Changed!

Philippians 3:8 (NIV)
What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ…

Philippians 3:8 (MSG)
Yes, all the things I once thought were so important are gone from my life. Compared to the high privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as my Master, firsthand, everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant – dog dung. I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ…
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“But more than that, I count everything as loss compared to the priceless privilege and supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord [and of growing more deeply and thoroughly acquainted with Him—a joy unequaled]. For His sake I have lost everything, and I consider it all garbage, so that I may gain Christ…” -AMPLIFIED

For the child of God who has stepped out in faith to follow Him, love Him and serve Him, turning back to the old ways of our past should never be an option. Paul tells the Philippians, “But whatever former things were gains to me [as I thought then], these things [once regarded as advancements in merit] I have come to consider as loss [absolutely worthless] for the sake of Christ [and the purpose which He has given my life].” -Philippians 3:7 (AMP) “These things that I once considered valuable, I now consider worthless for Christ.” -Philippians 3:7 (GWT)

Paul insists that we cut our losses, because the privilege of knowing Christ Jesus as Master of our lives is definitively of greater value than anything that we have ever known. “See what an incredible quality of love the Father has shown to us, that we would [be permitted to] be named and called and counted the children of God! And so we are! For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.” -1 John 3:1 (AMP)

When Jesus comes into our lives our priories in this life should change. No longer should we seek selfish ambitions and desires, but we should be striving to be pleasing to Him. Jesus tells us in Luke that when someone repents there definitely is life changes, “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents [that is, changes his inner self—his old way of thinking, regrets past sins, lives his life in a way that proves repentance; and seeks God’s purpose for his life].” -Luke 15:10 (AMP)

Paul contends, “…everything I once thought I had going for me is insignificant – dog dung.” All those things that I once prized and held highly, they are rubbish, garbage, good for nothing. Those things in the light of God are of no significance; in fact He considers them all foolishness. “Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness”; and again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.” -1 Corinthians 3:18-20 (NIV)

Why does Paul press this point so strongly? He tells us why, “I’ve dumped it all in the trash so that I could embrace Christ and be embraced by him. I didn’t want some petty, inferior brand of righteousness that comes from keeping a list of rules when I could get the robust kind that comes from trusting Christ—God’s righteousness.” -Philippians 3:8b-9 (MSG)

Folks, all that glitters is not gold. Be careful lest you be deceived into accepting something as precious and significant when it is nothing but fool’s gold. God desires that each of us “gain” Christ and that we know Him in His fullness. Do not settle for anything less!

My Prayer:
Lord, when you walked into my life and touched me with your overwhelming love things definitely changed; I became new in you. As a new creature, the old had gone and the new had come. Help me never to look back, but to continue to strive to know more of you. Help me to be an open willing vessel; ready to be used by you and filled by you. When you walked into my life every changed for the best. Continue to work your good will in my life, dear Lord. Have your way in me today and every day.

Mysteries of God revealed.

Daily devotional from Tonia Slimm.

Colossians 2:2-4 (NIV)
My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.

Colossians 2:2-4 (MSG)
I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God. Then you will have minds confident and at rest, focused on Christ, God’s great mystery. All the richest treasures of wisdom and knowledge are embedded in that mystery and nowhere else. And we’ve been shown the mystery! I’m telling you this because I don’t want anyone leading you off on some wild-goose chase, after other so-called mysteries, or “the Secret.”
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“[For my hope is] that their hearts may be encouraged as they are knit together in [unselfish] love, so that they may have all the riches that come from the full assurance of understanding [the joy of salvation], resulting in a true [and more intimate] knowledge of the [mystery of God, that is, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge [regarding the word and purposes of God]. I say this so that no one will deceive you with persuasive [but thoroughly deceptive] arguments.” -AMPLIFIED

Paul, speaking to the Colossians, tells them right up front what his goal is for them; to be encouraged in heart and untied in love. Why? So that they may have minds confident and at rest, focused on Jesus Christ our Lord.

Paul’s desire was for them to know God in His fullness; this would happen when they were united or knit together in love. Adam Clarke’s Commentary tells us that this unity or knitting together “signifies being united, as the beams or the timbers of a building, by mortises and pins. The visible Church of Christ cannot be in union with God unless it has unity in itself, and without love this unity is impossible.”

The purpose for all of this was so that the Colossians could know and understand the “MYSTERY” of God. Who doesn’t enjoy a good mystery? (Apparently Paul did, because he used the word 17-21 times in his writings; depending on which translation you use.) What was this mystery anyhow? The mystery was Jesus Christ, the Son of God. God Himself incarnate, in whom all treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden; in order to understand this mystery though they would need to work together in love. That which had been hidden to them would be revealed, but it would take a joint effort from each of them to understand the significance.

Who can know the mysteries of God? Only those whom the Holy Spirit reveals them to. Paul reminded the Corinthians of this fact. “However, as the scripture says, “What no one ever saw or heard, what no one ever thought could happen, is the very thing God prepared for those who love him.” But it was to us that God made known his secret by means of his Spirit. The Spirit searches everything, even the hidden depths of God’s purposes. It is only our own spirit within us that knows all about us; in the same way, only God’s Spirit knows all about God.” -1 Corinthians 2:9-11 (GNT)

In Christ alone is the fullness of the God-head revealed. H.A. Ironside said, “Truth unites. Error divides. Paul wanted the hearts of the Colossians to be “knit together in love” as they understood “the mystery of God”. As believers comprehend “the mystery,” they are delivered from vain speculations and fleshly strivings, for all perfection is found in Christ.” Together they would learn and share of the wonders of God as He gave them understanding.

There is no understanding of God without a personal relationship with His Son. It is in Christ that “All the richest treasures of wisdom and knowledge are embedded in that mystery and nowhere else.” In turn, do not forsake the gathering together of the saints; for it is within the family of God that we learn and understand the workings of this mystery from one another. It will be through the the Holy Spirit’s revelation that we will have true understanding of the mysteries of God; not through any other way.

My Prayer:
Lord, I desire to know you more. I want to understand the mysteries of who you are, how you work and why. As I study your word, gather together with your children and seek you more please allow your Holy Spirit to bring understanding to my heart and my mind. Knit your children together into a tapestry of love and allow us to function as you desire us to function. In these last days, may we grasp the need to reach the masses and share your message with them; especially the mystery of the gift of your Son. Open our eyes and reveal to us the importance of what needs to be done. When I stand before your throne, may I be found faithful and true; having done all I could to share the mysteries of who you are with those who are lost. Let your love be in me!

Face-to-Face with the Almighty.

Ezekiel 3:22-23 (NIV)
The hand of the Lord was on me there, and he said to me, “Get up and go out to the plain, and there I will speak to you.” So I got up and went out to the plain. And the glory of the Lord was standing there, like the glory I had seen by the Kebar River, and I fell facedown.

Ezekiel 3:22-23 (MSG)
God grabbed me by the shoulder and said, “Get up. Go out on the plain. I want to talk with you.” So I got up and went out on the plain. I couldn’t believe my eyes: the Glory of God! Right there! It was like the Glory I had seen at the Kebar River. I fell to the ground, prostrate.
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“The hand of the Lord was on me there, and He said to me, “Arise, go out to the plain, and I will speak to you.” So I got up and went out to the plain; and behold, the glory and brilliance of the Lord was standing there, like the glory I had seen by the River Chebar, and I fell face downward.” -AMPLIFIED

Ezekiel finds himself having a face-to-face encounter with the Almighty; a fresh anointing, a new revelation of the glory of God. Ezekiel tells us that the hand of God was on him and His voice directed him. God told Ezekiel to, “Arise, go out to the plain and I will speak to you.” There Ezekiel’s life was to take a new direction and be changed forever.

There are others in Scripture that had face-to-face encounters with God that changed the direction of their lives; in fact, it changed them personally forever. Let us consider a few of them:

1.) Moses – “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” -Exodus 33:11a (NIV)

2.) Jacob – “Jacob named the place Peniel (God’s Face) because, he said, “I saw God face-to-face and lived to tell the story!” -Genesis 32:30 (MSG)

3.) Abraham – “But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied.” -Genesis 22:11 (NIV)

Most of us know the stories of these men. We know of the encounters that they had face-to-face with God, which was a turning point for each of them. Yet too many of us fear a fresh encounter with God for ourselves. Could it be that we are satisfied with our status quo and have no desire to change?

Notice what happened with Ezekiel when he was obedient in rising up and going out to the plain; he had an encounter with God that swept him off his feet. “To know God and to be consciously in His presence always produces humiliation of soul and a sense of utter worthlessness, but it also leads to worship and adoration. It was so with Ezekiel. Overwhelmed by the vision of the glory of Jehovah, he fell prostrate on his face.” -H.A. Ironside

When we are willing to get serious with God then we will experience Him in a new and real way. Jeremiah shared these words given to him from God, “When you come looking for me, you’ll find me. “Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed.” God’s Decree.” -Jeremiah 29:13 (MSG)

Ezekiel was willing to be obedient and meet God on His terms. This fresh encounter was a good thing and it changed him for the better. We too should be obedient to the voice of God calling us into His presence for a fresh anointing, a new encounter with Him. Do not settle for less than God’s ultimate best in your life. Come into the presence of the Almighty and be changed. Humble yourself before God and He will lift you up.

My Prayer:
Almighty One, humbly I submit to you. I will be obedient to your calling on my life. You desire to give me a fresh anointing and yes, Lord, I want it; all of it. I seek to know you more. I desire the very best that you intend for me. Do not let me give in to fear or the desire to stay comfortable with where I am, but help me to hunger and thirst after more of you. More of you, Lord, more of you; I seek a face-to-face encounter with you so that I may experience the glory and brilliance of who you are in my life.

Spending time in the presence of God.

Matthew 6:6 (NIV)
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Matthew 6:6 (MSG)
“Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.
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“But when you pray, go into your most private room, close the door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees [what is done] in secret will reward you.” -AMPLIFIED

We find this verse falling within a passage where Jesus is pointing out the short comings of the religious leaders. These men would stand where all could see them, drawing attention to themselves, in the synagogue or even on the street corners. They would pray long drawn-out prayers, looking pious and holy, dressed in the correct robes. Jesus called them hypocrites.

These religious leaders were not trying to seek to be closer to God, they were trying to gain a higher standing with men, by proving how pious and holy they were. Jesus’ solution to this problem was to, “Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God” and others; and pray to the Father.

It is important for us to realize our need of spending time with God without the distractions of others around us. God desires one-on-one time with each of us. He wants to be up close and intimate with us; we were actually created for that very purpose. Spending time with our Heavenly Father will actually prepare us for whatever issues we may meet each day.

In the crazy, fast-passed World that we live in at times finding time to spend with God seems like an impossibility, but friend, we cannot afford NOT TO make time for Him. Spending time with Him is where we will find the empowerment, strength, leading and guidance that we need to face the trials of this life.

Jesus, Himself, took the time to rise early to spend time with the Father. We see throughout the Gospels Jesus making time to get away from the crowds and getting alone so He could have some time with God. He understood the importance of spending intimate time with His Father. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” -Mark 1:35

Making alone time with God also acknowledges that He is in authority over us. We acknowledge that He is Lord of our lives and we are being obedient to Him by making time for Him. Remember too, Jesus told us that the Father who can see what happens in secret will reward us.

Make God your first priority. Test Him and see if things in your life do not change when you put Him first. You will find that by making time for Him you will not be more rushed, but there will seem to be more time to accomplish the things that He has called you to do. You will find that you have a burst of strength that comes from God. You will find that your life has less stress, because you are relying on God and not on self. In fact, you will feel the overwhelming presence of God flowing into you and filling you with His love, peace and joy. That sounds like a winning situation!

My Prayer:
Lord, I humbly acknowledge that I need you in my life; even more than I ever realized. I understand the need to get away from the rat race of life and spend some one-on-one time with you. Help me to make a habit of making time to sit in your presence to commune with you. Be my all in all. Give me everything I need to get through today with You leading and guiding me each step of the way.

It is time to be real with yourself and God.

Genesis 32:24-28 (NIV)
So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” The man asked him, “What is your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”

Genesis 32:24-28 (MSG)
But Jacob stayed behind by himself, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he couldn’t get the best of Jacob as they wrestled, he deliberately threw Jacob’s hip out of joint. The man said, “Let me go; it’s daybreak.” Jacob said, “I’m not letting you go ’til you bless me.” The man said, “What’s your name?” He answered, “Jacob.” The man said, “But no longer. Your name is no longer Jacob. From now on it’s Israel (God-Wrestler); you’ve wrestled with God and you’ve come through.”
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“So Jacob was left alone, and a Man [came and] wrestled with him until daybreak. When the Man saw that He had not prevailed against Jacob, He touched his hip joint; and Jacob’s hip was dislocated as he wrestled with Him. Then He said, “Let Me go, for day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let You go unless You declare a blessing on me.” So He asked him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” And He said, “Your name shall no longer be Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men and have prevailed.” -AMPLIFIED

Jacob had been living a long time pretending to be someone and something that he was not. Jacob the pretender was in for a very rude awakening on this particular night. He was about to have a face-to-face confrontation with a Messenger of the Lord; not only that but he was also about to have a face-to-face with the reality of who he truly was. That is often a humbling experience.

Notice, Jacob was left alone to do battle all night long. We are not told who “the Man” was, but later in the passage when Jacob receives his new name, Israel, we are told it means “One who struggled with God” or “God-Wrestler”. Alone, Jacob had to deal with the issues of his past; alone he had to face who he had allowed himself to become. Alone, Jacob had an encounter with God and it would change his life forever. We are told he struggled until daybreak; it must have been a long exhausting night.

We find from our passage that as the sun began to come up it was time to put an end to this wrestling match. “When the Man saw that He had not prevailed against Jacob, He touched his hip joint; and Jacob’s hip was dislocated as he wrestled with Him. Then He said, “Let Me go, for day is breaking.”

“This is the only wrestling match between man and God in the Bible that is recorded. Jacob did pretty good, I think God was letting him win a little, and Jacob got real with God right here. He said, even though I have a lot of this worlds goods, even though some would call me a success, I am miserable in life, and unless you bless me, I will not let go. Jacob had come to the end of himself and was ready to yield his life to God. I am tired of doing it my way, let’s do it your way. The only way I will ever be blessed is if you bless me with your presence and purpose and plan for my life. There is no joy or peace outside of you O God. I have deceived my way to the top, but I still feel like I am at the bottom of life. Bless me Lord and I will be blessed. I would rather walk with you in emptiness and brokenness, than to walk without you in prosperity and wealth.” -Stephen Funderburk

We will never change unless we are honest with ourselves. We can never change if we insist on pretending that we are someone that we are not. We can’t change unless we are willing to have a face-to-face encounter with our Creator, Savior, or God. Its time to get real with ourselves and with our God.

My Prayer:
Abba Father, help me to be who you have called me to be. Help me to be real with myself and you. You know everything about me; so there is no hiding behind the facade, there is no pretending with you. Help me to live a yielded life to you; allowing you to have full control of my life. I want to be blessed by you and I desire to make a difference in this World for you. I know you have a purpose and a plan for my life. In obedience I ask you to work in and through me.

God knows everything about us; from the inside out.

Psalm 139:1-6 (NIV)
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

Psalm 139:1-6 (MSG)
God, investigate my life; get all the facts firsthand. I’m an open book to you; even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking. You know when I leave and when I get back; I’m never out of your sight. You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence. I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead and you’re there, too—your reassuring presence, coming and going. This is too much, too wonderful—I can’t take it all in!
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“O Lord, you have searched me [thoroughly] and have known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up [my entire life, everything I do]; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, And You are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue [still unspoken], Behold, O Lord, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, And [You have] placed Your hand upon me. Such [infinite] knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is too high [above me], I cannot reach it.” -AMPLIFIED

In this Psalm David points out the fact that God knows everything about us. That can be a terrifying bit of news or a comforting one; depending on how you are living your life. Yet, it is of utmost importance that we DO realize that nothing is hidden from the eyes of God; He knows all. “…whenever our heart convicts us [in guilt]; for God is greater than our heart and He knows all things [nothing is hidden from Him because we are in His hands].” -1 John 3:20 (AMP)

Solomon also warned that God knows our innermost being; “God is in charge of human life, watching and examining us inside and out.” Proverbs 20:27 (MSG)

As David has stated, God knows every part of us; inside and out. He knows our very thoughts (oh boy, that could get many of us in a whole lot of trouble). The Message Version says that we are an open book before God; even from a distance. So, the question is why do we so often come before God with our pretenses and our facades? Do we really think we can fool God? If only we would realize that the only one we are truly fooling is ourselves.

Verse 6 of our text shows us David’s response to the knowledge that God knows everything about him. David says, “It is the most amazing feeling to know how deeply You know me, inside and out; the realization of it is so great that I cannot comprehend it.” -(The Voice) David was not upset, angry or put off by the fact that God knew him intimately; he was filled with wonder and amazement. In David’s book this was a good thing, not a bad thing.

It is time for us to put aside our silly pretenses and facades; to stop fooling ourselves in believing how amazing we are and come humbly before our God and Maker; who knows us inside and out. It is time to be “REAL” with ourselves; for God already knows who we really, truly are. He knows all our warts, scars and battle-wounds; yet none of that sways His love for us. Let’s be honest with ourselves and God for once. It is time to go to the Father and allow Him to work in our lives as only He can; to bring healing, peace, comfort and wholeness to our lives.

My Prayer:
Here I am Lord, come to sit humbly at your feet; I am putting aside all my pretenses. You know everything about me; all my hopes, dreams, embarrassments, failures and achievements. You know them all and love me still; thank you for that fact, dear God. Let me live my life as the open book before you that I am. I do not want to hang my head in shame before you, but I do want to walk humbly before you. I want you to be proud of who I am, Lord. Help me to live my life as a testimony of God’s grace before all.

Share the stories of God working in your life.

Psalm 145:6 (NIV)
They tell of the power of your awesome works—and I will proclaim your great deeds.

Psalm 145:6 (MSG)
Your marvelous doings are headline news; I could write a book full of the details of your greatness.
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“People will speak of the power of Your awesome acts, And [with gratitude and submissive wonder] I will tell of Your greatness.” -AMPLIFIED

Psalm 145 is another Psalm of David; a song of praise written to Adonai, his God and King. Back in verse 4 we find David stating, “Generation after generation stands in awe of your work; each one tells stories of your mighty acts.” We find a tradition of praise passed from era to another; speaking of the wonders of the Creator and the mighty works of His hands.

David reminds us of the breathtaking wonder of our God, “God is magnificent; he can never be praised enough. There are no boundaries to his greatness.” (vs. 3) In fact, David reveals to us the affect that God’s greatness has had upon him by saying, “I’ll bless you every day, and keep it up from now to eternity.” (vs. 2)

“Every day will I bless thee. Whatever the character of the day, or of my circumstances and conditions during that day, I will continue to glorify God. Were we well to consider the matter we should see abundant cause in each day for rendering special blessing unto the Lord. All before the day, all in the day, all following the day should constrain us to magnify our God every day, all the year round. Our love to God is not a matter of holy days: every day is alike holy to holy men.” -Charles Spurgeon (Treasury of David)

David reminds us back in Psalm 40 of the great wonders of the Lord. “Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us. None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.” -Psalm 40:5 (NIV)

This is not to say that we should not declare the wonders of our God to others; for we told to declare His deeds among the various nations. “Take the news of his glory to the lost, News of his wonders to one and all!” -Psalm 96:3 (MSG) Publish God’s praise throughout the whole World! Declare His glory to one and all!

David said, “I will tell of your greatness”. How could he do that unless he had experienced it firsthand. David had seen the very hand of God at work in his life and he was going to be sure that everyone knew this. He was going to proclaim God’s greatness. There was no timidness involved; everyone needed to know. David was basically saying, “I am where I am today because of what God did in and through me.”

Our testimony is key to leading others to the saving grace of Christ. When people hear and see what God has done in and through us they realize that we serve and have relationship with a real and living God. We serve a God who cares about us; He loves us with an everlasting love. We serve a God who is constantly with us; never leaving us alone to walk through the valleys alone. We serve a God who understands us; for He has walked where we have walked. People, we have a story to tell. Our God is magnificent and amazing!

My Prayer:
Father God, you are amazing! The things that you have done in my life and through my life have changed my life completely. I am who I am only because of you. Help me to broadcast that fact to all I meet. God, you are amazing and the things you do for your children of wonderful. Your love for your people is mind-blowing and the tender-loving care that you consistently show is humbling. Help me to put aside any timidness that I may have in sharing my story with others; for people everywhere need to know of your magnificent awesomeness!