June 26 – Religious Bondage

“The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.”Luke 18:11-12

Self-righteousness can be bondage . . . a bondage of performance-oriented religion. If you try to measure up to perfection on your own, you will end up disappointed in yourself every time. You will also become disappointed in OTHERS and become very critical and unloving.

Jesus told the parable in Luke 18:9 to those who TRUSTED IN THEMSELVES . . . they were self- righteous and despised others. The Pharisees were the most religious people of their day, but, because of their self-righteousness, they became some of the most hateful people.

Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For by GRACE [GOD’S LOVE] are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the GIFT of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Emphasis supplied.)

Be grateful for God’s wonderful love gift of salvation and rest completely in His righteousness for yourself and for OTHERS. In this, God is well pleased!

PRAY: “Loving heavenly Father, I have no righteousness of my own. YOU are my only claim to perfection. Help me to see OTHERS through Your loving eyes of grace. In Jesus’ Name, amen.”

June 25 – Restoring Your First Love

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” Ephesians 5:25

Remember the first love you felt for your spouse? Remember the passion, the emotion? You just could not find enough time to spend together or enough ways to express your affection.

Yet, history shows the old adage, “Familiarity breeds contempt,” is often true. Sometimes the more you get to know someone, the more you discover about that person that you DO NOT LIKE. Disappointments, failures, conflicts, and offenses leave scars of bitterness and resentment if they are not properly handled. It takes a conscious effort to restore and retain that first love… whether it be for a spouse or for God.

Returning to your first love for God begins with a greater knowledge of HIS LOVE FOR YOU. Ephesians 3:19 speaks about knowing the love of Christ “which passeth [intellectual] knowledge.” Your love relationship with God will not last on a memory of the past. You need a current revelation… an experience that affects your heart and emotions. You need another “first love” experience.

Set aside some quality time to spend with the Lord today. Tell Him what is on your heart and then… WAIT. “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. . . .“ (Isaiah 40:3 1)

PRAY: “Heavenly Father, my heart hungers for another touch of Your hand. I delight in serving You, Lord, and desire to receive Your divine revelation. I worship You, Lord.”

June 24 – The Bible On Sex

June 24 – The Bible On Sex

“But whoso commiteth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul.” Proverbs 6:32

Sex sells! From soap operas to Saturday morning cartoons and advertising, there are sexual overtones. Casual acquaintances end up in bed, depicting a normal, healthy relationship, all of which has caused a casual attitude of promiscuity in a society plagued with broken homes, unwanted pregnancies, rape, incest, pornography, fornication, and adultery. Moral issues have been replaced by terms like “safe sex,”“new morality,” and “alternate life-style.”

What God originally designed for beauty, Satan has tried to steal through an ugly counterfeit. Real intimacy requires a covenant . . . commitment to the cross of Christ spiritually, and commitment to your marriage vows naturally.

I Timothy 4:1-2 prophesies: “… in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits.., having their conscience seared with a hot iron. ”LISTEN!

If you are married, God wants you to stay married. If you are single, God wants you to guard your chastity. If you are a grandparent, God wants you to teach younger people purity. Intimacy outside God’s law brings emptiness, un-fulfillment, and destruction.

PRAY: “Holy Father, Your law is TRUTH, and it brings life. Help me to understand it and abide in it, rejecting all counterfeits. I desire to walk in the purity of Your Word alone

June 23 – A Prayer of Repentance

A PRAYER OF REPENTANCE

My failures to be true even to my own accepted standards:

My self-deception in the face of temptation;  My choosing of the worse when I know the better;

O Lord, forgive.

My failure to apply to myself the standards of conduct I demand of others;

My blindness to the suffering of others and my slowness to be taught by my own;

My complacence toward wrongs that do not touch my own case and my over sensitiveness to those that do;

My slowness to see the good in my fellows and to see the evil in myself;

My hardness of heart toward my neighbor’s faults and my readiness to make allowances for my own;

My unwillingness to believe that thou hast called me to a small work and my brother to a great one; 0 Lord, forgive.

—Excerpted from A Diary of Private Prayer
by Scottish theologian John Baillie

June 22 – How to Love Divinely

“And over all these virtues put on love. . . which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:14 (NIV)

Love is a decision followed by a commitment. . . YOU DECIDE! You are asked in Colossians 3:12 (NIV) to “clothe” yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience, and, above all, “AGAPE” LOVE, which is like a belt which holds them all together. To fully develop these attributes, there are more garments to “put on” as you learn to love divinely.

Ephesians 6:11, 14-17 lists the battle fatigues for spiritual warfare, while Romans 13:12b (NIV) admonishes you to “put on the armor of light,” putting aside all “deeds of darkness.”

The ultimate apparel necessary to obtain the divine ability to love God, your spouse, friend, neighbor, and even your enemies is written in Romans 13:14 (NIV): “…clothe (yourself) with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature.”

Luke 6:35 promises that those who practice “agape” love will have a great reward, but there is a process to live out before you can obtain that prize. Paul understood it all when he said of these three. . . faith, hope, and love… LOVE was the greatest! (See I Corinthians 13:13.)

PRAY: “Loving God, I choose today to clothe myself in the virtues of Your Spirit. I choose today to LOVE unconditionally and to put aside all of the deeds of the flesh. Amen.”

June 21 – Three Hats of a Father

“Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.” Colossians 3:21

A father wears three hats—that is, he has three separate functions in three relationships. It is a tough job description to live up to, and it takes a lifetime to master.

1) As “Daddy,” he has a parental relationship with his children. He is to TEACH his children by example in the way they should go. (See Proverbs 22:6.)

2) As “Husband,” he has a relationship with his wife and is to LOVE her as his helpmate. According to I Peter 3:7, he is to give honor to his wife, as the weaker vessel, “and as being heirs together of the grace of life,” so that his prayers will not be hindered.

3) As “Priest,” he has a relationship with God and gives spiritual leadership to the home. His spiritual responsibility is to OBEY God as his Father. As he operates in this role, he performs a valuable function in the home, and his wife and children respect him.

If you are a child, honor your father by listening to his advice and obeying his house rules. If you are a wife, submit to your husband as you would submit to God, and pray for him. If you are a father and you feel you have not worn all these hats effectively, talk to your FATHER about it!

PRAY:
“Heavenly Father, order my steps today as I seek after Your perfect way. Uphold me with Your strong hand and keep me from all the powers of evil. In Jesus’ Name, amen.”

June 20 – Kinds of Love – Agape

“Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.” I Peter 1:22

The third part of your being is your spirit . . . that breath of life . . . that vacuum for the Holy Spirit given at the time of your birth. In your spirit is where “agape” love operates. It is divine love, a “giving” kind of love, unconditional to the object being loved. “Agape” love is unselfish and wants to benefit the other person in word, in works, and in intercessory prayer. It operates through your divine desire to please God. It is a decision to love, followed by a commitment to love, regardless of the cost or return.

It was this “God kind of love” that nailed Jesus to the cross. He willingly GAVE his life in obedience to the Father and for the “joy that was set before Him” (for redemption’s sake). (Hebrews 12:2)

“Agape” love is what God expects of you. It is described through the entire chapter of
I Corinthians 13. It gives sacrificially and never gives up on the other person. You have the capacity for this premium kind of love ONLY through the indwelling SPIRIT OF GOD.

PRAY:
“Father, fill me with Your loving Holy Spirit presence and let my life be a reflection of the sacrificial life of Christ, who died and gave Himself a sin sacrifice for all mankind. I ask this in Jesus’ Name. Amen.”