A Greater Increase

Jesus lived a phenomenal life; and when He ascended into heaven, He sent His Spirit to dwell in us. The Holy Spirit enables us to do greater works than Jesus did, because there are so many of us in His Body (John 14:12). We have the same power and authority of Christ, because He dwells in us by His Spirit (Romans 8:11). Even His Word brings life-changing power into our world.

We increase in love for one another and toward all people (1 Thessalonians 3:12). In humility, we prefer one another and do not act from any selfish ambition (Philippians 2:3). Every day, we share God’s love with everyone He brings into our life. We thank God for one another, especially as we watch each other growing in our faith. Our love for one another grows even more (2 Thessalonians 1:3).

He will increase the numbers in our church body, because He loves and blesses those who serve Him (Deuteronomy 7:13). The glory of God’s current house will be greater than the glory of His former house (Haggai 2:9). God swears to uphold His promises to us by the greatness of His name (Hebrews 6:13, 16). Our testimony is great, but the testimony of God is even greater (1 John 5:9).

The apostles knew that the only way their faith would grow is if the Lord did it in them (Luke 17:5). God does this by supplying our needs, increasing our storehouses and enlarging our harvest (2 Corinthians 9:10). He increases the fruit on our trees and the crops in our fields. He protects us from the shame of deprivation (Ezekiel 36:30). He multiplies our honor and gives us His comfort (Psalm 71:21).

Prayer:
Father God, You dwell within us and help us to overcome Satan, the flesh and the world (1 John 4:4). You give us a ministry to perform for Your glory and You empower us to accomplish everything, which You call us to do (Philippians 2:12-13). We dedicate to You every breath we breathe and every moment of our day. Lead us by Your Spirit and always keep us in the center of Your will.

Thought for the Day:
The least person in this world will be the greatest of all in God’s Kingdom. – Luke 7:28

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The Truth About Anger

Anger is a God-given response to protect us when we feel threatened or insecure. Some people in our life arouse anger in our soul more than others. God advises us to go ahead and be angry, but not to sin in our anger (Ephesians 4:26). Resentment at not being given a choice about what happened in my life turned to anger and bitterness.

Those in authority over me would not listen when I expressed what I wanted and needed, and I felt like I did not matter. I usually kept quiet, rolling with the punches, internalizing my feelings for as long as I could. However, some small slight eventually unleashed all of that pent up emotion.

When I exploded in anger to express my displeasure at what I was being forced to experience, the unsuspecting victim of my outburst looked at me like I had two heads and wondered about my sanity. The eruption was quick. However, my volcanic anger left emotional scars in others, which were as destructive as volcanic lava.

I eventually learned that my pent up anger from unresolved issues in my childhood was added to those current feelings of anger. This caused my emotional outbursts to devastate those around me. My anger over the events of my past increased the expression of my anger over the issues occurring at the moment.

God eventually set me free from the pain of my past by revealing its source. He exposed Satan’s lies, spoken to me during negative experiences, which held me in bondage to fear and insecurity my whole life. Then He revealed His truth to replace those lies. (www.theophostic.com)

Negative emotions are actually red flags. When I first start feeling them, I examine my beliefs and the actions, which cause them. I look for an idol, which God is exposing, or I separate my self-worth from the opinion of others. Now, rather than to allow my negative feelings to pile up inside of me, I quickly repent of my idol or firmly appeal to my authority to consider my feelings.

Prayer:
Father God, You advise us not to allow the issues of this life to trouble our soul. We can bring everything to You and make our requests in prayer. You help us to live in quiet expectation of Your purpose for the trials we experience. Your peace, which transcends all human reasoning, will guard our feelings and thoughts. We lift up our soul to Your safe keeping (Philippians 4:6-7; Psalm 25:1).

Thought for the Day:
Attentiveness to our troubled soul can allow us to find peace in our heart by expressing our feelings before they escalate into anger.

The Courage to Surrender

Who is really in charge of your life? Can you actually find fulfillment or control your destiny by living life “your way”? Life has a way of destroying our plans. We delude our self when we think that we can manage or direct our life. In the decisions we make, we will either obey our selfish flesh, the deceitful devil or God. It is totally unprofitable to surrender our life to anyone other than God.

We humans have a need to make our own way in the world, so we often reject the teachings of our youth and incorporate what we learn in college and in the workplace as our own philosophy. We deludedly think that we can do with our life whatever feels good to us. We often dabble in various venues to see how they fit. Deciding who we are and how we blend into our world often takes a lifetime.

We make what we think are wise decisions, but the consequences of those choices, along with unforeseen events, may end up crippling us. There are so many ideals, philosophies, needs and powers at work in our world. Thankfully, God continually provides us with a fork in our road. He gives us many opportunities to walk away from the world and into His waiting, everlasting arms.

If we have the courage to surrender to His love, we have His peace. However, God does not accept half-hearted devotion. He wants the dedication of a bondservant (Deuteronomy 15:16-17). He came to earth in human form to lay down His life for us, and He wants an equal commitment from us. So, we voluntarily lay down our life for Him (1 Corinthians 7:22-23), and surrender our pride and rebellion to Christ.

Prayer:
Father God, throughout His lifetime Jesus frequently prayed to You. He communed with You in the same way that we do – without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We can enjoy sweet fellowship with the Trinity as we carpool the kids, clean the house, work at the office, build homes, repair cars, wait on tables and perform every other aspect of our life. You sustain us through whatever life brings our way.

Thought for the Day:
“The world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” – 1 John 2:15-17

The Power of Words

Our faith in God’s faithfulness allows us to trust that God knows exactly what He is doing, even if we do not understand His ways, which are so much wiser and deeper than our methods of thinking (Isaiah 55:8-9). When we stoop to entertain negative thoughts and words, we allow Satan to use us. There is life and death in the power of the tongue (). For instance, God considers gossip as detrimental to us as lying, cursing and wrath.

Gossiping stirs up strife and starts a firestorm of controversy, whether purposely or accidentally. Tidbits of gossip are sweet to the talebearer’s lips, but they strike to the very heart of the unfortunate victim’s soul (Proverbs 26:20-22). The longer the tale is told, the more vicious and debilitating it becomes. If we refrain from gossiping, however, we quench the fires of contention and prevent arguments.

God advises us to put off our old self and to allow His Spirit to renew our character into the image of our creator (Colossians 3:5-10). We listen to gossip with our ears, but it effects our emotions and self-esteem as well. Lies will create shame, distrust and fear in our soul. Satan convinces us that we are “not enough”, cripples us with self-doubt and debilitates, confuses and discourages us.

Therefore, it is important that we limit the words that enter and leave our mind and speak only graceful words that encourage others. Otherwise, we grieve God’s Spirit and wound our own soul and the soul of those in our life (Ephesians 4:29-30). God’s Word encourages us to stop entertaining bitterness, anger, dissension and slander; and instead, to be kind, forgiving and loving toward one another (Ephesians 4:31-32).

God’s love gives us affection for others, His joy births in us an exuberance for life, His peace permeates in us a deep serenity, His patience develops perseverance, His gentleness causes our heart to blossom with compassion and His goodness permits kindness to pervade our entire being. His meekness gives us the humility to live as a servant. His self-control helps us to be guided by His Spirit.

Prayer:
Father God, You forgave us and released us from the debt of sin we owed. This allows us to live by Your Spirit and to do the works, which You called us to do (Ephesians 2:10). Remind us that our tongue has the power of life and death in it (Proverbs 18:21).Your Spirit imparts His fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, meekness, goodness, self-control and faith into our life, so that You can use us for Your glory.

Thought for the Day:
Words have an impact on our soul and influence our attitude, feelings and demeanor.

Perfect Perfectionism

The scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day are ideal examples of religious perfectionism (Matthew 5:20). They took the words of the prophets and the law of God and turned them into a formula for success rather than a guide for life. They perfected their outward behavior without having an inner change of heart. They were clean on the outside, but inside they were full of decay and corruption (Mathew 23:27).

They reeked of inner darkness and death, which comes from the flesh. Jesus wanted to create a clean heart in them (Psalm 51:10), and to transform their carnality into perfect spirituality by His Holy Spirit. Jesus wants to do the same thing for us today. He desires to give us His new nature and to mold in us a new, pliable heart instead of the stony one, which is the result of life’s devastation (Ezekiel 36:26).

As God’s Spirit changes our nature to that of Christ, then our behavior changes right along with it (2 Peter 1:4). The more we affirm the work of God’s Spirit in our life, the freer we become from the lies and bondage of Satan and his demons. Our identity no longer derives its strength from our carnal efforts, but from the love, which Christ has for each of us.

We consistently act in accordance with Biblical principles rather than by perfectionistic perceptions of God’s law. We stand in the power of Christ within us, knowing without a doubt that we are children of God, co-heirs with Christ and part of His beloved Body of Authentic Believers (1 John 3:2; Romans 8:17; 1 Corinthians 12:27). We walk in the victory of Calvary with the assurance of eternal life.

Prayer:
Father God, eternal life starts the moment we acknowledge our sins and surrender our life to You (Mark 1:14-15). Our intimacy with You, Your Son and Your Spirit grows each moment of every day for the rest of our life; as we spend time in prayer, Bible reading, fellowshipping with other Christians and worshipping together as Your Body on earth. Christ did more than forgive our sins, although that is the reason for our praise to Your name; but He also came to accept us into Your eternal family and give us an abundant life in You both now and forever (John 17:3; Ephesians 1:6).

Thought for the Day:
Eternal life is not the duration of our life, but rather the value of our life in Christ.

Walking in the Spirit

God’s Spirit motivates us to live a liberated and active life, which is centered on spiritual matters. Yet, the sinful, self-centeredness that dominated our life prior to coming to Christ still interferes with our ability to walk in God’s Spirit. These contrary desires war within our soul – our thoughts, choices and feelings – and pull us in two opposing directions at the same time (Galatians 5:16-26; Romans 7).

There is no way to reconcile these two areas of thought and behavior, because the Spirit fuels the one and the flesh drives the other one. The good news is that once we are truly Born Again, God breathes His life into our spirit within us, which joins forces with our soul and influences our behavior. His constant presence within enables us to walk in the Spirit rather than in the flesh (Galatians 5:18).

If we live by the flesh, we are motivated by the destructive behavior of impure thoughts; immoral pleasures; demonic practices; placing people, things and activities before God; hatred and bitterness, anger and jealousy, complaining and criticism, exclusivity and intolerance; worthless worship; alienation; ruthless rivalry; making enemies; addictions and frenzied grasping at illusive goals (Galatians 5:19).

Even authentic Christians can decline morally and fall back into compromised living. If we use our freedom in Christ for this type of behavior, it bars us from the gates of God’s Kingdom (Galatians 5:20). However, if we choose to live according to Godly principles and wisdom, He brings fruitful blessings into our life (1 John 3:9, 1:9). Holiness allows God’s spiritual fruit to permeate our life (Galatians 5:21-22).

Desiring to have our own way or to follow the crowd is no longer part of our thought process. Self-effort is useless; it only hinders our walk with God. Our human nature is crucified with Christ and our new spiritual conviction turns into submission and obedience to Him (Colossians 3:3-4). Our life flows from God’s will and requires little effort on our part (Galatians 5:23-24). We have God’s love, power and sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

Prayer:
Father God, we thank You for preparing our salvation before You ever created the world. You knew that our stubbornness and pride would prevent us from submitting to Your will before You ever created the first person. However, You also knew that some hearts would be humbled by life, and would eventually reach the point that we realize that we need You both now and for eternity. Thank You for crucifying the Lamb before time even began (Revelation 13:8).

Thought for the Day:
Our life in the Spirit is not an ethereal concept or a sentimental attitude but a reality, which infiltrates every area of our life. – Galatians 5:25-26

Making Plans

Our salvation was paid for by the work of Christ on the cross. It is a free gift from God for anyone willing to humbly admit their sins and truly submit to Him throughout their lifetime (Romans 3:23; 6:23). This results in a relationship rather than religion. Most of the world’s religions are based on teachings, which require good works to procure salvation. Anyone caught up in religion is not Born Again.

Nothing in this world exists of its own volition. God started and maintains it all (Genesis 1:1; Colossians 1:17). No one can come to Christ without God’s Spirit drawing us, and we are not perfected without the Spirit’s work in our soul (John 6:44; 2 Timothy 1:12). We do not wake up one morning and decide to go to church or to live a holy life. Those desires come to us from God.

We can never do enough good works to deserve heaven. Unless the Spirit of God leads our efforts, we have no hope of achieving Godly results. Our union with Christ leads us to perform only those acts, which His Spirit leads us to do (Ephesians 2:10). Regardless of our vocation in life, God will use us in this calling to fulfill His work (Exodus 31:1-6). It is only as we choose to walk in God’s will that we live in success.

We often disregard the elementary teachings of the faith (Hebrews 6:1-2). We slowly slip back into a carnal lifestyle, and are in danger of walking back into sin as a reprobate and denouncing the name of Christ (Romans 1:28, 8:9). However, if we start our day in prayer, acclaiming our faith in God’s faithfulness, He will keep us steadily maturing in Christ.

We repent of our sin as God convicts us, and we walk in His Spirit each moment of our day (Galatians 5:16,25). We connect with God through the constant practice of prayer, rather than living according to our own plans. Our life is then a demonstration of God’s Spirit and power. The One who promises is able to minister through us and to use us to deliver the lost world around us (2 Peter 3:9).

Prayer:
Father God, thank You for sending Your son to pay the penalty of our sins, in order to give us confidence to approach Your throne (Hebrews 4:16). We have a personal relationship with You that transcends the body and soul and rebirths our spirit. We have true fellowship with You, the creator of the universe (Genesis 1:1), every moment of every day of our life.

Thought for the Day:
The Bible is not a decoration for our home, but a source of life to our body, soul and spirit.