In Psalm 27, David demonstrates why he is known as the man after God’s own heart. The one thing, the ONE THING, that he sought from God above all else is the privilege of living with Him. We don’t read of a grocery list of wants and desires for material things. We don’t read of David wanting for his own safety above all else, despite David spending much time being chased or being involved in battle. Above all else, he wants to enjoy the presence of God.
This is what a true relationship with God is all about—about craving God, delighting in His presence, wanting to be near Him. If you do not have this desire for God and His Word, if you find it okay to not seek out God and spend time with Him for even a day, it is most likely that God is not first in your life.
If you are not yet at this point in your walk with Jesus, do not be discouraged. Draw near to God. As you draw near to Him, He will draw near to you. Be intentional with your time. Carve out parts of your day to enjoy His presence and dig into God’s Word. As you continue to meet with God, you will grow in your relationship with Him. You will begin to see the privilege of living with God. You will want to spend more time in His glory and grace. You will begin to enjoy the sweet loveliness of His face and crave Him above all else.
“Here’s the one thing I crave from God, the one thing I seek above all else: I want the privilege of living with him every moment in his house, finding the sweet loveliness of his face, filled with awe, delighting in his glory and grace. I want to live my life so close to him that he takes pleasure in my every prayer.”- Psalm 27:4 [TPT]
It is very easy to point out problems that we see with other people. Most of us have blinders on when we look at ourselves. We think we aren’t so bad. We like to think fairly well of ourselves. If we have done something bad, it certainly wasn’t as bad as what some others are doing. Perhaps you are pure in your own eyes.
You can think and say all you want about yourself—and you likely have tricked yourself in thinking you are good. You can be pure in your own eyes, but that doesn’t make you pure. All of us are sinners and fall short of the glory of God. The LORD examines motives. The LORD sees your heart. The LORD knows you better than you know you! It doesn’t matter how pure you consider yourself.
Today, ask for the LORD to open your eyes. Ask that He reveal to you anything that shouldn’t be there. Be more intentional in looking at your motives.
“People may be pure in their own eyes, but the LORD examines their motives.” – Proverbs 16:2 [NLT]
My dog Max is laying on the sofa by my side as I type this devotion. If I get up and go into the kitchen, I have moved away from him. We then are not as close in position. When it comes to God, some people will say they feel like God isn’t around, like He moved from them. But the truth is, it is they that have moved.
James reminds us that if we come close to God, He will come close to us. We simply need to reach toward Him, and He is ALWAYS reaching back.
Today, be intentional with your relationship with Jesus Christ. Recognize that if you dig into the Word of God, you will hear God speak. If you spend time in prayer, you will feel the presence of God. If you feel like God is faraway, take a few steps closer to Him and you’ll find you had strayed. Thank God, He continues to keep His arms wide open awaiting His children.
“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.” – James 4:8 [NLT]
I have always had the gift of gab. It can be a good thing if I’m speaking life and spreading encouragement, inspiring people to dig deeper into God’s Word and live by faith over fear. But at the same time, this can be a bad thing. James wrote, “The tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire.”
When we think of a spark that could set a great fire, we could think of revival. We can think of that teacher who inspired someone who did some grand thing in history. Maybe that one coach who inspired an all-star athlete. But the tongue is often seen as a dangerous weapon. And the small spark that sets a blaze, can set a fire that will burn everything in its path. That is why it’s compared to a forest fire. Think of all the wildfires that get out of control every year and cannot be contained.
Remember today the power of your words. Understand that someone you may say could turn into a forest fire. Be intentional with your words. Speak what is lovely, what is helpful, what is right, what is true, what is praiseworthy—speak encouragement and life into people day. Plant seeds of truth and love; don’t set a forest ablaze.
“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 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.” – James 3:5-6 [NLT]
Jesus said that we could not serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). We know it’s true. Time and time again we find ourselves with divided loyalty. The Holman Christian Standard Bible translates it as “an indecisive man… unstable in all his ways.” Other translations say “double-minded.” That wasn’t even a word until it appeared in the Bible!
All of us have a divided loyalty. We can say we are devout Christians and that we have placed God first, however, we are still in this world and we are still in the flesh. Romans 7:15 says, “I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate” (NLT). This is the Apostle Paul saying that he wants to do what is right, but yet he doesn’t do it. He recognizes that we have a sinful nature. The struggle is real. We keep on doing evil.
As we are living in this world, trying to live for Jesus, we need to keep in mind that our loyalties are divided a times. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Keep your focus on His Word. When the world tries to pull you closer, remember that we are not of this world. God has a bigger plan for you and I, and it requires a desire for Him. Always aim to take steps toward Him, and the loyalty will become less and less divided, and more and more God-centered.
“Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.” – James 1:8 [NLT]
This morning, Max was frightened by my daughter, who happened to be in the laundry room doing something she does often. The dog never realized that Jess left her bedroom and went to the laundry room to retrieve her clean clothing. When we walked downstairs to get ready for our morning walk, Max heard someone in the laundry room, and went into attack mode and proceeded to bark while in a full run towards the room. When he realized it was Jess, he calmed down.
We need to always be on guard, especially when we are in our own homes. Sometimes we get ourselves comfortable at home, and we do not see what is lurking about that could lead us to sin. We don’t see what is happening to our own family members. We are so focused on the outside-the-home stuff, that we miss what is right under our nose. This verse written in the letter to Timothy speaks about financial provision for the family. It is an important responsibility to make sure the financial needs of the family are met. Let us remember that spiritual needs are even more important.
Today, remember that you need to be intentional at home. How is your family? How is your spouse? How are your children? How are your roommates? Whoever lives with you – aim to be invested in their wellbeing. Be proactive. You may not see what is even happening because you are looking elsewhere. Family is important. The book of Genesis speaks a lot about family loyalty. We need to first take care of ourselves and our family, and then reach out into the world. Ask the Spirit to reveal anything that needs addressed in your home. Listen closely. Act with wisdom and love. Allow God to grow your family. Then step out together to serve in love.
“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” – 1 Timothy 5:8 [NLT]
I remember an old pair of scissors I owned. I loved those scissors but as time moved on they did not work like they once did because the blades were dull. When cutting a piece of meat, you want to pick a good knife. You want to be able to cut through the piece swiftly rather than sawing the thing till it looks like a mess. Most people have knife sharpeners for that reason.
Solomon mentioned the extra strength that is needed to cut with something like a dull ax. More energy is needed when a blade is dull. He made it clear –“Sharpen the blade.” He further states that wisdom helps you to succeed. So how do we sharpen our blades? How do we get this wisdom that will help us to succeed?
I try to sharpen my blade daily because each day brings us new challenges, new temptations, new situations. We need to be able to stand firm. We need our blade sharp. Read your Bible. Be intentional about it. In the morning, the first thing I do before my feet hit the floor is read my morning devotional. It is as if to say, “No thank you devil. My day is for God. I’m going to have a God day.” Then I spend my lunch with God and His Word. I sit alone and eat some fruit, and then I turn to the Word. Finally, in the evening before I turn in for the night, I grab my Bible once again. Sharpen your blade so you can stand firm.
“Using a dull ax requires great strength, so sharpen the blade. That’s the value of wisdom; it helps you succeed.” – Ecclesiastes 10:10 [NLT]
Have you encouraged someone today? This appears to be a simple question but I challenge you to honestly consider your day and if you took the time to encourage someone. People need encouragement—look around and there is no way to deny it. Negativity is everywhere. People identify with their failures. People listen to what the world says about them. People live with defeat. People are struggling.
The amazing thing is that encouragement isn’t so difficult—it’s all about being intentional. As I was reading the Book of Acts, I read about how Paul was encouraging others. In Acts 20, it mentions how he encouraged the disciples and then as he traveled through Macedonia, he continued to speak words of encouragement. Moses was told to encourage his successor Joshua (Deuteronomy 3:28). Barnabas, “the son of encouragement,” surely lived up to his name as he was the one to welcome and work alongside Paul after his conversation (see Acts 9).
Again and again we are commanded to encourage each other. This was mentioned so many times because everyone needs encouragement. Let us be encouragers. Let us spend time building each other up rather than tearing each other down. We each are a part of the same body, and as a body needs each of its parts to work together, so we each need each other to fully function. Be an encouragement.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11 [NIV]