Sunday, March 22, 2009

What's in Front of You?

What's In Front of You?
Mar 16, 2009
Matthew 5:29 "If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. . . "

You can only see what's in front of you. That statement, simple as it may sound, is rather profound. If something is not in front of us, then we aren't looking at it. This is also true for our minds. If something is not in the forefront of our minds, then we are not focusing on it, or dwelling on it. We have the ability to place things before our eyes and we have the ability to place things in the forefront of our minds, focusing on whatever we place before us. The things we choose or allow to be placed in the forefront of our minds or eyes could cause problems.

The Bible gives a rough solution for the things that are causing us a problem or allowing us to fall into sin. The Bible says if our eye allows us to fall into sin, then we should gouge it out. You and I know better than that; we know what controls the eyes. The Bible isn't really telling us that it is the fault of the eye if we fall into sin by what we see. But it is telling us that if we cannot control what we place in front of us, causing us to sin, then it would be better to cut out our eyes.

There is a slightly better solution to cutting out your eyes. Prevention. Prevention, essentially has the same effect as cutting out your eyes. If you cut out your eyes, you inhibit them from seeing anything that would cause you to fall into sin. If you prevent your eyes from seeing something by AVOIDING it or looking at something else, you've accomplished the same task AND saved your eyeballs. This is true in regard to your eyes' and mind's view.

If what you place in the forefront of your mind causes you to sin, don't cut out your mind, avoid thinking about it or think about something else. This is easier said than done. Remember, you can only see what is in front of you. If you place your past in front of you, that is all you'll see. If you place your hurts and failures in front of you, that is all you'll see. If you place your desires in front of you, that is all you'll see. On the flip side, if you place your future in front of you, that is all you'll see. If you place your hopes and dreams in front of you, that is all you'll see. If you place God's desire for you and your life in front of you, that is all you'll see.

Christian, it is time to start changing the scenery of your mind and start looking at something else. What you've been thinking about and looking at all this time is not helping you or accomplishing God's will for your life. You don't have to cut out your eyes, you can start looking at what God wants you to see. God wants you to see His beautiful plan for you and mankind. God wants you to see His hand in everything that is in your life. God wants you to see His redemption that is at work in your situations right now. God wants you to see HIM!

What's in front of YOU?

1. What have you been looking at or focusing on?
2. What should you be looking at or focusing on?
3. How could your life be changed if you only focused on what God placed before you?

Add. Scriptures for Study: Matt 18:9, Mark 9:4, 1 Cor 7:32-35, 2 Cor 10:5, Phil 4:8

Sufferings of Christ

Sufferings of Christ
Mar 9, 2009
Phil 3:10 "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death."

We live in a day and age when comfort is far more important than form. We'd prefer to have things feel right than actually be right. If it is what we want, then it is worth any extra price. We love people who fill our heads with what we want to hear and we tend to only have friends that give to us rather than take. We love sermons or messages that preach of God's goodness and intent to bless our lives. We love to hear pastors talk about God's will for us to be happy, full, and content, where God is more interested in making sure our lives are overflowing with blessing than endure hardship. We are to avoid this temptation when it comes to the Word of God, as scripture says, "...instead [of sound doctrine], to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear."

Despite the fact that we only actually listen to what we want to hear, there is another side to God's intent for our lives. Christ, though God wanted Him to have a full life, still had to suffer in His effort to fulfill God's will for His life. Specifically, Christ had to die for our sins. Though God does not intend for us to die for anyone's sins, God does want us to share in Christ's sufferings. Scripture is very clear that we are here on earth to serve God, not the other way around, and we are to follow Christ's example. The example to follow is not specifically Christ's death on the cross but His willingness to lay down His comfort for the will of God. God's goal for Christ was that He give up His desire to be comfortable if it meant God's will would be completed on this earth. THIS is the example we are to follow, to give up our desire to be comfortable, and accept situational suffering, if it means God's will is made complete here on earth.

Christian, your life will not be a completely comfortable ride. And just because things are not comfortable does not mean it is not God's will for your life. If we are to follow Christ's example of submitting our comfort and accepting a degree of suffering for God's will, then so be it. God's will can only be accomplished correctly if He is guiding the steps. God's will is that every man, woman, and child be saved and spend eternity in Heaven with Him. This consumes His thoughts and ideas, and God loves it when you submit your comfort if it means His will can be accomplished. There may be an extra person in Heaven someday because you laid down your situational comfort and accepted a degree of hardship or suffering in an effort to accomplish God's will. You never know what it will take to save a soul. Who knows what it cost someone else to make sure you had the opportunity to know God?

There is a flip side to the suffering as well. Just as we share in the suffering of laying down our will for the Lord's desire, so also will we share in Christ's glory in Heaven. That glory is not clearly defined in the Bible, but it is clear that we get to share in it. I'd prefer to share in even a small portion of Heaven's goodness and glory than any earthly comforts this world has to offer.

1. Do you only accept God's goodness for your life and not His suffering?
2. What would your life look like if you accepted and shared in Christ's suffering?
3. Do you desire more of your own comfort or God's will on this earth?

Add. Scriptures for Study: Rom 8:17, 2 Cor 1:5, 2 Tim 4:3, 1 Peter 1:11, 1 Peter 4:13, 1 Peter 5:1

Having Hope, Part II of II

Having Hope, Part II of II
Mar 2, 2009
Psalm 146:5 "Blessed is he whose . . . hope is in the Lord, his God . . ."

Understanding the correct definition of hope is critical to having hope, but it is not the most important part. Hope is about a longing, a desire. Since the correct definition of hope is Hoping God, the correct desire should be placed onto God. We are not desiring what God can do, we are desiring God. In desiring Him, we are able to desire all that encompasses God: His character, His being, His promises, His plans, and His future. In order for this to happen, we must first believe in God. This is not simply believing that God exists, but truly believing God and His Word.

If we truly believed God and His Word, then we would live our lives by it. Our actions would take on a whole different meaning. Consider the story of the three Jewish men and the fiery furnace. Recall that they would not bow down and worship a king, but would only worship God. The king was furious and had the three men thrown into the fire. The men were confident they were making the right decision, though, because they Hoped God. They said that their God was able to save them but even if He didn't, they would still not worship a man. Their actions showed that they believed God. They believed His character, His being, His promises, His plans, and His future. Because of this belief, they had hope. They knew they were making the right decision and left everything else up to God, Hoping God. They hoped God would work everything out according to how He saw fit and if not, they were confident they would spend eternity in Heaven with Him.

Christian, anytime the word hope appears in the Bible, it is a reference for the future (the future of us spending eternity in Heaven with God). If we truly believe God and His Word, trusting in His future for our lives, then we will be able to Hope God. It is a hope for a future with Him. But more than just eternity, it is hoping in all of the characteristics of God, including all that encompasses Him: His promises and His plans for you and your life. This is not hoping in the future that you envision for your life but hoping that God will work in and through you, giving you the life He has for you.

If God is in control of your life and you are hoping God, then no matter what happens in your future, you can rest assured that God will work out the details as He knows best. That best may be saving you from the fiery furnace or it may mean allowing the flames to consume your earthly body. Regardless, you have hope that God will work everything out according to His masterful design and that some day you will be in Heaven with Him. If you are truly hoping God, then no matter what outcome happens in your life or your desire for your future, it will be the right one according to God.

1. Are you believing God and in His future for your life?
2. If you truly believed God, what decisions would you make differently?
3. Is your hope in God and His future for you or for what you want in life?

Add. Scriptures for Study: Daniel 3, Psalm 65:5, Acts 24:15, Acts 26:6, Rom 15:13, Colossians 1:27

Having Hope, Part I of II

Having Hope, Part I of II
Feb 23, 2009
Psalm 42:6 " . . . Put your hope in God . . . "

What is hope? The dictionary might define hope as anticipating a desired future or expecting something with confidence. Then, there is the expression "hope against hope," which means to hope without any basis for expecting fulfillment. These nuances of the word hope carry with them the action of looking forward into the future, which is never concrete or certain. The future is never guaranteed and no one knows what will actually happen tomorrow or ten years from now. Yet hope requires aforethought of a future.

If we don't know what will happen in the future, how do we have hope? This is an important question, as many people feel they are in hopeless situations. The Bible is clear about how being hopeless makes a person feel. The words in scripture say the heart is sick; in our terms today, it would be considered depression. Many, many people are depressed, which might mean they are actually hopeless or their situation seems without hope. They are unsure or insecure about their future, therefore they are without hope.

This insecurity about the future is all very relative, it could be the near future or the far off future, but nonetheless, it is uncertain. ALL futures are uncertain, or have inherent risks in their projected outcomes. When someone has hope, they are obviously more certain of an outcome than someone else. OR, the person who is hopeless cannot be certain of a future that is better than the present. They are hopeless because they are certain nothing will get better in their future.

Even with a definition of hope, how do you have hope? Especially since no one can actually predict any sort of future, how do we have hope when we don't know what is to come. So far, I have created more questions than answers on how to have hope, but that is a good thing. Some people have hope when they really shouldn't, because they are actually hoping in the wrong thing or the wrong future. The Bible says we are to put our hope in God. Putting hope IN God doesn't necessarily put it in a future or a future expectation, but in the person and characteristics of God Almighty, the maker of Heaven and Earth. This changes the definition of hope a little and changes the perspective. Now we are not hoping for a future, we are hoping God. This sentence seems incomplete. Our human nature wants to read the sentence, "We are hoping God will (fill-in-the-blank)." This is not the case. We are hoping God.

The first step in having hope, then, is finding the correct definition. As Christians, the correct definition of hope is anticipating or expecting in God. Period. It is not anticipating or expecting that God will do something, it is simply anticipating and expecting God. That sentence reads awkwardly but it has the ability to change your world. If you are hoping for a specific outcome to your situation in life, you will be sadly mistaken. If you feel hopeless for your current situation in life, that can actually be a good thing. Hope God, not an outcome.

1. What situation in life are you without hope?
2. What is your current definition of hope?
3. How can you now re-define that hopeless situation?

Add. Scriptures for Study: Ps 25:5, Ps 62:5, Prov 13:12, Jer 14:22, I Tim 6:17, 1 Peter 1:21

Be Transformed by God

Be Transformed by God
Feb 16, 2009
2 Corinthians 3:18 ". . . being transformed into his likeness . . ."

There are three types of rock on this earth, sedimentary, igneous, and metamorphic. Sedimentary rock is formed from layers of sediment piling up on each other while igneous rock is molten lava that has cooled. Metamorphic rock is formed from substances being transformed by an intense amount of heat and pressure. For metamorphic rock to be made, the pressure is so great that there are profound physical and chemical changes to the original substances. The hardest and most valuable type of rock is metamorphic, with the most famous of these being a diamond.

We think of a diamond with its unchanging beauty, but to be transformed into that diamond it MUST undergo an intense amount of heat and pressure. To be changed, for the original substance to be altered, there is a great amount of work that must be applied. This is true in the formation of all metamorphic rocks and this is true of the 'rocks' inside your head. For you to be changed, Christian, from the person you are today, requires a degree of heat and pressure. It takes intense forces to be applied to your person in order to make you into an unchangeable, beautiful diamond.

Spiritually speaking, God wants you to be like a rock, like a diamond, an impenetrable force for Him. He can't use you for His purposes unless you are a rock, immovable in your position, unaffected by the influences of this world. If you press in to God and allow yourself to be transformed by Him, then nothing, not a single wind of change, will affect your character or your witness. God knows that if you've already been changed into a diamond, then no more amounts of heat and pressure this world has to offer will change you. Then and only then can you be most effective for Him.

Simon learned this lesson the hard way. Simon was a stubborn man but God wanted to use him. It took an intense amount of heat and pressure applied to Simon's life in order for him to become like a diamond, a rock the Lord could use. And Simon was tested to see just how hard he really was. Jesus even told Simon that Satan was the one who was going to test him, just to make sure Simon could and would stand for the Lord no matter what earthly influences would come his way. Then God gave Simon a new name: Peter, which means rock. Peter was truly transformed into that rock and Jesus said of Peter, "on this rock I will build my church."

Christian, you and I are not naturally occurring forces of impenetrable rock. We must be changed, transformed by God into the likeness of Christ, the original Rock. But that transformation process takes an intense amount of heat and pressure. You can apply that heat and pressure by yourself and truly press in to God, or you can allow God to apply that heat and pressure for you. I recommend you pressing into Him. If God has to press into you, it might not be very comfortable.

1. How are you pressing into God so you may be transformed by Him?
2. What would it take for you to be made into that rock?
3. Are you ready to be tested to see how impenetrable you are as a rock?

Add. Scriptures for Study: Gen 49: 24, Ps 94:22, Is 26:4, Matt 16:18, Luke 22:31, Philippians 3:12-14

Undivided Heart

Undivided Heart
Feb 9, 2009
Psalm 86:11 ". . . give me an undivided heart . . ."

King David was said to be a man after God's own heart. It was not a title that David gave to himself, but one that God bestowed upon him. David loved God and truly wanted to follow in God's footsteps, but that doesn't mean it was an easy thing for him to do. David often cried out to God for help; one of those cries was "give me an undivided heart." David recognized in himself the tendency to live for God one moment and then to live for himself the next. This battle, this tugging back and forth of the heart, was a position in which David was not content to stay. David wanted his heart, his mindset, to always be set on God. David wanted to live at all times as a spiritual man, not a fleshly man.

This same battle lives on in you and me today, the battle of dividedness. One day our hearts can be set on God and truly serving Him, and the next day we can be set on serving ourselves and managing things our way. It is an issue, a condition, of control. If we decide to live for God, we give control of everything over to Him. Only then can our hearts be undivided, or truly dedicated to Him. If we try to control or even manage things ourselves letting human intervention in, then our hearts are not set on Him; we are divided or double-minded. James, the brother of Jesus, spoke very pointedly about being double-minded. This man cannot expect to please God because his heart, his mindset, is divided: one eye on God and one eye on the earthly situation.

President Abraham Lincoln completely understood the principle of being divided. He gave his famous "House Divided" speech in which he quoted Matthew 12:25 saying, "a house divided against it's self cannot stand." Lincoln was saying that if something were to survive and prosper, then it must be united in its purpose. This is true of all earthly kingdoms, especially the earthly kingdom of a man's heart.

The divided heart manifests itself in so many ways: Hoping for a physical healing but doubting it will actually happen; trusting God with the solution for a specific situation but still worrying about it; declaring that God is in control but still trying to manage things with earthly wisdom; having confidence in a success but fearing its future failure; giving tithes and offerings to the church while coveting a blessing from God. This list could go on.

Christian, your spiritual growth requires attention to an undivided heart. If you are going to be mature in your walk with God, then your focus must continually be one of letting God take control of your life where you are truly of the spiritual mindset at all times. This is not an easy task; as you can see, even King David struggled with it. But, it is something that can be done and should be addressed every day of your life. Like the phrase, "take up your cross daily and follow Jesus," having an undivided heart is an ongoing mindset that must be renewed on a daily basis.

1. In what areas of your heart are you divided?
2. How can you give those areas over to the Lord?
3. How will you do this on a daily basis?

Add. Scriptures for Study: Psalm 119:113, Ez 11:19, Matt 12:25, Luke 9:23, Rom 12:2, James 1:8, James 4:8

I'd Rather Have Jesus Than...

I'd Rather Have Jesus Than...
Feb 2, 2009
Mark 8:36 "What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?"

I'd rather have Jesus than . . . $1million dollars

That's right. I'd rather have Jesus than $1million dollars. There is an old hymn with some very powerful words; many of you can sing it. Just a few of the different lines clarify the song writers' intent: "I'd rather have Jesus than silver or gold . . . I'd rather have Jesus than houses or land . . . I'd rather have Jesus than men's applause . . ." The words of this song really won't make much sense to you unless you truly have nothing but Jesus. When you have nothing in this world, you begin to look around and see how comfortable your life could be if you only had a few more things. Undoubtedly, there is something that could change your life in an instant. Everyone can think of an amount of money that would change their life. Everyone can imagine how the right spouse or the right job would complete their existence on this earth. Or maybe the words of this old hymn might make more sense to you if you had that one "thing" and it was taken away from you.

The worldly person pursues these things; the worldly person longs after the windfall of money that would change their life. This dreaming for some "thing" will only end up a disappointment, as all things are very, very temporary. Just as these things can be brought into your life, they can be taken away. Then, where would you be? You'd be right at the beginning again, wishing you could just have that one "thing" that could/would change your life. The Lord never intended for some "thing" to satisfy or change your life. He intended that a relationship with Him be all that you desire and all that you should need.

In fact, the Lord is clear that you should desire Him first and foremost. He knows what you need, and He even knows what you want. But He is not impressed when you pursue these things on your own. God wants you to pursue one thing only, a relationship with Him. The scriptures say very clearly that the Lord knows you need many "things" in life, but that you should seek Him first. If you do, then He will take care of all those "things" you think are missing. If you truly had a right relationship with God, He would give you all the things you need and nothing less. He is able, more able than you can imagine, to provide even for all your "wants." God is the giver of all things and if He gives it, no one can take it away.

If you didn't have Jesus, no amount of worldly gain would do you any good, because when you died, all your fame and fortune would not go with you into Hell. Then what would you have? But no one can take away your relationship with God, not even death, because in death, you would enter eternity in Heaven with Him. Then, only then, will you have EVERYTHING.

1. What one "thing" would it take to change your life forever?
2. Ask the Lord to help you put your relationship with Him above that "thing."
3. How can you make sure your desire is for more of Him and not anything else?

Add. Scriptures for Study: Psalm 37:4, Matt 6:33, Matt 16: 26, Luke 9:25, 1 John 4:4

Sleeping Church

Sleeping Church
Jan 26, 2009
Rev 3:1-2 " have a reputation for being alive, but you are dead. Wake up..."

A few nights ago, the Lord gave me a dream, a vision, representing the state of the church. The Lord has pressed on my heart the need to share it in a Devotional Byte with you. In the dream I was in the near future, visiting a church I had previously attended for years. Because I wasn't a regular member anymore, I was locked out until someone I knew let me in a side door. At first, I only knew the church because it was in the same location as before, but I soon began to recognize all the old church members from years ago. The church had doubled in size since I had been there last and the improvements to the property and building were amazing. The church service was beginning and I kept my eyes opened, surprised to see some unusual things.

I looked around and saw the stage took up half of the sanctuary; it was elaborate and the number of people on the worship team was many. It was an impressive show of talent, musical and theatrical, with a great degree of emotion. I glanced around at the congregation and was disheartened by the peculiar sight. Instead of pews or chairs, the congregation members were reclining in beds, sitting against pillows with the covers pulled up tightly. They were simply resting on their backs, watching the theatrics on the stage, being entertained by the sound and light display.

I looked around further and in the wings of the sanctuary were still other members of the congregation on the side lines. These people were standing behind tiki bars, sipping intoxicating beverages and smoking cigarettes. They were mingling in social conversation with a few of them dancing to a separate source of music. A sign hung above these people, suggesting they were standing in the seeker sensitive section. I became disgusted with what I saw and determined to leave the church service at once. Then I awoke from my dream.

Though I do not consider myself a prophet, after praying about the dream, the Lord has lead me to a passage in the Bible, describing exactly this church. This church was written about by the apostle John in the book of Revelation, a church called Sardis. He describes a church who is asleep, refusing to awaken to what is going on in the body of Christ or the leading of the Lord. The Lord is clear to pronounce judgment on this church for allowing themselves to fall into such a state. It is apparent that this church is an example of what some churches will look like in these last days, coming to the end of times.

While none of us goes to a church where the things in my dream literally happen, it is a wake up call to keep ourselves on guard to what could happen and will happen in these last days. The dream was about a church who clearly fell asleep to the leading of the Lord but had determined to grow in size and membership (obviously, in the wrong manner). It is possible to grow and sustain a church while being asleep to the leading of the Lord, but the end result will look similar to the church of Sardis. We must be careful to always submit ourselves to the leading of the Lord in our churches and determine to grow our churches in the correct manner: preaching the good news of Jesus while training through the scriptures, constantly challenging everyone to become Christ-like.

1. What does your church look like?
2. What safeguards have you set in place to avoid falling asleep?
3. Determine that you will not stay in such a church.

Additional Scriptures for Study: Rom 13:11, Eph 5:14, Rev 2, Rev 3

Who Does God Choose

Who Does God Choose?
Jan 19, 2009
Jonah 3:1 "The Word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time..."

Lessons From Jonah, II of II

The story of Jonah casts a unique light on the choices God makes in individuals. In the book of Jonah we see that God clearly picked Jonah to carry out God's tasks. After learning of Jonah's failures, why would God have chosen him? Certainly God foresaw the mistakes and failures Jonah would make, why chose him in the first place? No one, today, would pick Jonah as a leader or choose Him to represent God before mankind. Just look at all Jonah's winning personality traits...

We find that Jonah is downright defiant, openly stubborn, arrogant in voicing his opinions to God, a whiner and a complainer, and then wallows in self pity. None of these qualities jumps off the page suggesting Jonah's candidacy for leadership. And it is doubtful Jonah only displayed these characteristics in this particular story. For Jonah to display all these fantastic qualities means he was like that from the beginning. After all, men of God usually get better with age, not worse.

So why in the world would God choose Jonah? Surely there was a more model candidate. Not so. God was deliberate in selecting Jonah. God chose Jonah because Jonah displayed three amazing characteristics that you and might not possess.

First, we find that Jonah was a listener. He listened to the voice of God. Somewhere along Jonah's lifetime, he developed the acuity to hear God's voice over every other noise in the world. Jonah could distinguish God's voice because he had developed his listening abilities and knew, undeniably, what the voice of the Lord sounded like. God chose Jonah because he could hear God's voice.

Secondly, we find that Jonah was available. Jonah was available to do God's work. Jonah had been available in the past and God new Jonah would clear his schedule and carry out the work of the Lord. God knew Jonah would be available this time and probably more times in the future. God chose Jonah because he was available.

Thirdly, we find that Jonah was not perfect, but very, very fallible. This is actually a very good quality to have, in the Lord's eyes. God does not pick the mighty or the proud, or the skilled, or the learned, or the leaders of this world. He picks people that are willing to let God work in and through them despite their inabilities. God purposely chooses the foolish things of this world because, for some strange reason, He delights in bringing shame to the world's wisdom. God chose Jonah because he was not the "perfect" candidate.

If you and I were to display these characteristics before the Lord (an imperfect but available listener), then it is likely God would choose you and I for some amazing tasks. If God hasn't called on you to perform some amazing tasks, it is likely you are lacking in one of these three characteristics. I'd start with learning to hear His voice. He's probably trying to call on you right now.

1. What does the voice of the Lord sound like?
2. Would you be available if you actually heard His voice speak to you?
3. Are you too focused on being the "perfect" candidate?

Additional Scriptures for Study: 2 Kings 14:25, Jonah 1:1, Luke 11:32, 1 Cor 1:27

The God of Second Chances

The God of Second Chances
Jan 12, 2009
Jonah 3:1 "The Word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time..."

Lessons From Jonah, I of II

The story of Jonah and the Whale is all too familiar, even if you've never darkened the door of a church. It is so familiar, that we miss a few great lessons from this small book of the Bible. Recall the story; Jonah is told by God to go and preach salvation to a horrible, horrible people group. Jonah disobeys God and ends up in the belly of a fish. After three days, Jonah gets spit up on dry ground. He ends up preaching to these wicked people who actually listen and turn their lives around. It is a great story of compassion for such a wicked, wicked nation.

There is another lesson, though, that we skim over. Go back to the point of Jonah being in the belly of the big fish. Jonah ended up in the fish because he messed up by disobeying God. Jonah prayed out to God and asked for forgiveness. God heard the prayer and had the fish deliver Jonah to safety. Then God gave Jonah a second chance. This second chance is a big deal. The people Jonah was told to reach were going to receive their FIRST chance at repentance if Jonah had met his destination. But Jonah, his first chance was already given BEFORE he ended up in the belly of a fish. Thankfully, God is the God of second chances. God heard Jonah's prayer and gave him a second chance to get it right.

In fact, God forgave Jonah to the point of giving him a fresh start. God's fresh start, God's do-over for Jonah, started in the same manner as the original story. In the first part of the story, it opens with the lines, "the Word of the Lord came to Jonah..." After Jonah messed up, God hit rewind on the story and started at the very beginning again. Scripture says, "The Word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time..." It was the SAME "word!" God didn't just have Jonah go on his way again and pick up where he left off; God made sure to start over for Jonah. God was letting Jonah know it was a fresh start. God made sure Jonah knew it was a do-over because God wanted to reassure Jonah of His forgiveness and He wanted a clean slate between them.

God did that for Jonah and God will do that for you. Part of God's character is His perfect forgiveness, the kind of forgiveness that gives do-overs and second chances. God doesn't just have you pick up where you left off; He rewinds to the point of beginning again. But notice that He didn't give Jonah a new story or new task; it was a second chance at God's original design.

Every one of us has done something that we wish we could begin again. With God, that is possible. God gives second chances and He has a do-over for you. He wants you to ask forgiveness and start over with Him. God is willing to wipe the slate clean and start YOUR story at the very beginning again. He is willing to go again at His original design.

Thank God for do-overs.

1. In what area of life do you need a do-over?
2. Ask God to forgive you and give you that second chance.
3. Determine this time around, you're going to do it right.

Additional Scriptures for Study: Psalm 103:3, Jonah 1, Jonah 3, Acts 10:43, Heb 13:8

God Wants You Satisfied

God Wants You Satisfied
Jan 5, 2009
Psalm 103:5 "...who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagles."

In today's world, the word 'satisfy' gets easily confused with opulence or over indulgence. The word 'satisfy' actually means, in our language, to come to the point of being full, unlike Thanksgiving Day when we gorge ourselves to the point of getting fat. God does not want you to be fat, but He does want you to be satisfied. To be satisfied, you get to a point of being full, in a healthy manner, without getting to the point of harmful excess.

There is no doubt that God wants you satisfied, but there is the question of the 'things' with which you should/could be satisfied. Giving a child candy until he is satisfied is unhealthy. The candy itself is harmful and the child doesn't know when to stop; he doesn't understand the meaning of full. You and I are that way. We have in mind what we would like to be satisfied with and don't know when to stop. God says that He wants to satisfy us with good things. That 'good things' needs a definition and a specific quantity.

In scripture, 'good' is a word that is used for specific situations. In Genesis, God looked at His initial creation and called it 'good.' In the New Testament, the message of Jesus is described as being 'good news.' In God's dictionary, 'good' means having to do with His plan and will for mankind. There is even a phrase in scripture that describes God's 'will' as being good and perfect. When God says that He wants to satisfy our desires with 'good things,' He is saying that He wants to satisfy our desires with the things that are His will for our lives. If it is not His will for our lives, then it can potentially be harmful. Yes, candy is good in our human terms but it is not healthy. This is the same way with the things in life with which we try to satisfy ourselves.

This is not to say that God's will for your life is not as sweet as candy, but it is satisfying to the point of refreshing our entire beings. Candy is not refreshing or invigorating. Candy is not strengthening or vitalizing, God's will is. God's will is so full of life, refreshing and invigorating in strength. His will is good and when you have a desire in your heart, allow God to fill it with His will. It is better to allow God to fill your desires with refreshing strength than trying to fill it with a sugar high on your own.

And as to the amount of those 'good things,' it is best to let the Lord determine when to stop. In fact, I doubt you could handle all of the good things He has in store for you. You allow God to give you such a small amount of Himself and His will for your life because you're afraid of how it might change things. I've got news for you, His good and perfect will for your life is amazing and when God is satisfying your desires, you won't be able to contain what He has for you.

If you aren't being satisfied, you are trying to fill your life with things that are not God's will for you.

1. What 'things' are you trying to fill your life with?
2. Are you open to His will for the satiation of your desires?
3. What would it look like if you were actually satisfied?

Additional Scriptures for Study: Gen 1, Psalm 37:4, Psalm 145:16-19, Matt 7:11, Matt 9:35, Rom 10:15

The Tongue of Life

The Tongue of Life
Dec 29, 2008
Proverbs 18:21 "The tongue has the power of life and death..."

Your life has been influenced by the words of others. Whether you admit it or not, many people have spoken things to you in the past that dictate some of your thoughts and actions today. Those words can be attributed to some of your successes and failures, your insecurities and confidences. It is easy to remember those words so rashly spoken, you can quote them backwards and forwards. In fact, you do quote them over and over, in your mind. You will always remember the time when someone encouraged you and said you could do it. You will never forget the time someone called you a ....

We were all created in God's image and, like God, have the power to speak things into existence. In the opening lines of the Bible, God spoke the whole world into existence. He said, "Let there be light." There was light. Though we don't have the power to actually create light, we do have the power of life and death over another human being and ourselves through the strength of our tongues. Our words are very important and more powerful than anyone can imagine. I used to work with a man who would say to me, "saying it makes it so." He was declaring that if we said it could be done, then it would be done. This is true in regard to your words about others and what you say to them. You know this to be true by the words others have spoken to you and about you.

Though we cannot control the words other people say, we do have the power to decide how it will affect us. Even if someone says something we know to be false, playing it over and over again in our memories slowly makes it become true to us. We begin to believe it and even live our lives by it. We must decide what we are going to listen to and determine we are going to listen and believe only what God says is true. Once we start believing something, we begin to be changed and live our lives according to it.

We must use the Word of God and weigh everything that is said to us against what Scripture declares to be true. The Bible says we are to take every thought/idea a captive and make it obedient to Christ. This means if the Bible says it is not true, then we are to cast it out of our minds and never repeat it. Conversely, if what is said parallels Scripture, we are to play it over and over again, believing it and living our life by it. Below are a few powerful words that parallel Scripture well--you must decide to believe them and live your life by them.

You are loved and are loveable.
God has a call and purpose for your life.
You are an overcomer and are more than a conqueror.
God wants you to have abundant life here on this earth.
Satan wants you defeated, yet he is the only one actually defeated.

1. What words have you been listening to that are actually false?
2. Weigh those words against Scripture and determine not to listen.
3. What words from Scripture do you need to listen to and start believing?

Additional Scriptures for Study: Gen 1:3, Rom 8:28, Rom 8:37, 2 Cor 10:5, Philippians 4:8, James 1

God's Provision at Christmas

God's Provision at Christmas
Dec 22, 2008
Matthew 2:11 "...they presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh."

The birth of Jesus was not as glorious a birth experience as we would have in today's society. Joseph and Mary had to travel away from their home and family at a time that was not convenient or conducive to giving birth. In fact, when they arrived at their destination, there wasn't even a place for them to stay. Hence the phrase, "no room in the inn." They had to sleep in a barn, where Mary gave birth to Jesus with cows and donkeys to greet Him when He entered into this world. She wrapped Him in cloth and placed Him in a manger, the feed trough for the animals. Shepherds were the first humans to arrive to see the blessed child; they had been told to look for a baby swaddled in cloths and placed in a manger.

The points of 'swaddled in cloths and placed in a manger' are significant. You wouldn't have to say those words unless those events occurred out of the ordinary. It suggests that Mary and Joseph didn't have the wealth to provide any better for Jesus. He was placed in the manger because there was no room for them in the inn. Had Joseph been rich or famous, someone would have MADE a place for them to stay, given up their own room, or even sold them their own room. The President of the United States would not have to sleep outside, someone would MAKE a place for Him to stay, but Joseph and Mary were "nobodies." They didn't even have money enough for proper newborn clothes. Jesus was wrapped in an adult's set of clothing or simply a large piece of cloth, maybe a blanket. Joseph and Mary were not people of means.

Enter the Magi, the wise men from the East. They saw the star above Jesus in the manger and decided to pay tribute. When they arrived to see baby Jesus, they presented Him with gifts. Aside from the gifts being tokens of honor, they were a way for Joseph and Mary to provide for Jesus in the days and weeks surrounding His birth, should the need have presented itself. It is probable Joseph sold or traded them for necessary provisions, either for travel, safety, or simply food. The Bible does not say directly how Joseph and Mary used those gifts for Jesus, but if they didn't have money, which was clearly the case, it is probable those gifts were a way to provide for Jesus' needs at just the right time.

The point, Christian, is this. The birth of Jesus was ordained by God. Since God ordained the life of Jesus, He also ordained the provision for Him and His family at Christmas. God used those Magi to make a provision for Jesus; God can do that for you. At a time when money is tight, it is easy to get scared about paying for groceries and the mortgage, but God will provide. This is not about getting gifts under the Christmas tree, but true provision for you and your family. If God has ordained something, He will certainly provide for it. Maybe your ministry needs provision. If God has ordained your work or your ministry, then He will provide for it. Christian, your life is ordained by God and He WILL provide for you. It may seem you don't have the means, but at just the right time, you can expect the "Magi" to show up. Trust me, God has ordained it.

1. Does it seem provision for your need is far off?
2. Are you trusting that God has ordained the provision?

Additional Scriptures for Study: Job 38:41, Psalm 65:9, Matt 2, Luke 2, Philippians 4:19, 1 Tim 6:17

The Right Gift at Christmas

The Right Gift at Christmas
Dec 15, 2008
John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only Son..."

At a time with the economy gloomy and jobs scarce, I opened my door on a recent, unseasonably warm winter day to find a man standing there with his three teenaged children. He was going door-to-door asking if there was any yard work he could perform for a very reasonable rate. Never the one to pay someone to do yard work, my heart leapt with compassion for this man and quickly gave him the go ahead. Not that I am abounding in extra funds this holiday season, but my heart certainly went out to him, wondering if my few dollars in his pocket would go toward Christmas presents or the electric bill.

I know what it is like to humble myself for my family's well being and I do know what it is like to need the extra money to put food on the table for a growing family. But the man's rate was so inexpensive that I felt guilty paying him and his children such a small hourly wage. It was soon clear how I could bless him. I grabbed my coat and shoes, rushing out the door with fresh drinks in my hands for the four of them. After offering everyone a thirst quencher, I pulled along side them and added myself to their work force for the job he had bid to perform. Still, not thinking it enough of a blessing, I determined in my heart to double his hourly rate.

The Lord was quickening my heart for this family man the whole time in an effort to make sure he left my home with a blessing. Not wealthy with money myself, I prayed for a way to give to him. The Lord spoke loud and clear. God reminded me that not all gifts are monetary or come in nicely wrapped packages. In fact, the greatest gift ever given was God's own Son for the eternal salvation of our sins. I was generous to offer the gift of money but greedy to offer this family man the gift of eternal salvation. I knew I was supposed to share my faith with him; maybe he and his children would go to Hell if they died that night.

We all know that Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, but we forget to give HIM as a gift. We easily get caught up in buying the right present for people but forget about the gift they need most, Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Maybe you and your family all know Christ as Savior, but surely there is someone on your Christmas list who does not have Jesus living in his/her heart. For them, the right gift cannot be bought in a store and no gift card will suffice. The only gift worth giving them is the security of going to Heaven with Christ as Lord of their life.

This Christmas, make sure everyone on your list has had the opportunity to receive Christ in their hearts. Yes, in this economy, monetary gifts are very welcomed, but not nearly as important as the gift of Christ. Find a way to bless everyone that you buy presents for this year. Determine in your heart that if they are receiving a gift from you under the tree or in a small gift exchange at work, that you will ALSO share the gift of eternal salvation. Share with them that Christ lives in your heart and that it is the greatest gift ANYONE can receive.

I had a great opportunity to share my faith with this family and I even got a chance to pray with them, standing outside in my yard. And yes, I blessed them financially as well.

1. Who are you giving presents to this year?
2. How will you share your faith with everyone on that gift list?
3. Will you endeavor to offer the gift of Christ alongside ALL your gifts?

Additional Scriptures for Study: Is 9:6, Rom 6:23, 1 Thes 5:9, Heb 9:23

A Word From the Lord

A Word From the Lord
Dec 8, 2008
Jeremiah 33:3 "Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know."

When my wife and I were first dating and for the first two years of our marriage, we used to take long walks with each other, several times a week. Before moving to the mid-west, we lived in an ocean-front community and the boardwalk was only a few minutes from us. We lived three blocks from the ocean and would go on amazing walks together, just spending time together and deepening our relationship. Even though there were hundreds of people all around us, we could tune everything out and enjoy each other’s fellowship. Those routine walks were an opportunity for us to talk to each other, to speak to each other, and to truly communicate what was on our hearts.

Many Christians walk through this life and never hear the Lord speak to them. Though they may have never actually heard His voice, they constantly seek a word from His lips, something He would say just to them. Even those who have heard the Lord speak to their hearts patiently await the next time He would deliver a message whispered in their ear. We go to church and desire to hear what God would say directly to us, afraid of feeling we are not really that special or deserving of a word from God into our lives. I must say, I am certainly guilty of this. I long for a fresh word from the Lord’s lips every day. I want to believe I am special enough that the Lord would speak to me and encourage my heart.

But in order to hear from God, you must first be close enough to listen. This is not a lesson of proximity but one of fellowship. You cannot hear someone speak to you when you don’t walk closely with Him on a regular basis. And walking closely with someone on a regular basis is what gives you that deep and intimate relationship where He can speak to you and truly communicate what is on His heart. For us Christians, those daily walks with God start with time reading our Bibles on a daily basis and it goes on from there. It is in the daily quiet time, alone with God, where He will speak directly into your heart and fill it with unimaginable secret.

There is good news today. God does have a word specifically for you and to you. God desires so much that you hear His voice and listen to what He wants to tell you. He wants to tell you something, whisper words to your ear that no one else is allowed to hear. God told me to tell you the first part of His message to you. Today, God would say to you, “I do love you and I want so badly to spend time with you. Every day I long for the opportunity to speak to you in our personal time together, only I never get those routine walks alone with you, the time our relationship needs to develop intimacy. I have so much to tell you and I even have a solution to that problem you have been trying to solve…”

The rest, Christian, He will tell you Himself, in your personal time with Him.

1. What is it that you want to talk to God about?
2. What does your daily personal walk with the Lord look like?
3. What do you want your daily personal walk to look like?

Add. Scriptures for Study: Gen 6:9, Ex 34:29, 1 Cor 1:9, 1 John 1:3, 1 Thes 2:13

Hell Insurance, Part II of II

Hell Insurance, Part II of II
Dec 1, 2008
I John 2:9 "Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in darkness"

As stated in Part I of this series, entrance to Heaven is simple and easy. It is the simple formula of Romans 10:9, where you confess with your mouth that "Jesus is Lord" and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead. Remember, confessing "Jesus is Lord" is where He actually becomes Lord of your life. This issue of Lordship can be very tricky if you retain control over your own life. By that, I mean, once you become a Christian, your life is not your own and you may no longer live according to whatever it is you decide to do.

This is not God becoming the dictator of your life, but desiring that you give Him access to every area of your life for Him to influence. It is simply a willingness to hand over your sinful or fleshly desires and consider how He would want you to think and act. This is what Lordship means for you: that you would submit to Him in every area of your life and be conformed to His likeness.

You may put on a good show for everyone else and be considered a good person, but the Lord is not fooled. He knows which areas of your life you are not turning over to Him. He knows which areas of your life do not look like Him. If these areas are not turned over to Him, you are in jeopardy of Hell. The Bible is very clear about these areas: hatred toward others, love of self, gossip, idolatry, sexual impurity, murder... Sure, we can see how God might filter out a murderer, but come on, gossip? Yep. Those who gossip have no place in Heaven. You can gossip once and not be in jeopardy of Hell but if you don't allow the Lord to remove that from your life then He is not Lord of your life.

If you do not allow the Lord to remove your hatred toward that crazy co-worker then you are in jeopardy of Hell. Please listen carefully; it is not one or two sinful acts that will get you to Hell, but a lifelong journey where the Lord is never allowed to change you. Once you decide that He is Lord of your life, it is your job to give Him access to every area of your life, even your personality flaws. If you do not grant Him access to change every area of your life, then He is not Lord of your life. If He is not Lord of your life, then you WILL be going to Hell. When He is Lord of your life, every part of your life will slowly begin to look more and more like Him. If you are not constantly being transformed by Him then you should question who is in control of your life. You are allowed to be imperfect; you are just not allowed to stay that way.

1. Have you given Him access to EVERY area of your life?
2. Identify two areas where God is not Lord of your life.
3. Endeavor to give Him access to those areas, lest you decide He is not Lord.

Additional Scriptures for Study: Romans 10:9, I Cor 6:9, I John 3:15, I John 4:20, I John 2:15-17

Hell Insurance, Part I of II

Hell Insurance, Part I of II
Nov 24, 2008
Romans 10:9 "That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord"..."

Many people think they are going to Heaven and who am I to argue. Entrance to Heaven is very easy to attain but it is not based on what you might think. Getting to Heaven is not based on your behavior as a person. It doesn't matter what you did in life or whether you were a good person. It doesn't matter how much you volunteered or how much money you gave. There is a simple, yet not-so-simple, formula for getting into Heaven.

If you want to insure you stay away from the gates of Hell, the formula is this: "...confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." Sounds simple, right? In fact, many people make this their prayer on their death bed and make it to Heaven. Anyone, anywhere, anytime, can make this their prayer and be saved from Hell. If it is so easy, then what's the catch?

The catch is this. You are confessing that "Jesus is Lord." This does not mean you are confessing He is Lord over this earth or Lord up in Heaven. When you confess this, you are saying He is Lord over YOUR life. You are confessing who is now in charge and control of your life; it is not you. If you say the right words yet retain control over your life, you will be going to Hell!

How can this be so? The Bible says very clearly that Satan knows exactly who Jesus is. Satan knows that God raised Jesus from the dead and knows He is Lord over everything. But Satan will never confess that Jesus is Lord over his own life. If you were to question the demons, they could testify that Jesus was raised from the dead and they know for a fact Jesus is Lord over everything, but Jesus is not Lord over their lives. Satan and his demons will not be going to Heaven.

The issue of lordship over your life is so important that you could be standing before God someday and Jesus might say, "I never knew you." This is not because He didn't know your name but because He didn't know you wanted Him to be Lord of your life. You can perform miracles in the name of Jesus, but if He is not Lord of your life, you will be going to Hell. It is estimated that more than 60% of people who call themselves a Christian will not make it to Heaven--all because they never made Jesus Lord over their lives.

If you have spent your whole life in church and never understood this, then it is time to give Jesus control over your life. You must let Him be Lord of EVERY area of your life. If you have been a Christian all your life but are taking back control, then it is time to get your life right. If Jesus is not Lord over your entire life, you will be going to Hell. If this devotional has given you doubt of your eternal salvation, you owe it to yourself to make sure Jesus is Lord over your life. Please, please, read the additional scriptures for study at the bottom of this page. I'd like to see you in Heaven someday.

1. Have you said the words but never given Jesus control over your life?
2. Have you been a Christian but are taking back control over your life?
3. Do you make Him Lord of your life, EVERYDAY?

Additional Scriptures for Study: Matt 7:22-24, Luke 9:23, Ephesians 2:9, Romans 10:10, Philippians 2:11, James 2:9, 2 Tim 1:9

Sacrifice of Praise

Sacrifice of Praise
Nov 17, 2008
Hebrews 13:15 "...let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise..."

King David, in 2 Chronicles, was out at war and needed to offer a sacrifice to God as a payment for David's own sin. He went to a man who lived nearby and asked if he could build an altar on his land in order to offer the sacrifice to God. The man complied and even donated the land and the oxen for the sacrifice. But David interrupted the man and said, "I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing."

What is important about David's response to the man was the condition of David's heart. David knew the value of the sacrifice to God and to himself. He knew if he offered a sacrifice to God that didn't cost him anything, then it wasn't really a sacrifice. David would have given up nothing out of his own time, money, and resources; the offering would have no meaning. The meaning was so important that David insisted on it costing him, as David wanted to be the one to make the sacrifice.

Today, you and I don't offer burnt offerings (sin offerings) up to God. Jesus Christ was that burnt offering, or sacrificial sin offering. Jesus suffered on the cross, not because He was excited to do it, but to end anyone having to make a sin offering. If Jesus was the final offering for our sins, then how do we offer up to God a sacrifice that costs us something? How do we make sure our hearts are like David's?

In Hebrews 13:15, the scripture says we should continually offer up to God the sacrifice of praise. The sacrifice of praise, in this instance, is an actual utterance from our lips and takes the place of us having to make a sin offering. Yes, there are other forms of praise to the Lord, but specifically, it is talking about what comes out of our mouths to praise and glorify Him. That praise, in this verse, is a direct response to God having already forgiven our sins. It is praise for Him and His amazing work in our lives that He completed 2,000 years ago on the cross.

You may not feel like praising the Lord at every given instant of the day, but I am confident you have done enough sinning to require a burnt offering every instant of the day. Every moment of the day is a chance to praise and thank God, with your lips, for the sacrificial offering of Jesus on the cross for the forgiveness of your sins. Do it in remembrance of Jesus' sacrifice on the cross for your own personal salvation.

And if you have no other thing to praise the Lord for, do it because it will bring Him honor, even if you are not excited to do it. If you still can't think of anything in your current situation to praise Him for, do it anyway. It's a sacrifice because He deserves it even when you don't feel like it. It's OK if it costs you something.

1. How often each day do you praise Him for dying on the cross for you?
2. How often each day do you praise Him when you don't feel like it?
3. How often each day do you praise Him?

Add. Script. for Study: 2 Chron 24:24, Pslm 34:1, Pslm 54:6, Pslm 148, Luke 7:36-43

Such a Time as This

Such a Time as This
Nov 10, 2008
Esther 4:14 " have come [into your] position for such a time as this."

In the book of Esther, we find a young woman who, through a series of unique events, has become a queen. She happens to be Jewish and there is a nationwide plot and plan to annihilate all the Jews, herself included. She is begged by her uncle to reveal her Jewish identity to the king, risk her life, and attempt to stop the genocide. Her uncle reassures her that it might have been God who placed her in the position as queen in order to do just as he is hoping. It turns out he was right. Esther risked her life, but because of her position as queen she was able to bring about the safety of all Jews, thereby protecting the future lineage of Jesus Christ.

Christian, your life may not have turned out how you expected. You might find yourself in a unique or undesirable situation. You might find yourself having experienced a great degree of "luck." Whatever it is, you have been placed there, exactly by the Lord's design, to accomplish something for Him. I don't know what that is and you may not know until the time comes, but there may be some very significant tasks the Lord has for you to do. And the only way you could accomplish it is through the exact position and situation in life you find yourself in right now.

Throughout the Bible we see countless times when God placed certain people in specific places to do just what He had for them at that EXACT moment. Joseph was enslaved and later became second to pharaoh, with the purpose to preserve the nation of Israel. Moses was exiled for forty years in the desert, with the purpose of leading the people of Israel through the desert, out of slavery. A woman, saved from a life of sin, had a jar of perfume worth a year's salary; she poured all of it on Jesus' feet specifically to prepare Him for burial. Jesus spent an entire 33 years on this earth so He could be crucified on the cross to save your life from eternal damnation.

Christian, the Bible says that your life has been placed here on earth at the very specific time of today. He even has you reading these exact words right now. There is something that God has for you to do through your exact, unique position. You would not be able to accomplish it, though, if you were not right here, right now. Through the unexpected and possibly unwanted situation of today, God has something for you to do. The situation you're in today may never change unless you accomplish God's will in it. Maybe you've been placed at that horrible job because there is someone who needs to know the God who loves them. Maybe you suffered a great loss, but because of it you can make life efforts to keep others from experiencing the same loss. Maybe you've been blessed by the Lord financial, specifically because He needs you to use that money to accomplish a few strategic plans. Maybe you've been placed.......

The point is, you're in an unexpected situation for a reason. Figure it out and do something amazing for the Lord!

1. What unique situation do you find yourself in that you never could have imagined?
2. Are you willing to use that situation for the Lord and accomplish His plans?
3. Pray that the Lord would tell you what His plans are for you in this situation!

Additional Scriptures for Study: Gen 50:20, Ex 7:1-5, Prov 16:23, Mrk 14, Acts 17:26

God's Voice of Condemnation

God's Voice of Condemnation
Nov 3, 2008
Romans 8:1 "...there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

Have you ever had someone point the finger at you? It is not pleasant. It is accusatory, judgmental, and very hurtful. We usually shy away from people who are like that, even if they are correct. The method of reaching a person or changing a person is never effective when the tone and actions are aggressive or attacking in nature. People may use these tactics but God does not.

God does not point the finger at you or get in your face about anything. He may be disappointed in your actions, but He will never point the finger at you in order to shame, accuse, or judge you. The voice of judgment is only for the end of times. In the mean time, He only uses the voice of love, not the voice of condemnation. The voice of love is meant to build up, correct, and lead. It is never to shame, pronounce judgment, or accuse you of wrongdoing.

In scripture, any time Jesus was confronting a person, He did it through the voice of love. He made sure the person He was confronting felt safe and comfortable with Him before He spoke into their lives. He never launched an attack on them, ambushed them, or embarrassed them in front of others. He did not use a harsh or judgmental tone when He dealt with individuals unless they were in direct rebellion against Him.

Many times we hear the Lord's voice speaking to us or we hear Him through the scriptures but we never actually understand His true voice. We filter it through our own insecurities or hear His "audible" voice through the skewed image we have of our own earthly fathers. If you are living your Christian life and you always feel the voice of the Lord is condemning you, get rid of your insecurities and realize that He loves you and is speaking to you in a gentle, loving voice. If you still feel He is speaking harshly to you, then check your heart and consider you might be in direct rebellion against Him. If you've checked your heart and you still feel He is speaking harshly to you, then it is not God's voice at all; it is Satan's voice.

Likewise, if you are trying to reach others with the message of the Gospel or correct and lead someone, you should follow the example of Christ and use the voice of love, rather than the voice of judgment and condemnation.

1. Do you hear the Lord's voice condemning you or correcting you in love?
2. Do you respond better to the condemning voice or the voice of love?
3. Shouldn't you change your tone with others to be that of love?
Add. Scriptures for Study: Prov 15:1, John 4:10-12, John 8:3-11, 1 Cor 13:1, 2 Cor 13:10