Recently Added Devotionals

But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.

—Luke 15:20

 

The parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15 is one of the most dramatic pictures of God’s love in all the Scripture.

 

And today’s verse is one of my favorites. What a picture of God Almighty! What a picture of God the Father! I like the way Phillips translates the last phrase of this verse. It says, “His father’s heart went out to him while he was yet a long way off.” 

 

This is not a father who can’t wait to punish his sinful son. This is not a father who has written that boy off as wasted and worthless. This is a loving, caring father who cannot wait to embrace his son and to welcome him home! That’s why, when the father sees his son off in the distance, he leaves the house and runs down the road to meet him and to embrace him and bring him in.

 

What I hope you see here is a picture of the Father’s love for you. God’s love is an aggressive love…a love that’s eager and excessive. His love is approachable. And His love is abundant.

 

The prodigal son’s father didn’t hold back his love from his child. And God will never withhold His love from you!

 

God is a loving father who can’t wait to embrace you and welcome you home!

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In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple.

—Isaiah 6:1

 

I’d like for you to think with me a moment about the glorious position of our holy God.

 

In today’s verse, Isaiah describes his vision of God when he saw the Lord sitting on the throne of the universe.

 

Now, Isaiah and the rest of the Israelites were deeply troubled because their earthly king, King Uzziah, was dead. They were grieved…and they were concerned about the future. Yet when Isaiah entered into the presence of the Lord, he realized that there was a greater One than any earthly king sitting upon the throne of the universe. His name is holy God, the Lord of Hosts! 

 

Like the Israelites, it’s easy to worry about the future…and wonder what’s gone wrong and what will happen next in our world.

 

But as believers in the Lord Jesus, we don’t have to wonder! We don’t have to wring our hands worrying, because we know that our God is sitting on the throne of the universe. Remember that there is no panic in heaven…only plans. God never walks up and down the streets of heaven wringing His hands wondering about what He’s going to do next. 

 

So no matter what’s going on in your world today…no matter how out-of-control things may seem…remember that God is still on His throne!

 

Today, it’s my prayer that you will get your mind off the earthly and temporary and...

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He [Jesus] said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”

—John 21:17

 

In Matthew 10:29, Jesus tells us that not even a sparrow falls to the ground apart from God’s knowledge. And if God cares about a sparrow, don't you think He would also care about you as His child?  

 

Well He does. It’s an amazing thought that the same God who made the stars and calls them all by name is the same God who knows the number of hairs on your head!

 

Not only does He know the number of hairs on your head, He knows your name. Your name is recorded in God’s infinite mind and heart! 

 

God knows you. He knows your past as well as your future. And the thing He knows better than anyone else is your heart. 

 

Now, that might strike terror into your life at times when you realize that God sees the worst about you! But what’s so wonderful is that even though God knows the worst about you…He loves you anyway!

 

Perhaps today, you feel a little like Simon Peter…you feel like somehow you’ve let God down. Perhaps you feel ashamed of something from your past…a failure that you can’t seem to get past.

 

If so, remember that with Jesus, no failure is final. The Lord restored...

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“Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.’”

—Luke 17:3-4

 

Over the last few days we have talked about dealing with anger and bitterness. And if this is a problem in your life, the antidote is the power of forgiveness. So how do you discover this power?

 

First, you must admit the bitterness in your heart. Now, I know this is a problem for a lot of people. We call it everything else. We try to justify it. As I’ve mentioned before, Hebrews says this thing of bitterness is a root. And the problem with roots is that they’re invisible. Roots of bitterness are deep down within, so you have to find the root and then dig it up.

 

Second, ask God to help you to freely and fully forgive others. You say, “But it’s so hard, I just can’t do it!” You know, I don’t often feel like forgiving. That’s why we need faith to forgive, to do it anyway in obedience.

 

Third, accept God’s plan. In Genesis 50:20, Joseph says to his brothers, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good….” God uses the troubles, sorrows, heartache, and pains in our lives to shape us, to make us more like Him, and to grow our character.

 

I think the greatest definition of forgiveness I’ve ever heard is this: “Forgiveness is giving up my right to hate you for hurting me.”

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“Pay attention to yourselves! If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him, and if he sins against you seven times in the day, and turns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive him.’”

—Luke 17:3-4

 

Over the last few days we have talked about dealing with anger and bitterness. And if this is a problem in your life, the antidote is the power of forgiveness. So how do you discover this power?

 

First, you must admit the bitterness in your heart. Now, I know this is a problem for a lot of people. We call it everything else. We try to justify it. As I’ve mentioned before, Hebrews says this thing of bitterness is a root. And the problem with roots is that they’re invisible. Roots of bitterness are deep down within, so you have to find the root and then dig it up.

 

Second, ask God to help you to freely and fully forgive others. You say, “But it’s so hard, I just can’t do it!” You know, I don’t often feel like forgiving. That’s why we need faith to forgive, to do it anyway in obedience.

 

Third, accept God’s plan. In Genesis 50:20, Joseph says to his brothers, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good….” God uses the troubles, sorrows, heartache, and pains in our lives to shape us, to make us more like Him, and to grow our character.

 

I think the greatest definition of forgiveness I’ve ever heard is this: “Forgiveness is giving up my right to hate you for hurting me.”

...

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Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.”

—Romans 12:19

 

So often, people want to be the judge, juror, and executioner of other’s faults and failures and sins. Can you relate?

 

It’s like getting older…when physically we get less flexible and our muscles can stiffen after exercise. The same thing that happens to us physically can happen to us mentally and emotionally too.

 

Our attitudes can stiffen and harden, and over time we can become cynical, brittle, critical, and inflexible. Instead of just growing older, we grow colder because we’re holding on to some things that we refuse to let go.

 

You know, Jesus had some very, very strong words to the unforgiving and the unrelenting…to those who tried to play God with others. In fact, Jesus rejected them, while at the same time He accepted the sinful, repentant woman who came to Him to begin anew.

 

Perhaps you’re carrying around a judgmental attitude today. If so, do you know what the antidote for that problem is? It’s the power of forgiveness given to us by Christ Himself!

 

If you have a critical spirit in your heart today, ask God to help you let it go. Don’t let your attitude stiffen and harden as you grow older! Instead, let God be the judge!

 

As you grow older, don’t grow colder.

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Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

—1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NKJV)

 

I’d like to draw your attention to the phrase thinks no evil in today’s passage. What does it really mean when Paul says that love “thinks no evil”?

 

In the Greek of the New Testament, the word thinks is actually a bookkeeping term. It’s a word that means “to take into account” or “to write down as a permanent record.” Which is exactly what a good bookkeeper or accountant does. They write things down as a permanent record.

 

In accounting, keeping permanent records is vital. But in relationships, it’s deadly! If we’re going to know the love of Christ and live in the fullness of that love and grace, we need to delete those negative relational files we’ve collected over the years! Because after all, this is what Christ has done for us (Romans 5:13).

 

The Scripture says that God has not imputed sin to us. Aren’t you glad? When it came to settling the score, Jesus took the sin that was written down against us upon the cross. He died and rose again on the third day and because of what Christ has done for us God has forgiven and forgotten our sin. It is deleted…forever gone.

 

Yet how many of us are unwilling to delete the files? If...

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“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”

—Matthew 5:7

 

Yesterday we talked about bitterness and how it can have such a devastating impact on your life.

 

While bitterness can be as a result of some big event, major abuse, or significant mistreatment in your life, too often, it comes from some small hurt that is nourished and nurtured until it grows to be a powerful force and factor in your life.

 

As a pastor, I can tell you—I’ve seen the effects of bitterness again and again and again. And the natural question is, why on earth do people do this to themselves?

 

Well, some people do it because it just feels good. They’re sort of addicted to their anger. Others do it because they have a sense of self-righteous superiority or pride.

 

Whatever the reason, it’s resulted in a lot of angry Christians who are long on mad and short on mercy! And those lives don’t reflect our Savior’s love, mercy, and grace which is infinite.

 

That’s why I encourage you to model Christ today by showing mercy to someone who doesn’t deserve it. Cut someone some slack! Assume that their intentions are good! I think you’ll be amazed how your life will change when you do this on a consistent basis.

 

Make it your goal to be a person who is short on mad and long on mercy!

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Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.

—Ephesians 4:26-27

 

A few years ago, I read an article in the USA Today that talked about the devastating effects of anger. In fact, the article listed hostility and anger (especially in men) as dangerous to our physical health as high cholesterol and obesity!

 

Not only will bitterness chain you to the past, contaminate your personality, and color your relationship with Christ, but it will choke your productivity. This includes your physical productivity, your emotional productivity, and your mental productivity.

 

When you live with bitterness and anger in your life, you can’t be productive in anything you do. Your mind will be distorted and you’ll make all kinds of bad decisions.

 

What’s funny—and tragic—is that a lot of people call anger and bitterness something else entirely. They call it “righteous indignation” or their “sense of justice.” But I call it something else: sin!

 

When we live with the unrepentant sin of bitterness, it rips us from the inside out. And ultimately, if we don’t root it out of our lives, we become critical and cynical!

 

Take time today to look at your life and see if you are giving place to bitterness and anger.  If so, ask God to help you root it out so that you can live fully for our Lord.

 

If you live with bitterness and anger in your life, you will never be fully productive for Christ.

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