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Friday, June 24, 2016

Contagious Joy (and other devotionals)

Contagious Joy

Jesus calls us to be His “witnesses.” When some Christians hear this word, they worry that they need exceptional skill or charisma in order to share the good news with others. Yet to witness is not to merely speak of the “plan of salvation” to someone. The word literally means to see, hear, or know by personal presence and perception; to testify; bear witness to; give or afford evidence of. When John wrote that he was sharing what he had experienced first-hand, he was saying, “I am full of joy because of the experience of knowing Jesus, and I want to invite you to share in that joy!”
When you’re in love with someone, you are excited about the relationship and time spent together. Likewise, when you’re in love with Jesus, you can’t keep to yourself the joy that comes from knowing Him—it just spills over, bearing witness and strengthening other believers. In fact, as you give testimony of who God is and how He’s working in your life, it makes no difference whether you speak quietly or with great exuberance: in their spirit, Christians will pick up on the deep, genuine gladness in your heart that goes beyond natural happiness. And people who don’t yet know the Lord will find themselves hungering for the relationship you have. In that way, they will be drawn to His Spirit in you.
Witnessing is not a matter of eloquence or talent. It’s an overflow of the personal relationship with Jesus Christ that is conforming you to His image. As you allow the Holy Spirit to increasingly express His life and power through you, contagious joy will be “fruit” of His indwelling presence.

~Dr. Charles F. Stanley~

Today's ReadingJoel 1Revelation 5

Today's Thoughts: No such thing as wasted years

"So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten…” - Joel 2:25

The book of Joel was written by the prophet of whom we know the least. His book is only three chapters in length but is packed with sincere pleas for repentance for the nation of Israel. Joel knew the Lord’s Day was coming but he also knew and spoke of God’s endless mercy and grace. One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Joel 2:25. For me, this verse represents great hope and encouragement for the future. Not only is our God a God of second chances, but also He is a God who restores our past. I have witnessed this restoration first hand in my own life.
I was raised in church, accepted Jesus as my Savior and was baptized, all before the age of 10. I can honestly say I have known the Lord most of my life, but I have not always chosen to walk with Him. There is a big difference in knowingHim versus living for Him. There is also a big difference in knowing aboutHim versus knowing Him personally. I spent many years as an adult choosing to live my life my way. I still read the Bible, went to church and prayed…prayed a lot for the things I wanted. But my life was my own. Then one day, something changed in my heart. My eyes were opened in a very different way. I realized who was really on the throne of my life and it was not Jesus. I began to see how empty my life had become and that I wanted more. More meant more of Him. It was time to live for Jesus. It was time to change my course. But what about those wasted years? I had such sadness realizing the time I had wasted. If only I had done things differently.
Then one day, I come across this verse in Joel. And the Lord Himself said to me that He would restore all of those years that the locust had eaten. He has a plan for my life and His plans and callings are irrevocable. Not only is God with me as I go forward but also He has never left me. I look back and see God’s tremendous grace. And I have seen God do immeasurably more than I could ever ask or imagine in just a few short years.  Do you have regrets about wasted years? Know today that God will restore them all. If you have been away from Him, come back today. Repent and ask the Lord to sit on the throne of your life and carry out His plans and callings for you. Let this verse give you hope and encouragement to begin a new day.

~Daily Disciples Devotional~

Make his praise glorious.
This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise. - I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me. And it shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and an honour before all the nations of the earth. - By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify thy name for evermore. For great is thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell. - Who is like unto thee, O LORD, ... glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? - I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving. - They sing the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty.

PSA. 66:2. Isa. 43:21. Jer. 33:8,9. Heb. 13:15. Psa. 86:12,13. Exo. 15:11. Psa. 69:30. Rev. 15:3.

By nature the children of wrath, even as others.
We ourselves also were sometime foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. - Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

Job answered the LORD, and said, Behold, I am vile: what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. - The LORD said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth, a perfect and an upright man, one that feareth God, and escheweth evil?

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. - David ... to whom also he gave testimony, and said, I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfill all my will.

I obtained mercy, ... who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious.

That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

EPH. 2:3. Tit. 3:3. John 3:7. Job 40:3,4. Job 1:8. Psa. 51:5. Acts 13:22. I Tim. 1:13. John 3:6.

~Samuel Bagster~

Do You Really Believe It?

Ephesians 2:4-7 says,
But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,  even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
There was a time in my wife's life when nothing was going right.  It was before we were married while she was attending Bible school.  Things were so bad that she was ready to drop out, and she wondered where God was in her life.
It was then that she attended a seminar where a woman was teaching on this passage.  As my wife read this, and heard it taught, she saw that God loved her in an amazing way.  That He loves everybody so much He sent Jesus Christ, so that He could make us a showpiece of His great love. 
She realized He wanted to make her life beautiful and full.  He wanted to make it good.  He wanted to do things in her life so that she would be a showpiece for Him, and other people would look and say, "What is it about you?" and she could tell them that God made the difference in her life.  Since that truth dawned on Janet's heart, she has never been the same.
1 John 4:16 says,
And we have known and believed the love that God has for us.
Do you really believe that God loves you and has good things in store for you?  You have heard about God's love, but do you really know it?  Are you really believing the love that God has for you?
Well He does love you, and when you believe it, you will never be the same!

~Bayless Conley~

Hear what the unjust judge saith - Luke 18:6
The force of this parable lies in its succession of vivid contrasts, which rise to an irresistible climax. The judge is unjust. - He neither fears God nor regards man. His one idea is to extort as much money as he can from the prisoners who desire to get out of jail, and from those that want to keep them in, or put others to share their fate. But God is our Father, unimpeachable in His integrity, and only eager to promote our welfare.
The judge had no personal interest in the claimant. - She had no personal attraction for him. Had she been possessed of property, he might have cared more. But now he looked on her as a pest that plagued and worried him. But we are God's elect, over whom His tender heart yearns. Did He not choose us before all the worlds unto His glory?
The judge answered the widow's cry just to save himself trouble. - Whenever he went to his seat, there she was. Though he had refused to hear her a score of times, there was her voice again, as clear and penetrating as ever. She had been forcibly hurried from his presence by his officials, and she had been borne screaming and remonstrating into the rear; but she never knew herself defeated. At last he could bear it no longer, and gave orders that her patrimony should be restored.
And will not God do as much, as, generation after generation, He sees His Church, like a widowed soul, oppressed by the great enemy and avenger? As He hears the cries of martyrs and saints; the perpetual prayer, Come, Lord Jesus; the insolent boast of the foe - will He not arise and avenge? Yes, verily, speedily! But it may seem long to us, because one thousand years with Him are as one day.

~F. B. Meyer~

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