Receive Power and Grace

“At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.’ ” – Mark 1:9-11 The Gospel of Mark is fascinating, and in its earliest form, it can be referred to as the Gospel of Peter. According to most scholars, Peter and Mark wrote it together. The Gospels had been told, memorized and shared, but eventually, they wrote it down so people could remember what happened. In my imagination, I see these two deciding where to begin. It was the exciting memory of Jesus being baptized by John the Baptist that came to them! John was a peculiar man who

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“Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.” – Proverbs 3:3,4 Yesterday, I shared some heavenly treasures we can add to our lives. Today, I have one more that I think should be at the top of the list: Goodwill! I prefer the word goodwill, but the Bible also recognizes it as favor. Goodwill in business and organizations references the value they add regarding customer service, patronage, or reputation. Another example is when people think of you, they think of someone they would trust with their children or someone who they would trust to invest their money. This goodwill is found in the New Testament parable of the bags of gold, where the servant was entrusted with his master’s wealth and was

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Your Best is Yet to Come

“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” – 2 Corinthians 3:18 When you are in a relationship and fellowship with Jesus, your best is yet to come. When I say this, many of you will assume that I’m talking about Heaven, and while that is part of it, I also mean that God is ready, willing, and able to do a miracle in your life right now while you are still alive on this earth!  God is an eleventh-hour God and tends to frustrate us with His timing. I don’t know if it’s His sense of humor or His Sovereignty, but I’ve seen over and over again what Tolkien called the eucatastrophe or the good catastrophe. The Lord’s timing is rarely our timing, but He always shows up

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A God-Given Dream

“Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, ‘Listen to this dream I had:’ ” – Genesis 37:5-6 Today, as we continue talking about dreams and dreamers in the Bible, we can’t leave out Joseph! Joseph was the first son of the Patriarch Jacob and Rachel. He had eleven other half brothers, yet he was the favored son. This was evidenced by an ornate coat given to him by his father — a symbol of favor and blessing. In addition to the coat of blessing, Joseph has many qualities to be envied. The Bible tells us he was a handsome guy, but he was also really friendly and loving. But what finally pushes this family over the edge is when God gives Joseph a dream. He shared the dream: “We were binding sheaves of grain out

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Grace and Truth

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14 Do you like things that are salty and sweet? I sure do. There’s something about kettle corn, salted caramel, and french fries with milkshakes that creates the perfect balance of flavors. Interestingly, I believe this is how grace and truth function in the life of a believer. The Bible says that Christ — the Living Word — came to earth full of these important, and seemingly opposite, characteristics. You see, whereas grace is unmerited favor, or getting what we don’t deserve, truth calls out reality and reminds us of what we do deserve. So how do these two coexist and complement each other? The answer is simple, and it’s found in the salvation we

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The Anointing of Power

“Take the anointing oil and anoint him by pouring it on his head.” – Exodus 29:7 In Christianity, we talk a lot about our anointing in Christ, but few of us actually understand where the term originates. Turns out that the practice of anointing actually began with sheep. Since they were prone to the infestation of bugs in their ears, someone figured out that slathering their heads with olive oil kept insects away. Then, later on, someone else wondered if it might work for humans also. Since there was no running water in ancient times, baths were not a common thing, and people tended to smell pretty bad. Even worse, because they traveled long distances and got really dirty, they also attracted bugs. Therefore, anointing their heads was a way to lessen body odor and shield themselves from creepy crawlers. Later, it became a religious ritual that was employed in

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The Determination of Joseph

“Then Joseph said to his brothers, ‘Come close to me.’ When they had done so, he said, ‘I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.’” – Genesis 45:4,5 Yesterday, we looked at the Apostle Paul and how he managed to remain stubborn in his call but tender toward people. Today, I want to examine the life of another Biblical example of Godly grit, and that’s Joseph. One of Jacob’s twelve sons — and his father’s favorite — he started his life as a rather cocky young man. He was daddy’s boy, and he unashamedly flaunted it in front of his siblings, so they became increasingly jealous and conspired to sell him as a slave. After making a

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Blessing by Association

“But Laban said to him, ‘If I have found favor in your eyes, please stay. I have learned by divination that the Lord has blessed me because of you.’ He added, ‘Name your wages, and I will pay them.’” – Genesis 30:27 Yesterday, we talked about the favor of God, and for the next couple of days, I want to share with you my favorite Biblical example of it. If you’ve been listening to me or reading these devotions for any length of time, you know that I love Jacob. Though he was somewhat rogue, this man of God was bold and persistent in his faith, and he was blessed because of it. In fact, he had a reputation for being divinely favored, and no one was more aware of this than his father-in-law Laban. You may recall that Laban was a trickster, and after he promised to give Jacob

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Jesus Wants to Bless You!

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” – Psalm 27:13 If there’s any truth I want you to internalize this year, it’s that God wants to bless you! Many of us who were raised in church, especially in legalistic environments, wrongly believe that our Lord is a killjoy and that we should expect nothing more from Him than our salvation. That said, we approach Him with fear and an underlying conviction that He will bring calamity upon us if we don’t “measure up” to His standards. Thankfully, this is not the truth! In fact, David wrote in the Psalms that although we endure difficulties and hardships, we can be confident that we will see His goodness manifest in our lives on this earth. Though our outcomes may not always be what we want them to be, because the

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