Our Heavenly Father knows us through and through. He is aware when we sincerely want to get rid of the evil in our life. He knows we struggle with addictions we would like to conquer and undesirable attitudes we would like to change.
If we are honest to God, we must admit that we brag sometimes, eat too much, sigh now and then, feel that we are a little better than others, get irritable when interrupted doing our thing, are impatient with people who do not quite measure up to our moral standard, choose selfishly, lack heartfelt compassion, and lose sleep worrying about contingencies.
God understands that we are imperfect. We really desire to do right, but in the course of pursuing perfection we are bombarded with wrong suggestions. Our sinful nature sabotages what we know is best. We are in a constant tug-of-war between the compelling desire God has given us to be Christlike and our inherited human nature to have it our way. We are never free from the civil war raging within between opposing forces of light and darkness. We tackle life’s noblest quest to be like our Savior, but miserable failures sidetrack us.
We sometimes grow weary of this life of contradictions—struggling with sin gets next to us. But we should never give up. Though we are far from perfect, God does not condemn us—any friend of His Son is a friend of His. Trusting Jesus, the Father does not judge us. Instead He views us through eyes of mercy.
If we keep giving in to our sinful urges, we will self-destruct—if we yield to God’s ennobling Holy Spirit, we will be freed from ravages of sin.
If we allow our nature to be in charge, we will be agitated—if we let the Spirit control us, we will enjoy serenity.
If we get preoccupied with trinket gods, we will be perpetually dissatisfied—if we let eternal treasures permeate our thoughts, we will be content.
If we strut in our accomplishments, we are in for a fall—if we glory in the Master’s cross, He will promote us to a glorious destiny.
If we go off on our own, we will ruin our life—if we nestle near God’s loving heart, we can rest assured.
If we rely on our power to conquer wickedness, we will fail—if we rely on supernatural power, we will celebrate expansive, exhilarating vitality.
In light of these contrasting consequences, it is the highest wisdom to let God execute sinful desires lurking within us and run from all sin.
If someone has committed a crime worthy of death and is executed and then hanged on a tree,the body must never remain on the tree overnight. You must bury the body that same day, for anyone hanging on a tree is cursed of God. Deuteronomy 21:22–23 NLT
Rereading this ancient command thoughtfully and prayerfully, we detect shadows of Calvary. This Hebrew law gives a preview of Love.
Centuries later, a high priest rudely demanded that the Son of God answer spurious charges hurled against Him. On the verge of slaughter, Jesus remained silent. When the high priest misused God’s name to pressure Him to reveal whether He was the Messiah, Jesus replied, “Yes, I am. And what’s more, in the future the world will see Me majestically enthroned at God’s right hand and returning triumphantly on the clouds of heaven.” Horrified, the high priest tore his robe and ruled Jesus had committed blasphemy, a capital crime.
The Sanhedrin returned a guilty verdict, and innocent Jesus was deemed worthy of the death penalty. The flawless Lamb was sacrificed so you and I could be friends with God. His death in our place commends Him as worthy of our highest devotion.
When God’s dear Son was crucified, punctilious Jews did not want to see His body left on the cross the next day, since that was the Passover. So they requested that the Roman governor take the body down. The day of Jesus’ vicarious death was more critical than their “special Sabbath.” That dark day the Father’s obedient Son was wounded for humanity’s rebellion, flogged mercilessly so people could find mercy in relationship with God, and hurt to the depths of His soul so the spiritually sick could get well.
Jesus was mocked, so we could inherit a mansion. He was deserted, so we could delight in the pleasure of My company. He was spat upon, so we could be shielded from the effects of sin. He was bruised, so we could be blessed. He shouldered a heavy cross, so we could wear a crown. He was crucified, so we could be changed. He experienced agony, so we could experience ecstasy. He went to hell for a while, so we could go to heaven forever.
Hanging on a tree on Skull Hill, Jesus took upon Himself the insult for our wrongdoing. Others may curse the Savior, but He has transformed our life, so we show our love by blessing Him. Jesus offers us life’s greatest challenge—self-denial, cross bearing, and walking in His footsteps. To the world, this appears to be suicide; in reality, it is the only path to life.
Johnny R. Almond
Pastor, Hull’s Memorial Baptist Church – Friends on a Journey of Faith
Author, Gentle Whispers from Eternity—Scripture Personalized
Always love the LORD your God and walk in his ways. Deuteronomy 19:9 NLT
We have composed many heart letters to God, signing them “love always.” We really meant what we wrote at the time; however, our love has waned now and then. Is it our true intention to love the Lord with undying love?
God’s mercy saved us from the penalty of sin—rescuing us from eternal death. God’s grace saves us from sin’s power—morally resurrecting us from the corruption of an unbelieving society to a better life. God’s power will ultimately rescue us from the very presence of sin—sculpting us into His Son’s likeness, escorting you into paradise. God has always loved us and He always will—His faithful love endures forever. We should see that we never outlive love for God, that we allow no condition dissuade us from heartfelt devotion to our Creator, Protector, Redeemer, and Friend.
We should always love God in our worship. Every moment we can enjoy His constant Presence and rejoice in His unfailing friendship. Whatever happens, we can depend on His sustaining grace and trust His loving Providence. No matter how discouraging current events get, we can anticipate fulfillment of His bright promises. Worship involves being grateful for God’s’ lavish blessings, hiding behind faith’s indomitable shield, yielding to heaven’s perfect will, running from spiritual adultery, and reverently entering the throne room to enjoy the privilege of conversation with our Father.
We should always love God in our lifestyle. Obedience proves authentic love—only the obedient genuinely love God. Christ’s true friends stand out from those who are not because they follow His orders—they love each other in the same way Jesus loves them; they are busy making disciples and teaching them to carry out His commands; they are telling people about Him everywhere they go; they give as freely as they have received from Him. Real affection is expressed in actions, not only in love letters. We should not just talk about loving Jesus—we should walk with Him.
We should always love God—at all times. At sunrise, we can thank God for giving us a new beginning. At sunset, we can bless God for getting us through the day. When we feel stressed out, God is right beside us, and promises to stay. His love never quits—ours should not either.
We should always love God—in all our ways. God opens heaven’s windows and pours out blessings we do not have enough room to store. We can say thanks through preaching the good news from the pulpit of our personality and loving God with all our intelligence and energy. If we always give God first place in our heart, God will always give us first place in His.
Johnny R. Almond
Pastor, Hull’s Memorial Baptist Church - Friends on a Journey of Faith
Author, Gentle Whispers from Eternity—Scripture Personalized
Be on your guard not to let the base thought get the upper hand in your heart. DEUTERONOMY15:9MLB
As we read God’s Word, we should pay attention to waving red flags repeatedly warning us to be careful as we make our way through life. God cautions us to beware of falling into the evil one’s clever trap of compromise and idolatry. Over and over Scripture counsels discretion—telling us to avoid faddish foolishness and seek timeless wisdom.
At all costs, we must never give in to mindlessness. We would not think of swimming in shark-infested waters—then why live recklessly in a world ruled by invisible forces of the dark side? Wisdom stays on the alert spiritually!
We are not what we think we are; but what we think, we are. We are the product of our thoughts; so we should be careful what we permit to enter our mind.
What we put into our mind may eventually come out in words and actions. It’s a good idea to occasionally review what we are feeding our mind through television, movies, magazines, and the Internet. It’s certainly a good idea never to consume moral garbage! Most importantly, we should daily read heaven’s Textbook for Living.
Over the course of our lifetime, we can learn to focus our mind on what is good, and make it a habit to fix our thoughts on wholesome ideas. It takes practice to change how we think, but faith makes it possible. Guarding our mind, we can fill it with the beautiful, not the ugly. Programming our mental computer with true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, kind, lofty, and worthy thoughts—we make this formula for excellence the charter for our thought life.
We should never tell our self that our thoughts are hidden from God. Our inner life is transparent to the One who perfectly understands human nature. Our Creator understands us better than we know our self. This being the case, it is best for us to be open and honest with the Lord.
To ensure that vulgar and low ideas do not predominate our mind, we can overcome the deadly poison of evil with the antidote of goodness. With God’s help, we can cancel dishonesty with truth, self-centeredness with sacrificial love, perversion with purity, obscenity with decency, criticism with compliments, and mean-spiritedness with generosity. Above all, we should give God first place—running from false gods of the mind threatening to steal loyalty we owe him.
Letting God be our Best Thought is the best way to conscientiously guard our mind gate.