Enter Here

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Monday, October 17, 2016

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 10.17.2016” on Spreaker.

“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12).

It is very difficult for us, as human beings, to relinquish control of our lives to God. It makes us feel helpless and distrustful. It is especially difficult when we must follow a narrow road of requirements.

God tells us specifically what is necessary to please Him. Some though, resist the idea of God giving details, and requiring us to observe them. Cain–Abel’s brother–resisted the idea. He thought that when God required an offering, he should follow his own interpretation of what God required.

Do Well

“And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him” Genesis 4:3-8.

Cain chose his own way to satisfy God’s requirements rather than following His command to bring an animal sacrifice.

Such is the case with so many today. God has clearly said that Jesus is the only way to access God, but many resort to others for salvation. Many avatars have passed on to the grave, yet many look to these dead men to bring about salvation. They pray in the name of idols that humans have erected, to no avail. “All roads lead to heaven,” but God never said that.

Enter Into Relationship With Him

“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:” Matthew 7:13. When we choose to ignore God’s clear messages, we do so to our own destruction. On the other hand, we have the privilege of entering great relationship with Him through Christ Jesus.

Pray today that you will choose to follow God wherever He leads, even if you do not understand His methods. Jesus is, indeed, the only way.

He Cares About Your Prayers

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Wednesday, August 31, 2016

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

Today’s Scripture Focus: “When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death. Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe. The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die. Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way. And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth” (John 4:47–51).

First Resort

Have you ever been in a situation so dire that all you could do was pray? You cried till you could not cry anymore. Every idea and penny you had, you threw at the problem, and it was still there. You phoned every friend and family member you thought cared. Every Bible promise you claimed, and you sang every encouraging song, yet your issue would not abate. At that point, what did you do? Did you make prayer, which should have been your first resort, your last instead?

When a nobleman’s son faced certain death, and when he learned Jesus was in the area, he stopped at nothing to get the Master’s attention. He succinctly told Jesus his son lay at home with a terminal illness, with just enough faith to believe that Jesus would heal him. Do you have faith to believe Jesus cares enough to intervene in your life?

Does Jesus care when your heart is dark, pain is great, or your life is burdened with trials? Oh yes, Jesus cares! Believe He cares!

Jesus swiftly encouraged him with an affirmative answer. His son was healed. Interestingly, when Jesus said so, the man believed (didn’t second-guess), and hurried home to see his healthy son. On the way home, one of the man’s workers met him with the great news. His son was healed!

He Cares!

They compared notes concerning the timing of his healing, and indeed it was the same hour Jesus proclaimed healing over the boy’s life. Does Jesus care when your heart is dark, pain is great, or your life is burdened with trials? Oh yes, Jesus cares! Believe He cares! Know and be assured that He cares.

There are times in our lives that we finally get the memo that the only solution to our problems is opening our mouths and talking to God about them. We can ask for His guidance and power to fix the situation. In those moments take a page out of the nobleman’s book and exercise simple faith. God will do what’s best for us, and be prepared to move forward knowing that in that same hour He is manifesting His answer in our lives.


Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Monday, August 8, 2016

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

Today’s Scripture Focus: “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.”

Through The Beloved's Eyes TileA great misconception that has taken on many forms is that God is sitting way up in heaven waiting for us to make a mistake, and as soon as we do, He will send lightening from the sky to get us or some other terrible thing will happen because He is angry. This picture of God, is not only terrible, it is simply not true.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8).

In Love With You

God is not out to get us; He is on our side. It is true that He will allow the natural consequences of our sins to run their course, but this does not mean that He is not in love with us. Oftentimes, these natural consequences are for our good.

God is not waiting to condemn you for your sin. He has invested far too much to ensure your success.

If you gave your very best for someone you loved, is there anything else you would withhold from him or her? “He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:11).

Choose to believe in His love

Why is it that we are slow to believe that God is working feverishly to save us? All He has shown in the sacrifice of His Son is infinite love. He could have destroyed us as soon as we sinned, but He chose rather to bear the punishment Himself. God is not waiting to hurt or condemn you for your sin. He has invested far too much to ensure your success. Hopefully, you will see the true picture of God that rejoices in seeing us succeed. God really, really loves you.

“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.” (Jude 1:24-25).

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?

Serve In A Hateful World

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sabbath, July 9, 2016

Today’s Scripture Focus: “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:44–45).

Unconditional Love

Our Lord’s imperative to love the unlovable, bless the “obviously” curse-able, do good to the overtly hateful, and to pray for those who try to strip your humanity in persecution, is as practical as it gets. And there is an inherent presupposition for the keen reader. He then underscores His model behavior – His model example. He says that He makes the sun to rise upon the evil and the just. He says that He sends rain upon the evil and the just. He shows unconditional love to the evil as well as the just. The presupposition can be observed in His transitional phrase, “That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.”

He presupposes you, dear friend, even care to be His child. He presupposes that if you care to be His child that you are willing to be transformed by His Spirit. He presumes that having received His love and experienced His Spirit that a miracle will have taken place in you. Of course, a miracle is what it takes here.  You will now be able to participate in His holy response to just and unjust people. If you are unwilling to include yourself in this experience, it is one thing; however, if you are willing to be called God’s child, you must participate in this process with humility – we all must.

Grace Toward Enemies

The Bible says that we should be holy just like God is holy. It says that we should let the mind of Christ reside in and shine forth from us. The Bible says Jesus came to save His own people and many did not receive Him. Oh, and don’t forget the one about all of us being born antagonistic toward God. And remember Jesus dying for us even though at one point, we did not love Him either. His grace toward His enemies (each and every one of us) is why any of us even have the privilege of experiencing eternal life. If God did not do the impossible by reaching out to those who hated Him, persecuted Him, despitefully used Him, or bless those who cursed Him, we would all be dead. Real talk.

If God did not do the impossible by reaching out to those who hated Him, persecuted Him, despitefully used Him, or bless those who cursed Him, we would all be dead. Real talk.


In The Spirit Of The King

So, fight against injustice, engage your politicians, declare that status quo is not acceptable, but do so in the spirit of your King. Those who are praying for their enemies do not kill innocent people because those people remind you of your enemy. Those who do good to those who hate you do so actively and deliberately. Those who bless those that curse them do not use hatred as an excuse to abandon faith under pressure and behave hatefully.

Far from an indictment of your humanity is today’s devotional thought. It is rather a solution and an undergirding for all you must do as you serve in a hateful world.

Receive God’s Spirit. Accept Jesus’ example. Move according to His blueprint. Stand up against all evil everywhere, including that which attempts to destroy you from within.

When You Meant No Harm

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Sabbath, June 25, 2016

Today’s Scripture Focus: Exodus Leviticus 4:1-28

sin recovery planWe are focusing on sin recovery principle number eight of 12: “We made a list of all persons we have harmed and are willing to make amends.”

Sin is sin. Before you jump to conclusions and think I am talking about the weight or levels of sins, hold on a second. Pain is pain. I am certainly not saying that all pain is of equal magnitude here. Now let’s put these two realities together. All sin is unrighteous, whether we realize it or not, and all sin causes pain in some way or another. The effect of sin is so far reaching, we can hardly estimate it.

No Penalty Will Be Charged

The beauty of today’s passage is that it gives a balanced understanding of how our God deals with the sin problem. It shows one of many facets. Here is a valuable nugget of truth to get us started: “Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no guile” (Psalm 32:2). The psalmist is expressing the enviable state of people whose sins God does not hold against them. Notice that it does not say that if you do not realize something is sinful, God acts like it isn’t. Rather, the Bible says that it is a blessing when God does not assess the guilt or penalty of sin to one’s charge.

Think about the times you have said something in a manner that hurt someone’s feelings and did not realize it. Were the people hurt? Did what you said cause pain? Yes. Did you intend it to be so? No. What if you were texting and driving (God forbid), and you hit a pedestrian? Were you negligent? Yes. Should you have been watching the road? Yes. Did you wake up that morning intending to find a pedestrian to injure? No.

In these examples, the reality of the harm that was done is not reduced due to intentionality. There were still very real injuries to body and spirit regardless of your cognizance. The blessing is this: God’s standard is not movable based on our thoughts, feelings, or intentions. His standards are just and impartial. The beauty is that God has made provision for every type of sin when we live in a state of repentance overall.

Just In Case

While my examples were imperfect and show how our loving God has given us His only begotten Son so when we sin, whether perhaps missed certain elements of truth, my intent (there is that word again) was to intentionally or ignorantly, we have an opportunity to repent.

In the Old Testament, the priests burned sacrifices ‘round the clock to protect people from judgment in the intervening times between personal sacrifices and during times the people may have been oblivious to some of the times they sinned.

There are some of you who did not realize that God was serious when He said to remember His seventh-day Sabbath to sanctify it. You thought that as long as you chose one day of seven, it would be acceptable. The reality is that since the fourth commandment is to keep holy the seventh day, and some of you have broken the commandment in ignorance, it is a blessing when God does not lay that guilt to your charge. However, our theme text also highlights the fact that God’s provision took care of the sin of ignorance until the sinner realized what they had done wrong. It is then when God brings an awareness of our wrongs to our minds that were are responsible for making amends. There is no sacrifice strong enough to cover the faults of any of us who continue to do wrong without repenting.

You Have A Chance To Learn

The moral of this story is that God loves us so much that He gives us a chance to learn about our mistakes and then make things right. One of the things I like to do when I pray is to ask God to forgive me for things I don’t fully understand I did wrong until He brings an awareness to my mind. And when He does, I confess and turn away from the sins that I once committed in ignorance.

Is there anyone you just learned you unintentionally harmed? Pray about it, go to them in faith, and talk about it. Make amends and know that the Lord is with you during the process.

Dead To The World: Destruction And Dysfunction We Just Won’t Miss

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Today’s Scripture Focus: Matthew 5:4; Romans 6:11

sin recovery planWe are focusing on sin recovery principle number six of 12: “We are now ready for God to give us new characters that reflect that of His Son’s.”

Most of us hate death! If you scour a Facebook timeline at any given time, you are likely to see the hashtag ‪#‎cancersucks‬. This is just one example of the hue and cry against the convicted murderer called cancer who has ripped so many families apart. People are fed up and exhausted by death and cancer is one of the chief culprits.

A friend of mine shared that she was sad due to a loss in her family. She talked about wanting to be “strong” for her loved ones by not crying around them, especially not at the funeral. I told her that sadness is natural at these times. God did not create us to be separated from each other through death. Death is an evil with which we must contend now, but will meet its own demise a thousand years after the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. At that time, there will be no more death, sorrow, or pain. Sin, the grave, and death will be cast into the lake of fire that will burn with brimstone. But until then, we will mourn when people die, and God will provide comfort in our times of need.

I don’t know if you realize this or not, but oftentimes we mourn the loss of things we should be happy are dead. For example, some of you have been locked up in dysfunctional or abusive relationships for years. When that abusive man or sexually unfaithful woman decided he or she just could not stomach being another day in a relationship with you and left, you cried real tears. Despite the fact that your lover demonstrated disrespect for the God who lives in you, and by whom you are called, you were chained in your mind to that relationship. When it died abruptly, you mourned. Dry your tears and rejoice! That sort of relationship does not lead you closer to eternity with God. Good riddance.

Some of you are mourning because you are not as desirable a companion to longtime friends after you received Christ into your life. When they go to the bar, they no longer call you to ask if you want to go. When they go on vacations to enjoy the most opulent casinos in the world, they don’t look for you. When they go out to be wined and dined for a night out on the town, you are no longer on speed dial. They go without you. Dry your tears! Do not mourn the death of that aspect of your relationships. Yes, you should want to have their companionship if you miss them. But your new focus is leading them to experience your newfound relationship with God so they, too, can be delivered from eternal death. Do you see where I am going with this?

There are times in our lives that we should welcome death! And before you misunderstand my point, I am not talking about being suicidal, reckless, or having a death wish. I am saying that we should welcome the fact that just as Jesus miraculously died the second death in our stead (that is, eternal separation from God—the penalty for sin), we can die to sin. By faith in Jesus, we can die to sinful desires, addictions, and soul-destroying habits and relationships. If we choose to surrender our lives to Him, to be empowered to do His will, we should rejoice that we can be dead indeed unto sin.

But wait; there’s more! We not only have the privilege to revel in our death to sin but also in our life unto righteousness. Just as Jesus miraculously took His life back from the tomb the Sunday immediately following His crucifixion (He said that He would lay down His life, and He would take it back again), He is miraculously giving people all over the world new lives of righteousness. He is releasing people overcome with pride, greed, drunkenness, rage, laziness, and violence from their tombs. They are, we are, dying to sin and being raised to live according to God’s plan.

So commemorate the day you chose to allow God to crucify your evil character and be thankful for the opportunity to be transformed into the image of Jesus Christ. This is a necessary, blessed step on your road to recovery from sin.

Conscience Cleared And Ready

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Today’s Scripture Focus: “Thus he shewed me: and, behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand. And the LORD said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A plumbline. Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more:” (Amos 7:7–8).

sin recovery planWe are focusing on sin recovery principle number five of 12: “We confessed to God, and when necessary, to people we have offended, the exact nature of our offenses.”

Is your life plumb with the Word of God?

I admit that this is an unusual question. Unless you are a tradesperson, the odds are that you have not even used the word plumb lately, mush less, in this context. But it’s a valid question nonetheless.

As my wife and I prepared for sleep last night, she asked me whether I was sure I had confessed all my sins. It was clear to me that she was working through the process of confession in her mind and how we know whether our sin record is clear from day to day. I told her that I have developed a habit (more so recently) of talking to God all throughout the day about our relationship and my sins. There are times that God reveals when I have sinned, and I talk to Him about it immediately. There are other times that I am wondering if there is some nuance in what I said or did that may have crossed the line. I don’t leave that up to chance because I want to live in harmony with Him at all times. This should be the desire of all believers, but I am particularly sensitive because I am a servant leader who has been entrusted with the responsibility of helping others stay connected to God. There are emergencies and crises of faith that come about suddenly, and it would be a shame if my unrepentance got in the way of helping someone through their crisis. We need to live as ready at all times to be of service to those who want a connection with God but are struggling to have it.

Imagine making an emergency services call because your house is on fire; your father is having a heart attack, or armed assailants are staging a break-in at your home. What if the line were busy? What if the dispatcher did pick up an asked you to call back in 15 minutes so she could see if any paramedics, police officers, or fire fighters were awake and their vehicles are gassed up? How would that make you feel? What if one of those whose job it was to be ready in case of emergency said that they needed to read a 30-page manual and get back to you? What would be the outcome?

The truth is that so many of us are not prepared for emergencies. What if we died suddenly and had no time for deathbed confessions? What if a friend needs prayer because they are being oppressed by evil angels as in Mark chapter five and literally destroying them? What if a loved one is headed down the wrong path and they need someone to intercede for them every day until they come to their spiritual senses? If we choose to continue to sin without remorse and let time pass before we confess our sins to God and accept His power to live according to His holy principles, the consequences are dire.

open bibleYou may wonder how we are to know when and how to confess our sins. By what measure do we determine our next move? What is the plumb line or tool to measure how straight our lives are? Here are a few verses for your consideration: “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.” (1 John 3:4). “All unrighteousness is sin…” (1 John 5:17a). Here’s one more: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.” (1 John 1:8–2:4).

The principle standard of righteousness is God’s commandments. The Ten Commandments reveal right and wrong for those who are willing to see. In fact, the Bible says, “…I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” (Romans 7:7b). We do not need to grope around in darkness wondering when we have done right or wrong. We have the blessed Holy Spirit who brings sin and righteousness awareness to our minds according to the Bible plumb line (John 16:1-13). He also provides the power we need to do God’s will.

I ask again: Is your life plumb with the Word of God? If not, now is the time to accept God’s invitation to live in harmony with Him. Do not let another moment pass before you do. There is far too much at stake.

When Confession Is Humiliating

Today’s Scripture Focus: Genesis 38

sin recovery planWe are focusing on sin recovery principle number five of 12: “We confessed to God, and when necessary, to people we have offended, the exact nature of our offenses.”

Talk about scandal! If you want to read riveting stories of the worst humanity has to offer, look no further than the Bible. You don’t need to burn time watching contrivances on television thought up for your entertainment and little in the way of redeeming value. At least in the Bible, we can learn through God’s inspiration, how to overcome our evil character traits.

The storyline from today’s Scripture reading is too sordid and has too many twists and turns for me to summarize for you here. Be sure to read it for yourself. Suffice it to say; things got complicated, really fast. The deception, sexual indiscretion, betrayal, and surprises all point to the fact that we need to submit ourselves to God before we self-destruct!

There are times we find ourselves in complicated situations that seem too embarrassing to rectify. This may have happened to you. You may have committed a crime, and the security camera footage was flashed on the news, and it’s time to turn yourself in. You thought you got away, but you didn’t. You may have birthed a child for a man who is not your husband and the resemblance to his best friend is uncanny. You should have been faithful to your husband, but you allowed a moment of passion to rule you and life just got more complicated. It’s time to come clean. You may have lied about your employment history, which netted you the job of a lifetime and one of your staffers congratulates you for out matching her. You got the job, and she didn’t even though she was the one qualified for the position. It’s time for you to confess and step down.

Confession of sin and wrongdoing is not fun. Confession can be a very humiliating experience to be sure. But the Bible says that if we confess our sins, God will faithfully forgive and cleanse us from all our evil. We should be specific and speak openly with no dodgy descriptions of our offenses and let God help us face the consequences. If we ever hope to recover from sin, we must let go of our guilt, shame, and secrets so God can deliver us. We can trust God through the process and no matter what happens, if we choose honesty over deception, He will see us through.

Keep The Horse In Front Of The Cart-How To Have Spiritual Success

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Friday, May 13, 2016

Today’s Scripture Focus: James 4:7

sin recovery planWe are focusing on sin recovery principle number three of 12: “We have decided to submit our wills and lives wholeheartedly to God.”

Have you ever heard the phrase, “They’ve put the cart before the horse?” This is an instructive phrase. I am uncertain of its origin and first use. It is probably safe to say that it was not intended to be spiritual, although it does communicate an essential principle. Let us keep our priorities in order; first things first.

What good is a horse that is intended to draw a cart of passengers if, instead of it being in the front pulling the cart, it is in the rear? How likely is it that the cart would reach its destination? In our walk with God, it is important to keep Him first. He is the One, who has the power to draw us in the right direction.

Many conscientious people have made up in their minds that they will be successful spiritually, no matter the cost. Many of them strive unto blood to resist sin. One problem is that they appear haggard and more. A checklist of dos and don’ts is their focus. It is true, to keep our minds free from lust, we should not watch perverted movies. It is true that we should do our best to resist evil thoughts. It is true that we should help the poor and afflicted. Is it possible that all of these true things could still be displaced? Could it be that in conscientious service to God, we could be putting the cart before the horse?

The Lord intends for us to live pure and holy lives. The key to such an existence is not so much related to mere striving and behavior modification as it is being submissive to Him. The only way to prosper and be holy is to put God first, not good habits. It is when we are humble before God that we can please Him. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). The reward and victory comes in seeking God, not resisting the devil. “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).

When we are submitted fully to God we are cooperating with Him, and then He is able to effect lasting change in our lives.