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Power of Love

Posted in Daily Devotions

Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.” (Matthew 21.31 )

Jesus told the chief priest and elders of the temple, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you.” What Jesus told them was unthinkable. These men were the best people in the land. Yet Jesus said tax collectors and prostitutes were going into the kingdom ahead of them. You see, these officials had used their religion to insulate themselves against God. They had their traditions. They had their rules. They really had no need for God. The folks at the bottom of society, on the other hand, had nothing–except God. True, they had said “no” to God sometime in the past, but if they said “yes” now, it was not too late. The officials, on the other hand, had once said “yes,” but they had never let God into their lives.

Jesus reminded these officials of the preaching of John the Baptist. “Tax collectors and the prostitutes believed (John),” Jesus said, “and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.” Change was possible even for these men, but they were too blind to see. They did not realize that the message of repentance was for them, too, as it is for each one of us.

God of love, change me today by the power of Your love. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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First or Last?

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So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (Col. 3:1)

Mary Jo West wanted more than anything in the world to be the best at what she did. When she landed her first news anchor job at KOOL-TV in Phoenix, she was 24 years old and the city’s first female anchor. At a young age she had everything she ever wanted. But then her life began falling apart. Working long hours she often went days without seeing her husband. He accused her of putting work above their relationship, which eventually led to the break-up of their marriage.

After six years, Mary Jo was offered a job with CBS News in New York. Network news was her dream come true. Now she was more driven than ever. She routinely worked 12-hour days. The program was a success, but she felt empty. Other than work, she says, she didn’t have a life.

Early one morning she went to church to pray. She had grown up with a strong faith, she says, but it had been a long time since she’d talked or listened to God. That morning she prayed, “God, what am I doing so far from home? I want to walk Your path, but I don’t know how.”

Within a year Mary Jo was back in Phoenix working at a rival television station. Things did not work out. The ratings went from bad to worse. Before too long Mary Jo was out of work. She found it difficult to find another job. She sat alone in her big house–lost. All her feelings of self-worth had come from her job; now she felt worthless.

In her lifelong quest to finish first, she had ended up dead last. Mary Jo began working as a volunteer at a local mission. She spent the next year as a volunteer, handing out diapers and bus tokens, dishing out hot meals and helping people find work or a bed for the night. It was during that year when she reached out to other people that she felt God’s love as never before. She discovered God’s love in the eyes of a man who cried as he thanked her for finding him a pair of size 13 boots so that he could finally get a job.

That year transformed Mary Jo West’s life. She learned to rely on God and to keep her life in balance. “I don’t have the glamor or the salary of my earlier jobs,” she says, “but I do have something better: love, happiness, and peace of mind. That’s God’s idea of being first.”

Dear Lord, help me to find you and keep you in my life. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Spiritual Life

Posted in Daily Devotions

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill, and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. It is these you ought to have practiced without neglecting the others. (Matthew 23.23)

Five days a week for eight weeks former baseball pitcher, Dave Dravecky, drove ninety minutes each way for cancer treatment in Cleveland. At first the trip seemed long and unbearable. Then Dave began to notice the beauty of lush summer foliage on both sides of the highway. This peaceful drive eventually wound through the Shaker Heights district, an older area with stately mansions.

The daily trips were still monotonous, however. Dave could almost make the drive in his sleep, he recalls. Yet these long drives became an opportunity for Dave Dravecky to grow in his faith. He’d think and pray and listen to tapes of his favorite Bible teachers. Sometimes he would listen to a tape of worshipful music and sing along with it. His voice isn’t exactly the sound of music, Dave says, “but the hills did seem to come alive!” It was good “quality time” when he would not be interrupted by the telephone or anything else.

Those eight weeks driving to and from Cleveland Clinic saved Dave’s life‑‑his spiritual life, that is. He needed that time alone, he says, with the Lord. He needed it desperately, maybe even more than the radiation.

Are you taking care of your spiritual life?

God of love, help me strengthen my spiritual life daily. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Good News

Posted in Daily Devotions

Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” (Matthew 28:7-10)

The angel told Mary Magdalene and the other Mary, “Go quickly and tell his disciples. ‘He has been raised from the dead.’” They would be the first ones to tell the good news–that Jesus is alive!

As they where hurrying out of the cemetery, they ran into Jesus. “Greetings!” Jesus said to the women. It was the happiest reunion anyone could ever imagine. Jesus told them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.” Notice that Jesus called his disciples, “my brothers.” This is the only place in Matthew’s gospel where he called them “brothers.” Everywhere else he refers to them as “disciples.”

This is especially remarkable when you remember that the disciples had deserted Jesus in his hour of need. Peter had denied even knowing him. That was all in the past. The Master had work for them to do. They were to tell the good news to all who would listen.

Loving God, thank you for the “good news” that comes to me and to all the world through Jesus Christ. Amen.

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A Good Friend

Posted in Daily Devotions

Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins. (Psalms 25:18)

There most certainly have been times when we have failed to be great in the sight of God. God loves us so much that we will be forgiven. All we have to do is ask for it. John 3:16 reminds us, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son, so that everyone who believes in him may not parish but may have eternal life.”

God forgives us, and God is great. If we forgive one another, we, too, will be great.

According to Grandma Hillis, “The difference between a friend and good friend is that the later knows all of your secrets and likes you anyway.”

May our day be filled with being a good friend and a good forgiver, as we serve one another in love.

Dear Lord, help me to be all you desire for me. In Jesus Name, Amen

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Eternal Banquet

Posted in Daily Devotions

The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding banquet, but they would not come. (Matthew 22:2-3)

Hugh Downs, host of Television’s 20/20, and his wife had attended a function in Washington D. C.. When the time came to return to New York, they discovered that their flight had been canceled due to bad weather. Down’s called the front desk and the clerk informed him that they could catch a five o’clock train, which was leaving in 45 minutes. Mrs. Downs was showering, and to save time Hugh hurriedly packed all their belongings. He called the bell captain and asked that the bags be rushed right over to the station and put on the train. A bellhop came immediately and got them.

Five minutes later, Mrs. Downs stepped out of the bathroom wrapped in a towel. “Dear,” she asked, “would you please hand me my green dress?”

We’re not told how the Downs resolved this dilemma, but our dilemma is similar. Are we dressed for God’s awaiting banquet?

In scripture reading today, it says, “Once more Jesus spoke to them in parables, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son.’” The king’s son was to be married. It was a proud moment for the king. People from the entire kingdom, from every town and village, were invited to the wedding and the feast that would follow. Who would refuse the king’s invitation?

In Jesus’ parable there was a problem. Nobody showed up! Imagine how you would feel if you spent much time and money on a wedding reception and no one showed up. Matthew says, “The king was enraged.” Obviously, the king was not a happy camper.

We are all invited to God’s eternal banquet. Will we be there?

Father God, help me to live each day in anticipation of being a part of your eternal banquet. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Posted in Daily Devotions

Then the Man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked Him, “Please tell me your name.” But He said, “Why is it that you ask My name?” And there He blessed him. (Genesis 32.28-29)

Little Johnny was having a terrific time on his first plane trip. He pushed every button in sight, ran through the aisles at top speed, and finally, he crashed into the flight attendant as she was serving a tray of coffee.

Picking herself up, the attendant grabbed young Johnny by the arm and stated as gently as she could force herself to. “Son, why don’t you go outside and play?”

Little Johnny could not got outside of the plane and play even if he wanted too. And Jacob in our scripture reading today certainly was not wrestling God for the fun of it.

Have you wrestled with God lately? Jacob sure did and was blessed. When we make God the center of our lives–we will be blessed too.

Loving God, may all I do be centered around my commitment to you. Please bless all that I do for your glory. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Posted in Daily Devotions

Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers; but their delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law they meditate day and night. (Psalm 1.1-2)

E. Stanley Jones, in his book GROWING SPIRITUALLY, tells another good story. It’s about a man who lived out a fantasy life. All he had to do was think of something and “poof!” it happened. So this man sticks his hands in his pockets, leans back, and imagines a mansion. “Poof!” he has a fifteen-bedroom mansion, with three stories and servants available to wait upon his every need. Of course, a place like that needs several fine cars. So he again closes his eyes and imagines the driveway full of the finest wheels money can buy. And “poof!” several of the best vehicles instantly appear. He is free to drive them himself, or sit back and have the chauffeur drive him wherever he wishes.

When he comes back home from his drive, he wishes for a sumptuous meal and “poof!” there’s the meal in front of him with all of its mouth-watering aromas and beauty — which he eats alone. It is about then that he realizes there is something more that he needs to find happiness. After a fairly short while he grows so terribly bored and unchallenged that he tells one of his attendants, “I want to get out of this. I want to create some things on my own again. I’d rather be in hell than be here.” To which the servant replies quietly, “Where do you think you are?”

So what does it take to be happy? I can’t give you a precise answer because it will vary according to our individual needs. I can say this, however: No one can truly be happy who is not in a proper relationship with God and with other people. It’s hard to really be happy when you live only for yourself. Jesus intended that we live life with Him.

Dear God, I am happiest when I’m close to you. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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Amore Rey

Posted in Daily Devotions

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. (1 Cor 13.8)

My good friend and mentor Pastor Johnnie Price shared something he read many years ago.

True Love Never Gives Up

In Brooklyn one day I met a young man passing down the streets. At the time the war broke out the young man was engaged to be married to a young lady in New England, but the marriage was postponed. He was very fortunate in battle after battle, until the Battle of the Wilderness took place, just before the war was over. The young lady was counting the days at the end of which he would return. She waited for letters, but no letters came. At last she received one addressed in a strange handwriting, and it read something like this–”There has been another terrible battle. I have been unfortunate this time; I have lost both my arms. I cannot write myself, but a comrade is writing this letter for me. I write to tell you you are as dear to me as ever; but I shall now be dependent upon other people for the rest of my days, and I have this letter written to release you from your engagement.” This letter was never answered. By the next train she went clear down to the scene of the late conflict, and sent word to the captain what her errand was, and got the number of the soldier’s cot. She went along the line, and the moment her eyes fell upon that number she went to that cot and threw her arms round that young man’s neck and kissed him. “I will never give you up,” she said. “These hands will never give you up; I am able to support you; I will take care of you.” My friends, you are not able to take care of yourselves. The law says you are ruined, but Christ says, “I will take care of you.” –D. L. Moody

Heavenly Father, I wish never to give up LOVE. In Jesus name, Amen

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Posted in Daily Devotions

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. (John 3.16)

A pastor was visiting some of his parishioners. He took his young daughter with him. As they visited an elderly couple, the man gave her a handful of peanuts. Expecting her to show a spirit of gratitude, the father asked his daughter, “Honey, what are you supposed to say?” Sincerely, and with her eyes fixed upon the man, she asked, “You got any more?”

That sounds like many of us. We accept God’s gifts, never saying “thank you” but simply asking, “Have you got any more?” Yet God keeps giving. That is His nature.

Dear God, thank you! In Jesus name, Amen.

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