Living in the Now is All We Have

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Living in the Now is All We Have

Be alert at all times praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place and to stand before the Son of Man. Luke 21:36

The end of our days will certainly come soon enough! Thus, we should consider what will be our fate after our days do come to an end. Today, we are here, yet tomorrow we may be gone. When we are no longer of this world, we also will be no longer on the mind of this world. Man is born of woman, thus he enters this world with a shortage of days, but an abundance of trouble. We blossom like a flower, but like a flower we wither. Our life is but a fleeting shadow that quickly is gone.

Oh, the stupidity and hardness of a person’s heart who thinks upon this present life and does not care about the life that lies ahead. Wisdom declares that we should arrange ourselves and all our thoughts and actions as if tomorrow is not guaranteed to arrive. When we think and live with a right mindset, we realize it is better to avoid wrong choices in this life than try to outlive death. Surely, those of us who have a good conscience do not have a great fear of death. Otherwise, ponder this thought: If we are not prepared today, how will we be any more prepared tomorrow? Tomorrow is uncertain and how can we know if we will live beyond today.

What good comes from a long life when there is so little improvement in our spiritual life? For so many, a long life often makes their sinful choices greater, rather than making their lives better. As a fact, many can recall well when they long ago confessed Christ as their Savior and Lord, yet there is little evidence of the fruit of spiritual improvements in their lives. However, there are many who are like this; they consider it dreadful to die, but struggle in the fear that to live long may prove more dangerous to their spiritual well being.

When-it-is-morning

Happy are those who always keep the hour of their death before their eyes, and daily prepare themselves for the life that will surely come beyond this present life. If at any time we have seen another person die, consider that we also must yet face the same destiny. When it is morning, consider the prospect that evening may never come; it is certainly never guaranteed, nor is the certainty that will see the sun rise again. Therefore, always be ready and live in a way that death will never take us unprepared. Most of us will certainly die suddenly and unexpectedly, for the Son of Man will come at an hour when we least expect Him to arrive. When that last hour comes, many will begin to have a different opinion of our entire past life, and we will be exceedingly sorry that we have been so careless and carefree. Oh, how wise and happy is the one who strives each day to be the person that they wish to be found at the final hour of their life:

  • having contempt for this world
  • having a fervent desire to excel in virtue
  • being diligent of repentance
  • living always ready to obey
  • denying ourselves
  • bearing patiently in all affliction

When we are healthy we can do so much good, but when we are sick there is not much that we are able to do. We cannot become better or reform our ways when burdened by our sickness.

Why trust ourselves to friends and relatives, or put off the care of our soul’s welfare to some future time. It is our soul! We are better off to look after our own soul early and do good in advance than to trust in the help of others for our soul’s fate.

This present time is so precious – “now are the days of salvation, now is the only acceptable time.” We cannot change the past; the future is not ours to do anything with; only the present is our gift that God provides to us to make the needed changes in our life that will please Him. How sad when we waste this gift when we could be making the changes to work out our salvation and making certain our hope of eternal life. Salvation is a journey not complete until we find ourselves standing before God face to face welcomed into His eternal kingdom. How sad that we waste so much time here when we could be working out our salvation and making sure our hope of eternal life. Take freely the gift that is from God in the present; do not regret procrastinating!

My daily prayer: My Lord and Savior, may I never take my life before you for granted. I fully realize that my past is sealed, but by grace forgiven and forgotten; my future is never mine to assume that I will be able to do rightly before you then. Thus, I am humbled by my present state before you, and I offer all that I am now – all my heart, soul, mind and strength are yours to do as you will, and I pray are acceptable to you because of the faith I have in what your Son has done for me. Father, though I cannot look beyond the present, I ask to hope to be all I can be for your sake to my family and friends, so that others will understand that “now” is the time for salvation – not tomorrow, for it will likely be too late. Help me Lord to share the message of hope that we have in the present “now” and how our future is in your hands. Thank you, my heavenly Father. Amen

For additional reading: Job 9:25-26; 14:1-2; Matthew 6:20; 24:44; 25:10, 13, 44; Luke 12:37, 40; Hebrews 2:23; 9:27; 2 Corinthians 6:2; Isaiah 30:5; 31:1; 49:8; Jeremiah 17:5; 48:7; Philippians 2:12, 13; 1 Thessalonians 5:8-10

Misery Can Be an Unexpected Bedfellow

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Misery Can Be an Unexpected Bedfellow

Why should I fear in times of trouble? The iniquity of my foes surrounds me. They trust in their wealth and boast of their abundant riches. Yet these cannot redeem a person or pay his ransom to God – since the price of redeeming him is too costly, one should forever stop trying – so that he may live forever and not see the Pit. For one can see that wise men die; the foolish and the senseless also pass away. Then they leave their wealth to others. Their graves are their eternal homes, their homes from generation to generation, though they named estates after themselves. But despite assets, man will not last; he is like the animals that perish. This is the way of those who are arrogant, and of their followers, who approve of their works. Selah Psalm 49:5-13

Misery in one’s life is a sure sign that we have not turned our life completely over to God! There is no one in this world, whether a head of state or head of a church, who is without some tribulation or problem. Things just do not go as we desired or thought they would. There are so many things that we do not have that we have desired. Therefore, the best we can hope for is that we can be able to suffer something for God’s sake, and not just keep all the suffering for ourselves.

Rather than be jealous of those who seem to not have any suffering in their lives, lift up our eyes to the riches and abundance of heaven, and we will see that all the things we value in this world are nothing. The possession of things is so uncertain and burdensome; possession always comes with much anxiety and fear.

Clearly-our-happiness

Clearly, our happiness should not be in the harvesting of things – the temporal goods we value in this life. Their value is always established by their desire in the hearts and minds of others who seek them for themselves.

To the truly spiritual minded person, the closer to God we seek to walk, the more bitter we become towards this present life and its value system for the things that God has provided us. We see clearer and understand better the defects of human corruption, especially when it revolves around the desire for possessions and the worldly value we place on them. To the truly spiritual person these desires cause misery and affliction, and it would seem best to be released and free from all sinful lusts that interfere with our right relationship with God. However, the world thrust before each of us what they declare as the necessities of life. Yet, some scarcely get by working for and even begging for the mere necessities, but they strive to live always here in this world and care nothing at all for the kingdom of God.

How sad and senseless, how unbelieving in heart, are those people who are so strongly tied to this earth that they have such a insatiable appetite for nothing but the carnal things of this world! However, as wrongly valued that they are, in the end they will come to realize how wrong and worthless the focus of their love was. But, the saints of God, those devout followers of Christ, did not consider those things that pleased the flesh or that flourished in this life, but longed for the eternal, heavenly valued riches with all their heart, soul, mind and strength. They directed their whole desire upward to things everlasting and invisible, so that the desire for things visible could not draw them to things below on this earth.

How I pray and encourage all to not lose confidence in making progress in godliness – there is still time, the hour has not yet passed! Our upward perfection before God will not be perfected in this life – what we call sanctification is an ongoing process while we live for Him in this life. Thus, why put off our purpose from day to day? Get up! Begin immediately and resolve by saying, “Now is the time to act, now is the time to strive, now is the time to improve.”

How do we know it is the time? When we are uneasy and much troubled, that is the time to begin to pursue true blessings in our lives. We must pass through “fire and water” before we come to the place of refreshing. The victory we can have over the values and expectations of this world must come from our earnest effort within ourselves. As long as we choose to carry the burden of this frail fleshly body, we can never be without sin or live without pain and weariness. Sin has corrupted our innocence, otherwise we would gladly choose to be at rest and free of misery and pain. We must realize and believe in our hearts that complete happiness is not possible without the mercy and grace of God.

How great is human frailty, it is always prone to evil. Today, we will confess our sins and tomorrow we will commit the very same ones that we confessed. One moment we resolve to be more careful about how we act and a short while later we behave as though we never had any such purpose at all. Because of our human frailty, we must humble ourselves and never be conceited about ourselves – our abilities to do what we desire to do on our own strength. We must seek and strive for the grace of God – admit He alone offers us the power and strength to overcome our frailty. Our efforts should be daily renewed as new beginners seeking instruction on how to live a good life if we hope to amend our future and make greater progress in God-pleasing spiritual things in our lives.

My daily prayer: Lord God, my Savior, my Shield, and my Stronghold, I humbly surrender my heart, soul, mind and strength (any ability I believe I have within me) to you. I know that any effort I make to seek approval in this world only will stir up grief and misery. What I desire the most, being in right relationship with you, pleasing you in all I say and do, is beyond my ability to do on my own. All I manage to do is stumble even when my intentions are right. Lord God, I pray that you will accept my earnest desire to allow you alone to direct and protect my life and that of my family. May you approve my life to be a witness to your grace and mercy so that my family will likewise surrender to you their lives as well. Thank you, my loving Father. Amen

For additional reading: Eccl 6:2; Proverbs 19:1; Phil 1:23; Psalm 10; 11; 25:16-17; 66:12; Rom 7:24; 8:5-6, 22; 13:11; Hebrews 10:35-36; Gen 3:17; 6:5; 8:12; 2 Cor 5:4

Compunction Leads to Repentance

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Compunction Leads to Repentance

Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God now commands all people everywhere to repent, because He has set a day which He is going to judge the world in righteousness by the Man He has appointed. He has provided proof of this to everyone raising Him (Christ Jesus) from the dead. Acts 17:30-31

Compunction is defined as a strong uneasiness caused by a sense of guiltremorse and regret. From its Latin origin, it means literally, “to prick or sting the conscience.” Thus, compunction is the stepping stone that leads our hearts toward genuine repentance. It causes us to seek God to change the direction of our life, because of our conduct that has led us to sin – any conduct by word, deed or thought that is an obstacle to living according to the perfect, pleasing and good will of God. It is through the process of repentance we have the opportunity to be reunited with God in the proper relationship that God had intended for us, and our heart will always long for.

However, compunction alone does not cause repentance. Repentance must come from a willful commitment of the heart to influence how we dedicate ourselves to please God by every word, deed and thought. By faith we must then ask God to accept our repentant hearts, so that He will give us the power within us to make the changes that genuine repentance requires to overcome all the regret, remorse, and the sense of guilt that compunction stirs within us. Until genuine change occurs, our feelings of guilt will continue to haunt our lives, as our hearts seek to be in right relationship with God, as we were created to live.

Likewise, how is it that we can sense that we are worthy of any divine comfort and relief from our feelings of regret and remorse, when in fact, we are really only worthy of tribulation? Only when we have experienced genuine repentance do we begin to experience the grief and bitterness for the worldly influences that are around us each day. A righteous person experiences genuine repentance, and this uncovers within them sufficient reason to mourn and weep over the world’s influences in their life. And, a righteous person recognizes that no matter whether we evaluate our own or our neighbor’s circumstances, no one lives without some tribulation.

Our sins and wrong choices entangle us daily and interfere with our ability to rightly meditate upon and thus benefit from our devotion upon matters that please God. They cause us to focus upon our feelings of sorrow which stirs our desire for inward repentance. So, what can we do?

The-lack-of-an-active

If only we place more emphasis upon thinking about what death will bring us instead of living a long life, then we would realize the joy of living rightly in the life we have been blessed to experience by God. There is no doubt that we would live a more zealous life when we seek to improve spiritually. When we meditate upon and consider within us the prospect of what death could bring without a change in our heart: a life isolated from God and the things we love, which is the destination for many beyond death, then I believe, as Thomas a’ Kempis long ago premised, “we would willingly undergo any labor or sorrow in this world and not be afraid of the greatest hardship or discipline in this world. But, sadly for many, because these things do not enter into the heart and we still love only those things that delight us, we remain cold, distant and dull in our spiritual life.” The lack of an active, dedicated spirit for the things of God is the cause for our troubled souls, which causes so many of us to complain so easily.

With all humility, our hope lies in our fervent prayers to the Lord that he may grant each of us the spirit of compunction, which leads us into a life pursuing genuine repentance. May we all cry out, “Feed me, O Lord with the bread of tears and a full measure of tears to drink.” (Psalm 80:5) Then we will discover our hearts will be guiding our lives back into making right choices – evidenced by our thoughts, actions and words – that please God, according to his perfect, pleasing and good will. He will then turn our meditations upon death, into glorious visions of life, as He intended us to live it – a life overcoming the tribulations of this world.

My daily prayer: My heavenly Father and Savior, as I contemplate this message, I am humbled and fully realize that I too have often thought more about living well in this life and have taken my relationship with you for granted, and tribulations have caused me grief. But now I understand that the grief I felt was your prodding me into compunction, which should lead my heart into a life of genuine repentance. Father God, I thank you for not giving up on me, and guiding me through each tribulation in my life back to your will – back to the right relationship I will never ever take for granted again. Death is real for all of us, but how we view it determines our life now and the life that follows on the other side of death. Father, because of your Son, my Savior, I know genuine repentance. Please help me to share the good news to my family and friends, especially those who are grieved by the past and current tribulations in their own lives. Amen

For additional reading: Psalm 80; Ecclesiastes 7:1-2

 

Grief Changes Hearts

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Grief Changes Hearts

For godly grief produces a repentance not to be regretted and leading to salvation, but worldly grief produces death. For consider how much diligence this very thing – this grieving as God wills – has produced in you; what a desire to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what deep longing, what zeal, what justice! In every way you have commended yourselves to be pure in this matter. 2 Corinthians 7: 10-11

When we are led by our heart, we can truly understand what is meant by repentance. If we truly desire in our heart to make any progress in godliness, the fear of God must remain within us, and we should not seek freedom from that fear! In fact, we must embrace it and use it to keep all our senses under control, guided by our spiritual discipline, avoiding foolish actions and attitudes that distract our daily spiritual walk.

When we read Hebrews 11, we find examples of God’s faithful role-models who by faith were led by God through great conflict, chaos, and challenges in this world. By faith they conquered worldly kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the raging flames, escaped the sword, regained strength out of their weakness, became mighty in battle, and put foreign armies to flight… all by faith in God! Such faith begins with the fear of God leading our lives, then all other fear falls away and peace allows us to sleep in the face of danger.

Understand, repentance of the heart is yielding to God’s will, ways and wisdom. When that happens in our lives, we find ourselves closer to God, as He speaks to our heart through daily time with Him. True repentance, the complete return to God’s will, ways and wisdom for our lives, leads us to much good in our lives, but beware that lack of moral restraint can quickly destroy if we do not take care to remain alert and connected to God. It is a wonder that any of us who seriously meditate upon the many perils that surround our soul each day can ever perfectly rejoice in this life. On this side of God’s heaven, we cannot rest upon what we have accomplished and relax against the wiles of this world. We cannot grow weary and weak; our faith must keep us marching on the path that daily returns our heart to God.

To make light and show little concern for our shortcomings and failings in this life makes us callous to the reality of our souls. We should daily check and correct our divine course through this life, otherwise we will find ourselves laughing when we should be weeping. There is no true freedom or genuine joy in this life except when the fear of God is accompanied by a good, confessed conscience. Therefore, true happiness and joy is found by those of us who can rid every distracting thing that impedes progress, and dedicate themselves to the desired result of holy, God-pleasing repentance of the heart. True happiness falls upon those of us who can abandon all that may defile, distract or detour our conscience. And, this abandonment requires courageous resistance to all things that may keep our conscience from its divine purpose.

We-must-begin-our-daily

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We must begin our daily journey of faith by turning our heart to God, keeping our eyes on ourselves first, admonishing ourselves before we ever consider admonishing others. We should avoid meddling in the lives of others to deflect and justify our shortcomings. Likewise, we should not be disturbed if we sense others appear more attentive in their spiritual lives and appear more disciplined than us. Such a comparison indicates that we have not behaved prudently as a servant of God should when we focus upon others. A truly repentant heart only focuses upon Christ, and Christ alone to guide their lives.

Likewise, it is often in our best interests not to have too many worldly comforts in this life, especially those that have to do with worldly enticements and desires. Therefore, take careful note, if we do grieve due to our lack of divine comforts, or because we have them only sparingly, the fault is ours. The fault is simply this: we do not seek to change our heart – our heart’s focus is still not on what God offers to us, but our selfish, worthless and outward comforts.

Is it godly grief or worldly grief that seeks to control the course of your heart’s direction? Is it God’s will, ways and wisdom or your will, ways and wisdom that control your heart? Only one choice leads to repentance of the heart and the joys and comforts that truly impacts our lives.

My daily prayer: Lord my God, in Christ I humbly seek to turn my life over to you. My heart is not content living any other direction. Please help me to remain committed to seeking your will, your ways, and your wisdom. Keep my heart directed by investing in your Word, because I confess it is no longer I that desire to live in this world, but it is Christ living in me so that I may reveal him to others by the way I surrender my life to you each day. Guard me and keep me from straying from the joys and comfort of keeping my heart turned to you, my Lord and Savior. May your Spirit reveal anything that may distract, disrupt or detour the true desires of my heart, which is to be in Christ alone. Help me to be every day a role model for you to my family and friends. Use me as you will Lord and I will gladly go and do as you lead my heart. Thank you, my God. Amen

For further reading: Hebrews 11:13; Proverbs 19:23; James 1:23; 4:8-10; Galatians 1:10; Psalm 76:5

Sweetness of Silence and Solitude

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Sweetness of Silence and Solitude

Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward! But when you pray, go into your private room, shut the door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. When you pray don’t babble like the idolaters, since they imagine they’ll be heard for their many words. Don’t be like them, because your Father knows the things that you need before you ask Him. Matthew 6:1-8

Set aside a time to be alone with God, our heavenly Father, and there meditate each day upon his faithful love working in our life! The focus of our heart, soul and mind should be upon passages from God’s Word, or from other divinely inspired writings, that will speak to our inner self, our inner soul.

We would likewise withdraw from and abandon worthless conversations that cause us to roam aimlessly, constantly seeking out new things or new thoughts. They inevitably cause us to get distracted from our proper devotion to God. Only then will we find enough free time suitable for meditation on the good purposes and thoughts of God, our heavenly Father. Seek first and foremost God’s ways and avoid placing priority on the ways of man and of this world. As it is appropriate and proper, choose to seek God in the privacy of your special secret place, during your appointed and dedicated secret time.

When-communicating-with

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When we have long conversations with God, we learn genuine, life-changing truth. One of those truths is this: It is easier and more beneficial not to speak a word at all, than to continue to speak more words than we need. When communicating with God, listening is more important than speaking endlessly about our needs to Him. He already knows our needs and circumstances, so what are we gaining by sharing what He already clearly knows?

However, even in the privacy of our secret place in the security of our home, it is hard to pray in silence and solitude, but it is beneficial to be patient, opening our ears and heart, and closing our mouths. Therefore, the person who intends to achieve a closer, more intimate relationship with God must go and seek him away from the distractions and disruptions of the crowds. We need to seek the Master, to hear his words of wisdom, so we may walk in his ways, and draw nearer to him to discern His loving care for us each day.

My daily prayer: Gracious Lord and Savior, it is in you that I seek access to and a closer relationship with my Father in heaven, to understand his will, his ways, and his wisdom for my life. It is in sharing with you that I can see him through my intimate relationship with you each day in our quiet time together. Yet, I pray for your Spirit to help me to learn to listen better so I may hear and understand your instruction for my life and to know your purposes for me to discover each day. Lord Jesus, please warm my heart and stir my soul so I know that I am learning to listen as I should, and I have your approval in our special time together. Lord, I understand that I am only accountable to you alone, and to seek prayer approval from others is not beneficial but detrimental for growing our relationship. Help me Lord to be more sensitive to your voice, your gentle pricking of my spirit, and the stirring of my soul. Thank you Lord Jesus for loving me and you invest your words in me. Amen

For additional reading: Phil 2:13; 4:8-9; Eccl 3:1; Heb 11:38; Matt 5:1,2; 6:9-13

Discipline for God’s People

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Discipline for God’s People

So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to will and to act for His good purpose. Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world. Philippians 2:12-15

As God’s people, we must choose to set a course of action against those weaknesses that hinder us most of all. We must diligently search the outward and inward person we desire to become, because both are of important to our progress as God’s people. We should start everyday recalling our inward and outward activities, reflecting upon and evaluating them. In the morning, we should set before ourselves what will be our daily good purpose, and at night examine what we did and how we behaved in word, deed, and attitude, because in these things we might have offended God and other people.

Moses’ offered relevant instructions to the people of Israel as they were preparing to take up residence in the Promised Land: Today, recognize and keep in mind that the Lord is God in heaven above and on earth below; there is no other. Keep His statutes and commands, which I am giving you today, so that you and your children after you may prosper and so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you for all time. (Deut. 4:39-40)

However, we must realize and understand there will be the devil’s assaults. His assaults will be multiple in his effort to thwart our relationship as one of God’s people. However, we should remain aware that the harder we set our minds to fulfill our daily disciplines on our own abilities, the harder the devil seeks to undermine us. Thus, it is imperative that we focus upon God, not on our own strength or abilities, then we will overcome the unruly desires that the devil desires to stir up within us.

Therefore, never be entirely idle; either invest in reading, writing, praying, meditating, or ministering for the good of others. Some are private exercises that are good for our practice at home, but some are common to all so that we may impact others through them. However, we are all different and not every person needs the same exercises for their daily growth. Beyond the exercises for the common good, never ignore the rest of our exercises that are specifically designed to strengthen us individually, according to our own unique situations and needs. We should also have the mindset to use key “holy times,” those appointed times in our life set apart for God’s purposes, to commit ourselves to our spiritual disciplines and resolve ourselves to the exercises we need during those dedicated and consecrated times. Through them, we should prepare ourselves to live more devoutly and keep more strictly all things that we are to observe, as though we are shortly to be in God’s presence to receive the reward of our labors. Of course, if that end is deferred, let us realize and freely testify that we are not sufficiently prepared, and are still unworthy of the great glory that will be revealed in us in the proper time – so let us endeavor to prepare ourselves better for the departure from this life, each day as we yet can.

My daily prayer: Lord God, most holy and awesome Savior and Master of my life, now and forevermore, my heart wrestles daily with understanding your statutes and commands that we find in your Word. I struggle in many of the same ways that those recorded in your Word struggled, even those members of the “hall of faith” who had their shortcomings to overcome. Lord God, I thank you for your Holy Spirit. He lives within me to guide and counsel my heart, soul, and mind, each day. I realize I have my obligation and responsibility to surrender myself daily to your instruction and direction in my life, so that I can learn how to not only overcome and control my fleshly desires, but also to totally surrender them to you. Lord, when I have stumbled along the way you have been faithful to help me back up and set me back onto your righteous path, and I am so sorry that there are times that I must seem as a burden to you. However, as you have shared, love knows no burden so great that it could set us apart any longer. I am so thankful Lord! You are my hope, the focus of my faith, and source of all the love I know in my life. May I fight daily to honor and glorify you alone, and leave the struggles I face in your hands to deal with as you deem right and just to handle for me. Keep me as a reflection of your love and mercy so I may be an inspiration to my family and those friends you direct into my life each day. May they share the same hope, faith, and love as I do with you. Amen.

For additional reading: Deuteronomy 4 (God’s Guide to His People as an example of His love for the World); Hebrews 10:24-25; Romans 7:18

Daily Spiritual Exercises

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Daily Spiritual Exercises

The Lord looks down from heaven; He observes everyone. He gazes on all the inhabitants of the earth from His dwelling place. He alone crafts their hearts; He considers all their works. Psalm 33:13-15

God’s people should reveal outwardly the same moral excellence and righteousness that they have received inwardly. However, the truth remains, there should be more inward spirituality concealed than outward reality revealed! God looks upon us, and it is our spiritual duty to strive to worship God in reverent awe and love, above all other things, and wherever we are in this life, walk as his messengers under his watchful care.

Each day we should seek to renew our purposes and stir ourselves up with renewed enthusiasm, as though this was the first day of our conversion. We should say: Help me my God in this good purpose and in your holy service, and grant that this day I may begin perfectly, because everything that I have done before this is as nothing in your eyes.

So that spiritual progress may be revealed, it is our responsibility to be very diligent in pursuing our purpose, which originates from God, not from our own desires. If those who diligently and firmly purpose to live right often fail, consider the fate of those who live daily without a consistent purpose or with little resolution, and with wrong motivation.

No doubt, there are many ways to become distracted and thus diverted from our well-intended purpose, but we should endeavor to remember, even a small omission of our spiritual exercises seldom passes without some loss and directly impacts the condition of our hearts, souls and minds.

The purpose of just people should not depend upon human wisdom, but upon God’s grace! For this reason, just people always rely upon God’s grace alone for whatever purpose they make themselves devoted to pursue in their daily lives. Man purposes, but God disposes; neither is the way of just people in themselves.

How are you waking up today? Are you enthused by the renewing of your heart, soul and mind, refreshed again, ready to walk as the apple of God’s eye today?

My daily prayer: My heavenly Lord and Savior, each day I awake I run to you in my quiet time. I open your word and prayerfully seek your Spirit to open the eyes to my heart, soul and mind so that I may understand your divine purpose for me. Please speak clearly to me, and open my eyes, my ears, and my mind to clearly focus upon your word. Help me to be healed by your word, directed by your word, and inspired by your word. Likewise, how I know that you are with me each morning is that I am challenged by your word, and in such a manner that without you I know I could never accomplish your purpose that is revealed on my own. You are my Salvation, my Shield, and My Strength – without you Lord in my life, I would be miserable and daily fall short in everything worthy in this life. I have already experienced what happens when I try to handle things my way in my strength, and the impact that has on my life and others I love. Please, help me to never start a day without you setting my purpose and plans… Amen.

Psalm 1 sheds light upon making right choices and establishing right purposes in our life: How happy is the man who does not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path of sinners or join a group of mockers! Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night. (v.1-2)

 

Modeling a Faithful Mentor

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Modeling a Faithful Mentor

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Consider the life we are currently leading versus that of those before us! There are so many saints and friends of Christ who served the Lord with testimonies of hunger and thirst; exposure to cold and nakedness; in hard labor and exhaustive perseverance; in extended periods of vigilant watching and fasting; in unending prayer and fervent meditations; and, through perpetual persecutions and public humiliation. Reflecting upon their examples have we sensed the strength that we hope to receive during times of weakness, insults, conflict and catastrophes?

Following the steps of Christ certainly can cause us to experience many grievous tribulations, such as were suffered by the apostles and other great confessors of the faith, who were both male and female of all ages. For them, as should be common to every Christian, they despised their lives in this world, so that they might hold onto life eternal.

What have we done to compare to all that those before us have done so well? What risks to our life have we been exposed? Have we a testimony of seeking the challenge of the narrow way that few find in this life? Have we sacrificed or lost houses, family, friends, or other valued possessions because of the name of our Lord and Savior? Have we found ourselves promoting the interests of others, offering them priority over our own well-being?

Imitating the life of a faithful saint, one who genuinely reflects a life pleasing to God, one in the footsteps of Christ’s example, is the life we should hope to exemplify so others will see Christ through us, as we did through others before us.

My daily prayer: Lord, my God and Savior, in you my life rests. Help me to realize that my life is not mine to keep in this life, because there is nothing but conflict, chaos, and catastrophes when I try to control my own life. Lord, I trust in you alone. I trust in seeking your will, our ways, and your wisdom to direct my life as I search your Word each day. Holy Spirit take control and direct my life – be my counselor and comforter when challenges arise that are designed to shape and mold me for your greater purposes, so I may learn and live out your great truths. You are my Savior, my Shield, and my Salvation – show me the way to go, reveal a faithful mentor into my life who reflects the life I need to imitate so that I may please you, my God, and possibly then I may become a model of Christ for my family, and those you may send my way. Amen.

For additional reading: Hebrews 11; 2 Corinthians 11:24-27; 12:10; John 12:25; Matt 7:14; 19:29; James 4:4; Phil 3:17

 

Discovering a Genuine Spiritual Life

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Discovering a Genuine Spiritual Life

Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be saved, but to serve, and to give His life – a ransom for many. Matthew 20:26-28

Peace and harmony in life comes when we surrender our own will for that of the Father’s will. Such a spiritual life of peace and harmony requires much so that we can dwell among other Christians without complaining and persevere together faithfully. However, one is blessed when we do. But, to be one of the blessed, we must consider ourselves as strangers and pilgrims on earth, so that we may grow in grace to persevere to the glory of God.

To live a genuine spiritual life we must be considered fools in this world for Christ’s sake. The world identifies with the appeal of our appearance, rather than the substance behind our character, which is internal, not external. As a Christian, we know that seeking outward spirituality, otherwise acting piously, only serves to change our appearance and is of little value. The genuine spiritual life is disciplined from the inside to defend against our fleshly passions, which truly makes us in proper relationship with our Lord and Savior, and righteous before God the Father. This spiritual life seeks to be the least and subject to all.

We have been made new spiritual beings by living with Christ in us, not to rule, but to serve. We are called to suffer and to labor, not to be idle or spend our time in idle talk with others. In a truly spiritual life, we are proved as gold in the furnace. In a genuine spiritual life, we cannot stand unless we humble ourselves with our whole heart revealing our love from and for God.

My daily prayer: Lord, my Savior and my Salvation, I lift my eyes to you. I pray that it is not I who lives, but you who lives within me. I know your love brings peace and harmony into the life of all your spiritual children. Lord, I seek to offer to you all of me to do as you will. Help me to stand in the gap wherever you need me, for your namesake; raise me up by directing my life to serve the needs of others. May all I say and do and think honor you and your holy name. Thank you Lord Jesus, in you alone I trust. Please bless my family with your loving kindness, and may all my children and their children embrace you as their Lord and Savior. Amen.

For additional reading: Luke 16:10; 1 Peter 2:11; 15:5; 1 Cor 4:10

Enduring Faults in this World

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Enduring Faults in this World

Therefore since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, so that you won’t grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3

A prayer for all of us who struggle in this world: Lord, give me the wisdom to discern the things I can change in myself and others, and the things which I cannot, and thus need to patiently endure until you decree them changed. Without this understanding as the better way to walk through life, our good deeds will not be worthy of you and certainly not please you. Therefore, we lift this prayer of endurance, patience and belief to you.

If we address someone about an apparent fault once or twice, and that person will not listen, do not mention the sin again, but commit it to God. Pray that his will may be done (which we should believe) and his name honored through all his chosen children, for he well knows how to turn evil into good.

Strive daily to be patient in dealing with failures and weaknesses of others, no matter what they are, for we ourselves have many failings that must be endured by others. If any of us cannot seek to be the kind of person we should be, how can we expect to be an influence to others? We are eager to expect others to be perfect, but we fail to correct many of our own faults. The great freedom that others appear to us to have displeases us, and yet we do not want our own desires restricted. We seek others to be restrained, yet ignore restraining ourselves.

Who among us is perfect? What would we be if we were to endure suffering for God? God has decreed that we should learn to bear one another’s burdens, for none of us are without fault, none of us are without our burdens, none of us are sufficient within ourselves, none are wise enough, and therefore we should eager and ready to bear one another, comfort one another, help, instruct, and admonish one another.

Times of adversity best reveal how righteous or spiritually strong we have become. Remember, such times are not to weaken us, but rather reveal what we are! This world is in truth full of faults, however God works his good through the faults of this world, whether revealed in us, or in others around us. Our responsibility is to endure the faults and grow closer to God through those faults in our life.

My daily prayer: Lord, you alone know everything, and there is certainly nothing that surprises you, especially our faults. I open my heart, soul, mind and spirit to you. Please search me and reveal the faults that I must not only endure but be open to have you change within me. Likewise, help me to trust your handling of the faults in others, and for me to recognize the need to endure those faults as well, and know you will turn those faults into faithful responses that honor your name. Father God, create a clean heart in me, and use me as your vessel for your kingdom purposes. Guard me from stumbling by judging others who stumble and fall. Help me to be more understanding and available to lift them up, and to become their prayer partners in this life. Help me to share my burdens more freely and be available to help carry the burdens of others, as well. I love you Lord, and may I look to your forbearance to help me to endure the shortcomings in this world. Amen.

For additional reading: Matthew 6:10-13; Luke 11:4; Romans 8:28; 1 Thess 5:14; Gal 6:2; 1 Corinthians 12:25

(For added thought: The two-edged sword in Hebrews 4:12 = God’s Word; Ephesians 6:17 reaffirms that it is the Word of the Spirit or God’s Word that we should use in the battle against evil.)

Handling the Tempest Storms

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Handling the Tempest Storms

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will also provide a way of escape, so that you are able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Evil temptations begin in an unsteady mind where there is little trust in God – what we tend to refer to as “little faith.” Even James, the brother of Jesus, points out: “Where one has doubt about God and His wisdom, he is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. An indecisive man is certainly unstable in all his ways.” (cf. James 1:5-8) It is also evident that every ship needs a reliable and sturdy rudder to weather the storms and navigate the seas of life. And, that rudder is our faith in God and his truth. Without such a reliable and sturdy rudder we will be left to face the temptations and the resulting storms that arise in this life on our own.

Temptation tries, or tests, a person just as fire tries, or tests, iron. Used properly temptation strengthens, but if not, temptation weakens, even distorts. Temptations can reveal what we are made of as well as what we are capable of doing. Yet, we must be watchful, especially in the early stages of temptation, for the enemy is only the weakest and more easily overcome in the beginning, while we can keep him from entering the door of our hearts. Our resistance must be the firmest and most resolute at the first knock of that door. Once we allow his foot to get wedged into the doorway of our heart, the wicked enemy is harder to resist – inch by inch he will persistently try to work his way in. The longer we hesitate before resisting, the weaker we become; the stronger he, the enemy, seems to become in our lives.

Some suffer great temptations in the beginning of their conversions, while others at the end. There are also some who are troubled almost throughout their life. Some are only lightly tempted, because they trust in God’s wisdom, as well as invest in God’s righteous and just ways. God establishes and prepares the circumstances and ordains all things for the welfare of His chosen ones. Therefore, we should not despair when tempted, but ask God even more so to grant us help in all tribulations. We are promised that with temptation He will, according to his promise, provide a way of escape so we may be able to endure it.

Remember, the temptations and afflictions that arise in our life prove how much we have progressed, and by going through them our rewards are more clearly evident. It is no great thing if we are devout and fervent when we are not being afflicted, but if during adversity we persevere patiently, there is hope then of great progress in grace. However, consider that there are some who are kept from great temptations but often are attacked by small ones that occur daily. This happens so that having failed in small matters they will never presume that they are able to withstand the greater temptations in their own strength.

My daily prayer: Lord of the heavens and on earth, you are my God, and I humbly bow before you and seek your mercy and grace as I face the challenges of my temptations and the tribulations that have surfaced in my life. Just as storms on earth never affect but one person, the storms in my life, whether small or large, impact so many others. My family and friends, my Heavenly Father, share the storm’s wrath as the wave’s crash, and the gales blow upon my life. The rising flood and the damaging winds touch the innocent and the guilty equally. Father, embrace and protect everyone in my life from any harm from the storms. May you arise as you did with the disciples upon the sea and rebuke the wind and the waves, and calm followed in obedience to your will. Lord, do not allow my enemies to gloat and gossip in the midst of the storm they helped to stir, for their purposes. Father, do not allow my faith to falter. Help my feet to remain steadfast, and strengthen my resolve to sail through the storm, so that I may honor and praise you when I arrive safely on the other side. May my enemies find themselves caught up in the storm, so they may realize the harm it causes, and maybe they will seek you in their lives, and change their selfish ways. Thank you my Lord and Savior… you are certainly my rock and refuge in the midst of the storm, and I am redeemed when I and my family place our faith totally in you. Amen.

For additional reading: James 1:5-7; 4:6; Romans 8:28

Fighting Off Temptation

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Fighting Off Temptation

Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either fails, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who fails without another to lift him up. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

Tribulation and temptation are a part of this world and as long as we are living in it, we must face them. In the OT, Job declares: Isn’t mankind consigned to forced labor on earth? Are not his days like those of a hired hand? So I have been made to inherit months of futility, and troubled nights have been assigned to me. (Job 7:1,3)

Each of us should be on guard against temptations and guard ourselves through prayer, so that the devil who is lurking day and night may not find any opportunity to deceive us. Even Jesus warned his disciples at a critical moment to stay awake and alert to not fall into temptation. He was aware that the spirit is willing but the body is weak in that struggle. Peter, by his own experience, wrote to the church that warned all Christians to remain alert and on guard because our adversary, the Devil stalks and lurks seeking to devour anyone he can.

Peter also reminds us, we all are susceptible to times of temptations and tribulations, and we are not so perfect and holy that we are free from their influence upon us. We should never surrender and always seek heaven’s help because we will always have them at hand in this world.

Consider that trials and tribulation are at the same time often beneficial to us, though they are troublesome and grievous. Through them we are humbled, purified, and instructed, growing as a saint, a disciple of Christ, as we exercise our spiritual disciplines each and every day. Yet, there are those who fail to resist the temptations and become morally and spiritually lost and stumble.

There is no state so holy, no place so secret where there are not temptations or adversities. None of us are totally free of trials and tribulation in our life. We are born with our sin nature which is always present with us in this life. Temptations every day produce trials and tribulations because of our sin problem throughout this life. We cannot outrun them, but we certainly can fall more seriously into them. Those who only attempt to avoid temptations by their outward efforts find they have not totally uprooted them and they remain only to return worse than before.

Only by patience and perseverance through God’s help will we be able to overcome the temptations, step by step, without violence and without our own sense of urgency, which tends to cause panic in our lives. We should seek the fellowship of others when we are tempted, and in return, offer to comfort others when they likewise are tempted, comforting them as we would wish to be comforted. Godly accountability partners are God’s gift on this earth to help in the struggle against temptation. Remember, there is strength in numbers. Jesus never sent disciples out without a partner and His Word declares the strength when two or even three gather in his name. We do not need to stand firm in the battle alone, nor should we.

My prayer today: Lord God, my Savior and Salvation, my Rock and Refuge, I call out to you this day as I fully recognize the threats of temptations and tribulations are real in our lives. I realize Lord we are weak all by ourselves because of our sin nature, and I certainly know there is much work in my life to complete my journey free from sin in this world. However, I have no doubt to add to that daunting task of dealing with and overcoming our sin nature, our adversaries the Devil is lurking, waiting for his chance to entrap and imprison us with his crafty ways. Lord God, I desire to surround my life with a strong group of godly mentors and friends to help me to face the challenges that life throws our way. And, I desire to be there as they may have a need as well. God, you do not want us to walk alone in this world, and the beginning of our downfall is to believe we can manage and overcome the challenges of this life alone. That is the first great lie that Satan places upon us that exposes us to his attacks. Father God, please do not allow Satan or his agents of deceit and deception to derail us. For your name sake, and the Name above all names, Lord Jesus, may your Holy Spirit dwell in us and through us to come out victorious from the attempts by Satan to bring us down. Do not allow him to boast of their claim to harm you through defeating your servants, like me. Father God, for your namesake, rescue and restore me, and remove me from the snares that have been set for me. Then lift me up and guide me because of your faithful love, and I will praise you and worship you from the rooftops! Protect my family and keep us whole for your glory and honor. Amen.

For Additional Reading: Matthew 13:20-22; 18:16, 20; 26:41; 1 Peter 5:8-9; 2 Tim 4:9-10; Eccl 4:12

Seeking Genuine Peace, Reflecting His Grace

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Seeking Genuine Peace, Reflecting His Grace

Just one thing: live your life in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I (Paul) come and see you or am absent, I will hear about you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, working side by side for the faith of the gospel, not being frightened in any way by your opponents. This is evidence of their destruction, but of your deliverance – and this is from God. Philippians 1:27-28

It happens all the time; life presents us with situations in which our attitude will dictate our altitude – someone wrongs us, a promise is broken, someone in authority judges wrongly about our actions, or we are just treated poorly. Whatever the circumstance, we need to ask: “Does my attitude show why God is in my life?”

God’s Word urges us to stand firm in our faith, believing we are under the authority of God and should act and react accordingly. We are to stay focused on the way, truth and life of Christ and the glory of the cross no matter what may happen in our life. Though we may be misunderstood, even wronged, mistreated, or severely persecuted, we must stand firm, knowing God will provide the victory.

Yet, how can we enjoy real peace from God when we are too busy concerning ourselves with the words or actions of others? There is a proper concern for others, but there is most often our natural concern about things that are not our concern.

How can we enjoy real peace that God wants us to enjoy when we do not restrain our self from thrusting our self into the concerns of others? It is always easier to look outwardly than inwardly. We naturally seek every opportunity, every chance to divert our concern for our self onto the concern for others. However, God blesses those whose hearts are fixed on spiritual matters, for they shall enjoy genuine peace of God. Therefore, it is imperative that we check our motives, our self-centered concerns, before diverting attention onto the lives of others.

The genuine peace of God is found by those who strive to focus themselves wholeheartedly upon God, which clears the way to draw nearer to him; his will, his way, and his wisdom, according to His Word. Our passions and focus on temporal things are the stumbling block that we must overcome to know God, as he desires for us. We stumble in our pursuit of knowing God better by not fervently overcoming our natural desires, therefore we walk as lukewarm believers, never fully satisfying our spiritual desires or our natural desires.

We must completely deny our self as Christ has said to fully walk as one of His followers. Anything less fails to free us from the entanglement with our passions and lusts that veil the Word of God in us.

There are too many obstacles and trials we are not capable of overcoming without total submission of self, and we therefore get frustrated and turn away. What a blessing we would realize when we determine to stand fast in the battle. It is at the moment that seems the worst and we can no longer stand on our own, we receive God’s favorable assistance from heaven.It is at that moment that God will give the victory for his name’s sake, not for our sake! Therefore, lay the axe to the root of our self so we may be freed from our passions and find true peace for our souls. (Matthew 3:10 challenges us to lay the axe to the root of the trees, of those not bearing good fruit.)

To be fruitful we must endeavor to stir within us the spiritual fervor or zeal and progress to grow daily closer to God, but so many of us seem to regard what we have, where we are today as something great, even if we are no better than when we first began.

Spiritual momentum on the journey of faith is hard to begin, but grows easier to maintain. Resist those things we still want to do and unlearn self-serving habits – this is the continual battle for spiritual discipline that is our hope for daily progress to follow our leader, Christ.

According to Hebrews 6:1-2, we must go beyond the elementary into maturity in Christ, laying a foundation of repentance from dead works, faith in God, teaching spiritual matters, as God permits!

My pray today comes from Psalm 140: Father God, please I implore you to rescue me Lord from evil men. Keep me safe from violent men who plan evil in their hearts. They stir up wars all day long. They make their tongues as sharp as a snake’s bite; viper’s venom is under their lips. Selah Protect me Lord from the clutches of the wicked. Keep me safe from violent men who plan to make me stumble. The proud hide a trap for me; they spread a net along the path and set snares for me. You are my God: Listen Lord to my cry for help, my strong Savior! Amen

Know Our Self, Know Our Savior

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Know Our Self, Know Our Savior

For His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature, escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires. For this reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:3-8

Thomas Kempis wrote: The more we are at harmony within ourselves and become inwardly simple, the more we will understand higher things without effort, for we will receive intellectual light from above. Likewise he wrote: A humble knowledge of our own selves is a surer way to God than an involved intellectual search after learning.

How can we understand these insights in the light of God’s Word? Does God’s Word point out the futility of our efforts to try and understand the higher thoughts and ways of God? If we accept the reality of the futility in knowing the higher thoughts of God and we humble ourselves, then God presents the benefit of his knowledge and wisdom by having His Spirit of Truth and Life whisper within our heart everything we need to hear and understand that serves for our own good, according to God’s will, not our will. God enjoys presenting His truth to His chosen children, those who humble themselves like little children. With humble innocence, our hearts and heads are far more open to listening and learning about the will, ways, and wisdom of God’s Word for our lives. Our humble innocence is more ready and open to applying God’s Word upon our lives to guide and direct our paths in a manner that pleases our heavenly Father. In return, our Heavenly Father rejoices and smiles upon us as His children.

Who are we to believe we can learn about God from worldly sources and understanding? Who are we to believe that the created can understand the creator? Our only humble solution is to freely surrender our hearts and heads to God, the author of all knowledge and understanding. We need to trust that God will direct His Holy Spirit to guide us in the thoughts and knowledge that we need to know what we need to actually know him for whom he truly is, and how His Son, Jesus Christ, has revealed the truth, the way, and the life so we can approach God as our Creator and our Heavenly Father.

Learning for the sake of learning about worldly matters is good, but for divine heavenly understanding and wisdom we must seek the author and creator himself, because he alone knows best what we need to understand and to pursue in this world, this life, so that we may enjoy this life and the life to come.

As the passage from Peter encourages, our pursuit of knowing God and his divine nature must be founded upon the building of our faith through goodness, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godliness, brotherly affection anchored in love. Anything else is futile in our pursuit because it reveals our selfish nature and affections for the world’s view of wisdom.

My prayer today: Lord God, my Heavenly Father, there is so much that I wish to learn and know about you, but I also trust by faith that you will share with me through Your Holy Spirit what I need to know and understand. Without the gift of Your Spirit of Truth and Life, I realize all my efforts for knowledge is limited and without any benefit towards knowing you as I should. Please open my heart and my mind to receive what I need to know and to accept and apply the truth to my life. May I be worthy of pursuing your will, your ways, and your wisdom according to your Word that I embrace every day. May I be blessed with the knowledge and wisdom I need for each day and apply it relevantly to my life, and may I share that knowledge and wisdom as the father and husband of my family. May I inspire others to seek you, my Lord and Savior so they may embrace the truth you alone offer for each of us. Thank you, my God and Savior. Amen

For additional reading: Deut 30:17; Isa 44:1-2; 45:9,18; 45:24-25; Pro 3:5-7; 3:13-18; 8:35; Ps 112: 1-2; 128:1; John 1:17; 4:23; 14:6; 2 Tim 2:15; Matt 16:26; 2 Co 3:6

 

Opportunity of Adversity

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Opportunity of Adversity

Love must be without hypocrisy. Detest evil, cling to what is good. Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lack diligence; be fervent in spirit; serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality. Bless those who persecute you and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. Be in agreement with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Do not repay evil for evil. Try to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. If possible, live at peace with everyone. Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for His wrath. For it is written: Vengeance belongs to the Me; I will repay, says the Lord. But if your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in doing you will be heaping coals on his head. Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good. Romans 12:9-18, 21

The passage from the Apostle Paul, written to the early Roman church when it struggled to take root in the pagan capital of the known world two thousand years ago, is a Christian’s Manifesto for living in our world still today, connected yet separate. Troubles, trials and tribulations will make their way into our life, but we are to rejoice and respond unlike the way that the world would expect us to respond.

Our Lord God often uses the troubles and trials, the crosses we bear in this lifetime, for our benefit. They offer the opportunities to reflect about ourselves and help us to realize that we certainly are not a part of this world, and should not place our trust in any worldly thing or person.

It is for our good when we are so often challenged and contradicted, or people think we are not what they expect us to be, even though we do and mean well. It is in those moments that they help us to become humble and keep us safe from unwarranted pride in our own abilities. In these times, we are outwardly condemned by others and we receive no credit that we must seek God for our inward witness.

Therefore, we are called to rest fully upon God, knowing we do not need to seek consolation and comfort from others. It is through the difficult moments in our life we realize our dependence upon God, and recognize that without Him we can do nothing that is good.

In those moments in our lives we experience the miseries that lead us to mourn and lament and then to pray. In these difficult times, we may feel weary seeking our literal presence before Christ, our Lord and Savior. In our lowest point it is then we understand that perfect security and complete peace cannot be realized in this world. Our only hope for peace lies with our close relationship with God. He alone is our Shield, our Shelter, and our Savior from the uncertainty that exists in this world.

My prayer today: Lord God, my Savior, my Shelter, my Salvation, I humbly bow before you today and offer up to you my praises of thanksgiving for what you have done, are doing, and will yet do in my life. It is clear that the more I learn about you, the more I realize that I do not know, nor understand as I should. I do know that in this world we will face various trials and tribulations, and some of those times of testing will come as a result of our own misunderstanding of our own abilities and choices. Please Lord God, keep me from falling prey to those who misunderstand my heart and only seek to see me fall into the pit of despair. No matter what I seem to do or to say, I can do nothing right in the eyes of those who only seek me harm. Thus Lord, I offer you my praise of thanksgiving as I humble myself before you, and seek your embrace. Weigh my heart, reveal my transgressions, and direct my steps. Rescue me, and protect my family so that I may honor you in thought, word and deed once again – more diligent and anchored in your truth than before. Reveal mercy and truth to those who have been blinded by their understanding, and may they find you in the gap, setting things right according to your perfect, pleasing and good will. Amen.

For additional reading: John 17:13-16; Phil 1:21-26

The Priority in Knowledge: Know Thy “Self”

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

The Priority in Knowledge: Know Thy “Self”

“…guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding irreverent, empty speech and contradictions from the knowledge that falsely bears that name. By professing it, some people have deviated from the faith.” 1 Timothy 6:20-21

What has God entrusted to us that we should guard and protect? Knowledge is the correct answer, but what is it about knowledge that makes it worthy of such care? Could such knowledge, worthy to be revered as a “hidden treasure,” be the knowledge that comes from God, regarding who He is and His unique love for us? Could that knowledge be found in the Gospel, the good news that was announced by His Son, and how he lived to reveal the Truth, died to offer us the Way, and was raised from the dead by the Heavenly Father to show the Life that God planned from the creation for all who accept him as their Lord and Savior. However, God warns us to not rely on our own understanding of this knowledge, but we are to accept it by faith, with all our heart.

Of course, God knows that there will be many who can only listen by talking and thus miss out on the good news he offers to us through Christ Jesus. Understanding is just not in us naturally. Our hearts have been hardened and our ears have been deafened, and our eyes blurred. God wants us to not try to understand the how, what and when, but just that he loves us enough to do for us, what we cannot understand to do for ourselves. If only we would open our hearts and seek after him, then he will open our minds to understand what we need to know about the Scriptures, which testify about the good news of God’s plan for man.

For this reason, we need to begin the journey of knowledge by realizing our own failures regarding the gaining of knowledge. We need to be more concerned about the shortcomings in our own daily life, because we are influenced by the evil in the world, which distorts the truth. We should be wise enough to not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is for our lives.

The Scriptures testify against us when they declare: The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; because fools despise wisdom and instruction. What greater foolishness could we entertain in our lives than to despise and reject what is intended to offer us genuine, abundant life. Of course, the argument rises from the foolish: Who can understand God and His ways anyway?” We certainly may never have the complete knowledge of God, but we have been given the depth of the riches of both his wisdom and his knowledge. And, even though his judgments are unsearchable and his ways untraceable, we have been invited to benefit by faith in what we will never fully understand or know about God! The only thing we need is to fully believe and trust in is his love for us, and the love that we should channel back to him through our relationships with others as well.

If we think we have great understanding and knowledge, understand also that there are many things that we will never know anything about. But, God offers this for us to understand: As Paul shared, I want their hearts to be encouraged and joined together in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery – Christ. In Him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden.” In essence, what we need to know is abundantly sufficient by accepting Christ into our hearts to guide and direct our hearts and minds.

Where do we begin this journey of knowledge and wisdom that God has planned and prepared for us through Christ? The highest and most profitable learning is true knowledge and understanding of our “selves.”

My prayer today: Lord God, how could anyone possibly think they know everything and compare their understanding and wisdom to you. I cannot begin to try to understand nor believe I can have the wisdom to use the knowledge as I should. But, Lord God I do praise your Holy Name for the grace you have provided to all who seek you by faith through the Good News of Your Son, Jesus Christ. That knowledge and wisdom is more than enough to benefit from your wisdom of all the knowledge that you possess and desire to share with us through your love and mercy. Please Lord, may my heart exalt only you as my Savior and Lord, the Source of all Truth, the Guide to the Way, and the Giver of Life. Lord God, help me to understand and apply the relevance of Your Word although I may never completely grasp the full depth of its meaning and origins. Then I can rest assured that I will always walk in your will, your ways, and according to your wisdom. Thank you, my Lord and Savior. Amen

For additional reading: Gen 2:9; Pr 2:5; 3:5; Is. 6:9; Matt 13:15; Luke 24:45; Eph 5:17; 2 Peter 3:16-18; Job 21:22; Ps 139:6; Col 2:3, 1 Cor 13:2

The Word of God, Not Our Words

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

The Word of God, Not Our Words

And who will harm you if you are passionate for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear or be disturbed, but set apart the Messiah (Christ) as Lord in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame. 1 Peter 3:13-16

The words that flow from our own heart and work their way through our lips, nor the words our ears receive from others in our life will ever satisfy our soul, unless those words are one with the Word of God. Our lips will always testify to whether God’s Word is firmly rooted within our heart, soul and mind. Only then will we be comforted by the good life that results of relying upon God’s Word in us, and not our self-serving words. Only God’s Word can inspire genuine and lasting life changing confidence and produce a pure conscience.

Is it not true that the Lord knows the thoughts of men, and he declares that the thoughts of men are foolishness, even meaningless? Only God’s way is perfect and pure. Our confidence in the face of our enemies is the Lord’s faithfulness that we find through trusting His Word, which promises to protect and preserve us. Since we know every word of God is pure, do not add to his words or he will rebuke those who do, and another liar will be revealed.

Consider how it is that time in and time out we so quickly forget the words of this world, but the Word of God will last long after even this world passes away? God’s Word offers eternal life, because it is from the lips and thoughts of the eternal God, creator of heaven and earth. The Lord alone offers the words of eternal life, which come from the heart, soul and mind of God, Himself.

Consider the satisfaction that is found in making the right choice in this life: We can choose to follow the advice of the wicked (those who base their understanding of things upon their own understanding) or delight to follow in the instruction from the Lord. One offers the way of the chaff that is blown away as useless dust; the other leads to being like a tree planted with loving care that receives proper water and nourishment so it can produce fruit in the proper season – always prospers as it should.

Let us make that choice wisely, as the Word of God warns us clearly that: “because these people approach Me with their mouths to honor Me with lip service – yet their hearts are far from Me, and their worship consists of man-made rules learned by rote – therefore I will again confound these people with wonder after wonder. The wisdom of their wise men will vanish, and the understanding of the perceptive will be hidden.” Will we choose to humble ourselves and trust in the Lord and His Word to gain understanding and will accept instruction? It will be those who listen not with deaf ears, but with their hearts who will be drawn near to God and benefit from the Spirit of truth comforting their souls.

My prayer today: My gracious and loving Father God, in Christ I seek to worship you daily through the reading and studying of Your Word. Lord, help me to not only understand Your Word, but also to apply it to my life. There are no alternatives to the satisfaction that Your Word alone can provide my life, and the life of my family. Help me to share my enthusiasm for Your Word with my family, beginning with my wife, the mother of my children, and then my sons and their families. Help me to present the example of your grace and mercy through living out Your Word before my children’s children, and all the friends and neighbors that you choose to place before my life each day. May I trust in Your Word to guide and comfort as I face the challenges of my enemies who seek to take away my testimony of Your Word. Lord, for your name’s sake and the sake of Your Word, I ask that you will stand up for me and vindicate me in their courts of opinion. Reveal the futility of their words against Your Word. Father, by the Word which You manifested through Jesus, I stand before you seeking your protection, instruction and restoration, so that I may once again direct others to you through your Holy and inspired Word that alone comforts and satisfies my soul in this lifetime. Thank you my Lord and Savior for Your Word as the source of hope in my life and that of my family. Amen

For additional reading: Psalm 1:1, 18:30, 71:5, 94:11; Proverbs 22:19, 30:5; Matt 15:8, 24:35; John 6:68; Rev 22:7; 1 Cor 13:11; Isa 29:13, 55:8; Phil 3:3; Acts 24:16; Heb 9:14

No Regrets, No Remorse, No Retreat

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

No Regrets, No Remorse, No Retreat

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord proclaim that He has redeemed them from the hand of the foe and has gathered them from the lands – from the east and the west, from the north and the south. Some wandered in desolate wilderness, finding no way to a city where they could live. They were hungry and thirsty; their spirits failed within them. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble; He rescued them from their distress. He led them by the right path to go a city where they could live. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His faithful love and His wonderful works for the human race. For He has satisfied the thirsty and filled the hungry with good things. Others sat in darkness and gloom – prisoners in cruel chains – because they rebelled against God’s commands and despised the counsel of the Most High. He broke their spirits with hard labor; they stumbled and there was no one to help. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble; He saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and gloom and broke their chains apart. Let them give thanks to the Lord for His faithful love and His wonderful works for the human race. Psalm 107:1-15

Lord, the more I walk with you and fellowship along side of you, listen and learn through time on Your Word, the more I understand the challenge of being conformed to the life modeled by Christ. If I was left on my own to lift my life to meet with your life there would be no hope, no chance, for my life to walk on the same paths as my Lord and Savior. His pace is too fast, his stride too long and his path to narrow, and far too difficult to follow.

However, we must press on and endeavor to be conformed to your life, Lord, not partially but wholly committed to the challenge such a pursuit presents. Why? Because, we desire to fully and genuinely experience and understand what it means to live in Christ.

However, our goal should be to live according to the words of Christ rather than merely pursue to understand the meaning of the words for our life. Long before we can understand what the definition for these words are, we must feel them in our lives to rightly understand their meaning and value in our lives.

Compunction is that strong uneasiness caused by a sense of genuine guilt about our life when challenged by the life of Christ and his message that stir our heart. It is the remorse and regret that comes when we compare our actual lives, even when we try our hardest to do right, when we see the right standard that the Lord has set for our lives. However, there is hope and mercy and goodness that will calm our compunction. And, without our Lord’s gift of grace in our life we will feel the qualm of our inner being, which refers to the sudden feeling of nausea, because we gain a strong sense of misgiving for trying to live for Christ, using our own understanding. We feel the sting of our conscience revealing the truth about our futility to be right by doing right. When we listen and learn from our Lord, and we are graced by realizing his presence in our lives, we come to understand for the first time that we must be right to do right, not the other way around.

When we see who Christ is in our life, and who he represents to all of Creation, compunction and qualm are bound to be understood until we receive His grace upon our lives so we can be declared right, so we may be able to live right, as the Lord calls us to live.

My prayer today: Lord Jesus, I pray you hear the struggling utterances of my heart, and listen to the moans flowing from my very soul. May your Spirit speak on my behalf the words that I cannot utter rightly on my behalf before you, my Lord and Savior. I pray that you have accepted the contriteness of my heart, and recognized the compunction and qualm I have experienced through the recent events in my life. I have learned so much about my walk with you, and spent many days regretting and feeling remorse for my stumbling ways, because I failed to walk solely in the ways that you had showed me to walk. I pray for your forgiveness, and I have felt your discipline in my life, but now I sense your loving kindness and presence within me again. I no longer feel the regret and remorse, and no longer desire to retreat from the life you have called me to follow. I realize that to walk with you means to follow your example, surrendering all my ways to your ways. Lord Jesus, thank you for loving me, and I rejoice in anticipation of what you will reveal in the days to come for me and my family. What once stung my heart as a part of your discipline to correct my ways now seems as a blessing that has come from your eternal love for those you call your own. Thank You Lord Jesus! Amen

For additional reading: Colossians 1:1-20; John 1;1-5, 10-14; Rom 1:17; Eph 2:1-9

 

Humility Invites Fellowship

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Humility Invites Fellowship

Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? So whoever wants to be the world’s friend becomes God’s enemy. Or do you think it’s without reason the Scripture says that the Spirit He has caused to live in us yearns jealousy? But He gives greater grace. Therefore He says: God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore, submit to God. But resist the Devil (accuser), and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, sinners, and purify your hearts, double-minded people…Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you. James 4: 4-10

Sometimes we search too hard and too deep to actually enjoy the fruits of our relationship with Christ, our Lord and Savior. Humility and simple faith are the keys to walking with Christ. The harder we search, the deeper we ponder the greatness of God, the more likely we will be overwhelmed by the glory and majesty of who God is, and we will miss out on His blessings. Clearly, God is able to do more, far more, than any mortal man can understand (Job 42). Proverbs says this: It is not good to seek glory after glory! (25:27) And God uses the analogy of seeking too much honey, which can cause us to be sick from too much of a good thing as well.

A proper and dutiful means to search for truth is allowed by God, and He even encourages it through the gift of the Holy Spirit and the testimony of Christ’s gospel message. However, it is provided that we always are ready to be taught and study to walk according to the sound precepts of the Scriptures.

We will be blessed by simplicity when we leave the difficult way of questions and disputes and go forward in the plain and firm path of God’s commandments. Many of us have lost the benefit of genuine devotion because we sought to search too deeply into things too high for us to comprehend, much less understand. Humble faith is required, along with a sincere heart, not some lofty, elevated understanding or deep inquisitiveness into the mysteries of God. If we do not understand things that are beneath us, whether mentally or spiritually, how can we comprehend what is above us? Submit to God and humble our understanding to faith alone and the light of knowledge will be given us to the degree that God feels is profitable and necessary for each of us, at the stage of our relationship with him.

Do not argue nor be anxious regarding our thoughts, or answer doubts raised by the devil (accuser), but humbly trust the Word of God, humbly trust his saints and faithful servants in our life, and the wicked enemy will flee from our lives. The devil does not tempt unbelievers and sinners whom he already securely possesses, but tempts and troubles humble, faithful and spiritually devout persons in many ways.

Therefore, we should go forward each day with simple and undoubting faith and with humble reverence approach a closer fellowship with Christ daily. Whatever we are not able to understand along the way, commit humbly and securely to our Almighty, All-knowing God, because God does not deceive us, we are only deceived when we trust too much in our own understanding. God walks with the simple, reveals himself to the humble, gives understanding to the meek, opens the perception of the pure of heart, and hides his grace from the curious and proud.

Human reason is weak and can be easily deceived, but true faith cannot be deceived! All reason and natural searching should follow faith, not go before it, or contradict it! Faith and love take the lead and work in the hidden ways of God.

God is eternal and incomprehensible and of infinite power, does great and unsearchable things in heaven and on earth, and then there is no tracing out – no visible signs – of his marvelous works. If all the works of God were such that they could easily be understood by human reason they could not justly be called marvelous or inexpressible.

My prayer is this: Lord, help me to always accept that I cannot understand all the supernatural ways you choose and ordain through my natural and certainly limited understanding. Help me to walk by faith and in humility before you alone. May I learn to trust in Your Word to reveal your will, your ways, and your wisdom, which is more than sufficient for me to draw closer to you each and every day. Help me to remain open-minded to those things that you are doing that I cannot comprehend or understand, and be willing to be used by you as you divinely ordain my life to serve you. Open my heart and my mind to Your Word. I pray it will always light my path and reveal the truth that will reveal my relationship with you. May your will become my will, your ways my ways, and your wisdom the source of all my understanding, and may I be a shining example for your glory among my family and the others who you place before me each day. Please Lord, guard my heart and mind so that I may never, ever stumble again from the path that was prepared by Your Son, which leads us to your throne of Grace… I love you Lord, my God, my Savior! Amen.

For additional reading: Is 57:15; Dan 10:12; Psalm 73:1, 101:5; 119:21, 130, 138:6; Matt 5:8, 18:10; Luke 1:51; 1 Peter 5:5

Our Needs Reveal His Grace

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Our Needs Reveal His Grace

Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time. Hebrew 4:16

When we sense that we are in need, we should not be afraid to approach the throne where his grace comes from and let our needs be known. In our desire to share with him our heart, confess to him not only our weaknesses, but also the necessities we fear that we lack in our present condition, evidence of all the sins and evils that surround us. In those threatening times, reveal to Christ how depressed, tempted, disturbed, and defiled we are feeling, because he alone is our only source of lasting and genuine help. We must not be afraid to beg him for consolation and support. Though he knows everything, and there are no inward thoughts or desires that we have that are foreign to him, who else can we approach who can perfectly comfort and help us in our desperate time of need?

Christ alone knows what good things we are most in need of and how poor we truly are in view of his virtue and righteousness. Yet, we reservedly stand before him naked and poor calling for his grace and imploring mercy. We desire only that our hungry desires for his precious grace, and we seek him to replace the coldness within our hearts by the warmth of his love. We seek his presence to brighten the darkness of the shadows of doubt that our blindness causes in many parts of our infected life. The dark shadows reveal the bitterness of the earthly things that we have clung onto in our lives. He reveals the patience we need to overcome these fearful and dreaded times in our lives, and enlightens us about all that we should have contempt and be oblivious towards that we still covet in our heart.

My prayer today: My Savior, with my earnest desire to offer you my devotion and ardent love, with all my affection of my heart, I desire to receive you, my Lord. My God, may I embrace your everlasting love as my entire good and happiness rest solely with you. I long to receive you to fill my heart with earnest affection, awe, and reverence. Though I am unworthy to have all these feelings of devotion, I still offer you all of my heart. Yes, all that my humble mind can conceive and desire, I offer and present to you with the deepest reverence and inward affection.

Lord, help me to be all you desire me to be for the glory and praise of your throne of grace, and the name of the most holy and gracious God and the Father of all creation. May you draw me and my family under the shadow of your wings and as the apple of your eye. Thank you, my Savior, my Shield, my Strength, and my Salvation. To you I owe everything, my very all. Amen.

For additional reading: Gen 4:12-14; 1 Cor 6:17; Psalm 117:1-2, 118:1

Grace of Self-Denial

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Grace of Self-Denial

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding, think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

Strengthen the weak hands, steady the shaking knees! Say to the faint-hearted: “Be strong, do not fear! Here is your God: vengeance is coming. God’s retribution is coming. He will save you.” Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will sing for joy, for water will gush in the wilderness, and streams in the desert; the parched ground will become a pool of water. In the haunt of jackals, in their lairs, there will be grass, reeds, and papyrus. A road will be there and a way; it will be called the Holy Way. The unclean will not travel on it, but it will be for him who walks the path. Even the fool will not go astray. There will be no lion there, and no vicious beast will go up on it; they will not be found there. But the redeemed will walk on it, and the ransomed of the Lord will return and come to Zion with singing, crowned with unending joy. Joy and gladness will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee.
 Isaiah 35: 3-10

There will be times in the life of every devout person when we should fervently seek the abundant grace revealed in our devotional times. Abundant grace is God’s gift that Thomas a’ Kempis described as something we should ask the Lord for earnestly, wait for patiently and confidently, receive gratefully, stay humble to hold onto, cooperate with diligently, and when it comes, commit to God the length and manner of its coming. Most importantly we should especially humble ourselves when we feel little or no inward devotion; but not feel overly dejected or immoderately grieved.

It is Christ in His Word who reveals we should patiently wait for God’s grace of devotion and do sowith fervent hope and humble patience. And, whenever this gift from God is discovered to be absent or lost, who is to blame, God or ourselves? Sometimes it is not because of some clearly visible obstacle in our life that obstructs and hides grace from us, but a minute matter that impacts us in a big way! Of course, can we describe anything as small and insignificant that can still hinder the blessings found from God’s grace?

As soon as we have given ourselves to God with our whole heart and do not seek this nor that for our own pleasure or will, but resolve ourselves to praise his pleasure and will first and foremost, we will find ourselves once again united and at peace with God, through Christ. When we are restored nothing will rise above it or bring as much delight as the good pleasure of His will in our lives again.

We should rest assured, according to His Word that anyone who exalts their intention to seek God with a simple heart will be most likely to receive the blessings of his grace and will be qualified for the gift of true devotion. For the Lord pours his abundant life changing presence into the vessel he finds completely empty of itself.

Therefore, perfectly forsake our preference of all worldly things. The more completely we die to self through our heartfelt contempt of self, the more quickly his abundant grace will come, the more plentiful it will enter in our newly freed heart. Then we will spiritually experience the new life found within our hearts that will be experience continual growth within, because we will realize the hand of the Lord is upon us and have submitted wholly to his pleasure and will for all eternity.

God’s blessings always flow when we seek God with all our heart and not regard our life requiring our own vain approval. Then we will realize the great grace in the divine union that is waiting for us, because we no longer seek our own devotion or comfort, but look solely to the glory and honor of God.

My prayer this day: Heavenly Lord Jesus may Your Spirit reveal a heart totally surrendered to you and your will. I desire not to define the conditions of my devotions to You for my sake, but for your glory and honor only. I pray that I may remove all reliance upon myself to guide me to discover your gift of grace that you have paid the price to offer to me, though I am not worthy of it. Lord, plant my feet firmly on your Holy Way. Do not let me wander from the protection, provision, and preservation of my soul that you alone offer. May my old ways be lost forever, so that I may open my eyes to see that your way leads me to the throne of grace itself. May my ears be opened so I may hear the whispers of your affection within my soul, and my lameness be healed so that I may never have an excuse to walk in your ways. And may my mouth not be mute any longer to offering You the praises of Your grace poured out to my life, so others may hear and respond to Your over-abundant grace. Protect my family and guard them from any foolishness on my part, and may they only see You through your hand upon my life. May the prayers of my friends and partners of the faith be heard, and your response is made known so all may praise your holy name before the world. Grant to me this day the opportunity to experience your grace through my surrender to your will, ways, and wisdom for my life. Amen.

For additional reading: Isa 42:7,16, 60:5; Psalm 119:2, Psalm 128; John 9:25.

A Pure Heart Matters

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

A Pure Heart Matters

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in His holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not set his mind on what is false, and who is not sworn deceitfully. He will receive blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation. Such is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Psalm 24:3-6

Blessed are the pure in heart because they will see God. Matthew 5:8

As we seek to be in the presence of our Lord and Savior each day, seeking to commune with Him to share in the relationship he desires for us, we should prepare our hearts with great care.

The Lord declares: He defines purity and is the sanctifier of what is pure. He seeks a pure heart and therein lays the hope of true rest. Make ready a large room, furnished and prepared, and he will keep his Passover promise of protection and fellowship with us.
If we desire the Lord to come into our hearts and remain with us, we must seek to purge out the old leaven and make clean the residence of our hearts. We must shut out the whole world, all our concerns and any connection to our sins. We should be like the lonely sparrow sitting on the rooftop, and ponder about our transgressions with genuine sorrow and bitterness in our souls. (Thomas a’ Kempis)

Why? Because everyone who loves prepares the best and loveliest dwelling for those they love. Such concern and devotion to proper preparation reveals the love we have for the one we love the most.

However, we must never forget our preparation is never enough. No action on our part to make proper preparation merits a response from the Lord. Only by God’s grace will our Lord and Savior allow us to approach him at the table of fellowship. We should accept the position of the humble beggar being invited to the table of a rich person’s banquet. We too bring nothing as a gift to honor the host for being invited to fellowship at his table, except for humble thanks and heartfelt gratitude.

We must remember, it is God who called us to fellowship with him. It is God who commanded the invitation be extended. It is God who will supply whatever is lacking in us; all we need to do is by faith come and receive him and his fellowship offerings. We must believe in our hearts that God allows us to offer the devotion that pleases him. Thus, give thanks to our God. What was given was not because we are worthy, but because He has had mercy on us.

We have need of him; he has no need of us. We do not come to sanctify or justify our God, but it is he who sanctifies and makes us what we are meant to be. He stirs our hearts anew to change our life for the better!

Finally, consider carefully that the diligent guarding of ourselves afterward is not less required than devout preparation before. The fullness of God’s gift of grace is realized by carefully guarding ourselves afterward, and thus the best ongoing preparation for obtaining the fullness of his grace is unending preparation of our heart.

Where can we best accomplish that ongoing preparation that is required of us each day? Seek the secret place where we can meet and enjoy his presence with us. His grace is a gift that the world cannot take from us. Therefore, he is worthy of our complete surrender, giving ourselves absolutely to him and his care, so that we may live the rest of our life not in ourselves but in him, free from all concerns and anxieties.

My prayer today: Lord Jesus, in you, through you, and for you, I desire to prepare my heart as our secret place to meet and fellowship daily. Please help me to cleanse my heart of all things unworthy. Help me to sweep it clean so that your Spirit may take up uninterrupted residence there. Do not delay since I do not desire that Satan should find my heart empty. I desire only you in my heart to guide and protect my life from Satan and all those who seek to harm and trap me. Lord Jesus, send me onto your paths that will lead to other godly men and women who may encourage and hold me accountable. Rest in the heart of my wife, each member of my family, and guide and provide for each of us according to your perfect, pleasing and good will. Reveal your ways and wisdom so that we may flourish and be witnesses for you. Thank you, my awesome and gracious Lord and Savior. Amen

For additional reading: 1 Cor 1:30, 5:7; 2 Thess 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2; Mark 4:14-15; Luke 22:11-12; Ex 24:18; 2 Cor 6:17; Ps 102:7; Luke 11:5-10; Eph 2:8-9; Prov 10:19; Matt 6:6, 18

Witnesses are Waiting and Watching

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Witnesses are Waiting and Watching

Therefore since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us, and run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured the cross and despised the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne. Hebrews 12:1-2

As we approach the arrival of each new day, we should prayerfully seek to never take lightly our relationship with our Lord and Savior, and abstain from the fellowship with him that draws us closer to him where the will of the Father is revealed for our lives. For we know that Christ Jesus is the source and perfecter of our faith, who also set forth a life example seen and witnessed by a great crowd of witnesses in heaven and on earth.

Let loose the poisonous affects that linger from our true and sins promptly and the relief will surely be more satisfying than had we procrastinated for the desired relief we sought. Seek genuine fellowship with our Lord and prevent further injury that follows when we defer our time for a more convenient time; such an attitude leads to spiritual laziness. It is so easy to put off what we sorely need, but how costly it is to miss out on the time when we would have found relief, had we sought him diligently and quickly when the need was first came upon us. Our time of praise and worship with the Lord should serve as a time of refreshing for our heart, soul and mind, drawing from the fountain of grace and his divine mercy; goodness and purity. If we confess our sins with a sincere heart, the Lord is faithful to forgive and forget all our sins. If we have offended anyone, humbly seek pardon and God will readily forgive us.

How happy and acceptable to God are those who so discipline their lives and keep their conscience healthy and pure; prepared and willing to seek his fellowship constantly and consistently in our daily walk. In Christ, we have the power and opportunity for communing with him daily, as our needs and circumstances require. He is always seeking and inviting us to draw nearer to him. The evidence our close fellowship is revealed by the life we live before the witness of others, so that they too may be inspired to do likewise.

Therefore, let us not grow weary of the daily walk with Christ. For it is not his influence upon our lives that can cause us to be weary, but our inconsistency in our walk with him and the confessing of our sins and needs that causes us to struggle, grow weary, and become weak. Consistency will grows our faith, which grows our confidence out of that consistency, as we also will discover there are less concerns about our sins, and more time to grow in and for Christ, as our Lord and Savior.

Let us also not forget, our God uses his faithful followers to reach others because they too are among the cloud of witnesses watching our lives. God uses our words, deeds and attitudes for his greater purposes to seek and save those he desires to draw near to him. We never know who is among the crowd watching that God has his hand upon so they may focus upon us, because we have learned to focus our eyes upon his Son, Jesus, so we can pursue the race that lies before us. My prayer today simply and sincerely is this: Lord my God, help me to be Your servant – without prejudice, purposes of self or passions others than Yours. May Your Word guide me to reveal to others your will, ways and wisdom that reveal your truth and life everlasting! In Christ I pray. Amen

For additional reading: James 5:16; Prov 1:2; 1 John 1:9; Matthew 5:24, 6:6,14,18,18:21-22; James 4:8; 1 Tim 1:5; 2 Tim 1:3-6; Heb 10:24; 2 Peter 3:1; 1 Sam 16:7; 1 Cor 11:23-26; Mark 12:33-34

Worthy Fellowship Offerings and Petitions

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Worthy Fellowship Offerings and Petitions

Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens – Jesus the Son of God – let us hold fast to the confession. For we do have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time. Hebrews 4:14-16

God is clear about what are acceptable fellowship offerings. We are to approach him with our offerings not to be examined in the content of the sacrifices to be made, but by the context in which the offerings are made. God values the internal sacrifices of the heart, soul, mind and strength far greater than the external sacrifices that we often substitute as acceptable, pious offerings. In God’s eyes, our worthiness is not measured by the quantity, but by the quality of the sacrifices.

I pray that all our prayers will ring out today: O Lord, all things in heaven and on earth are yours. I desire to offer myself to you as a free-will offering and continue to be yours forever. Lord, from my heart I offer myself to you this day, in humble submission, a sacrifice of unending praise and as your willing bond-servant forevermore. Receive my humble offerings that symbolize the broken bread and poured out wine that you desire from me as a remembrance of your sacrifice. I desire to bring each day a sacrifice that will be an offering of my everlasting praise, recognizing our relationship that you have made possible. Receive me with my consecrated offerings of remembrance which I make to you this day in the presence of your Holy Spirit, who is invisibly present within me, and might they be for my good and the good of all your people.

I offer to you, my Lord, all my sins and offenses that I have committed before you from the first day I sinned to this present hour, so that You may consume and purge them all with the fire of your love. May you blot away all the evidence of my sins, cleanse my conscience from all offenses, restore to me the grace that I lost by sinning, and forgive all my offenses.

I implore you to hear me graciously when I stand before you, my God. I am truly sorry for my sins and will be sorry as long as I live. Forgive me my God of my sins for the sake of your holy name and because of your most precious blood that has redeemed me. Deal with me according to your goodness, not according to my sinful ways.

Please grant that my parents, friends, family, and all who are dear to me, and who have done good to either to me or to others for the sake of your love, that they may receive the blessing of your abundant grace. Likewise, may they receive the comfort of your consolation, protection from harm, deliverance from pain, and freedom from all evils, so they may joyously give abundant thanks to You.

I offer up to you my intercession especially for those who have in anything or anyway wronged, grieved, or slandered me, caused hurt or injury. I pray also for those I have distressed, troubled, grieved, or scandalized by words or deeds, knowingly or unknowingly, so that you would grant us all equal forgiveness for our sins and offenses against each other. Have mercy Lord on me, your servant this very day. Amen

Prayers of confession seeking the Lord’s grace to restore and replace us on the right path of fellowship with Him are refreshing to the soul, and reinforce our faith in God’s perfect, pleasing and good will, ways, and wisdom that we find in God’s Word. When we enter into such a prayer time with God seeking renewed fellowship, as He has promised, we will find ourselves by the still waters of life, lying peacefully in the rich comforting green pastures that he desires for each of us. All fear will be gone, which assures us of his desire to protect, preserve and provide all our daily needs, and defend us against harm. Likewise, God restores all our relationships through his mercy and grace, so that we may encourage and love one another in peace and share in his presence and provision for our lives.

For additional reading: Lev. 1:3, 19:5, 22:19, 29; Acts 2:46; 2 Cor 1:12, 11:3; Heb 1:13-14; 2:17, 9:14, 10:22; 1 John 1:9, 2:1-2, 12, 4:19, 5:14-15; Rev 3:5, 5:9; 1 Peter 1:17-19, 2:24, 3:8; Eph 2:4-9, 5:9; Rom 3:21-26, 5:1, 21-21, 6:23, 14:17; Phil 4:6-7; Col 1:20; 2 Peter 1:2, 3:9; Ps 32:15; Acts 3:19; Ex 22:12; Matt 3:8, 7:1-5, 25:40; Gal 5:22; Mark 11:25-26; Luke 6:37; John 13:34; 1 Tim 6:12

 

Search Your Heart and Repair What is Broken

There always remains a choice to follow?
There always remains a choice to follow?

Search Your Heart and Repair What is Broken

As I live, says the Lord, “˜I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked person should turn from his way and live. Repent, repent of your evil ways! Why will you die, house of Israel (God’s chosen children)? …I will judge each of you according to his ways, house of Israel.” Ezekiel 33:11, 20

Are we properly prepared to enter into daily fellowship with Christ Jesus? Are we ready to offer heartfelt humility, reverential prayer, full faith, and devout awareness for who God is in our life? If so, we must still diligently examine our heart, and to the best of our ability, purify and cleanse our conscience by true repentance and humble confession. If we expect to have genuine daily fellowship with our Lord, there must be nothing in us that will be a lingering burden to distract us, or worse cause our heart to try and hide a remorseful conscience as we approach our time with Christ Jesus., because such a burden will become the obstacle that prevents free access to the throne of grace where life-changing fellowship with our Lord God is realized.

We must learn to examine the most secret compartments of our heart, searching diligently of all our undisciplined, unrestrained passions and confess them to God. For what we fail to confess, the Lord will certainly reveal them to us every time we try to approach His throne of grace, because He desires full surrender of our heart and complete awareness and confession of anything that gets in the way of genuine fellowship with Him. He desires for us to reap the rewards of His presence and fellowship, so He stirs our conscience to reveal the most hidden hindrance, so that we can experience the genuine blessings from our time together every day.

Therefore, whenever our conscience reveals obstacles within our heart, we should lament and grieve, because we have ignored worldly and carnal passions that prevent our genuine fellowship with our Lord and Savior. Consider what passions still linger that we must identify and seek the Lord’s power to remove them from our life, and for His grace to empower us to be disciplined to walk away from them.

What passions linger within you? Thomas a’ Kempis offered this list. Are they still prevalent today in your life?

* wrong sexual desires
* outwardly focused senses that go unchecked
* entanglement in useless thoughts and imaginations
* over-diligent to matters of the world that God despises in us
* negligent to spiritual matters that God desires of us
* uncontrolled frivolous and immodest emotions
* insufficient priority to realizing our condition before God
* ease of response to matters related to pleasures of the flesh
* unresponsive to the disciplines that are needed to please God
* attraction to new thoughts and ideas in the world
* slow to embrace the humble and low things
* driven by covetous desires for abundance of things
* reserved in giving
* tenacious in our clinging to things
* tend be inconsiderate in speech
* reluctant to be silent
* unruly in manners
* troublesome in conduct
* consumed by food
* slow to invest in the God’s Word
* quick to rest, slow to labor
* alert to gossip opportunities
* sleepy during worship services
* eager for worship services to end
* inclined to drifting in thoughts and inattentiveness
* negligent in prayers
* lukewarm about the need to fellowship with our Lord
* ambivalent in the taking of Lord’s Supper or Baptism
* quick to anger, and to show displeasure with others
* ready to judge and reprove
* enjoys prosperity, groans in adversity
* makes resolutions regularly with good intention but the resolve falls short

When we have examined ourselves we should confess and deplore these and other such faults. If we fail and continue to engage in them they will be recognized by others with sorrow and great displeasure, because our weaknesses impact others. We should firmly resolve to examine and make the necessary changes to advance in our relationship with our Lord, seeking to please Him alone. Then we may be counted worthy to draw near to celebrate our time with our Lord, and enter into the fellowship in a manner that pleases God alone.

We should be mindful that when we are truly repentant, the Lord promises as often as we come to him for forgiveness and grace, he will respond and will not remember our sins anymore; all will be forgiven. Only then will we have free access to fellowship with Him as our heart and soul are meant to experience him, so in return he can share his grace and love through our time together, which pleases God.

My prayer this day: Lord Jesus, I realize there are distractions and obstacles always surrounding my life. Please help me to be able to identify my weaknesses and greatest needs so that I may not ever sin against you intentionally. Test my heart and reveal the areas of my life that I need to focus upon and surrender so that I may only please you. There is nothing in this world that I desire more than you, and I only desire the things that please you. Help me to be the godly husband, father, grandfather, brother and son to my family. Likewise help me to be a true friend to all those you place before my path each day. May I be your disciple willing to share your love and mercy when it is needed, and to share Your Word through what I say, the deeds I do, and most importantly by my attitude every day. Help me to bring into my life godly men to help me to be held accountable. Please use them through the gift and guidance of Your Holy Spirit to reprove and encourage me in areas of my life that I may not be attentive to as I should. Thank You Lord and I will stand upon my faith in you to testify that you are my strength, my salvation, and my shield against the challenges and threats in this world. Please protect and preserve my family and me against the schemes and traps of Satan. Amen.

Additional reading: Acts 2:38, 3:19, 17:30; Rom 2:4, 4:7; 2 Cor 7:10; 2 Peter 3:9; Rev 2:5, 16, 3:3, 19; 1 John 1:9, 2:12, 5:3; Heb 9:14, 10:22; 4:16; James 5:16; Gen 22:2, 7-8; Ps 51:19; Is 43:25; Jer 31:34; Micah 7:19; Col 2:13