MOVE INTO GOD’S HEALING…

PSALM 30:10-12: “Hear, O Lord, and have mercy on me; Lord, be my helper!” You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.” NKJV
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OBSERVATION: Have you been wounded emotionally? Have you suffered a great loss? Have you just experienced a great disappointment? As I read these verses I felt a word of exhortation and encouragement coming from the Lord.

MOVE INTO GOD’S HEALING!

I have found that it is easy to get comfortable in my pain. Currently, I am going through a recovery process from two accidents. To be in pain is a normal part of my life now and I simply have learned to live with it and push through. Yet, I realize that this also limits my expectations for God’s healing to come into my life. I can be so comfortable with my pain that I stop seeking God’s healing.

This is especially true with matters of the mind and heart. These wounds are not visible to anyone else. We carry them secretly and we struggle with our pain. It is very easy to become so familiar with our pain and the story that surrounds it that we simply settle. This is our life and we might as well get used to it. Yet, if we listen closely, we will hear the still small voice of the Holy Spirit calling us to,

MOVE INTO GOD’S HEALING!

How do we do that when we find ourselves stuck? David begins by turning to the Lord in sincere prayer and crying out for mercy.

  • “Hear, O Lord, and have mercy on me; Lord, be my helper!”

Only God can truly heal our broken and grieving hearts. He alone can restore us to the joy that we once knew. Jesus came to not only bear our sins but also bear our burdens, our sickness, and our disease (or dis-ease). I love Jesus’ proclamation of His ministry as He claims the promise from Isaiah.

  • “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Luke‬ ‭4:18-19‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

We serve a God who heals. He brings good news when we are wandering in the wilderness. He heals our broken hearts as we deal with great loss. He breaks the bonds of sin and failure. He opens our spiritual eyes so that we can see the Kingdom of God. And, He proclaims liberty and favor over our lives.

David calls himself back to faith as he recounts the former faithfulness of God and anticipates God’s answer and provision in response to his prayer.

  • “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.”

Pain can become so familiar that we lose all hope of walking without it. Yet, Jesus has come to turn our mourning into dancing. He has come to remove our heavy burdens and clothe us with gladness. He has come to restore in us a joyful heart that sings praise and cannot be silent. Dear one, it is time to…

MOVE INTO GOD’S HEALING!

Lord, forgive me for the times when I embrace my pain more than Your promises. Help me to always move toward Your promise and provision of healing. Turn our mourning into dancing once again and clothe us with gladness, praise, and thanksgiving!

In Jesus Name!

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THE WORD AND THE SPIRIT…

MATTHEW 22:20: “Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.” NKJV

OBSERVATION: Is my spiritual life in balance? Am I growing in the Word of God? Am I moving in the power of God? Do I find myself leaning more to one than the other? Jesus’ answer to the Sadducees about the resurrection gives us more than just a glimpse into heaven. It provides a call to walk in balance!

It is hard to live a life of balance. The natural tendency in life is to lean to one side of an issue or another. In our spiritual lives, we may find ourselves favoring the study of God’s Word over the manifestation of the Spirit. Or, the other extreme is to run after the supernatural and neglect the written and objective Word of God. Balance is needed.

I love the Word of God and I love the power of God. Yet, I tend to lean toward the objective study of the Word rather than the manifestation of the Holy Spirit. It is easy for me to find myself missing what the Spirit of God desires to do as I try to parse a verse of Scripture.

On the other hand, I have been in circles where the gifts of the Spirit were the major focus. Little attention was given to the teaching of God’s Word. This produces what Aimee Semple McPherson referred to as “wildfire.” It is the manifestation of the spirit without the foundation of sound Biblical teaching. Both are needed.

We see this so clearly in the Great Commission. It is stated in two different ways. The first is in Matthew and the latter in Acts.

  • “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.” Matthew‬ ‭28:19-20‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
  • “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts‬ ‭1:8‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

If we are going to fulfill the Great Commission we need to be moving in the power of the Holy Spirit and boldly proclaiming and teaching the whole counsel of God’s Word. We need the Word and the Spirit! The Word alone produces a dry and legalistic approach to our life of faith. Seeking the power of God alone leads us to imbalance and excess. Yet, the Word and the Spirit lead us to a life of balance and power!

I believe in the Word of God! I believe in the power of God! All of the gifts of the Spirit are for the church today. We will not be able to fulfill our calling as the church unless we are moving in the power of God. The Pharisees and Sadducees rejected the miracles that Jesus performed. They were locked into their dead forms of doctrine and ritual. They could not see past the phylacteries that hung before their eyes.

We need an outpouring of God’s Spirit and a revival of God’s Word. We need to pour over the pages of Scripture and earnestly desire spiritual gifts. We need to teach the Word of God and extend the power of God as we pray for the sick and move in the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We need to be the church that is walking in truth, love and power! We need to minister in the newness of the Spirit and not the oldness of the letter (Romans 7:8)!

Lord, this morning I do not want anything in my life that will keep me from walking in the truth of Your Word and the power of Your Spirit! Open my mind and my heart to receive all that You want to do in and through my life. Grant me the grace and wisdom to walk in the fullness of Your Word and Your power. Help me to be grounded as I am empowered.

In Jesus Name!

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IT’S TIME TO GO BACK TO CHURCH!

PSALMS 27:4: “One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to inquire in His temple.” NKJV
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OBSERVATION: I’s time to go back to church! It is time to look at all of our enemies, including the Coronavirus, and say – “I will be counted among those who gather in the name of the Lord!” It is time to turn our televisions off on Sunday morning and walk through the door of the assembly of the saints!

IT IS TIME TO GO BACK TO CHURCH!

I can already hear the objections to these statements. Some will say that I am taking this verse out of context. The house of the Lord was not the local church. Others will accuse me of being insensitive to the serioiusness and reality of the physical threat we are facing with the Coronavirus. Others, who prefer the comfy sofa, pajamas, and cup of coffee while watching their favorite preacher will simply tune me out. Yet, I must say it once again.

IT IS TIME TO GO BACK TO CHURCH!

David’s declaration in verse 4 is given in the context of facing great enemies.

  • “When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, My enemies and foes, They stumbled and fell. Though an army may encamp against me, My heart shall not fear; Though war may rise against me, In this I will be confident.” Psalms‬ ‭27:2-3‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

David speaks of the wicked who want to destroy him, enemies and foes that want to defeat him, and war that wants to decimate him. He faces all of these with confidence and faith. It is in this context that he proclaims,

  • “One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to inquire in His temple.”

When Covid first hit none of us knew what to do. Churches followed the CDC guidelines and closed their doors for the first time in my lifetime. Pastors scrambled to put their services online. Many thought this would turn into a great outreach to the lost. Yet, we have not seen a revival since the onset of Covid. Instead, we have seen a rapid decline in church attendance and giving. And, don’t fool yourself, this has also hindered and stopped the church’s outreach into the community.

I will say what many may be afraid to say. The unchurched are not going to your Facebook page, they are not searching for your church on YouTube, and they are not visiting your church. The effect of Covid is that it has shuttered the doors of the church and the home. Christians have retreated and taken their light indoors where it is safe. Meanwhile, thousands upon thousands go to Disneyworld each day risking exposure to the virus. Something is wrong!

I am thankful that those who are sick and shut-in have access to worship services online. It is a wonderful outreach of our technology. Yet, I need to remind myself – you cannot make disciples over the internet. Discipleship is a hands-on proposition. It takes Christians, gathering together, serving together, worshipping together, praying together, and GOING together – to reach the lost!

The Harvest is ripe, yet there are no laborers. The world is in crisis, yet we are huddling around our 70-inch big-screen TVs. Churches are closing their doors for good much faster than new churches are being planted. There is a crisis of leadership as pastors age and there are not enough new young people to fill the ranks. While rioters take the streets the believers huddle at home.

IT IS TIME TO GO BACK TO CHURCH!

There is so much more that I could say on this subject. However, I think my point has been made. In over 40 years of pastoring, I have never seen what I am witnessing today in the church. We must right our course immediately. We must begin to walk in the wisdom that is balanced by fearless faith and witness. We must be willing to lay down our lives for the Gospel. Together with David, we must declare,

  • “One thing I have desired of the Lord, That will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord All the days of my life, To behold the beauty of the Lord, And to inquire in His temple.”

Churches – be safe, be wise, and keep streaming your services. However, pastors must call their congregations back to the House of the Lord and lead them to the Harvest. It is time for all hands on deck. A Tsunami is coming and the only power against it is the unified witness of the people of God – THE CHURCH!

IT IS TIME TO GO BACK TO CHURCH!

In Jesus Name!

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THE SECRET OF THE LORD (What Is It?)

PSALM 25:14: “The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him, And He will show them His covenant.” NKJV
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OBSERVATION: Do you know the secret of the Lord? Is this verse speaking of some hidden knowledge that only a few elite gain access to, or is it something else? The world is filled with spurious books and fringe cults who claim to be the only ones who know God’s secret. What does this verse mean?

This is one verse that is found in a complete Psalm written by David. This Psalm focuses on our need for God, our sinfulness, and His divine mercy. Here is a brief outline of the major points of this Psalm leading up to verse 14.

  • Verses 1-2: A prayer for deliverance from our enemies.
  • Verse 3: The reward of those who wait on the Lord
  • Verses 4-5: A prayer asking God to teach us His way and reveal His path.
  • Verses 6-7: A cry for God’s mercy and His covering over our sin.
  • Verses 8-10: The nature of God and His faithfulness to lead the humble in the pathway of righteousness.
  • Verse 11: A prayer of repentance seeking God’s pardon.
  • Verses 12-13: The blessing of one who fears the Lord
  • Verse 14: The secret of the Lord

There is nothing in the context of these verses that speak about some higher knowledge only for the elite or something that is unable to be known. The thoughts in verse 14 flow from a series of thoughts that recount our daily struggles, God’s faithfulness, and mercy, and our need for forgiveness. So, what is David speaking about when he writes about the secret of the Lord?

The word secret in the Hebrew language is ‘sod.’ It means council, counsel, assembly. The connotation is that it is the divine counsel of the Lord. The assembly is the Lord Himself – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It is the very presence of God wherein His will is revealed for our lives. This is not something that is hidden never to be known. Rather, it is given to those who enter into His presence through worship – the fear of the Lord!

Paul speaks of this very thing in the book of Romans.

  • “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans‬ ‭12:1-2‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Note the progression of thought that Paul develops and how this echos David’s Psalm.

  • Paul speaks of the mercies of God.
  • Paul calls us to a life of surrender and worship (the fear of the Lord).
  • Paul calls us to repentance, cleansing, and sanctification.
  • Paul invites us to discover the secret of the Lord – His good and acceptable and perfect will for our lives!

To fear the Lord is not to walk in timidity and to be afraid. To fear the Lord in the Bible is to give the place of worship, the very center of our lives and existence, to the Lord. It is to revere His holiness, love, mercy, faithfulness, and compassion. It is to offer our lives as living sacrifices in true worship and service. It is to put away the trappings of this life and enter into His presence to receive

His divine COUNSEL.

In His divine COUNCIL!

  • “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews‬ ‭4:14-16‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

David confirms that this is what He is speaking of when he writes what those who fear the Lord will receive as they enter into His council.

  • “…And He will show them His covenant.”

The covenant of the Lord is everything that pertains to life and godliness that is found in our Lord Jesus Christ. We are not called to seek out unknown and forbidden secrets like some treasure hunter looking for lost riches. We are called to seek out all the riches and glory in Christ Jesus! We are invited to the council of the Most High so that we can know Jesus and become like Him in every way.

The secret of the Lord is JESUS!

  • “….That their (our) hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Colossians‬ ‭2:2-3‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

To know Jesus is to receive the secret of the Lord. It is only in Christ that we discover all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. We can search for a lifetime to find things that no one else knows only to wind up empty-handed. Or, we can begin the exploration of a lifetime as we are invited into the council of the living God to discover all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge in Christ alone!

One leads us to speculation, error, and emptiness.

The latter leads us to eternal life!

Heavenly Father, I thank you that You have invited all those who will fear You to enter into the council of Your presence. I come, recognizing my need for forgiveness, in awe of Your mercy, and with anticipation as I desire to see Jesus. Grant me the grace to walk in a growing relationship and revelation with Jesus!

  • “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” Philippians‬ ‭3:10‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

In Jesus Name!

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I AM A SHEEP!

PSALM 23:1: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” NKJV
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OBSERVATION: Each year, as I read through the Bible, when I come to Psalm 23, I pause, pray, and ask the Lord to show me something new or something that I need to focus on as I read this all too familiar chapter. It is easy to anticipate each word, each verse, of a chapter that you are so familiar with and that you have even memorized. However, as I read this chapter today I was stopped at the first five words – “The Lord is my shepherd.” Then it hit me…

I AM A SHEEP!

I think sheep get a bad rap for being dumb animals. I did some reading on sheep and they are really quite intelligent in their own way. Wild sheep have become adept at living on their own. However, we are not likened to wild sheep. We are called the sheep of His pasture. We are referred to as domesticated sheep that were raised for their wool production, meat, and milk. I am this kind of sheep.

Here is something interesting that I read.

“Without a shepherd, sheep are prone to wandering off from the flock and there’s a reason for this. Naturally, sheep are hotwired to follow each other. If you take a chance and observe their movement you’ll see this. The paths they follow are usually winding. They do this so they can see ahead and behind them. They can’t help it! It’s just an inbuilt instinct in their brains that cannot be changed.” (FarmingBase)

Domesticated sheep need someone to lead them. They are dependent on a shepherd guiding them to pasture, water, and safety. Left to themselves, by instinct they will wander away and get lost. They will start following each other. It will be the blind leading the blind. The weak will become easy prey for predators and they will find themselves without the food and care that they need.

I AM A SHEEP!

Now, here is the thought that shook me to my core. As a sheep, a human sheep, I have been given the freedom to choose the shepherd that I will follow. It is not whether or not I will choose to have a shepherd. The real question is who will my shepherd be? Here are my choices.

  • The Lord
  • The enemy (the hireling)
  • My peers

Remember, it is the sheep’s instinct to follow themselves. A sheep in the middle of the flock is not aware of who the shepherd is. I feel that so many in our culture are merely following the bleating of the culture. They think they are moving toward some grand awakening and yet they are lost traveling in circles. They think they are carving out their own destiny. Yet, they are simply following others who are blind and heading toward a cliff.

The other extreme is to follow a false shepherd. In essence, even when we follow ourselves we are following the bidding of THE false shepherd – Satan. Jesus made it very clear that there are only two pathways or shepherds to follow.

  • The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them.” John‬ ‭10:10-12‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

The Good Shepherd cares about His sheep. He will lay down His life for the sheep. His entire objective is to bring them life and life abundantly. This is what Jesus, our Good Shepherd desires to do in our life. All you have to do is read the remaining verses of Psalm 23! Yet, Jesus does not force us to follow Him. He invites us to choose Him to be our shepherd. We have a choice! Let’s look at the other choice.

The enemy of our souls, Satan, is the false shepherd. He is like a hired shepherd who is not connected to the sheep. His only objective is his own personal gain. He does not care for the sheep. At the first sign of trouble – he is out of there! And, perhaps more insidious than this – he is the mastermind behind the trouble and plot to destroy our lives. Jesus makes it very clear – “The thief does not come except to steal, to kill, and to destroy…”

The most insidious lie the false shepherd weaves is that we don’t need a shepherd. We can be our own shepherd. We don’t need anyone. And, as we blindly go on our merry way we don’t even see the false shepherd leading us toward our demise!

No one on their own will choose Jesus as their shepherd. It takes the grace of God to lead us to salvation. God is calling us to Himself through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. When I recognize my sin and my need for a Savior (Shepherd), His grace gives me the gift of receiving Jesus as my Good Shepherd.

  • “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John‬ ‭1:12-13‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

To choose Jesus as our Shepherd is God’s saving grace at work in our life. He is knocking at the door of every heart. He is inviting all who will, to come to Him. When we recognize that we are but sheep in need of a shepherd (repentance), God’s saving grace is poured out upon us and Jesus becomes our Good Shepherd. It is then, and only then, that we, along with David can proclaim…

  • “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.”
  • “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” Revelation‬ ‭3:20‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

I AM A SHEEP! Jesus, shepherd me I pray!

In Jesus Name!

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TENACIOUS FAITH!

MATTHEW 15:24-28: “But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!” But He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” And she said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered and said to her, “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.” NKJV
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OBSERVATION: Is my faith tenacious? When I face obstacles or setbacks in my life am I easily derailed? Do I have a faith that pleases God because it believes that HE IS, and He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him?

This January I began the year with a goal. 2021 was filled with many health challenges. I had a bad accident in August that turned into 11 days in the hospital and a three-month recovery. The New Year was before me and I was sure that I would avoid the doctor’s office and hospital!

Then it happened! I had another freak accident. Getting up from bed, coughing, I must have passed out. I hit the tile floor with my head and found myself once again going to the ER and being admitted to the hospital. They did CT scans, ran tests, and besides a large hematoma over my left eye, they determined that I passed out from coughing. Who knew that was a thing?

My faith took a hit over this rocky start to the New Year. I found myself weakened and wondering if I was going to go through another year of health challenges instead of moving forward with my plans to write and expand the ministry God has called me to. Then, as I read posts from dear friends on Facebook, I realized I was not alone. There are so many at this moment facing great challenges that surpass my own. This brought me to the place of prayer!

God is so faithful! I marvel that my devotions regularly take me to verses that I desperately need right at the moment of need. Such was the case this morning. I read the story of the Gentile woman whose daughter was severely demon-possessed. She was desperate and had heard of Jesus’ healing power. She came to Jesus, only to seemingly be turned away. First, the disciples did not want anything to do with a Gentile. And, then, Jesus answered her and said,

  • “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

This seemed rather harsh coming from Jesus. Yet, He was speaking the truth and staying on the mission that the Father had given Him. It was much like the reply He gave to His mother at the wedding feast when she asked Him to help. He was not rejecting the woman. He was simply following the Father’s plan.

Then something happened. This Gentile woman would not take no for an answer. She had a tenacious faith! Her request became a heartfelt plea as she fell down and worshipped Jesus!

  • “Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, “Lord, help me!”

This is where her faith was tested. Jesus replied – “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the little dogs.” Gentiles were seen as dogs to the Jews. They had no part in the covenant of Israel, were not allowed into the inner court of the Temple, and were seen as complete outsiders with regards to the promises of God. The bread of life was for the children of God. How could Jesus give it to the dogs?

This Gentile mother, fully recognizing who Jesus was, fully submitted to Him in worship, and unwilling to leave her daughter in the state that she was in, cried out in faith,

  • “Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”

Her faith was tenacious. She knew her only hope was in Jesus. She came to Him, worshipped Him, cried out to Him, and she was willing to take even the smallest crumb from His table, knowing that it would be sufficient! At this moment her faith surpassed that of any of the disciples. Jesus could only stand at her in awe, respect, and be filled with compassion as He said,

  • “O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour.”

How many times are we just right around the corner from our breakthrough when our faith grows weak and we give up? How many times do we place our faith in the circumstances rather than in the Lord who controls all circumstances? When faced with a mountain we have a choice. We can wrestle that mountain in faith, refusing to let go until we are blessed and receive God’s answer – or we can give up!

Tenacious faith hangs on!

Lord, grant me the grace to hold on! Let me be like the Gentile woman who tenaciously refused to turn away until she received even the smallest crumb from Your table. Help me to walk in faith in every situation I face, and to encourage the faith in others who are going through extremely difficult situations. May I too hear You say,

  • “O ___________, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.”

In Jesus Name!

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DEALING WITH SECRET FAULTS…

The Tunnel System at The Villages

PSALMS 19:12-14: “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.” NKJV‬‬

OBSERVATION: Do I have any secret faults? There are two kinds of secret faults we deal with in life. The first is one that I am not dealing with and trying to hide. The other is an area in my life that I cannot see. It is an area where I am susceptible to encountering difficulties and failure if I do not have something or someone to assist me. The first needs to be brought to the cross in sincere repentance. The second needs the gift of revelation.

I recently visited friends from Michigan who just bought a vacation home in Florida. They moved to The Villages which is the largest retirement community in the US. It is billed as a “golf cart” community with golf cart paths covering the entire 27 square miles of the massive development. As we explored The Villages in their golf cart I felt like I was on a superhighway of small open-air vehicles.

Throughout this superhighway of golf cart lanes, there are a series of tunnels that go under the road system. These are small tunnels with a sharp 45-degree turn. As we were taking these sharp turns I noticed a convex mirror in the left-hand corner. This mirror was supposed to assist you in seeing the oncoming traffic. However, one of the mirrors was made of a plastic material that had become etched by the sun. You could not see anything and the turn was completely blind.

This is the way I feel about life sometimes. I feel like my life is one of these small carts racing from place to place on the highway of life that is filled with blind spots and danger around every turn. It is usually not the obstacles that are right before us that trip us up. Usually, it is those unexpected turns, ruts, or blind spots that we hit along the way. One moment we are cruising through life and the next we find ourselves involved in a wreck.

David understood this dilemma very well. He also understood the importance of God’s Word in protecting us from these setbacks. However, I marvel over the order in which David wrote this Psalm. He begins with a beautiful summary of the power of God’s Word as he writes,

  • “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.” Psalms‬ ‭19:7-11‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

God’s Word in our lives is compared to the sun for our world. The entire world rotates around the sun and depends on the sun for its very existence. Our lives are the same. Our lives depend on God’s Word for our very existence and should be centered upon it in every area. David uses every aspect of God’s Word that he can think of to express this thought – the law, the testimony, the statutes, the commandment, the fear of the Lord, and the judgments.

Yet, after this powerful confession, David looks to his own life and cries out,

  • “Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; Let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, And I shall be innocent of great transgression.”

This reaction is not as strange as it may appear. It is the very reaction we should have whenever we look into the perfect Word of God. God’s Word is not a blurry convex mirror that is unable to guide us through life. It is living, powerful, and active. It is able to divide between the soul and the spirit and discern the thoughts and intents of the heart. Only when we abide in God’s Word are we able to understand our blind spots, discover our secret faults, and be guarded against presumptuous sins.

David’s response needs to be our response. He recognizes how perfect the Word of God is and how imperfect he is. He desires to please God but knows that his flesh is weak and the world is filled with obstacles that he cannot see. Only as he looks into the perfect law of liberty can he be forgiven, cleansed, and guided along the path of righteousness. David’s cry is the cry of surrender. It is the cry of honesty. It is the cry of determination.

David does not end this thought with defeat. He leans upon the very word that brought him to the place of conviction. He is aware that God’s Word will not only bring him to conviction, it will also lead him to victory!

  • “Moreover by them Your servant is warned, And in keeping them there is great reward.”
  • “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart Be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer.”

Lord, as I meditate upon these verses I realize that there are areas of my life that need healing and that I am completely unaware of. Your healing is done so graciously in our lives. You take us step by step as You reveal our secret faults, lead us to Christ, and transform us into His image by the work of the Holy Spirit. This morning, help me to adjust my mirrors, open my eyes, and trust you to change my heart. Lead me deeper into the fear of the Lord!

In Jesus Name!

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OVERCOMING – DOUBT, DISCOURAGEMENT, DISTRACTIONS!

MATTHEW 13:23: “But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” NKJV
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OBSERVATION: What is keeping you from your overcoming? What is keeping you from experiencing the blessings of God? What is keeping you from the next step of growth in your spiritual life? The enemy has three key weapons he uses to rob us. They are,

Doubt,
Discouragement,
and,
Distraction.

The parable of the sower reminds us that it is God’s will to bless us. He desires that we have a fruitful life filled with His joy, blessings, and spiritual growth. Jesus confirms this in His teaching of the vine and the branches.

  • “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” John‬ ‭15:7-8‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

If this is God’s will for our life then why do we struggle to experience it? The pathway of spiritual growth and blessing is not automatic and there are enemies at every turn trying to kill, steal, and destroy what God wants to do in our life. The parable of the sower reminds us what these enemies are.

The first one is DOUBT!

  • “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside.” Matthew‬ ‭13:19‬ ‭NKJV‬

The enemy will try to cast doubt in our hearts so that God’s Word never takes seed. To Adam and Eve, he said – “Has God said?” The wayside is the place where the seed cannot penetrate. The seed bounces off the hard heart and the enemy comes immediately to steal it. We need to learn to pray the prayer that the father sick child prayed – “Lord I believe, help my unbelief!”

If the enemy cannot steal the seed with doubt he will try to kill it with DISCOURAGEMENT!.

  • “But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.” Matthew‬ ‭13:20-21‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

God’s Word will always be tested in our life. There are two types of testing. One is the testing of the Lord to strengthen our faith and bring us to maturity. The other is the attack of the enemy to discourage us so that we lose heart and let go of the promise of God. Throughout the Scriptures, we are reminded that it takes faith and endurance to receive the promises of God. Galatians reminds us,

  • “And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatians‬ ‭6:9‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Finally, if the enemy cannot steal the seed, if he cannot kill the seed, he will try to destroy the seed through DISTRACTION!

David speaks of the man who meditates on the Word day and night. It is like the faithful farmer who watches over his field. He protects it from predators. He waters it and removes the weeds that would choke out the seed. He remains diligent and undistracted.

However, the enemy has a much easier time distracting us today. There is a multitude of activities, distractions, and temptations that are right at our fingertips. Some seem innocuous until the hook sinks deeply into our soul and we find ourselves trapped. All we have to do to find our seed destroyed is to turn our back on it. The glitter of this world is the enemy’s lure to hook us and kill God’s seed! If we are to be fruitful in this life we must not get distracted by that which is passing away!

It is God’s will that we are fruitful in life. The blessing of the good seed of His Word is received by those who hear and understand God’s Word. How do we do this? Again, David gives us the key in the very first Psalm.

  • “But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.” Psalms‬ ‭1:2-3‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

We cannot simply read God’s Word or hear a sermon on Sunday. We have to meditate on God’s Word. This means we have to hide it in our hearts. We have to pray over it. We have to seek the Holy Spirit to illuminate it and help us to understand it. And, we have to cultivate it by putting it into practice. Without the engagement of faith, we will not win the battle over doubt, discouragement, or distraction! We do what we believe! God’s Word must be mixed with faith and confirmed through action!

  • “For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it.” Hebrews‬ ‭4:2‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Heavenly Father, I thank you that I am saved by grace through faith and not of my own works. Yet, I want my faith to grow and be seen by your fruitfulness in my life. Give me the grace to hide your Word in my heart, protect it, meditate upon it, pray over it, and put it into practice. Let my faith be evidenced by obedience in my life and the garden of Your fruitfulness!

In Jesus Name!

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WHAT IS COMING OUT OF MY MOUTH?

MATTHEW 12:33-37: “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” NKJV
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OBSERVATION: What is coming out of my mouth? This is a humbling question to ask ourselves. It is one of the quickest heart checks we can take. Jesus made it very clear,

  • “For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”

Everyone has spoken things they regret. I know that I have put my foot in my mouth many times. It was as if I could see the words leaving my mouth but I could not stop them before the damage was done. However, I don’t think Jesus was speaking about the occasional slip of the tongue. Jesus was focused on something much deeper.

The Pharisees had just finished challenging Jesus’ disciples over their observation of the Sabbath and accusing Jesus of casting out devils by Satan. They were attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to the work of the enemy. With their mouths, they were justifying themselves and condemning the Son of God. To the Pharisee’s vitriol, Jesus responds,

  • “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things?”

Is there any parallel to this today? We live in a day when the spirit of the Pharisees is alive and well in the woke culture that is permeating the land. This woke culture calls for an end to hatred and purports to stand for inclusion. Yet, they vilify and condemn anyone who holds a different opinion than themselves. And, if that is a Biblical opinion it is twice condemned!

I am aware that there are those who call themselves Christian and act the same way. The reality is that to swing to the right or the left is to find yourself in the valley of error. Jesus spoke the truth to the Pharisees but He was always willing to forgive them if they repented. When He held discourse with Nicodemus, Jesus engaged Him in honest dialogue and called Nicodemus to new life in Him.

Over the past several years I have experienced a growing hatred in our culture for the church. Those who stand for Biblical values are framed as the enemy of society and the very cause of the inequity and hatred that is running rampant. Yet, if one takes a very objective view of this situation, they will see that the real hatred is flowing from the hearts of those who claim to be standing against hatred. Their hearts are revealed by the words they speak!

  • “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things.”

Jesus makes it very clear. If you want to justify yourself with your words, then you will be judged by your words! The Pharisees revealed their true heart by the very words they spoke. They justified themselves but their words revealed their true condition. Take a moment to honestly consider the consequences. Would you want to be judged by the words that you have spoken in your life?

In reality, we will all be judged by what we have spoken in our life. Yet, there is one thing that we can speak that changes our hearts and cleanses every misspoken word that has come out of our mouths. Paul writes in Romans,

  • “But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation…For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans‬ ‭10:8-10, 13‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

When we confess Jesus Christ as Lord with our lips, when we call upon the name of the Lord, we are born again. Our sins are forgiven, we are given a new heart, and we begin to walk in the newness of life. A result of that is a change in the way we think and speak. As we grow in God’s Word, as we renew our minds, as we walk after the Spirit of God, our words begin to change. This is a great barometer to test the condition and growth of our spiritual life.

No one is truly good except God Himself. Yet, when we confess Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, He comes to live within us. He changes our hearts. He directs our life. The fruit of the Holy Spirit begins to grow in our life. And, the result is that we begin to speak words of life, words of forgiveness, words of truth in love. We will be justified by our words but only when our words are…

JESUS CHRIST IS LORD!

Heavenly Father, as David prayed, put a guard over my lips. Keep me from presumptuous sins. Create in me a clean heart and renew within me a right spirit. As You change my life – change the words that come out of my mouth. Let me begin each day with these words…

JESUS CHRIST IS LORD!

In Jesus Name!

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JESUS HANGIN WITH SINNERS?

MATTHEW 9:9-13: “As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, “Follow Me.” So he arose and followed Him. Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” NKJV‬‬

OBSERVATION: Why did Jesus hang around sinners? What should our attitude be toward those who don’t know Jesus Christ? Can we really love the sinner and hate the sin? When do we cross the line from associating with sinners and participating with them?

It is popular today to say – “Jesus hung around sinners!” I don’t know what the motivation is behind isolating this phrase and using it as a badge of honor. Is it to justify our sin or excuse activities that we are involved in? Jesus indeed associated with sinners but this is much different than hanging around with them.

The fact that we are all sinners complicates this discussion. There is a difference between being a sinner and sinning. We are born with a sinful nature. By nature we are imperfect and we all have sinned. We all need a Savior. Our sins separate us from God. This is the reason Jesus came to this world. He came to pay the penalty for our sin and to offer the forgiveness of sin and eternal life to all who will believe.

Yet, Jesus never participated in sin. He was the perfect lamb of God. Neither did Jesus go and hang out at the local pub and throw down with the boys. In this portion of Scripture from Matthew, we see Jesus, after calling Matthew to become a disciple, enter into Matthew’s home to eat a meal. This is a far cry from participating in a drunken party!

It was such a shock to the religious leaders because they would not even cross paths with tax collectors and sinners. In their self -righteousness they walked with their noses in the air and regarded all such as the dregs of society. How could Jesus, if He was the Messiah, even be under the same roof as such men?

First, Jesus was invited to a meal, not a drunken party. Second, Jesus made it very clear why He was willing to cross the line that the religious leaders would not cross.

  • “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

Jesus was calling His disciples to become fishers of men. If you are going to catch fish you need to be willing to go where the fish are. Yet, in going fishing, there is a difference between going where the fish are and hanging around with the alligators. One puts you in the position to catch a meal. The other puts you in peril of becoming a meal.

Paul was very aware of this when he wrote,

  • “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” I Corinthians 15:33-34 NKJV

We live in a sinful world. We all are sinners saved by grace. And we are called to reach out to sinners with the Good News of salvation in Jesus Christ. This involves reaching out to, interacting with, and investing time in the life of those who do not know Jesus Christ. We cannot live sheltered lives and fulfill the Great Commission.

However, we also cannot misunderstand the ministry of Jesus and use it as an excuse to participate with sinners. We need to walk in love and compassion toward all. Yet, we also need to walk in obedience to Jesus Christ and be on the pathway of righteousness. How do we maintain this balance?

I think the answer is simple. All we need to do is look at the life and ministry of Jesus. He did not avoid sinners like the religious leaders. He was not judgemental and shocked by their lives. Yet, He did not give a wink to sin. Rest assured, when He was eating at Matthew’s house, the conversation was changed. They were not exchanging crude stories and getting drunk. They were engaged by Jesus to talk about the Kingdom of God. This is what Jesus did wherever He went.

One of the most misused stories in this regard is the woman caught in adultery. It is mere conjecture to say what Jesus was writing in the sand. Yet, Jesus did not approach this woman with disgust or contempt. He came to her with His offer of grace and forgiveness. It was an offer of redemption. To live a different life in the power of the Holy Spirit. To change her direction. Jesus did not simply refuse to condemn her – he refused to leave her in the state in which He found her!

  • “When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, “Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.” Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” John‬ ‭8:10-12‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

Note the progression. Jesus confronted the hypocrisy of those who were accusing the woman. Jesus refused to pass final sentence upon the woman and condemn her. Jesus forgave her sin and called her to a new way of life in Him. Jesus called the woman caught in adultery to live in and walk in His light!

We cannot blur the lines of reaching out to the darkness and walking in the light. We are not to participate in sin to reach sinners. We are called to bring His light into the brokenness and darkness of this world. We do not come as spiritual authorities or those who have achieved some level of spiritual superiority. We come as sinners saved by grace to call other sinners to the grace that can set them free.

Jesus hung around sinners – but He never hung around sin! This is a huge distinction and one that we must understand and apply to our lives in the world in which we live. We must be about the Father’s business of making disciples. However, we must do it like Jesus did if our light is to shine and our salt is not to lose its savor!

Lord, grant me the wisdom and discernment to know the difference between engaging sinners in friendship and conversation and participating or condoning the sin they are engaged in. Help me to share the light of Christ in the love of Christ as one who was lost but now is found. Give me deeper compassion for the lost and greater discernment for my limitations.

In Jesus Name!

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