Sunday, May 31, 2015

Good Things

Good Things

Jesus made some amazing promises for those who put their trust in Him. Do you believe His promise to give you what you ask for?
  • Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.

Seems pretty straightforward – ‘Ask, and it will be given to you…’ However, I am very confident all believers have asked Jesus for something they haven’t gotten. So why is that? Was Jesus wrong? Was Jesus lying? Or worse yet, did Jesus not know what He was talking about?

If you have asked Jesus for something and not received it, perhaps you just haven’t received it yet! God does things according to His schedule, not yours (or anyone else’s).
  • Ecclesiastes 3:1 To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:

Another possibility is that you have asked for the wrong thing(s)! What Jesus said in Matthew 7:7-8 is absolutely true. But, as with every verse in the Bible, scripture must be interpreted and applied with consideration of all other scripture. In other words, you can’t just pluck a scripture out of the Bible and apply it any way you want to.

Just a couple verses later, Jesus said:
  • Matthew 7:11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!

Jesus promised that God will give ‘good things’ to those who ask Him. I believe that God’s view of good things is often quite a bit different from ours. Imagine a young child asking their father if they can eat ice cream for every meal, stay up way past bedtime every night, or to play with a loaded handgun. The child may say please, beg, and cry to get what they want. But no matter how persistent a child is in asking, the father has the perspective and experience to understand what is good for the child. A child sometimes doesn’t understand what is good for them. 

Our Heavenly Father is all knowing; He is infinitely wiser, smarter, more loving and more experienced than His children are. So, in general, when we ask for something that is not good for us, He is not going to give it to us. Certainly there are exceptions. He will sometimes allow or bring things into our lives that are very difficult. He does this to discipline and teach us (see Hebrews 12:5-6 and James 1:2-4). But in the long run, these things are for our good.

So if God is ready, willing and able to give us good things when we ask Him for them, how do we know what to ask for? Here are some verses to consider.

Asking for ‘Good Things’
  • 1 John 5:14-15 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
    • Good things are in accordance with God’s will. But God’s will is a very complex subject. God desires some things. He allows other things. And sometimes, God makes things happen. And although we can’t fully grasp all this means, we can’t use our current lack of complete understanding as an excuse not to seek out, trust in, and pray for His will. He has given us His Word. He has given believers in Jesus Christ His Holy Spirit. He has given us the privilege of prayer. He has given us other Christians to provide wise counsel on such matters.
  • James 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
    • Good things don’t align with our selfish, covetous, self-centered desires.
  • John 14:13-14 And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.
    • Praying in the name of Jesus is not a magic formula that automatically results in you getting what you want. Praying in the name of Jesus means you pray in the power and authority of His holy name. It means you submit to His Lordship and ask that things be done according to His righteous desires and plans. It means you turn your requests over to Christ and trust that His way is perfect.

Here are a few Biblical examples of good things people asked Jesus for. Let them serve as an example for you to:

Ask Jesus to -

Help Your Unbelief
  • Mark 9:24 Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
    • Doubting that God can do what you ask or that He will do the right thing is a great way to make your prayers ineffective (see Matthew 21:22 and James 1:5-8). Ask Jesus to help you believe.

Increase Your Faith
  • Luke 17:5 And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”
    • Your faith in God can be measured in quality and quantity. Quality is about your level of confidence that God can do all He said and promised. Quantity is about how often you genuinely apply your faith in God to the obstacles, needs and problems you and others face in life. Ask Jesus to increase the quality and quantity of your faith.

Tell You Who He Is
  • John 18:33 Then Pilate entered the Praetorium again, called Jesus, and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?”
    • Many people have asked Jesus who He is; some in person, some in prayer. The Bible records three basic responses from Jesus when He was asked if He is the Messiah/Savior/Son of God/etc.: 1. No answer (see Matthew 21:23-27); 2. An affirmative answer in the form of a parable, Old Testament scripture reference or a statement about the testimony of His good works (see Matthew 11:1-6); and 3. A clear and direct affirmative answer (see Luke 22:70). Humbly and sincerely ask Jesus to show you who He is.

Show You the Way
  • John 14:5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”
    • Jesus is the way to the Father, the way to truth, the way to eternal life. Isn’t that worth asking Him about?

Heal You/Heal Others
  • Mark 10:51 So Jesus answered and said to him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” The blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, that I may receive my sight.”
  • Matthew 8:5-7 Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, 6 saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.” 7 And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”
    • Jesus has healed countless people. Only He knows if being healed is a good thing for you or the one(s) you are praying for. Don’t make assumptions. Don’t try to figure it out yourself. Ask, see what He does, then you will know.

Give You Guidance/Direction
  • Matthew 19:16 Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”
  • Luke 3:10 So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?”
  • Luke 3:12 Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?”
  • Luke 3:14 Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?” So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.”
    • If you truly want to know what Jesus expects of you, He truly wants to tell you. Ask Him.

Bottom line, we should seek God diligently, pray for what we believe are good things, and then trust Him to do what is in our long-term (eternal) best interest. If you have asked Jesus for something that you believe is a good thing and you haven’t received it yet, be patient; perhaps it is coming soon. If you never receive it, He has something better in store for you.
  • Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
  • James 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.
And just to make sure I don't leave three important questions I asked at the beginning of this devotion unanswered: Jesus is never wrong, He can't lie, and He always knows what He is talking about!  Why, because He is God!!!


Eternal Father, You are love, You know what we need and when we need it. I pray Father that You will give Your children the faith and patience to wait for and accept the good things You provide, and to understand that when You don’t provide something requested in prayer, that from an eternal perspective, it was not a good thing. Help us to trust completely in You! I pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Are You Listening?

Are You Listening?

In Psalm 141:3-4 King David is praying earnestly that God will help him live a righteous life. He specifically prays that God will:
  • Keep him from speaking evil
  • Keep him from desiring wicked works or engaging in them with others
  • Keep him from partaking in the delicacies (spoils/plunder/niceties) resulting from the wicked ways of others

Then he prays:
  • Psalm 141:5 Let the righteous strike me; It shall be a kindness. And let him rebuke me; It shall be as excellent oil; Let my head not refuse it. For still my prayer is against the deeds of the wicked.

The King of Israel asks God to use righteous people to help keep him from wickedness. David tells God he will view the correction/rebuke of others as a kindness; as something good. He asks God to help him accept correction/criticism while he continues to pray against the wicked deeds of others.

Let’s look at three examples from the Bible where God does use others rebuke David.

Nathan’s Parable (2 Samuel 12:1-12)
The LORD uses Nathan the prophet to confront King David about his adultery with Bathsheba and then murdering her husband.

The Approach
  • 2 Samuel 12:1-2 Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him: “There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds.
    • Nathan tells David a story about a rich man who selfishly takes something of value from a poor man. David is enraged! He says the rich man will die and repay four times what he took.
The Point
  • 2 Samuel 12:7 Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul.
    • Nathan reveals that his story was a parable. He tells David that he is the rich man in the story. He confronts David about his sins of adultery and murder.
      • Read Psalm 51 for David’s prayer of repentance.

The Woman of Tekoa (2 Samuel 14:1-21)
Joab uses a woman from Tekoa to confront King David about his un-forgiveness towards Absalom.

The Approach
  • 2 Samuel 14:2-3 And Joab sent to Tekoa and brought from there a wise woman, and said to her, “Please pretend to be a mourner, and put on mourning apparel; do not anoint yourself with oil, but act like a woman who has been mourning a long time for the dead. 3 Go to the king and speak to him in this manner.” So Joab put the words in her mouth.
    • The wise woman from Tekoa tells David a story and claims that she is a widow. She tells the king that one of her two sons killed the other during a fight and the entire family wants her remaining son to die as punishment for his crime; thus leaving her no heir. David says that she nor her son shall be harmed.
The Point
  • 2 Samuel 14:13 So the woman said: “Why then have you schemed such a thing against the people of God? For the king speaks this thing as one who is guilty, in that the king does not bring his banished one home again.
    • David figures out that Joab has put the woman up to this. Her story points to the sin of un-forgiveness in David’s heart towards his son Absalom (who murdered one of David’s other sons named Amnon).
      • Read 2 Samuel 14:33 to see how David eventually uses a kiss to express forgiveness towards his son Absalom.

Bathsheba’s Reminder (1 Kings 1:11-27)
Nathan uses Bathsheba to confront King David about his negligence in not appointing a successor.

The Approach
  • 1 Kings 1:13-14 Go immediately to King David and say to him, ‘Did you not, my lord, O king, swear to your maidservant, saying, “Assuredly your son Solomon shall reign after me, and he shall sit on my throne“? Why then has Adonijah become king?’ 14 Then, while you are still talking there with the king, I also will come in after you and confirm your words.”
    • Knowing that Nathan will be coming right behind her to reinforce her claim, Bathsheba reminds David of the oath he made to her about Solomon becoming king.
The Point
  • 1 Kings 1:18 So now, look! Adonijah has become king; and now, my lord the king, you do not know about it.
    • Bathsheba and Nathan inform David that as he lay in bed dying, in the absence of leadership, Adonijah has appointed himself king. David recognizes the need to act immediately and admits he has not fulfilled the oath he made before the Lord about Solomon becoming king (1 Kings 1:30).
      • Read 1 Kings 1:32-35 for David’s formal proclamation that Solomon is to be anointed as King of Israel.

We are never really told why parables, stories and schemes were used by those rebuking David. Certainly correcting or criticizing the King of Israel was a delicate matter. But one thing is made very clear by these scriptural accounts, David was listening!

God is ready, willing and able to use
righteous people to speak
Godly wisdom and truth into your life.
Are you listening to them?

Prayerfully read these related verses.
  • Proverbs 1:5 A wise man will hear and increase learning, And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel,
  • Proverbs 13:1 A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, But a scoffer does not listen to rebuke
  • Proverbs 19:20 Listen to counsel and receive instruction, That you may be wise in your latter days.
  • Matthew 18:15 “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother.
  • Galatians 6:1 Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

If you have surrendered your life to Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, then you stand righteous before God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Perhaps God is wanting to use you to speak
Godly wisdom and truth into the life of someone you know.
Are you listening to God?


Father, I thank You for my Christian brothers and sisters that are willing to speak Godly wisdom and truth to me when I need to hear it. I beg You to give me ears to hear. Thank You for these three examples from Your Word that show how important it is to listen. I pray that You will give Your children ears to hear Your truth regardless of how difficult that may be. I pray that You will embolden Your children to follow the gracious Biblical method of addressing these issues given in the New Testament. I praise You for Your goodness. I love You because You first loved me. I pray in the powerful name of my Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

A Time to Weep and a Time to Laugh

A Time to Weep and a Time to Laugh

  • Ecclesiastes 3:1 To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven:
  • Ecclesiastes 3:4 A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance;

In your life:
  • When have you cried the hardest?
  • What has caused you to laugh the loudest?
  • Have you mourned deeply?
  • Have you danced for joy?

If you agree with Solomon’s statement that there is, ‘A time to weep, And a time to laugh…’, then how do you reconcile the following verses?
  • Job 14:1 “Man who is born of woman Is of few days and full of trouble.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:16 Rejoice always,
    • Is God contradicting Himself? Since our days are ‘full of trouble’, is it possible or even practical to think we can be joyful all the times?

While reflecting deeply on times of sadness and times of joy in your own life, and in the lives of those you love, read the following verses with these questions in mind:

What is God telling us? 
How does what God says align with your personal experiences, your understanding of scripture, and your expectations about life?
  • Psalm 126:5 Those who sow in tears Shall reap in joy.
  • Proverbs 14:13 Even in laughter the heart may sorrow, And the end of mirth may be grief.
  • Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
  • James 4:9 Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.

When God came to Earth as a man, He experienced both weeping and joy.
  • Luke 19:41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it,
  • Luke 10:21 In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight.
    • How does knowing that our sinless Lord and Savior Jesus Christ wept and rejoiced influence your understanding and application of Ecclesiastes 3:4 (A time to weep, And a time to laugh;…)?

King David, a man after God’s own heart (see 1 Samuel 13:14 and Acts 13:22), wept; but he also danced for joy.
  • 2 Samuel 12:22 And he said, “While the child was alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who can tell whether the Lord will be gracious to me, that the child may live?’
  • 2 Samuel 6:14 Then David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was wearing a linen ephod.
    • Even with the Spirit of the LORD upon him (1 Samuel 16:13), the anointed King of Israel experienced great sorrow and joyous celebration.

The fact of the matter is, because sin, we live in a cursed world (read Genesis 3). We live with the consequences of sin every day.
  • Psalm 51:3 For I acknowledge my transgressions, And my sin is always before me.
  • Ezekiel 36:31 Then you will remember your evil ways and your deeds that were not good; and you will loathe yourselves in your own sight, for your iniquities and your abominations.
  • Hebrews 12:5-6 And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; 6 For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.”

Yet even in the midst of all the sorrow brought into the world by sin, there are powerful and eternal truths that serve as an unmovable/unbreakable foundation for those surrendered to Christ's Lordship: God came to earth as a man (Jesus Christ), He lived a sinless life, He died on a Roman cross to pay our sin debt, and three days later He defeated death by rising from the grave to show us that we can have eternal life through Him.
  • 1 Timothy 1:15 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief.
  • 1 John 2:2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
  • 1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
  • John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Jesus knew this!
  • John 16:20 Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.
    • Jesus told His disciples how they would mourn His death. But He also told them about the joy that would come as a result of His resurrection.

David knew this!
  • 2 Samuel 12:23 But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.”
    • David understood that even though his baby boy had died, he would spend eternity in Heaven with his son.

There is no contradiction! There are two truths!!

Temporary Truth
Because of the consequences of sin, Christians experience and endure temporary suffering while:

Praising God during temporary struggles.
  • Psalm 30:4-5 Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. 5 For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.

Rejoicing to partake in Christ’s sufferings.
  • 1 Peter 4:12-13 Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; 13 but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.

Growing through trials.
  • James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

Expecting the comfort that only forgiveness and eternal life can bring.
  • Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.

Obediently enduring the trials of this life while confidently watching for Christ’s return.
  • Hebrews 10:35-37 Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise: 37 “For yet a little while, And He who is coming will come and will not tarry.

Eternal Truth
Because of salvation in Jesus Christ, Christians experience and express eternal joy by:

Being born again as believers in Christ!
  • John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Believing in the power of God’s Holy Spirit.
  • Romans 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Experiencing God’s mercy.
  • Psalm 31:7 I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy, For You have considered my trouble; You have known my soul in adversities,

Expecting Christ’s return.
  • 1 Thessalonians 2:19 For what is our hope, or joy, or crown of rejoicing? Is it not even you in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at His coming?

Trusting in God’s promises about eternal life in Heaven.
  • Revelation 21:4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

We must persevere in faith as we experience
the ups and downs of life in a fallen world!

We have the privilege of continually rejoicing
in the eternal truths and promises
of our Heavenly Father!


Dear LORD, give us the faith, strength, endurance, patience and perspective to stand strong for Your glory regardless of the challenges and disappointments life may bring. Thank You for the indwelling presence of Your Holy Spirit and the eternal truth of Your Holy Word which guide us confidently towards our everlasting life in Heaven with You. May the joy of the LORD shine through our lives in all circumstances. In the name of Jesus Christ I pray, Amen.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Love for the Lost

Love for the Lost

  • Luke 18:11-12 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’

The Pharisees were the religious elite when Jesus walked on earth. They elevated themselves while looking down on the people they considered to be ‘sinners’. Read Matthew 23 to see how Jesus rebuked them for their self-righteousness and judgment of others.

How do you view those lost in sin? Does your heart go out to them? Do you pray that God will draw them close by the power of His spirit for salvation in Christ? Do you condemn them or love them?

Be careful; don’t be too quick to pat yourself on the back. Be honest, do you ever think or say things like:
  • ‘I can’t believe what she did.’
  • ‘He deserves what he gets.’
  • ‘I’m glad I’m not like that.’
  • ‘He should have known better.’
  • 'I would never do that.’
  • ‘There’s a special place in Hell for people like that.’

  • Matthew 23:27-28 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.

Now I am not calling anyone reading this devotion a Pharisee.  Because, as much as I hate to admit it, despite my heartfelt prayers for the lost, despite my desire to shine as a light in the lives of others and share the love and good news of Christ, I often find myself criticizing and judging others; and not in a concerned, loving or sympathetic way, but in an arrogant, intolerant and condemning way.

From the depths of my humanity, as my sin nature rises to the surface, forgetting that it is only by God’s mercy, love and grace that I surrendered my life to Christ, I find myself judging others.
  • Ephesians 2:4-5 But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),

As a child of God, I am called to do better that that!
  • Luke 6:27-28 “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you.
  • Luke 6:37-38 “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”

My only hope is to look in God’s Word, pray for understanding and acceptance of His view of the lost, and trust Him to continue His working in me to make me more like Jesus.
  • Jesus came to earth to save the lost.
    • Luke 4:18 “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;
    • Luke 19:10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
  • God’s desire if for everyone to be reconciled to Him.
    • Ezekiel 33:11 Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord God, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’
    • 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
    • 1 Timothy 2:3-4 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

But God's love for all and His desire to see everyone saved doesn't make Him a pushover.  He will not be mocked!  He will dispense grace and justice according to His perfect knowledge and righteousness.

And to go a step further, this doesn’t just apply to how we look at the lost. It also applies to how we think about our Christian brothers and sisters.
  • John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
  • Romans 14:4 Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.

It would be wrong to present the verses above as an ‘argument’ for how we should view others without also looking at a few of the verses that tells us about some of the things God ‘hates’. 
  • Proverbs 6:16-19 These six things the Lord hates, Yes, seven are an abomination to Him: 17 A proud look, A lying tongue, Hands that shed innocent blood, 18 A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that are swift in running to evil, 19 A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren.
    • These verses make very clear that God hates sin.
  • Psalm 11:5 The Lord tests the righteous, But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates.
  • James 4:4 Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
    • These verses tell us that God considers those who love sin as His enemy (those He has rejected/set aside). However, that doesn’t mean that He desires their destruction.

But to be absolutely clear, the Bible clearly teaches that if your sin debt has not been paid by the shed blood of Christ, you will spend eternity in Hell separated from God and His goodness.

So, practically speaking, how should Christians view those who fall short of the glory of God (which means every living person – Christians included)?

Hate the sin, love the sinner.


Father, help us to love others as You have commanded and equipped us to do. Help Your children to refrain from judging others. Please forgive me for where I fall short. Guide us in prayer for and Christ-like words and actions towards those who need salvation and those struggling with sin. I pray these things in the name of my Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Seeking Diligently

Seeking Diligently

  • Hebrews 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Over and over again I come back to Hebrews 11:6. I reference it in many of the devotions I write. I often talk about it in various conversations. I offer it as advice. I pray about it for myself and others.

So what does it mean to diligently seek God? Honestly, I don’t think anyone can give you a complete answer to this question. But, as with many of the deep questions we have about God and living a life that honors Him, there is one sure place to go for the answers, the Bible.

What I have included below is far from complete. But I believe these areas are critically important when it comes to our relationship with God and Seeking Diligently.

As Disciples of Christ, we should be:

Reading Daily
  • Acts 17:11 These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.
    • Spending quality time reading, studying and praying scripture is critical to our relationship with our creator. This is how we learn who God is, who we are as His children, what He has promised us, what He expects from us, and so much more. The Holy Spirit reveals the truth about God to us through His Word.

Praying Endlessly
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
    • Do you want to know what God’s Will is for you? The Bible has a lot to say about this; it’s much more about what God’s Word says than what you ‘feel’. This verse makes clear that joyful, constant* and grateful prayer is an important part of what God wants for you.
      • *Constant has to do with the content, commitment and consistency of your prayers.

Working Tirelessly
  • Matthew 25:21 His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’
    • If God wants you to do something, He will equip you to do it – even if that means failing. Sometimes it is about results. Sometimes it is about obedience. Sometimes it is about learning through failure. Sometimes it is about developing patience. Sometimes it is not about you at all!!
      • If you aren’t clear about the Biblical truth that we don’t/can’t work to earn or keep our salvation in Christ (forgiveness of our sin debt and eternal life in Heaven), please read the ‘When Work Doesn’t Work’ devotion posted on this site on April 26, 2015.

Giving Generously
  • Acts 20:35 I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
    • It’s simple, God has blessed you so you can bless others. You may need to give time, encouragement, stuff, money, empathy, compassion, talents, knowledge, skills… Some people say, ‘Give until it hurts.'  I say, ‘Give until you die; then die feeling really good about it!'

Trusting Completely
  • Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.
    • From an eternal perspective (which is what really matters), do you truly believe that God can or would do anything that isn’t in your best interest. We live in a fallen, messed-up world; sometimes the answers aren’t simple. But He always has the right answer and He is always in control.
      • Trust is about believing.

Submitting Totally
  • Acts 21:13-14 Then Paul answered, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 14 So when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, “The will of the Lord be done.”
    • Do you REALLY believe that God is in control? Completely surrendering the circumstances and consequences in your life to Him is not a natural act for sinful humanity. But with true faith and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, as we mature in Christ, as we experience His faithfulness, we can confidently and peacefully accept the happenings and outcomes that result from His plans.
      • Submission is about accepting.

Waiting Patiently
  • Psalm 27:14 Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!
    • We live in an impatient world: we want; we need; we deserve (at least we think, feel and believe). Father God knows best. He knows the who, what, when, where, and why. God will teach you patience.

Forgiving Totally
  • Mark 11:25-26 “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
    • Do you deserve the forgiveness that God has given, is giving and will give you? Think about that! Learn from that!! Live like that!!!

Loving Genuinely
  • Jesus showed true love (see John 19:30). Paul described true love (see 1 Corinthians 13:4-7). The Bible tells us who we are supposed to love.
    • Love God with all that you are
      • Mark 12:29-30 Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment.
    • Love those in need of mercy
      • Mark 12:31 And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
        • In the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), Jesus teaches us what the word neighbor means in the context of this command. Your neighbor is anyone in need of mercy!
    • Love other Christians
      • John 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
    • Love your enemies
      • Matthew 5:44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
  • If you missed it, as Christians, we are commanded to love everyone!

Shining Brightly
  • Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
    • We have been given the ability to shine as a bright light in a very dark place. Our light was not meant to be hidden under a basket. Who needs to see your light shine?

Living Faithfully
  • Colossians 1:10-11 that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy;
    • God has given His children the power and the desire to honor Him with our lives (see Acts 1:8 and Philippians 2:13). Surrender to it. Strive for it. Seek Him about it.

Seeking Diligently is about who you really are in Christ!
  • Psalm 119:1-3 Blessed are the undefiled in the way, Who walk in the law of the Lord! 2 Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, Who seek Him with the whole heart! 3 They also do no iniquity; They walk in His ways.
    • It is about what you do, how you do it and why you do it.
    • It is about what you think and desire; the longing to understand truth.
    • It is about obedience, priorities and commitment.
    • It is about the purposes and legacies of your life.
      • Psalm 119 is all about Seeking Diligently.

Are you Seeking Diligently? 
  • From the items listed above, which one challenges you the most? 
  • What did I not include in the list that really needs to be there?
  • Have a meaningful conversation with someone about this.
  • Pray to our Heavenly Father about this.


My God and King, I know I fall desperately short when it comes to diligently seeking. Forgive my preoccupation, selfishness, judgmental nature, laziness and excuses. Draw me close to You. Draw all Your children and all You are calling to salvation in Christ close to You. I praise You and thank You for Your patience and faithfulness. I pray these things in the name of Your only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.