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His Death Brings Life August 8, 2020 Today's Scripture & Insight: If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17 Read: 2 Corinthians 5:14–21 During her ministry to men incarcerated in South Africa’s most violent prison, Joanna Flanders-Thomas witnessed the power of Christ to transform hearts. In Vanishing Grace, Philip Yancey describes her experience: “Joanna started visiting prisoners daily, bringing them a simple gospel message of forgiveness and reconciliation. She earned their trust, got them to talk about their abusive childhoods, and showed them a better way of resolving conflicts. The year before her visits began, the prison recorded 279 acts of violence against inmates and guards; the next year there were two.” The apostle Paul wrote, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). While we may not always see that newness expressed as dramatically as Flanders-Thomas did, the gospel’s power to transform is the greatest hope-providing force in the universe. New creations. What an amazing thought! The death of Jesus launches us on a journey of becoming like Him—a journey that will culminate when we see Him face-to-face (see 1 John 3:1–3). As believers in Jesus we celebrate our life as new creations. Yet we must never lose sight of what that cost Christ. His death brings us life. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Reflect & Pray How has Jesus’ transforming work been evidenced in your life? What areas of your life are still in need of that “new creation” impact? Loving Father, thank You that, because of what Jesus accomplished on the cross, I am a new creation. Forgive me for the times I return to the old things that need to pass away. Our Daily Bread #joesjoyfulnoise
Looking for a Minister? 8/72020 Today's Scripture & Insight: For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. 2 Corinthians 4:5 (read: 2 Corinthians 4) The great hope of the minister of God is that he will disappear as he paints a portrait of Christ before the eyes of his listeners. The last thing a godly messenger wants to hear is that he was outstanding. If people see the speaker instead of Jesus and go away thinking how excellent he was, they have utterly failed. The church in Corinth was divided because they were enamored with the messenger and were missing the message. Presenting Jesus more clearly and seeing the listener have a greater desire to walk with the Lord is the goal. Anything that distracts from that must go. While ministers should be respected and their gifts appreciated, their ministry is to point to Jesus and cause the congregation to long to know Him more intimately. That is why they serve. Their service is for Jesus' sake, not their own. The godly minister is not trying to build a bigger congregation, or make his name famous, but to exalt Jesus. Ministers are slaves of Christ. A slave is focused on his or her master's honor. If they have any honor, it comes from the honor of the one they serve. The church today is falling into the Corinthian pattern of praising the man and focusing on him rather than Jesus. "I follow this one." "I follow that one." "I follow my preacher." Let us follow Jesus and pray for those who minister! Consider: How many nameless shepherds have lived their life as servants of congregations so that others might know Jesus? We will surely be surprised in heaven by the glory of those whose names we never heard. Today's Daily Devotion #joesjoyfulnoise
What Are You Holding on to? August 6, 2020 BIBLE MEDITATION: “…and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.” (2 Timothy 2:25-26) DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT: I’ve heard it told that in the South Sea islands, they catch monkeys by taking a coconut, making a hole in the top, and putting a handful of rice in. A monkey will reach his paw in, take the rice; but then his fist is bigger than the hole, and he can’t withdraw it. Now, when the captor comes, the monkey will scream and plead; but he’ll never let go of the rice. You say, “Foolish monkey!” Yet are you a foolish person who will not relinquish the sin you’re clinging to, that you might have the blessings of God? Foolish person, taken captive by Satan, who will not have power with God because of some handful of rice—some sin, some habit, some grudge—that you hold onto. ACTION POINT: What sin is holding you captive? Let go of it. Relinquish the sin you’re clinging to. Love Worth Finding #joesjoyfulnoise
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Loved, Beautiful, Gifted August 5, 2020 Today's Scripture & Insight: For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!” 16 The Spirit Himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, 17 and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—seeing that[a] we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. Romans 8:15-17 AMP Read Romans 8 Malcolm appeared confident as a teenager. But this confidence was a mask. In truth, a turbulent home left him fearful, desperate for approval, and feeling falsely responsible for his family’s problems. “For as far back as I remember,” he says, “every morning I would go into the bathroom, look in the mirror, and say out loud to myself, ‘You are stupid, you are ugly, and it’s your fault.’” Malcolm’s self-loathing continued until he was twenty-one, when he had a divine revelation of his identity in Jesus. “I realized that God loved me unconditionally and nothing would ever change that,” he recalls. “I could never embarrass God, and He would never reject me.” In time, Malcolm looked in the mirror and spoke to himself differently. “You are loved, you are beautiful, you are gifted,” he said, “and it’s not your fault.” Malcolm’s experience illustrates what God’s Spirit does for the believer in Jesus—He frees us from fear by revealing how profoundly loved we are (Romans 8:15, 38–39), and confirms that we are children of God with all the benefits that status brings (8:16–17; 12:6–8). As a result, we can begin seeing ourselves correctly by having our thinking renewed (12:2–3). Years later, Malcolm still whispers those words each day, reinforcing who God says he is. In the Father’s eyes he’s loved, beautiful, and gifted. And so are we. Reflect & Pray What words come to mind when you see yourself in the mirror? How different are they from Scripture’s depiction of what God sees in you? Father, thank You for loving me, gifting me, and making me Your child. May Your Spirit work in me today to truly, deeply believe it. Our Daily Bread #joesjoyfulnoise
Is Any Part of Your Life Dishonest? August 4, 2020 BIBLE MEDITATION: “He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.” (Luke 16:10) DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT: Look carefully at this verse. Jesus is saying that when a person is unfaithful in the small things, he will be unfaithful in greater things as well. He didn’t say “may be” or “could be” unfaithful. It says he is. If you would steal so much as a 15-cent pencil and carry it home from the office, you’ve made a place for the devil. You say, “Wait a minute…” No, this is what the Bible says. A person who would steal a 15-cent pencil has the potential of stealing a $150,000 payroll. When you are unfaithful in that which is least, the Bible says you are unfaithful. Period. That dawned on me the other day. I used to say, “Well, if I’m capable of stealing a little, then I’m capable of stealing a lot.” That isn’t what God says. He says if you are unfaithful in that which is least, you are unfaithful in that which is much, because with God thievery is thievery. It makes no difference. ACTION POINT: If there’s an area of dishonesty in your life, that area will be the devil’s campground. Read Luke 16:1-13. Examine your heart. Does any part of your life fall short of impeccable, indisputable, complete honesty? Repent of that today and change it. Love Worth Finding #joesjoyfulnoise
Be watchful, stand firm... be strong. 8/3/2020 Today's Scripture & Insight: Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 Paul gave the Corinthians one final string of admonitions before closing his first letter to them. "Be watchful." Jesus used the same Greek word when He asked the disciples to watch with Him in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:40-41). It means to be spiritually alert. Is there something in your life that is tempting you to compromise? Does someone in the faith need your encouragement? Is God setting an opportunity before you to step into those good works He prepared in advance for you to do (Ephesians 2:10)? "Stand firm in the faith!" Don't compromise or waiver. There will always be challenges to your faith from people and circumstances. Remember the examples of those who have gone before you. Remember Jesus' example. Remember that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. Giving in to discouragement and doubt may mean the end of your effectiveness for the Kingdom. I've seen it lead to depression in the lives of believers. Don't start down that path. Stand firm in the faith, act like men, and be strong in the Lord. Do everything in love. This is agape love. We serve out of love. If all our service is to the Lord, then we should do it because we love Him. Yes, He will reward us. Yes, it is the right thing to do. But our motivation for all our service should be our love for Him and for those made in His image. We will be tempted to operate out of routine, or duty, or even anger. That should warn us that we are not in the Spirit. Love is the first fruit of the Spirit and a telltale sign that we are acting in Christ. Prayer: Lord Jesus, I need Your life in me to help me stay alert. Be my strength. Help me to stand firm in the faith against the pressures of this fallen world. May all that I do be done out of love for You. Let it be Your love that flows through me. Today's Daily Devotion #joesjoyfulnoise
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