Woe to Lovers of Sin

Stewarding the Heart: When Evil Has Become Good

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Monday, April 8, 2019

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

“Woe to them that devise iniquity, and work evil upon their beds! when the morning is light, they practice it, because it is in the power of their hand.”

(Micah 2:1)

Evil Fills Our Earth

Sometimes when I listen to the news I wonder what this world is coming to. We have seen in scripture that during the time of Noah people thought only evil continually, and each new headline shows me that the prophecies of the last days are clear. People’s hearts are waxing cold. And even with all of this forewarning, some of the things going on in our world are still astonishing.

It’s Good to be Bad

The media now glamorizes sins that were once shameful fifty years ago in its movies and sitcoms. Blockbuster hits are growing by leaps and bounds with graphic material as the enticing element. Everyday I find myself wondering what lewd behavior will become common practice next. I use to think it couldn’t get any worse. Now I see that there are those whose lives are wrapped up in dreaming up new ways to flaunt evil. Lured by Capitalism’s promise of wealth, many devise twisted plots and write them in books, and direct movies with scenes that are beyond offensive. Instead of meditating on the word of God people meditate on different ways to provoke the public to do evil. Is there any hope?

Right and Righteousness Are Restored

The Lord has always taken into account the level of wickedness He would allow before doing something drastic to correct the issues. We see this evidenced in the story of Sodom and Gomorrah. The Lord is no less in touch with our woes today as He was in those days. One day soon, sin would have run its full course and God will put an end to all evil. One day soon, Michael will stand up; He will rise from His throne as the conquering King and will keep the door of His tender mercies ajar no longer. Sin and suffering will cease. The pure pulses of righteousness will move like waves over the universe, and order will be restored.

Our God will eliminate sin and death forever, and institute His eternal kingdom of love and life: “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21:4).

He that said He would return will at last set His faithful ones free. Are you ready? Are you ready for Jesus to come? I certainly am. Pray that we are all found faithful.

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




Practicing Persistent Praise

Stewarding the Heart: Praising God Consistently is a Lifestyle Message Magazine’s Online Devotional: Thursday, March 28, 2019

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 03.28.2019” on Spreaker.

I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.

Psalms 9:1-2 (KJV)

Why We Praise Him

Whenever we think of something that the Lord has done for us, we should praise Him. I know that I do not praise Him enough, and neither do many others. When we open our eyes in the morning, we should praise Him.

When we drink our first glass of relatively clean water, we should praise Him. When we eat our first bite of food, we should praise Him. When we almost have a car accident, but don’t, we should praise Him. When we do have an accident and come out alive, we should praise Him.

Who Praises Him

The angels in Heaven praise Him, and they are sinless. They do not know what it is to have the King of the universe become one of them and die the second death on their behalf, yet they praise Him all day long. If the angles can praise Him, how much more should we? The Bible says that if we don’t praise God inanimate objects in nature will take our place. I do not want the rocks and trees crying out in my place.

When to Praise Him

I encourage you this morning to make a list of the great things God has done for you. Then go down the list one by one and praise Him for each. And when you are tempted to feel forsaken of God, remember these words: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel” (Psalms 22:1-3). He comes close to us when we praise Him.

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




Grieving With Grace

Stewarding the Heart: Grieving With Grace

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 03.27.2019” on Spreaker.

“And Job spake, and said, Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived. For the thing which I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come unto me. I was not in safety, neither had I rest, neither was I quiet; yet trouble came.” (Job 3:2, 3, 25, 26).

Touched by Affliction

I cannot imagine Job’s turmoil as he faced the most difficult trial of his life. Not many of us can wake up to all of our children, livestock, and possessions gone and not find ourselves depressed. Then, while grieving all of those losses, the Lord also allowed Satan to afflict Job with boils from head to toe. Searching for that sin he forgot to confess, Job needed answers. He needed to know why God was exercising such a harsh judgment over his life.

On one of many depressing days, Job found himself hating the very day he was born, and wishing he could find rest in the grave. Grief overwhelmed Job. This burden seemed far too much for him to bear. But while Job could not detect His presence, God was close by.

Grieving With Grace

After the many days of his trial had finally passed, after he endured the foul pessimism of his wife and so-called friends, after receiving a strong answer from the Lord to all of his complaints, Job praised the Lord. He said, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee. Wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5,6). Ultimately, these trials became the salve that Job needed in order to truly see the mercy, grace, and power of God more clearly than he’d ever seen them before. It was this clarity that shifted Job’s mindset from aspersion in chapter 3 to attrition in chapter 42. 

Yes, it was a hard revelation for Job, but it was well worth it. He finally had a better relationship with God than ever before. When we face tribulations, we should read the words of brother Job to encourage us to be faithful. If he did it, being human, so can we.

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




God Supplies

Stewarding the Heart:  Having Patience When God is Freeing You.  Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sunday, March 24, 2019

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 03.24.2019” on Spreaker.

“But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes” (Numbers 11:6).

The Lord demonstrated His love and patience for the Israelites for many years. He heard their cry and sent a liberator through whom He would deliver them from slavery. Through the entire process, He was restoring their religion, dignity, and respect among those who did not believe in God. All of this was done that they might know that God was desperately in love with them, and that the world would know that the God of heaven is the one true God who was worthy of worship.

When Freedom Frustrates

All too often the children of Israel complained about the way God was choosing to manifest their freedom. Murmuring became an intolerable habit that God hated. It is a blessing to know that in spite of the fact that God knew before He set them free, that they would behave this way, He still loved them.

How can our souls still be dry, when God has offered all to us?

One of the complaints they often related was their lust for the rich foods of Egypt. Food, for the children of Israel, like it does for many people today, enslaved their minds. The Lord gave them a miracle of provision while they wandered in the wilderness. “Then said the LORD unto Moses, Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a certain rate every day, that I may prove them, whether they will walk in my law, or no” Exodus 16:4.

In spite of this perfect food that God provided, they still cried for the fleshpots of Egypt. “But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes” Numbers 11:6. How could their souls be dried up when God Himself, knowing their need, gave them bread from heaven? This bread was an object lesson about the Messiah, the perfect provision for all of our needs (John 6:35).

Reflection

Do we wander in our wilderness of life with dry souls? How can it be that God has given every provision for us and we still cry that our souls are dry? Eat and drink from the heavenly storehouse. God always supplies all of our needs (Philippians 4:19). Pray today, that the Lord will teach you how to accept His perfect provision and be satisfied. Why should your soul be dry?

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

 

 




Seeking

Stewarding the Heart: Seek Him. Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sunday, March 17, 2019

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 03.17.2019” on Spreaker.

“If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God” (Proverbs 2:4, 5).

Solomon was the wisest man living in his day, and his admonition is proof. He was a man, though plagued with sin, as we all are, who knew what it was to seek after God. Solomon is the one who said, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7). It seems that he had a healthy obsession with godly wisdom.

Many are in hot pursuit of riches. Some spend almost all that they have on lottery tickets. Others invest large sums in the stock market and real estate. Still others dig in the earth with hopes of discovering some priceless artifact or precious gem.

Solomon is saying that the tireless energy we expend seeking the riches of this world, can be better used seeking God’s wisdom. It is in searching that we begin to understand reverence for God, and departing from evil. It is in seeking God with all of our heart, that we begin an intimate relationship with Him. Seek the Lord while he may be found. Search for Him and you will find the knowledge of God.

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




Downtime Praise

“Stewarding the Heart: Taking Time to Praise. Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sunday March 3, 2019.

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 03.04.2019” on Spreaker.

“I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvellous works. I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.” (Psalms 9:1, 2).

Not Enough Praise

Whenever we think of something that the Lord has done for us, we should praise Him. I know that I do not praise Him enough, and neither do many others. When we open our eyes in the morning, we should praise Him. Whenever we drink a glass of relatively clean water, we should praise Him.

As we eat our first bite of food, we should praise Him. When we almost have a car accident, but don’t, we should praise Him. And, if we do have an accident and come out alive, we should praise Him.

Make A List. Check It Twice.

The angels in heaven praise Him, and they are sinless. They do not know what it is to have the King of the universe become one of them and die the second death on their behalf, yet they praise Him all day long. If the angels praise Him, how much more should we upon whom the ends of the world are come? If we do not praise Him, inanimate nature will take our place. I do not want the rocks and trees crying out in my place. Make a list of the great things He has done. Go through them one by one, and praise Him.

Now, when you are tempted to feel forsaken of God, remember these words: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent. But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.” (Psalms 22:1-3).

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




How God Forgives and Forgets

Stewarding the Heart: Embracing God’s Forgiveness. Message Magazine’s Daily, Online Devotional for Sunday, March 3, 2019.

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 03.03.2019” on Spreaker.

“And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of David his father, and declined neither to the right hand, nor to the left” (II Chronicles 34:2).

The Bible has a way of revealing the character of God that we would miss completely if the Holy Spirit was not with us. One of the characteristics of God that leaps from the pages is His ability to forgive and forget. Obviously, forgetting does not mean that He miraculously gives Himself amnesia. It does mean however that He does not hold forgiven sins against us while we remain in good relationship with Him. “I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins” (Isaiah 43:25).

I believe the Lord when He says that He forgives and does not remember, because God makes an interesting statement about young king Josiah. He said that he was right in the sight of the Lord just like His father David. Wait a minute! Is this a misprint? Did not David murder a man just to cover up his own lust and adultery? Did not David take the dead man’s wife as his own? How in the world can God say that David was righteous?

As is the case with all repentant sinners, God honored His promise to forgive those who repent and confess their sin to Him. You see, God’s accounting is not like ours. God’s love for the repentant sinner does not allow Him to keep a record of wrong. The simple fact is that God answered David’s prayer when he prayed, “Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities” (Psalms 51:9).

Are there sins that you have confessed for which you feel unforgiven? Take a lesson from David’s experience with God. When he pursued God with his entire heart, all separation between them, including sin, was removed. Pray that the Lord will restore you through forgiveness, and you too will be called righteous. God’s ability to forget gives us the ability to live on streets of gold. Be sure to thank God for this blessing.

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




God’s Name

Stewarding the Heart: Holy, Name of God. Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Monday, February 18, 2019

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 02.18.2019” on Spreaker.

“Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Exodus 20:7).

That Name

The name of God is holy. The ways in which He has revealed Himself throughout history, show us clearly, that He is no lightweight God. In His name judgments were pronounced, messages delivered, and vast armies defeated. Kings, pharaohs, and governors bowed under His name. In His name, diseases were cured, ailments sent to flight, and devils exorcised. The name of God is not to be treated lightly.

God’s people have associated names of God with important junctures in their lives. In the case of Abraham on Mount Moriah, God was the Provider. In the case of Moses facing the charge to begin the exodus, He was the Lord; the one who is with you. In the creation,the Almighty One established the worlds.

On The Lips

Looking closely at these realities gives us a view of why it is no small matter to misuse His name. Sometimes I watch shows on cable that are good in general, but I have noticed that even in the least offensive of them, people treat the name of the Lord lightly. One example is in all of the home makeover shows that I have seen. Invariably, when homeowners see the great job the designer has done, they begin to repeatedly use God’s name, not in worship or adoration, but in superficial surprise with no regard for His holiness. This neither pleases God nor does it bring Him glory.

Another way that may be more offensive is when we wear the name of God, and then chronically do things He disapproves of. Does He get any praise when we claim to be His, yet do not allow Him to control our lives? A whole world is watching even when we are not aware, and they blaspheme God when they recognize hypocrisy. Let us accept the name of God in our lives as it is our privilege to, and worship Him as He deserves. We can win many people to the Lord by simply living as those that reverence His name.

Protect The Power of That Name

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




First in My Heart

Stewarding the Heart: God Comes First. Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sunday, February 17, 2019

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 02.17.2019” on Spreaker.

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).

Put God First in Your Life

Every responsible human being is faced with the task of prioritizing, daily. Whether it is related to tasks at work, school, or in relationships, we all must make decisions about what is most important to us, and how to organize them.

God has said in His word in so many instances, that He demands to be number one in our lives. His purpose for this is not rooted in selfishness. He is not merely saying that He wants us for Himself for some shallow or arbitrary reason. His love says that He cannot live without us. He knows that if we do not keep Him in a position of preeminence in our lives, we will never live with Him eternally.

Sin has mixed up the intended order of things. We have been programmed to think that the first priority should be self-satisfaction. The pursuit of riches, notoriety, and lofty educational attainments has, in many cases, dethroned God in our soul temple.

Closely associated with God’s command to keep Him first is His resume’ of gifts to us. He has made every provision necessary for our freedom from the power and presence of sin; therefore, it should be an act of gratitude to make Him Lord of our every detail.

Jump Start

In the practical things of life, we can begin to put God first by jump starting our day with Him. Through worship, prayer, and Bible study we can bring what really matters into focus. When we have the right focus from the very beginning of our day, the enemy has less access to our lives, and the Lord is able to fight our battles for us. When we meet with God in the morning, we give Him permission to support or change anything we have planned. Make, and keep the Lord first in your days, and He will remain seated on the throne of your life. Welcome to the privilege of becoming faithful stewards of your hearts. Manage responsibly, in Jesus’ name.




Acute Eyesight of The Humble

“Stewarding the Heart” Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Friday, February 15, 2019

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 02.15.2019” on Spreaker.

“The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican” (Luke 18:11).

True Reflection

Self-appraisal is impossible without the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He is the One who brings conviction to the heart and shows us where we need improvement (John 16:13). Whenever we attempt to see ourselves in our true light without His aid, we will invariably minimize our need. We will think of ourselves more highly than we should.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). “Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment” (Isaiah 1:5, 6). These verses give an accurate picture of our being, without the Lord.

A religious zealot stood up in the temple, the Bible says, and prayed with himself that he was holy, unlike the publican who was nearby. The wording in the King James Version of the Bible is interesting. I am not making a doctrine out of the wording, but it is interesting. It says that the Pharisee prayed with himself and then the verse continues. When we have a false sense of our righteousness and then venture to pray, giving our spiritual resumes to God, it is as though we are praying to ourselves. We have made ourselves gods. The God of heaven neither hears nor answers proud prayers.

God-Given Humility

The publican received the power of the Holy Spirit to see his exceeding sinfulness. “And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke 18:13, 14). It is a blessing to know that the Lord is not impressed by our proud self-appraisals, but by our God-given humility. He is anxious to answer the prayers of those who humble themselves before Him.

May the Lord give us acute spiritual eyesight that we may see as He sees. May we be brought to humility, thereby bringing us into a close relationship with Him. “Yea, they shall sing in the ways of the LORD: for great is the glory of the LORD. Though the LORD be high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly: but the proud he knoweth afar off.” (Psalms 138:5, 6).

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