Devotions

Transformed To Be Like Christ

“I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.” – Acts 26:17,18 I wish all fathers or those who fulfill the role of a father a happy Father’s Day. You are honored, celebrated, and appreciated on this day! Life in general has one hard truth: transformation is not easy. If you want to become like something, or you desire to become like someone, then there is a type of suffering price that must be paid to acquire those characteristics. There is a cost for your body, soul, and mind when taking part in transformation. Consequently, the Apostle Paul said that he wanted

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A Heart Completely Transformed

“Then I asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,’ the Lord replied. ‘Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me.’ ” – Acts 26:15,16 Yesterday, I shared with you how the disciple Paul, who later became an apostle, expressed his desire to know Christ and to become like Christ. It is Paul who is credited with writing much of the New Testament, which we read and study in all of our churches today. Paul was a driven disciple, and this is something that I think is very interesting. This man who was once a Pharisee was turned around, and was able to have his heart completely transformed after he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus. Despite having the law

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Choose To Follow God

“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” – Philippians 3:10,11 There are many things in life for you to decide on, but the most important decision you will have to make in your life is whether or not you choose to follow God. This issue is particularly important to me, and I take it very seriously. During the writing of Chapter 3 of Philippians, Paul is in prison Despite this challenging circumstance, Paul said, “I want to know Christ.” In my opinion, it is of utmost importance for us all to want to know Christ more and more each and every day. It is also important to note that Paul also stressed in Philippians 3:13,14 that becoming like Christ is a process that takes

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Build God’s House First

“Therefore this is what the Lord says: ‘I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuilt. And the measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem,’ declares the Lord Almighty.” Zechariah 1:16” – Zechariah 1:16 Once the Israelites left Babylon and arrived back in Jerusalem, they discovered a bit of a mess. After seventy years away, they hardly knew where to begin when it came to rebuilding. Thankfully, the Lord spoke vividly through a young prophet named Zechariah, and he received a vision from the Holy Spirit whose message was clear — “Return to me and I will return to you.”  Though His people had once turned their back on God and endured years of suffering as a result, their Heavenly Father was now offering them a second chance. While there was much work to be done in the long-forsaken city, the Lord made it

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When Freedom Feels Foreign

“The Lord was very angry with your ancestors. Therefore tell the people: This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty.” – Zechariah 1:2,3 After being away from their homeland for seventy years, King Darius of the great Persian Median Empire came in and set the Lord’s people free. It’s hard to imagine how shocked they were upon being told that they could go home, especially since their circumstances literally shifted overnight. Because they had fully settled in a foreign land — many of them even being born there — to suddenly have total liberty was a huge change.  Yet in spite of having become comfortable in captivity, they seized their chance at freedom and embarked on a return journey to their native land. However, when they arrived, they beheld only a shadow of what

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Care for Your Soul

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” – John 15:4 Something I’ve noticed about people, and Christians in particular, is that we have a hard time practicing self-care. Yet especially as believers, we have every reason to love ourselves and to treat our bodies, minds, and hearts with the same affection that the Lord does. To expound further upon the image we introduced yesterday of being the apple of His eye, I want to encourage you to bear good fruit in your life by staying connected to the Vine.  In other words, slow down, abide in His love, learn from His example, and grow strong and healthy so you can nourish others. As you do this, He will empower you to establish rhythms of rest

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The Apple of God’s Eye

“Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings.” – Psalm 17:8 Of all the terms of endearment found throughout the pages of Scripture, I don’t think there’s any more beautiful than God calling us the apple of His eye. Though you may have heard this phrase before, to glean its full impact, it’s important to understand what it means in a literal sense. You see, the “apple” refers to the part of the human eyeball in which, if you look closely, you can see yourself reflected.  In spiritual terms, it denotes that the Lord is looking at us so intently and with so much love and compassion that we are almost dancing in His eyes. As we move closer to Him, we see an image of ourselves mirrored there, but it’s only a tiny one. In other words, part of what it

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The Power of Looking Ahead

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” – Hebrews 11:1 A couple Christmases ago, everyone in my family drew the name of one person for whom they would buy a gift. Luckily for me, I drew my mom’s name. Since she is one of the most selfless people I know, I thought long and hard about something special I could give her. As I pondered, I remembered a story she told me about being a young twenty-something on a trip to Italy. As she was enjoying a meal in a sidewalk cafe in Rome, a young blind man got up and began to sing. She was blown away by his voice and never forgot his moving performance.  While she wondered if she would ever see him again, years later, he rose to stardom and became a household name. If you

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The Valley Before the Victory

“BIn all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” – 1 Peter 1:6-7 As soon as God promises great blessings, circumstances often grow harder. For instance, Abraham was 75 years old when he received the word that he would be a father, but he didn’t see its fulfillment until he was 100. Then there’s Joseph. The Lord gave him a great vision of his future, and he was immediately sold into slavery, where his life unraveled further.  Even the ones whom Jesus healed, though we look at them and see that they were instantly made well, had been praying, believing, and seeking

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Monuments to God’s Faithfulness

“When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, ‘Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.’ He was afraid and said, ‘How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.’ Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz.” – Genesis 28:16-19 Even though Jacob had tricked his way into receiving the birthright and his father’s blessing, he realized that his Heavenly Father would not withhold good things from his future because of it. Since the joy that washed over him in that place was great, he resolved to memorialize it, so he took the stone he’d used as a pillow

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