The Quest for True Power

This is the Faith I Live By: The Power of Jesus Christ is available to me through His Spirit.

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Monday, May 27, 2019

Audio Linkhttp://bit.ly/ThoughtsinWorship

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”

Romans 1:16

The pursuit of power is one of the most intoxicating driving forces in our world today. Many pursue power by creating popular music. Others pursue power by perfecting their athletic abilities. Still others pursue power by studying psychology in order to master the mind. But where can we find real power? Is it in books or on television? Can we gain real power by exercising until our muscles are perfectly sculpted? All of these things have an element of power inherent to them. Yet, they cannot change our lives from an eternal perspective.

Biblical Power

The apostle Paul had a true concept of power. He said that the gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes. Truthfully, the gospel of Jesus Christ has been changing lives for thousands of years. This gospel is God’s demonstration of His love toward a lost world. When He created us, His intention was that we live with Him eternally. However, since the inception of sin that plan seemed impossible to achieve. Since God knows everything, His plans include all eventualities into the equation. Meaning, sin was no surprise to God. Before the world was, God had a plan.

Power in Jesus Christ

Jesus covenanted with the Father that if humanity should sin He would would become our substitute. God’s love did not allow Him to simply watch from the sidelines as sin destroyed the lives of the ones He loved. Just at the right time, Jesus became a man, lived a perfect life, died as a perfect substitute, and rose from the dead to eternal perfection pardoning our sins forever. Now, Jesus is in the Heavenly Sanctuary interceding on our behalf. Because of His power we have access to the power of God. Because of Christ’s sacrifice we have true power. The power of Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. And one day, we will be restored to what God intended for us from the beginning.

Let the reality of God’s love and all that He sacrificed in order to save us permeate your thoughts today. Be encouraged. Believe the gospel. For in it we gain true power.




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.




Suspicious Worshippers

The Gospel According to Matthew.  The Path of Feigned Worship. Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 11.27.2018” on Spreaker.

“Then Herod secretly summoned the wise men and asked them the exact time the star appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. When you find Him, report back to me so that I too can go and worship Him.” After they were gone, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Get up! Take the child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. For Herod is about to search for the child to destroy Him”” (Matthew 2:7–8, 13, HCSB).

Wily Worshipers

Worship is not a joke! We were born to worship. Unfortunately, some worship self, money, unholy pleasures, sexual habits, entertainment, people, false gods, and the status quo. Some who claim to worship God, really are antagonistic to all that is godly and are displaying “… a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Timothy 3:5).

Today’s theme passage chronicles an example of what lies, deceit, and hatred produces in those who claim to worship God. We all have heard the story during the holiday season. Herod felt threatened by baby King Jesus, feigned worship, and sought to kill Him instead. Is there any principle we can learn from this story?

While none of us are probably insecure monarchs who feel our thrones are threatened or are willing to commit mass murder to protect our legacies, some of us fear our pride will be dismantled by God, so we keep up appearances like we are true worshippers, but we really are not. In fact some of us have actually experienced the power and presence of God, but turned away from Him; and by virtue of that fact, “…seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” (Hebrews 6:6). Pretending to worship God, but living in un-repentance is just like crucifying Jesus.

Hope for Prideful Pretenders

Yes, stories like Herod’s are interesting, and even may provide information for our understanding, but we must adapt them so we can apply godly principles to our lives. Among the many principles we can apply from the story, one bubbles up to the surface: false worship or pretend worship of God leads to a host of atrocities. Therefore, it is our privilege to get to know our Creator and not give in to pride, fear, or self righteousness. We can commit to asking God daily to introduce His beauty and character to us, so love, power and trust will result. Remember, it’s a daily journey, and God is with you every step of the way.

This has been the gospel according to Matthew. Be transformed by it.




Which Way To Holy?

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Wednesday, September 7, 2016

We are focusing on getting to know God from the perspective of John the beloved.Through The Beloved's Eyes Tile

Today’s Scripture Focus: “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” (John 5:39–40).

There were a number of different factions during Jesus’ day who studied Scripture more than average. They customarily wore verses on their clothing and some were even able to recite the entire five books of the Torah. Fastidiously, they fixated on every jot and tittle of the Law, yet many did not actually live the Law. Some knew every word, but lived almost none.

Balanced By God’s Inspiration

They trusted so much in their abilities to recall and apply Scripture, that they effectively replaced God’s grace in their own lives. The learned lived their lives in such a way as to demonstrate that they thought eternal life was a right, based on obedience. They thought that if they performed just right, and had a firm grasp of rites, ceremonies, and the words of Scripture, they could be recommended to God for salvation. Tragically, most of these proficient professors of religion were their own greatest hindrances to salvation. They placed their trust in perceived obedience to Scripture, rather than the God of Scripture.

A friend once told me that people are capable of performing on either extreme in our own strength. We can live guided only by whether things feel good and are enjoyable. Or, we can focus so much on right doing and deceive ourselves into believing performance makes us worthy. But, as my friend stated, being balanced requires God’s inspiration. In this context, balance means that we believe that since God is holy, we too can and must be holy. But, balance recognizes our sheer helplessness to be holy on our own. We realize and embrace the fact that only God can make a person holy. Whatever reward we receive will be Jesus art copythat for which Jesus is worthy.

Know Jesus. Know Life.

Eternal life is not in attempts at performing or mastering Scripture. No! Jesus said it best when He said, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3). It is our privilege to know God. He introduces Himself to all who diligently seek His face in Scripture, rather than seeking bonus points for studying.

There is nothing sweeter than knowing our God. To know God, is to love Him. Do not settle for the pittance of merely knowing the theories related to God. Seek experiential knowledge of Him, and know that He is good.




Back To The Beginning

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Tuesday, July 19, 2016

We are focusing on getting to know God from the perspective of John the beloved.

Today’s Scripture Focus: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:1–4).

If there is one thing that drives success or guarantees failure in one’s life, its one’s perspective on life origins.  I am talking about from where do I come, specifically. If I believe that my existence is a peculiar arrangement of explosive happenstance, my lifestyle will manifest the unfortunate reality. If I believe that a holy God with all power at His disposal knew me before I was created, and had a plan for me as He formed me in my mother’s womb, even the sky is not expansive enough to encompass my trajectory.

The plans my God has for me are so far above human comprehension that it is my privilege to encounter the mind of God. Those plans which will order my every step on His path until He comes.

We are not talking about this so you can know God’s plans for me. This is for you, too! I am delighted to walk with you through the glorious book of John who had a special grasp of the love of Jesus and was pleased to cooperate with the Spirit to share this gospel message.

Before There Was A Beginning

His opener here particularly enthralls me. He gets right to the crux of the matter. He says that from before there was even a beginning (this is what his opening phrase means), there was God, the Word was ever present with Him, and the Word was His eternal equal. Not only that, the Word who is later identified as Jesus Christ, created all things (including you) because in Him is bound life itself. Nothing seen or unseen that was created happened without Him. Let your mind grasp this. Meditate on it. All of the beauty of the world, majestic animals, breathtaking flowers and trees, stunning peoples, and powerful forces in nature were conceived and birthed from the mind of Christ. This is why it is absolutely critical to become acquainted with and motivated by Him.

We are living in the last days, and some of what I have seen on the news lately has been eerily reminiscent of the days right before the flood that destroyed the world in Noah’s days. People that clearly do not embrace guidance from a loving Creator have been taking orders from Satan to spew hatred and deception. Intelligent, well decorated, and successful people say all kinds of evil and  masses cheer in agreement. I have watched the most inhumane acts occur in viral videos. I have seen families fall apart and children abused.  My point is, if we would just embrace the plans of our loving Creator, we could eliminate poverty, hatred, vice, murder, and all evil in all its forms. Unfortunately, this is not what the Bible predicts.

Can You Make Some Time?

Even with the impending crises, the Bible does teach that we all can turn our hearts over to God. We all can experience God’s will in our lives and help others do the same. But this requires that we become honest with ourselves, embrace life as it is in Christ, and cooperate with His plans.

Are you willing to make yourself available to the brilliant Creator who has incredible plans for you? Will you start afresh today with me? He is exceptionally pleased when we cooperate with Him to hasten His return because not long after, He will eradicate sin once and for all. Let’s begin marching in that direction right now, shall we?




Reputation Managment

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Today’s Scripture Focus: Philippians 2:5-9

sin recovery planWe are focusing on sin recovery principle number seven of 12: “We submit to God and ask Him to remove our deficiencies.”

Reputation is an interesting concept. Most of us would stop at nothing to preserve ours. We are concerned about what people think about us.  I do have a question: What if your concern were more about what God thought about you and less about how others might view you? What if your priority were to please God first?

Where to get a good name

The Bible does say that a good name is more valuable than earthly wealth (Proverbs 22:1). The driving principle to build anything of value including a good name should be having God be the Master Builder. The difference between us trying to keep up appearances and cooperating with God to build a good name is the transformation that must take place. When we attempt to preserve reputation, the risk is that if we falter or make mistakes, we might sweep the fact under the rug to save ourselves from embarrassment. We might learn to behave well in public while our thoughts and private lives are unholy. Conversely, if we are submitted to God and we temporarily falter, He is there to build us up. We can confess the error of our ways to Him, and He can give us a clean heart.

It is our privilege to follow the example of Jesus to submit our thoughts, motives, and actions to God for purification every moment of the day. Then, we will exemplify His character to the world. If our thought lives are aligned with our reputations, we are on the right track




She Sinned (And So Did We)

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Monday, June 20, 2016

Today’s Scripture Focus: Romans 3:23-28

sin recovery planWe are focusing on sin recovery principle number seven of 12: “We submit to God and ask Him to remove our deficiencies.”

When I began discussing sin recovery principle number seven of 12, perhaps I should have used today’s theme text instead of waiting until now. It is foundational to all sin recovery that we sense the need to have God remove all of our deficiencies.
To some, it might be startling to recognize we all have sinned and all continually come short of God’s brightness. I can remember having a Bible study with a woman more than 15 years ago. She was very nice and lived a clean, tidy life. She did not say bad words. She was extremely helpful to people. She lived and worked with integrity. She was great! However, when we began to discuss the reality reflected in today’s theme text, she could not handle it. She desperately wanted me to say she was good-to-go. After all, she did not murder anyone. I am not making this up. She cried real tears because she felt as though this verse, and others similarly themed, portrayed her negatively. She could not see the beauty of the remaining portions of the text that said this fact was indeed a recommendation for God to lavish His love, power, and mercy on us. She could not see the beauty of God’s help because she was deceived by her self-appraisal.

Foundational principle for recovery

The very first principle in any kind of recovery intervention is that we recognize our need before we can get help.  So where are you in this equation? We have been discussing our need and God’s provision for quite some time now. Are you willing to admit to yourself and God that you are in dire need of His help? Are you ready to admit to God and yourself that His standard of holiness is so lofty that there is no way you can attain it in your strength? Are you willing to receive His love into your heart so He can begin and continue the work of refining your character through His Holy Spirit?

There is no room for pride in our journey with God. The fact is that all of us are in the same pitiful boat. We have all sinned and fall desperately short of God’s intent for our lives when we are not entirely committed to Him. We need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds and must not give up yielding ourselves to Him. We all should be happy that God went to such lengths to make us holy. For it is only holy people who will live with God forever!




God’s Appointed Time–Not Before, Not After

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sunday, December 28, 2014
Based Upon Luke 13

Satan assailed the entire journey of Christ’s ministry on earth. From the time of Christ’s birth, the enemy tried to cut His life short, because he knew that he would be defeated, as when he was cast out of heaven. Hatred for Jesus caused Satan to inspire men to attempt to murder Jesus. Herod signed a decree to murder every child two years of age and younger, in the hope of eliminating a potential king whom he thought would threaten his dominion. Many times evil men sought to lay hands on Jesus to either stone Him or throw Him from a mountain to His death (Luke 4:30). All of these attempts failed, because there was an appointed time for the willing sacrifice of Jesus’ life. Often, He said that His time had not yet come. When His time came, He would yield His life for the salvation of humankind. “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.” (John 10:17, 18).

As He did regularly, Jesus was ministering, when some Pharisees approached Him. “The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee. And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.” (Luke 13:31-33). As usual, the devil wanted to take Jesus’ life prematurely, but he couldn’t. Jesus prophesied that He would be perfected on the third day. What was Jesus’ perfection? What event did Jesus often reference when threatened by death? He knew that only when the time was right, He would be perfected through His sacrificial death on the cross. Jesus’ reference of today, tomorrow, and the third day was directly related to His ministry on earth. He spoke using the symbols of the Old Testament to state that His public ministry would be no less than or no more than approximately three years. He employed the day for a year principle found in scripture relating to symbolic Bible prophecy (Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6). Each day in symbolic Bible prophecy equals one literal year.

It is a blessing to know that the Lord has our lives under His control. When the enemy attempts to take our lives, God must first permit him to. It is only as God’s people have fulfilled their individual mission that they will lay down their heads in death. If we trust the Lord as did Jesus, our eternal lives are secure in Him.