“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (10) If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” 1 John 1.8-10
If you are like me, you don’t like to talk about sin. But the truth of the matter is we know we are sinners. John speaks pretty clearly about it: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” Usually our problem is not that there is not the presence of sin in our lives at any given time, but the problem is in realizing the need for the truth of verse 9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins … ” Confession of sin is such a crucial part of our walk with God. It has nothing to do with whether or not Christ paid for our sins on the cross. It has everything to do with our daily fellowship with God. Confession means that we agree with God that what He calls sin we call sin. The sooner we come to that realization in our lives, the easier it is to confess our sin and have our fellowship with God restored.
Inherent in confession is the truth of this next phrase: “to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Regular cleansing from God means that He has a vessel that He can use for His glory. He will not use a dirty vessel through which to let the light of the gospel shine. A clean vessel is what God will choose every time. I want my life to be a vessel that God can use – always. I believe that is what you want too! Just my thoughts …
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (34) Take therefore no thought for the morrow; for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. ” Matthew 6.33-34
How can such a simply declaration of truth be so difficult for us to believe and put into practice? I’m sure we have all heard this verse quoted or we have read it many times over. Yet we continually trouble ourselves over the things of the morrow. Don’t forget these words: “for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.” The counsel Jesus gives His followers is this: “seek me today, now … I am here. Let me add the things you need to your life today. Remember, I will also take care of tomorrow when it gets here.”
Let’s go back to the opening words: “Seek first … ” The biblical protocol for dealing with any issue is found in these words. Seek God first. The reason that is so important is because it changes our focus from our problem to the only One who can solve our problem. It may seem like I hammer this concept a lot in my blogs, but it is such an all-important concept.
It may help us to take note of what “all these things” are. “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? Or, What shall we drink? Or Where withal shall we be clothed.” (V. 31) (I might also add, Where shall I live?) The totality of the needs of your life and mine are held securely in the hands of this loving God who has promised to meet our needs, no matter what they are. Remember that not one of your needs is bigger than your God. He made the universe. He made you, and He will handle your need. Just my thoughts …
“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51.10
I cannot read this Psalm without remembering why David wrote it. He had sinned with Bathsheba and had her husband killed. God sent the prophet Nathan to confront David with his sin. David was broken and he penned the words of this powerful Psalm. Let’s consider this Psalm and its transparent honesty.
“Create in me a clean heart … ” In spite of the egregious sins that David had committed, he was not in danger of losing his relationship with God. But he had most certainly broken any fellowship with God. That is the reason for his prayer for a clean heart. He needed to get rid of the trash he had allowed to collect in his heart. I suspect most who are reading this can identify with David and say, “I’ve been there too.” Without the regular application of 1 John 1.9 we find ourselves in the same condition. Remember John’s words: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Note that David’s prayer is directed to God: “Create in me a clean heart, O God … ” Sometimes we just talk to ourselves about our sin and never get to the place where we talk to our Heavenly Father. Our sin may have affected us deeply, but it was committed against God. He is the One who needs to hear our repentant heart.
“and renew a right spirit within me.” What is a right spirit? I believe a right spirit is a spirit that willingly puts God first. I believe a right spirit is a spirit that runs from evil and runs toward righteousness. If you are in need of a renewed right spirit, get alone with God, pour out your heart to Him with transparent honesty, and you will get what David got … a clean heart and a right spirit. Just my thoughts …
“Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah (3) But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; for my glory, and the lifter of mine head. (4) I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill.” Psalm 3.2-4
If we listen to the voices of the world, they will tell us that there is no help for in God. When we choose to listen to the voices of the world, we are unable to heard the voice of help when it comes.
But David’s response to the voice of the world was this: “But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me … ” It doesn’t matter what others may say about You, You ARE my shield. They don’t have to see it. They don’t have to understand it. They don’t even have to believe it. None of that negates the truth that God is my shield.
Not only is He my shield, but there is another element to this: He is “the lifter of mine head.” So often when difficulties come to us, we are prone to drop our heads and all we can see is what is at our feet. But my God wants to change my perspective. So He lifts my head. That turns my focus from my problem to the One who is there solving my problem.
Now notice the sequence here: “I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill.” I cried … He heard. The one thing of which I am sure is that when I cry He hears. I am reminded of the verse in Matthew 14 when Peter was walking on the water and he began to sink beneath the water. “But when he (Peter) saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sin, he cried, saying, Lord save me. (31) And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (vs. 30-31)
We can rest in the assurance that when we cry, He hears. These are just my thoughts …
“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.’ 2 Corinthians 9.15
Paul speaks about two things that he cannot describe: (1) heaven) and (2) Jesus, the Son of God. He speaks about his “out of body experience” in 2 Corinthians 12:4 “How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.” In this verse above he says that God’s gift of His Son Jesus is the “unspeakable gift.”
Jesus truly is unspeakable. How do you describe God and man in the flesh? How do you explain one who loves you so much that He was willing to die for you to keep you out of hell? How do you explain one who is the fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecies regarding the Messiah? There simply are NO words.
But the key to this verse is the opening phrase: “Thanks be unto God … ” I am fearful that far too many of God’s children fail to take time to thank God for the gift of His Son, Jesus. We are reminded over and over in Scripture to be thankful. The words or phrases give thanks, be thankful, or thanks occur 65 times in the KJV. 31 times in the Psalms alone the psalmists remind us to give thanks or have thanksgiving in our hearts.
So, let’s begin today with a commitment to God that we will make giving thanks a part of our daily prayer lives. If you do not have a prayer list, let me suggest that you start one. Then you can put giving thanks at the top of your list. It may be helpful to take time when you are not praying and make a list of the people and things for which you are thankful, including the unique things that God has done for you through the person of His Son, Jesus. This will take time, but it is well worth the time you decide to commit to it. Just my thoughts …
“Be merciful unto me, O God: for man would swallow me up; he fighting daily oppresseth me. (2) Mine enemies would daily swallow me up: for they be many that fight against me, O thou most High. (3) What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” Psalm 56.1-3
There are some days when I need to be reminded of God’s overwhelming love for His children and extravagant protection of His children. When David speaks here in Psalm 53, he is writing a Psalm of instruction for those who will come after him. The Philistines have captured him and his life is in real danger.
Here is his prayer: “Be merciful unto me, O God … ” I don’t believe for a moment that David though that God was not aware of his circumstances. But this is David’s heart cry. God wants us to be honest in our prayer time with him and David was very honest here. He continues: “for man would swallow me up; he fighting daily oppresseth me.” This is not an occasional issue for David, but one that is a daily need. Most of us find ourselves in need DAILY of God’s intervention in our lives to deliver us from that which we cannot control.
We find our comfort in v. 3: “What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee.” Some days bring more fears than others, but the truth is the same for every day, “I will trust in thee.” You may ask, “How do I know can and will take care of me?” IF your God is merciful (v. 1), and He is, then your faith must bring you to the place of BELIEVING that He is WORTHY of your trust and then trusting Him. While trust is a bridge that must be built, we must not be afraid to cross that bridge in order to come to the place of alleviating our fear. Just my thoughts …
“Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation. 2Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King and my God: for unto thee will I pray. 3My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up … 12For thou LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour thou wilt compass him as with a shield.” Psalm 5.1-3, 12
David lifts his voice to Jehovah, the Eternal Self-existent One and cries, “Give ear to my words … ” What confidence he exhibited. What absolute trust he exercised. What determined faith he displayed when he prayed. Is that how you pray … with confidence, with absolute trust, and with determined faith? Please don’t begin your prayer with, “Lord, I don’t know if you can hear me or not, but …” Or “Lord, I know I am not worthy but …” This God to whom David prayed is YOUR God and He is MY God.
“2Hearken unto the voice of my cry … ” You have every right to breath these same words to God when you pray. In addition to acknowledging God as the LORD, he said God was his King and His God. In other words, God was in charge of EVERYTHING in David’s life. Is He is charge of EVERYTHING in your life?
This last verse (12) is such a comfort: “12For thou LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour thou wilt compass him as with a shield.” The Lord will BLESS the righteous – that is His children. But He will also put a shield or wall of protection around His children. You and I are in danger of attack everyday from Satan. Those are not battles we want to fight alone. So God becomes our shield. He is our protection. When we come to our God in prayer, remember, He is the God to whom David prayed and in whom davie had great confidence and we can and must do the same. Just my thoughts …
“Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.” John 16.24
Whenever Jesus talks to us about prayer, we do well to give attention to WHAT He says. And in this verse He says a lot. This concept of asking in prayer in Jesus’ name was a new concept to the disciples. He said, “Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name …” I am fearful that so often we grow to think that if we just tack this little phrase “in Jesus Name” on to the end of our prayers, somehow we have met the requirement for answered prayer. The key here is to ask “in (His) name.” that means to ask as though He were doing the asking. In order to do that, we must allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in knowing WHAT to ask.
Jesus DELIGHTS in answering the prayers of His children. He says, “ask, and ye SHALL receive … ” If you remember your English classes, you remember that the word “shall” used in the second or third person is a DISTINCT AFFIRMATION that the thing will be done. Why does Jesus delight in answering our prayers? “that y(our) joy may be full.” God does not want His children wandering through this life joyless. That is certainly not a testament to His goodness and His grace. How much better is it for this world to see a joy filled Christian who is bubbling over and can’t wait to tell someone else why!
Ask yourself, “Is my life filled with joy?” And if it is not, then why not? Have you not “asked”? Or have you not asked “in Jesus’ name”? or has He answered and yet you have not been displaying the joy He promised? It is yours Claim it and display it. Just my thoughts …
“Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6.11-12
Far too many of God’s children fail to recognize the reality of who Satan is. He is VERY real! He is VERY powerful! He is VERY deceptive! And he is VERY relentless in his pursuit of God’s children. However, he is NOT omnipresent, nor is he omniscient, nor omnipotent. God alone has those attributes.
Since we are engaged in a SPIRITUAL warfare, it is necessary that we are protected with SPIRITUAL armor. That is what Paul is talking about here. At the risk of seeming to be redundant, let me share these verses to equip us: “take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye MAY BE ABLE to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, TO STAND. 14Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.”
Read these verses carefully and seek to APPLY them to YOUR life. Do not miss the call to prayer in v. 18. Paul states that we are to persevere in prayer. That is more than a quickie before we go to sleep or a memorized prayer at mealtime. Paul is telling us that prayer is something we work at and be in a spirit of prayer ALWAYS. May God encourage each one of us today with these words of warning and affirmation. Just my thoughts …
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him I will trust. 3Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.” Psalm 91.1-3
Have you ever just longed for a place where you and God could just be alone and you could pour out your heart to Him and He would just listen? I have. The psalmist here reminds us, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Do YOU have a secret place? If not, would you like to have one? Ask God to show you where your special place can be. Then, spend some time just abiding there.
I love the words of the next verse: “I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress … ” Wow – refuge … a place to run to when the enemy is after you; fortress … a place of safety where you can be defended and feel safe. THAT is what God is able to provide for us. You will never feel safer than when you are in your secret place with God.
“ in him I will trust.” Trust in God is never misplaced. I remind us all that we never know if God is enough until He is all we have.
Look how v. 3 begins: “Surely … ” Need some assurance that your God is able to do what you need? Here it is: “Surely … ” There was NO DOUBT in the mind of the psalmist that God could do what he needed. So what is it that He will surely do? “ … he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence Whatever the evil one puts in your path, God is your answer to that situation. Before you finish with this blog, go back and read those verses again out loud. Let those words soak in. Just my thoughts …