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Be back in morning with new devotional

Team Leader Shining for Jesus
Team Leader God's Amazing Grace
Team Leader God Answers Prayer
Team Leader Partnership Accountability to the Finish Line
Team Leader Christians Walking in Faith
Co-Team Leader for I Can Do All Things Through Christ
Co-Team Leader Jesus, The Way, The Truth, The Life


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Daily Disciples - June 19, 2021

Todayís Readings: Nehemiah 12; Acts 4:23-37

Todayís Thoughts: A Great Power

And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Acts 4:33

When the disciples were left alone as Jesus ascended into heaven, a new beginning was just around the corner. Jesus told them to go to Jerusalem and wait for the Promise.

That Promise came on the day of Pentecost, a day that would change their lives forever. God's Holy Spirit came upon them with sounds of a mighty wind that came from heaven, a demonstration of supernatural power. Tongues of fire were then dispersed on ("sat on") each person (Acts 2:1-4).

This event made it very clear that something amazing and indescribable was taking place amongst these people. In the days that followed, this small group of believers came together in one accord, knowing that they had been given gifts from the Lord, and that they had been called to witness to the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The first gift given involved "great power" as the apostles zealously told of their knowledge and personal experience of who Jesus Christ was and what He had done.

The second gift, however, is one we sometimes take for granted but it is extremely crucial to the first one: "great grace." They were not only granted power but also they were given great grace. Without grace, they could not go forth and do what they were called to do.

The same is true for us today. We may have gifts, callings, knowledge, experience and all of the right answers, but without grace, we will not get very far in our service or our usefulness to God. Why?

Because we will be taken out by our own thoughts and behaviors as human beings. We become too aware of our weaknesses and we try to overcome them in our own strength. We cannot control condemning thoughts of the enemy who tells us we are not worthy. We lose faith, hope and the eternal perspective because our focus shifts to ourselves.

Grace, however, steps in and says that the Lord has granted us unmerited favor in His sight. He chose us. He loved us first. He called us to do His work. He gifted us for His purposes. Not of us, but of Him, by His grace.

Grace must accompany power in your life today. Grace must be connected to your faith. Take time today and look up verses on "grace." Use your Bible concordance and spend some time reading about grace. Make a study of it and take your time, even over several days. Let the Lord minister to you through His Word. If you are suffering or struggling, you need to approach His throne of grace with boldness and receive His mercy today (Hebrews 4:16).

And even though we are not worthy, the Lord still uses us by giving us the gifts and grace to minister for Him and by Him and in Him.

You will be blessed!

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Team Leader God's Amazing Grace
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Team Leader Partnership Accountability to the Finish Line
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Co-Team Leader Jesus, The Way, The Truth, The Life


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6/15/21 11:39 A

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Daily Disciples - June 15, 2021

Today's Reading: Nehemiah 1; Acts 2:1-21

Todayís Thoughts: The Power of Twos

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17

A few summers ago, we wrote a Bible study on the Book of Ezra. I learned a lot like the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah used to be Ezra 1 and Ezra 2.

These two men worked together for Godís common purposes. Ezra is not just about these two men though.

There are multiple twos: Zerubbabel and Jeshua (Ch 3 & 4) and Haggai and Zechariah (Ch 5 & 6). There are 3 sets of twos.

This pairing is carried over to the New Testament as Jesus sent the disciples out by twos.

How come we do not seem to promote the ďtwosĒ today?

Husband and wife couples very promoted. There is a very popular church who believes that the husbandís calling is carried over to the wife (like a dual anointing).

But after studying the book of Ezra, Moses & Aaron, Elijah & Elisha, Ruth & Naomi, we cannot biblically conclude that God has established husband and wife anointing only.

Even in the New Testament, the example of couples in ministry like Priscilla and Aquila being good equalized out the couple of Ananias and Sapphira who represent the bad.

So, how come we do not see other groups coming together for the purposes of God? Pulling from my own experience, I really think because it is just plain hard. We already have spouses, children, obligations, extended families, neighbors and churches that our relationship box is maxed out. As I remember back 9 years ago, I said to a friend of mine, ďI need a prayer partner that does not get too close. I am already maxed out with my family and my friends. I just need someone who is objective to pray with me and for me without any additional commitment or requirement on my part.Ē When I prayed about that person, the Lord brought Bobbye to mind. She is totally different than me and we donít cross any of the same paths.

Little did I know that God had a major plan for two women who were willing to pray together and be committed to Him more than to ourselves. Is it hard? Yes but with time, it gets easier.

Letís get back to praying together, witnessing together, working together so the Lord may be glorified. We are put on this earth to be united for His purposes today like Ezra and Nehemiah were in the past.

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6/14/21 3:50 P

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Daily Disciples - June 14, 2021

Today's Reading: Ezra 9; Acts 1

Today's Thoughts: Times and Seasons

And he said unto them, It is not for you to know times or seasons, which the Father hath set within His own authority. Acts 1:7

A close friend of mine was recruited to go to Iraq. The Navy told him that he would be in Iraq from six to eight months. He communicated with us via email and it was evident from his emails that it did not matter how long the Navy said he would be there, he was taking each day as it cameópraying that another day would come for him. There were days that he was not sure if he would make it.

We think that knowing the dates, times and seasons would help us to focus. Jesus instructed us that it is not for us to know those things. If the disciples knew that Jesus would not return until after 2000 years, I am sure their focus and convictions would have been different.

Yes For my friend, his focus could not be fixed on staying alive to return to his family. Instead, he said that he focused on the tasks that he was equipped to do for the Navy and for the purposes of Americans.

The times and seasons did not matter as much as his focus for the day. That is what Jesus is asking of us today. Live a life that is fixed on Jesus each day. He has equipped us through His Spirit and asked us to do a work for the purposes of God.

Those purposes include prayer, fellowship, reading the Word and loving others. It does not matter when He will return if we stay busy with the things He has asked us to do until He returns.

My friend was in Iraq for exactly seven months. The Navy told him one afternoon that he would be leaving for home that night. No advanced notice, no time to call homeójust time to go. Jesus' return for us will be the same. It is not about the times or seasons but about each day.

Pray that you can keep your eyes fixed on the Author and Finisher of your faith, knowing that at any day, we will soon be going home to Him too.

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6/12/21 4:52 A

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Daily Disciples - June 12, 2021

Today's Reading: Ezra 3; John 20

Today's Thoughts: The Power of Prayer

Then the prophet Haggai and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophets, prophesied to the Jews who were in Judah and Jerusalem, in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them.

So Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel and Jeshua the son of Jozadak rose up and began to build the house of God which is in Jerusalem; and the prophets of God were with them, helping them. Ezra 5:1-2

The Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus, king of Persia, to send some of the Jews out of Babylon and back to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple. ďThen the heads of the fathers' houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, with all whose spirits God had moved, arose to go up and build the house of the Lord which is in JerusalemĒ (Ezra 1:5).

But once they arrived, adversaries rose up against them and many threats and distractions were used to thwart their work. How often do we encounter such distractions when trying to do Godís work?

Our adversary prowls about seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8) and doing whatever he can to stop our progress in the Lord.

What the people needed, God provided. Zerubbabel and Jeshua needed support and strength.

They got it from the prophets whom God raised up to help them. Haggai and Zechariah prophesied in the name of the God of Israel with His power on their lips, a power that brought the others back to work.

For us, that power is in the prayers of others. We have the Holy Spirit and Godís Word to strengthen and sustain us. But, we also need prayer intercessors in those times when we feel weak and worn out, especially when the adversary seems to be coming after us.

Take time today and pray for those you know who are working for the things of God. Leadership and ministerial Christians are often on the front lines of battle where distractions are constantly interfering in their lives. Pray for them.

If you are one of those on that battle line, do not hesitate to ask for prayer when you feel weak and weary. We have Jesus. We have His Word and we have His Holy Spirit, but He has also given us His body of believers to lift each other up in times of trouble.

Prayer is a tool we need to use everydayónot only for ourselves, but also especially for those on the spiritual frontlines.

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Daily Disciples - June 11, 2021

Todayís Reading: Ezra 1; John 19:23-42

Todayís Thoughts: A Humble Heart and Willing Spirit

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?" Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Matthew 18:21-22

So many factors are involved in someone sinning against another. Many times, the thoughts and motives of the one who sinned are not as clear as the reaction of the person who was sinned against. Conflict is hard. Conflict takes a toll on both parties. Defensiveness goes up and trust goes down.

Both parties though, the one who needs to forgive and the person who needs to ask for forgiveness, have their share of difficulties. The one who would forgive, deals with skepticism.

They hope for real change this time, and deal with thoughts such as, "I hope this is the last time you need to ask forgiveness. I hope this time it works for good. By choosing to forgive you,

I may just get hurt again." But the person who continually asks for forgiveness is also in a difficult situation. When we sincerely confess our sin to another, we have to admit to ourselves that we have hurt someone else as a result of our behavior or words.

To ask forgiveness repeatedly is to admit that we do not have the ability or power to change that trait in us. So to ask sincerely means that we need to keep seeking ways to change.

YAfter a while, it is natural in the flesh to justify and rationalize the sinful behavior instead of continually trying to change. That is why Jesus takes both sides. If someone is repeatedly willing to ask forgiveness, sincerely looking for help, then we need to be willing repeatedly to restore that person back.

I am thankful for Jesus' teaching because I know that He lives by His own teaching. We sin against Him more than anyone else. If we are repentant, He is willing to forgive us - over and over and over again. We have to pray that our hearts remain soft enough to keep asking for forgiveness. His mercies are new every morning, probably because we use up all His mercy the day before.

If you need to ask forgiveness from someone, ask the Lord to give you a humble heart and a spirit willing to change. If you are being asked to forgive, ask the Lord to help you look to Him to help restore the person back in your heart without bitterness.

The Lord will help you. He is on both sides. Let us pray that we keep His focus and His heart during the conflicts, and not our own.

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Daily Disciples - June 10, 2021

Today's Reading: 2 Chronicles 34; John 19:1-22

Today's Thoughts: Letting Go Is Hard

I am the LORD your God. You shall have no other gods before Me. Exodus 20:2-3

Corrie Ten Boom once said that she learned to hold on to things loosely because it hurt too much when God pried them away. There are many things in our life that we get attached to: our work becomes our identity, our homes become our personality, our children become our goals.

Sometimes it is hard to know who we were before these things came in and took over our lives. Where do I end and these things begin? When God challenges us on our priorities, it is difficult to truly understand what He is doing.

Because I work in the ministry, it gets confusing at times to separate my walk with the Lord from my work in the Lord. Recently, I have fallen in love with the plans of a ministry that truly helps people and honors God.

I received His promises and His revelation of how to get the ministry started. Then, out of the blue, I had the sense that He wanted me to give the ministry to someone else to do.

He used me to get the ministry going, but now He wanted me to let it go and not feel that I must do the work for Him. It was hard to let go because that ministry had become a key part of my life.

How do you let go of something that God placed in your heart to do, so that you can honor God by not doing it?

We have to remember that nothing is ours. We are just stewards entrusted with the Master's gifts. Our calling is to be obedient. Our hearts are to have nothing above Him, including His ministries. We are to align ourselves up with Jesus, to rest at His feet and to have a relationship with Him. Jesus wants you, not what you can do.

Lord, thank You that You don't want my attention divided. I am sorry that I fall in love with the work to a point of missing Your will. Help me to walk in Your paths and stay in step with Your call. You have given me everything I have and I give them back to You. Be glorified in me. Amen.

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Daily Disciples - June 9, 2021

Todayís Readings: 2 Chronicles 32; John 18:19-40

Todayís Thoughts: The Arm of Flesh

"Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged because of the king of Assyria and the vast army with him, for there is a greater power with us than with him. With him is only the arm of flesh, but with us is the LORD our God to help us and to fight our battles." 2 Chronicles 32:7-8

Hezekiah was a king who helped focus Godís people back to the pure and true worship of God.
He restored the temple, tore down the high places built to other gods, reinstated Godís feasts and celebrations and was known as a king who led people to celebrate the one and only true God. But now, another nation came up to war against him. Hezekiah knew that this other king had the strength and ability to overcome the Israelites in battle. This king also caused a lot of conflicts for King Hezekiah.

Hezekiah could have just surrendered to the fear caused by the tactics and overconfidence of the king of Assyria but he didnít. Instead, Hezekiah started building up his military defenses, working hard on repairing broken parts of the walls around the city and making more weapons.

Then he spoke the words of these verses that encouraged the people. These words, however, were not just bursts of intimidation as with the king of Assyria, but came from a heart of passion and purpose from the Lord.

By verse 20 of the story, Hezekiah and the prophet Isaiah were crying out to the Lord, knowing that He has the power to fight the battle for them. And He did. Verse 22 says, ďSo the LORD saved Hezekiah and the people of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib king of Assyria and from the hand of all others. He took care of them on every side.Ē

We worship a God who takes care of us on every side. It was good that Hezekiah prepared for battle, but it was better that Hezekiah prepared His heart to turn to the Lord. The arm of flesh is limited. We need to be prepared to fight as we use the weapons God has given us. The strongest weapon is a tender heart that knows the Scriptures and how to turn to the Lord on our knees. No battle is too great for the Lord.

If you are in a situation today in which you need to see the Lord on your side, get on your knees and start asking for help. God is waiting to show His power no matter what circumstance you are facing.

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6/9/21 9:03 A

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Daily Disciples - June 8, 2021

Today's Reading: 2 Chronicles 30; John 18:1-18

Today's Thoughts: The Master Builder

For we know that if our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 Corinthians 5:1

I had an opportunity to watch as the first side (panel) of a new building was put in place. The sides of the building were made of concrete and steel. I learned that the foundation of the building was laid first, then the sides were actually placed on top of the foundation.

Each panel was engineered and laid out on the ground first, then lifted off the surface foundation and raised up on its side. To say the least, the size of the crane to do this kind of work was awesome. I was told that this particular crane could move up to 300 tons in one lift.

The panels were massive in size and weight, but the crane seemed to move them about effortlessly. Within a few hours, the first outside walls of the building were affixed in their places.

As I looked upon this awesome structure, the Lord reminded me of Who made the materials that went into that building. The Lord of heaven and earth created all things and oversees all things that take place here on earth. I reflected on some basic truths about God and me in relation to Him. Buildings made with man's hands can and will be destroyed, regardless of their size and strength.

Our physical bodies are to be considered buildings that house our souls and spirits; and they, too, can and will die at some point, regardless of how healthy we try to be.

The only building that will remain is the one God buildsĖ"a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens." This is the building we should be the most concerned about.

How much time and energy do we put into our earthly buildings? Whether they are the buildings that house our souls or the buildings that house our bodies, we all live within some sort of frame.

And regardless of how strong and powerful they seem to be, there is One who handles them all as though they were but dust.

Our focus today should be on the Master builder, the One who made each of us in His image.

God is the One who created all things and will be the One who determines what happens to all things, even us.

For those of us who believe in His Son, Jesus Christ, we have an eternal building prepared for us in heaven.

Let's spend some time today working on our spiritual life, not just the physical. Spend some time today with the Master builder.

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Daily Disciples - June 7, 2021

Todayís Readings: 2 Chronicles 28; John 17

Todayís Thoughts: Chosen by the Lord

ďMy sons, do not be negligent now, for the LORD has chosen you to stand before Him, to serve Him, and that you should minister to Him and burn incense." Chronicles 29:11

After King Solomonís death, the nation of Israel was divided into two separate kingdoms. Israel had ten tribes and Judah had two. Each kingdom had its own king.

The Lord had promised King David that he would always have a successor in Judah and God honored that promise as Davidís line of descendants continued to reign on the throne in Jerusalem.

Unfortunately, not all of these kings walked in the ways of the Lord as David had done.

One of the most ruthless and wicked of these kings was Ahaz. King Ahaz turned from the Lord to such an extent that he literally cut the articles from the temple in two, set up idolatrous altars in every corner of Jerusalem and even offered his own children as sacrifices.

His wickedness incensed the Lord and brought His wrath upon the people for their abominable sins.

But upon Ahazís death, his son, Hezekiah, became king and Hezekiah chose to follow the Lord.

Todayís verse reflects Hezekiahís words to the people after they had restored the temple and were preparing to offer their sacrifices and worship to the one true God.

King Hezekiah warns the people to not be negligent for it is time to take a stand for the Lord. He instructed them to ask for His forgiveness, and to worship Him in praise and thanksgiving.

The people did all that Hezekiah directed them to do and Godís wrath was averted. The verse says that the Lord chose them to stand before Him, serve Him and minister to Him. In other words, they now had to act upon their loyalty to God, not just give Him empty words. But God is so awesome that He made a way for them to succeed in their service because He chose them and He led them in all they did. Jesus would later say that we did not choose Him but He chose us John 15:16

What can we learn from this story and how can we apply it to our lives? First of all, we need to see how Godís Word speaks to us every day, regardless of the chapter or verse or book of the Bible. Even though as Christians, we may read the Bible, pray and go to church, we are capable of easily turning from the Lord. One step leads to more steps until we are farther and farther away from the Lordís teachings. We then find ourselves engrossed in sins of idolatry and wickedness, just like the Israelites.

But the Lord is always with us. He is waiting for us to come back to Him and to serve Him, just as He did with the Israelites.

Offer your heart to Him in prayers and worship.

Repent from your sins, ask forgiveness and know in your heart that God has chosen you for His own. Do not be negligent. Seize the day.

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Daily Disciples - June 5, 2021

Today's Reading: 2 Chronicles 23; John 15

Today's Thoughts: Are You in His Flock?

"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.Ē John 10:1-3

Jesus began speaking to His listeners with a metaphor that was familiar to them. The sheepfold was usually an enclosure made of rocks with an opening for the door.

The shepherd (or watchman) would guard the flock at night by lying across the opening. It was common that several flocks could be sheltered together in the same fold.

A group of shepherds would share the responsibility at night allowing each other to sleep in their own beds. The system was like a night shift rotation.

In the morning, the shepherds would come through the door or gate and assemble their own flocks, just by their voices. Thieves and robbers could not walk through the gate so they would climb in over the walls, attempting to steal the sheep. But the sheep would not follow them because the sheep would not recognize the stranger's voice.

Jesus describes the thieves and robbers as coming to steal, kill and destroy.

During Jesus' time, there were professional religious men (the Pharisees and Sadducees) who were only interested in the people for their own personal advantage. They were more concerned with perfecting themselves according to their own standards and trying to make everyone else feel guilty for not matching up. That is not Jesus. As a good shepherd, He develops a relationship with His sheep so that He knows them by name, calls them personally and leads them.

The sheep's responsibility is to welcome, listen and follow the shepherd. The relationship is easy and the burden is light. There is also the sense of security and peace in being protected by the Shepherd.

We need to realize that the responsibility of our life and death is in the hands of Jesus. We do not need to carry our own burdens as an attempt to help Jesus.

The Good Shepherd knows that it is His responsibility to take care of the sheep, just as the mechanic knows that the car can't fix itself.

We are protected eternally with Jesus for He alone is the Author and Perfecter of our faith. He began a good work in us and He will be faithful to complete it. The responsibility is on Him.

There is peace with Jesus as our Shepherd, our Savior. Our responsibility is to hear His voice and follow Him.

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Daily Disciples - June 4, 2021

Today's Reading: 2 Chronicles 21; John 14

Today's Thoughts: A Place for Us

ďLet not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.Ē John 14:1-3

In John 14, Jesus has become a friend to His disciples, as well as their Teacher and Lord. They have been with each other for three years but Jesus is now saying goodbye. Jesus gave them this message to calm them and to focus them upward instead of inward and outward.

Although He is heading to the cross, His focus is on comforting them.

Verse One could be translated, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. You trust and believe in God even though you cannot see Him, so trust also in Me when you can no longer see Me."

Jesus then continues to explain to the disciples that His task at hand while He is away is to prepare a place for them. The Lord wants them to know that He is coming back for them, but in the meantime, He has some very important things to do for them and for us too.

There is more to life than what meets our eyes. We need to fix our eyes and our actions toward heavenly things, for heaven is a real place. Heaven is mentioned often in Scripture:

Matthew 6:9 says that heaven is where God dwells (and Jesus now sits at the right hand of the Father),

First Peter 1:4 calls heaven an inheritance,

Second Peter 1:11 describes heaven as a kingdom,

Isaiah 66:1 says heaven is where God reigns on His throne

John 14:2 calls heaven, home. It is home for God's children. A "place prepared" in Greek means rooms or abiding places.

Some of us think it means a palace for Billy Graham and a shack for the person who accepts Christ on his deathbed. But that is wrong. Jesus Christ is preparing a place for all His saints and every such place will be beautiful.

Life is not a dress rehearsal; our troubles, pains, tears and even our actions will all count when we get to heaven. Jesus told us about heaven so that we would know there is more than just the pain we experience here on earth. He wants us to believe and trust Him with our troubles.

For James 1:12 says, "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him." And where will we receive that crown? Aplace prepared in heaven called home!

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Daily Disciples - June 2, 2021

Today's Reading: 2 Chronicles 17; John 13:1-20

Todayís Thoughts: Endurance to the End

"For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise:" Hebrews 10:36

I turned off my computer and saw a couple of fingerprint marks right in the middle of my screen. I pulled my shirt sleeve over my hand and began to rub the screen. The marks were still there so I used a paper towel and the marks were still there. I grabbed a dish towel and rubbed some more. They were still there but were beginning to fade. I hate to admit it but my wrist began to tire and I had to stop for a moment. I worked diligently for several more minutes to get the fingerprints off my screen.

Normally I would not associate this type of task with the word "endurance" but in this case, it took a while to clean my screen. It seems like such a small thing in the big picture. But, in the midst of these kinds of tasks, I sometimes hear the Lord quietly say to me, "Be faithful in (and keep working on) the little things."

We grow in our walk with the Lord by persevering in the day-to-day tasks that require our patience and endurance.

The hardest tests of endurance are often disguised as the monotonous tasks in life. I must admit that I seriously considered just how badly I wanted my computer screen clean. Would I settle for just enough to get by, or would I keep going until the spots were gone completely?

Sometimes I think that we are faced with the same question when God begins working on our ďspotsĒ. Will we persevere with Him? Do we have the endurance to keep going through the hard times?

The writer of Hebrews mentions more than once our need for endurance. We "have need of endurance" to ultimately receive the promises of God. I wonder how often we get to the edge of the promise land and stop walking.

There was a reason the Lord kept telling Joshua to go in and take the land that had been given to them.

It took endurance and perseverance to keep walking, to keep taking one day at a time, and to stay focused on the goal.

From fingerprint smudges to promise lands, the test for each one of us is whether or not we will keep working until the task is finished.

The Lord is so good to give us the goal, and He will lead us every step of the way. However, we must be willing to not only step out but also to keep on stepping forward.

Has the Lord given you a glimpse of the promise land He has for you?

Do not stop moving towards it.

Pray for endurance and perseverance.

The training often comes in the little tasks of the day.

Take every opportunity to see a job through to its completion and learn how to lean on the Lord for support and guidance.

You never know when the day will come that you take that first step into your land of promise.

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Daily Disciples - June 1, 2021

Today's Reading: 2 Chronicles 15; John 12:27-50

Todayís Thoughts: Permanent Ink

He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. Revelation 3:5

When my son was in the first grade, he came home from school very concerned. He said to me, ďMom, I got in trouble at the lunch tables today. My teacher wrote my name down and put it in her desk.Ē Sensing his anxiety, I told him not to worry. I knew that the teacher would call me if she had any real concerns. He then said, ďBut mom, you donít understand, she wrote my name in permanent ink.Ē

So often in life, having our name written in ink signifies a remembrance of something we have done wrong, ranging from teachersí notes to public court records. But there is one place that we all should desire to have our names written in permanent ink.

That place is called the Book of Life and the ink is nothing less than the blood of Jesus. Our names are not written down to remind Him of our sins or wrongdoings but to secure our place in His heavenly home for eternity. The only way to gain entry into this Book is by accepting Jesus Christ as Savior and by believing that without His redeeming blood, our sins require a penalty of death.

It is the blood of Jesus that keeps our names in His Book of Life permanently. He promises that, by His blood, He will never leave us nor forsake us, and He is permanently with us.

Are you assured today that your name is written in the Book of Life? The only way in is to accept Jesus as your Savior and to mean it with all your heart. Confess your sins and ask Jesus to forgive you. Thank Him for the work on the cross and know in your heart that without His redeeming blood, all are lost. This is one Book that you want to be sure your name is written in permanence.

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Daily Disciples - May 31, 2021

Todayís Reading: 2 Chronicles 13; John 12:1-26

Todayís Thoughts: The Thrill of Victory

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith. 1 John 5:4

Did you know that this word "victory" is used only six times in the New Testament?

The Greek word for victory is "nike" and it means "a conquest" or "means of success." For many of us, the word Nike refers to the mega-sporting enterprise that sells shoes and clothing.

Victory has been skewed by society standards to now mean something of extraordinary achievements.

But Jesus would come and tell us to just have faith, for through faith we will be victorious.

How many of us as Christians today have victory in our lives? How awesome to experience the thrill of victory! But far too often we face the agony of defeat.

Jesus did not come to earth, give His life, and leave us His Holy Spirit, just so we could enter heaven. Yes, He came to give us eternal life if we believe in Him, but He wants us to experience heaven on earthótoday.

Heaven on earth in this day and age? Is such a thought really possible?

Today's verse tells us that "whatever is born of God overcomes the world." If you have accepted Jesus as your Savior, then you have been born of God and are His child. To even accept Jesus indicates a position of faith on your part, for "by grace you are saved through faith" (Ephesians 2:8).

But real victory does not stop here, it begins here. Faith must be grown, matured and developed by the tests and trials of life.

One reason prayer is so important is that our faith is increased every time we see God answer our prayers. And we must plant His word on our hearts and in our minds, for "faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17).

Christians who have weak prayer lives and no time in God's Word will face the agony of defeat more than the thrill of victory.

But Christians who pray, who read the Bible, and who seek the Lord with all their heart will have victory simply because of their faith.

Just remember, however, that victory in Jesus is not always defined the same as victory in the world.

Does your life reflect more victories or more defeats? Where do you spend your time and what are you seeking after?

Start today by asking the Lord to increase your faith. Start praying for God's help. Confess and repent from any worldly desires that steal your time and attention away from the Lord. Begin reading His Word and praying for more understanding of how to apply it in your life.

At some point, we must decide which way we want to live; and then start acting on the faith given to us through Jesus. Then, and only then, will we have victory.

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Daily Disciples - May 30, 2021

Todayís Reading: 2 Chronicles 10; John 11:30-57

Thoughts on Todayís Passage: Comfort in Spiritual Sight

So he answered, "Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them." And Elisha prayed, and said, "Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see." Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. 2 Kings 6:16-17

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you felt outnumbered? At times, many of us feel overwhelmed, either by people or by circumstances. Elisha and his servant found themselves outnumbered as the Syrian army encircled their city. When Elishaís servant saw the number of horses and chariots ready for battle, he became immediately afraid.

But Elisha saw their situation through spiritual eyes, not physical ones. Elisha saw God's army and what an army it was! The keys to this story, however, lie in how Elisha prayed and how God answered.

Elisha asked the Lord to open the eyes of his servant so that he could see into the spiritual realm. God then opened his eyes. How relieved that young man must have been!

Paul says in Ephesians 6:12 that "we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places."

These spiritual forces are at work continually, even though we cannot physically see them.

However, there is also a spiritual army fighting against them, God's army. In those times when we feel outnumbered and overwhelmed, we are to take comfort in knowing that our Lord and Savior is always protecting us.

How are you feeling today? As Christians, we will fight in battles, some harder than others, but battles and warfare are part of this life. The issue for us is how to handle them. Do we succumb to fear and paranoia? Or do we ask the Lord to open our eyes so that we may see? I think we should opt for the second choice.

Our first line of defense should include prayer. Tell the Lord your fears and feelings, and ask Him to show you His plan for your protection. Sometimes the reason we go through battles is for our spiritual growth. It is through having our eyes opened that we truly begin to see the Lord working. Start asking Him todayó you might surprised at all He shows you.

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Daily Disciples - May 29, 2021

Today's Reading: 2 Corinthians 7; John 11:1-29

Today's Thoughts: Seeking God

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

Do you really want God to hear your prayers? Would you like to know how to get God to listen to you?

Read today's verse and notice what God Himself is telling His people to do to get His attention.

The children of Israel had turned from God. They practiced idolatry of all kinds, worshipping other gods, disobeying God's laws and living their lives according their own desires.

Regardless of the depths of their sin and wickedness, the Lord showed them mercy.

God wanted to give them a chance for redemption but the people needed to come back to Him.

The Lord clearly tells the Israelites what to do: humble themselves, pray, seek, and turn. In return, the Lord says that He will hear, forgive, and heal. Right here, in this one verse, we receive a message from the Lord that is just as relevant today in our lives as it was back then.

First of all, we are told to humble ourselves. If you notice the order, humility comes before prayer. God wants us to come to Him in submission, in lowliness and brokenness, recognizing our desperate need for His saving grace. Then, we pray. We pour out our hearts to the Lord, asking, seeking and knocking for His response. In prayer, we must seek not only answers, but we must seek His face.

To seek God's face demonstrates our love for Him, our desire to know Him, and our relentless pursuit of His attention. We need more than just words; we need intimacy and fellowship with Jesus. Finally, our prayers must include confession and repentance of our sins. Again, not just in words asking forgiveness, but in a true desire to change. To change means that we are willing to turn from our "wicked ways" and start following the Lord's ways by obeying His Word.

Regardless of where you are today in your relationship with the Lord, be assured of one thing: He wants more of you. If you feel distant from God, He wants you to know He is not distant from you.

If you feel close to God, He wants to be even closer to you. If you humble yourself before Him, pray and seek His face, and are willing to turn from your sins, then He promises to hear, forgive and heal you. Just ask Him. Humble yourself before the Lord today and open your heart to Him.

Be sincere, honest and vulnerable before Him. If you come to the Lord in thyis manner, you will definitely have His attention, and your heart will be ready to receive His answers.

Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 5/29/2021 (05:45)
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Daily Disciples- May 28

Today's Reading: 2 Chronicles 4; John 10:24-42

Today's Thoughts: No Favorites With God

For there is no partiality with God. Romans 2:11

As school is coming to an end, my second grade daughter is very aware that she hasn‚Äôt received the student of the month award all year. She is troubled by this. I hear her saying to me over and over, ‚ÄúI just want to be the teacher‚Äôs pet. My teacher has two pets and I am not one of them.‚ÄĚ

When I asked her to explain, she said, ‚ÄúMom, you know that you are the teacher‚Äôs pet when the teacher says, ‚Äėthis student has worked very hard this year‚Äô and gives them an award.

They haven‚Äôt worked any harder than a lot of us.‚ÄĚ She continued, ‚ÄúThe teacher makes up that excuse because the teacher just likes them more than everyone else.‚ÄĚ

It breaks my heart to hear her say these things but she is probably right. There are some people that we get along with better than others. There are certain personalities that fit better. Isn‚Äôt that why we get married? We are convinced we can live with ‚Äúthis person‚ÄĚ the rest of our lives.

Well, I take great comfort in knowing that God does not play favorites. The Lord loves each of us exactly the same and not one of us has a more special part of His heart than another.

He chooses the gifts He gives to us for our good, not His.

The Lord has no partiality. If we ask for more of the Holy Spirit or for more wisdom or to be used more, He works with us in answering those prayers.

The same is true for those who are saved.

In Romans 10:12-13, Scripture says, ‚ÄúFor there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon Him; for ‚ÄėWhoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved.‚Äô‚ÄĚ

I know from personal experience that I am not saved because of my sinlessness or good behavior.

I am thankful that the Lord continues to rescue me and answer my prayers despite my behavior.

I am grateful that His grace continues to cover me as He uses me more and more just because I ask Him to. God wants our hearts.

Our behavior won‚Äôt always follow right away. But God doesn‚Äôt play favorites, and we can rest knowing that He loves each of us so abundantly that one day we will each receive the ‚ÄúTeacher‚Äôs pet‚ÄĚ award.

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Daily Disciples - May 27, 2021

Today's Reading: 2 Chronicles 1; John 10:1-23

Today's Thoughts: God is Keeping Watch

"---shall be keeping watch over the doors" 2 Chronicles 23:4

As I was leaving my house to go out of town for a few days, I said a prayer and asked the Lord to watch over my home while I was away. I was leaving behind my husband and my dog.

Though the two of them are fairly self-sufficient, they are not always the most attentive to certain needs in the home. I prayed for the Lord to see that the daily activities would continue without me being there to take care of them. One of my greatest concerns involved Buddy, my Bassett Hound. He loves to wander off when given the opportunity and although I have ďdoggy-proofedĒ the escape routes, my husband leaves them open at times (like garage doors). So, with that in mind, I prayed for the Lord to watch over Buddy and keep him safe, regardless of what may happen.

I came home to learn that Buddy did indeed get out. My husband did leave the garage door openóall day! A neighbor told him that Buddy was literally sitting in the street, as cars slowed and honked for him to move. As the Lord watched over Buddy, however, He made sure that the neighbor escorted Buddy back home and put him in our yard. Needless to say, I was at first shocked and upset that this had happened, but all I really could do was praise the Lord. God is good. I know that the Lord even had me pray that prayer for protection specifically for Buddy because He would get the glory when I found out what had happened.

Take time today and pray that the Lord will watch over your home, your family, your business, everything that you have. We never know what a day will hold. We need to practice praying for certain things everyday and protection is a big thing to pray for.

We are promised that "the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one" (2 Thessalonians 3:3). And that ďHis name is our shelter, a strong tower for the righteous to run toĒ (Psalm 18:10).

Say a prayer as you leave your house today and sense the peace of God who will be watching over your doors.

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Daily Disciples - May 26, 2021

Todayís Reading: 1 Chronicles 28; John 9:24-41

Todayís Thoughts: One Thing Will Remain

Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. Matthew 24:35

Time passes and life goes on, but there will come a day when the world as we know it will cease and pass away. Heaven and earth will be gone.

In Noah's day, even as he built the ark and told the people of what was to come, they continued on as usual. They ate, drank, married and did all the things in life just as they always had done. Then the rains came, and within 40 days every living thing was under water, except for Noah and his family. Noah's family was safe in the ark. They listened to God's words and were saved.

The Bible is filled with prophecies concerning the last days. Many biblical scholars who study prophecy fully believe that we are in the last days and that at any moment our lives will be forever changed.

Jesus could return at any moment.

Are you ready? Or do you think that your life will just keep going?

God did promise us that one thing would continue. He told us that His Word will never pass away. His Word through His Son, Jesus, will save us. All we have to do is believe in Him to live forever with Him. Our bodies will die but our eternal life will go on and on.

We need to live for that day when we hear the Lord say, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord' (>Matthew 25:23).

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5/25/21 3:20 P

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Daily Disciples - May 25, 2021

Today's Reading: 1 Chronicles 25; John 9:1-23

Today's Thoughts: Inquire of Him First

Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, "A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Sea. It is already in Hazazon Tamar" (that is, En Gedi). Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him. - 2 Chronicles 20:2-4

Think about one difficulty you are facing right now. It might have to do with your family, your finances, conflicts at work or even an accident you recently had. All these things can be considered as armies coming against you. I know from personal experience that any circumstance that has overpowered me is an army coming against me. I might come up with my own schemes and plans, but nothing I do is going to fix it. In desperation and anxiety, I cry out to the Lord.

Crying out to the Lord as a last resort is a lot different than "resolving to inquire of the Lord" from the start (as Jehoshaphat did). God honored Jehoshaphat's prayer and then he honored the Lord by singing praises to God before the battle even began.

Circumstances are difficult in life. Many times, we wonder what is really going on and why is the Lord allowing this to happen? All the Lord wants is for you to include Him. Circumstances can be hard but His answers to your prayers are not. Go to God today first. Tell Him, "Lord, I don't know what to do but I am looking to You." He not only hears, sees and answers, but He assures the victory.

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Daily Disciples - May 24, 2021

Today's Reading: 1 Chronicles 22; John 8:28-59

Today's Thoughts: To Please Him

And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.Ē John 8:29

Jesus is a man who came from His Father to do those things that always please Him. And because of Jesus' obedience to His Father, His Father became our Father. It has bothered me to think that it pleased the Father to send Jesus to the cross. When I think of love, I do not want to equate it with suffering. But my perspective remains earthbound.

God did not equate the cross with suffering as much as the cross was equated to glorification. The cross glorified the Son in restoring and bringing everything back under the authority of Christ. The cross brought salvation to us. As a result, we too suffer on earth for the greater call of glorification for eternity.

Because of Jesus' death, we can say with confidence that the Father has not left us alone. He has given us His Holy Spirit to intercede for us, counsel us, teach us and comfort us. We are never alone. But Jesus' words tug on my heart the most when He said, "I always do those things that please Him."

Oh, how I pray that I can live a life that pleases Him. To hear Him so clearly, and know Him so dearly that nothing distracts or takes away from the call to please Him is the cry of my heart.

Suffering becomes less and less the focus as my desire to please Him becomes more and more.

Oh Lord Jesus, You are my Savior and Lord but you are also my example. I want to be like You to please You. Let the things of earth become strangely dim in the light of Your glory and grace as I daily seek Your face. Amen.

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Daily Disciples - May 23, 2021

Todayís Reading: 1 Chronicles 19; John 9:1-27

Todayís Thoughts: Lift Up Your Eyes

Song of Ascents. I will lift up my eyes to the hills-- From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, Nor the moon by night The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in From this time forth, and even forevermore. Psalm 121:1-8

Today's psalm is one of my favorites. I read it and meditate on the words when I need encouragement from the Lord. Are you in need of encouragement today? Do you feel as if trouble surrounds you?

Maybe you feel as if the weight of the world is on your shoulders. Let's be encouraged together as we look at what these verses are saying. First of all, we need to look up and "lift up" our eyes to the hills.

We need to look up at the Lord and believe that He is coming to help us. Acknowledge that our Lord is the One who made heaven and earth with amazing power and majesty. He is strong enough to help us. I love the verse that says He "shall neither slumber nor sleep." Our Lord is watching over us constantly. He is our keeper.

This message is not just for today but also for eternity. He preserves our soul and protects us from all evil. He preserves our every move and keeps watch over us everywhere that we go.

Because of His Son, Jesus Christ, all who believe in Him are preserved for eternity in heaven.

Some days seem longer than others here on earth, but be encouraged and know that the Lord of heaven and earth has His eyes upon you every moment of every day. Take comfort in the words of this psalm and meditate on it throughout times of trouble.

Consider these precious words as promises from God, and trust that He always keeps His promises.

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Daily Disciples - May 22, 2021

Today's Reading: 1 Chronicles 16; John 7:28-53

Today's Thoughts: Too Hard for the Lord?

And the Lord said to Abraham, "Why did Sarah laugh, saying, 'Shall I surely bear a child, since I am old?' Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son." Genesis 18:13-14

Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90 years old when Isaac was born. Both Abraham and Sarah were well past child bearing age. Most likely, they could not imagine having a baby at such an old age, but God had a different plan. The Lord knew the exact time in which Sarah would have Isaac and it would clearly be a miraculous blessing to her life. Throughout the years, as the Lord kept telling Abraham of this promise, Abraham kept believing and waiting on the promise to be fulfilled.

Twenty-four years after God first promised an heir to Abraham, three men showed up at Abraham's door. The Lord was one of the three and He again restated His promise that they will bring forth a son, a baby boy. Sarah reacted by laughing. The Lord responded with a question: "Is anything too hard for the Lord?"

Abraham was a man of faith. God said it and Abraham believed what God said. Simple, pure, powerful faith. Sarah believed Abraham and trusted his words but when the Lord showed up, she lacked in her faith to believe. She even laughed at what God said. For us, sometimes it is easier for us to believe a person or to believe in a person than to trust in God. If God gives us a promise we can have a hard time trying to work it out ourselves. The hardest part is waiting on the Lord to fulfill it.

We wait, we wonder and sometimes we worry but God is always faithful to keep His promises. Nothing is too hard for the Lord. Nothing. If He says it, then He will do it.

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Daily Disciples - May 21, 2021

Todayís Reading: 1 Chronicles 13:1-54; John 7:1-27

Todayís Thoughts: The Power of Praying Scripture

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height--to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19

It is an amazing blessing to learn to take Scriptures and make them our personal prayers. The third chapter of Ephesians gives us a great example of doing this because it is a real prayer that Paul prayed for the recipients of this letter. Let's make it our prayer today.

Dear Lord, I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that You would grant me, according to the riches of Your glory, to be strengthened with might through Your Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in my heart through faith; that I, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and heightóto know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that I may be filled with all the fullness of God. I ask this prayer of Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that I ask or think, according to the power that works in me, to You be the glory in the church of Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Take time to study, meditate and write your own prayers from Scriptures that speak to your heart. God's Word is powerful and life-changing, especially when we make them personal and pray them back to Him.

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Daily Disciples - May 20, 2021

Today's Reading: 1 Chronicles 10; John 6:45-71

Today's Thoughts: He Wears Your Picture Badge

So Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel on the breastplate of judgment over his heart, when he goes into the holy place, as a memorial before the Lord continually. Exodus 28:29

Have you ever watched the news broadcast of a missing person? As I saw a report on a missing teenager, the family being interviewed all wore picture badges displaying the personís face. They not only wanted this face in public view for possible recognition but also they wanted this reminder close to their own hearts. Just having this type of memorial helped this grieving family pursue their hopes of finding their child.

As discussed in Exodus Chapter 28, Aaron wears a garment that has the names of each of the twelve tribes of Israel etched in precious stones and placed over his heart. This robe is worn by Aaron as he enters the most holy place in the presence of the Lord. Aaron represents the people to the Lord and is a continual reminder of who they are to the Lord.

Today, we have Jesus Christ who is our High Priest and who bears our names before the Lord. We, too, are considered as precious stones before the Lord as our names are placed over the heart of our Savior Jesus.

How many of us truly realize how precious we are to the Lord? When lifeís ups and downs seem to dominate our time and thoughts, we may not realize that we have a High Priest who is continually presenting us and our needs to our heavenly Father.

Sometimes, we, as believers, stray from our Fatherís presence, maybe fall out of fellowship or a regular time of prayer and Bible reading.

During those times, I can picture Jesus going before the Father with a picture badge over His heart reminding the Lord of His child who has gone astray. More than anything else, the Lord desires a personal relationship with us and never wants us to be lost or to be away from Him.

Where are you today? Are you in close fellowship with Jesus? Regardless of where you are, know that if you are a child of God, born again in Jesus Christ, then your High Priest is continually presenting you to the Father. You can have the hope and peace today that Jesus is carrying your picture over His heart as a constant memorial.

But, even more than that, He is living in your heart and wants to be with you always. Can you say the same? Are you carrying His picture in spirit and truth over your heart today? Are you spending time in worship and fellowship with Him? None are missing in the Lord todayÖfor ďI once was lost but now I am found, was blind but now I seeĒ (Amazing Grace).

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Daily Disciples - May 18, 2021

Todayís Reading: 1 Chronicles 4; John 6:1-21

Todayís Thoughts: The Spiritual Fight Against Fear

Now the Lord said to Joshua: "Do not be afraid, nor be dismayed; take all the people of war with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, his people, his city, and his land.Ē Joshua 8:1

The Lord told Joshua to go up to Ai. Actually, He was telling Joshua to go back to Ai. Since their earlier defeat at Ai, the men of Israel have been through a tragic experience because of the disobedience of one of their men, Achan. The punishment for Achan's sin no doubt left a fearful impression upon all these men, who must now be prepared for war.

So the Lord tells Joshua to "not be afraid, nor dismayed." In other words, He is saying, ďGet back up and let's take care of the business at hand. Let's complete the job we have started.Ē The Lord promises to be with Joshua and his men, even going so far as to tell Joshua that He has already given the king, the people and the land into their hands.

In the second part of this verse, the Lord tells Joshua to "see." This is not a physical seeing because the battle has not yet even begun. This form of seeing requires spiritual eyes of faith to believe that what the Lord is saying is true, even though it cannot be physically seen at this time.

For Joshua, this is an important step of faith. He has just been dealt a severe blow through what happened with Achan and now he must get back up. He must continue to fight. He must take each step with the Lord.

God is faithful and just. He will complete the work He has started. Do not let fear, anger or discouragement keep you from following the Lord. Get back up, trust Him and take that next step. The enemy will do whatever he can to keep you from taking that next step, but the Lord will help you to "see" that He has delivered you and will lead you forward.

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Daily Disciples - May 17, 2021

Today's Reading: 1 Chronicles 1; John 5:25-47

Today's Thoughts: God Never Forgets You

"Remember these things, O Jacob, for you are my servant, O Israel. I have made you, you are my servant; O Israel, I will not forget you. I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you." Isaiah 44:21-22

Jacob (whose name was changed to Israel) was chosen by God, but not because he was sinless or above reproach from man's perspective. His descendants were just like us- real people with real problems making real mistakes.

But God used this group of people to bring Jesus into the world and to give us a relationship back to God. Even though we have been dealing with the same sin issues since creation, God does not separate Himself from us because of our sin. Jesus made a way for us to be united with God forever.

We do not have the ability to become perfect while on earth but we can be perfected (or conformed) into God's image because of Christ.

It is because of the cross that all things are made new. We need to cling to the cross because it is there that we have been set free. We are forgiven, reconciled back to God and called out to be used of Him. I need to do nothing else but to accept that my sins have been cleansed and be willing to accept how the debt has been paid. It is of the Lord that we have been called.

We are His witnesses established for His glory and sanctified for His purposes.

Nothing we do can separate us from Him but the same is not true of us. We tend to hang on to our sins, which lead us away from the Lord. Jesus has cleansed us from all sinópast, present and future. Our thoughts should not be on our sins as much as on our Savior. We need to be thanking Him for how good God is that He made a way for us to be with Him forever.

Relax.

Take in a deep breath.

Think about how much grace has abounded to you.

Talk to the Lord about the sin issues in your life that keep pulling you away from Him.

Thank Him for never pulling away from you.

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Daily Disciples - May 16, 2021

Today's Reading: 2 Kings 24; John 5:1-24

Today's Thoughts: Your Sabbath

Jesus said to him, "Rise, take up your bed and walk." And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked. And that day was the Sabbath. The Jews therefore said to him who was cured, "It is the Sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your bed.Ē John 5: 8-9

God established the last day of the weekósundown Friday to sundown Saturdayóas a day of rest. God said in Exodus 31:13-17 that in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth.

On the seventh day, he rested and was refreshed. The Israelites were to observe the Sabbath as a covenant with God. They were to put aside their normal business of sowing, reaping, treading the wine press, carrying burdens and unnecessary travel. They were to call the Sabbath a delight, a holy day of the Lord (Isaiah 58:13).

The Sabbath was created so that the people could rest from the busyness of life and find refreshment and restoration in the worship of God. He did not restrict the deeds of necessity (like eating), service to God (the priestsí roles) or acts of mercy (kindness to others including helping animals).

God did not say He stopped working in helping, healing, saving or doing good deeds. Even the Jews agreed that God was "working" because the universe remained intact. A common saying among the Jews was that God did not stop creating or judging on the Sabbath. And so the Jewish religious leaders felt the liberty to become good at judging on the Sabbath also.

The Jews wrote volumes of books to define the limitations of work, yet created more burdens in the process. However, the real burden was that they had taken the Sabbath, God's gift to man, and had transformed it from a day of rest to a day of rules, regulations and restrictions.

Jesus came to set us free and to restore the Sabbath to what it was meant to be. Jesus defined the Sabbath differently. Jesus said in Mark 2:27 that "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath."

The Sabbath was given so man would rest. The Sabbath was not given for man to worship the day of rest, but to rest in the worship of the Lord, by stopping his everyday work. Jesus got the religious leadersí attention by continuing to heal and touch lives on the Sabbath. He healed an invalid of 38 years on the Sabbath.

The Jewish leaders scorned the newly healed man for following Jesus' instructions by carrying the mat he had laid on for 38 years. This man's burden was the sin that bound him, not the mat he carried on the Sabbath.

Because of Jesus' work, we entered into rest spiritually (Hebrews 4). We no longer need to try to keep laws and rituals seeking God's approval. We are saved by grace. Jesus has done it all.

Take your Sabbath and spend time with the Lord and let Him give you rest.

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Daily Disciples - May 15, 2021

Todayís Reading: 2 Kings 22; John 4:31-54

TodayísThoughts: Father and Son

Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father's name, they bear witness of Me.Ē John 10:25

A friend of ours called the other day. He travels extensively and works with incredibly gifted people. He has been blessed beyond measure with gifts and talents that help others get the message of the Gospel out through media. His phone call, however, was not about any of those things. This time he shared with me the greatest blessing that surpassed everything that he does at work. While home from traveling, his little boy asked him many questions about God, Jesus and eternal life. Everything else competing for Randal's attention did not compare to the joy of this kind of conversation between him, as a father with his son.

While listening to him share this story, I couldn't help but think about another relationship of a Father and Son. When Jesus was on this earth, He would speak openly, affectionately and lovingly about His Father.

When the Father spoke through the heavens about His Son, He spoke words that confirmed Jesus' authority on earth and the Father's ultimate support. They clearly had a relationship founded on love.

As believers, Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit who points us to Jesus, as Jesus draws us to the Father. Their relationship completely blesses each other.

But it doesn't stop there. The relationship of the Triune God also blesses us by allowing us to have a relationship with them. That is exactly what happened with our friend and his son. This little 6 year-old boy asked his dad to pray with him to come to know Jesus. Their relationship as father and son is based love as it led the way to a personal relationship with the Father and Son who first loved us.

We pray that in your relationships, you point others to the only relationship that really matters. Ask the Lord for wisdom in your words and in the timing. He will open the doors for you to speak about Him as clearly as He opened up the doors of heaven for you.

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Daily Disciples - May 14, 2021

Today's Reading: 2 Kings 19; John 4:1-30

Today's Thoughts: True Worship

The woman said to Him, "Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship." Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.

But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." John 4:19-24

The Samaritan woman was really asking Jesus, "Where is the appropriate place to worship God?Ē Her people, the Samaritans, worshiped on Mount Gerizim while the Jewish people worshiped at the temple in Jerusalem.

Jesus was very clear that the Jews had the appropriate place of worship at that time because all of the laws of God and prophets of God came through the Jewish race. However, Jesus was quick to explain to her that the "where" would soon change. When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, His death restored us to be able to have a personal relationship with God.

We do not need to go to a certain mountain or a specific church to worship Him. Because of Christ, God goes with usóeverywhere. So wherever you are, you worship.

The next part Jesus explains is "how?" How are we to worship God? His answer is "in spirit and in truth." Because God is Spirit, no matter how good our efforts or good deeds are, sinful man falls short in being able to please a Holy God.

We must have the Spirit of God to commune with a God who is Spirit. Therefore, accepting Christ to receive His Spirit is the first step to true worship.

The next step is to be trained in the ways of the Spirit. This training process is called sanctification, or being set apart for the works and service of God.

Jesus said in John 17:17, "Sanctify them by the truth. Your word is truth." We learn the ways to remain in the Spirit by reading, studying, meditating and applying His truth of the Bible.

We need to be born of the Spirit of God, to receive the Spirit of God, in order to understand the ways of the Spirit of God, written by the Spirit of God in the Bible. The Bible is the truth that sanctifies us (or sets us apart and makes us holy) for His service. The only way to make it through the sanctifying process is by relying on the Spirit of God.

Our service is one of worship as we become living sacrifices. A true worshiper is one who worships in spirit and truth, every day and every way.

A true worshiper worships daily, from the depths of their heart in their prayer closet to the choices they make every minute of the day.

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Daily Disciples - May 13, 2021

Today's Reading: 2 Kings 17; John 3:19-36

Today's Thoughts: God Makes Things Right

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

Have you ever wished you could take back something you just said? Or, have you ever thought ďIf only I had known then what I know now, I would have done things differently?Ē More than once in my life, I have wished I could go back and do something over to make it right.

Even with our best intentions and motives, there are times when our words come out the wrong way and we find ourselves feeling badly. We usually know it immediately.

I have learned from my own experiences that the Holy Spirit will convict and impress upon me that I should have handled a situation differently. One of the Greek definitions of the word "conviction" means to bring to light, to cause shame, or to show one's fault.

One of the Holy Spirit's jobs is to convict us when we say or do things outside of God's will. This includes speaking when we should have been listening or speaking from our own wisdom instead of the Lord's.

When I find myself in a situation where I feel badly about what I have just said or done, I start praying. I begin by confessing my sin and asking for forgiveness. The Lord promises that He will forgive us our sins if we confess them (1 John 1:9).

Repentance is definitely the next step because we need to acknowledge that we do not want to continue sinning against Him or others in this way. Next, we have a responsibility not only to pray for ourselves but also to pray for the person(s) involved because our sins do affect others.

And that is one of the reasons I love Romans 8:28.

I pray this verse to the Lord when I know I have made a mess of something.

I start asking the Lord to work it together for good despite what I have done or said.

I can honestly say that the Lord has always been faithful to these prayers. You see, we are going to say and do things that we wish we could take back. We are going to hurt others, even when our intentions are good. We will fail and fall short; we need a Savior. We are sinners saved by grace. So today, put the responsibility back on our Savior and Lord.

Ask the Lord to work "all things" together for good and apply this verse to those times when you know you have just made a mistake. Ask forgiveness, and then start praying for God to make it right. Only He can make things right.

God's love, mercy and grace cover us every moment of our lives and He gives us His Word to help guide us. Memorize this verse today and ask the Lord to bring it to your mind in times of trouble.

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Daily Disciples - May 12, 2021

Todayís Reading: 2 Kings 15; John 3:1-18

Today's Thoughts: Rich Fulfillment

Oh, bless our God, you peoples! And make the voice of His praise to be heard, Who keeps our soul among the living, And does not allow our feet to be moved. For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined. You brought us into the net; You laid affliction on our backs. You have caused men to ride over our heads; We went through fire and through water; But You brought us out to rich fulfillment. Psalm 66:8-12

Sometimes we have the misconception that being a Christian should be all about riches, fulfillment and abundance. As Christians, we know the Lord personally and have been given everything we need for life and godliness. We are the children of the King. What else could we possibly need that He has not already given to us? But why do we face such hard trials in life?

The Psalmist explains the real life version of receiving fulfillment. "For You, O God, have tested us," God tests the hearts and intents of His people. He allows trying circumstances to squeeze us:

As if we are ďin a netĒ; we carry affliction ďon our backsĒ, often while submitting to others whose motives and intentions are wrong. God brings us through terribly trying situations to test and grow our faith in Him.

These trials are confusing and difficult. But we can we see God's love and care through them because when we have come through the fires of this life, and walked through the tests and trials, the crown of eternal life awaits us.

Fulfillment and abundance have to do with the victory in overcoming the most terrible trials.

That satisfaction comes when we know that we are still with the Lord regardless of the circumstances.

There is a place of rich fulfillment and abundance on the other side of the tests. All the riches of the world cannot be compared with the love, joy and peace we get from God.

Read through Psalm 66 and really praise the Lord for the trials of life. Praise and worship brings the greatest fulfillment and abundance of them all.

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Daily Disciples - May 10, 2021

Today's Reading: 2 Kings 10; John 1:29-51

Today's Thoughts: Just Believe

Jesus answered and said to him, "Because I said to you, 'I saw you under the fig tree,' do you believe? You will see greater things than these." John 1:50

What does it take for you to believe? For some, we want the small things like a peaceful day.

For others, we want our bodies healed. And for others, we want God to appear to us and give us direction on what to do next. All of these requests fall on the lines of appeasing our flesh.

Our flesh doesnít want to struggle or guess; we want clarity, peace and a life that is pain free. But that is why many do not believe.

At times, God does perform these kinds of miracles, but God doesnít need to prove He is God as much as we need to prove we believe He is God. Despite how we feel, what we see or how we think, ďWithout faith, it is impossible to please GodĒ (Hebrews 11:6). Faith goes beyond the senses to a deep understanding and knowing that He is God in the midst of a hassled day and in the hurts from lifeís circumstances. Faith is believing without seeing.

The Lord asks us today, ďDo you believe?Ē If the answer is yes, He will spiritually open your eyes to see in faith what He has for you. He might not show you through a burning bush or through an earthquake, but it is that still small voice that will testify within your spirit His will and ways for you.

Sometimes He says, ďWait.Ē Other times He will say, ďGo.Ē But every time, the Lord Jesus Christ will say, ďJust believe.Ē He knows what is best.

Trust Him today with that issue you want to see God work through so badly. Give it to Him. Lay it down at His feet. Just believe and you will see greater things than these.

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Daily Disciples - May 9, 2021

Today's Reading: 2 Kings 7; John 1:1-28

Today's Thoughts: Motherís Day

ďTeach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.Ē Psalm 90:12

ďMom how was it in the olden days when you used to have to call the home phone to talk to your friend?Ē asked my teenage son. The world has definitely changed since the time my parents raised me. I would guess that the desires of a motherís heart have not changed as much.

So, what does the mother really want for Motherís Day? For me, I want my children to reach their full potential in good values and with strong character. I truly believe they can only achieve my goals for them if they walk with the Lord. Because my prayers do not have the power to force them into the desires of my heart, I pray that I might have the wisdom to lead them to the Lord.

Being a mother to children today is not easy. I continually need to remind myself that ďI am the motherĒ as I am challenged to the core by children who have suddenly become taller, stronger and smarter than I. Repeating, ďI am the mother!Ē aloud helps me stand my ground on many issues, as that answer is sufficient for any of their ďwhys?Ē

Fortunately, I have noticed that these power struggles do not last long as their attention span changes with the next text message or Facebook update. One of the biggest challenges facing anyone to walk with the Lord today is all the stimuli competing for our concentration to pray and to listen to the Lord, as clearly displayed in the life of a teenager.

Teenagers love stimuli. Everything associated with them is loud, bright and fast. They text on their cell phone, email on Facebook, change their iPod tunes, sort through a homework schedule and then act as if they are listening to me. Children today prepare for a much different world since the days of roll down windows and rotary dial phones. Change has a new meaning in todayís world.

Changes in the ďthingsĒ are not my real concern for the next generation. I am concerned about the many things that compete for our childrenís attention. The world is loud in our ears and bright in our eyes. This way of life will only increase with advancing technology. I am NOT against change or technology; I am against constant, continual noise. If we are not proactive in protecting our minds from the noise, we are going to miss the things that matter most: a personal, walking talking relationship with the Lord.

As a new teenage believer, I heard Godís voice the first time I read the Bible. I learned quickly that in seeking the Lord, my mind must be quiet, like developing a sixth sense. When we tone down our other senses, our awareness of God becomes more evident. A blind person depends more on their sense of hearing and a deaf person depends more on their sense of sight. When everything is shaking and moving, it is difficult to be in tune with your sixth sense of spirituality.

If we do not develop ears to hear the Lord and eyes to see His perspective, we will diminish the greatest relationship we could ever have. Regardless of age or stage of life, spirituality is not a ďsenseĒ but a lifestyle.

Think about Jesusí lifestyle. He walked for miles without cell phones or iPods. He rose early to pray. He meditated and contemplated. As parents today, we need to foster an environment that provides the same opportunities, as we model the same behaviors in our lifestyle. Do we take the time to read the Bible or wake up early to pray? Do we know how to meditate and quiet our minds to sense the leading of the Lord?

A lifestyle with the Lord starts by praying to have an eternal perspective. Moses prayed it best in Psalm 90:12, ďTeach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.Ē

Moses understood that we live maybe 70 to 80 years on this earth (Psalm 90:10) but eternity is forever. Are we spending our time and giving our attention to what matters for eternity? Are we making a difference here that counts someday up there? Mothers are to teach, train and lead their children to have an understanding of that eternal perspective. We must cultivate it in our daily lives so that our children learn from our example.

A great Motherís Day gift? My child playing worship songs on their iPod


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Daily Disciples - May 7, 2021

Today's Reading: Luke 24:10-11

Even though the pastor's words seemed quite chauvinistic, I knew I needed to hear from the Lord on what He wanted me to think about this sermon.

I prayed about this issue for several hours. The next morning, the Lord led me to Luke 24. As I read the first eleven verses, I clearly saw the role of the women as messengers bringing the Good News of Jesusí resurrection to others.

In this case, the women came to the tomb and received from the angels the message of the Lord. They returned to tell the men. The men chose to not believe them.

What was the Lord trying to tell me? I kept praying and seeking His will on this. As I was sharing this story with my ministry partner, she told me that Anne Graham Lotz was given these same verses when she began to speak and teach the Bible in different forums.

The Lord confirmed to her that He would give her His message to give to the people. I knew at that moment why the Lord had directed me to these verses, and that He was confirming to me the same message.

My point in this devotional is not to focus on the womanís role in the church, but to focus on how the Lord will speak to our hearts concerning the topics on them. The Holy Spirit led me to answers in Godís Word and then confirmed them through my friend. Though the topic itself is one of controversy, the main point is that we are Spirit-led in applying His ways to our lives.

Regardless of how we have been trained or taught, our final authority must always be the Lord, His Holy Spirit, and His Word.

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Daily Disciples - May 6, 2021

Today's Reading: 1 Kings 21; Luke 23:26-56

Today's Thoughts: Trust and Obey

And all the prophets prophesied so, saying, "Go up to Ramoth Gilead and prosper, for the Lord will deliver it into the king's hand." Then the messenger who had gone to call Micaiah spoke to him, saying, "Now listen, the words of the prophets with one accord encourage the king. Please, let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak encouragement." And Micaiah said, "As the Lord lives, whatever the Lord says to me, that I will speak." - >1 Kings 22: 12-14

One day, the king of Israel said to the king of Judah, Jehoshaphat, "Will you go with me to fight at Ramoth Gilead" (verse 4). Jehoshaphat agreed to go and fight with him to get this land back. However, Jehoshaphat suggested that they hear from the Lord first and get His Word on what they should do.

The king of Israel summoned his prophets and they all (about 400) proclaimed victory for the nation and king of Israel. Jehoshaphat was not so convinced and inquired of another prophet, Micaiah, who was known for speaking the truth. The king of Israel did not want to hear the truth; he wanted to hear that his plan would work.

In the end, despite the king's efforts to the contrary, the king of Israel died in the battle. His heart was too hardened to hear and obey the words of God, even when those words would have saved his life.

How often do we ask for the truth but really do not want to hear it? How often are we told the truth yet refuse to act on it? These issues usually only matter when the truth is bad news. Good news is great to hear and much easier to respond to. Selective truth is not our option, especially in our walk with the Lord. The Lord is always ready and willing to lead and guide us.

But are we willing to do what He tells us to do? When His answers do not match what we expect, we must make the decision right then to obey His Word. Otherwise, we allow the enemy time to deceive our thoughts. Pride, selfishness and a hard heart destroy our obedience to God. The bottom line: we ask, God answers, we obey. None of this, "but God" stuff will work.

If our hearts are truly set on following the Lord, then our relationship with Him will be one of surrender, faith and obedience. God is so good to listen to us and to grant us answers to our prayers; however, God is still God.

Be reverent in how you seek His will for your life and be honest with Him about your struggles in how to obey. Do not try to manipulate His answers or escape His requests for obedience.

Be willing to surrender your pride, be honest about your fears and seek the Lord's help in the next step of whatever He is telling you to do.

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Daily Disciples - May 5, 2021

Today's Reading: 1 Kings 19; Luke 23:1-25

Today's Thoughts: Do You Need a Restored Soul?

He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake. Psalm 23:3

Many of us have read Psalm 23 so often that we can recite the verses, but the blessing comes in really meditating over them. If we are not careful as Christians, we will read such verses and miss what the Spirit is saying to us. Today, verse three jumps out the most to me. "He restores my soul" is the key phrase upon which I am meditating. What does "He restores my soul" really mean to me today?

Only the Lord can truly restore our soul. Our soul is that part of us that houses our emotions, our will, and the internal makeup of who we are. Our soul tends to wander off down selfish paths seeking to fulfill self-driven desires. We all struggle with this. The farther we wander, the more distant we get from God. Much of our wandering is subtle and hidden, even from our own senses; and this fact makes these wanderings often the most dangerous to us. But God knows all about us and He always wants us back. He knows that by restoring us back to Him we will be willing to be led down His path of righteousness. His paths of righteousness, not our own paths, bring us peace.

Ask the Lord today to reveal any areas of your heart that need restoration. Do you feel dull or numb in certain areas of your life? Tell the Lord about those places in your heart where you sense a lifelessness and ask Him to restore them back to Him. Restoration is not always just about life's obvious issues; it can be very much about life's less recognized ones.

Take your time to really read Psalm 23 and listen to the Lord's impressions on your heart.

The Word of God is the most powerful Word you will read or hear today.

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Daily Disciples - May 4, 2021

Today's Reading: 1 Kings 16; Luke 22:47-71

Today's Thoughts: Following Him

And Elijah came to all the people, and said, "How long will you falter between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him." But the people answered him not a word. 1 Kings 18:21

Do you ever find yourself faltering between two opinions? Have you ever felt torn between decisions and not sure of what to do? Maybe we get torn sometimes because we are focusing more on the what, than on the Who. Whether we want to admit it, everything comes down to a choice. We must choose between who, what and how almost everyday of our lives. The Bible makes it clear that we are to choose whom we will follow. There really is no middle road.

The problem lies in the fact that we do not like to think of ourselves as choosing to follow a false god, like Baal. But when we turn from following the Lord, we are turning to follow something else. We get caught up in lifeís activities and look for God only when we need Him.

Did we just choose those activities over the Lord? Probably so. How do we make sure that we choose God first in everything?

We must make the Lord our priority everyday. We must start our day with Him, praying about our schedules, asking for His guidance, reading His word for instruction, and worshiping Him with grateful hearts. We must learn to practice these things every day.

If we put these actions into practice, then we will find ourselves following God, without faltering. God knows our hearts and He wants us to want Him more than anything else. He wants us to stop choosing the what in our lives and start choosing the Who, Jesus Christ.

Start your day with the Lord and ask Him to guide you. Beware of choosing to serve the false gods of this world. The Lord will help you if you just ask Him.

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Daily Disciples - May 3, 2021

Today's Reading: 1 Kings 14; Luke 22:30-46

Today's Thoughts: Get in the Ark

And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die. But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark--you, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you. And of every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female. Of the birds after their kind, of animals after their kind, and of every creeping thing of the earth after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive. Genesis 6:17-20

The parallel of the story of Noah's ark and our lives today is closer than we may realize. The people in Noah's day were living for their own pleasures and chose not to follow God.

The Bible says they were selfish and eating, drinking and giving to marriage. As Noah worked on the ark, he witnessed to the people and told them of what was coming.

They did not believe him. I can only imagine the mockery and ridicule that Noah endured as he worked on the ark. Why would a guy build a boat when it had never rained on the earth? Because God said so and Noah believed God.

Over a hundred years later (about 120), the ark was finished and God called Noah's family and the animals into the ark and shut the door. They were saved from the destruction that was coming. They were safe in God's arms.

Today, we live in a world that resembles the days of Noah. Man is selfish, wicked and living life without much thought to what the Bible says is coming.

We are told that one day Jesus Christ will return and the world as we know it will be burned up, utterly destroyed. The only hope we have is in the One who is coming to save usÖJesus Christ.

Jesus is our Ark. For all who enter into His ark will be saved. All we have to do is believe that Jesus died on the cross to pay the price for our sins and to invite Him into our hearts to save us.

There are many "Noah's" today preaching the gospel and telling people to repent because one day Jesus is coming back. How many will be saved when destruction finally comes? Only the Lord knows when that day will be, but let's pray for a sense of urgency for those who have not yet entered into the Ark -a relationship with Christ.

Pray to be a witnessÖpray that you those closest to you are safe in God's arms.

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Daily Disciples - May 2, 2021

Today's Reading: 1 Kings 12; Luke 22:1-30

Today's Thoughts: Looking Deeper

But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." - >1 Samuel 16:7

We attended the Awards night that was held at the school my kids attend. This is a ceremony to reward the students who have had an outstanding effort or have been most improved in performance throughout the year. Awards are given in all the subjects. The ceremony ends with character awards like the Nehemiah Award for the student leaders.

To our surprise, one of the students who my family prays for on a regular basis to become a Christian received the ďmost Christ-likeĒ award. I couldnít figure out how that happened. We know that this student struggles with any belief in Jesus Christ and yet, this student was awarded the most Christ-like award. It was a reminder to me that there is a clear difference between personality traits and Holy Spirit fruits.

Somehow, as believers, we become confused with the definitions. We judge by outward appearance and personality. When leaving the ceremony, I wondered if Jesus would have been voted to receive His own award.

All I know is that I want to receive Jesusí reward in heaven. I want to hear Him say to me, ďWell done, good and faithful servant.Ē I pray that I bring Him glory and represent Him. I know that I might not receive any awards for it here on earth.

But I want to be Christ-like on earth because the Holy Spirit has empowered me to live in a manner that pleases Him alone. I want to be Godís girlÖHis teacherís petÖJesusí dearly beloved.

God promises to reward those who diligently seek Him. I can do that. And you can too.

Ask the Lord with me to pray to be His best and to be willing to be Christ-like because you want to be like Christ.

He doesnít look at outward appearances; we canít fool Him, He judges the heart.

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Daily Disciples - April 30, 2021

Today's Reading: 1 Kings 8; Luke 21:1-19

Today's Thoughts: God Gives the Increase

So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.

Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 1 Corinthians 3:7-8

As Christians, we have different gifts that produce different fruit for God's work. We can accept this in Scripture but we question why some Christians are more successful in ministry than others, such as when one's church is so much larger than another's.

We tend to look at the "successful person" and try to pattern ourselves to be like that person, instead of keeping our focus on the Lord. Paul's point emphasizes the fact that ultimately God is the reason for any of our success.

Paul is making a piercing statement that should penetrate each of us right into the depths of our heart. The focus of ministry needs to be about Godóperiod. Without God, there is no increase, no success, and no value to our work. Without God, there would be no gifts, skills, or fruits. Without God, there would be no us.

Because of God, one person is given certain talents while someone else is given the complement to those gifts, both designed by God to fulfill His purpose only (1 Corinthians 12:11). In these verses, Paul is planting while Apollos is watering, both chosen by God to perform His service.

In Matthew 15:13 Jesus says, "Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted."

Unless God is our Farmer, nothing that we plant will ever bear fruit. Most of the time, however, we forge ahead with the planting and then ask God to bless our work with good fruit. Jesus says that the Father will not allow those plants to remain; He will remove them completely.

How much time do we waste in trying to complete our plans, meet our standards, control our progress, and make our deadlines? How do you personally plant and water specific areas of your life? Is God your Farmer?

If you are feeling frustrated, fatigued, and frazzled, comparing yourself to others, then you are missing what God has for you. You must realize that He has given you the talents and skills to plant and water, but all for His purposes and to His glory.

Without Him, there will be no growth and no success.

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Daily Disciples - April 29, 2021

Today's Reading: 1 Kings 3; Luke 20:1-26

Today's Thoughts: The Good Soil

"And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit, and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty." Matthew 13:23

Gardening is definitely not a hobby for those of us who want nice looking finger nails. After planting flowers for a few hours, my appearance seemed to reflect gardening as a contact sport. I had dirt everywhere. I spent most of my time digging and scrapping and hoeing and massaging the dirt. Placing the flowers in the ground was the easy part.

I was talking to my daughter while planting. I said to her, ďJesus talks about seeds falling on good soil or dirt. What do you think it takes to recognize good dirt over bad dirt?Ē

She said, ďWell, I think good dirt is darker than bad dirt. It would be darker because it should be wetter than bad dirt.Ē Her observation was very good. The areas that we planted with moister soil did have a darker color because the sprinklers covered that area better. We also found healthier plants in the darker dirt.

I also thought about this spiritually. As we acknowledge our sinfulness, we understand the darkness of our hearts. It is then through the moistening of the Holy Spirit to wet our hearts to receive Jesus as our Savior, that we are redeemed from our sin.

That kind of soil is then ready for the Lord to plant His Words in our hearts to bring forth flowers or fruits of righteousness in His time.

The first step is the preparation of the soil. Praise God that He is willing to get His hands dirty for us! We might not like seeing how dark the dirt is but it is in understanding our sinful state that Jesus can do a beautiful work in the end. Remember, seedÖtimeÖ and harvest!

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Daily Disciples - April 27, 2021

Today's Reading: 11 Kings 1; Luke 19:28-48

Today's Thoughts: Back to Egypt?

Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, And rely on horses, Who trust in chariots because they are many, And in horsemen because they are very strong, But who do not look to the Holy One of Israel, Nor seek the Lord! Isaiah 31:1

A reference to going back to Egypt is made often in the Old Testament. The Israelites spent over 400 years in Egypt. Much of their time in Egypt consisted of hard labor and enslavement.

They cried out to God and He answered their cries.

The book of Exodus describes their departure from this life of bondage as Moses led the way.

But, as soon as they encountered trials on their journey, the people were quick to want to go back to Egypt and return to their old way of life. Why would anyone want to go back to a life that was filled with bondage and suffering? Because they at least knew what to expect and sometimes, that is more comforting than having to face the uncertain future.

Isaiah 31 says, ďWoe to those who go down to EgyptĒ and who are looking for help in places outside of the Lord. The same is true for us today. As Christians, we have Godís Holy Spirit who is our Helper and our Comforter. Trials and hard times are inevitable in our lives because we live in a fallen world that brings sorrows and pains.

Yes Though we will be tempted at times to give up and to go back to our familiar territories, we must press on towards the upward call of Christ Jesus. Do not put your trust in the strength of men or money or worldly power, but put your trust in the Lord.

Turn your eyes to Jesus and He will lead the way.

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Daily Disciples - April 26. 2021

Today's Reading: 2 Samuel 23; Luke 19:1-27

Today's Thoughts: Careful in Counsel

They continually say to those who despise Me, 'The Lord has said, "You shall have peace" '; And to everyone who walks according to the dictates of his own heart, they say, 'No evil shall come upon you.' "For who has stood in the counsel of the Lord, And has perceived and heard His word? Who has marked His word and heard it? Jeremiah 23:17-18

Jeremiah was a prophet called by the Lord to give His message to the people. Unfortunately, the message from God was not good news.

The Lord told the people of their impending destruction and captivity.

His words were severe and too hard for them to accept. In contrast to Jeremiah's prophecies, others proclaiming to be prophets told the people not to fear, that they would have peace.

UThese false prophets used the Lord's name to declare their worthless predictions, and the people chose to believe the false prophets instead of Jeremiah.

But these so-called prophets had no relationship or counsel with the Lord God Almighty. They would be held accountable before the Lord for their actions as they blatantly deceived the people.

This message applies to us today as well, especially when we speak on behalf of the Lord. We must be sure that our counsel or encouragement to others has been prayerfully taken before the Lord.

We must stand in the counsel of the Lord and hear from Him before we offer counsel or advice to anyone else.

This message is not only critical to those of us in ministry roles, but also true for any Christian who truly desires to help others. We must realize our responsibility before the Lord.

When someone is hurting while going through difficult trials, our human response is to comfort and encourage them. But we also must be in prayer for them and ask the Lord to give us His wisdom in how to help.

If we are not standing before the Lord, then our words may give false hopes or assurances that are not of the Lord. They could end up placing their hope on our words instead of God's Word.

Regardless of how little or often you counsel others, make sure you heed the words of these verses and take everything to the Lord first. Whether in ministry or other roles, our hearts as Christians will desire to help others, but we must always recognize our inadequacies. Only God knows what He is doing with people and we must walk with Him daily to know how He wants to use us to help them.

If we are not careful, just as in Jeremiah's day, we can do far greater harm by offering hope and assurances that are not of the Lord. Take everything to Him in prayer and ask Him to give you Scriptures for any counsel you may give.

Always stand on the Word of God.

And when in doubt, pray for the self-control to listen instead of speaking.

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Daily Disciples - April 25, 2021

Today's Reading: 2 Samuel 21; Luke 18:24-43

Today's Thoughts: Emotions

For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Galatians 6:8-9

To bear fruit in horrific circumstances takes the ability to separate ourselves from those circumstances. We have to learn to pull ourselves out of the situation to see it from God's perspective, instead of our own.

It takes discipline and self-control to live for the Lord despite the situations and events in our lives. Many times, I have had to say, "Ok, God is powerful and has the ability to change these circumstances if needed.

God is wise and has the ability to give me the wisdom to deal with these circumstances if needed. God is loving and knows what I need better than I do."

When I can apply these three attributes of God: powerful, wise and loving, to my circumstances,

I am able to trust God in all situations and events and thus, able to bear fruit in spite of them.

The same thing is true for our emotions. The way we feel can hinder us from doing the will of God and bearing fruit. Our emotions can clearly impact our actions. Here are some examples:

If we do not feel like cleaning the house, we will not do it even if it needs to be done.

If we do not feel like being nice today, we will not be nice even though the consequences will linger beyond the day.

If we are led by our emotions, we will do or not do what we feel like doing. But in order to bear fruit and stay in the will of God, we need to be able to separate ourselves from our feelings and do what God has called us to do in spite of our selves.

To pull ourselves out from the circumstances, we can remind ourselves of the attributes of God.

To pull ourselves out from our emotions, we need to be in the Word of God. We have to claim verses as promises to keep us focused on doing things that please Him, even if it does not please our emotions at the time.

It is in praying for self-control to maintain a steadfast life that brings Him glory. Every day and every decision counts. Choices we make today matter forever.

Keep sowing those seeds of righteousness and in time, you will reap a healthy harvest.

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yes we all have a choice, Praise the Lord for me I chose Jesus and asked Jesus to come into my heart and life, August 15,1977 is when I invited Jesus into my heart as my Savior! Thank you Jesus that once and for all You went to the Cross and poured out Your Life's Blood to wash me and cleanse my sin away, that those Stripes You bore on Your Back was for my healing. Thank you Jesus for a life that is filled with Your Love Grace Mercy and Peace, the Peace that passes all understanding....Jesus is Lord! Jesus is Lord over my life!


Daily Disciples April 24, 2021

Today's Reading: 2 Samuel 19; Luke 18:1-23

Today's Thoughts: Seasonal Changes

But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers. - Psalm 1:2-3

My aunt came from the east coast to visit. Our days were filled with theme parks, shopping malls, and numerous activities. One evening, as we were planning for the next day, she said, "Can't we see what the weather does and then decide?" That question took me by surprise.

Those of us living in Southern California tend to not factor in the weather until we actually see it raining. Why? Because there are few seasonal changes here. Even when the weather forecaster predicts rain, wind patterns change frequently and we often do not get the predicted rain or inclement weather.

Her statement, however, had greater implications. She was tired and ready to slow down and change the pace. On the east coast, weather is a natural boundary that helps adjust schedules and lifestyles. Although the sunny skies are an advantage for most daily events and plans, Southern Californians have to make a conscious effort to rest and slow down.

God knows that we need cycles of rest as much as periods of productivity. He factors into our lives spiritual seasons of sunny skies, rainy days, snowed in days and even some hurricanes, tornados and thunderstorms.

Why? Because in each of these events, God wants to show Himself faithful and build our faith to trust in Him.

Make a commitment to understand the ways of the Lord. If every day were perfect, there would be no dependency on the Lord or desire to be with God in heaven. Factor in time to spend with the Lord before your day starts.

He will prepare you for the weather changes in your spiritual life for the day.

The Lord's desire for you is to be stable and consistent, even when the seasons are not.

By considering God in your day, you will find peace and joy regardless of what the weather brings.

Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 4/24/2021 (23:21)
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4/23/21 8:37 P

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Hi Judith

Being separated from God is a choice. We have free will evident in the very beginning with Adam and Eveís choices in the Garden of Eden. God wants us to choose him. If we have been presented with the Gospel message, we have the choice to join with God and his love or reject him.

"The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible."



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Daily Disciples - April 23, 2021

Today's Reading: 2 Samuel 16; Luke 17:20-37

Today's Thoughts: Nothing Can Separate Us From His Love

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

How do you respond to sudden changes in circumstances that did not result to your advantage? Examples such as when your car suddenly breaks down, your vacation leave does not get approved, your kids get sick the day you had something planned or you lose your cell phone. I have found that there are two main reactions we can have:

God, I am so sorry. I will seek You now. What do You want from me?

God, what did I do wrong? I thought You loved me.

Both cover each end of the spectrum. If we donít walk with the Lord daily, we blame the incident on ourselves and feel guilty. If we do walk with the Lord, we feel abandoned by Him and question His character.

Jesus told us that the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike, meaning that a change in circumstances can happen to all of us. However, the problem comes when we choose to lose our perspective of who God is in the process. God wants us to love Him and enjoy His fellowship. He never stops loving us.

We can face any change in circumstance better if we include the Lord in the problem, instead of blaming Him for the problem. Next time something suddenly changes pray, ďLord, help me to stick with You through this and please cause this to work together for good.Ē

Nothing can separate us from His love so we shouldnít separate ourselves from Him.

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Daily Disciples - April 21, 2021

Today's Reading: 2 Samuel 12; Luke 16

Today's Thoughts: Faithful with Little, Given Much

"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. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? And if you have not been trustworthy with someone else's property, who will give you property of your own?Ē Luke 16:10-12

There is an ice cream man who has come to sell ice cream in my neighborhood for at least 8 years. His van is beat up with bald tires, poor paint, bumps and bruises on the exterior, well-worn and torn up seats inside, and a very loud stereo blasting the ice cream theme song. The music sings to ďDo your ears hang low? Do they travel to and fro? Can you tie them in a knot?

Can you tie them in a bow?Ē The song plays over and over, very loudly. And I can hear that song from blocks away. The ice cream man can barely speak English but has a great countenance and has smiled for 8 years, with the facial wrinkles to prove it.

My heart has broken for this man. I have told my children to go and buy ice cream to support him. It seems like a hard job for not too much in return, but his attitude is so good and he is so faithful to do his job well. Well, the other evening I went for a walk. I heard that familiar sound down the block. As I was walking by, to my surprise, the ice cream man got a brand new truck!

It was the same man, same products, same advertisements on the side and the same song but a new truck. I was so happy for him.

God spoke to my heart while walking past the truck and explained something to me. When we receive the Holy Spirit in power, God uses the same person with the same personality and same body to be empowered in a whole new way.

This man was faithful with little, so he has been given much (Luke 16:10).

We too will receive more and more opportunities to be used by God in the power of the Holy Spirit if we are faithful with the smaller tasks He has given us.

By being faithful in the little tasks, He can trust us with bigger ones.

The choices we make in every day living matter to God. Are we smiling? Are we content? Are we faithful?

Same person, same product, same advertisements but with a new power and passion that comes from a faithful heart.

God is so good. But how we choose to live the every day job is up to us.

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You are right Judith. Most of us do not pray that way. I am guilty, I pray more for others than I do for myself. But the Bible tells us that "we have not because we ask not." I need to start asking God for my blessings so that I can share them with others.

"The only way of finding the limits of the possible is by going beyond them into the impossible."



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Daily Disciples - April 20, 2021

Today's Reading: 2 Samuel 9; Luke 15:11-32

Today's Thoughts: Ask Your Father

"The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, 'Look! All these years I've been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!' " ďMy son,Ē the father said, ďyou are always with me, and everything I have is yours.Ē Luke 15:28-31

I was thinking about the difference between the prodigal son versus his brother. One of the biggest differences between the two was in their ability to ask.

The prodigal son asked for his share of the inheritance. His father graciously gave it to him. Not long after that, this younger son left his fatherís house and ďsquandered the wealth in wild livingĒ (as quoted in the NIV).

The older son kept faithfully working and obeying. When the younger son came home with a heart of repentance, the older son was angry because he felt as if he had been mistreated. But really, their father would have been just as fair. One asked and the other didnít.

Without concentrating on the poor choices that the younger son made, I have been meditating on the relationship of two boys, living under the same roof, and their dad. What gave one the ability to ask?

We see the same thing occur in Christianity today. Some of us have learned to ask our Father for more blessings and fruits, willing to take more risks. While others are obedient but angry that nothing extra or miraculous is done for them.

Which are you? Many of us do not pray this way: ďLord, I know that I donít deserve one thing for I am a sinner and Jesus has done everything for me already.

But I ask for your blessings and for more of the Holy Spirit to do bigger and greater things. Not because of any works of righteousness do I ask, but because of Your mercy.

Use me, empower me and fill me to be poured out as a blessing on others as You bless me. I want more Lord and You told me to ask.Ē

But when you learn to pray this way, miracles happen.

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Daily Disciples - April 18, 2021

Todayís Readings: 2 Samuel 3; Luke 14:25-35

Today's thoughts: Count the Cost

For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it. Luke 14:28

How many of us sit down and count the cost as we undertake a project? I tend to forge ahead using whatever means necessary to get started, but I find that most of my efforts are front-loaded.

I started organizing my office recently and as I was going through various stacks and boxes, I realized there were some projects either in the early stages or only halfway finished. Even though these ideas were based on good intentions, somewhere along the way they lost momentum, or maybe I lost the momentum. Or maybe I never really sat down and counted the cost of what it would take to finish.

In other words, I put more thought into starting the task instead of finishing it. My intentions were good but did I really consider all of the factors?

Maybe not. And as a result I have yet to finish many things I had set out to do.

Jesus is warning us through this illustration to take some steps in the beginning that will ensure the right course to the completion. For us as Christians, we need to take these words seriously.

Consistency and perseverance strengthen character and teach us how to be wise builders, whether in our homes, work, or church activities.

The next verse says that for those who do not finish, they will be mocked and scoffed at by others.

We need to realize that others are watching us and often, they are expecting our failures. The goal for us, regardless of the size and scope of the project, is to first, ďsit downĒ and ďcount the cost.Ē

Do you have an idea for a new project? Have you considered the cost? Before jumping in head first, stop and sit down.

Go to the Lord in sincere prayer asking for His guidance. Try to lay out the complete plans from start to finish and find confirmation for these plans in Godís word.

If we truly seek His will and plans for us, He will show us what to do and how to finish them. So often, we are in much more of a hurry than God is.

Be prepared to wait on Him. Finishing something we started is tremendously satisfying.

Knowing that the Lord has led our steps through the entire task brings both earthly and spiritual fulfillment, because the journey means as much as the destination.

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Daily Disciples - April 17, 2021

Today's Reading: 2 Samuel 1; Luke 14:1-24

Today's Thoughts: Wisdom Cries Out

Wisdom calls aloud outside; She raises her voice in the open squares. She cries out in the chief concourses, At the openings of the gates in the city She speaks her words: "How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, And fools hate knowledge. Turn at my rebuke; Surely I will pour out my spirit on you; I will make my words known to you. Because I have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, Because you disdained all my counsel, And would have none of my rebuke, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your terror comes, When your terror comes like a storm, And your destruction comes like a whirlwind, When distress and anguish come upon you. "Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me. Because they hated knowledge And did not choose the fear of the Lord,
They would have none of my counsel And despised my every rebuke. Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their own way, And be filled to the full with their own fancies. For the turning away of the simple will slay them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them; But whoever listens to me will dwell safely, And will be secure, without fear of evil." Proverbs 1:20-33

I awoke one morning to a phone call from my mom, who lives in Tennessee. She called to tell me that she was okay, just in case I had seen the news and worried if she had survived.

The night before, tornadoes had ripped through my family's small town and devastated a large portion of the area. I thanked God that she was okay, at least physically.

Deeper though, I wondered how much more was headed our way Ė in terms of storms.

Has anyone noticed that there seems to be a pattern of climate changes and weather related catastrophes? Are these "wake up" calls from God?

Today's verses speak about our attitude towards God's wisdom.

Are we choosing to fear the Lord, or are we turning from Him?

To fear the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10).

Today we need wisdom from above to live in this world as Christians.

We must keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus so that nothing else matters.

The tighter we cling to the world's goods, the harder it is to lose them. Storms will come in our lives; they will continue to challenge and test our hearts.

Read the verses above and pray that your heart seeks the Lord first in all that you do. Ask Him to give you wisdom.

Pray for "the fear of the Lord" to bring safety and protection in the midst of the storms. Do not stop praying.

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Daily Disciples - April 16, 2021

Today's Reading: 1 Samuel 30; Luke 13:23-35

Today's Thoughts: Godís Eternal Promise

I set My rainbow in the cloud, and it shall be for the sign of the covenant between Me and the earth. It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. - Genesis 9:13-15

I was taught as a child that the rainbow symbolized Godís promise that He would never again destroy the earth with water.

Every time it rained, I looked for the rainbow and I remembered Godís promise.

Since moving to Southern California, I have seen fewer rainbows, mainly because it seldom rains here. But as the winter brings seasonal rains, I find myself once again searching the skies for that rainbow. What a joy to see that beautiful arc of colors when the sun breaks through the clouds!

As beautiful as the rainbow is, there is still nothing as beautiful as another symbol that Christians look toward.

The symbol of a cross representing the cross of Christ.

Just as the rainbow is a sign of Godís promise to not destroy the earth with water, the cross is a sign of Godís eternal promise of salvation.

As Jesus, Son of God, died on a cross, the cross would forevermore represent Godís covenant of grace and love. The cross is a symbol reminding us that Jesus died for our sins. For those who believe in Jesus, the cross represents a covenant of everlasting life with God in heaven.

Rainbows and crosses are just two ways that God reminds us of His covenants, or promises, to us. What other ways does God remind you of His promises for your life? Be encouraged and hopeful because the Lord will never let you down, He will keep every promise.

Sit down with His word and ask Him to show you His promises for you today. You might be surprised at the reminders that He will give you. And never let a rainbow or a cross go unnoticedÖtake a moment when you see them and give God praise for keeping His promises.

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Daily Disciples - April 14

Today's Reading:†Judges 11; Luke 6:1-26

Today's Thoughts:†Learning to Wait

And he said to the elders, "Wait here for us until we come back to you. Indeed Aaron and Hur are with you. If any man has a difficulty, let him go to them."†Exodus 24:14

Moses had led the children of Israel out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, into the wilderness and now to the foot of Mount Sinai.

As everyone settled in at the base of this mountain, God called Moses to come up to the top. As Moses prepared to leave, he gave specific instructions to the elders. ďWait hereÖĒ Wait. Hang out. Stay put. Do not go anywhere. Sounds like a simple message.

But as is often the case, the people became restless and impatient. How long were they supposed to†wait? Maybe they thought Moses would head up the mountain and then come right back down, kind of a short trip. Their measure of time did not meet Godís measure of time. How often does that happen to us?† Very frequently in my experience!

We live in a world that is fast-paced, with instant messaging and real-time technology. We wait for very few things. We get impatient and anxious over the smallest time delays. Waiting in line to do anything seems futile and a waste of time.

We pray for self-control just so we are not completely rude or offensive to those around us, especially those who may be holding up our schedule. But just as in the days of Moses, there are consequences to the behavior that comes from such impatience. The children of Israel decided to build a golden calf, throw a wild party around it, and make complete fools of themselves before God.

We may not build a golden calf while waiting in traffic but many of us (if honest) must admit that we can get pretty foolish in how we handle our frustrations. Horns beeping, people yelling, gestures and faces display hostilityÖwhat has happened to us? The short answer: we have no concept of what it means to†wait.

As Christians, we serve a God who is never in a rush. The Lord is patient and steadfast. If we treat our prayers like a slot machine or a 9-1-1 call, we will most likely be disappointed. The Lord will wait. So often, He is waiting on us to come to Him, or to come back to Him. He does not respond according to the worldís pace. He wants us to follow Him, not the world.

Waiting on the Lord brings strength to our character. As His child, we should be diffusing the hostility with love. There is no better time to be a witness for Jesus than when we are being pressured to act like everybody else.

Stop today and think about this message. If you find yourself in a line at a store, in traffic or anywhere that you are told to ďwait,Ē pray for Godís strength to give you patience. Pray for the person standing before you in line or the Cashier before you get to her.

Pray that it be an opportunity to glorify Him and be His witness.

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Daily Disciples - April 13, 2021

Today's Reading: 1 Samuel 15; Luke 10:25-42

Today's Thoughts: Seek His Heart

But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 15:7

I donít blame Samuel for thinking that Jesseís first son was Godís chosen man to replace Saul as King. Saul was described as ďa choice and handsome man, from his shoulders and up he was taller than any of the people.Ē Samuel anointed Saul as King but Saulís heart turned from following God.

God was grieved that he had made Saul the King of Israel. Now Samuel was to anoint someone after Godís own heart. Like Samuel, we judge by appearances. It would be natural to think that the outward appearance mattered because of Saulís appearance.

However, God exhorts Samuel to listen to Him, instead of his own instincts.

David was anointed that day. He was the youngest son, out tending the sheep. He too was described as ďruddy with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance,Ē but God was choosing David for his heart.

To do Godís work, we have to be sensitive to His leading. If we continue to do what we think is right by our own natural inclinations, we might not be representing Godís heart.

We canít read or judge someoneís heart.

But if God has our heart, we can discern His ways.

We need to pray for the Lordís discernment.

Today, be sensitive to pray before you make any decisions.

Then, wait to hear if the Lord is ready to answer.

He will make known His will if you are willing to seek His heart.

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Daily Disciples - April 12, 2021

Today's Reading: 1 Samuel 19; Luke 11:29-54

Today's Thoughts: Godís Dwelling Place

And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them. Exodus 25:8

Does it matter to you where you live? Are you satisfied with your house or do you hope for something more, something better?

For many of us, our physical dwelling place tends to keep us longing for a something a little nicer. If we live in the same house for a long time, we probably have redecorated most of it more than once.

As humans, we get bored and want a fresh look at the things around us, especially our homes.

As physical structures, our homes deteriorate in the elements and require repairs and fix-ups over time. Regardless of the reasons, we all must deal with where we dwell. So what about where God dwells? "Where does God dwel"

The verse above tells us that God had a place made just so He could dwell with His people.

But this place was no ordinary dwelling; it was a holy place, a sanctuary where His people could enter into the presence of the Lord.

This sanctuary was built to the finest detail using the best fabrics, stones and precious metals.

As the Israelites transported this mobile dwelling place throughout their travels in the desert, they never needed to upgrade, redecorate, or fix-upÖeven after 40 years! The Presence of the Lord kept all things restored, refreshed and renewed.

But were the Israelites completely satisfied with the things given to them by God? How could these people have been anything but eternally grateful and in awe of the Lordís miraculous power in their lives? But the Bible tells us that they were stiff-necked and continually complaining. What about us? Are we satisfied with what God has given us?

Even more so, what about His promise we have that His Holy Spirit lives within us? John 1:14 says that the Word became flesh and tabernacled (dwelt) among us. Jesus came to earth to dwell with us. He left us His Holy Spirit who dwells in us today.

Paul tells us in First Corinthians 6:19 that our bodies are the ďtempleĒ of the Holy Spirit, so we are now Godís dwelling place, for those who have accepted Jesus as Savior.

We should be very thankful that the Lord does not get bored with His temples, or His dwelling places today. What if He became dissatisfied to the point of looking for something better? He is God and He has every right to want more, to want the best.

And thankfully for us, that something better is just what He has in store for us, not here but in heaven. Jesus promised that He would go to prepare a place for us (John 14:2).

The key for us: get our eyes off our earthly houses and fix them upon Jesus, our eternal home with Him.

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Daily Disciples - April 11, 2021

Today's Reading: 1 Samuel 17; Luke 11:1-28

Today's Thoughts: Pray with Persistence

And He said to them, "Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him'; and he will answer from within and say, 'Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you'?

I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs. "

"So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Luke 11:5-10

God tells us over and over in the Bible to pray. There are many reasons and advantages to praying: we develop a relationship with God, we know that God hears us, we can hear back from God, we can receive peace and we may receive what we want. God loves us and wants for us to tell Him all of our desires. The parable of Luke 11 gives us a different slant on prayer.

Jesus is telling us ďhowĒ to pray, not ďwhyĒ to pray. The key point in these verses is to be persistent in prayer and diligent to keep praying.

When my oldest child was a newborn, he would sleep all day. I would look at him and think such nice thoughts. I would have thoughts of unconditional love and dedication to commit my life to raising him.

But as soon as all the lights were out in the house, he would wake me up by crying and screaming. My thoughts were not as nice then. I was tired from labor and my body did not want to get up to address his cries in a dark, quiet house leaving my soft, warm bed. If he had not screamed, I might have slept right through his cries. But because of his persistence,

I got up and tried my hardest to meet his needs the fastest and easiest way possible. It was not always because I had a sacrificial love that I got up to meet his need, but often because of my need to get back to sleep. That is Jesusí point in Luke 11.

We all have those newborn cries and screams within us. The Lord tells us that He hears our prayers and will answer them according to His will and what is best for us. But sometimes we need to know the depths of our own desires, and we need to cry out to the Lord with an enduring persistence. Keep asking, keep seeking and keep knockingÖthe key is persistence.

When we see God answer those prayers, our faith is increased to continue praying for other things as well. Through persistence, we are rewarded.

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Daily Disciples - April 10, 2021

Today's Reading: 1 Samuel 15; Luke 10:25-42

Today's Thoughts: Seek His Heart

But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him.

The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 15:7

I donít blame Samuel for thinking that Jesseís first son was Godís chosen man to replace Saul as King. Saul was described as ďa choice and handsome man, from his shoulders and up he was taller than any of the people.Ē Samuel anointed Saul as King but Saulís heart turned from following God. God was grieved that he had made Saul the King of Israel.

Now Samuel was to anoint someone after Godís own heart.

Like Samuel, we judge by appearances. It would be natural to think that the outward appearance mattered because of Saulís appearance. However, God exhorts Samuel to listen to Him, instead of his own instincts.

David was anointed that day. He was the youngest son, out tending the sheep. He too was described as ďruddy with beautiful eyes and a handsome appearance,Ē but God was choosing David for his heart.

To do Godís work, we have to be sensitive to His leading. If we continue to do what we think is right by our own natural inclinations, we might not be representing Godís heart.

We canít read or judge someoneís heart. But if God has our heart, we can discern His ways. We need to pray for the Lordís discernment.

Today, be sensitive to pray before you make any decisions. Then, wait to hear if the Lord is ready to answer. He will make known His will if you are willing to seek His heart.

Edited by: JUDITH316 at: 4/11/2021 (00:19)
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Great verse to remember! Thank you for the devotional!

Today is the best day to begin making changes for yourself and others both inside and out!

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Daily Disciples - April 9, 2021

Today's Reading: 1 Samuel 13; Luke 10:1-24

Today's Thoughts: Submit & Resist

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. James 4:7

On numerous occasions, we have received comments from women who have issues with the word ďsubmit,Ē specifically as to how wives are supposed to submit to their husbands.

I remember someone in my small group who literally walked out during a discussion on the biblical teachings of wives submitting to their husbands. Since she made more money, did more work and handled practically all of the family responsibilities, how dare someone tell her to submit to anybody, especially her less-than-equal husband? Who is she really taking a stand against Ė her husband or the Lord? Our first act of submission is to the Lord.

Todayís verse does not address the issue of wives submitting to their husbands but it does address two other areas in which we all need to obey. The word ďsubmitĒ actually means to come under an authority and to obey that authority. For all of us the first Authority is the Lord.

When we submit to Him, we are giving Him full authority over our lives. The devil wants to harass us and attack us from all sides. By submitting to God, we are able to resist the devil. We do not realize that by refusing to submit, we are actually empowering more of the devilís attacks against us. We hinder the power of the Lord to work through us fighting off the attacks.

If you have areas of your life in which you struggle against submission, take them to prayer and ask the Lord for wisdom to help you understand. Do not let the devil deceive you into thinking that submission equals weakness. He knows that it really equals a power that can cause defeat for him and victory for the Lord!

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Daily Disciples - April 8, 2021

Today's Reading: 1 Samuel 10; Luke 9:37-62

Today's Thoughts: Donít Look Back

But Jesus said to him, "No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." Luke 9:62

I have come across this verse four times in a week so I am getting the feeling that the Lord wants my attention.

There are so many things that compete for our attention. The home, the kids, work, our health, keeping the car tuned up, relationships and of course, the things that entertain us. If we continue to just try to stay afloat without thinking or praying, we find ourselves surviving instead of thriving.

It is so easy to not get rid of bad habits because we at least know what to expect and what to do. When God starts helping us to focus on something better and healthier, we are at a loss for awhile on how to live with the change. Thatís why it is so much easier to look back.

The Israelites really struggled with this when leaving Egypt. They struggled with looking back so much that they never made it forward. All they could think about was the comparison between the luxuries in Egypt with the barrenness of the desert.

Even though God completely provided miracles for them and freed them from the cruelty of slavery, they could not stop thinking of the comforts of their bad lifestyle over the freedom of their new lifestyle. And they never learned to work it out with the Lord. They just complained about it. As much as we hate to admit it, we struggle with the same things at times.

If we really think about it, life was not better before we became a Christian. The difference is that we didnít have anyone to blame our issues on then, but now we can blame them on God.

How silly but how true! Life is so much better knowing the Lord. We have the power of prayer, the indwelling Holy Spirit, the promises of hope for an everlasting life.

We have fellowship with Him, and we should have a great attitude. But we need to learn how to put the Lord first in everything and have Him lead us, instead of figuring out our own needs and asking the Lord to meet them.

By giving our lives to Jesus, we should never look back. There is nothing back there worth living for any way.

If you are struggling with bringing the past into the future, ask the Lord to help you become more fit for the kingdom of God. Confess that sin and ask the Lord to help you open your heart to receive all He has for you.

Then move forward in His Name!

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Thank You, Lord, for Your loving kindness and mercy!

Today is the best day to begin making changes for yourself and others both inside and out!

http://francescopelandlucas.com/


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Daily Disciples - April 7, 2021

Today's Reading:

1 Samuel 7
Luke 9:18-36

Today's Thoughts: Everlasting Mercy

And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand. John 10:28-29

During my sophomore year of college, I took a class on religious literature. We studied a variety of poetry, sermons and even the Psalms. One piece of literature I remember most was written by Jonathan Edwards called "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God."

The professor told us that Edwards did not preach this sermon from memory but held his hand-written notes inches away from his glasses, straining to see the words in a dimly lit church.

KThe intensity of the message moved the listeners so much that they crawled up the center aisle with hearts of repentance and remorse, longing to be saved. Jonathan Edwards is still known and quoted for the message he delivered that day.

I have seen a lot of play on words with Edwards' title like, "Sinners in the hands of a loving God." But the remix is not nearly as powerful or life changing as the original. We are all sinners held in God's hands.

This God we serve is known as a consuming fire, all powerful and holy. If not for His mercy, we would all be consumed. If we understood who we really are, we could not get out of bed in the morning.

God's mercy allows us to handle our own thoughts. We try to justify ourselves as we compare the extent of our sins with others. But the Book of Romans says that only Jesus can justify us.

It is Jesus' justification that covers our sins, forgives our sins and blesses us despite our ability and extent to commit sin. Many Christians are walking around thinking that they have crucified their flesh, and that they are living a Spirit-filled life.

They feel good about themselves because they do not think they are committing any of the top sins (murder, adultery, stealing). But they have no power; they just have their own rationalizations.

God knows better because God sees the heart. If we really understood our sinfulness, we would be flat on our faces every day begging for forgiveness, understanding that God has every right to be angry.

We serve an awesome God. Praise God that He desires for us to live in hope and not in condemnation. His mercy surrounds us and His love blankets us. God wants to give us life in abundance. He does not desire for any to be destroyed.

God desires to hold us up, not to push us down. If you are having thoughts that bring you away from God, that is condemnation. If you are having thoughts that are leading you towards the Lordóto be forgiven and restoredóthat is conviction.

God wants to show you His loving kindness and mercy. Turn to Jesus to be saved from your sins. Being in His hands is the safest place of all.

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Daily Disciples - April 6, 2021

Today's Reading: 1 Samuel 4:1-6; Luke 9:1-17

Today's Thoughts: Are You Hiding by the Baggage?

Therefore they inquired further of the Lord, "Has the man come here yet?" So the Lord said, "Behold, he is hiding himself by the baggage." 1 Samuel 10:22

One day, Saul went out to search for his lost donkeys. The next day, Saul was anointed to be the first king of Israel. Saul found something for which he wasnít searching. Even though he was anointed by Samuel, Saul hid himself by the baggage when it came time to reveal his anointing as Israelís first King.

The Scriptures tell us that he was empowered by the Holy Spirit and changed internally. But on the outside, not much changed. He went back home and plowed the fields until one more day. At that point, Saul was ready to accept his calling and outwardly became what God had already changed in him inwardly.

The same thing happens to us. Many times God calls us to do something that we werenít searching for either. We know that the prayers that we are praying seem impossible. We know that something is changing on the inside of our hearts, but to break free and become that person on the outside is beyond our doing. We then struggle between the God-given prayers on our hearts and the person we are in the flesh. How can the two become one?

And when? The answer is time or should I say, ďin His time.Ē Regardless of what the Lord has put on your heart, you canít receive all He has for you until you have the character to keep you there.

In the passing of time, the Lord is molding you through different circumstances, conflicts and experiences as training for the real deal. Take every encounter you go through seriously. Praise Him through the difficulties and maintain self control when He pushes you to your limit.

He will exalt you in due time. As the Scriptures say in Galatians 6:9, ďAnd let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.Ē

DailyDisciples Ministries.org

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