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“Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day: And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God….”  Deuteronomy 11:26-28a

The word “bless” or “blessing” occurs 430 times in the Bible, while the word “curse” appears only 160 times.

“Blessing” means “the impartation of the supernatural power of God into a human life by the spoken word of God’s delegated authority.”

“Curse” means “a negative supernatural power instituted by speech; a word spoken by God or someone in spiritual authority that sets in motion a destructive force that continues from generation to generation until supernaturally broken.”

The tongue is a creative force. It can be used to BLESS or to CURSE. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21a)

James 3:9-10 says the same mouth can bless God and curse men. When you “bless them that curse you,” (Luke 6:28a) you neutralize the curse.

Let blessings come forth from your tongue today. Speak uplifting words of faith! “For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.” (Matthew 12:37)

PRAY: “Father, keep my mouth from saying destructive words. As with Balaam, put Your message of blessing in my mouth as I speak with others today.  Amen.”

“Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings from the wicked who assail me, from my mortal enemies who surround me.”  Psalm 17:8 (NIV)

God referred to Jewish Israel as “the apple of his eye” in Deuteronomy 32:10 and Zechariah 2:8. The “apple of the eye” refers to the eyeball, or the pupil in its center, that is protected by the eyelids. It is a symbol of that which is precious and protected.

Beginning with Abraham, God promised to multiply his seed and birth a great nation that would carry His blessing (Genesis 12:2). Then, with Moses, God led Israel out of slavery in Egypt and to the land of promise. God used Joshua to lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land. Every step of the way was marked with the miracle-working hand of God.

It was through Jesus, the Son of God, that the way was made for every man, Jew and Gentile, to receive this special favor and protection of God. Through Jesus, you choose to serve God from a decision of the heart and thus become a “spiritual” Jew.  “But he is a Jew which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter…“ (Romans 2:29a)

PRAY:  “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, I pledge my devotion to You and thank You for Your promise of blessing and protection. Amen.”

“My heart is with Israel’s princes, with the willing volunteers among the people. Praise the Lord!”  Judges 5:9 (NIV)

Israel had just experienced a victory over the Canaanite King Jabin so Deborah, a prophetess, began to sing a song of joy. She was praising God for the “willing” volunteers involved in the pursuit.

God is always happy to have willing volunteers working in His kingdom. All the events that take place at Christian Retreat could not transpire without willing volunteers who work behind the scenes daily.

God is not pushy. He is always looking for someone who is willing. He says, “If you’re willing, I’m able.” When you willingly volunteer for the work of God, He actually adds to your ability. You will be surprised at what you can do and the energy you have in doing the work of God.

“Every man according as he purposeth [willingly] in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” (II Corinthians 9:7)

PRAY: “Dear Lord, my hand is raised to volunteer for service for You today. Use me for Your glory wherever and however You desire. I pray in Jesus’ Name, amen.”

“There is therefore now no condemnation to those which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” Romans 8:1

If you are a Christian who has put your faith in Christ for salvation, you have a right to feel cleansed, pure, clean, righteous! The goal of the Gospel is GUILTLESSNESS… free from condemnation. Remember, you have already confessed your sin and you are putting your trust in God for salvation. God has forgiven you!

Now FORGIVE YOURSELF! Get rid of your “sin complex” and your preoccupation with the sins of others and believe that His grace is sufficient.

The devil’s agenda is to keep you in a general sense of unworthiness, with a focus on SIN rather than FORGIVENESS… on your PROBLEMS rather than SOLUTIONS. He wants to keep you guilt-laden and discouraged, feeling like a failure… focused on YOURSELF.

Accept God’s forgiveness today… FOCUS ON HIM and His righteousness in you.

PRAY: “Gracious Lord, my life is hid in You. You are my righteousness and I will no longer be ashamed. Thank You for Your garment of salvation.*  Amen.”

*Isaiah 61:10 (paraphrased)

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9

Somebody once said, “Confession is good for the soul,” and he was right! When you confess a sin or evil in your life, you have taken the first step toward receiving God’s forgiveness. Until you take responsibility for sin, God cannot extend forgiveness. When you confess your sins with a sincere heart of repentance toward God, He promises four things in return:

1) He will be FAITHFUL to you.

2) He will be JUST with you.

3) He will FORGIVE your sins.

4) He will CLEANSE your unrighteousness.

That all sums up to a complete cleansing. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” (Isaiah 1:18)

“As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:12)

PRAY: “Forgiving Father, I recognize my tendency toward sin and I want to walk in daily repentance. Forgive me for harboring evil thoughts, attitudes and activities. I receive Your cleansing.  In Jesus’ Name, amen.”

 “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”   Matthew 6:15

Jesus never corrected anyone for being too forgiving! God wants you to forgive others. Unforgiveness towards others will hinder God’s forgiveness in your own life.

God has called you to be a fruit DISPENSER, not a fruit INSPECTOR. You are called to produce good fruit and share it with others. We become unproductive when we waste time analyzing, weighing, and talking about the fruit of others. Preoccupation with the faults of others can cause unforgiveness to set in.

Now,  here’s the good news. TODAY IS THE DAY OF SALVATION! (See II Corinthians 6:2b.) God loves you and has forgiven you. Sin is no problem for God…His plan of redemption is complete.  “Because by one sacrifice [the cross] he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (Hebrews 10:14, NIV) Note that you are both “made perfect” and “being made holy”… perfect in righteousness through salvation and growing in holiness each day as you walk with God. God has given you a break; why not do the same for others!

PRAY: “Holy God, Your love is so complete. Grow in me that I might demonstrate Your same forgiveness toward others. I pray in Jesus’ Name.  Amen.”

 “Were they ashamed when they had committed abomination? Nay, they were not at all ashamed, neither could they blush; therefore shall they fall among them that fall: in the time of their visitation they shall be cast down, saith the Lord.” Jeremiah 8:12

Blushing is an instinctive physiological reaction to embarrassment or shame. Isn’t it amazing the variety of emotional responses that God has built into your complex being?

While the world teaches you to deny and restrict this emotion as negative, you can be grateful that God has attached this little mechanism to your conscience to put restraint on your conduct.

Where there is no shame, there is no fear of God or hatred of sin. Humanistic values of today teach that every man can determine his own moral standard. As a result, people’s consciences have been seared (I Timothy 1:2), and their hearts hardened, and they have little conviction of right and wrong.

When your child blushes while trying to cover a lie, or even in learning to handle praise, you can REJOICE, knowing that God’s little mechanism of checks-and-balances is at work in the maturing process.

“And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.” (I John 3:28 (NIV))

PRAY: “Holy God, cause me to walk according to Your laws and Your Word that I may never be ashamed.  Amen.”

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