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Gone Too Soon
Jan 31 3:17 AM

Gone Too Soon

Jan 31 3:17 AM
Jan 31 3:17 AM

David had not yet been crowned king when he heard the news that both King Saul and his dearly beloved friend Jonathan had been killed in battle.

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Day 10
Jan 10 12:49 AM

Day 10

Jan 10 12:49 AM
Jan 10 12:49 AM

As you read today's devotional, play "KNOW YOU" from the Sacred Whispers Playlist.

Spiritual

DARE TO HOPE AGAIN

By Marlin D. Harris

“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God…”

Psalm 42:5

Who among us can forget those classic scenes in the “Rocky” movie series when Sylvester Stallone’s character, Rocky Balboa, is pummeled to the mat after suffering round after round of brutal punishment by his challenger? Almost every movie included the heart-wrenching scene of Rocky being nearly knocked out by his boxing challenger. Whether it was Apollo Creed, Clubber Lang, or Ivan Drago, it was a certainty that Rocky was going to hit the ground. And hit the ground hard. I found myself on the edge of my seat praying that he would just stay down. I couldn’t bear to see the torture any longer. 

Rocky was being pounded, punch after punch, in each case with little to no mercy. His eye would be swollen shut, his ribs broken, and his face deeply bruised. 

Each of Rocky’s opponents was bigger than he was, stronger than he was and for all intents and purposes, they were winning the fight. But then – at that moment when you thought Rocky had nothing left to give – you would hear his theme music. That low-sounding horn belting out its rhythmic notes that just grew stronger and louder until it reached a symphonic crescendo. You knew, despite the beating he just endured, Rocky was getting up; he still had some more ‘fight’ left in him. Beloved, that is what ‘hope’ does!  

In days past you experienced great sorrows and pains, and now your heart seems empty, and your joy has been stolen. Your first impulse is to give up and make your home in the lonely village of despair with all of your hopes and joys dashed before you. Let this be a call for you to defy that temptation. Despair is a never-ending hole that once you fall in, it becomes tragically difficult to pull yourself out. Whatever it is that has dealt you blow after blow, and sent you crashing to the ground, you must not let it win. You have endured a beating, but there is more ‘fight’ left in you. You have to get up. Often we don’t always consider the other people that are at stake in our struggle for hope. This fight not only affects you. It affects so many people around you. Your spouse, your children, your family, your future, but most importantly, your God. Hear the voice of the Holy Spirit nudging you in your heart to get back up off the mat, clench your fist, and swing again with all of your might. 

So, how does our hope get stolen, and how can we get it back? First of all, hope is stolen when any particular disappointment visits our heart one time too many. You can bounce back from one blow, and maybe even two, but how do you bounce back from multiple blows crashing down upon you from the same sorrow. Many people have lost someone they love, and every holiday, birthday, and sometimes, just a ‘normal’ Friday, reminds them of how empty life now feels without them. The blows of grief visit them over and over again in successive waves. They understand what the prophet Isaiah meant in Isaiah 53:3 when he said even Jesus would be a man “acquainted with grief”. For far too many people, grief becomes their old familiar friend. Some people are grieving over a life that they dreamed of but never lived. The dream was so very real, which makes its loss so very painful. They struggle to find a reason to embrace the life that they have because they are left grieving the one that they missed.

Disappointment and sorrow cause deep scars that indelibly carve their story onto the suffering heart. We are never exactly the same after having passed through our deepest hurt. Be careful not to journey too far into that darkness; the trip will slowly cause your hope to leak away. Jesus warned us that “the thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10a). There can be no clearer words that describe what despair will do to the human heart. 

But, take heart! This verse does not end at the word “destroy”! The next phrase is important. Don’t overlook it’s significance or the freeing power that it brings to the heart that will trust in it. This is the truth that God desires to plant deep in the rich soil of your soul every time despair knocks at your door: “I am come that you might have life, and that you might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10b). It is almost as if God just couldn’t end this verse with the enemy destroying, because that is certainly not the end of the story. The story… your story… ends with life; even life more abundantly. Once your heart has embraced the unconditional and unimaginable love of our Savior, you will begin to see life pouring out of your cup and running over. 

I am talking about an abundant, extravagant, joy-filled life. A life that oozes from the inside despite what’s happening on the outside. This life only comes from Jesus. This life only comes from love. If only you could grasp “the breadth and length and depth and height” of this amazing love, you would find the courage to hope again. 

Yes, you are in a fight; and yes, you are suffering some heavy blows. But look around you. You are not alone in this fight. Your champion, the Lover of your soul is fighting for you.  

So, when life hurts, weep; but don’t weep blindly. 

Even through your tears, fix your eyes beyond the current sorrow and look for the joy that God promised would come in the morning (Psalm 30:5). Your morning might be yet for many days, but never doubt that it is coming. Give proper attention to the pain, but don’t focus on it. Look beyond the pain and find the strength. Hold on to the “joy that is set before” (Hebrews 12:2) you. 

This fight is growing you, strengthening you, and building your character. You are not yet the person that you will be once you come out on the other side of this battle. If you can endure the fire today you will come forth from it tomorrow shining like pure gold (Job 23:10). This is how you dare to hope again.

PRAYER

Merciful and Loving Father, I will yet hope in you. When Satan hits me with deep dark sorrows, I will look to You for light. You are my hiding place and my refuge from the storm. I know that You will come swiftly to my rescue and that You will be the lifter of my head. Heal my wounded heart, and grant me Your hope. In Jesus Name, Amen.

DAILY SPIRITUAL EXERCISE

Take out a sheet of paper and write down the following affirmations that you will repeat every day this week.

  1. Because nothing can separate me from God’s love, I will not lose hope. (Romans 8:37-38)
  2. Because God’s goodness and His mercy pursues after me, I will not lose hope. (Psalms 23:6)
  3. Because I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength, I will not lose hope. (Philippians 4:13)
  4. Even though I fall, the Word of God promises that I will get back up, therefore I will not lose hope. (Proverbs 24:16)
  5. Because God promised me life more abundantly, I will not lose hope. (John 10:10)    

Practical

YOU CAN’T RENT SPACE OUT IN MY HEAD!

By Gabrielle Jones

“And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

John 8:32

Have you ever wondered how some of the beliefs that we have in our head ever got there in the first place? We believe we can’t measure up, or we believe that we are not worthy of love, or maybe we believe that joyful days will never come. 

Satan sometimes uses those closest to us to tell us we’re worthless, not enough, and not deserving of God’s love. 

He loves to manipulate our thoughts when we’re alone, or cloud our judgment when we’re confused. Surely the unguarded mind becomes Satan’s free-roaming playground.

Over time, those voices become louder and more constant and before we know it, we’ve given the enemy a lease agreement to rent out space in our head. This leased space in our minds then leaves an open door for depression, anxiety, and hopelessness to get invited in as roommates.  

A full house of lies and images leaves no room for God. These lies are an unruly tenant. They are not satisfied until they have spread out into spaces that they were not invited. 

Soon they leave no room for God. 

No room is available to discern God’s voice, to spend time with God in prayer, or to read and meditate on God’s word. 

Left unchecked, the lies of our enemies will soon overtake the entire house of our minds.  

It’s so easy to become blinded to the real culprit behind the thoughts that have claimed space in our heads. We begin thinking it’s the person who hurt us so deeply, or the friend who betrayed our trust, or even the loved one who failed to love us when we needed it the most. We find ourselves unarmed and ill-equipped for the mental battle that we are facing because we are not fighting against flesh and blood, but against spiritual wickedness in heavenly places.

The source of the lies we think comes from a number of places. Television tells us we don’t have the right look, society tells us we are not the right race, our neighbors tell us that we can’t keep up, the rich tell us that we don’t belong, and the list of lies keeps on going. It’s time to break the rental agreement and evict every emotion that has held us captive to mental pain and bondage.

The way to evict the lies from our thoughts is to fill our thoughts with truth. Jesus reminded us that “the truth will make you free” (John 8:32). Truth will never be found in the shallow images of our celebrity-driven culture, or in the malicious words of hateful people, or in the blind arrogance of those who are stuck in their own pride. You will never find truth if you look for it in any of these things. Truth is only found in Jesus. He is the Truth. If you make Truth the landlord of your thoughts, only then will you be able to evict the lies that have taken up residence in your mind.

In order to break the lease agreement, you must:

  1. Submit to God.  “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you.” James 4:7-8
  2. Evict every thought that is offensive to God.  ‘We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.’ 2 Corinthians 10:5
  3. Pray for those who scorn you? “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31
  4. Give thanks to God every day for who He is “Give thanks to the Lord because he is good, because his faithful love endures forever.” 1 Chronicles 16:34
  5. Sign a new rental agreement with the Author and Finisher of your faith by joining a New Life Church Life Group at https://www.newlife-atl.org/about-life-groups/

PRAYER

Lord Jesus, by the power of Your Name, and by the victory won through your Cross, I evict every lie and false thought that comes from the enemy. You are the Truth that crushes every falsehood. May You reveal Your truth to me through the words that You have spoken. Make them a lamp for my feet and a light unto my pathway. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.


ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Download Fasting Guide

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