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.




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.




Single Elegance: Hope That Shines After The Hurt

“My beloved spake, and said…Rise up, my love…and come away,” (Song of Solomon 2:10).
I didn’t want to be single again, but I am. It’s just me again. How do you walk in a phase of your life you weren’t prepared to re-enter? How do you honor God in a consequence that feels so unfair, so painful so undeserved? But here I am, years later, still single; yet, in spite of the losses, disappointments, readjustments and sense of failure, experiencing God’s joy, peace, hope, ability to forgive and accept His ministry of reconciliation.

The empty spaces are filled with Him and I feel free and complete and continue to be amazed at how He is transforming my life and using me in ways that He never could have, had my life not been interrupted. Changed. Transitioned and Transformed.

It was a process, however, a process of experiencing deeper levels of love and forgiveness. I began owning what was mine to own, and letting go of what was not. I started surrounding myself with positive Christian family and friends. Then, I saturated my life in Bible study, prayer and service (2 Cor. 1:4). I learned to be still, I mean really still and quiet, and as I did, I could hear God speaking to me. He was leading and guiding me. Above that, He was my Counselor who has deposited joy and strength into my very soul (Nehemiah 8:10). He holds my hand (Psalms 73:23,24), and He has a surprise in store for me (Isaiah 43:19)! These promises give me encouragement and remind me that there is hope on the other side of hurt.

Rejecting The Sense of Rejection

But there’s a real enemy in the struggle, and the warfare is real! Our enemy wants to distract us away from our focus on God and His promises. In times of difficulty he wants us to believe his lies that we’re unlovable, unworthy and unwanted. But he is a liar and God is greater (1 John 4:4)!

We look like God, and were created in His image. In my painful journey back to singleness, God revealed to me just how He has used me. In a recent conversation with my former pastor, he confessed to me that he and his wife had been talking about me. I was immediately curious about the details. Instead of speaking though, I paused and listened to what he had to say.

My Pastor then explained how amazed he and his wife were at the courage, grace and strength I have shown in dealing with my intense trial. Perhaps God had allowed me to face my struggle to show him how to face his! He and his wife called me the epitome of “Christian elegance.”

Of course, I was overwhelmed and humbled. All I know is that God has allowed certain things to happen in my life because He trusted me to steward those trials well. He wanted to work out His purpose in my life through a painful process to grow/mature me so that He would be glorified in how I responded. I understand that what I experience here on earth is just a small sample of the ultimate spiritual warfare being played out over my life in a realm I cannot see. I feel somewhat privileged to be somehow trusted by God to represent Him and stand as His ambassador.

Stella’s Second Act

I remember having a difficult time and crying out to God for help. He impressed upon my heart to spend time with a special couple who are like family to me. As I entered their home, I was immediately surrounded by love, acceptance and support. The home cooked meal filled my heart with memories of South Carolina days as a little girl, and the safety of their home provided emotional sheltering for my wounded soul. The spiritual counsel made an indelible impression upon my heart.
As we stood in a circle to pray before I headed home, my pastor-friend gave me three life principles that I continue to treasure:

Stay close to God-increase your Bible study and prayer time.
Never give up-always believe that God can!
Always look good!-When people see you they should know that you’re a daughter of the King so eat well, rest and exercise.

These three principles carried me through, when I felt lonely because the house was just too quiet. Or, when I was concerned about my future and my finances, when feelings of sadness would overwhelm me and my tears seemed to have no end, I would read the Word and pray! I would pray scriptures and sing scriptures and as I did, I began to heal!

Weary One, Rise Up!

What is moving me forward is the knowledge that I am loved (Zeph. 3: 17, John 3:16). Let me shout it out: I am loved! I am valued! (Psalm 8:5, Genesis 1:27). My God speaks to me and has told me to rise up! Everything that I have experienced is not wasted and is working together for my good (Rom. 8:28), and has been allowed by my beloved (Genesis 50:20).

He loves me too much to be solely concerned with my comfort, so He has Divinely Ordained an alteration to assist in my transformation process (2 Corinthians 3:18). My latter will be greater than my beginning (Job 42:12) and he has told me that I will rise to new heights in Him. He has also told me to come away and as I have spent more time with Him I have gained a new perspective which has altered my mind and responses.

The definition of elegance is: Style, good taste, gracefulness, refinement, class, taste, chic and sophistication. Initially I looked at this definition and could not see any aspects of myself in the description, but I realize that all of us who have chosen to become new creatures in Christ will display Christian graces which, in essence, are the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5: 22-23)! I am standing on the strength of Jesus Christ and by his power I am able to stand in silent strength and confidence.

Are you a Christian of elegance and grace in spite of your circumstances? Whether single or married, ask God to give you power to please him in the midst of difficult times.




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.