How do we address harmful thoughts and voices in our lives?

I am praying right now for several people I love who are dealing with very negative and harmful influences in their lives. The first is a middle school boy who is being verbally assaulted and abused by a kid in school who keeps telling him that he should “kill himself” and is picking on him repeatedly. The other kid is a trans kid with a lot of other issues, and it seems like the school system does not know how to handle the situation without facing a possible lawsuit from the woke movement that cry out for “justice” for “people like us” even while they might be insisting what is unjust and unreasonable and hypocritical. I’m not getting political, because there is injustice and and hypocrisy on the other extreme as well. Then I have friends who are dealing with depression and anxiety who are battling, and who have or who are considering hurting themselves or others. Then I have friends who have faced traumatic circumstances and are facing the unknown, dealing with close personal loss, etc. I. all of these situations, there are thoughts and voices at play — both internal and external — that can be harmful, and that have to be dealt with.

Recognizing, filtering and battling the thoughts and voices that want to tear down instead of build up is not just a life long battle, not just a training ground for our heart and soul, but it is the place where faith grows the wonderful fruit that can be shared with others — our own testimony, our own character, and our own walk.

Doing it alone is treacherous. But even then it offers us the wonderful opportunity to turn to the one who is able and whose grace is sufficient to bring us back from the precipice.

And by being there for others, seeking how we might serve their needs — our own needs and those harmful thoughts and voices seem to gain less traction and less focus on our day.

When we feel isolated and attacked, our best open door escape from that prison is to seek how we might be able to participate with others who are also hurting in their own ways. Whether this is in small groups, in programs like Celebrate Recovery, in charitable organizations, in churches, in corporate worship, in community service projects, or other things that bring us together in selfless acts, that is the sweet prescription — and the underlying love and sacrifice is the cure — the very Holy Spirit of God.

It can seem so counter intuitive to “get up” and “get active” and “serve others” when so much is screaming to us to “hide” and “run” and “shut down”. Having people near me that understand that at times I do need alone time to cope with anxiety and social awkwardness and fatigue — but who also know when and how to use “my love languages” to pour into me in a way that I best receive when my cup is low — really helps. We need others to recharge us, and we need connections to those who naturally pour out in the ways that best fill us up. Community and support will turn what was once debilitating into a wealth of personal experience and wisdom that we can share to help others who are going through the same things.

What doesn’t kill you does hurt a lot, but it makes you stronger — not so you can be seen as strong, but so that you can be a good friend, even be Christ, to those in need around you.

So take pleasure in the trials and the sufferings, as you are sharing with Christ in those “on this side”, you will share with Him as heirs in all the other “on that other side”. Amen!

2‭-‬4 Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. 5‭-‬8 If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get his help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought. People who “worry their prayers” are like wind-whipped waves. Don’t think you’re going to get anything from the Master that way, adrift at sea, keeping all your options open. 9‭-‬11 When down-and-outers get a break, cheer! And when the arrogant rich are brought down to size, cheer! Prosperity is as short-lived as a wildflower, so don’t ever count on it. You know that as soon as the sun rises, pouring down its scorching heat, the flower withers. Its petals wilt and, before you know it, that beautiful face is a barren stem. Well, that’s a picture of the “prosperous life.” At the very moment everyone is looking on in admiration, it fades away to nothing. 12 Anyone who meets a testing challenge head-on and manages to stick it out is mighty fortunate. For such persons loyally in love with God, the reward is life and more life. 13‭-‬15 Don’t let anyone under pressure to give in to evil say, “God is trying to trip me up.” God is impervious to evil, and puts evil in no one’s way. The temptation to give in to evil comes from us and only us. We have no one to blame but the leering, seducing flare-up of our own lust. Lust gets pregnant, and has a baby: sin! Sin grows up to adulthood, and becomes a real killer. 16‭-‬18 So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures. 19‭-‬21 Post this at all the intersections, dear friends: Lead with your ears, follow up with your tongue, and let anger straggle along in the rear. God’s righteousness doesn’t grow from human anger. So throw all spoiled virtue and cancerous evil in the garbage. In simple humility, let our gardener, God, landscape you with the Word, making a salvation-garden of your life. 22‭-‬24 Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don’t act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. 25 But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action. 26‭-‬27 Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.
James 1:2‭-‬27 MSG

Confession

I have contended daily in my life with lust towards women who are not my wife, with selfish pride of myself and harmful criticism of others, with doubt that God is good and truly has good in store for me.

I confess these particular shortcomings, not because they are the only ones that I have — but because they have been like a chronic infestation of bugs that have stolen from me repeatedly — and because all my attempts at extermination have failed. I am confessing my struggle in these areas of life because these are “sin” — something that has taken a foothold in my life that does me harm and not good.

Lord, before you and before everyone, I confess that I have sinned against you, in my thoughts, in my words, in my actions, even in my inactions. I believe that you will deliver me from these things — not just from the consequences of sin, but that your Holy Spirit is freedom. I believe that I will resist evil and see it flee. I believe that I will see those things that have hindered me be laid aside. I rebuke these things in the name of Jesus Christ and declare that you, Lord, will not only fight this battle, but will slay these giants, for your glory and honor. Lord, I know that you can, and that you are able. And I’ve seen you do amazing things beyond my understanding. Even while part of my flesh screams out in rebellion, “No, don’t let him take those things from us that have been a comfort!” I know that even poison can taste sweet to the tongue in order to get at its evil intentions. Lord, it is by the shed Blood of your perfect Lamb that I am able to make such a confession and trust you fully. Amen.

Lord, thank you that we do not have to wait until we have a great fall. Lord, thank you that we do not have to only wait to repent after the consequences of our foolishness has resulted in things we cannot undo. Lord, I realize many will read this and think “I see he must have been caught in something” and misunderstand confession.

I would be tempted by my own pride and criticism of others to think the same thing, and would need to repent. So I understand.

We are loved by the Lord. Everything that He has for us is better than the things we cling to that hinder our walk with Him. Yet, we are still tempted to accept trinkets of sin in trade for the treasure of holiness. Most of us excuse these “little compromises” and we give up more and more territory in our own lives day after day until we have drifted further and further away from where our lives should be.

Confession is an opportunity to believe this — ti acknowledge ands respond to what is treasure and what is trash. To truly believe it, not just say it, not just sing about it — but to commit to it fully. Whether a man is deeply entangled in his sin and caught in the consequences, or whether he is aware of the feel of that familiar trap tugging at him again — the Lord is slow to anger and mighty to save, and He will finish the work He has begun in you.

God bless you, friends!

If we say we have no sin [refusing to admit that we are sinners], we delude ourselves and the truth is not in us. [His word does not live in our hearts.] If we [freely] admit that we have sinned and confess our sins, He is faithful and just [true to His own nature and promises], and will forgive our sins and cleanse us continually from all unrighteousness [our wrongdoing, everything not in conformity with His will and purpose]. If we say that we have not sinned [refusing to admit acts of sin], we make Him [out to be] a liar [by contradicting Him] and His word is not in us.
1 John 1:8‭-‬10 AMP

Therefore, confess your sins to one another [your false steps, your offenses], and pray for one another, that you may be healed and restored. The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) is able to accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power].
James 5:16 AMP

[Small Group] A New Season of Faith

We had a wonderful gathering last night at our house to kick off another season of Bible study. We discussed James 5:13-20, “The Prayer of Faith” and it was a great outline for our gathering. We enjoyed a wonderful meal, so huge thanks to Mandee and Kim for keeping us fed so well!

We shared testimonies as a group of our sufferings and rejoicings that we had gone through since pour last gathering — and how powerful we have seen the Lord moving!

We then broke up into the men gathering downstairs and the ladies upstairs and we confessed our sins to one another, shared intimately with each other, and prayed fervently for each other.

Finally, we came back together to wrap things up and come into unity of purpose and direction for the week ahead. We are so thankful for friends that are truly “family in Christ” and we love the opportunity we are given to walk through this life together, being there for each other, in prayer, encouragement, accountability, love, and service to each other.

I encourage you with this song this morning: https://youtu.be/5rvuDYP_jLY

Also, for study this week, let’s read Psalms 65-68.

Pray for the Lord to reveal His wisdom to your heart and spirit, not for you to just acquire knowledge in your mind. And pray that you won’t doubt and that it won’t be stolen away. Trust Him. He is faithful and true.

Keep a journal by your side while studying and take notes in it – not just of the answers, but anything that jumps out to you while studying.

Read through each Psalm once, all the way through.

Then ask yourself the following questions:

1) Who?

2) When/where?

3) How?(What?)

4) Why?

NOTE: With the first three, we are trying to intentionally and consciously paint a picture in our minds (or walk out a play or movie in our minds) that activates our senses and draws us in like a good movie does. This is a creative exercise for our minds, like a child’s faithful “make believe” game, not just a factual/academic exercise.

Who?
Who are the people or groups of people involved in this (author, spoken of, spoken to, playing a part in it, etc)?

When/where?
What is the background/stage/ environment for this text? What would it have looked like, felt like, smelled like, sounded like or even tasted like? If you were going to make a video to recreate this Psalm, how would you set up the stage for the actors?

How?
Can you summarize and picture what happened and the sequence of events? If you were writing out a script and recreating this as a child would in a play or game, what is the general order of events?

NOTE: Now we have stepped through the above, we will step past “just the facts” and surface level written letter “meaning” of the passage and move on to application.

The Why?

“The why inside them”
What is an underlying message or theme the people “inside the story” or the author would have been learning or teaching through this passage?

“The why through Christ”
How does knowing what we know today about the life and teachings of Christ reveal something new or additional or parallel to this passage? Is there a way that we can understand or find parallels in this passage?

“The why inside me”
If we are truly Christians at heart and not just claimed by name, we have the spirit of Christ in us. Knowing this about ourselves and knowing our identity in Christ, what does this teach us, or stir up in us, or convict us to repent of?

NOTE: This is a method of study that I use with my daughter as we read through the Bible together, and it is one of the primary and most profitable ways I have found to approach studying scripture in a way that makes it real, makes it memorable, and makes it effectively applicable for my day to day life.

This approach takes time that is still, quiet, and focused on the Word of God. I know that many of us have busy lives where God may only have had access to our left overs in the past. This is not me judging you or condemning you, I’m just speaking the truth about many times in our lives when we have let other things take priority over God and we have missed out on blessings and growth and kingdom opportunities as a result. I promise that this approach will bear riches for you of you try it. And quality is king here, not quantity. It would be better to dive into this fully committed to the method and to seeing just one passage “come alive” to you — rather than rushing through it like a last minute homework assignment so you can say to yourself that you finished all four Psalms before time to turn in your work.

If you feel stuck or stumped, walk away from the book and spend time praising the Lord for the wisdom you know He is planting in your heart through time in His Word, even if you can’t yet see the fruit of it in your mind, etc.

And let’s stay in touch with each other this week and actively pray for each other. God bless you, dear family!

Extra Credit: If you make it through this process and are still hungry for more study, feel free to then look at the questions in the Wiersbe Study guide lesson 4 to see what Wiersbe has to share with you about these four Psalms.

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit. My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.
James 5:13‭-‬20 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/jas.5.13-20.ESV

Consider ourselves Dead, New Life

So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world.
Colossians 3:5 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/col.3.5.NLT

We should consider ourselves dead and unresponsive to sexual immorality,
impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed.
Just like diseased limbs of a tree, these
practices must be cut off before they
destroy us. We must make a conscious,
daily decision to remove anything that
supports or feeds these desires and to
rely on the Holy Spirit’s power. ” – Life Application Study Notes

Unwanted advances in our lives do not have to be acknowledged or allowed or tolerated — and it is the same with temptations and desires that we know are not Godly.

It is encouraging that we have a promise in the Word of God about resisting evil:

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.
James 4:7‭-‬10 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/jas.4.7-10.NLT

And with this death to the old desires we see new life:

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
2 Corinthians 5:17‭-‬21 NLT
https://bible.com/bible/116/2co.5.17-21.NLT

Yes Sur

The word render means to “provide or give”.

This reminds me of a few verses from the Bible:

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. – Matthew 6:33‭-‬34 ESV

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are 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! – Matthew 7:7‭-‬11 ESV

“Render, Oh God!”

Sometimes we find ourselves with a wrong mindset about our relationship to God and His to us, even in our time of great need. When we want God to “render” for us through our requests “our will to be granted in heaven” this is not from a right mind or a right heart. See, He is master and Lord and He makes the decrees and commands, not us.

You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.
James 4:3 ESV

“The render is freed by the sur”

The prefix sur means “over and above”.

See, when we address that prefix “sur” and put God “over and above” our lives — when we truly want “His will be done on earth as it is in heaven”, it is then that the “surrender” takes place that opens the floodgates of heaven.

Many would take just this one bold verse in Malachi 3:10 with hopes to use it for their own gain and prosperity, as if they could “bind God by His promise for their own profit” — but let’s see the whole of its context. God is not the means by which men would manipulate a “spiritual” financial transaction for the increase of their own will and purposes and power and honor to be increased upon this world, No!

Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts. “Your words have been hard against me, says the Lord . But you say, ‘How have we spoken against you?’ You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God. What is the profit of our keeping his charge or of walking as in mourning before the Lord of hosts? And now we call the arrogant blessed. Evildoers not only prosper but they put God to the test and they escape.'” Then those who feared the Lord spoke with one another. The Lord paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the Lord and esteemed his name. “They shall be mine, says the Lord of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.
Malachi 3:10‭-‬18 ESV

Master, Lord, these words when speaking of God and not self — are either heard in the ears of the wise as beautiful to you — or they are beasts as hatred and condemnation in the deaf, blind, fools who inhabit the earth.

The call is not to make ourselves gods and to make God our servant, but to truly lie down in surrender and find ourselves truly sons of God. Because we are either surrendered sons of God or you are sons of another father.

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Matthew 6:24 ESV

And

You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
James 4:4‭-‬10 ESV

This I will RENDER unto the Lord – my praise, for He has heard my prayer and granted me a surrendered heart:

I must perform my vows to you, O God; I will render thank offerings to you. For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.
Psalms 56:12‭-‬13 ESV

What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord , I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people. Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. O Lord , I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant. You have loosed my bonds. I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord . I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people, in the courts of the house of the Lord , in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord !
Psalms 116:12‭-‬19 ESV
http://bible.com/59/psa.116.12-19.ESV

Great Joy

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. – James 1:2‭-‬6 NLT

The Lord is my shepherd; 

I have all that I need. 

He lets me rest in green meadows; 

he leads me beside peaceful streams. 

He renews my strength

He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. 

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. 

Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. 

You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. 

You honor me by anointing my head with oil. 

My cup overflows with blessings. 

Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.

Psalms 23:1‭-‬6 NLT

Are we fully trusting in the Lord to be faithful and true? Are we fully trusting that even this trial is meant for our good and for His glory? Yes, these questions,  this examining our hearts to see if faith and belief really lives there — it either brings us to the garden to rest humbly and trusting in His arms — or is has us far from Him and grumbling about not getting our own way right now. 
Surrender, and return to the garden, and be still and know that He is God. He is mighty.  Trust in Him. Follow Him. He went through hardships. He was wrongly accused and hated by those he pleaded for on their behalf. He faced opposition repeatedly from the enemy that wanted to hinder his work going forth and seeing many bright into freedom and belief and life abundant no longer bound by sin and death. Don’t think that you should escape the trials, but realize that the trials are the refining fires that purify your heart and that service as your living testimony that He lives in you.

Sin, Repentance, Righteousness, Judgement

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in  it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. – James 1:21-25 NKJV

If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death. We know that whoever is born of God does not sin; but he who has been born of God keeps himself, and the wicked one does not touch him. We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under  the  sway  of the wicked one. And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen. – I John 5:16-21 NKJV

Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints? Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life? If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers! Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let  yourselves be cheated? No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you  do these things to  your brethren! Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. – I Corinthians 6:1-11 NKJV

Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. But outside are  dogs and sorcerers and sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and practices a lie. – Revelation 22:14-15 NKJV

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. – Galatians 5:19-21 NKJV

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them. – Ephesians 5:1-7 NKJV

But we know that the law is  good if one uses it lawfully, knowing this: that the law is not made for a righteous person, but for the lawless and insubordinate, for the ungodly and for sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for fornicators, for sodomites, for kidnappers, for liars, for perjurers, and if there is any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine, according to the glorious gospel of the blessed God which was committed to my trust. And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has enabled me, because He counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry, although I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord was exceedingly abundant, with faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. 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. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. – I Timothy 1:8-17 NKJV

Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears. – Hebrews 12:12-17 NKJV

For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the  testimony  of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. – Hebrews 10:26-31 NKJV

Sow the Good Seed

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. – Galatians 6:7‭-‬10 ESV


Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. – James 4:7‭-‬8 ESV

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, 

nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;  

but his delight is in the law of the Lord , 

and on his law he meditates day and night.  

He is like a tree planted by streams of water 

that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. 

In all that he does, he prospers.  

The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.  

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;  

for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

Psalms 1:1‭-‬6 ESV

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. – James 1:22 ESV


LORD, empower us by your Holy Spirit to receive your Truth and see it grow up –from a Hope that it might “some day come” — to an active and abiding Faith that is seeing sin overcome in our lives to meditate upon, believe, and obey your commandments — an obedience that is not just to the letter of the law, but that teaches for that higher bar of the very Love and presence of Christ abiding in our lives as LORD over our thoughts, words, and actions. Do not let our own opinions, feelings, desires or pride rule our day, but let us die to self and walk as new creations, as more than conquerors, as ambassadors of the Way, as light set upon a hill, as a holy people set apart for your purpose and calling. Make clear to us, reveal to us that your way is, and was, and always will be and that your voice and truth has not changed. Confirm to us that your whole Word is valuable and precious and that we do not pick and choose what suits our self, but we are to submit ourselves to and believe and understand the sweet, precious, and powerful nature of this Word of God that is sharper than any sword, and that cuts to the heart of the matter so we might find repentance and life abundant in Christ. And may it all be for your glory and honor, today and forevermore. Amen. 

Steadfast

1 Corinthians 15:58

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

James 1:12

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

James 1:2-4

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

Psalm 112:7

He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.

Steadfast. Unwavering. Disciplined. Devoted. Loyal.
LORD, thank you for YOUR steadfast love. Thank you that YOU are served, loyal, and unwavering in YOUR love for us. We are shamed, even humiliated by the strength of your example beside the weakness of our own — if we are courageous enough to examine ourselves closely, truthfully, and honestly. We fall short and we are not the perfect ones yet that you have promised you are reconciling us to be. But we are following you, LORD. So we are no longer little unsturdy babes who cannot walk upright at all. Teach us your way, LORD. Come live in us so that we can say with confidence, “It is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” Show your steadfast love, your holiness, the very fruit of your nature in the life song that we live today and forevermore, as a testimony of your glory and honor and favor and mercy towards your children. Amen.

Barely Saved

For the time has come for judgment, and it must begin with God’s household. And if judgment begins with us, what terrible fate awaits those who have never obeyed God’s Good News? And also, “If the righteous are barely saved, what will happen to godless sinners?
1 Peter 4:17‭-‬18 NLT

We have a lot going on right now. We are in the middle of so much change that I can barely keep up with all of the moving parts. I received a call in the middle of the day yesterday while I was at work and answered some questions without my full attention being on the call. After hanging up, and after thinking about what was asked, I realized that I had made a mistake in what I had said.

“Liar! Liar!”, the voice cried out in my head, “I’ve got you now!”

The old me wanted to hide from the mistake and attempt to cover it up – covering me in guilt by calling me a liar because I misspoke in a moment of the day’s fever pitched drone of work, stress,  etc. But there was another voice that spoke as well – convicting me that I needed to correct myself.

The enemy voice warned me that if I corrected myself,  it would look to the other person like I’m a liar even though I would know by making the correction that I was in fact, being honest. That voice wanted me to find a way to look honest to the person while remaining a liar in my heart.

Yes, this is the struggle. These are the types of challenges we face when we’ve let our guard down and are distracted. I was quick to speak without really listening and thinking about something – and as a result, I found myself in a trap. And the trap was whether I cared what I looked like on the outside or whether I cared enough to do what was right.

My decision was made, I would correct the situation. But how do I handle it in the best way? Do I try to explain myself in detail? Do I dance and make an over compensating effort to clean it up? Or do I just admit, do I just apologize for the lie – yes, a lie is a lie whether spoken with ill intent or good intent. Truth is truth, false is lying.

So, no sugar coating is necessary. I just need to swallow this pill and learn to pay closer attention to what I’m saying. It’s almost like this tongue is hard to tame unless I’m focused and intent. Imagine that. I think that I’ve read something about that before.

Dear brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers in the church, for we who teach will be judged more strictly. Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way. We can make a large horse go wherever we want by means of a small bit in its mouth. And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! Does a spring of water bubble out with both fresh water and bitter water? Does a fig tree produce olives, or a grapevine produce figs? No, and you can’t draw fresh water from a salty spring.
James 3:1‭-‬12 NLT