What We All Must Pursue

This is the Faith I Live By: I will see God if I pursue peace and holiness.
Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Tuesday, May 14, 2019
Audio Linkhttp://bit.ly/ThoughtsinWorship
“Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord”
Hebrews 12:14 (NKJV)

Aspire. Pursue. Persist. Achieve!

With rare exception, people often give up too quickly. We all have dreams, and for a period of time we fixate on them wishing we could achieve them. It is a rare breed of people who see obstacles as inspiration, and use difficulties as fuel to propel them to their next goal. God wants us to put our trust in Him and know that nothing is impossible if we believe (Matthew 17:20).

From Spiritual Failures to Victorious Saints

However, today’s thought is not just about our everyday achievements, although God does care about those. Most importantly, today’s thought is about moving from being spiritual failures to becoming victorious saints. Our theme text exhorts us to pursue peace with others, and holiness. Does that sound familiar? The Ten Commandments are all about that. Love for God and our fellow human beings are the two great commandments that undergird the law.

So in other words, holiness is achieved when we focus on God’s love and His law. Do you see how this works? We receive peace and holiness when we set our focus like we do our goals and allow the power of the Holy Spirit to push us and discipline us as we run. I am not suggesting that these principles are eluding us. It’s just that life’s circumstances often sidetrack those who are not focused on the prize.

Pursue With Faithful Focus

Today can be your day to recommit to pursuing peace and holiness. Yes, there will be a multiplicity of trials, tribulations, temptations, and distractions to get you off track. This is why God promises us angels who excel in strength, along with the Holy Spirit, to provide us all the support we need to achieve God’s standard of holiness. The fact of the matter is, without them none of us will see God. Let’s cooperate with God and help others do the same.

By God’s grace, this is the faith I live by. Let this be the same for you, in Jesus’ name.




Heaven is My Home

This is the Faith I Live By: Heaven is my home
Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Friday, May 10, 2019
Audio Linkhttp://bit.ly/ThoughtsinWorship
“But as it is written, ‘eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.'”
1 Corinthians 2:9 (NKJV)

There are many beautiful spectacles in the world. In nature, cascading waterfalls, towering trees, and fragrant flowers inspire awe in those who see them. We have built sprawling estates with many rooms, and space to house many families comfortably. In fact, gold and marble cover the floors and fixtures in many of our homes. Residences such as these are captivating.

Nothing on Earth Like Heaven

All this, whether natural or fabricated, is nothing in comparison to what God has for those who love Him. Truthfully, there is no language that can even encapsulate the splendor of all that God is preparing for His people. Many inspired writers have attempted to describe the revelations they received, but many could not find adequate words to capture what they saw. The imagination staggers as it tries to conjure up just a glimpse of God’s reward.

There’s a Place for Us

It is a blessing to know that the Lord loves us so much that He is preparing a place for us with Him. In spite of the obstacles that sin has put in the way of our relationship with Him, He has overcome them for those who simply surrender to His will.

Be encouraged by the promise Jesus made to His disciples. “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansion; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:1-3 NKJV). We look forward to that day with great anticipation. If we remain faithful to the end, we will live forever with Jesus.

By God’s grace, this is the faith I live by. Let this be the same for you, in Jesus’ name.




What If Leopards Can Change Their Spots?

This is the Faith I Live By: God doesn’t renovate us, He recreates us.
Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Tuesday, May 7, 2019
Audio Link: http://bit.ly/ThoughtsinWorship
“Can the…leopard [change] its spots? Then may you also do good who are accustomed to do evil.”
Jeremiah 13:23 (NKJV)

 

Have you heard any of the following idioms before?

You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.

The older we get, the more set in our ways we become.

Old habits die hard.

If any of these are true spiritually, our future looks grim. But what if there were a way to change the conversation completely? Even if the statements were true, what if, somehow, some way, the “old dog” could learn new tricks? How about age not determining our behavior? What if we could grow older, but still be open to new possibilities and new ways of thinking? Why do old habits have to die hard? What if the old habits don’t need to die because instead the old self would die? What if a new self could be? Might that change the conversation?

New Creatures

The truth is, when it comes to spiritual things we need a do over. But God does not renovate people, He recreates us. Paul taught that whenever we come to Christ and surrender our wills to Him, we become new creatures; the old self passes away, and all things become new. God promised to take away from us our hearts of stone, and transplant hearts of flesh that are receptive to God’s leading. The psalmist said that when we learn to delight ourselves in the Lord, He would replace our old desires with new ones. New hearts desires new things. Do you see how that works? God does not renovate people, He recreates us. Our old characters invariably carry with them old baggage. Therefore, God announces, “Let there be light!” and we are moved out of the kingdom of darkness and into the kingdom of light.

Wash, Rinse, and Repeat

Do you desire to become new? Are there some embarrassing habits you wish to overcome? Memories of pain and disappointment, do you wish you could bury them? Are there some wrongs you want to right? Today can be the beginning of your new life. Yes, it will take a lot of work and discipline to resist sliding into your old lifestyle, but the power of God which is in you is so much more effective than the world’s pull on you towards sin. You need only to submit.

Submit your thoughts, habits, plans, past mistakes, aspirations, etc. to God, and allow Him to perform His perfect work in you, moment-by-moment today. And if He spares your life to see tomorrow, do it again. If you make it to the next day, do it again. Wash, rinse, and repeat until Jesus comes. If you stumble and fall along the journey, talk to God about it, and turn away from sin with the Holy Spirit’s help, and submit again. Surrendering our hearts is the key, and God will renew us to bring honor to His name.

By God’s grace, this is the faith I live by. Let this be the same for you, in Jesus’ name.




How God Truly Feels About Sin

This is the Faith I Live By: God forgives sin.

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Friday, May 3, 2019

Audio Link

“Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgressions of the remnant of his heritage? He retaineth not his anger forever, because delighteth in mercy.”

Micah 7:18

God’s Character

God is not a pouty, embittered friend who holds grudges when you do Him dirty. He is nothing like us. However, He is definitely not pleased when we sin. Every time we choose ourselves over God we wound His heart damaging our relationship with Him. How can we be so callous and casual with sin, when God has invested so much? But in spite of us, God always finds it within Himself to forgive us and enfold us in His love.

God’s Standards

Now, I do not want to give you the wrong impression about God and His view on sin. Yes, He is gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth. Yes, He is full of mercy for thousands of people; forgiving all sorts of sins. But God will not turn a blind eye and clear unrepentant people of their sinful debts. His grace does not just pardon us. It also empowers us to “go and sin no more.” It is His love and mercy that brings us to our senses and produces the desire within us to repent. But once the desire is birthed it is our responsibility to act. God will not be complicity in our sinful behavior by acting like it doesn’t matter. It does matter. Our sinful behavior has a profound impact on our relationship with God and others. Sin is serious. Sin required the very life of God’s only son.

Our Responsibility

So what’s the least we can do when we sin? I am so glad you asked. The least we can do when we sin is confess and forsake our sins. But that’s only the first part. After we confess and forsake, then we need to embrace the holiness reform plan God designed for our lives. Let us give thanks for the splendid gift of salvation. Let us learn to love like Jesus loved. And let’s begin by surrendering our all to Him so that we are fully enlisted in His service with no reservations.

By God’s grace, this is the faith I live by. I pray this be the same for you, in Jesus’ name.




The Simplicity of Faith

This is the Faith I Live By: Faith connects us to the victory that overcomes the world.

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Monday, April 29, 2019

Audio Link: http://bit.ly/ThoughtsinWorship

“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him” 

Colossians 2:6

Nothing has changed. No-thing has changed! The same way you received Christ into your life still stands as the way to keep Him in your life – by faith. Nobody staged a bait and switch. Nobody is trying to upsell you on a too good to be true, cosmic deal. No. The same way we received Jesus into our lives to evict self and sin, is the same way we continue to walk in the power of His victory.

Righteousness by Works

All too often, people get confused and lose the simplicity of their journey with God. When we heard the sweet entreaties of the Holy Spirit to abandon our sinful ways, overcome long-standing addictions and those emotional hangups that limit our spiritual growth, we simply trusted the Spirit’s guidance and surrendered. But somehow, some way, we’ve allowed the enemy to creep in. He has made us believe that we can take off our spiritual training wheels and rely on our own skills to maintain our holiness.

No matter how many times we fall, skin our knees, and scrape our elbows, we figure if we just try harder we will miraculously get better. The problem is, the flesh never gets better. We always need the Holy Spirit to transform us into new creatures; and this only happens by faith. This holy transformation is 100% linked to us allowing God’s power to flow into our lives so we can continue to walk on the pathway Jesus forged ahead of us.

Righteousness by Faith

Now is the time to return to the simplicity of faith. Return to surrendering your will to God in the mornings. Come back to asking Him to make you more loving, obedient, and kind. Begin yielding to His roadmap when you are tempted to veer off towards self-righteousness, lust, and self-reliance. Faith connects us to the victory that overcomes the world. Nothing has changed.

By God’s grace, this is the faith I live by. I pray this be the same for you, in Jesus’ name.




Keeping the Faith

This is the Faith I Live By:

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Friday, April 26, 2019

Audio Link: http://bit.ly/ThoughtsinWorship

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Hebrews 11:1

Trials come. Difficulties multiply. Problems seem to always know your address. This is where faith comes in. Faith lays hold of God’s promises and does not let go until He keeps them.

What Tries Your Faith?

Have you ever wondered when and from your next dollar will come? The bills are always on time, but the money seems to be working from a different calendar. You work with diligence, but sometimes things don’t always line up. You plead with God to come through for you, and you know it’s just a matter of when He will send the relief. But the wait isn’t any easier.

Maybe money isn’t your problem. Maybe your health is where your greatest challenges lie. When you go to the doctor, the news is seldom good. It just seems to get worse and worse. You pray and do all you can to address the situation, but you feel like the woman with the issue of blood who got worse with every visit to the doctor.

Perhaps your children have lost their spiritual mind. Maybe they have forgotten the truths you invested in them. They could be running away from God like He’s a bill collector. What gives? What has He done to deserve this? Nothing! Sometimes people move along their own paths of darkness until God’s path is the only way out.

Keeping The Faith

How do we overcome these and other trials when there’s no sign of relenting? Faith. It’s the easy answer, considering our theme text. We hope for positive changes and outcomes. We hope that God will miraculously get us out of our mess. We hope that He will flood our lives with favor so these trials will become testimonies. But it takes faith. Faith see the difficulties and remembers that God has resolved limitless problems in the past. Faith lays hold of His good name, His reputation, and (most of all) His power. Faith remembers God’s promises and holds on to them.

Whatever your trial, difficulty, or crucible, you must remember that God has been good, and continue to be good. We must keep the faith until Jesus provides our breakthrough.




Burying Living Things

The Faith I Live By: Jesus Christ is Risen!

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sunday, April 21, 2019

Audio Link: http://bit.ly/ThoughtsinWorship

“Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulcher, brining the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them. And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulcher. And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus. And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments: And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, ‘Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee?'”

Luke 24:1-6

Why are you trying to embalm your answer to prayer? Your answer is alive; but your faith, is it dead?

Burying the Living

You have to admire the dedication of these women. The Bible shows how these women were constantly seeking ways to honor Jesus throughout His life, and ultimately in His death. There was only one problem. They wanted to embalm a living man. Huh? Well they thought Jesus was dead. It was for this reason that they came to the tomb with spices and herbs to anoint His body. But Jesus promised to rise again. How could these women distrust the very word of God? Honestly, I don’t believe they distrusted Jesus. Instead, it seems they allowed their feelings and beliefs to cloud their vision of God’s answer to their prayer.

Can you relate? Has God ever promised to do something special for you but you struggled to believe that it would really happen? Have you ever forgotten God’s promise to you?

Have you ever tried to embalm the very thing God was trying to resurrect?

Burying Our Blessings

Truth is, most of us can relate. If you walk with God long enough you’ll realize that, oftentimes, His promises are far above our understanding. In fact, it’s our inability to understand how God will keep a promise that causes us to quickly lose faith and begin to discount His power. In fact, it seems like almost immediately after our prayers we make these tiny little coffins to squeeze the prospects of His grace into. We prepare things for death that God is trying to raise to live. This story shows us that God wants us to stop burying our faith. He wants us to allow Him to be God! He wants us to allow Him to truly rise and shine in our hearts.

Dear friends, allow God to be the Promise Keeper He has always been. Do not confine the answers to your prayers in a graveyard. Your prayer answering God is alive and well. And when He awakens your faith and opens your eyes, rejoice like the men Jesus engaged on the road to Emmaus. Give thanks!

By God’s grace, this is the faith I live by. Let this be the same for you.




Finding Peace With God

The Faith I Live By: Peace with God is available

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Audio Link: http://bit.ly/ThoughtsinWorship

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Romans 5:1-2

Friend or foe? Enemy of ally? Consort or opponent? Which of the two do you want God to be to you? We can be friends with the God of the universe, if we choose to be friendly.

An Enemy of God

The sin problem has created a strange situation on Earth. God of love, who desires nothing more than for us to be saved, find Himself at odds with humanity. The very people He risked everything to save continually fail to make peace with Him. See I know what you’re thinking: “but David, we can’t make peace with God. We are powerless to do that.” I am so glad you brought that up!

The Process of Reconciliation

It is true, we cannot seek peace with God on our own. We need the Holy Spirit to activate our repentant search for peace. We need Him to teach us to love the law of God. It is this love for God’s law and His Word that creates a peaceful relationship between us and God. When the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives we become aware of our need for transformation, and then the Holy Spirit performs that transformation Himself.

A Friend of God

Jesus can be our friend, ally, and consort. We can make peace with the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer of the universe. All we have to do is allow ourselves to be transformed by the renewing of our minds, seek forgiveness, and ask for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. He will empower us both to will and to do His good pleasure.

By God’s grace, this is the faith I live by. I pray the same for you, in Jesus’ name.




By Faith You Can Be Dirt And Not Be Dirty

The Faith I Live By: I can be dirt without being dirty

Message Magazine’s Morning Devotional for April 15, 2019

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship” on Spreaker.

For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

(Ephesians 2:8–9).

You can be dirt without being dirty! You can be humble without being humiliated. You can be down without being out. You can be low, and yet be exalted. Now that I have your attention, let’s GO!

In The Beginning

Do you realize that God formed your original ancestor, Adam, from dirt? I know, you read that God formed him from the dust of the earth. You get the point, though, right? The most powerful, handsome, stately, and intelligent man ever created was made from dirt! But, it was dirt in the hands of God with divine breath that made Adam a living soul.

He was perfect. His wife, whom God made especially for him, and the mother of all living, was also perfect. She was the standard to which all women would aspire. Created from the dirt, our foreparents were not dirty; when Adam and Eve first stood up in the hands of the Creator they were untarnished, the image of perfection. The moment God finished creating them both He saw Himself in them and said, “it was very good” (Genesis 1:31 NKJV).

Of course, you can see in your own life, never mind the lives of others, that something went wrong. We all have made choices that continually tarnish our characters, but God still loves us! He makes provision to transform us and make us holy despite the challenges.

Mud that Mends

The Bible tells us the story of a man who was born blind. He lived during the time of Christ. To make a long but incredible story short, the Lord used that man’s experience to bring God glory. Without any hesitation Christ picked up some dirt mixed it with his spit and anointed the man’s eyes. Dirt? Spit? Yes! Jesus used the basic element, from which he made humanity, and healed the man. Jesus used dirt, but not to make the man dirty, to the man whole. Christ showed us how mud can mend when the ingredients are in the Masters hands.

Saved From the Inside Out

Consider our sin predicament for a moment. We are helpless and hopeless without God. Without Him, our lusts and worldly habits will take us right to the bottom of the ocean of sin and drown us. But, God gives us eternal life as a gift. In the process, He strips our mindsets of the pride that puts self and all of our wonderful so-called accomplishments first. Christ promises that when we humble ourselves understanding we are nothing more than dirty with the breath of God inside of us that this mindset is what allows God to exalt us.

Dirt cannot be boastful; after all, it’s dirt. It’s when we cherish pride instead of the blessed gift of salvation through Christ alone that we become dirty. Dirt, the essence of our being, is not what will keep us out of Heaven. It’s the dirtiness sin that will do that. But by faith you can be dirt without being dirty! You can be humble without being humiliated. You can be down without being out. You can be low, and yet be exalted. “It is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” When we accept the gift of Jesus Christ, His life, death, and resurrection, by faith, we welcome Him into our lives to transform our dirty vessels into clean vessels made from dirt.

By God’s grace, this is the faith I live by. I pray the same for you, in Jesus’ name.




Covered

Stewarding the Heart: Covering Sin With His Righteousness

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Audio Link: http://bit.ly/ThoughtsinWorship

“Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel.”

(Zechariah 3:3).

Humbled by His Holiness

It is a solemn experience to appear before the Lord. When we consider the extreme contrast of His holiness to our sin it is intimidating. God is so holy Scripture describes Him as a consuming fire. Unlike God, we are poor, wretched, miserable, blind, and naked. How is it that God is so willing to dwell with us? How is it that in His presence we don’t die instantly? I believe we find the answers to these questions and more in the story of Joshua and his accuser.

Rescued by His Righteousness

Joshua the High Priest appeared before the angel of the Lord and the Bible says the devil stood by accusing him of his sin. Satan’s accusations kindled God’s indignation: “And the LORD said unto Satan, The LORD rebuke thee, O Satan; even the LORD that hath chosen Jerusalem rebuke thee: is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?” (Zechariah 3:2). Right then, the accuser lost his case! God rebuked Satan by plucking Joshua out of the fire that he sin condemned him to and robed him in His righteousness.

Clothed in the robe of God’s righteousness, Joshua is no longer a sinner. Now Joshua is a redeemed child of God. The Bible says, “Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. And he answered and spake unto those that stood before him, saying, Take away the filthy garments from him. And unto him he said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.” (Zechariah 3:3, 4). God demonstrates His unwillingness to let a sinner die in his sin when he exchanges the filthy garments of Joshua’s iniquity with His own clean robe of righteousness. These garments represented the righteous life of Christ which was to come in the future. What’s so powerful about this story is that Joshua receiving a physically clean robe foreshadows the righteousness of Christ that will cover his sin.

Cleared of Condemnation

I thank God that He does not allow the devil to innumerate my sins and make a solid case for my destruction. When we have faith in the perfect life, sacrifice, and heavenly ministry of Jesus Christ He sees our faith as the consent to bestow upon us the blessing of His righteousness. Once we receive the righteousness of God by faith we have peace with God because no one can bring a railing accusation against us. We have indeed passed from death to life.

Welcome to the privilege of becoming faithful stewards of your hearts. Manage responsibly, in Jesus’ name.