July 29 – Be a Volunteer

“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.”

July 28 – No Condemnation

“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)

July 27 – Complete Cleansing

“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.”

July 26 – The Snare of Unforgiveness

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.”

July 25 – Do You Blush?

“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.”

July 24 – Greed

“Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house; thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor’s.” Exodus 20:17

Greed is no respecter of persons. It sends people to prison and causes all sorts of inappropriate behavior between fellow human beings.

Most Christians would say they have no trouble with greed or covetousness, but consider your response to the general materialistic attitude that pervades our society today. You may smile at the phrase, “He who dies with the most toys wins,” but consider your own “excess toys.” How often do you use those golf clubs…that backyard swimming pool…that third automobile…that fourth TV set… all those video games?

Beware of ill-gotten gain and the addictive drive for more money, more status, more unearned recognition, more power… and do not try to rationalize the buying of lottery tickets. Proverbs 1:19 (NIV) says, “Such is the end of all who go after ill-gotten gain; it takes away the lives of those who get it.”

Greed also enters the workplace when you are a “clock-watcher” or take an extra five or ten minutes at break time or use a few office supplies for personal use. As a Christian employee, you are to serve your employer as unto the Lord . . . as if you are working in the Lord’s employ.

PRAY: “God, You are my Source of supply, and I dedicate my life and the fruit of my labor unto You. Amen.”

July 23 – A Root of Bitterness

“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” Hebrews 12:14-15

Bitterness is an insidious sin. It operates beneath the surface of your soul, spreading a root system of sickness and death, both physically and spiritually. Often beginning with an offense or hurt from a close friend that goes unchecked and unforgiven, BITTERNESS creates a cloud of discouragement and sorrow.

Here are some suggestions on how to deal with bitterness. If you know without a doubt YOU are free from all traces of this emotion, you may know someone else you could help with this information.

1) List ways the person has offended you.

2) Consider and list your own faults.

3) List things for which God has forgiven you.

4) View the person as a tool in the hand of God for your own maturing.

5) Ask God to forgive you for this bitterness.

6) Go to the person and ask his forgiveness.

7) Actually forgive the person by releasing him from any further responsibility toward you, and release the invisible grip you have on him.

PRAY: “Father, help me to see my brother and sister through Your forgiving eyes. Amen.”