Nothing Can Separate Us From His Love (July 24)

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From Open Up Your Heart by Jeff Syverson

July 24
Nothing Can Separate Us From His Love!

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 78:17-31 | 2 Chronicles 11:1 – 13:22 | Romans 8:22-39 | Proverbs 19:27-29

Today’s Scripture Focus: Romans 8:22-39

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? [37] No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. [38] For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, [39] neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:35-39 NIV).

Nothing can separate you from Christ’s love! Nothing! Absolutely nothing. Despite the things you do, he still loves you. Sometimes people don’t treat us with love, but He always loves us.

Sometimes in the circumstances of our lives we wonder if he has forgotten us—if he has stopped loving us. Paul makes it clear: “nothing can separate us from the love of Christ!” This is the foundational truth that ties all these wonderful promises together.

Because God loves me, I can endure the present sufferings knowing, that they “are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” And that brings the hope to wait eagerly “for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently” (23-25). It may be tough now, but God loves me and the best is yet to come! I will be rewarded for my patient endurance in suffering. There will come a day when I realize that it has been worth it all.

Because God loves me I have confidence of knowing that “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” Romans 8:28 (KJV). He is good, and he will not allow a circumstance in the life of one of his children without somehow using it for good.

Because God loves me and demonstrated that love in the most sacrificial way possible, I can trust him for all the things I need: “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:31-32, NIV). Did you catch the logic of that verse? If God loves you so much to send his son to die for you, can’t he be trusted to graciously give you everything you need? Will he not graciously give us all things? What a promise!

Because God loves us, we are “more than conquerors” through Him who loves us (37). Whatever you may be facing today, remember that God loves you. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are both interceding for you and the Father is working things out for good even through this situation. Patiently wait in hope and see how he brings you through by “graciously giving you all things” and enabling you to become “more than a conqueror through Him who loves you.”

Open your heart to his love today. Let him pour it out into your heart. It’s just what you need to face the storms of life and come out the other side more than a conqueror reflecting more and more of the glory of Christ who lives in us.

Gracious Father, I abide in your love. Pour out your love into my heart. Help me to know the height, depth, width and breadth of your love—this love that surpasses my ability to comprehend. May your love in my heart overflow. Whatever happens this day, keep me focused on the truth that nothing can separate me from your love. Amen.

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Revival: Do We Really Want It? (July 23)

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July 23
Revival: Do we really want it? (Is the price too high?)

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 78:1-16 | 2 Chronicles 7:11 – 10:19 | Romans 8: 9-21 | Proverbs 19:26

Today’s Scripture Focus: 2 Chronicles 7:11 – 10:19

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 will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV).

When they get together to pray, it is very common to hear Christians praying for revival. They wax eloquent about how “this world” needs revival and about how bad things are today in “the last days.” In the abstract, everyone seems to want revival. Who wouldn’t want the church to be growing, exciting and alive? Who doesn’t want to see lives transformed by powerful encounters with the manifest presence of God? But when you get specific, few seem willing to pay the price. Revival would be wonderful, but it is costly.

The reason we don’t have revival has little to do with the world (though they would benefit by it, of course). It has everything to do with you and me in the church. Judgment begins in the house of God (1 Pet. 4:17). Revival waits for the church, and more importantly, you and me to pay the price. What is the price?

“If my people will humble themselves” (7:14). Revival will not come to religious pretenders. It begins when we lay aside our self-righteous games and get real and authentic before God and each other. Confession of sin is a hallmark of revival. When we get so fed up by our lukewarm lives, that we only want to get right with God, we have set the stage for revival. True humility means that we stop pretending and start confessing our true condition. “You say I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor blind and naked.” The needed confession and repentance requires great humility.

“Pray and seek my face”(14). Most Christians struggle to spend a few minutes in prayer. Because their personal prayer lives are shallow, they stay away from prayer gatherings. They haven’t really learned even the basics of prayer. They don’t know the joy that is found in the presence of the Lord when we take the time to open our hearts to him in prayer, real prayer. Prayer that seeks God’s face requires quality and quantity.

“And turn from the wicked ways”(14). Repentance is necessary. Studies show that Christians are not all that much different than the world around us in beliefs, attitudes and behaviors. Before revival can come to this world (that does desperately need it) and before it can come to the church (which needs it just as bad), it must come in you and me.

It will cost you something: humility, repentance and much prayer and seeking his face. But the joy of revival will be worth it. Let’s pay the price for admission to see the glory of God fill “the temple” again.

“Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?”

Father, give me a holy hunger and thirst for revival in my own heart. Fill me with desire and strengthen my intention to pray and seek your face. Search my heart, and lay bare my heart before you that I might humble myself and confess my sins. Light a fire in my heart that will spark revival in those around me, and let it spread to the glory of God. Amen.

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No Condemnation (July 22)

Nocondemnation

From Open Up Your Heart by Jeff Syverson

July 22
No Condemnation

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 77:16-20 | 2 Chronicles 6:12 – 7:10 | Romans 7:14 – 8:8 | Proverbs 19:24-25

Today’s Scripture Focus: Romans 7:14 – 8:8

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:1-2 ESV).

“No Condemnation” (8:1), Yet many of us carry around a load of shame, guilt and condemnation. The good news is this: There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. God is the Father of compassion who gladly runs out to meet all of his prodigals. He runs to us, embraces us, kisses us, brings the best robe and rings for our fingers and declares that “it’s time to party” for the prodigal has come home.

Our heavenly Father loves us deeply and does not condemn us. But we do not always live as if that is true. Many times others treat us as if that is not true. Their words shame us and condemn us. How unlike Jesus who said, “Neither do I condemn you, Go and sin no more.”

God has chosen each of us full well knowing our past, our present and our future. He knows all about us: our ups and downs, our victories, our low points, our times of devotion and our times of rebellion. The amazing truth of scripture is that “while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” He sees our desperate condition and loves us enough to send his Son to die for us to clean us up and give us a new and better life. It is amazing, but in his grace he knows all about us and chooses us anyway. Truly, there is no condemnation for those who are his children.

Are you living in the freedom of knowing that there is “no condemnation?” Spend time in his presence and find the life and peace that come from that truth sinking deeply into your heart. This is a truth that can set you free.

Heavenly Father, thank you for the freedom of living without condemnation. Thank you for the joy and peace that it brings to live without shame. When others try to condemn or shame us, remind us of your love and acceptance. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Hide and Seek (July 21)

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July 21
Hide and Seek

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalms 77:1-15 | 2 Chronicles 4:1 – 6:11 | Romans 7:1-13 | Proverbs 19:22-23

Today’s Scripture Focus: Psalm 77

“I cried out to God for help; I cried out to God to hear me. When I was in distress, I sought the Lord; at night I stretched out tiring hands and my soul refused to be comforted. I remember you, O God, and I groaned; I mused and my spirit grew faint” (Psalm 77:1, 2 NIV).

Hide and seek. We all loved to play it as children. We would play it for hours on end, day after day. We especially liked to play it with Dad. He was so much better at hiding than we were. He made it a challenge. As children, we found delight in the seeking process and we were positively ecstatic with joy when we finally found him. Sometimes God plays hide and seek.

The Psalmist, like many of us, has forgotten the joy of “hide and seek.” He’s forgotten the child-like giggles and laughter when we ran through the house looking under everything, opening every door, checking every closet, every nook and cranny (even small kitchen appliances where I guarantee dad would never fit). He’s forgotten the delight of seeking the one who loves us enough to make it a challenge. So have most of us. It was a fun game for kids, but we are ready to move on.

We groan, we can’t sleep and even singing songs in the night doesn’t seem to help (3-6). We are filled with questions and the answers seem as elusive as the presence of God (7-9). We feel abandoned. But God still delights in our seeking. “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13). His ways are beyond our ways and we may not understand all that God is doing in the times when he seems to be hiding. But know that the seeking process is not without purpose and rightly understood may even become a source of delight. Yet his ultimate goal in all of this “hide and seek,” is the mutual joy we have when the seeking process finally leads to “finding.”

We all have times when we wonder if God is hiding. We have times when we don’t feel the sense of his presence. But know that he is there, hoping that you will remember the childhood delight of seeking him diligently—hoping that you will not give up the search before the laughter and joy of “finding.”

This is not to criticize the Psalmist, he is groping in the dark for light and he is making some good choices: he opens his heart to God in honesty and pours out his concerns, he remembers the ways God has been faithful, he tries to make sense of things in light of what he knows about God. He remembers that God was there when they came up against the Red Sea, delivering them from their troubles though “his footprints were not seen” (19). God seemed to be hiding then too, but he hadn’t forgotten them.

Is God playing “hide and seek” with you? Then perhaps this is a time to become child-like again; a time to enjoy the seeking again–to rediscover the joy of hide and seek.

Heavenly Father, when I don’t sense your nearness help me to remember the joy of “hide and seek.” Help me to trust you in the dark and to be filled with anticipation for the moment when once again I am found. As I seek, fill my eyes with faith and perseverance in the joy of rediscovery of your goodness and love. In Jesus name, Amen.

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A Heart of Wisdom (July 20)

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July 20
A Heart of Wisdom

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalms 76:10-12 | 2 Chronicles 1:1-3:17 | Romans 6:1-23 | Proverbs 19:20-21

Today’s Scripture Focus: 2 Chronicles 1:1 – 3:17

“Give me wisdom and knowledge to rule them properly for who is able to govern this great nation of yours?” (2 Chronicles 1:10 NLT).

If you were given an opportunity to receive one thing from God, what would you ask for? A computer glitch where the billions from Bill Gates’ bank account get transferred into yours? Perhaps you’d prefer to ask for the opportunity to have Willard Scott tell you how beautiful you are on your 100th birthday. Or would you prefer the honor of being the president of the United States of America (with all the office’s power, prestige, honor and headaches)? Solomon faced such a choice. What did he choose?

He bypassed all the selfish possibilities, and asked for the thing he most needed: wisdom. God was so pleased by his choice, that he gave him wealth, long life and honor too. All he asked for and so much more! Solomon made the choice we all need to make, he asked for wisdom. It’s a choice we need to make daily. Life is filled with confusing choices and too many options. It takes an hour just to get down the cereal aisle these days with all the options—and that is one of life’s easier decisions. What about all the moral dilemmas? What about the tough calls? What about the decisions that will impact my life and my family forever?

God is always pleased when we ask for wisdom. His word makes it clear that it is ours for the asking. He delights in giving it to us, whenever we need it.

If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him (James 1:5. NIV).

God invites you to ask. He gives wisdom generously. He never faults us for coming back again for more of it. He never grows tired of our daily requests for more of his wisdom. He is all-wise and there is nothing that causes him confusion.

Take the time today to open your heart to Jesus. Tell him all your troubles, your concerns and problems. Ask him your questions. Then listen for his wisdom. Through his word and by the still, small voice of his Spirit, he has some wisdom for you today.

Heavenly Father, I stand in need of your wisdom today. Guide me into your truth and direct my steps. Give insight and discernment in the application of wisdom to my life. In Jesus name, Amen.

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Be Strong and Courageous (July 19)

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July 19
Be Strong and Courageous

Today’s Scripture Readings: Psalm 76: 1-9 | 1 Chronicles 28:1 – 29:30 | Romans 5:6-21 | Proverbs 19:18-19

Today’s Scripture Focus: 1 Chronicles 28:1 – 29:30

“Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged by the size of the task, for the LORD God, my God is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you” (1 Chronicles 28:20 NLT).

It’s a debilitating disease. A disease of the heart—a heart attack indeed. It eats away at the heart and causes it to wither. In its final stages it combines with hopelessness and fear to completely debilitate the victim. It makes them unable to accomplish any task. They are tempted to give up. It is contagious—highly contagious. What is this terrible disease? Discouragement.

To be discouraged is to lose heart. The heart, instead of living out of the “strength and courage” and hope found in our life in Christ, gives in to the temptations of fear and hopelessness. The thief, who only wishes to steal and kill and destroy, shoots the arrows of discouragement into our hearts.

At first, we hold up the shield of faith. But our arms get tired and we let down our guard and our shield only to be attacked again, this time without the shield in place. The heart begins to wither. Then more arrows of fear and hopelessness find their target. Finally, we have lost heart. The heart attack of discouragement leaves us numb and lifeless—unable to accomplish any task. Those called to a great task are those most likely to be targeted by discouragement arrows. So take heart, you must be causing some threat to the enemy or he wouldn’t bother to waste his arrows on you.

Have you ever noticed that when God calls a leader to a great task, he repeatedly reassures them with words like these: “Be strong and courageous,” “Do not be afraid” and “Do not be discouraged.” Why? Because he knows that their “strong and courageous” heart will be tempted to give in to fear and discouragement. The enemy knows that discouragement is an epidemic that keeps us from accomplishing the task in God’s strength and courage.

Solomon had been given the task of building the temple. Listen to these encouraging words and take them to heart. They are protection against the heart disease of discouragement:

“Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work . . . is finished” (28:20).

God is with you. He hasn’t forgotten you. Don’t grow weary in well doing. You will reap a harvest if you do not lose heart and give up. He is strong and courageous. He is not fearful or discouraged. Spend time with him today and let him deal with the fears, hopelessness and discouragement. Get that armor on today and stop giving in to the attacks of the enemy. You’ve got things to accomplish. Get to it!

Father, I stand in response to your command to be courageous against all the fears, and doubts, and disappointments that I face. Strengthen me, open doors before me, guide me, empower me. Don’t allow past memories of disappointment discourage me and rob me of my peace, my joy, my confident hope. I am trusting in you to strengthen my heart. In Jesus name. Amen.

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A Hope That Will Not Disappoint (July 18)

July 18
A Hope That Will Not Disappoint

Today’s Scripture Reading: Psalm 75:1-10 | 1 Chronicles 26:12- 27:34 | Romans 4:13 – 5:5 | Proverbs 19:15-16

Today’s Scripture Focus: Romans 4:13- 5:5

“Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed…” (Romans 4:18 NIV)

His situation was absolutely hopeless. How could Abram and Sara—well past child bearing years—become the father of many nations? The facts: “his body was as good as dead since he was about a hundred years old and Sara’s womb was also dead.” Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed.

How could he have hope, when his situation seemed hopeless? What was his secret?

He remembered the promise. “Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God” (20).

He knew that “the promiser” was faithful. “Being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised (21). “He considered him faithful who had made the promise” (Heb. 11:11).

Hope that doesn’t disappoint comes from an intimate walk with our God who is faithful to his promises. It remembers the promises of God and finds the grace to stand and persevere even through the trials of faith. It finds strength by relying on the character of the one who is faithful—strength to believe and strength to praise and give glory to God (20). It looks to the future glory when the going gets tough down here (5:2-5). It also remembers that God has a purpose in the trial of our faith that can bring joy even through the times of suffering (we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope).

When it’s all said and done, this trial of faith is going to cause me to hold on to Jesus more tightly, and he’s going to rub off on me. I’m going to become more like him—and I will find that my hope brought me through without disappointment. Most importantly, nothing can separate me from his love and knowing that he loves me can help me through the deepest, darkest trial (5:5, 8:28-39). I don’t know about you, but that brings me hope!

Heavenly Father, thank you for being faithful to your promises. Help me to persevere in this time of trial that this hard time will produce character, and character will produce hope, a hope that will not disappoint. Pour out your love into my heart today and help me to press on in faith. I am trusting in you, Father, and trying to keep step with your Spirit who gives me strength. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

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