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April 30th deliberatePeople. post by Phil and Heather Joel + today's dP reading schedule:

Judges 11:1-12:15 / John 1:1-28 / Psalm 101:1-8 / Proverbs 14:13-14

Standout Verse:

Psalm 101:2-4

“I will behave wisely in a perfect way.  I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.  I WILL SET NOTHING WICKED BEFORE MY EYES.  I hate the work of those who fall away.  IT SHALL NOT CLING TO ME.  A perverse heart shall depart from me – I will not know wickedness.”

Pretty straight forward - a strong vision for what should and CAN be.  “Perfect” in this context simply means CLEAN.  This kind of living isn’t some idealistic, pie-in-the-sky impossible, unrealistic goal.  It’s a vision God wants each of us to have and believe for our lives.  The truth is, when He gives us a vision, He also gives the strength and strategy to attain it.  The vision He has for each of us is for us to walk with Him UNHINDERED, CLEAN AND FREE!

One super practical way of doing that is this: We shouldn’t put junk (wicked stuff) before our eyes.  If we do, there is a 100% chance it’ll get it’s hooks in us. So, on a practical tip, we must take inventory of our lives and our homes and get rid of the stuff that is separating us from the Lord.  As we get rid of things that are snares and thorns we’ll notice that they no longer “cling” to us, BECAUSE THEY’RE NOT THERE! 

This is a great, verse to read as we’re in the season for SPRING CLEANING.  If it’s wicked, junky, unnecessary clutter (destructive or unhealthy media chioces, overindulgence in fake, false social media - ANYTHING that sucks the life out of our relationships and/or causes us to be centered on ourselves) then PITCH IT!  If it’s not set before our eyes, we’ve got a fantastic shot at LIVING CLEAN!  Super logical and inspiring!

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April 29th deliberatePeople. post by Phil and Heather Joel + today's dP reading schedule:

Judges 9:22-10:18 / Luke 24:13-53 / Psalm 100:1-5 / Proverbs 14:11-12

Luke 24:32 & 45

“And they said to one another, "Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us? And He opened their understanding that they might comprehend the Scriptures.”

Lord Jesus, speak to us and show us the things that we need to see. Bring revelation to us as we open our eyes and our hearts to Your word. We need the honest, loving voice of The Holy Spirit who knows exactly what we need to hear exactly when we need to hear it.

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April 28th deliberatePeople. post by Phil and Heather Joel + today's dP reading schedule:

Judges 8:17-9:21 / Luke 23:44-24:12 / Psalm 99:1-9 / Proverbs 14:9-10

Standout verse:

Judges 8:24-35

The end of the story of Gideon

Sadly, at the end of a life marked by courage and faithfulness, Gideon strayed from the Lord.  He made an ephod out of the jewels and plunder from the conquest of Midian, and erected it in the city leading the people to fall into idolatry – so did Gideon and his family.

When God gives us rest and blessing, let’s not get too comfortable, lazy or lose the spiritual desperation that once drove us to our knees in passionate pursuit of the Lord.  We must continue each day to surrender our hearts, minds and lives to the Lord KEEPING HIM AT THE CENTER OF IT ALL.  If that priority falls out of order, everything else will follow.

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April 27th deliberatePeople. post by Phil and Heather Joel + today's dP reading schedule:

Judges 7:1-8:16 / Luke 23:11-43 / Psalm 97:1-98:9 / Proverbs 14:7-8

Standout Verse:

 

Psalm 97:10-11

“O you who love the Lord, HATE EVIL! He preserves the lives of his saints; he delivers them from the hand of the wicked. Light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart.”

As we walk with the Lord, tuning our ears and hearts to His voice, we get to enjoy the sweetness, gladness and light of His presence in our lives. His “presence” isn't just an intellectual concept – it’s a totally available REALITY to be experienced and enjoyed EVERYDAY.

When we are walking closely with God – experiencing His goodness and acknowledging  His amazing hand of peace and provision – we become more vigilant, watchful and aware; LOVING WHAT IS GOOD AND HATING WHAT IS EVIL.  This isn't from a place of fear or paranoia but rather from place of deeper understanding and a desire to please the Lord and not compromise in our relationship with Him.

If we are finding ourselves in a cycle of sin then chances are not recognizing evil for what it is and we have allowed ourselves to entertain it rather than stand against it.  We need to ask the Lord to open our eyes, and help us remove our feet far from anything that would seek to separate us from Him.  Sin that isn't dealt with will give the squeeze to Gods presence and rob us of joy.

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April 26th deliberatePeople. post by Phil and Heather Joel + today's dP reading schedule:

Judges 6:1-40 / Luke 22:55-23:10 / Psalm 95:1-96:13 / Proverbs 14:5-6

Standout Verse:

Proverbs 14:6

"A scoffer seeks wisdom and does not find it, but knowledge is easy to him who understands."

This verse isn’t about our intelligence – it’s all about our hearts. If a heart becomes hard and cynical then the truth will be difficult to see and apply. But, if our hearts remain tender and free of diseases such as hidden sin, bitterness, and pride, then knowledge, learning and wisdom will be revealed and received with ease.

If we’re not learning and growing in our knowledge of the truth of Jesus, or if our relationship with Him feels stagnant, we may want to ask the Lord to scan our hearts for blockages.

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April 25th deliberatePeople. post by Phil and Heather Joel + today's dP reading schedule:

Judges 4:1-5:31 / Luke 22:35-54 / Psalm 94:1-23 / Proverbs 14:3-4

Standout Verse: JUDGES

The book of Judges is an account of the roller coaster journey of the Israelites.  As they repeatedly fell into sin, turned their hearts toward other gods and joined themselves to people who didn’t know the Lord, they would find themselves in a place of captivity and oppression.  After a time of suffering, they would realize they had gotten themselves into trouble because they’d turned their hearts away from Him.  They would then cry out to God and repent.  He would hear their cries, forgive their sin, rescue, and restore them back to Himself and things would be good for a season.  However, as time wore on they would become complacent in their relationship with Him, their hearts would gradually turn away and they would find themselves in full blown rebellion, sin and unfaithfulness all over again.

Some important things to see in Judges…

1. We serve a LOVING FATHER who deeply desires to be in a close, growing relationship with His children.  No matter where we’ve been or what we’ve done, He is ALWAYS ready and willing to forgive our sin and bring us back to Himself. 

2. ROLLER COASTER LIVING STINKS.  Life doesn’t have to be that way.  A “drop in, drop out” relationship with the Lord will only produce frustration, hopelessness and confusion.  Our relationship with Him is meant to be strong, steady, growing and green – even in hard times!  It was never meant to be up, down, distant, or flat-lined.

3. We need to learn from history.  The Israelites are the perfect example of “what NOT to do” in terms of their crazy, volatile lifestyle. The book of Judges is a gift that the Lord has given us so we can learn by study rather than first-hand experience. 

4. The story of the Israelites doesn’t have to be the story of our lives.  We can learn from them and CHOOSE TO BE FAITHFUL, DELIBERATE, AND STEADFAST IN OUR WALK WITH GOD as we simply SAY “NO” TO CRAZY ROLLER COASTER LIVING!

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April 24th deliberatePeople. post by Phil and Heather Joel + today's dP reading schedule:

Judges 1:1-2:9 / Luke 21:29-22:13 / Psalm 90:1-91:16 / Proverbs 13:24-25

 Standout Verse:

 Luke 22:27

“For who is greater, he who sits at the table or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.”

Again, Jesus stated He came to serve and not be served. His ways and His Kingdom are completely contrary to the value systems that the world holds dear.  The enemy of our souls is a hustler, telling us that fame and fortune, position and power will make us feel significant and whole…the more people we have working for us, serving us, or "following us", the more validated we will be. He’s a liar.

If we are not walking closely with the Lord, we will feel an emptiness that will make it hard to see beyond our own neediness to the needs of others and we’ll find it difficult to serve without looking for some kind of worldly return.   However, as we CHOOSE to walk closely with the Lord, our neediness will be filled with His life-giving truth and our eyes will be opened to see those around us that we can serve without any hidden motive that desires recognition and praise.  

Serving and loving others well is an up-side-down concept that the world stands contrary to, but it is completely logical, beautiful and life-giving to a person whose  heart has been regenerated by Jesus.

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April 23rd deliberatePeople. post by Phil and Heather Joel + today's dP reading schedule:

Judges 1:1-2:9 / Luke 21:29-22:13 / Psalm 90:1-91:16 / Proverbs 13:24-25

Standout Verse:

Proverbs 13:24

“He who spares the rod spoils his son, but he who loves him disciplines him PROMPTLY.”

The key focus of this verse is the word PROMPTLY, meaning “right away” or “on time” - while they are still young and most able to be shaped.  As parents whose job it is to raise Godly children whose hearts are set on the things of Him, it is absolutely essential that we have TIME to do our job well…it is the KEY INGREDIENT to parenting!

God has given us the task of raising our children so they will enter into adulthood with strong, steadfast foundations.  This requires years of hands-on shaping, discipline, molding, and encouraging them in the way they should go.  This kind of focused work doesn’t just “happen”.  We can’t expect to have amazing results if we don’t have time to do our jobs well.  We can’t “relax”, ‘take a break” or leave our job to someone else…if we do this at any point, things won’t go well.

Parenting can definitely be an overwhelming job at times, but the TRUTH is WE CAN DO IT WITH GOD”S HELP – that’s His design!  He calls us to FIRST to LOVE HIM WITH ALL OUR HEARTS, MIND AND STRENGTH, and then TEACH THIS LIFE-GIVING TRUTH TO OUR CHILDREN.  The love we have for our children should propel us to examine ourselves and make the time in our lives necessary to teach and train them up to know their Heavenly Father! 

Get the vision for your family and go for it (whether you have a family yet or not).  He will never give us a job too big or too difficult for us.  God promises to walk with us each step of the way.  Where God guides, He also provides! BE ENCOURAGED and INSPIRED!

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April 22nd deliberatePeople. post by Phil and Heather Joel + today's dP reading schedule:

Joshua 24:1-33 / Luke 21:1-28 / Psalm 89:38-52 / Proverbs 13:20-23

Standout Verse:

Joshua 24: Re-capping the Israelites journey in the wilderness

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(v. 15) “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the river or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell.  But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

In this fast-paced world we live in, it is essential that we SLOW DOWN long enough to REMEMBER God’s continued faithfulness in our lives.  If we don’t do this, our finite, human minds will forget the amazing things He has done and we end up susceptible to falling prey to the enemy’s lies and discouragement making it easy to lose our way.

As we REMEMBER the journey and think about the miraculous ways He’s delivered us…the sea’s He’s parted, the manna He’s provided for us, the ways He’s met our daily needs, and the battles He’s won for us it builds our faith and helps us acknowledge His mighty hand in our lives.  When we do this, our hope is ignited, our courage grows, and we are able to walk forward trusting Him to a greater measure. 

It makes the decision to CHOOSE WHOM WE WILL SERVE all the more clear-cut.  As our eyes are fixed on Him and we acknowledge the Lord for all He has done in our lives, the decision to continue to CHOOSE Him and walk with Him in whole-hearted devotion is an easy one! 

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April 21th deliberatePeople. post by Phil and Heather Joel + today's dP reading schedule:

Joshua 22:21-23:16 / Luke 20:27-47 / Psalm 89:14-37 / Proverbs 13:17-19

Standout Verse:

Joshua 23:6, 9-11,13

“Therefore be very courageous to keep and do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, lest you turn aside from it to the right or to the left. (v. 9) For the Lord has driven out from before you great and strong nations; but as for you, no one has been able to stand against you to this day. One man of you shall chase a thousand, for the Lord your God is He who fights for you, as He promised you. Therefore, take careful heed to yourselves that you love the Lord your God. Or else if indeed you do go back and cling to the remnant of these nations…

Obedience is something we CAN do!  God calls us to be COURAGEOUS as we CHOOSE Him and His ways.  Over and over we read about the promises of blessing, provision and protection the Lord gives to those who are faithful and obedient. When we are walking in a devoted, passionate, daily relationship with the Lord pursuing His truth, clinging to Him instead of the things of this world, we will experience His life-giving peace.

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