Don’t Stop Until You Meet Jesus

The wise men did not stop until they met Jesus. The Bible says they finally came to the place where Jesus was. Have you done that yet? Have you come to the point in your life where you’ve met Jesus personally?

If you haven’t, you are still on the journey. If you haven’t met him face-to-face yet, don’t stop seeking, keep on going.

A lot of people start off asking the important questions of life: “Who am I? Where am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? Does my life have meaning? Is there a purpose? What is the significance of it all?’

These are important questions. But if you don’t keep seeking the answers, pretty soon you get distracted by other things, even important things, like your career or education. But when people do that, they have trouble getting back on the journey. Many people spend the rest of their lives missing the very purpose they were created for.

Like the wise men, don’t stop seeking until you meet Jesus. Where do you find Jesus? The same place the wise men did — in the ordinary. You find him in the problems of life, not in the spectacular. You find him in the stuff of life, in the stalls and the stables where it’s smelly and where life is being born.

—From Rick Warren’s daily devotional

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Good Roots = Good Fruit!

It is important to realize that our behavior comes from somewhere. Bad behavior is like the bad fruit of a bad tree with bad roots.

You can spend your entire life dealing with outward symptoms, but the bad fruit will manifest somewhere else if the root is not eliminated. The principle never fails: rotten fruit comes from rotten roots, and good fruit comes from good roots.

To really deal with bad fruit, you must follow Paul’s admonition to the Colossians to be “deeply planted” in God.

You may need to carefully examine your own roots. If they were unpleasant, harmful or abusive, don’t be discouraged; you can be uprooted from that bad soil and transplanted into the good soil of Christ Jesus, so that you become rooted and grounded in Him and in His love.

Remember, uprooting can be painful. Being replanted and becoming rooted and grounded is a process that requires time and effort, but it is by faith and patience that we inherit God’s promises.

My prayer for you is that you will be deeply planted and rooted in Christ, producing good fruit wherever you go!

Prayer Starter: Lord, help me to transplant my roots from bad soil and deeply plant them in Christ so that I can be a good tree with good roots, producing good fruit. I know it may be painful, but through faith and patience, I know You can help me make a change in my life.

—from Joyce Meyer’s daily devotional

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To Hear God You Must Cooperate

God speaks to people who decide in advance to do what he tells them to do, not those who say, “God, tell me what to do and then I’ll decide if I want to do it.” When you have an attitude of cooperation, you are going to hear from God. A willing mind is the good soil that we see in today’s verse.

You need to be able to say, “God, I’m willing to do whatever you want me to do. Even if it seems scary or unusual or hard, I’m going to do it, and I’m going to keep at it until I bear fruit.”

How do you bear fruit? Luke 8:14 says it takes persistence. But it takes more than that. In the next verse, Luke 8:15, Jesus says this, “they listen to God’s words and cling to them and steadily spread them to others who also soon believe” (LB).

One of the ways to bear fruit is to pass it on. Teach somebody else. That is the secret of growth. Whatever you learn, as soon as you learn it, pass it on to someone. Whoever teaches, grows the most — because when you teach you show that you’ve not only heard it, but you’ve incorporated it and can communicate it to others.

–from Rick Warren’s daily devotional

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Controlling Your Tongue

A significant key to glorifying God is controlling our tongue. Psalm 50:23 says, “He who brings an offering of praise and thanksgiving honors and glorifies Me….”

What would happen if you gave your mouth to God each day so that only godly words came from your lips? And I’m not just talking about praising and thanking God in your quiet time, or speaking positive, encouraging words over yourself. The health of your relationships depends on how you speak to, over and about others.

Psalm 34:13 says, “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.” Do you lie to others? Do you insult them or speak ill of them? Or do you speak encouraging, life-giving words that bring joy to everyone you meet?

Dedicate your mouth to God and use it only for what pleases Him, praise and worship, edification and exhortation, and giving thanks. Place your lips on the altar each morning. Give your mouth to God through praying His Word: “O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise” (Psalm 51:15).

Prayer Starter: Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will praise and thank You. Help me use my words to bring joy and life to those around me and to praise and glorify You.

—from Joyce Meyer’s daily devotional

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Take Time To Listen

If you don’t make time for God, you are not going to hear from God. You have to slow down and be quiet so you can hear him. When you are in a hurry you can’t hear God.

When we live hurried lives, God gets shuffled off into the spare minutes and he is short changed with our time. We say, “Lord, speak to me but do it quickly.” Skimping on our time with God leads to a life that becomes more and more shallow. We don’t go deep because we don’t make time for it. We aren’t spending enough time alone with God, if at all. He needs quality time to change us.

This shallow lifestyle, where we’re always in a hurry, represents the shallow or rocky soil in Jesus’ parable. Jesus says this shallow soil represents a superficial mind. A person with this mind kind of listens to God’s Word, and maybe gets emotionally moved, but she/he never really does anything about it.

How do you get past this? How do you change from being a shallow person to a deep person who keeps the faith even when a recession or an illness or a job loss or marriage trouble hits?

You need two things:

A daily quiet time — You need time alone with God to read the Bible, pray and keep a journal of the things you are learning.

A weekly small group — You need time with other believers who are close to you and can give you a fresh perspective. They can give you the encouragement and accountability you need to go deeper in your relationship with God.

–from Rick Warren Daily Devotional

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Cultivate An Open Mind

In Luke 8, Jesus uses the Parable of the Four Soils to give us the keys to hearing God speak.

In Jesus’ day, farmers didn’t have tractors or planters. To sow seed, the farmer would take the bag of seed, go out and cast it, or throw it, out over the ground. As he threw it, the seed landed on different kinds of soil. The seed would sprout, grow, and bear fruit depending which type of soil it fell on.

In this parable, the farmer represents God, the seed represents his Word, and the soil represents the four different kinds of responses you can have when God is trying to talk to you.

If you want to hear God speak, you must first cultivate an open mind. You have to be willing, ready, and eager to hear from him so you can receive what he has to say.

When Jesus talked about the hard soil (the path) in Luke 8, he was talking about a person’s resistance to hearing God. Do you know anyone who is like a footpath – narrow-minded with a hard heart? No matter what you say about God, they are not going to listen because they already have their minds made up.

Sometimes we don’t give God a chance to talk. Our minds are made up, our hearts are hardened, and we’re unwilling to listen. We have the hardened soil of a closed mind.

What can cause us to have a closed mind? There are three mental blocks: pride, fear, bitterness.

What is the antidote to a hardened heart? “Get rid of all filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the message God has planted in your hearts, for it is strong enough to save your soul.” (James 1:21 NLT) Get rid of all the garbage, the TV, movies, books, magazines, games and websites you shouldn’t be indulging in, and humbly accept God’s Word.

The key phrase in that verse is “humbly accept.” Pray to God and say, “Lord, I admit I tried to figure it out on my own. It didn’t work, so I’m going to listen to you.” That’s the first step.

—from Rick Warren’s daily devotional

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Give Relationship…Not Religion

When you tell someone about your faith, do you give them religion…or relationship?

The Bible says we must be born again (see John 3:1-8), it doesn’t say we must be religious. Unfortunately, we as Christians often present the Gospel to people like it’s a list of religious rules, not true relationship with God.

But following “Christian” rules and going to church won’t make you a Christian anymore than sitting in a garage will make you a car.

Religious rules and regulations can be harsh, hard and pressing, but that’s not what Jesus wants for people. Jesus wants people to live in relationship with Him.

If someone asks us, “What religion are you?” we should talk about our personal relationship with Jesus instead of what church we attend. I like to answer that question by saying, “Thank you for asking. I don’t have any religion, but I do have Jesus.”

We need to start asking people, “Do you know Jesus? Is He your friend? Do you have a personal relationship with Him?”
Next time someone asks about your faith, give them relationship…not religion.

Prayer Starter: God, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that someone needs to follow a list of rules to really be a Christian, but that’s not the kind of faith You want from people. Empower me to share Your Gospel with others in a way that leads them not into a religious system, but into a one-on-one, life-changing relationship with You.

–from Joyce Meyer’s daily devotional

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Tune In To God

All through Scripture, the Bible says God is speaking to us. Why? Because you were created for a relationship with God. That is the whole reason you exist. God wants you to know him intimately.

Now you can’t have a relationship without communication. The problem is that communication is very easily misunderstood. I’ve been married to my wife for 35 years and I still don’t always hear her or understand her. So if I can’t even figure out somebody I’ve lived with for 35 years, how am I expected to always get it right hearing God?

That might surprise you because a lot of people think pastors have a direct hotline to God. The truth is, sometimes I’m just as confused as you are in hearing God’s voice. I don’t get it clear every time – no different from anybody else — but I will tell you this – it get’s easier.

After 35 years of marriage, I can recognize my wife’s voice when she calls me on the phone without her having to identify herself, even if it’s an overseas bad connection. And after more than 45 years in a relationship with God, I know his voice when he talks to me.

The longer you grow in your relationship with the Lord, the easier it is to know when he’s talking to you. The key is learning how to tune in to him.

Jesus said in Luke 8:8, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (NIV) God has given you all the equipment you need to hear him, and over the next few days, we’ll learn how to tune in to him.

–from Rick Warren’s daily devotional

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Let God Be Your Tour Guide

When He walked on this earth, Jesus always knew the right thing to do because He did only what He saw His Father do. As our Lord, we can trust Him to lead us down the right path every day.

Psalm 48:14 says that God will be our guide even unto death! How wonderful to know that we have a guide to get us from one destination in life to the next.

When my husband, Dave, and I visit a new place, we often hire a guide. Once we decided to explore by ourselves, but we quickly discovered that this was a complete waste of time. We spent most of the day lost, desperately trying to find our way back.

Sometimes I think we treat life the same way Dave and I treated that trip. It’s always easier to follow an experienced guide than to wander aimlessly on your own. Instead of going your own way, do what you see your Father do, and let Him guide you. God is committed to guiding us, so it’s clearly important that we follow.

Prayer Starter: God, I don’t want to live life like a tourist without a guide, aimlessly going my own way. Only You can show me what to do and how to live, so I choose to follow Your guidance every day.

–from Joyce Meyer’s daily devotional

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Confession Keeps You Healthy

We’ve looked at the importance of trusting God and letting go of resentment, worry, and fear to maintain good health. This leads right into the second biblical factor for good health.

Confessing my sin is good for my health — Any psychologist will tell you this – it’s good to clear your conscience and get things off your chest. Your body is not made to hold it in. When you hold guilt inside you, it’s like shaking up a soda can with the top on. It will blow eventually.

David says it this way in Psalm 32:3-5, “When I refused to confess my sin, I was weak and miserable, and I groaned all day long. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat. Finally I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide them. And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone” (NLT).

David internalized his guilt and it physically affected his body. If you don’t talk out your problems, your guilt, your bitterness with God, you’re going to take it out on your body.

Doctors say a lot of people could leave the hospital today if they knew how to get rid of guilt or resentment over things they’ve done to others and things others have done to them.

Spend a few moments in prayer today asking God to forgive you for the things you’ve done to others. Then pray about any resentment and bitterness you are holding against people who have hurt you. Ask God to help you forgive those people so you can move on to better health.

–from Rick Warren’s daily devotional

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