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Pardon Me

Pardon Me

Today’s Scripture: “O God, you know how foolish I am; my sins cannot be hidden from you.” Psalm 69:5 (NLT)

You love Christ, but you’ve blown it. Again. Maybe it makes you wonder if this “faith life” is even possible. Or is it just for perfect people who seem to have it all together?

Sometimes sin is a taboo topic, but I’m not sure why. It messes with our lives and knocks us off course. Let’s take an honest look at it, and what to do when it happens.

In our key verse, King David is aware of his sin. He also knows that others are aware of his sins. That’s a hard place to be. It may make you want to run and hide. It may cause you to turn away from the love of the Savior because you feel “less than.”

Despite what others believe or think about him, David passionately loves God. He wants to serve Him, and longs for intimacy with God. Perhaps it is this characteristic, more than any other, that he is remembered as a man with a “heart after God.”

Notice how David goes right to the Source. He is at the end of his own strength, but he is also cognizant of God’s strength. David doesn’t pull punches or try to hide from God, but stands in the wilderness and cries out to God, his Healer, his Redeemer, the One who pardons his sin.

How many times do we miss out on God’s grace because of our feelings of inadequacy? Yet worshiping God has nothing to do with our worth, but everything to do with His. We walk into worship with our hearts soiled, but walk out cleansed because of His sacrifice.

Perhaps you’ll have to prove to people that you’ve changed (that may be part of the growth process), but God promises that our sins are removed as far as the east is from the west. You don’t have to prove anything to Him after you’ve asked for forgiveness; just follow Him daily as He shows you how to take the next step.

David cries out, “Rescue me from the mud; don’t let me sink any deeper! (Psalm 69:14a, NLT). We sink deeper when we turn away from God because of embarrassment or shame.

We find freedom when we cry out and receive the pardon of our Savior who reaches out for us. He longs to redeem our life and give us everything we need to live with freedom, hope, forgiveness, purpose and direction.

Dear Lord, I’ve sinned and I let it distance me from You. My faith is not about my strength, but living in Your love and strength. Restore the joy of my salvation. Fill me up with Your love one more time. Cleanse my heart and draw me close as I reach for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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How to Seek the Lord

How to Seek the Lord

Today’s Scripture: “Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.”  Psalm 105:1

Although Scripture tells us to seek the Lord, many Christians struggle with this command. Some are so distracted by other interests and responsibilities that God is only a miniscule part of their goals and desires in life. When confronted with their responsibility to pursue Him, they often feel guilty but don’t know how to begin.

 

When desire for God surpasses our eagerness for other pursuits, following through becomes much more likely. But hunger for the Lord is an acquired taste. The more we pursue Him, the greater our hunger will be. However, if we ignore Him, what little appetite we have will diminish even further. Do you find that the latter describes your experience? Then ask the Lord to whet your appetite for Him—and follow through by making the effort to seek Him.

 

Begin with the Scriptures and prayer. Set aside time each day for meditating on God’s Word—listen for His voice, slowly digest what you read, talk to the Lord, ask Him questions, and apply what you learn to your life. Begin studying the Bible. Some of you may say, “I’ve never been into that.” My advice: Get into it! The deep things of God don’t just drop into our brains; they are placed there through diligent study.

 

Seeking anything requires time and effort. Will you invest your life in the pursuit of the Eternal One—the source of all contentment, joy, and hope? Or will you go after that which is fleeting? By neglecting the Lord, you cheat yourself of all the benefits He promises to those who diligently seek Him.

 

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The Value of Seeking the Lord

The Value of Seeking the Lord

Today’s Scripture: “How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to your word.” Psalm 119:9

We all have ambitions and desires. And while these are not necessarily wrong, we should analyze our priorities: Where do I invest my time and energy? What or who occupies my thoughts? As important as our earthly pursuits, responsibilities, and relationships may be, they cannot compare to the value of a life spent seeking the Lord.

 

First of all, consider what it means to seek something. The word connotes a strong desire and an energetic quest to achieve it. Suppose you discovered a very productive vein of gold on your property. You wouldn’t just stroll out and look at it occasionally. No, you would gather some equipment and diligently go out each day to chip away at the rocks and collect the precious metal.

 

In the same way, seeking the Lord is not a quick and occasional encounter, but a wholehearted effort to know Him more intimately and follow Him more closely. Those who unreservedly pursue this kind of fellowship with God are determined to spend time with Him; they also want to forsake anything that could hinder growth in their relationship with the Lord. God’s committed followers boldly claim His promises and trust Him to fulfill His Word. Their experiences with the Lord bring amazing satisfaction yet cause them to hunger for more of Him.

 

The Christian life is meant to be a pursuit of God. To walk through the door of salvation and stand still, never drawing any closer to Him, is to miss the treasures that are available in Christ. Those who seek Him soon discover that knowing Him is the greatest reward of all.

 

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Jesus Is Alive and Active

Jesus Is Alive and Active

Today’s Scripture: “And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” Hebrews 10:10

Have you ever wondered what Jesus is doing, now that He has ascended to heaven? Our Scripture passage tells us that after offering Himself as a sacrifice for our sins, He sat down at the right hand of God. Hebrews 10:12 might lead us to believe He is simply sitting up there waiting for the time when He comes back to rule and reign on earth. But when we consider other passages, we soon realize He is quite active on our behalf.

First of all, even though the Son is with the Father in heaven, He is also residing within every believer in the person of the Holy Spirit, whom He sent to be in us and with us (John 15:26; Romans 8:9-10). Christ is actively working within you to shape your character and empower your obedience.

Next, Jesus lives to intercede for those who believe in Him (Hebrews 7:25). He makes requests on our behalf and brings our prayers before the Father.

Then, we see in 1 John 2:1-2 that Jesus is our Advocate when we sin. Positioned between us and holy God, Christ declares our righteous standing because of His sacrifice and our faith in Him.

What’s more, Christ is preparing a place for us in heaven (John 14:1-3). He is also arranging all the events necessary for His return.

Jesus is busy in heaven carrying out the Father’s will. And we, as His followers, should be doing the same thing. He saved us for the purpose of reflecting His life in our work, attitudes, words, and behavior. We are His body—His eyes, ears, voice, feet, and hands—pointing others to Him.

 

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Profit And Loss

Profit And Loss

Today’s Scripture: “Lo, we have left all, and have followed Thee! Jesus answered, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My sake, and the Gospel’s but he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time and in the world to come eternal life.”—Mark 10:28-30.

THE PRINCIPLES of this world, and those of our Lord are widely different. The world is set on grasping all it can accumulation, self aggrandizement, the piling up of fortunes, the gradual or speedy climb up the ladder of fame, the gathering of hosts of friends. Looking after “number one” is the readiest way of expressing this principle of life! But it is unsatisfactory and disappointing. The soul which is the centre of its own circumference is doomed to realize that there are more forfeits than prizes, more bitterness than success, more dark hours than bright ones.

On the other side, Christ’s principle of life is to give, to trust, to bless! His measure must be always pressed down and running over. The cloak must follow the coat; the second mile must be gladly thrown in with the first. To be willing to surrender all for the sake of others, is the ordinary claim of the King on those who own Him as their Lord.

In every age there have been thousands who have gladly accepted this as their rule of life. Peter and the rest of the Apostles were the leaders of a host which no man can number, who have left all to follow Jesus. He had nowhere to lay His head, and they have been homeless, wandering in the world, with no settled abiding-place; He was poor and they have gone amongst their fellows, saying: “Silver and gold have we none, but such as we have we give.” But how great has been their reward. Before we can understand what Christ is willing to do for us, there must be not only a taking-hold, but a letting-go. We must step out from the boat, and withdraw our hand from it. It is even good, like St. Paul, to need all things, since by faith we come to possess all. Read the wonderful series of paradoxes to which he gives utterance in II Corinthians 4.

The Lord promises eternal life as the crown of all. When we kneel at the Cross, and see Jesus as our own Savior, we have eternal life, but we cannot realize all it implies until this mortality is swallowed up of life.

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The Last Temptation Jesus Faced

The Last Temptation Jesus Faced

Today’s Scripture: “Come down from the cross, and save yourself!” Mark 15:30 (GWT)

 The last temptation Jesus faced is the ONE temptation we face constantly: “Come down from the cross, and save yourself!”

Inasmuch as the cross is the place where Self is executed, Sin’s power broken, and Satan’s defiance humiliated — it stands to reason that in a last ditch effort to reverse the curse which the cross has brought upon his head, the devil will thrash about endlessly with one goal in mind: to get you and I to abandon our post of trusting in Christ alone, and take up our own cause in our own power. “Come down from the cross, and save yourself.”

The devil cannot touch us when we are on the cross, nor can sin’s power sway us to pursue its many vanities while we abide in the Crucified One. And even our very selves are subdued in a submissive surrender, as the Lord puts to death all things within us that otherwise disqualify us for the Heavenly City. He is transforming us into His likeness. First there is death, and then, O blessed truth, there is resurrection! But, to experience it we must stay upon this Cross.

“Come down from the cross, and save thyself,” the devil derisively taunts at us in those moments when we are slighted by someone, offended by another, or devalued yet by others. Someone does something, whether substantial or petty, and the devil jumps on the moment — “Are you just going to hang there and take that?” he asks with surly sarcasm; and then quickly adds his own suggestion of what we should do, “Come down from the cross, and save thyself!”

Defend yourself, justify yourself, advance yourself, exalt yourself, promote yourself, save yourself, pamper yourself, satisfy yourself, indulge yourself, prefer yourself — and the list goes on and on and on. This is the devil’s plan for your life; he wants you to to be like him — a self-absorbed and self-deceived being.

Jesus, by contrast, has only one thing He would say to you in this regard — “Deny yourself,” and then He adds, “Take up your cross daily, and follow Me.”

Practically speaking, this simple truth has far-reaching implications. The Bible says that it is only by pride that contentions come. Pride is the citadel of Self, the throne room of our own selfish preoccupations and adorations. By embracing the cross of Jesus, and abiding thereupon — our affections are relocated away from our Selves, and placed rightfully upon our Savior. The peace of His presence then extends not only to us, but through us to others. And thus, slowly but steadily, His Kingdom increases in the earth.

For this cause alone you will hear ten thousand times in a day, the devil bringing his case in hopes of finding yourself a willing dupe for his dark employment — “Come down from the cross, and save yourself!”

Don’t you dare do it!!

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The Discipline of Meditation

The Discipline of Meditation

Today’s Scripture: “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Joshua 1:8

As God instructed Joshua about how the Israelites would take possession of the Promised Land, He included a vital instruction: to meditate on His law day and night and to obey everything it said. This would guarantee success.

Meditation is still crucial for believers today. In our culture, we are inundated by worldly values and godless priorities. Unless we guard our hearts, they will slowly begin to accept these unrighteous standards.

Therefore, we should discipline ourselves to meditate daily upon God’s Word, focusing our attention on His character and His ways. This involves prayerfully reading Scripture, being silent before the Lord so we can hear from Him, and applying biblical truth to our lives.

Of course, these things don’t just happen. Distractions take away from our ability to focus, so it is necessary to set aside a time when we can be still and listen. Consider the benefits of doing so. Meditation . . .

 

  • Quiets our spirit and provides an avenue for God to purify our hearts.

 

  • Develops a hunger for the Word so we can gain deeper understanding of Jesus and greater sense of His power.

 

  • Improves our discernment about direction for our lives.

 

  • Sharpens our awareness of His presence.

Meditation may involve a small sacrifice of rising earlier or giving up free time during the day. But living a Christ-centered life filled with peace and joy depends upon our commitment to focus our minds and hearts on Him regularly. Are you willing to discipline yourself to set aside time each day?

 

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God’s Grand Plan

God’s Grand Plan

Today’s Scripture: “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” 1 Peter 1:13

First Peter 1:16 says, “You shall be holy for I am holy.” What an overwhelming command! But that is exactly what the Lord is committed to do in our lives—make us holy. His grand plan can be summed up in one word: sanctification. This is the three-stage process by which He sets us apart for His purposes.

Stage one occurs at the moment of our salvation. When God declares us righteous, we are positionally holy. The second stage is a progression of growth as we become more and more in practice what we already are in position. This process will continue for as long as we are alive on this earth.

The Father has predestined us to be conformed to the image of His Son, and He is continually working to shape our conduct, character, and conversation. Although God is the one who accomplishes the transformation, we have some responsibility in the process. If we don’t cooperate with Him, the world will squeeze us into its mold, and we will miss the great plans He has for us.

The third stage of sanctification is our ultimate perfection when we will possess absolute holiness. Upon our physical death, the soul and spirit are freed from sin, and in the resurrection, our bodies will be made perfect. We will stand faultless and spotless before Christ.

If we could just get a glimpse of what the third stage is like, we would never moan and groan about the difficult sanctification process we endure now. Our eyes would be fixed on the goal, and our greatest motivation would be to glorify God by submitting to Him as He transforms us.

 

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How to Listen to God’s Word

How to Listen to God’s Word

Today’s Scripture: “He read it aloud from daybreak till noon as he faced the square before the Water Gate in the presence of the men, women and others who could understand. And all the people listened attentively to the Book of the Law.”  Nehemiah 8:3

How is it that two people can sit in the same pew, hear the same sermon about the same portion of Scripture, and walk away with two different reactions? One is joyful and the other unaffected. I think the reason is that some people do not know how to listen to the Word of God.

 

Nehemiah 8 is an amazing scene of God’s people coming together to hear His Word. Remember that they didn’t have individual copies of Scripture to read. For generations, the events of Genesis though Deuteronomy were passed down from parent to child. Moreover, the people had been in captivity for many years. This was the first time most of them heard the Word read. Imagine their excitement as they listened attentively for the Lord to speak to them.

 

The Israelites were hungry for God’s Word. Are you? Do you listen eagerly and with an expectant mind and heart? The length of a person’s attention span is directly related to the intensity of his hunger for something. If you crave to know more of God, then your mind is going to be fastened on what He’s saying through your pastor or your personal reading. And the reality is that nothing in the world matters as much as what the Lord has to say.

 

So many things clamor for our focus but few truly deserve it. The Lord is worthy of nothing less than our undivided attention. He has something to say to every person. So whoever listens to God’s Word with an open heart and alert mind will receive from Him.

 

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Qualifications for Sainthood

Qualifications for Sainthood

Today’s Scripture: “I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.”  I Corinthians 1:4

Many people hold an unbiblical view of sainthood. Their idea of a saint is one who has led such an exemplary life that he or she is venerated by the church, but God’s Word presents quite a different picture. The Corinthian church struggled with all sorts of ungodly behaviors, yet Paul describes them as “those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling” (I Corinthians 1:2).

Sanctify means to set apart from common use to a sacred use. Throughout Scripture, the Lord has sanctified days (such as the Sabbath), places (the tabernacle), things (Ark of the Covenant), and people. A saint is simply a person whom God has set apart for His purposes. That means every believer is a saint.

Before you were saved, your position relative to God was one of enmity (Romans 5:10). But the moment you trusted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, the Lord changed your position and set you apart for Himself.

You were born again and are now His child. He forgave your sins and declared you righteous. A saint is not a perfect person but one who is in a right relationship with God. Although our position of sanctification is not predicated on good behavior, the Lord expects us to live in a manner that honors Him.

Just think—God set you apart for a sacred purpose. That means you are here, not to live as you please but to bring glory to Him. He calls us to live according to our new position in Christ. To refuse this responsibility of sainthood is a blatant act of ingratitude, which grieves His heart.