Give me the grace to see those with whom You want me to associate. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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Thursday 04.12.18

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Romans 12:11 (New International Version NIV)

I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! 16 So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. Revelation 3:15-16 (New International Version NIV)

Jesus made it clear that God wants us to be passionate about our Christian life.

Dear God,

I confess that I haven’t been on fire for You as often as I would have liked. Kindle in me a renewed zeal and passion for You and Your work in the world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Wednesday 04.11.18

29 “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Matthew 14:29-30 (New International Version NIV)

19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:19 (New International Version NIV)

There is always a risk when we attempt something never done before. Naysayers seem to come out of the wood work. Sometimes we fail the first time out.

Success is the continuous journey towards the achievement of predetermined worthwhile goals. Winston Churchill said, ” Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” Everybody fails. It’s part of the process that leads us to maturity and success. Successful people don’t think of failures as defeats. They think of them as lessons.

If you hope to succeed, learn everything you can from your failures. Failure is usually a far better teacher than success if we are willing to learn.

God never gets mired in our failures. He is constantly viewing our lives with future success in mind.

Don’t let past failures keep you from future successes.

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Tuesday 04.10.18

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. 8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12:7-9 ( New International Version NIV)

Whenever something unusual happens in our daily life, it is often an indication that God is up to something. We need to have a heightened sense of awareness of what God may want to do in these situations.

God wants to move into our lives supernaturally by giving us insights into the needs of people for His greater glory.

Jesus often spoke supernaturally into the lives of others based on the circumstance of the moment. He often spoke of their current condition in life and invited them to make a change.

The next time an unusual situation develops, be aware that God may be creating such a circumstance to bring His glory into the situation.

Dear God,

As I go about my day, help me to recognize the situations that are open doors for bringing Christ into the circumstance and the grace to realize that You are the one orchestrating the circumstance. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Monday 04.09.18

18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18 New International Version (NIV)

24 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8:24-25 (New International Version NIV)

We often tend to place our hope in things we can make happen: (Like: If I practice diligently, I can learn and master the guitar, or I can make a relationship work if I work at it) That’s not hope, it’s worldly optimism.

Optimism can be defined as being confident of the future or success of something. Hope is a feeling that something wanted might happen.

Unlike optimism, which is a belief that things will be positive, hope is an ability to strive for excellence in the face of obstacles.

If the world waters our greedy hopes everyday by bombarding us with ads, shouldn’t we intentionally water a real seed of hope?

Where in your life could you use more hope?

Dear God,

Teach me to plant righteous seeds of hope in Jesus and His Kingdom and not greedy worldly ones. Teach me to nurture and water them and let them take root. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Sunday 04.08.18

26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me. John 12:26 (New International Version NIV)

We can’t out-serve, out-love, or out-give Jesus. He longs to bless us by pouring out heaven’s riches and grace upon us. Even more incredibly, He longs to honor us. When our lives are over, The God of the universe will honor all who have served His Son and blessed others in Jesus’ name. What an unbelievable example of God’s incredible grace!

Dear God,

Help me follow the will of Jesus and serve others in His name. I know I can’t earn Your grace, but I want to serve others in Jesus’ name and help them find Your grace. In the name of my Lord Jesus, Amen.

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Saturday 04.07.18

Dear God,

I Know that You have called every Christian to a mission for Your kingdom. By Your grace, I will seek and follow Your guidance, allowing You to work through me to accomplish Your purpose. If my mission is to feed the hungry, take care of my family, reach out to the hurting, work with a group of children, preach to the multitudes, or lead a nation, however big or small, I want to pursue it and bring glory to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Friday 04.06.18

28 He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:28 (New International Version NIV)

God gave us His Word to bless us. We receive the blessing when we obey it. On the other hand, Jesus reminded us when we know the will of God and don’t obey it, we are foolish.

Dear God,

Thank You for speaking to us through Your Word so we can know Your will and walk in Your blessing. Thank You for speaking to us through Jesus Christ, the living Word, so we can know Your heart as we apply it to our lives. Thank You for revealing Your will to me through the Scriptures. Thank You for wanting to bless and protect me from evil. Forgive me for the times that I have ignored Your will or been disobedient to it. By your Grace, I commit to live intentionally in Your will and live obediently to Your Word. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Thursday 04.05.18

38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” Luke 19:38 (New International Version NIV)

Blessed are we who live our lives in the name of the Lord. But do we always remember what it means to be a disciple? We must remind ourselves that our lives are about dying as well as rising. There is no resurrection without death. Life in the Lord requires glory one day and dejection the next. As disciples we have hope because we know that God is in control.

My prayers often turn to new Christians. They are a light to those who have been sitting in the pews for years. They come to us with varying paths and different stories – some lovingly supported in their conversion, but others facing the wrath and derision of family and friends who can’t figure out why they have suddenly “found religion.” Their conscious choice to brave the demands of a Christian way of life reminds me never to become complacent in living out my discipleship.
How do you live your life in the name of the Lord?

Dear God,

In the moments of bliss but also the moments of battle, help me to stand with and for You. I want to do Your will. I freely place my whole being in Your hands. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Wednesday 04.04.18

15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. John 13:15 New International Version (NIV)

In this Scripture we are given a clear directive. Follow the model of Jesus’ life. We can serve as Jesus served. We can forgive as Jesus forgave. We can pray as Jesus prayed. We can heal as Jesus healed. We can embrace and bless and love as Jesus did. We can look to the Father as Jesus did.

In an uncivil world where lives and love are overcast by arrogance, pride, selfishness, fear, and anger, we have a model of light who renounced all of these so that all whom He encountered may have full life and may know true love.

May we recall Jesus’ bold model and do the same.

Dear God,

Keep me forever mindful of Jesus’ bold model and do the same. Bless me with what I need to be like Jesus in the world. Amen.

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Tuesday 04.03.18

12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword. 14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.” Exodus 17:12-14 New International Version (NIV)

During a great battle, God told Moses if he outstretched his arms they would be victorious in battle. As long as he held up his arms, Joshua and his warriors were winning. When he grew weak and he could no longer hold up his arms the momentum changed. Aaron and Hur held up his arms for him and they were victorious.

We often look at our leaders as if they are supposed to live a magic life that has no trials and tribulations and never a wrong move. Our pastors are no different than we are. Like us, they are up to their neck in alligators trying to drain their own swamp with so much to do and so little time as they struggle with their own calling.

In our weakness and disappointment, God is calling His flock to support our pastors. Perhaps God is calling you to be an Aaron and Hur.

Dear God,

Give us the grace to come to the aid of our pastor as brothers and sisters in Christ despite our personal disappointments, needs and wants. Make us mindful that our Spiritual leaders are human and have go through the same struggles as any other human. Your Word says where to or three are gathered in Your name, You are there also. Father, we circle our pastors in prayer. Give us the strength to hold up arms. In the name of Jesus, the victor over sickness and death. Amen.

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Monday 04.02.18

28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (New International Version NIV)

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[ neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (New International Version NIV)

“It is almost impossible to believe that 50 years ago today I left Imeson Airport in Jacksonville, Fl. heading to basic training in Amarillo, TX. Needless to say my Mom was a basket case as being in the military in ’68 was something most parents feared for their children. It was a day I will never forget…I witnessed my father crying for the first time in my life as he shared with me that now he knew why his father cried when he left home for navy submarines in WW II. I left thinking that life would go on as planned. I would return to live in Jacksonville…I never did…my girlfriend at the time, KB, and I would continue our relationship…we didn’t…and life would be a breeze…it wasn’t. I wouldn’t want to do it again but I wouldn’t trade my military experience for anything. It’s amazing when you look back on life how each event you experienced has such an effect on your path! Walk each step with good intentions!” Carl Harbin, my longtime friend and brother in Christ.

Well said, Carl. This really hit home. 50 years ago, April 1st, I was on the way to San Antonio for basic training. It was also the first time I ever saw my WWII vet father cry and yes it changed my life in many ways.

Dear God,

Thank you for my brothers and sisters who serve and served our country, most of us not knowing that it would alter our lives forever. Grant me the grace to fully understand that there are no good things or bad things until You get through with them and that all things work together for good for those that love You and seek Your will. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Sunday 04.01.18

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. 2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Matthew 28:1-10 (New International Version NIV)

Jesus told us how we can choose life, and He offered Himself as a sacrifice on the cross. He then rose miraculously from the dead, taught His disciples in Galilee, and rose to heaven where He joined His father and continues to set the captives free. The birth of Jesus led to a torturous and public death. And it is the clearest expression of God’s love for us.

Dear God,

Give me the boldness to humbly proclaim that Jesus overcame the power of death and allowed us to experience a life of true freedom. In Jesus’ Name.

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