God wants our love,friendship and obedience to Him.

Obedience is a heart issue, a reflection of how much we trust God’s love for us. Obedience that does not flow from the heart counts for very little in the eyes of God. It’s what’s inside that counts. Motivation counts because God wants our love and friendship, not just the right behavior. He created us for intimacy with him and he patiently woos us as we learn not just to do what he desires but to surrender to his love. This is genuine Christian spiritual transformation. Such transformation always works from the inside out. And love is always its source, motivation and expression. 

David G Benner,Surrender to Love

Lord I’m so glad you are with me always!

The God of all compassion knows you’re complicated situation as well as your aching heart, and heis at work in both for your good. 

 Lead me, O LORD, in Your righteousness because of my enemies – make straight Your way before me. — Psalm 5:8

Devotionals Daily

Stop Blaming!
Psalm 5:8
Lord, I’m so glad that You are with me always!
Of all the ways to get into a pit, getting thrown in — by something but especially by someone — can be the most complicated to deal with emotionally and spiritually. For starters, when someone throws us in, we’ve obviously got someone to blame: It’s all that person’s fault. Talk about a scenario with the capacity to eat us alive!
You want to talk complications? Okay, how about times when you’ve been thrown into the pit by someone else’s sin — and that someone happens to be a family member? Or a loved one who was supposed to love you back?
Getting over the trauma would have been hard enough had Joseph been thrown into the pit by strangers who picked him randomly. Instead, his own flesh and blood did it — and they did it intentionally. Been there? Me too.
And what about the times when a person has been used by the enemy to throw us into a pit, and he or she remains close by, lives on as if nothing has happened, sees our distress and anguish, but will not hear us? Maybe even despise us for our weakness? Ah, that’s complicated. I know from experience.
Take a moment to simply acknowledge the complications you’ve faced by being thrown in a pit.
What aspect of your life, if any, do you need to stop blaming another person for? How will you benefit from doing so?
The God of all compassion knows your complicated situation as well as your aching heart, and He is at work in both for your good.
Prayer :Father God, acknowledging how tough it is to be in this pit isn’t hard. The assignment to stop blaming the one who threw me into this pit is very hard. Help me to do what I can’t do on my own.

Lead me, O LORD, in Your righteousness because of my enemies – make straight Your way before me. – Psalm 5:8
Excerpted from Looking Up by Beth Moore, copyright Beth Moore. Published by Thomas Nelson.
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Have you been intentionally betrayed? Purposefully mistreated? Broken without apology? Do you need to stop blaming that person? Why? Join the conversation on our blog about choosing to forgive.

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Deal of the Day
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When life is looking down, look up and find God’s deliverance! Life can be hard . . . sometimes to the point of feeling as though your struggles will never end.
Looking Up Devotional is bestselling author Beth Moore’s timeless message of hope and deliverance taken from Psalm 40 in a new deluxe edition. Each entry includes a verse, a daily reading, and a prayer. You’ll discover you are indeed not alone, and that God’s gracious provision of love and faithfulness is at work, pointing you toward a life of wholeness. Daily readings gently lead you into His arms finding lasting purpose and peace. Content for this devotional was adapted from Beth’s bestselling book Get Out of That Pit.

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From her first breath of fresh air beyond the pit, it has never been enough for Beth Moore to be free. This best-selling author and Bible teacher who has opened the riches of Scripture to millions longs for you to be free as well— to know the Love and Presence that are better than life and the power of God’s Word that defies all darkness.
Beth’s journey out of the pit has been heart-rending. But from this and the poetic expressions of Psalm 40 has come the reward: a new song for her soul, given by her Saviour and offered to you in Get Out of That Pit— friend to friend. This is Beth’s most stirring message yet of the sheer hope, utter deliverance, and complete and glorious freedom of God:
I waited patiently for the Lord

He turned to me and heard my cry

He lifted me out of the slimy pit

He set my feet on a rock

He put a new song in my mouth

It is a story, a song—a salvation—that you can know too.
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is at work in both for

your good.

Jump on the right train and heal your mind. 

FB Friends…be encouraged today by renewing your mind. Our thoughts, like a train, need a track. If we do not manage where our thoughts take us we land in the middle of Negativille, Shameland, or Selfrightous City and all these places are toxic to our health. Our minds need healing it were going to love the Lord God with all our heart, soul, and mind. It takes an intentional renewing of our minds with the Word of Life and His Peace that passes all understanding every hour of every day, to keep from jumping on the wrong thought train. 

 If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” — John 8:31-32Devotionals Daily

Jump on the Truth Train: He Healed My Mind 
by Christine Caine, from Unashamed

John 8:32
When I was a university student, I caught the train every morning at 7:30 a.m. from Seven Hills station in the western suburbs of Sydney where I lived, to Redfern station in the center of Sydney where my campus was located. The commute took forty-five minutes, and I was grateful for each one as I normally caught up on my assignments during this time.
One particular morning I was running late and had a lot on my mind because of an important exam that day. When I got to the top of the stairs leading to the various platforms, I skipped one habitual step: checking the destination board for delays or platform changes. I heard a train pull up to platform 4, and immediately rushed down the stairs and jumped on board as the doors closed. Just made it, I thought, and relaxed into a seat.
As the train pulled out of the station, I immediately saw it was not headed toward downtown Sydney. In fact, it was going in the exact opposite direction — toward the mountains. I began to panic as the train picked up speed and an announcement came over the loudspeaker telling us to enjoy the ride on the express train to Katoomba, the beautiful Blue Mountains. I felt sick as I realized that I could not get off this train. I was going to miss my exam, and I had no idea when there would be another train scheduled to take me back to where I started out my journey this morning. It was the longest ride I’ve ever taken… to the wrong destination.
When the train stopped, I rose, still numb from my mistake. When the doors opened I stepped onto the platform — and moaned aloud, “How did I get here?”
The stationmaster happened to be standing nearby. He looked at me with a grin and said, “Well, young lady, you got on the wrong train, didn’t you?”
It was that simple. I did not check the destination at Seven Hills station, boarded the wrong train on platform 4, and ended up in Katoomba instead of downtown Sydney. I had gotten on the wrong train and ended up at the wrong place.
Isn’t that exactly our experience at the end of many days? We look around at where we ended up mentally and wonder, “God, how did I get here?”
We’re angry again. Frustrated again. Lonely again. Disillusioned again. Heartbroken again. Anxious again. Hurt again. Defeated again. Fearful again.
I sometimes imagine that God wants to say to us, “Well, young lady, you just got on the wrong train of thought, didn’t you?”
Our thoughts, like a train, take us somewhere.
I’ve discovered that if I do not manage where I want my thoughts to take me on a daily basis, then I will end up jumping on any train of thought, often ending up where I do not want to be. I’ve found that, like a bullet train, I can quickly go from shame-free to shame-filled thinking.
And I don’t just mean every day. I mean every hour of every day. Why? Because I have the wrong trains of thought pulling into my mind on a regular basis. Our tormented minds need healing if we’re to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind (Luke 10:27).
If I do not make up my mind ahead of time that I am going to refuse to board the wrong train of thought, then I will end up at a place in my head where I do not want to be.
One of the most important lessons I have discovered is that nothing is as powerful as a mind made up. A mind made up ahead of time has the power to control the way your day goes, the way your life goes. You have the power to control who you become, because you are literally what you think — whether you choose to learn how to consciously control that or not. Proverbs 23:7 says,
For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. (AMP)
How crucial then for us to manage our minds. If we don’t, our minds will manage us. This has been an ongoing battle for me in my journey from shame-filled to shame-free living, and it will likely be for you as well. If we disregard the destination board and jump on any train, we’ll go anywhere. But if we carefully choose the train we really want to be on, we’ll only go there — and that’s what we want to learn to do.
Those of us with a history of shame are at the top of the enemy’s hit list for waging war on our minds and derailing our very lives. But God has a solution. Unlike the express train I was trapped on that day, we can get off the wrong train of thought at any point on the journey — by pushing the emergency stop button and choosing to board a different train of thought. And the way we learn to do this is by renewing our tormented mind.
Renewing your mind empowers you to be the one managing your mind — and it brings peace. It brings healing.
God reveals this transforming power in Romans 12:1–2:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God — this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — His good, pleasing and perfect will. (emphasis added)
Even when I turned my life over to Christ, I didn’t know anything differently than to believe the lies and accusations the enemy suggested in my mind. I had no idea what God said or thought about me — that I was fully loved, fully known, and fully accepted — because I had been listening to the enemy whisper lies to me my entire life — lies that limited my life and weren’t based in truth. That’s what he does. He makes up lies and spreads them nonstop. I heard a constant barrage of, “You can’t, you won’t, you’ll never be,” or, “You’ll always be… ”
Our wounds of worthlessness are constantly poked by these accusations and never allowed to heal because we believe them and repeat them to ourselves. We hear these shame-filled thoughts in our marriages, our mothering, our friendships, at work, and as daughters, even if no one else is speaking them aloud.
Because I never knew all those thoughts were lies, I jumped on those trains without ever giving any of them a second thought. I never questioned what rolled through my mind — No one will ever love you. You’re a failure. You’re damaged goods. You blew it big-time. I never asked myself: Who sent that train — God or the enemy? Where will that train take me — into God’s mind and will and purpose, or into shame — the enemy’s mind, will, and purpose?
Satan is the father of lies and the accuser of us all.
When he lies, he speaks his native tongue. That’s right, his native language is lying (John 8:44)! He doesn’t know how to speak anything but lies… and for years, I didn’t know how to do anything but believe those lies.
Wherever my mind went, all of my emotions and feelings followed uncontrollably — like a runaway train. “Not smart enough, fit enough, pretty enough, thin enough, good enough, holy enough.”
Never enough. Of anything.
Just as God had begun to heal my broken heart and bind my wounded soul, He began renewing my mind with his truth.
By attending church regularly, joining a Bible study group, and becoming a part of a community of Christ-followers, I eventually learned that not everyone thought the same way as I thought, especially God. In fact, the more I studied the Bible, the more I realized that my thoughts about myself and so many areas in my life were about as far away from God’s thoughts as I was when I ended up in Katoomba instead of Redfern.
It was life-changing for me when I realized that I should not believe all my feelings and thoughts — especially when they contradicted the Word of God, which is the absolute truth. As Jesus said:
If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” — John 8:31–32
Knowing the truth can profoundly impact how we process the facts of our circumstances. The realization that I was not who I thought I was (when I found out I was adopted) shocked me beyond words, but even though my understanding of the facts about my history changed that day, the truth never changed. God knew about my adoption all along; He had still knit me together in my mother’s womb; He had a plan, purpose, and destiny for my life. A change of “facts” on my end did not change the truth about who I was from His end.
My birth certificate states the fact that I am UNNAMED child number 2508 of 1966, but the Word of God states the truth that from the womb of my mother He has named my name (Isaiah 49:1).
The facts can change, but the truth has the power to change things.
When my mother told me I was adopted, I made a decision in that moment to stay on the train of thought based on the truth. It was one of the single most defining moments of my life. This one decision and an ongoing commitment to stay on the train of thought based on truth of God’s Word has saved me years of turmoil and torment. I renewed my mind by replacing my thoughts about myself with God’s thoughts about me. I learned that I could control what thoughts I jumped on and which ones I did not. You can too.
We have to mature in choosing our thoughts. I know all of this is a tall order for our minds that have spent years tormented by shame — years of hearing and responding to the voice of shame making accusations against us. Years of shame-induced thinking that we were broken or a failure. That there is something wrong with us. That we always mess up. Thoughts that cause us to become perfectionists and people pleasers, or to be overly hard on ourselves. Years of fighting for our own significance.
But as always, God doesn’t leave us alone to fight such battles. He gave us his Word. He gave us the power to exchange the enemy’s lies — and everything anyone else has ever said about us — for His truth.
Excerpted from Unashamed by Christine Caine, copyright Christine Caine. Published by Zondervan.

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Your Turn

Are you riding the Truth Train or have the enemy’s lies derailed you far from where God wants your mind to be? What lies do you have to claim Gospel truth against today? Join the conversation on our blog! We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily

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About the Book
Shame can take on many forms. It hides in the shadows of the most successful, confident and high-achieving woman who struggles with balancing her work and children, as well as in the heart of the broken, abused and downtrodden woman who has been told that she will never amount to anything. Shame hides in plain sight and can hold us back in ways we do not realize. But Christine Caine wants readers to know something: we can all be free.
“I know. I’ve been there,” writes Christine. “I was schooled in shame. It has been my constant companion from my very earliest memories. I see shame everywhere I look in the world, including in the church. It creeps from heart to heart, growing in shadowy places, feeding on itself so that those struggling with it are too shamed to seek help from shame itself.”
In Unashamed, Christine reveals the often-hidden consequences of shame—in her own life and the lives of so many Christian women—and invites you to join her in moving from a shame-filled to a shame-free life.
In her passionate and candid style, Christine leads you into God’s Word where you will see for yourself how to believe that God is bigger than your mistakes, your inadequacies, your past, and your limitations. He is not only more powerful than anything you’ve done but also stronger than anything ever done to you. You can deal with your yesterday today, so that you can move on to what God has in store for you tomorrow—a powerful purpose and destiny he wants you to fulfill.
Join the journey. Lay ahold of the power of Jesus Christ today and step into the future—his future for you—a beautiful, full, life-giving future, where you can even become a shame-lifter to others. Live unashamed!

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Wild Hope!!!

It takes a wild hope to walk in the way God made us and in the place God put us. The deep, abiding freedom that comes from resting in what Christ has done for us and knowing that he is the prize, is still the one thing that can seize the striving for better

It takes a wild hope to walk in the way God made us — Psalm 34:18Devotionals Daily

Joy Doesn’t Come When The Sun Shines Brighter 
by Haley Morgan

It takes a wild hope to walk in the way God made us
There was a long time when I wanted to be anywhere but my real life. I lived for the next big life development that might make me feel content and comfortable in my skin. Maybe you can relate?
During grade school I thought summer would bring happiness. When I was a teenager I assumed moving out of my parent’s house would make me feel free and alive. When I was dating my husband, I knew without a doubt that getting engaged would make me feel whole. I wiled away years of my life just waiting for things to actually get good.

I am remarkably good at making things happen for myself. I used to think it was a great quality, but now I realize it’s my most masterful escape strategy. I didn’t like something in my life? I changed it.
The problem is, changing your circumstances isn’t always possible, and it’s certainly not always obedient to God.
You can find yourself chained by your own expectations of life. There are times when we must faithfully endure, and there are other times when it would just make our lives so much more pleasant. I lived a couple decades always looking for a better next option. I imagined lovely tomorrows filled with something nicer than today.
There was a time when God finally changed my future-focused heart for good. I had married that handsome boyfriend of mine, we moved across the country and away from everyone we knew, and my new husband traveled all the time. One morning I was curled around a toilet utterly sick and pregnant with my first little boy. I had extreme all-the-live-long-day sickness, and I was completely by myself. I couldn’t have manufactured a spiritual thought for anything, but that moment the Spirit calmed my heart. It made logical sense to want to be anywhere else, but the Lord gave me peace.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. — Psalm 16:6
The comfort I experienced seemed like it was from within and from outside of myself at the same time. It was my inner voice, but with wisdom I couldn’t have bestowed upon myself. I just knew that this was a sacred and good place to be. I was humbled, and God loves humility. I was learning perseverance and Romans 5:4 reminded me that character and hope would follow. There was no rushing it or getting around it. God had drawn my boundaries in that season, and it was lovely even when it was excruciating. The only reason it was lovely was because of the inheritance of Jesus Himself.
Jesus was and is always the prize.
There is freedom in realizing that the joy doesn’t come when the sun shines brighter. There isn’t wholeness found in a new relationship or house. We don’t complete ourselves when we climb another rung on the ladder. We don’t have to strive to make matters better for ourselves.
It takes a wild hope to walk in the way God made us, and in the place He’s put us. The deep, abiding freedom that comes from resting in what Christ has done for us and knowing that He is the prize is the one thing that can cut the striving for better.
He has drawn pleasant lines for you. He has never taken His eyes off your situation. You don’t have to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get to a better place or version of yourself. All you have to do is rest in the work Jesus did on your behalf, and then walk with Him in the works God created for you before the beginning of time (Ephesians 2:10).
In this crazy world of bright and shiny accomplishments and possessions, let’s not get caught up or roped in. He’s made a way for us to walk wild and free with Him.
Anthem of Wild and Free
The world may tell us we’re too much and never enough.
But we can walk wildly in who God created us to be and rest freely in the work Jesus did for us.
We do not have to be confined or conformed by cultural expectations.
We are unchained from our past and unafraid of our future.
We choose compassion over comparison.
We love without condition, without reserve.
Our eyes are on God, we hold nothing back, we run fast and strong, we do not hide our light.
We aren’t wild and free for our sake alone, rather we sing life, hope, and truth over the world with abandon — just as our God sings over us.
We are wild and free. And we are poised to do mighty things, in Christ alone.
Original post by Haley Morgan, co-author with Jess Connolly of Wild and Free, written for Devotionals Daily.

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Where in your own life can you ask Him to show you the pleasant and lovely lines He’s laid out for you? Ask Him to show you the reason and the fruit. He’s good to show Himself when you look for Him. Join the conversation on our blog! We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily

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For all the fullness of God available to His daughters, we often feel limited by two defining insecurities: “I am too much,” and “I am not enough.”
Co-authors and best friends Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan have felt the same, until one essential question turned the tables on it all: If God is wild and free and he created women, what does this mean for us today?
Wild and Free is an anthem and an invitation in equal parts to find freedom from the cultural captivity that holds us back, and freedom to step into the wild and holy call of God in our lives. With fresh biblical insight tracing all the way back to Eve and a treasury of practical application, Jess and Hayley reveal how women today can walk in the true liberty we already have in Jesus.
Because you don’t have to be everything to everyone. You don’t have to try so hard to button it up and hold it together. And you certainly don’t have to quiet the voice that God gave you when he created you to sing. Wild and Free will help you shake off the lies of insecurity in your life, and step forward to maximize your God-given influence for his glory and the world’s good.

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Are you Paying Attention to Your Soul?

You’re a soul made by God,made for God,and made to need God, which means you were not made to be self sufficient. Your soul was created to need God, to complete you, fulfill your purpose, and sustain you in life. Read on as John Ortberg and Dallas Willard enlighten our understanding. I am an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in God’s glorious universe. — John Ortberg 

Devotionals Daily

The Soul: This Tiny, Fragile, Vulnerable, Precious Thing About You
by John Ortberg, from Soul Keeping

Genesis 2:7
We each have an outer life and an inner one. My outer self is the public, visible me. My accomplishments, my work, and my reputation lie there. My outer world had changed a great deal since I had last seen Dallas Willard. I was working at a church that — in the little world of my profession — was large and visible. There were more people on staff at this church than there were attendees at the church where I had last worked. Suddenly people sought out my opinion more and assumed I was smarter than I was and invited me to speak at their events. My outer world was now larger and busier and more complex than it had ever been.
But my inner world had not grown at all. My inner life is where my secret thoughts and hopes and wishes live. Because my inner life is invisible, it is easy to neglect. No one has direct access to it, so it wins no applause. Abraham Lincoln was a brilliant lawyer, but notoriously disorganized; he used to have a bulging folder labeled, “If you can’t find it anywhere else, look here.” My private self can begin to look as chaotic and untended as the inside of Lincoln’s folder.
I thought that such a large change in my outer world would bring a quick upgrade to my inner one — more fulfillment, more gratification. Instead, the very busy-ness and complexity of it was almost like a private blizzard that made it hard to navigate my internal world clearly.
What drew me to Dallas was the sense that here was someone who had mastered the inner life — or had at least gone much farther down that road than most. There was leisure of spirit to him. It sounds strange to say, but he had an overwhelmingly calm face.
I asked him, “Why am I not happier, now that I’m getting to do what is in many ways a dream job?” I asked him, “How can I have a private self that is flourishing no matter what my public self is doing?”
For that, Dallas said, we would have to talk about the care of the soul. I was afraid that topic might come up.
“I work at a church where my job involves saving souls,” I began. “But if someone asked me, I’d have a hard time saying exactly what a soul is. Is soul just a word religious people throw around?”
I wasn’t prepared for his answer.
“Brother John, why is there such value and mystery to your existence? The really deep reason is because of this tiny, fragile, vulnerable, precious thing about you called your soul. You are not just a self; you are a soul. ‘The LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.’ You’re a soul made by God, made for God, and made to need God, which means you were not made to be self-sufficient.” In one of his books, Dallas further explained,
What is running your life at any given moment is your soul. Not external circumstances, not your thoughts, not your intentions, not even your feelings, but your soul. The soul is that aspect of your whole being that correlates, integrates, and enlivens everything going on in the various dimensions of the self. The soul is the life center of human beings.
We all have two worlds, an outer world that is visible and public and obvious, and an inner world that may be chaotic and dark or may be gloriously beautiful. In the end, the outer world fades. We are left with the inner world. It is what we will take with us. I am an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in God’s glorious universe.
Excerpted with permission from Soul Keeping by John Ortberg, copyright John Ortberg. Published by Zondervan.
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“Why am I not happier?” is a question many people privately ask. Are you paying attention to your soul? Join the conversation on our blog! We’d love to hear your thoughts. ~ Devotionals Daily
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When is the last time you thought about the state of your soul?
The health of your soul isn’t just a matter of saved or unsaved. It’s the hinge on which the rest of your life hangs. It’s the difference between deep, satisfied spirituality and a restless, dispassionate faith.
In an age of materialism and consumerism that tries to buy its way to happiness, many souls are starved and unhealthy, unsatisfied by false promises of status and wealth. We’ve neglected this eternal part of ourselves, focusing instead on the temporal concerns of the world—and not without consequence.
Bestselling author John Ortberg presents another classic that will help you discover your soul—the most important connection to God there is—and find your way out of the spiritual shallow-lands to true divine depth. With characteristic insight and an accessible story-filled approach, Ortberg brings practicality and relevance to one of Christianity’s most mysterious and neglected topics.

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Soul Keeping – Get the Study Guide or DVD
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In Soul Keeping, John Ortberg helps Christians rediscover their soul—the best connection to God there is—and find out why it’s hurting and why neglecting it has set so many believers so far back spiritually.
In this six-session, video-based small group Bible study, Ortberg shows that caring for your soul is necessary for your Christian life. John shows participants what your soul is, why it is important, how to assess your soul’s health, and how to care for it so that we can have a meaningful and beautiful life with God and others.
When you nurture your soul your life in this world will come to make sense again; you can find your way back to God from hopelessness, depression, relationship struggles, and a lack of fulfillment. Your soul’s resting place is in God, and John Ortberg wants to take participants to that home. This study guide includes discussion questions, video notes, and in-between studies and is designed for use with the Soul Keeping DVD (sold separately).
Sessions include:
Filling the Hole in Your Soul

Why God Made You With a Soul

What’s Soul Got To Do With It

Finding Your Soul’s True Home

Empty Souls and Full Garages

Why We Have a Soul, Brothers and Sisters
Learn more about Soul Keeping Study Guide…

 

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Go the Second Mile, the Miracle Mile

The extra mile is the miracle mile. It’s where love does it’s best work. It’s often displayed as a surge of grace and mercy only the Holy Spirit can give. 

You and I don’t have the extra mile strength in us. We can have the will and the desire to keep going but only  Christ can give us the heart and mind to follow through to go the miracle mile. It’s God’s finest work. Most successful people are miracle milers. 

What are you waiting for FB friend? Take a moment today and make a heart check. What’s in the way of going the extra mile? Are you tired, angry, scared, hurt disengaged, or struggling with resentment? 

Life can beat us up. But nothing can separate us from the love of Christ that propels us to our truest identity. People of the cross are second milers.  Paul said it best about those who have gone before us in Hebrews 12. Let us throw off everything that hinders,and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverence the race marked out for us, as we fix our eyes on Jesus,the author and perfecter of our faith. Read on as Mr. Hawkins encourages us to go the extra mile. 

 Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. — Matthew 5:41 by O.S .Hawkins, from The Joshua CodeWhoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. — Matthew 5:41
The phrase going the second mile has found its way into our modern vernacular. Its roots are found all the way back in first-century Palestine. The Romans had conquered most of the Mediterranean world. One of the marvels of their conquest was a vast system of super highways that they had built for travel to and from their conquered territories. There were more than fifty thousand miles of these Roman roads throughout the Empire. At each single mile was a stone marker. These mile markers pointed directions, determined the distance to the next town as well as to Rome itself, and warned of dangers that might lie ahead. Hence the common phrase “All roads lead to Rome.”
By law, a Roman citizen or soldier could compel a subject from one of the conquered lands to carry his backpack, or load, for him for one mile, but one mile only. As Jesus was preaching His Sermon on the Mount, I have often wondered if He inserted the reference about the second mile when He saw an object lesson unfolding before Him and His hearers. He said,
Whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.
Can you imagine the bombshell this must have been as it fell upon the ears of those under Roman occupation who were listening to His sermon? Jesus called upon His hearers to do what was required of them — and then some.
What is it that separates some from others in athletics or education or business or the arts, or in any endeavor? It is their drive to do more than is expected or required.
The second mile is a secret to success in life.
When focusing on the second mile, many forget there are two miles in play here. The first is a mandated mile; the second is a miracle mile.
There is a Mandated Mile Motivated By Law
This first mile is often ignored. In fact, I never remember hearing a sermon or reading an article about the first mile, only about the second. The first mile is required of us. The first mile is always the hardest. Ask the distance runner. The second wind never kicks in on the first mile. The truth is, it is not as easy to enjoy the things we have to do as it is to enjoy the things we want to do.
The Christian life has its own mandated mile that is motivated by God’s law. It is tough to get started on the first mile. Ask any first-century Jew under Roman rule. The first mile interrupts your schedule when you are compelled to perform it. It causes you to swallow your own pride and bear an extra burden. Likewise, often the most difficult part of the Christian life is getting started on the first mile. This is true with almost everything in life, with exercise programs, dieting, and scores of other disciplines. Even Scripture memorization! In fact, many try to play leapfrog with Matthew 5:41. That is, they want to enjoy the little extras of the second mile, but they do not want to deal with the requirements of the first mile.
There Is a Miracle Mile Motivated By Love
It is this miracle mile that separates certain individuals from others. The second mile is only made possible by being obedient to the first mile. The second mile has a way of brightening our own road. Think about it. Imagine a first-century boy working at his trade. A Roman soldier comes by, calls to him, and demands that he carry his backpack for one mile down the road. Now, this command interrupts the lad’s whole day and takes him away from his work. But he has no choice. However, this boy is a second miler. They approach the one-mile marker and instead of putting down the pack, spitting on the ground, and marching back home, he volunteers to go an extra mile with the soldier. Along the way, he pleasantly inquires about life in Rome. The soldier is baffled. I have often wondered if that Roman soldier at the cross who said, “Truly this was the Son of God,” had had such an experience earlier with a second-mile follower of Christ (Matthew 27:54).
Someone who journeys on the miracle mile also has a way of lightening the load of those around them. One cannot travel the second mile without influencing others. It only takes one second miler in a home to change the entire environment. It only takes one second miler on a team or in the office to do the same.
This miracle mile, the second mile, is motivated by the love of Christ.
Incidentally, the second mile is the mile our Lord Himself walked. He knows the road very well. It was love that took Him on the miracle mile to the cross. Oh, He journeyed the first mile. He stepped out of heaven and into human flesh. He walked the mandated mile that was motivated by the law. He kept every detail of the law. But He also went the second mile, motivated by His own love for us. He who made the stars with a spoken word and formed the universe, the One who formed and fashioned us with His own hands, said, “I love you, and I will walk with you.” But we went our own way.

Then He said, “I will go the second mile.” It took Him to the cross where He bore the weight, not of a Roman soldier’s backpack, but of our own sin. And somebody told somebody, and somebody told somebody else, and somebody else told Johnny Keeton, and Johnny Keeton told me when I was seventeen years of age. I am not all I ought to be today, but I have never been the same since that day.

As you memorize this verse, meditate on what ways you can go the second mile today. It will brighten your road and lighten someone else’s load.
Excerpted with permission from The Joshua Code by O. S. Hawkins, copyright Thomas Nelson.
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In what ways can you do more than what’s required of you, to go the second mile, the Miracle Mile, with someone else today? Join the conversation on our blog! We’d love to hear your thoughts. ~ Devotionals Daily
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Discover the secret Joshua gave the Israelites for prosperity and success. 

The Israelites finally had land and the opportunity to start anew. Their leader, Joshua, spoke wisely about how to follow God’s law and how to be successful. Joshua 1:8 says, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” The Joshua Code is a challenge to keep the Word in our mouths through memorization and in our hearts through meditation “day and night.”  
The fifty-two chapters in this volume are designed to lead you on a yearlong journey by spending each week memorizing and meditating on one Scripture verse so that it becomes a living part of your very being. Topics include grace, temptation, the three levels of prayer, fruit of the spirit, and more. The outlines in each chapter can also be used by the busy pastor or Bible teacher for guiding their members. God’s Word is powerful and profitable when studied and applied by anyone, the young and the seasoned believer alike.
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Your Scars Matter!!

Your scars matter! Are we missing the point when Thomas responds wanting to see Jesus’ scars to believe He was resurrected? Could it be that the issue is not doubting faith, but that scarsharing brings resurrection and hope, forgiveness and healing? Not only is Thomas unafraid to ask Jesus about his scars, but Jesus is also unafraid to show them to Thomas.Both are heroic actions.

 Church let’s be friends that are willing to listen to the scarsharing stories of others, share our own, and not see it as a weakness. It’s an opportunity for hearts to connect and find healing for our injured souls. 

 But Thomas said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in His hands… I will not believe.’ — John 20:25Devotionals Daily

Thomas: Surviving Our Scars
by Jacqueline A. Bussie, Outlaw Christian

Meet Jacqueline Bussie

On the cross, God places God’s story of woundedness next to yours
But Thomas said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in His hands… I will not believe.’ — John 20:25
As Christians, we are all familiar with the story of Thomas, which we usually understand to convey the lesson that doubt is the opposite of faith and is therefore sinful and wrong. Can doubt be seen not simply as faith’s wimpy opposite, but instead as a sign of a faith that is alive, vibrant, and in authentic relationship with God? For today’s devotional, let’s take a closer look at the scriptural story of Thomas to see if that is really what the scripture teaches, or if there is more to the story.
The disciple named Thomas speaks only twice in the Gospels. A lot of Christians give Thomas — whom many call “doubting Thomas” — a bad rap, not so much because of what the Gospels say about him, but because of the faith-law that gives doubt a bad rap. In the gospel of John, when Jesus appears to the disciples after His resurrection, no one recognizes Jesus right away. Mary Magdalene, the first to glimpse Jesus at the tomb, mistakes Jesus for the gardener. When Jesus appears later to the male disciples, they don’t recognize Him either until Jesus “showed them His hands and His side” (John 20:20). But Thomas wasn’t there for this; so when the disciples tell Him about these incredible visits from Jesus, he says he won’t believe that they “have seen the Lord” until he sees “the mark of the nails in His hands,” puts his “finger in the mark of the nails,” and puts his “hand in His side” (John 20:25). When Jesus shows up again, He addresses Thomas first thing by saying,
Put your finger here and see My hands. Reach out your hand and put it in My side. — John 20:27
Thomas does this and then cries out,
My Lord and my God! — John 20:28
What outlaw Christians notice in this story is not the one and only line we are taught to notice — Jesus’ command, “Do not doubt but believe” (v. 27). First, we notice that everyone else in the story fails to recognize Jesus also, but for some strange reason, only poor Thomas gets labeled “doubter.” This suggests the “doubting Thomas” interpretation is an unfair reading that probably misses the point. Second, while everyone else in the story seems to have forgotten Jesus’ suffering (and crucifixion) in light of His glorious resurrection, there is only one person who remembers it — and asks about it.
Thomas, in other words, is the only person who remembers Jesus’ whole story — all the hurt, and the hope too.
Thomas believes redemption is more than just an erasure of pain.
For him, redemption involves the way people live on in spite of the fact that they still carry scars on their skin. Thomas expects scars. If the guy in front of Him doesn’t have scars, Thomas will know He can’t be the Jesus he knew — because the real Jesus suffered something awful. Thomas is the only one in the room brave enough to remember that a friend’s painful wounds still remain without having to be shown them first. He remembers that the suffering of Jesus is real, just like our own suffering.
This radical new reading of Thomas helps us make sense of why in the only other Bible story (John 11) in which Thomas speaks, he is beyond a shadow of a doubt — pun intended! — portrayed not as a faithless loser but as the bravest, most loving, authentic friend Jesus has. When Lazarus dies and Mary and Martha beg Jesus to come back to them in Judea, the disciples try to talk Jesus out of it by saying,
The Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again? — John 11:8
But Thomas — and only Thomas — pipes up and says,
Let us also go, that we may die with Him. — John 11:16
All the other disciples fear for Jesus’ life and their own, but Thomas is willing to die alongside Jesus.
It’s so sad that we label Thomas “doubting Thomas,” but ignore the fact that he is also “willing-to-die-with-Jesus Thomas.” What is the ironic point of the story? Could it be that scar-sharing is the solid foundation for any authentic friendship? That no one really knows who we are until we are brave enough to show our scars to them? That the people who have put their fingers and eyes on our scars and still stick with us anyway are the people who understand best how to love us? Thomas’s story teaches us all of these lessons and more. Those people in your life who accept and name suffering for the wounding thing it actually is are the only friends who can ever override the fear of walking with you down all life’s paths of pain. Only people who believe your wounds are real in the first place can ever imagine placing their wounds next to yours. On the cross, God places God’s story of woundedness next to yours.
Have you ever considered the telling fact that the Latin word stigmata that Christians have used for centuries to describe Jesus’ scars is just the plural of the English word stigma, meaning a mark of shame, disgrace, or humiliation? Here, our very language exposes the teaching that all scars — even Jesus’ — are stigmas. How many of us have been wounded by this terrible lie and faith-law! Jesus, however, refuses to see His scars as a source of humiliation or shame, or even as a thing to keep hidden. Instead, Jesus readily and boldly shows His scars to His friends. As I see it, Jesus flat-out rejects the idea that we should be ashamed and secretive about the unjust and terrible things other people have done to us. 
Not only is Thomas unafraid to ask Jesus about His scars, but Jesus is also unafraid to show them to him. Both are heroic actions.
Why then are we so terrified of showing our scars or asking anyone about theirs? Are we missing the point of the story, which might just be that scar-sharing brings resurrection? Thomas is like that character in the novel Little Bee who says in one of my favorite quotes: “A scar is never ugly. That is what the scar makers want us to think. But you and I, we must make an agreement to defy them. We must see all scars as beauty…. Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, I survived.”
While many Christians remember Thomas as the loser who doubted Jesus’ post-resurrection appearance, outlaw Christians remember Thomas instead as the bold friend who, because he refused to believe scars were stigmas, cared enough to ask Jesus about His scars that He survived. Inspired by Thomas, let’s go and do likewise with our friends.
Adapted by Jacqueline Bussie for Devotionals Daily from Outlaw Christian, copyright Jacqueline Bussie.
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Your Turn
Are you hiding your scars? Do you feel ashamed of them? Today, let’s take one brave step into authentic Christlikeness and say what is true, show what is true, and live what is true just as He did! Come join the conversation on our blog. We would love to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily 
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 Bussie knows that too many Christians live according to unspoken “laws” that govern the Christian life: #1: Never get angry at God; #2: Never doubt; #3: Never question; #4: Never tell your real story; #5: Always speak in clichés about evil and suffering; and #6: Always believe hope comes easy for those who truly love God.
Living according to these rules is killing real Christian life; Outlaw Christian proposes a rebellious, life-giving, authentic alternative. Through captivating stories and with disarming honesty, Bussie gives concrete, practical strategies to help readers cultivate hope, seek joy, practice accompaniment, compost their pain, and rediscover the spiritual practice of lament. Tackling difficult questions without political divisiveness, Bussie speaks to both progressive and conservative Christians in ways that unite rather than divide. And in doing so, she provides a new way to handle the most difficult and troubling questions of life in a broken world that God will never abandon.
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Need a breakthrough?Hold on….you will dance again!!

You did it, [God]: You changed wild lament into whirling dance. – Psalm 30:11
— Dr. Leslie Parrott, Soul Friends 

 Love from the center of who you are; Be good friends who love deeply. — Romans 12:9-10

Suffering and Joy: The Whirling Dance

Dr. Leslie Parrott, Soul Friends: What Every Woman Needs to Grow in Her Faith

Hi, I’m Leslie.

Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it… Be good friends who love deeply. — Romans 12:9-10

Clare was the first new friend I made when I joined our church. She’s a love-from-the-center kind of friend. Bright, beautiful, and open, Clare is easy to connect with. When I discovered we had a mutual friend in a woman named Sandy, Clare was instantly vetted for me.
Clare and Dave, her husband, have a son, Josh, age fourteen, and a daughter, Sara Grace. Cerebral palsy stole Sara’s language skills and confines her to a wheelchair. She’s eleven now, but her developmental age is closer to three. With no mobility, she requires round-the-clock care that demands continual attention and patience. The things most of us take for granted — sharing a meal, brushing our teeth, taking a bath — are incredibly taxing. A common cold for Sara can’t be taken lightly and always requires a trip to the doctor. Even getting Sara into her special van, with all of its lifts and gadgets, is exhausting.
One Sunday at church, during communion, I noticed Clare slipped out early. Later, when I found her in the church foyer, she told me: “I couldn’t do it today. I’m mad at God and I don’t want to share a meal with him.” Clare’s confession followed a dedication ceremony for a new baby. The bright-and-shiny family on the platform included a new son and a beautiful older sister who twirled around the stage in her fancy church dress.
Clare, of course, was happy for that sweet family. But as she watched the beautiful little girl twirl, the joyful movement triggered a creeping sadness within her. She ached for Sara. The string of traumatizing surgeries and the failed brain shunts are only the beginning. Clare wonders most about the thoughts and feelings trapped inside of Sara that can’t find their way past her damaged brain to be expressed. She can’t keep from thinking how her child’s world is so unknown to her and all the people who love her. She can’t keep from thinking how sad even celebrating Sara’s birthday can be, because Sara can’t have little girls over to giggle and play a party game together.
She can’t help but think how life would be if Sara could twirl and dance.
Let me be clear: Clare’s faith is personal, alive, and deeply rooted. But she’s no poser. She’s not about to fake it. That’s why her surprising decision not to partake in communion was a witness to me. Her faith-life is current, in the moment, honest. She’s not one to simply go through the motions. That Sunday, she and God had to come to terms. Clare wasn’t just content to pray about her sadness; she needed to pray through her grief until she had a new sense of God’s involvement in her daughter’s life.
But the breakthrough didn’t come. At least not quickly.
Over the next few months Clare continued to pray. She poured her aching heart out to God, sometimes only with questions and tears.
One day Clare called. “Leslie, today I don’t want to walk Green Lake, or have coffee at Pete’s. Today I want to go to Discovery Beach together. I’ve got something to tell you.” Clare knows this beach is one of my favorite places in the world, a place so reverent it serves as a shortcut to worship, surrounded as it is with the stunning beauty of the Pacific Ocean, Mount Rainier standing guard on the horizon, and the forest meeting up with the sand. As we sat in the winter sunshine, feeling the crisp breeze swirl around us, Clare said her grief was dissipating. God was transforming her heart. In fact, Clare confessed, “Life is still heavy and hard, but I’m finding joy again — for the first time in a long time.” She told me that she was finding surprising meaning in even the toughest times with Sara.
Clare also told me that God had given her a verse:
You did it, [God]: You changed wild lament into whirling dance. – Psalm 30:11
She told me she was ready to come back to the table with God and share a meal. They’d come to terms. She might not see Sara dance or twirl, but God would change her grief into joy anyway.
Then Clare shared about a rare and deep conversation she had just had with our mutual friend, Sandy. Sandy, a nurse, had been by Clare’s side during that first dark year of hospitalization and crisis for Sara. As they talked, Sandy remembered something from those early bleak days in the hospital. God had given Clare a startling vision: a vivid picture of a little girl twirling in a pretty dress. Clare had forgotten it, along with the concrete details of where they were when it happened ten years earlier. They had thought it was a promise for Sara, that God was saying someday, maybe in heaven, Sara would dance.
Sandy said to Clare, “I think God just spoke to me. He told me that little girl twirling in the pretty dress in that vision was you. You are the whirling dancer filled with God’s joy.”
As Clare shared this astounding story with me, I reminded her of the Sunday when she couldn’t take communion because she was so filled with grief. “Remember what triggered it all for you that day?” I asked. “It was the little twirling girl beside her family on the platform.”
In that moment, sitting on a piece of driftwood at Discovery Beach, both of us marveled at our own discovery. God had actually been sending Clare an invitation. He was inviting her to let go of her heartache, to release the deep grief, the wild lament she had borne bravely for a decade. It was time to receive the gift of God’s joy in whirling dance.
Your Turn
1. How has a time of suffering led you into a deeper communion with God? Are you experiencing a similar communion currently with God? Why or why not?
2. How are your honest doubts and disappointments leading you to a new place of trust and joy?
Excerpted with permission from Soul Friends: What Every Woman Needs to Grow in Her Faith by Dr. Leslie Parrott, copyright Zondervan, 2015.

* * *
Come join the conversation about suffering and joy on our blog! We would love to hear from you about suffering being transformed into joy and a deeper faith in Jesus!
 

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Save 60% off Soul Friends: What Every Woman Needs to Grow in Her Faith  

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In Soul Friends, Dr. Leslie Parrott explores the intimate stages of a woman’s spiritual journey while showing you how soul friendships can deepen and enlarge your faith.
God brings us soul friends to help in our spiritual journey, sometimes in predictable places: small groups, friendships, and mentors. But they’re sometimes found in places we don’t expect — these “hidden guides” are people, past or present, whose role in our life may even be hidden from them, but nevertheless, have a deep impact on our growth and vitality. Whether it’s a hidden guide, a member of a small group, or a friend we’ve had for years, these soul friends all hold the potential to embody grace that enables us to take a next step in the unfolding journey of our faith.
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Take Heart, it’s all good!!

Consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. — Romans 8:18
Devotionals Daily

God’s Peace for When You Are Suffering
from God’s Peace for When You Can’t Sleep

John 16:33
The heart of the Christian story revolves around suffering. Jesus suffered on the Cross for our sin, providing a way of redemption for us sinners. Suffering is something none of us want to go through, yet we are all prone to at some time in our lives.
Are you walking a difficult path through suffering right now? At times it may seem like there’s no end in sight, but don’t lose hope — for there is an end, there is always an end if you’re a believer.
If you’re having trouble sleeping because of your current state of suffering, be it physical, emotional, or spiritual, be reminded of God’s holy Word and the messages of hope within.
While the heart of the Christian faith is about suffering, it also is about redemption. God takes broken things and makes them beautiful.
He is the Creator of redemption. As you lie in bed wrestling with your suffering, it can be so hard — and seem almost cruel — to be told that your suffering will birth something beautiful. Yet the Lord speaks truth in His Word: although those who love Him often go through suffering, it can be a time to draw ever so close to the heart of the Lord. During times of suffering, death, pain, and darkness are turned to rebirth, healing, and light when you are part of the Christian story.
As Christians, we are to expect suffering. In John 16:33, Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble,” but He followed up that statement with a beautiful, hope-filled statement: “Take heart.” You may wonder, Why? Why should I take heart when my suffering is so acute? The answer is this: Jesus has overcome the world through the death He suffered on the cross. Because of His work on the Cross, you can have hope in your suffering. The Lord has overcome evil, and He will bring you to a place of splendor.
Tonight, even in the middle of your suffering, take comfort in the words of the Lord, our Savior. Know that your suffering will be painful, but the Lord’s ability to strengthen you during this time — even grieve with you in your pain — can help bandage up even the most broken of hearts. Your present suffering, dear sister or brother, will reveal a greater glory. Fall asleep feeling confident of the Lord’s plan for your life; He will use suffering for good — He promises.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. — Romans 8:18
And the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. — 1 Peter 5:10
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. — John 16:33
Prayer
Father God, be near me in my suffering tonight. It is sometimes hard for me to accept that suffering is a part of life, but it is comforting to know that You are with me always and are working all things together for good. Renew my tired spirit and continually put before me the hope each new day brings.
Blessing
May you experience how deep and rich and wide the love of God can be in your life. May you see your present sufferings as nothing compared to the future glory that will be revealed in heaven. In the midst of your suffering, may you reach for God’s hand and cling to the redemptive work of the Father.
Praise
Thank You, Abba, for your perfect work. You take the ugly, painful suffering in this world and somehow turn it into beauty. You took the dust of the earth and fashioned it into human beings. You made the glorious, green earth out of nothing. and You will take my own personal struggles and make them into precious gems.
* * *
Excerpted with permission from God’s Peace for When You Can’t Sleep, copyright Thomas Nelson.
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Your Turn

Why? Why should I take heart when my suffering is so acute? Because of Jesus. He is with you in your pain. He is for you and promises to use even the terrible hurt that you are in for good. He will make what is ugly beautiful, what is broken whole, what is unfair just, and what is dead alive. He promises! Come join the conversation on our blog. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily
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Don’t let sleepless nights rob you of peace .Every evening, millions of people crawl into bed and struggle either to go to sleep or stay asleep through the quiet hours of the night. What’s worse, lying awake during those dark and silent times can bring on a busy mind and anxious thoughts that make sleeping seem even more impossible. Instead of recharging and resting peacefully before the alarm rings, the early morning sunbeams are met with exhaustion and difficulty focusing.

God’s Peace for When You Can’t Sleep is a wonderful means for calming the mind and soothing the spirit during those drawn-out periods of restlessness.
There are words of encouragment, quotes, Bible verses, blessings, praise and prayers to help direct your thoughts toward a serene and tranquil place of rest—a place full of God’s presence of peace. It’s the perfect companion to keep within reach for any time of night or early morning hours.  
Learn more about God’s Peace for When You Can’t Sleep…
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Relationship with Christ or Religion?

I’ve tasted grace and can’t help but tell others abouJesus heals, redeems, and gives life

What if I told you Jesus came to abolish religion?
What if I told you getting you to vote Republican really wasn’t His mission?
What if I told you religious right doesn’t automatically mean Christian?
And just because you call some people blind, doesn’t automatically give you vision.
I mean, if religion is so great, why has it started so many wars?
Why does it build huge churches, but fail to feed the poor?
Tell single moms God doesn’t love them, if they’ve ever had a divorce?
Yet God in the Old Testament actually calls the religious people whores.
A little sharp, I know. When I first wrote those lines, I didn’t think so, but when in less than forty-eight hours almost seven million people heard me say those words on YouTube, I realized they resonated with more than just a few people.
My best friend makes professional videos, and we thought it would be fun to shoot a spoken-word poem I had written. To our surprise it went viral overnight. At first I was excited. I was now in the blessed company of “David After the Dentist” and “Charlie Bit My Finger.”
Then there was panic.
The number of e-mails, messages, and requests became almost unbearable. For about a solid week, everywhere I looked, I was there: Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Yahoo News, Washington Post, New York Times, CBS Morning Show, Glenn Beck, and others either interviewed me or had a significant piece highlighting the video. One of the YouTube staff even mentioned that something this serious or this explicit about Jesus hardly ever goes viral. In fact #jesushatesreligion was even trending on Twitter for a while. Immediately e-mails started to come in:
Hello, Jeff. My name is Laura. I just wanted to say thank you sooo much for your videos. I have struggled with drugs, sex, and suicide. I always thought that I wasn’t good enough and didn’t belong anywhere ever since I was raped when I was seven. I knew God growing up, but I thought he was just some mythical figure everyone worshiped. One day I was fed up with all of it and decided that was all I could take – I was going to kill myself after school. All day I went through my head saying, It’s finally going to be done, I don’t have to worry. On my way home I got on Facebook one last time and my friend had posted your video “Why I Hate Religion, but Love Jesus.” I figured I might as well watch it because I’m going to end it all anyway. I immediately started crying because the video made me realize that it’s okay that I’m not perfect. There is a place where I belong. Your video gave me the courage to move on and say that I can make it through life. You are my biggest role model… besides God. LOL. When I get so low that I can’t think straight, I just watch your videos over and over. They bring me peace in my mind that God still loves me even if I’ve screwed up.
And another: As I moved away to college, I also moved away from the church, attempting to find my own path. When I stumbled upon your video, I was lost after being disowned by my family for moving away from the Catholic faith. Watching it opened my eyes to Jesus again and made me realize that Jesus isn’t what I grew up with everyday in the church but rather loving and pouring with grace. I started going to the Christian services located on my campus and got back on the right track in life, learning that no matter what anyone else would say about my past, present, or future sins that God will still love me and Jesus is truly everything.
E-mails like these flooded in by the hundreds.
What had I said in my video that struck such a chord? Why were these people sharing these things with me?
To be honest, I was overwhelmed at first. I’m not a counselor. I’m not a pastor. I’m a messed-up twenty-three-year-old who just graduated from college. I was being messaged, e-mailed, and tweeted by thousands of people who were sharing their raw testimonies with me, a complete stranger. Many even stated that it was the first time they had shared their secrets with anyone. I was wondering,
What did I say? What was it about the poem that was so different? Isn’t this just the good news of Jesus that’s been preached for the last two thousand years?
I realized the e-mails were showing just how right the original poem that sparked it all in the first place was. Many people had been sold religion with a nice Jesus sticker slapped on it. Many people had been burned by so-called Christians. Many people had been abused, hurt, mistreated, and maligned all in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
But what their souls were craving was the true Jesus. The One who heals. The One who redeems. The One who gives life.
Let me be straight with you: I’m not really qualified to write this book… But I know that God has quite the sense of humor. It only takes a quick peek into Christian history to realize I’m almost the exact type of person He is looking for. A wise man two thousand years ago put it this way:
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong.
Paul tells us that God loves using people who are useless by worldly standards – because then He gets all the credit. A crooked stick can still draw a straight line, and a messed-up dude like me can still write about an awesome God.
I’ve tasted grace and can’t help but tell others about it.
My hope in sharing my story is that it would somehow thread itself into yours, ultimately weaving us both closer to the ultimate story of a God in heaven who pursues and loves people like us.
Excerpted with permission from Jesus > Religion by Jefferson Bethke, copyright Jefferson Bethke.
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Your Turn
Do you feel unqualified to share you faith publicly? Have you tasted grace like Jefferson describes and felt incapable of staying silent? Join the conversation on our blog! We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily 
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Abandon dead, dry, rule-keeping and embrace the promise of being truly known and deeply loved. 
Jefferson Bethke burst into the cultural conversation in 2012 with a passionate, provocative poem titled “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus.” The 4-minute video literally became an overnight sensation, with 7 million YouTube views in its first 48 hours (and 23+ million in a year). The message blew up on social-media, triggering an avalanche of responses running the gamut from encouraged to enraged.
In Jesus > Religion, Bethke unpacks similar contrasts that he drew in the poem—highlighting the difference between teeth gritting and grace, law and love, performance and peace, despair and hope. With refreshing candor he delves into the motivation behind his message, beginning with the unvarnished tale of his own plunge from the pinnacle of a works-based, fake-smile existence that sapped his strength and led him down a path of destructive behavior.

Bethke is quick to acknowledge that he’s not a pastor or theologian, but simply a regular, twenty-something who cried out for a life greater than the one for which he had settled. Along his journey, Bethke discovered the real Jesus, who beckoned him beyond the props of false religion.

Learn more about Jesus > Religion…
Inspired by today’s devotion? Share it with someone!
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