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Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your steadfast love; according to the multitude of Your tender mercy and loving-kindness blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly [and repeatedly] from my iniquity and guilt and cleanse me and make me wholly pure from my sin! For I am conscious of my transgressions and I acknowledge them; my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned and done that which is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified in Your sentence and faultless in Your judgment. Behold, I was brought forth in [a state of] iniquity; my mother was sinful who conceived me [and I too am sinful]. Behold, You desire truth in the inner being; make me therefore to know wisdom in my inmost heart. —Psalm 51:1–6
The heading under this psalm reads: “A Psalm of David; when Nathan the prophet came to him after he had sinned with Bathsheba.” David cried out for mercy because he had sinned with Bathsheba, and when he learned she was pregnant, he had had her husband murdered in battle.
After David confessed his sin, Nathan said to him, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord and given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child that is born to you shall surely die” (2 Samuel 12:13–14).
That’s the first lesson I want you to grasp from this incident. When you fail God, you harm yourself, but you also bring dishonor to His name. Whenever you take a false step, there are those who watch and gleefully point their fingers. The two always go together. Not only do you bring disgrace on the name of the Lord, but you fail yourself. You knew the right but chose the wrong.
As if that were not enough, the evil one also whispers, “See how bad you are. God won’t forgive you. It’s too awful.” Of course, he’s lying, because that’s what he does best. Don’t listen to those words, because there is no sin you’ve committed that God won’t forgive. You may have to carry scars or pay the penalty, but God wipes away the sin.
There’s something else to learn from this: You need to face reality. You sinned. You disobeyed God. What will you do about your sin? You can plead excuses (and most of us are good at that), or you can follow David’s example. When the prophet said, “You are the man . . .” (2 Samuel 12:7), the king did not deny his wrongdoing or try to justify his actions. David admitted he had sinned and confessed.
He wrote in the psalm quoted earlier: “For I am conscious of my transgressions and I acknowledge them; my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned and done that which is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified in Your sentence and faultless in Your judgment” (vs. 3–4).
If you follow Jesus Christ, not only are you declaring to yourself, to your family, and to the world your trust in the Savior, but you are also declaring your stand for truth. It’s easy for us to deceive ourselves, but God has called us to be totally, completely, and scrupulously honest in our inner being. Don’t look at what others may get away with or how they justify their behavior. We can’t blame others, the devil, or circumstances.
When you fail, remind yourself that the greatest king of ¬Israel cried out to God and said, “My sin is ever before me” (v. 3). Those sins, failures, or shortcomings (or whatever you may choose to call them) will always be there until you admit them and confess them to the Lord; only then can you know the joy of living with integrity and in truth.
Strive to live with truth in your inner being. You—you and God—are the only ones who know what’s in your heart. Live in honesty and truth.
Holy God, David prayed, “You desire truth in the inner being; make me therefore to know wisdom in my inmost heart.” Through Jesus Christ, I plead with You to help me desire truth in my inner being, to live in such a way that I’m as honest and as open with You as I can become. I know that the life You honor is the life You bless. Amen.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You, Lord, alone make me dwell in safety and confident trust. —Psalm 4:8
In the quiet of the evening after a long day, it’s not unusual to think about and evaluate the events of the day. But thoughts can be disturbing, especially if you faced problems that remain unsolved.
Sometimes these thoughts are not easy to turn off and can threaten to rob you of a peaceful night’s sleep. But staying awake and worrying will not change or improve the situation at all.
This is a good time to share your concerns with God and ask for His help. He tells us in His Word to cast our cares on Him, so give your thoughts to Him and trust Him to provide a solution. Then lie down and sleep in peace.
And walk in love, [esteeming and delighting in one another] as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us, a slain offering and sacrifice to God [ for you, so that it became] a sweet fragrance. —Ephesians 5:2
Jesus said, “ If anyone intends to come after Me, let him deny himself [ forget, ignore, disown, and lose sight of himself and his own interests] and take up his cross, and [joining Me as a disciple and siding with My party] follow with Me [continually, cleaving steadfastly to Me] (Mark 8:34, emphasis mine).
Living a disciplined life means laying aside personal feelings, deciphering which choice is most important in God’s eyes, and then allowing that choice to take preeminence over the others. As Jesus laid down His life for you, He is asking you to lay down your interests for His greater cause.
Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come! —2 Corinthians 5:17
You can be a blessing everywhere you go because Jesus lives in you and His life overflows from within you. Not only that, you can like yourself because of what Jesus has done in your life. According to today’s scripture He has completely recreated you. There’s a new you!
The old you died with Christ. Now spiritually you’re alive in Christ, a new creature, filled with possibilities. As you learn God’s word, He will use it to change you into His image. The new you that is inside will make its way to the outside where other people can see it.
God says that you are valuable so don’t determine your worth and value by they way other people have treated you and what they have said about you. The fact that someone rejected you doesn’t mean you are a bad person.. Perhaps the person rejecting you has problems of their own and are merely critical. God says you’re accepted in Christ and what He says is more important than what anyone else says. (see Ephesians 1:6, NKJV).
Why don’t you decide right now to like yourself?. Plunge into the ocean of God’s love and say, “If You love me, God, I can love myself.”
I’m talking about loving yourself in a balanced way, not a selfish, self-centered way. I finally got tired of thinking negative thoughts about myself, not liking myself, hating myself, listening to every negative person who wanted to tell me everything that was wrong with me. I decided to believe what God said about me, and you can do the same thing.
Stop letting people run your life, and be led by the Holy Spirit. Stop trying to please people all the time and be a God-pleaser instead. Enjoy the new you and maintain peace with yourself by refusing to live in guilt and condemnation, recognizing that God is greater than all your sins. Let go of your past mistakes and embrace all the new things God has for you.
Love Yourself Today: You are a new creation in Christ. I hope you like what He has made!
But you shall receive power (ability, efficiency, and might) when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria and to the ends (the very bounds) of the earth. —Acts 1:8
When the 120 people gathered in the upper room on the day of Pentecost, the count included women (Acts 1:14–15). If women did not need power to spread the Gospel, why were they included in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit?
When Joel prophesied about the future outpouring of the Holy Spirit, he said that God would pour His Spirit out upon all flesh. Upon his menservants and his maidservants He would pour His Spirit out (Joel 2:28–29). He said that “they” would prophesy. He did not say that just men would prophesy. To prophesy can mean the same thing as teaching and preaching. It means to speak forth the inspired Word of God.
Of the thirty-nine co-workers that Paul mentions throughout his writings, at least one-fourth are women. In Philippians 4, Paul encourages Euodia and Syntyche to keep cooperating and states that they had toiled along with him in spreading the good news of the Gospel. Beyond that, I could create a very long list of women who have been successfully used throughout church history to do major things in God’s kingdom.
Lord, I ask You to send the Holy Spirit with power to make me a witness for Your name. Help me to spread Your name throughout the world. Amen.
Do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble. —Matthew 6:34
My personal definition of anxiety is mentally leaving where you are and getting into an area of the past or the future. One of the things we need to understand is that God wants us to learn to be "now people." Too often we spend our time in the past or the future. We need to learn to live now—mentally as well as physically and spiritually. There is an anointing on today.
In John 8:58, Jesus referred to Himself as I AM. If you and I, as His disciples, try to live in the past or the future, we are going to find life hard for us because Jesus is always in the present. That's what He meant when He told us in Matthew 6:34, Do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.
Jesus has plainly told us we don't need to worry about anything. All we need to do is seek the kingdom of God, and He will add to us whatever we need, whether it is food or clothing or shelter or spiritual growth (See Matthew 6:25-33). We don't need to be concerned about tomorrow, because tomorrow will have problems of its own. We need to concentrate our full attention on today and stop being so intense and stirred up.
Calm down and lighten up! Laugh more and worry less. Stop ruining today worrying about yesterday or tomorrow—neither of which we can do anything about. We need to stop wasting our precious "now," because it will never come again. The next time you are tempted to get anxious or upset about something—especially something in the past or the future—think about what you are doing and turn your mind to what is going on today.
Learn from the past and prepare for the future, but live in the present.
My son, attend to my words; consent and submit to my sayings. Let them not depart from your sight; keep them in the center of your heart. For they are life to those who find them, healing and health to all their flesh. —Proverbs 4:20-22
In these verses, the writer used the words, attend to my words, which is another way of exhorting us to meditate. I love the fact that God not only frequently tells us to meditate—to ponder seriously—His Word, but He frequently promises results. It’s as if God says, “Okay, Joyce, if you meditate, here’s what I’m going to do for you.” In this passage, the promise is life and health. Isn’t that amazing? It’s even a promise that when you contemplate and brood over the Bible, it will affect your physical body.
We’ve known for a long time that when we fill our minds with healthy, positive thoughts, it affects our body and improves our health. This is just another way of repeating this truth. Or take the opposite viewpoint: Suppose we fill our minds with negative thoughts and remind ourselves how frail we are or how sick we were the day before. We soon become so filled with self-pity and self-defeating thoughts that we get even sicker.
I talk a lot about prosperity, and we really need to understand what it really means. (see Psalm 1 and Joshua 1:8). I believe that by “prosperity,” God means that we’ll be enriched and prosper in every part of our lives. It’s not a promise of more material wealth, but an assurance of being able to enjoy all the wonderful blessings we have.
Recently when I meditated on several passages in the Bible, I realized God was showing me that the Word has hidden treasures in it—powerful, life-giving secrets—which God wants to reveal to us. They are there for those who muse, ponder, and contemplate the Word of God.
What we often forget is that God wants our fellowship, our company, and our time with Him. If we want a deep relationship with our heavenly Father, we have to make quality time for God. I recently heard someone say, “Quality time comes out of quantity times.” In other words, it’s only as we spend time with God on a regular, daily basis that we have those special, life-changing moments. We can’t program them to happen, but if we’re there on a daily basis, God will cause some of those times to be quality times of special blessing.
D. L. Moody once said that the Bible would keep us from sin, or sin would keep us from the Bible. That’s the principle here. As we concentrate on God’s Word and allow it to fill our thoughts, we will push away all desire to sin or to displease God in any way. We become more deeply rooted in Him. Again, think of it in the negative. When our mind remains ¬focused on our problems all the time, we become consumed with them. If we meditate on what’s wrong with others, we see even more flaws and faults. But when we concentrate on God’s Word, light comes into our souls.
I want to go back one more time to that powerful statement in Philippians 4:8. No matter which translation or paraphrase we read it in, the message is powerful and exactly what we need to do to condition our minds for victory.
Here’s Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase in The Message: “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.”
Dear Father in heaven, teach me the blessings of pondering Your Word, of filling my heart and mind with Your spiritual manna. May I grow into maturity and become more and more like Your Son, Jesus. It’s in His name that I pray. Amen.
This is a very short but powerful verse. In fact it gives you the answer for your whole life: give it to the Lord.
This doesn’t mean you should bring Him just your worries and problems. It means bringing Him your entire existence and everything it entails. Grasping that truth will set you free from weariness and a feeling of wanting to give up.
I used to get worn out preparing for my meetings. I would get so intense about it and work so hard at making sure everything was right that I worked myself into exhaustion. Then I learned that all I have to do is give Him my life and everything in it. As we yield to Him, His peace fills us.
As you pray tonight, give your entire life to God and experience the freedom of knowing that whatever you face—good or bad—He has it under control.
But if anyone should sin, we have an Advocate (One Who will intercede for us) with the Father— [it is] Jesus Christ . . . And He [that same Jesus Himself ] is the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins, and not for ours alone but also for [the sins of ] the whole world. —1 John 2:1–2
You are responsible to people, but God has not made you responsible for their joy. You may have children, or siblings, or a spouse God has given you to love and nurture who seem uninterested in your testimony. Some people just refuse to be happy, so don’t let them steal your joy.
You cannot fix anyone, and you shouldn’t take the blame for everything that goes wrong in someone else’s life. Obviously, you cannot make everybody you know believe in Jesus. But you can get up every day and do your best, and then trust God for the rest.
A good man eats good from the fruit of his mouth. —Proverbs 13:2
We talk a lot, and quite often pay no attention to what we are saying, let alone think seriously about the impact of our words. But if we are honest with ourselves, we may find some of our moods— good and bad—are directly linked to our conversations.
Anytime you become aware of your mood, whether you are feeling a bit gloomy or feeling cheerful and blessed, you should ask yourself: What have I been talking about? Soon you will begin to see how your words connect to your moods and attitudes.
Why not decide each day before you even get out of bed to ask God to help you talk about only things that benefit you and every- one who hears you? Since we have the power to make our days better, we would be foolish indeed if we didn’t do it.
Power Thought: By God’s grace, I think and speak positive words, reaping the benefits in my moods and attitudes.
But [now] I am fearful, lest that even as the serpent beguiled Eve by his cunning, so your minds may be corrupted and seduced from wholehearted and sincere and pure devotion to Christ. —2 Corinthians 11:3
When encouraged to think positively, people often retort, “That is not reality.” But the truth is that positive thinking can change your current reality. God is positive, and that is His reality. It is the way He is, the way He thinks, and the way He encourages us to be. He says that all things can work out for good if we love Him and want His will in our lives (Romans 8:28). He says we should always believe the best of every person (1 Corinthians 13:7).
It has been said that 90 percent of what we worry about never happens. Why do people assume that being negative is more realistic than being positive? It is a simple matter of whether we want to look at things from God’s perspective or Satan’s. Are you doing your own thinking, choosing your thoughts carefully, or are you passively thinking about whatever happens to just come to your mind? What is the origin of your thoughts? Are they agreeing with Scripture? If they are not, they didn’t originate with God.
Thinking negatively makes you miserable. Why be miserable when you can be happy?
Lord, I ask You to make Your Word come alive to me so that I can see life issues from Your perspective. I want my thoughts to be in line with Yours. Amen.
Obey your spiritual leaders and submit to them [continually recognizing their authority over you], for they are constantly keeping watch over your souls and guarding your spiritual welfare, as men who will have to render an account [of their trust]. [Do your part to] let them do this with gladness and not with sighing and groaning, for that would not be profitable to you [either]. —Hebrews 13:17
Our modern society is absolutely filled with rebellion, and rebellion keeps us from hearing God. I have observed that many, many people have trouble relating to authority. This is true in marriages, families, schools, businesses, civic activities, and throughout our culture. submission to spiritual authority is practically nonexistent.
Often when a pastor tries to bring some kind of correction, people tend to become upset and want to leave the church—and that is not right. Paul corrected people often; that was part of his job as a spiritual leader and it remains a responsibility for spiritual leaders today. Paul said: “Not that we have dominion [over you] . . . but [rather that we work with you as] fellow laborers [to promote] your joy” (2 Corinthians 1:24). If we will understand and believe that spiritual authority exists to promote our joy, we will embrace it and when we do, our joy will increase—and so will our ability to hear God’s voice.
The spirit of rebellion that is at work in the world today is the spirit of the antichrist according to 2 Thessalonians 2:7–8, one that is willing to submit to no one. People today say they are demanding their rights, but in reality they are often only resisting any authority but their own.
God’s word for you today: Be submissive to authority as a service to the Lord, and He will bless and prosper you.
And the Lord said, My Presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest. —Exodus 33:14
This was God’s reply to Moses when he asked about the particulars of the mission he had been given and how he could get to know God better. God simply assured Moses that His presence would be with him and give him rest. This was considered by God to be a great privilege. To Him, it was all that Moses needed.
What was true for Moses is true for you. As much as you would like to know God’s plans and ways for you, all you really need to know is that His presence will be with you wherever He sends you and in whatever He gives you to do.
So when you get concerned that things aren’t going the way you think they should, just remember that God’s presence is with you and enjoy the rest He promised to give you.
When I am afraid, I will trust in you. —Psalm 56:3 NIV
I have heard that there are 365 references in God’s Word to “fear not”—one for every day of the year. Fear not means to resist fear and not let it control your actions.
The only acceptable attitude God’s children can ever have toward fear is, “I will not fear.” If you let fear rule in your life, it will steal your peace and joy and prevent you from fulfilling your destiny.
Are you confident in God? Do you believe right now, no matter what comes against you, victory is yours through Christ? Form a habit of saying out loud several times a day, “I will not fear.” If you do, then it will be one of the first things coming out of your mouth when fear does come.
Power Thought: I will not fear. I trust You, Lord.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of sympathy (pity and mercy) and the God [Who is the Source] of every comfort (consolation and encouragement). —2 Corinthians 1:3
We all want to be accepted, not rejected. But most of us have felt the isolation and emotional pain that come from feeling rejected. It hurts! The good news is that we can do something about it.
Years ago, I experienced a situation that brought back the old pain of rejection I had lived with before I began learning how to let God heal my heart. I reached out to someone who had hurt me greatly during my childhood. Instead of offering an apology, this person blamed me for something that wasn’t my fault! I wanted to retreat into a corner and nurse my wounds.
The emotional pain I suffered was intense. I wanted to hide and feel sorry for myself, but I now know how to respond differently. I know how to let God love me, comfort me and heal me through the power of the Holy Spirit. I asked Him to heal my wounded emotions and enable me to handle the situation as Jesus would have handled it. As I kept turning to Him, I felt almost as though soothing oil was being poured over my wounds.
Maybe my situation sounds familiar to you. Maybe you know what it feels like to be hurt, rejected, disappointed, or to experience some other painful emotion. It’s very hard to be your own comforter, and one of the best things you can do for yourself is to look to God for the comfort you need. Today’s verse promises that He is the source of all comfort, consolation and encouragement. When you need these things in your life, He’s the one who can provide them for you.
Love Yourself Today: Do you need comfort or consolation? Don’t try to take care of it yourself, but go to God and let His healing grace give you everything you need.
And God is able to make all grace (every favor and earthly blessing) come to you in abundance, so that you may always and under all circumstances and whatever the need be self-sufficient [possessing enough to require no aid or support and furnished in abundance for every good work and charitable donation]. —2 Corinthians 9:8
When Mother Teresa (1910–1997) left for India to begin her mission work there, she was told she could not do it because she had no money and no one to help her. I was told she said she had three pennies and God, and that was all she needed.
All of us are familiar with the amazing work she did to help the poor in India. Her willingness to stand with God alone, having all her confidence in Him, allowed God to work through her in a remarkable way. She was a rare individual who knew how to work with people, but who believed that with or without people, she could do all God was asking her to do.
That is the kind of attitude I want to maintain. We need people, but we know it is God working through people to help us. We look to God to meet our needs, not people. If He decides to change who He works through, that should be no concern of ours. My confidence must be in Him more than it is in anything or anyone else.
Lord, I am not Mother Teresa, but I want to learn to stand with You. I look to You to meet my every need. Amen.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, pretenders (hypocrites)! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the plate, but within they are full of extortion (prey, spoil, plunder) and grasping self-indulgence. —Matthew 23:25
Jesus frequently chastised the religious leaders of His day because although they did lots of good works, they did them with wrong motives. An abundance of religious works does not always mean the person doing them is close to God. I believe that religious activity can keep us from having an intimate relationship with God and hearing Him speak to us.
Jesus died to open the way for us to have intimacy with God, and that should always come before any good works. It is actually possible to do religious things while our hearts are far from God. We should frequently do “motive checks.” God is more concerned with why we do things than He is with what we do when it comes to religious works. He said true religion is to visit, help, and care for widows and orphans in their affliction (see James 1:27). God wants us to genuinely love and care for hurting people much more than He wants us to try to impress one another with long, eloquent prayers.
Religious people do many things to enhance their reputation rather than to serve God. They may engage in all sorts of good works, but they rarely, if ever, engage in really sharing their hearts with God or allowing Him to share His with them. These people seldom truly hear God’s voice or enjoy deep communion with Him.
God’s word for you today: Focus on your relationship with God, not on being religious.