James 1:2-8 – “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”  NKJV

Let me begin by asking, “How many of you have been tempted?”  “How many have been tempted in any area and failed or succumbed to the temptation?”  I’m sure everyone has, and when that resulted, you were probably flooded with guilt, or you shrugged it off, saying, ‘Well, I’m only human.’

TEMPTATION is something that every human being encounters.  It does not respect age, gender, position, or ethnicity.  There is nothing we can do to prevent temptation from attempting to rear its head, and that head is sometimes quite ugly.  It sometimes comes uninvited! 

Let me offer an illustration I have used for years about a teenager being left alone at home.  The car was in the driveway, and the keys were in a bowl on the kitchen counter.  Temptation!  The young man said, “Dad, while you were away, I came very close to breaking my promise that I would not drive the car.  You left the keys on the kitchen counter, and I even carried them in my pocket for three days fighting temptation.”  The father responded, “Son, there is nothing like a temptation to show you what you will do if given the opportunity.”  Temptation can be viewed from several perspectives, and we usually view it from only one, the negative.

TEMPTATION, from the devil’s perspective, is an opportunity to defeat the purpose of God.  Truthfully, he can only succeed in tempting us in those areas in which we have something in common.  In John 14:30, Jesus told the disciples that the devil was coming, but he had no claim on Jesus.  Jesus said to them that there was nothing in Him that belonged to the devil; therefore, the devil had no power over Jesus.

TEMPTATION, from man’s perspective, is a severe test and an attempt to destroy faith and commitment.  Man views it as a Bad Thing!  Man sees temptation only in the light of it, pulling and tugging at his own evil thoughts, bents, and wishes.  James 1:13-15 declares, “Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.” 

TEMPTATION, from God’s perspective, is that it can be and often is a valuable and vital service in the lives of men.  It shows three things about us:  what we are, where we stand, and what we will be in the future.  Temptation is a factor in both the psychological and spiritual growth process that every human being must go through ‘IF’ they are to become mature individuals capable of living a full, meaningful, and victorious life.  In that light, Temptation’s real purpose is always to trigger a choice and provoke a definitive stand or action!  Consider the illustration of the teenager and the car keys again, if you will.

The keys presented a temptation that forced him to make a very difficult but vital decision.  He had to obey or disobey.  To disobey would be to commit an act of irresponsibility that would make it easier to do similar things in the future.  To obey would help create a pattern for mature and wise decisions in the future and make it easier to resist temptation and produce victory and liberty. 

Temptation is a dividing line between innocence and awareness.  Temptations come and Always present a lesson to be learned.  Our choices in temptation demonstrate whether the lesson has been learned or must be repeated, “The Wilderness Principle.”  How many times did Israel take another lap around the mountain?

For example, we teach children not to cross the street alone, but temptation comes into play the moment the child has the opportunity to disobey.  There is no one around to see, the street beckons and promises intriguing adventure.  The response to temptation will determine if the child can be trusted to play near the street or if more supervision and training are required.  Thus, how we face temptation affects every area of our personal life.

May the Lord help us to realize and learn the lessons rather than becoming stuck in an almost perpetual process of repeating or “making laps around the mountain.” 

God bless you richly as you face today with confidence and boldness in Jesus!


James 1:2-8 – “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. 5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”  NKJV

Another passage I suggest is 1 Corinthians 10:13 – “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”  I have learned and believe there are some clear promises in God’s word that we can expect as a part of our Spiritual Inheritance in Jesus.

            GUIDANCE ………  The Holy Spirit will guide us into all Truth. (John 16:13)

            INSTRUCTION …. The Holy Spirit will teach us God’s Truth.  (John 16:13)

            PROVISION ……… God will supply all our needs. (Philippians 4:19)

            COMFORT ……….  We will never be left comfortless. (John 14:18)

            DEFENSE ………    The Battle is not ours, but God’s. (2 Chronicles 20:15)

We are also told that when we do not know how to pray as we should, the Holy Spirit will make intercession for and through us.  God’s word informs us that people are defeated and destroyed because of a ‘lack of knowledge or ‘understanding.’  We have the incredible promise that IF we walk in the Light as He is the Light, we can ask what we will and expect an answer.  Please understand that I believe the Bible teaches that both the motive and request must be wholesome and pure.  If we ask anything According to His Will, the Bible informs us that It Is Done! Therefore, we need to know the following:


That is no small undertaking, and without His help, impossible!  One principle that affects us significantly in our walk and warfare and is often overlooked or completely misunderstood is Temptation.  I refer to it as the “Wilderness Principle,” and in that, we must become aware of the following:


Again, no small undertaking and without God’s help, impossible!  The Bible teaches that God’s desire for us is conformity with the Person and Image of Christ Jesus our Lord.  He wants us to know, enjoy, and live what I would call full salvation and complete deliverance.  He wants us to enjoy His abundant provisions daily and walk in victory, pulling down strongholds continually. 

Life is a process that begins at birth, progresses through adolescence, and to fullness in adulthood.  Our Spiritual Life and Walk involves numerous tests and encounters that help develop our character and give us a mark, a barometer, and an identity point that enables us to recognize where we stand spiritually.

Hebrews 4:6 informs us, “My people perish for lack of knowledge….”  That is a powerful truth, for if we do not Know God’s Will, we cannot Do God’s Will.  If we do not understand what He is doing, we may resist and rebel when we should be resting and learning.  But, if we understand the Principles of God, we know what to look for and what to do.  Victory comes in understanding and obedience. 

Therefore, James’ exhortation to “…count it all joy when you fall into divers temptations….”  Honestly, that is not difficult. It is impossible Without some understanding of the Purpose of Temptation in our lives and the careful guidance and assistance of the Holy Spirit.

I dare not stop there but will pause in this devotional and pick up in the next more on Temptation’s Purpose and Function in the believer’s life.   

God bless you richly as you embark on this leg of Life’s Journey. 


2 Timothy 4:16-18 – “At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. 17 But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also, I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. 18 And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!”  NKJV

In life, everyone has battles, everyone, no exceptions!  Some attempt to deny the existence of those struggles, but they exist.  Some desire anonymity and privacy; they never confess their struggles or need for help from anyone and fight alone.  Some have a false sense of their importance and strength and believe they need no one, so they fight alone. 

In the spiritual, physical, mental, emotional, or political realms, fighting alone is a flawed philosophy that results in defeat or delayed victory.  It produces hurt, wounds, casualties, and difficulties that might have been avoided by being United with others of precious faith. 

I am cognizant of the importance of developing ability, courage, confidence, and trust in enduring struggles alone.  There are some battles no one can fight for us; although they can stand with us in prayer, the battle is ours!  David knew what it was like to stand alone or without human help as a shepherd.  He was responsible for defending the sheep with his life, if necessary, and he did as he defeated the lion and the bear. 

Those events inspired trust and confidence in his heart that God was the friend spoken of in Proverbs 18:24, who ‘sticks closer than a brother.’  Thus, when he faced his epic battle with Goliath, the Philistine champion, his words express the root of his confidence and awareness that he was Never Alone! 

When Goliath expressed anger over being disrespected by Israel for sending out a boy to fight him, David revealed the heart of a warrior who knew an inner secret many never know.  David said, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you.” (1 Samuel 17:45-46).  David was alone, but he was not alone!

Elijah felt that intense aloneness after his battle with Jezebel and the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel and told the LORD, “I alone am left; and they seek my life.”  God chastened him and said, “Elijah, Elijah, Elijah, you forget who I am.  I have seven thousand in Israel, who have not bowed their knee to Baal, and they will stand with you.”  (Roy’s paraphrase).  

We need to remember that we are not alone, so stop being alone!  We are not invincible, so stop pretending to be. You are not superman or superwoman; you need others. 

Remember the counsel in Ecclesiastes 4 that two are better than one and that although one may be overpowered by another, two united can withstand. A threefold cord is not quickly broken.  When two horses pull in tandem, they get the strength of a third, invisible horse added to their efforts.  Yes, God is with us, but there are times when we need to open our hearts and allow others to join our struggle, and the multiplied power of unity brings victory.  In 2 Chronicles, when King Jehoshaphat and Israel were facing sure defeat, God told him not to be afraid because “the battle is not yours, but mine!” 

In America today, in the church, society, and government, there is a war raging that is destroying individuals, many of whom are trying to stand alone.  In life, we sometimes face potentially deadly diseases and err if we try to fight that fight alone.  The Bible tells us to Call for the Elders!  It did not say for the elders to seek us out but for us to open our hearts, acknowledge our needs, and request help! 

We need others to join their faith with us to fight the battle we are facing.  In spiritual matters, if we try to stand alone, we may be overcome by the enormity of the assault and become discouraged or even so fatigued that we give up and give in.  But, if we unite with others of like precious faith, we form a threefold cord where the one that is down is encouraged, the weak is strengthened, the feeble hands or lifted up, and together we win the fight. 

In America, we are dangerously divided to the point that even people of faith are at odds with each other.  Lasciviousness, selfishness, independence, and pride often prevent our willingness to Unite with others to combat the destructive plague.  

  • When we fight a unified fight, someone must lead. Otherwise, there is chaos, but the ultimate head must be Christ. 
  • When we fight a unified fight, we must keep our eyes on the true objective rather than succumb to personal preferences and desires. 
  • When we fight a unified fight, we commit to the struggle to the end or death as America did in World War II, where we determined that it was Victory regardless of the cost, sacrifice, struggle, duration, or demand.

Standing alone makes one an easy target, and the stress of the battle will fatigue even the hardiest of souls.  Discouragement is often the key to defeat, but when united, one encourages another, and the courage of one becomes the courage of all.  We, as iron, sharpen iron; whereas individually, we have only so much strength, collectively, we have incredible power. 

That is emphasized in Deuteronomy 32, where one can chase a thousand, and two can put ten thousand to flight. Suppose you extrapolate that you discover that the threefold cord is enormous and the fourth man in the fire provides victorious strength.  You are not alone, so Stop Being Alone!  We are the Body of Christ and the United States of America. Hence, whether physically, emotionally, spiritually, or politically seek and receive the help and strength of others and, most importantly, the LORD.

God, bless you richly is my prayer and desire!


Psalm 46:1-3 – “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  2 Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling.”  NKJV

If we examine the biblical record and the historical evidence of what was transpiring at the writing of this Psalm, we will discover that it was in the context of extreme stress and pressure—ever been there?  This is a word that is a healing balm for everyone who is bowed down under the load of the cares of this life.  Martin Luther, a man constantly under pressure and satanic attack, found that Psalm 46 was a Powerful, Comforting Promise of Peace and, because of its message, penned the hymn: “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God, A Bulwark Never Failing.” 

The first verses of this Psalm introduce the theme of the entire Psalm.  It could be paraphrased like this: “God Is Our Instant Help When We Are in A Tight Squeeze.”  The word “trouble” in Hebrew means to be restricted or tied up in a narrow, cramped place.  I know that place! 

There is an old saying we have all heard and probably used, “Between a Rock and a Hard Place.”  That is precisely the spot the Psalmist was in when God inspired him to pen the 46th Psalm.  Stress means that I am being pressed and pressured.  It is being squeezed into a tight place. Anxiety, and negative stress, are doing a number on us.  The Psalmist tells us that God is Our Refuge and Strength in those times!

When you are stressed under the heavy weight of pressure and being pushed down, exposing your weakness and humanity, that is an exceedingly difficult place.  But God promises that in those times, He is building a tent of refuge for us.  He is protecting us.  He surrounds us with His love, care, power, and might.  He has given His angels charge over us to Protect Us.  In those times and at all times, His Strength is available for us IF we learn to receive it and tap into it.

In this Psalm, the writer calls to mind three situations that can damage our faith and cause fear to well up in our hearts.  He identifies these situations to help us to realize that Stress & Pressure is not the Final desired, Destination in God – PEACE IS!

  • Natural Calamities – – Psalm 46:1-3.  When those come, the natural reaction is FEAR, but for the one TRUSTING in God, the reaction is or will become “I WILL NOT FEAR.’
  • Civil Disturbance – – Psalm 46:4-7.  The city was under attack, and the natural reaction was PANIC, but for the one TRUSTING in God, the reaction is or will become, “GOD IS IN THE MIDST OF HER; SHE WILL NOT BE MOVED.”
  • Post Battle Fatigue – – Psalm 46:8-11.  When it would be easy to give up or go into hiding the attitude of the person TRUSTING in God, we declare that we will “Cease Striving and know that God is God, so, therefore, I WILL NOT STRIVE.”

We can conquer fear, and if we take God’s Promises to heart and believe them to be current realities and available, then we can stand as the Psalmist and declare that even if the earth should change, the mountains quake, and fire roar around us, God is Our Bridge Over Troubled Waters!

The question is, “IS HE?”  Is He to us, personally?  We must search our hearts with total transparency and honesty and see where God fits in our lives in peace and trouble.  I want to offer a few passages that inspire confidence in your heart.

Isaiah 41:10 – “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.”

2 Timothy 1:7 – “For God, has not given us the Spirit of Timidity (fear), but of Power and Love and Discipline (sound mind).”

Joshua 1:9 – “Be strong and very courageous.”

Psalm 27:1 – “The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the defense (strength) of my life; whom shall I dread?”

Psalm 27:10 – “For my father and mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me up.”

In times of heavy assault from stress and pressure, God extends to us His invitation to Come to Him and Rest in His Loving Embrace and Protective Covering.  In those times, we are to Stand Fast as Psalm 46:5 declares, “God is in the midst of her; she will not be moved.” 

The word “moved” in Hebrew means to totter and shake.  The late Elvis Presley made the song “All Shook Up” popular.  He was born dirt-poor in a little Mississippi town and was an only child.  He had little encouragement and no special skills.  At 18, making $14 a week as a truck driver, he made a recording on a lark.  You know the rest of the story as he became the best-paid male entertainer in America.  But shortly before Elvis died, he said, “I would give a million dollars for one week of a normal life and peace.”  Money cannot relieve stress, and fame won’t cure it.  The Only Cure is God!

I want to pursue this at least one more time, so I will pause here and say, May the Lord Bless you and keep you and Guard and Guide you as you enjoy this day in Him!


Psalm 46:1-3 – “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.  2 Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; 3 Though its waters roar and be troubled, though the mountains shake with its swelling.”  NKJV

Philippians 4:6-7 – “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  NKJV

Stress can be a silent killer both in the natural and the spiritual.  I contend that more people probably suffer under the heavy burden of stress and pressure than in any other generation.  More people are dealing with physical, emotional, and spiritual disorders.  That is due to the unbelievably fast-paced pressure-packed way of living that is a common condition in our present world. 

Stress and pressure are two everyday companions of many people in the church and the world.  One of the funniest but almost too realistic for comfort children’s books I have ever seen is, “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, Not Good, Very Bad Day.”

This little boy named Alexander was having one of those days.  Nothing went right, and he encounters back-to-back disappointments and tragedies beyond what any human should be expected to endure.  He moved from one predicament to another, and as the old saying goes, “He cannot win for losing.” 

When he woke up that morning, he said, “I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and not it is in my hair.  When I got out of bed this morning, I tripped on my skateboard and, by accident, dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running, and I could tell this was going to be a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day! 

After that horrible beginning, he endured a terrible day at school, an awful visit to the dentist, and a no-good stop at the shoe store.  Alexander slumped in his chair at the dinner table and realized his troubles were not over.  He hated Lima Beans, and what was on his plate?  Lima Beans! 

There was kissing on the T.V., and he hated kissing. His bath water was too hot, and he got soap in his eyes.  He was playing with a marble, and it went down the drain.  To add insult to injury, his mother laid out his railroad train pajamas, and he hated those pajamas.  When he went to bed, his brother, Nick, took back his pillow, and his Micky Mouse Night Light burned out. To make matters worse, he bit his tongue, and his cat wanted to sleep with another brother, not him.  He lamented, “It has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day!”   Have You Ever Had One of Those Days?

Days like that do not inspire us to venture into new realms.  They cause us to become hermits and hide from the rest of the world.  We have all had those days!  They create tension and cause us to become fretful and filled with anxiety.  Humans are very strange creatures.  We tend to run when we lose our way.  Instead of pausing to regroup and regain our sense of direction, we bounce off the walls going from place to place, Hurrying, Worrying, and Scurrying.   

In times like that, we must stop and allow the Holy Spirit to take complete control and bring order to our lives.  We need to discover that God is God!  He will be exalted!  He is with us!  He is our strong tower!  But victory does not always come overnight or instantly.  God often uses an infinite number of vehicles, tools, and pressures to help us grow.  There is no Instant growth, spiritually or naturally!

Stress results from taking more on us than God intended us to take.  We begin to assume the place of God and play God in the matter.  That is both a mistake and a sin.  I saw a survey and research report by Dr. Thomas H. Homes of Washington University in which he studied Measured Stress in terms of “Life Changing Units.” 

On his scale, the Death of a Spouse equaled 100 Units. Divorce produced 75 Units.  Pregnancy equaled 40 Unites and Remodeling a Home was 25 Units.  Christmas, according to Dr. Homes, was 12 Units.  The conclusion was that from a strictly human viewpoint, no person, in his own strength, could handle 300 or more Units in a Twelve-Month Period without suffering physically and emotionally for the next two years.

Each of us faces situations virtually every day with stress and Pressure.  That is a fact of life and not something that we can avoid.  If we become crippled by stress, we cannot be all God wants us to be.  We will not be a witness for Jesus if we are crammed into the Pressure Cooker of Stress that we cannot enjoy even the simplest pleasures of life. 

Unless we learn the Secrets of God regarding the cares of this life, we will become virtually useless for the Kingdom of God.  If not useless, we will become so hampered and restricted that we are highly ineffective.  We will not be able to Trust God, Help Others, and Enjoy the Abundance of Life that Jesus came to bring.  Philippians 4:6 advise us, “Be anxious for nothing….”  The converse is “Be content and at peace in everything.”

Psalm 46 gives us a beautiful picture of God’s Promise and the Place He desires for us, and we will delve into that in the next devotional, but for now, we pause, and I pray the peace of God upon each of you! 

God, bless you richly is my prayer and desire!

REMEMBER THAT GOD HAS GIVEN US – – Not Just Good, but the Best – Part 3…

2 Corinthians 3:7-11 – “But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, 8 how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? 9 For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. 10 For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. 11 For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious.”  NKJV

I believe that the paragraph of our text speaks to the heart of the entire chapter and the message of Paul’s call for Grace, not Law.  It must be studied in connection with Exodus 34:29-35.  Paul never denied the glory of the Old Covenant Law because there was glory in giving the Law and maintaining the tabernacle and temple services.  Paul argued that the Glory of the New Covenant of Grace was far superior, not that the Old had no glory.

He gave definitive reasons for his argument that can provide us with help, hope, and comfort.  In 2 Corinthians 3:7-8, he reveals that the glory of the New Covenant means Spiritual Life, not Death.  Do you remember what happened when Moses came down from the Mountain after his conversation with God?  His face was shining with the Glory of God.  It got the attention of the people very powerfully.  Paul was arguing from lesser to greater glory.  If there is glory in the Law that brought death, how much more is there in the New Testament’s Covenant of Grace that brings life?

  • The Law cannot justify the Lost Sinner. (Galatians 2:16). 
  • The Law cannot give a Sinner Righteousness. (Galatians 2:21).  
  • The Law cannot give the Holy Spirit.  (Galatians 3:2). 
  • The Law does not give an Inheritance. (Galatians 3:18). 
  • The Law cannot give Life. (Galatians 3:21). 
  • The Law cannot give Freedom. (Galatians 4:8-10). 

In 2 Corinthians 3:9-10, he reveals that the New Covenant Glory means righteousness, not condemnation.  The Law’s purpose was not salvation because salvation cannot come by works.  The Law produces Condemnation, a Mirror that reveals just how dirty, vile, corrupt, and lost we really are.  It shows our filth but cannot cleanse us; that must come through Grace!  Man’s need is for Righteousness, and God gives His Righteousness through Faith in Jesus Christ!  Galatians 2:21, “For if righteousness [comes] by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” 

If you try to be a Law Keeper, you will find yourself feeling more and more guilty every day and with every failure to measure up.  On the other hand, if we trust Christ and receive His Grace and live by Faith, we will experience freedom, acceptance, and joy.  2 Corinthians 3:10 tells us that the Law really “lost its glory” when compared to the surpassing glory of the Ministry of God’s Grace. 

In 2 Corinthians 3:11, we find that the New Covenant is Permanent, not Temporary.  Notice the tense, “that which is passing away.”  Paul wrote at a time in history when the ages were overlapping.  The New Covenant of Grace had come in, but the Temple Services were still being carried on, and the nation of Israel was yet under the Law.  The Judaizers wanted to mix the two covenants.  Paul asked an incredibly pertinent question, “Why go back to that which is temporary and fading away?”  He argued that we are to “Live in the Glory of New Covenant which is getting greater and greater.”

God’s Grace is an Inside Job!  It changes us from the inside, and then that becomes visible on the outside, not vice versa. 

God bless you richly as you live Free in Jesus! 

REMEMBER THAT GOD HAS GIVEN US – – Not Just the Good, but the Best – Part 2…

2 Corinthians 3:4-6 – And we have such trust through Christ toward God. 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God, 6 who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”  NKJV

Back to the contrast, Paul gave of the Gospel of Legalism, the Grace of God, and the reality of Death vs. Life.  One of the many things I love about the apostle Paul was his quickness to give God Glory rather than seeking to call attention to himself.  Paul continually expressed his confidence and trust in God and declared adamantly that his (Paul’s) sufficiency was from God, not anything within himself.  We must never forget that Paul was a brilliant, highly educated man, yet he refused to depend or rely on his own adequacy; he depended on the Lord in all things and at all times.

The Legalist told the people that anyone who kept the law would become spiritual and gain special acceptance and favor with God.  All Legalistic ministries have a way of inflating people’s egos and creating false security in actions rather than pointing to Grace. 

When you promote Grace, you must tell people they are sinners who cannot save themselves.  That is not very ego-building.  Paul’s testimony is found in 1 Corinthians 15:10, “But by the grace of God I am what I am.”  I like that!  No one is sufficient in himself to minister to the hearts of people; that sufficiency, ability, and power must come through the Holy Spirit and His anointing.

I find the names or ways Paul identifies the Old and New Testaments interesting.  In (v.6), he calls the Old Testament The Letter, and the New Testament is referred to as The Spirit as he referenced the message of Grace. 

I must insist that you not assume that Paul was contrasting or offering two approaches to the Bible.  He was not contrasting Literal Interpretation and Spiritual Interpretation.  He reminds us that the Old Testament Law could not give life; according to Galatians 3:21, it is the ministry of death.  On the other hand, the Gospel of Grace offers life to those who believe because of the Person of Jesus Christ and His Work on the Cross.

I also must insist that you refrain from assuming Paul to be saying that The Law was a mistake or that its ministry is not important.  It is our School Master to bring us to Grace.  Paul understood that the lost sinner must be slain by The Law and left hopelessly and helplessly lost and condemned before God’s Grace could save him!  

Legalism brings death, but Grace brings life!  Preachers and teachers who major in rules (minors) and regulations keep their flocks under a dark cloud of guilt, and that is not where God wants us.  That cloud of guilt kills joy, saps power, and renders our witness ineffective. Christians who constantly measure themselves against others, comparing results and competing, soon find that they depend on the flesh, not the Power of the Spirit of God.  The Bible speaks of ‘having a form of godliness but denying the power thereof.’

There has never been a standard that could transform people’s lives, including the Ten Commandments. Only and I mean Only, God’s Grace can do that.  Only the Grace of God ministered by the Holy Spirit can transform a lost sinner into a living epistle that glorifies Jesus Christ! 

Paul’s doctrine of the New Covenant was not an invention of his own intellect.  He had studied and read passages like Jeremiah 31:27-34; and Ezekiel 11:14-21.  The Old Covenant Law, with its emphasis on external obedience, was preparation for the New Covenant message of Grace, where the emphasis is on the Internal and the transformation of the heart.

The Old Covenant is incredibly important but pales in the glory of the New Covenant, a Better Covenant established on Better Promises. The promises of the Old were nothing short of amazing.  I want to talk about that contrast but will pause here and pick up next time in contrasting the glories of the two covenants.

God, bless you richly is my prayer and desire!


Exodus 12:12-13 – “For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. 13 Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”  NKJV

As God prepared Israel for their deliverance from Egyptian bondage, the one thing they had to do to be spared was take the “blood of the sacrificial lamb” and place it on the doorposts of their houses.  When the destroying angel came into the land and saw the BLOOD, the inhabitants would be spared; otherwise, Death would be the result. 

This was symbolic and pointed to the time when Christ, our sacrificial lamb, would offer up His innocent blood on the Cross for the sin of mankind.  In our reception of His sacrifice and grace, the Holy Spirit applies the Blood of the Lamb to our hearts, and we are spared from the plague of sin.  Only by the blood are we spared!  It is not by works, not earned, not deserved; it is “by grace, through faith” that we enter into the family and kingdom of God.  

NOTHING BUT THE BLOOD!  The old gospel song says it perfectly:

            “What can wash away my sin?

             Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

            What can make me whole again?

            Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

             Oh! Precious is the flow.

            That makes me white as snow.

            No other fount I know,

            Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

The prophet Isaiah penned it perfectly in Isaiah 1:18 – “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.   If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword.”

Some in today’s Politically Correct faux tolerant world do not like the mention of The Blood.   They consider it too vile for polite society and seek to eliminate it from religious conversation.  Unfortunately for them, the Blood opens salvation’s door!  Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission, as declared by Paul in Hebrews 9:22.  Forgiveness is impossible without the Blood of Christ shed for sin.  He paid the divine penalty, and we have HOPE and LIFE through His sacrifice!

What can wash away my sin?  NOTHING BUT THE BLOOD OF JESUS!   So today, if you have not received Him, I urge you to listen to the nudging of the Holy Spirit and allow God to apply the blood of Jesus to the doorposts of your heart.

May you walk in the rich blessings of the Father today and every day!


2 Kings 5:9-14 – “Then Naaman went with his horses and chariot, and he stood at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean.” 11 But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, “Indeed, I said to myself, ‘He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.’ 12 Are not the Abanah and the Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So, he turned and went away in a rage. 13 And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 14 So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.”  NKJV

This account of Naaman, the Syrian commander, is one of several in the Bible that reflects ‘unrealistic’ or ‘unfulfilled expectations’ and the problem therein.  Naaman had leprosy, which was a virtual sentence of death.  His wife had a slave girl from Israel, and she said to her master’s wife, “If only my master were with the prophet in Samaria!  For he would heal him of his leprosy.”  Naaman’s wife relayed the information to Naaman, and he relayed it to his king.  The story begins with a letter sent to the king of Israel to heal Naaman. 

Imagine, if you will, receiving a directive from a powerful enemy to do something you could not do.  How would you view it?  The King of Israel considered it a provocation to war and was distraught.  Elisha heard about the King’s hysteria and directed that Naaman be sent to him.  Naaman followed the king’s directive, and his entourage proceeded to Elisha’s house; the problem opened in a major way and revealed the “Problem of Human Expectations.”

Elisha told the commander to go to the Jordan river and dip himself seven times.  Naaman was furious! He considered it an insult for someone of his stature to be instructed to do that.  He expected pomp and ceremony. He expected the prophet to stand before him, wave his hands over the leprosy and heal him in a dramatic fashion.  He expected something that, in his mind, would be fitting for someone of his stature.  He left furious, and one of his servants took his life into his own hands and approached Naaman asking if Elisha had instructed him to do something great, difficult, or monumental, would he not have attempted it?  As a result, Naaman realized he had nothing to lose and obeyed.  The result was a complete cleansing of leprosy and restoring his flesh.

Had he allowed his ‘unrealistic’ and ‘unfulfilled expectations’ to rule, he would have died in Syria a Leper! How often do we fix in our minds how things should be and reject everything that does not fit that image and fulfill that expectation? Could it be that we fail to receive answers to our prayers because we ‘predetermine’ how we expect things to be, and when they do not satisfy those expectations, we reject all else? 

Isaiah 55:9 reminds us that God’s ways are higher than ours, and when we attempt to subrogate our ways over God’s, we are doomed to the realm of ‘unfulfilled expectations.’  I see it in relationships, businesses, churches, and spiritually that ‘unrealized, unfulfilled and unreasonable expectations’ bring disappointment and failure.  We do not have to live at that address, for we can subject our expectations to God’s will and ways and allow the Holy Spirit to birth in us the purposes of God. 

Demanding from others that they meet our expectations can and often is unrealistic and a catalyst to difficulty.  I am human.  You are human.  We are flawed vessels! If we expect perfection from flawed vessels we are not being realistic.  We need to be like the Naaman who went down into the Jordan, not the Naaman that drove off in a huff, wounded because his expectations were not satisfied.  I am learning daily how Paul could say he was content wherever he found himself.  His expectations were God, not his preconceived ideas of how things should be.

God bless you as you go through this day!


John 15:13-16 – “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.  14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.  15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.”  NKJV

There is an overriding reality that is inescapable as we study Scripture.  It leaps forth in the 66 Books of the Bible and is visible page after page and passage after passage.  It is something almost impossible to explain and almost inexplicable.  That of which I speak is the Incomparable and Incomprehensible Love God has for mankind! 

We are His creation, but our history has been one of rejection and rebellion.  He would have easily been justified in smashing the race like bugs and virtually did that saving only Noah and his family.  He has demonstrated His incredible patience and willingness to give us second, third, fourth, and fiftieth changes, yet mankind continues to seek something other than Him.

The work of Christ on the Cross is a testimony of the depth of God’s love for mankind as is revealed in John 3:16.  Jesus, in our text, testifies that He considers us His friends! In laying down His life, He has demonstrated the “no greater love.”  Peter tells us in 2 Peter 3:9 that God “… is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.”  Paul wrote in Romans 8:37-39 regarding God’s love for mankind and declared that Nothing could separate us from God’s love.  In Ephesians 2:4-5 he reminds us of the depth of God’s love.

God’s love is unconditional, whereas human love is conditional.  If others reject us and spurn our demonstrations of love by disrespecting, disappointing, and turning their backs on us, love would not describe our feelings toward them.  But with God, He loves us regardless.  His unconditional love will not vacate His holiness or judgment.  He has promised that if we ‘come to Him,’ He will not reject us, but if we reject Him and die in that condition, He cannot overlook our sins. 

Jesus wept over Jerusalem because of the inhabitants’ continual rejection. I believe God weeps over our world today.  There have been at least three times in my life when I heard God weeping as I was in prayer meditating on the Word. It was one of the most disturbing experiences I have ever had. I sensed His heartbreak, and I was broken.  The Omnipotent One could crush us like aluminum cans and remove us from the planet with the stroke of His finger. Yet He chooses to Love us and demonstrates longsuffering beyond human comprehension.

We can never merit that love, but through grace, He extends it.  As I meditate on this today, I tremble, realizing the times I have taken His mercy for granted.  How could anyone reject such incomparable love? 

How?  I believe that to reject God’s love, we must become so self-absorbed that our love for ourselves overpowers our reason.  I believe that to reject God’s love; we must believe the Lie of the devil and elevate ourselves to be equal with God in our minds.  Jesus said in John 8:32 – “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  If we truly SEE the finished work of Christ on the Cross and God’s Love, we will respond and be made free.

I pray that if anyone is teetering on the fence, undecided about God, His mercy, grace, and love, you have your eyes opened and See.   I pray that each of us gains spiritual sight to a greater measure and Sees God’s, Great Love!

God bless you as you go through this day!