Weekly Devotions

Choose to Embrace the Mystery of Life

Just as I moved past them, I encountered him.  I found the one I adore!  I caught him and fastened myself to him, refusing to be feeble in my heart again.  Now I’ll bring him back to the temple within where I was given new birth–into my innermost parts, the place of conceiving.”  ~Song of Solomon 3:4, TPT

The book of the Song of Solomon finds a message of intimacy ignited.  The conversation between lovers in the Holy Scripture is descriptive and passionate.  It awakens love and fires up the mingling of souls. 

The scripture used in today’s article speaks of the greatest intimacy.   An encounter with the one adored.  Anchored to the one adored.  Secured in the one adored.  So much so, that the heart is no longer incompetent.  The new birth experience of our past has come alive again from the embrace of love.  The conception of trust, joy, and peace in our relationship with God has brought about a new fire of love.

Conception:  An origin or new beginning.  A design or plan.  Maybe this last quarter of 2019 can bring to you a new beginning . . . a purpose and plan.

God would speak to us today and tell us that life has its demands.  Trials may come and blessings as well.  But He must remain the focus.   He will fill every void and enhance every joy.  He watches over us.  He whispers to us.  He never leaves us, whether we are in a depressed mood or not.  God enjoys walking alongside you.  He enjoys the mundane tasks that you participate in.  He awaits your invitation.  He wants you to encounter Him and fasten yourself to Him. 

God wants us to choose Him when the distractions arise.  When fear grips our souls.  When people reject us.  When isolation strangles us.  When laughter has been lost and we forget the One who fills us with inner joy. 

Choose to love God.  Choose to love others.  Choose the path of peace even when it leads through pain.  God says, “Believe in Me.  Believe that I have the power to answer your prayers.  But I also have the wisdom to decline them.”  God will teach you through all the moments of life about His amazing love and grace. 

Choose today to embrace the mystery of life with God.  Walk out the remainder of this year in an empowered love.  Let intimacy with God take you to a new spiritual understanding.

                                                                                 ~Pastor Greg


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Do You Have a Posture of Forgiveness?

“If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you.”  ~Matthew 6:14, NLT
 
“Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.”  (The Lord’s Prayer) ~Matthew 6:12; Luke 11:4, NLT
 
Forgiveness is best understood by how God handles it.  Forgiveness is an act of God whereby He takes away the obstacles or barriers that separate His creation from His presence.  When you look to the account of Adam and Eve’s disobedience you can see that is exactly what God did.  He pursued Adam and Eve.  God opens a way for reconciliation.  The one who was offended pursued the one who was the offender.  Essentially we have no way of restoring our fellowship with God.  God’s motivation was to restore our fellowship with Him so He introduces forgiveness. 
 
God also offers forgiveness so people can fellowship with one another.  Jesus emphasized this in the Lord’s Prayer when He says, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” ~Matthew 6:12, KJV.   What Jesus is saying here, is that the one who has been forgiven should have a posture of forgiveness as well.   We should give in the same manner as we have freely received.  Being able to dispense forgiveness regularly, often, and willingly, is essentially the sign that you have openly been a recipient of God’s benevolent forgiveness. 
 
Usually when we have been wronged those who have offended us will usually not come forward seeking reconciliation with an apology.   They will not display any contrition for their actions unless they have been caught.  They might even pass the buck and blame it on someone else.  But Jesus taught us to forgive others the way God has forgiven us.  No apology needed! 
 
We should always remember that God demonstrated His great love toward us while we were still sinning. ~Romans 5:8.  God with ostentatious pageantry lavished His love on us before we ever thought about apologizing for our sin. 
 
“Look with wonder at the depth of the Father’s marvelous love that He has lavished on us!  He has called us and made us His very own beloved children.” ~1 John 3:1, TPT
 
God’s version of forgiveness requires acknowledging His forgiveness of us, while we were still sinning, and like so, lavish forgiveness on others too.
 

                                                                                    ~Pastor Greg


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AM I LIVIN’ FORGIVEN?

“’Father,’ the son said, ‘I have sinned against God and against you.  I am no longer fit to be called your son.’  But the father called his servants.  ‘Hurry!’ he said.  ‘Bring the best … and let us celebrate with a feast!”  ~ Luke 15:21-23, GNT

 
 

The story of the Prodigal son is an amazing picture of forgiveness.  One-third of the father’s estate was wasted away.  Lost forever.  He could not recoup what his son had squandered.  And yet enthusiastically he responds with forgiveness and restores his son’s position in the household.  Many questions in my mind have always been a follow up to this parable.  Does the son continue to live in that forgiveness?  Did he repeat his past mistakes?  Has his life really changed?

 
 

Essentially that’s the emphasis of this article.  Has my life changed?  Has your life changed?  Are we livin’ forgiven?  Have I received God’s forgiveness and has that radically changed my life?  Has my life been transformed like only God’s forgiveness can do?  Or does my life continue on the same as before? 

 
 

The inability to live forgiven causes us to be sick.  Sick emotionally.  Sick physically.  Sick relationally and spiritually.  Karl Meninger, the famed psychiatrist, once said that if he could convince every person in a psychiatric hospital that they were forgiven, if he could do that, 75% of them would walk out of the hospital the very next day.

 
 

Our biggest problem is not psychological.  Our biggest problem is forgiveness.  We carry around the baggage of doubt, guilt, grudges, regret and fear.  These are symptoms of the un-forgiven life.  They become heavy weights that shackle us down and we are unable to move forward in the victorious life God has meant for us to live.

 
 

The writer of Hebrews reminds us to “let us rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way, and of the sin which holds on to us so tightly, and let us run with determination the race that lies before us.”  ~ Hebrews 12:1, GNT

 
 

When God’s forgiveness enters our life, it’s a power and freeing thing.  When God’s forgiveness comes into our life, it removes our doubt.  When God’s forgiveness enters our life, we no longer have guilt, the grudges that we have carried around for so long, that weighed us down, we can then lay those aside, and God replaces that with freedom.  When God’s forgiveness enters our life, the regrets that we have had about our past have been replaced with hope.  And then when God’s forgiveness comes into our life, we no longer have to live with fear. 

 
 

Why not live this day and all of those days ahead of you … FORGIVEN! 

 
 

~ Pastor Greg


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Is WORK a Four-Letter Word?

“Put your heart and soul into every activity you do, as though you are doing it for the Lord himself and not merely for others.”  ~ Colossians 3:23, TPT
 
The title of the today’s article comes in the form of a question.  I asked it that way to draw attention to an important subject matter.  Work!  Each week the average adult spends nearly 40% of his or her waking hours working.  Given that work occupies so much of our time, it would be rational to expect that God cares about what we produce during those hours and how we go about producing it.  In fact, He does.  Scripture tell us God Himself worked and that He has entrusted us with important work.   The word WORK has four letters but it is not imbued with a foul connotation. 
 
Work, in general, is good.  After all, it was ordained by God.   Scripture tells us that everything God creates is, in and of itself, good (see James 1:17).  Work done well brings a sense of personal accomplishment as we put our God-given talents and abilities to use. When our work helps others, it becomes a way to serve them.  God, in effect, designed work so that it might be a blessing to us and to others.  The baker who makes bread is a blessing to his customers.  The salesperson is a blessing to her customers by guiding them to find the best product or service that meets their needs.  The teacher who educates his students is a blessing to them. In each of these examples, the worker likely experiences the joy that comes from doing work that produces something good that benefits others.
 
On a practical level, work is good because the wages we earn help us meet our financial responsibilities to support our family members, the Church and people God brings to our attention who are in need.  Throughout the Bible, we see passages that condemn people who are capable of working and have the opportunity to work but don’t because of laziness (for example, see Proverbs 10:4; 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12).  For society, work is also good in that it contributes to bringing order out of chaos so that people are more likely to experience shalom, a Hebrew word which means a state of flourishing.  When we do work that serves others, we experience joy and contentment from knowing our work matters. 
 
So I want you this Labor Day weekend to take a different slant on how you view work.  We often see the drudgery of our work.  The hours spent.  The tasks performed.  The routine becomes monotonous.  But God wants us to see HIM in our work!  God wants you to see the opportunities to be involved with HIM on a greater scale.  Your work does matter!  It matters to God!  It matters to HIS kingdom. 
 
How people see your attitude about work can impress or negate your testimony as a fully developing follower of Jesus Christ.  After all we are to put our heart and soul into every activity including our work!
 

~Pastor Greg


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Fear Not – Trust and Hope in God

“In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name.  Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord, for our hope is in You alone.”  ~ Psalm 33:21, NLT

 
 

Wonderful is the fact that Christians can rejoice even in the deepest distress; although trouble may surround us, we can still sing; and like many birds, we sing best in our cages. The waves may roll over us, but our souls soon rise to the surface and see the light of God’s countenance; we have a buoyancy about us that keeps tour head always above the water and helps us to sing amid the tempest, “God is with me still.”

 
 

To whom shall the glory be given? Oh, to Jesus-it is all by Jesus.  Trouble does not necessarily bring consolation with it to the believer, but the presence of the Son of God with him in the fiery furnace fills their heart with joy.  

 
 
  • He is sick and suffering, but Jesus visits him and makes his bed for him.
  • He is dying, and the cold, chilly waters of Jordan are gathering about him up to the neck, but Jesus puts His arms around him and cries, Fear not, beloved; to die is to be blessed; one writer said, “the waters of death have their fountainhead in heaven; they are not bitter, they are sweet as honey, for they flow from the throne of God.”
 
 

As the departing saint wades through the stream, and the billows gather around him, and heart and flesh fail him, the same voice sounds in his ears: “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God.”

 
 

As he nears the borders of the infinite unknown and is almost frightened to enter the realm of shades, Jesus says, “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

 
 

The believer is strengthened and consoled, he is not afraid to die; no, he is even willing to depart, for since he has seen Jesus as the morning star, he longs to gaze upon Him as the sun in his strength.  Truly, the presence of Jesus is all the heaven we desire.

 
 

My God, the Spring of all my joys, The Life of my delights The glory of my brightest days, And comfort of my nights! In the darkest shaded, I He appear, my dawning has begun He is my soul’s bright morning star, And He is my rising son. ~ Issac Watts                                    

 
 

~Pastor Greg


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Temptation Defeated

“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation.”  ~ James 1:12a

 
 

Earlier this year I preached a message on temptation.  And what know about temptation is that it is relentless.  We can never address this subject too often.  We need to constantly be reminded that we are in a war. 

 
 

When reading the book of James chapter 1 in the scriptures we are reminded of some very powerful truths.  In the verse above it lists testings and temptations.

 
 

            Testings are from God and are meant to help us grow in our faith.             Temptations are from Satan and are meant to cause us to sin.

 
 

In this life we must be realistic, responsible and ready if we are to defeat temptation.  James, the brother of Jesus states … “when you are being tempted …” We shouldn’t be surprised under the duress of temptation.  You will be tempted and when you are tempted remember, God has never tempted anyone to do wrong.  Temptation comes from our own desires.  So we need to be ready.   Paul the Apostle states, “… in order that satan might not outwit us, we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:11). 

 
 

Temptation works this way:  It begins with our own desires.  Those desires can quickly deceive us.  That deception turns towards disobedience.  And our disobedience leads to spiritual death (James 1:14-15).

 
 

Then James adds … “don’t be deceived.”  He passed over our desires to the idea of deception.  Satan uses our desires, some good some bad.  We all have them.  His deception is a twisting of those desires for our own sinful pleasures.  So don’t be deceived!  Don’t allow the deception. 

 
 

Verse 17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the heavenly lights, who does not change like the shifting shadows.”   God’s ways are enlightening.  “God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear.  But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it!”  ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13

 
 

The promise of verse 12 is a powerful encouragement:  “If your faith remains strong, even when surrounded by life’s difficulties, you will continue to experience the untold blessings of God!  True happiness comes as you pass the test of faith, and receive the victorious crown of life promised to every lover of God!” 

 
 

~ Pastor Greg


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