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Oh, The Deep, Deep, Love Of Jesus!

Oh, The Deep, Deep, Love Of Jesus!

Read Luke Chapter 22
Lk 22:31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” 33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with You to prison and to death.” 34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know Me.”
More often than not, after we have experienced a failure in our morality, we wonder how or if our Lord could possibly accept us back into His good graces. Many times, I have wondered if God had once more ounce of forgiveness toward me left in Him. As we look at this passage, something wonderful pops off the page which answers that question and just blows our minds. Do you see it?
At this juncture in the relationship between Jesus and Peter, an important truth is revealed. Jesus knew exactly what Peter was going to do. He knew that Peter was going to commit an atrocious sin. He was going to deny Christ three times in front of mankind. As we think of our sin, we might say that our same-sex sins are worse than that, and I would be remiss to disagree. At the same time, however, we can also see that Peter’s denial of Christ was also pretty severe.
Consider then, how incredibly beautiful was Jesus’ attitude toward Peter in this exchange. Jesus could have grabbed Peter by the shoulders, shook him silly, and said, “Don’t you dare deny Me, Peter!” In effect, His reaction was simply, “Peter, I know what you are going to do.” That knowledge did not cause any consternation within the mind of Christ. He did not scold Peter, or shame him, or give him a one, two, three plan so that he could avoid sinning. I find that strange. I would think that Jesus would sit His disciples down and give them a book or two to read so that they would find it impossible to give in to temptation.
All this leads me to a great truth. Jesus knew every sin we would ever commit over the full course of our lifetimes. Despite that fact, He still loves us. He loved us knowing all that we would do, even before we were born. He loved us just before each incident and immediately afterward. If that doesn’t tell you how much God loves you, I wouldn’t know what else to say. How should we react to this knowledge?
1.       We should be more grateful than ever before. Our love for Him should increase to the point where our desire to please Him is much more powerful than our desire to please the flesh.
2.       We should never again agonize over the question of whether we are forgiven. We, just like Peter, were forgiven even before our failure; not because we don’t have to repent, but because Jesus knew we WOULD repent.
3.      We should be ready to forgive our friends who make mistakes and who regret their failure. That same grace we have received must be freely given to others.
4.      We must not, ever, use this truth as a license to sin! Because we know we will be forgiven does not give us permission to sin. If our minds start to think that way, we must reprehend ourselves, change our hearts, and repent over that kind of thought process.
Prayer: Oh Lord, how we have failed to understand Your love and compassion toward us! We also have not comprehended the depth of Your understanding of our weaknesses. You, O Lord, are more wonderful than we could ever hope for or imagine. Thank You, and give us more strength to resist temptation, so that our world can see how much You mean to us.

Defense, Defense, Defense!!

Defense, Defense, Defense!!

Read Proverbs Chapter 1
Pr 1:10 My son, if sinners entice you, do not give in to them.
Pr 1:15 My son, do not go along with them, do not set foot on their paths; 16 for their feet rush into sin.
The recovering alcoholic must spend the rest of his life on guard against temptations which could once again enslave him. The recovering drug addict must do the same. We SSA men and women who are recovering from the devastation of living outside God’s will must also be continually defending against unexpected opportunities to get back on the wrong track.
I had an interesting experience a while back. Many of you know that I go to McDonalds most mornings and do my bible study there. One day, a man came in and sat down at the table next to me. It quickly became obvious that he was trying to gain my attention. As time went on, he began to ‘pat his foot.’ Most of you know what that means; he was coming on to me. I ignored the obvious attention. The next day, he came back and did the same thing. Once again, I ignored him.
A part of me wonders why he thought that I would be interested. I wonder if some of the local gays, who know of my ministry, put him up to it in order to entrap me and use it to make my witness in the area where I live null and void. Another part of me wonders if it were a test by evil forces as an attempt to get me off track. I don’t know. But there is a lesson to be learned here which easily ties in to the scripture passage from Proverbs.
Each of us must be constantly on the alert for the remainder of our lives. Our enemy is always lurking about, wishing to ‘sift us like wheat,’ or ‘like a roaring lion, wishes to devour us.’ Careful thought needs to be made about how we will respond to our enemy’s traps. The writer of Proverbs does a great job of giving us the wisdom we need when that circumstance arises. Our minds need to be solidly prepared to say, “No!”
Don’t get me wrong, I have not always been prepared to respond correctly in such situations. In the case I mentioned, I was ready. I have had enough of the pain, suffering, heartache, despair, and shame which inevitably comes when moral failure is the victor. I have experienced enough of it personally, and I have seen that same devastation in the lives of too many other men. This particular temptation came at a good time in my life. Perhaps God had a purpose for this happening to me. It was a good lesson. As I thought about the incident, my mind traveled into the ‘what if’ department. What if I had responded wrongly? What could have happened as a result of my failure? It boggles the mind!
The writer’s wisdom needs to be firmly planted in our hearts. “If sinners entice you, do not give in to them.” “Do not go along with them.” “Their feet rush into sin.” Let us prepare our hearts and minds to be ready to reject temptation when it appears unexpectedly. We can do it.
There is always an opposite side of each coin. How many times in the past have I been the one doing the enticing? I don’t like to think about that, but it is a good thing to be reminded; when we entice another person, we not only sin, we lead others into sin. God forbid!
A final thought: Some of you may be wondering, as I did for a short while, “What if that was an opportunity to witness, and I missed it?” If it was, the Holy Spirit certainly missed out on making me aware of His purpose. The thought, at the time, never crossed my mind. I have to trust that God would have made it very clear to me if that were the case. And He did not. I have no conviction that I goofed in that regard.
Wow! Just one day after penning this one, my bible study took me to Proverbs Chapter 6, and this verse jumped off the page. I had never noticed it before. Coincidence?
Pr 6:12 A scoundrel and villain, who goes about with a corrupt mouth, 13 who winks with his eye, SIGNALS WITH HIS FEET and motions with his fingers, 14 who plots evil with deceit in his heart—he always stirs up dissension. 15 Therefore, disaster will overtake him in an instant; he will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy.
Prayer: Lord, forgive us when we have enticed others and when we have failed to say no when others entice us. Keep us always alert, so that we can choose rightly each time when we are surprised by our enemy.

You’ve Got To Be Kidding!

You’ve Got To Be Kidding!

Read Psalm Chapter 139
Ps 139:13 For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.
Nope, this will not be a devotional on the subject of abortion, although I am 100% pro-life. We are going to see how the message in this passage is a personal one for each of us. It is not something which is applicable only to the Psalmist, or to Billy Graham; it is a message to all believers, including you and me.
Can we grasp the depth of these thoughts? I doubt it. When you and I were in the womb, God knew us. He watched as our hearts and minds took form. He was actively involved in our development throughout our gestation period. His mind was upon us every minute of every day. He ‘saw’ us all during our period of development.
He knew what we were going to look like. He decided how tall we would be, whether we would have blue or brown eyes, and determined the shape of all of our features. Now, we probably don’t like some of our physical attributes, but that’s a lesson for another day. The main fact is that a Holy, perfect God, who makes no mistakes, formed us in exactly the way that would suit His purposes for our lives. Let’s go on.
The latter part of verse 16 is awesome! God knew what was going to take place in our lives, every moment of every day. He knew that we would wrestle with same-sex attractions. He knew that we would seek Him to overcome them. He knew we would turn our lives over to Him at some point, and even knew when that time would come to pass. He knew how much stubbornness that He would have to help us overcome in order to get us to where we are today. He planned out exactly how our struggles would play a part in working out His will and way for our lives. I could go on and on, but you get the message.
These are incredible thoughts! They are true, and all that has happened to us has a purpose. How can we now apply these truths, and use them to help us move forward in victory?
We should take comfort and rejoice that the Creator of all things which exist has purposefully led us to know and believe in Him. Our trials and troubles are of no consequence in comparison to the knowledge that our Savior has been constantly by our side every minute of every day, leading us along our journey, insuring that we will reach journey’s end. Our arduous life’s journey will end in victory.
We should quit whining and complaining over any of our misfortunes of life. They have all served His purpose in making us who He wants us to be. They are tools which drove us toward our destiny with Him. Continual griping and complaining get us nowhere and serve no good purpose. It is time to focus all of our attention to listening to Him and obeying His will.
We should quit playing around with our same-sex attractions. Whether we need to be done with porn, lusts, and any other bad habit, now is the time. God’s will for you and for me is that we complete all the tasks He has planned out for our lives.
There is no one on earth who cares for us as much as our Lord and Savior. There is nothing any man or woman can do for us that is more important than what God has done for us and will continue to do for us throughout eternity. All the attractiveness of every man and woman will someday fade away and die. God’s love, His blessings, and His fellowship are all that have any importance whatsoever for us. They are everlasting.
Prayer: Lord, this is so difficult for us to understand. We have spent so much of our lives believing we had no worth, no value, and there was nothing about us which would cause others to love us. We have had a hard time believing what these verses tell us. Help us to believe, and use that truth to aid our healing. Give us an understanding of Your love for us. Give us a vision of Your purpose for our lives. And, thank You!

Silence Isn’t Golden

Silence Isn’t Golden

Read Luke Chapter 14
Lk 14:23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and make them come in, so that my house will be full.
Lk 14:33 In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be My disciple.
I have been drawn to the Parable of the Great Banquet for quite a while. It was the topic of two devotions for the month of January. Here is another one. I also have been very concerned for a long time over how deceived many SSA men and women have become over the past few years. Forgive me for once again making a point, that we cannot allow ourselves to be shamed into silence over the issue of homosexual behavior.
In verse 23, I am impressed that the master told his servants to MAKE (NIV) them come in. That is a strong term. Not wanting to make a mistake by overemphasizing that verb, I decided to look at other translations.  New American Standard: “compel.” Amplified: “urge and constrain.” King James: “compel.” There seems to be a solid consensus as to the meaning of this command. The master’s wish is for his servants to grab men and women by whatever means are available to us and pull them into the banquet hall. Our Master wants us to strongly urge, compel, or make others come into His Kingdom.
Does that sound like we should be soft pedaling our message to unbelievers, or to those who are being deceived? Are we to stand idly by while men and women ignore or disobey God’s word? We might be accused of going too far in applying this scripture if it were not for verse 33. Although it is a verse on a different subject, it has a vital message to those who wish to claim a relationship with Christ.
Any man or woman who comes to Christ must be willing to give up anything and everything which God requires. God knows that we will not live perfect lives, but He requires that our hearts must desire to be sinless; that we are willing to give up whatever has the capacity to separate us from Him.
Putting two and two together; we must not, cannot, compel someone to give their lives to Christ, and at the same time tell them they can continue to practice homosexuality. It is absolutely necessary that we spread the truth to all who stubbornly and willfully hold on to their same-sex actions. It is impossible for a person to willfully sin (continually) and be in right-standing with God. The true believer will sin, but the Holy Spirit will make certain that he will not be happy and at peace until he repents.
Ro 1:32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
As we spread God’s true and unchangeable message, many will not listen. They will call us haters, lacking compassion, and rigidly legalistic. But some will listen, and come to the Father’s banquet table with their wedding clothes on. We must endure the pain of rejection from some, so that others will know the truth and the truth will set them free.
Prayer: Once again we come to You, Lord, asking that you take the blinders off of those who have been deceived. Give us opportunity to spread Your messages to all who will hear and heed. Give us the ability and willingness to suffer the abuse that we will receive from those who will not believe. God have mercy!

Holy Smack-down, Batman!

Holy Smack-down, Batman!

Read 2 Timothy Chapter 3
2Ti 3:14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Yes, we are having another look at the importance of scriptures. It is vital that we spend a lot of time studying them. We will begin with verse 16. It sums up very well all the reasons we need to study, know, and meditate upon God’s holy word.
First, it is God-breathed. We truly don’t need any other reason than this one. In this day and age when there is so much false information available to us, we desperately need an irrefutable source of truth. The only place we will find it is in God’s word. He is the Author of all that is written within it.
Next, it is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. That’s a lot of stuff we need. Without these aids in life, necessary ingredients for living a life that is productive and pleasing to God, we will have no chance of knowing how to live Godly lives.  Surely we know that the world will not teach us about Godly things. In fact, the world would have us live in direct opposition to God’s will and ways. Now let’s look at some practical applications.
It is no mystery why Christians have such difficulty remaining fully committed to bible study. If we are diligent in studying His word, we are going to discover some things which make us uncomfortable. Almost every chapter in His word reveals some area of our lives which needs a course correction, or at the least some improvement. It makes us realize how far short we fall from God’s perfect will. It will require us to alter our ways to some extent, usually a great extent. Most of us don’t want to see something about ourselves which needs correction. It is too painful, and changing is much too difficult.
There was a time when I thought I was a fairly good Christian. I went to church, Sunday School, even taught Sunday School class for many years. I did bible study; some personal study and some group studies on Sunday night. But the emphasis and purpose of those studies was primarily, “What can I find in here that my class needs to hear?” Other than that, I unknowingly looked for truths which would confirm that my own life was pretty good in comparison to the lives of most Christians I know. What a jerk I was! That is not the purpose of scripture!
As I have mentioned in earlier devotions, it has only been over the past decade, more or less, that I began to study scriptures with a different purpose. I now ask God to show me what I need to learn and know, not what others need. Jeepers! The more I study and learn, the more I realize I’m a long, long way from becoming who I need to be for my Lord. Every day something pops off the page and convicts me in some area of life! The truth really does teach, rebuke, correct, and train. That is the main purpose of scripture!
There is a reason why gay Christians have revised the bible to exclude verses which speak ill of homosexuality. It is too painful for them to accept. There is a reason why some have discontinued reading the bible altogether. They know it is truth, and do not wish to be confronted by it any longer. And, this is the same reason why habitual adulterers, fornicators, liars, gluttons, the greedy, etc. spend very little time searching the scriptures.
Therefore, each of us needs to be willing to ‘face the music,’ so to speak. God has much He wants to show us; things which, according to verse 17, will thoroughly equip us for every good work. We really can’t be very effective for His kingdom unless we sit at His feet and allow Him to show us whatever He knows we need. It will hurt at times, but it will also heal. Let us continue to be faithful to open His word every day, asking Him to reveal to us what we need to know and heed. Let us meditate on every phrase, going over and over it until the truth comforts us, enlightens us, teaches us or smacks us in the mouth. Whichever it does, that is exactly what we need!
Prayer: Your word, O Lord, is our light in the darkness. It is our only reliable source of comfort, guidance, courage, and all the other attributes we need to live holy and Godly lives. Give us the courage and desire to face its truths every day, knowing that You will speak into our lives all that we need to hear and know.

A Heart So Full……It Can Contain Nothing Else

A Heart So Full……It Can Contain Nothing Else

Read Psalm Chapter 40
Ps 40:8 I desire to do Your will, O my God; Your law is within my heart.”
Ps 73:25 Whom have I in heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You.
Isa 26:8 Yes, LORD, walking in the way of Your laws, we wait for You; Your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.
Our Sunday School class once had a discussion about Christians and their propensity or ability to sin. Our teacher does not like to hear a Christian say, “I know that I am going to sin.” On one hand, we do know that all men sin, even Christians. I believe that when most people say that, in effect they are saying, “I will never achieve sinless perfection in this life.” I often make that statement in these devotions. I don’t think we can ever become perfect on earth in this body. Our teacher knows that is true.
The point he wanted to make is that we cannot use that as an excuse for our sins. His thinking is that there is a danger of letting up in our striving to avoid sinning. I totally agree with his point. There are some SSA men and women who are not as diligent in attempting to resist temptation because they have given in over and over, time and time again. Some people have tired of resisting temptation and have allowed themselves to evolve into a cycle of sinning, repenting, confessing, and then repeating the cycle. No Christian should allow himself to get into that vicious cycle.
As the discussion continued in class we eventually came to this conclusion: one of the keys to avoiding that cycle, or in getting freed from it, is that we must change our hearts. We must develop within ourselves a heart’s desire to never sin again. One of any Christian’s tenants should be, “I really, really, don’t want to sin anymore. I want to spend the remainder of my life sinless.” That kind of attitude comes from a heart’s desire for God and His precepts. These three scripture passages from Psalm and Isaiah express that need.
“I desire to do Your will.” “Earth has nothing I desire besides You.” “Your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.” Of course, we will sin, somewhere along the course of our day, or week, or month. But we will sin far less if our heart’s desire is the same as the Psalmist and Isaiah. We face a grave danger in today’s world; apathy about sin. A few decades ago, a person who conceived a child out of wedlock knew without any doubt that is was a mistake. A man and a woman who lived together without the benefit of marriage were aware that they were outside of God’s will. The man who cheated on his wife was aware of his offense toward God. Divorce was considered to be a desperately last resort for a troubled marriage; it was considered very seriously before going through with it.
It is very different today. The vast majority of people in those situations are not aware that their actions are wrong. What has changed? There are many answers. One is that fewer men and women believe in God. Another is that people have been deceived by today’s message of ‘hyper-grace,’ which has made men believe God would never be so cruel as to hold those sins against mankind. Those are only two of many answers.
Today, we see the world gaining the same attitude about homosexual sins. I would have never dreamed that this attitude could creep into the Christian community. But it is here. A relaxing of biblical truths, a culture of ‘anything goes, and God understands our weaknesses,’ has even crept into Christian society circles. The church has been shamed into remaining silent about sin. We have been cowered into a corner, with the threat of being labeled ‘haters.’ Our voice has been silenced by a world which does not desire to hear God and His word. We must remain true to the word of God. We will not do so if our hearts are not in harmony with the Psalmist and Isaiah. The opposite of a heart’s desire for God is shown in the following passage.
Jas 1:13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; 14 but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
A heart whose number one desire is to sin will indeed sin. A heart whose number one desire is to please his Savior, and obey Him, will be far less likely to sin. In fact, he will sin less often each year of his life. He will see and understand the harm which is done to the Kingdom’s cause, and to His Holy Name. Let us get our hearts in the right attitude about God and sin.
Prayer: Give us a heart which is full of nothing but a 100% desire to adhere to Your word and a desire to sin no more.

Is It Really That Important?

Is It Really That Important?

Read John Chapter 17
Jn 17:23 I in them and You in Me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me.
We haven’t looked at Christian unity in a while. Today’s verse will allow us to once again address that issue. Christian disunity may do more to hinder the spread of the gospel than any other single factor. Jesus stated, in this verse, that unity of believers will prove to the world that Jesus and God are real and are whom they claim to be. The world may not like what they see in us, but if we are devoted to one another, living in love for one another as Christ commanded, they will be forced to consider the reality of God. Jesus said the same thing earlier in the gospel of John.
Jn 13:35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.”
We have a tendency to divide over things which do not matter. Most discussions between Christians and their beliefs are over some matter which is not vitally important in regard to one’s eternal destiny. For example, men like to argue over Armenian versus Calvinistic theories, differences in end-time beliefs, how important speaking in tongues might be, and even arguing over which denominations are the most true to God’s word. Well, those discussions are okay to a point. It is when they cause rivalry, disunity, and division within the believing community that they become detrimental to spreading the gospel. None of the beliefs mentioned in this paragraph will determine whether or not a man will spend eternity in Heaven or Hell.
For the most part, we need to keep our discussions within the realm of those truths which we all have in common. There are only a few biblical truths which, if not believed, can prevent a man from spending eternity with Christ. Those are the only important truths, and they are the ones on which all Christians can rally around in complete unity.
Mk 9:38 “Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in Your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” 39 “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in My name can in the next moment say anything bad about Me, 40 for whoever is not against us is for us.
However, within the discussion of SSA, we must always stand firm. The truth about whether or not homosexual behavior is against God’s will cannot be compromised as a way of preserving unity within believers. The reason is simple. The bible is very clear on this subject; same-sex actions are an affront to a Holy God. Anyone who can live continually in a willful gay life does not belong to Christ. It is impossible for the Holy Spirit to reside in a man’s heart and not convict that man of his sinful behaviors. It is of the utmost urgency that we fight for the truth on this issue. It does have a vital impact upon a man’s eternal destiny. Homosexual behavior will not send a man or woman to Hell. But to live that way, without any discipline or conviction from God, is proof that a man needs Christ as his Savior. He has never submitted his life to Christ.
Mt 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. 25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. 26 What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
Prayer: Father, give us wisdom about what is important and what is not important. We don’t want to waste our time arguing over trivial matters. There should only be one division between men, over what prevents a man from spending eternity with Christ. Help us to know what those things are, that we may stand firm on only those issues. We do not want to be argumentative over anything which does not cause a man to miss Your narrow pathway to eternal life.

 

Disciplined, Or Not Disciplined?

Disciplined, Or Not Disciplined?

Read Hebrews Chapter 12
Heb 12:5 And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons: “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, 6 because the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son.”
We have previously studied this passage, pointing out how thankful we should be that our Savior loves us so much He will not allow us to stay off His pathway for long. That fact should give us great comfort. Our inability to remain happy in our sins is proof that we belong to Him. But there is an opposite side to this idea. If a man is not sensing the conviction and discipline of the Holy Spirit, he should seriously think about his situation. It troubles me greatly as I see so many men and women living a gay life and at the same time confident that they are in harmony with Him.
Heb 12:8 If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons.
When we get an opportunity to speak with our friends who have been deceived, we should gently question whether or not they sense any conviction from the Holy Spirit. It truly scares me to think that some of the men I have mentored may not be true believers. It is a difficult thing to ponder. I want all those I love to be safe in the arms of our Lord, and I know you feel the same way.
Mt 7:21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.
This brings us to a related topic. I am also concerned because some men I know, who have LEFT the gay life, have bought into the deception that God does not require repentance of all men. That is not only sad, it is difficult to understand. How can a man feel that God is calling him out of that life, yet believe God is okay with others staying in that life. I suppose I will never understand how our human reasoning can get so far off course from God’s word.
Eze 33:7 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from Me. 8 When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood.
This is only one of many scriptures which command the children of God to warn others of their offenses against a holy God. Failing to warn others is not the unpardonable sin. However, it is serious enough that God warns Ezekiel of dire consequences if he fails to do so. I have no clue as to what those consequences would be for the believer. Perhaps it is the loss of some rewards in heaven; I have no other guesses.
Regardless, we have an obligation to stand firm in our commitment that homosexual behaviors are an affront to our Lord. Even more serious, we have an obligation to warn those who are not experiencing God’s discipline. They may have a greater need; that is, to accept Jesus as their Savior. When a man or woman has done that, he or she will indeed be disciplined. They will not be able to live a life of wilful disregard for God’s word concerning same-sex actions. As we have reminded ourselves many times before, let us continually pray for all our friends who have gotten off God’s pathway.
Prayer: Father, put an end to our enemy’s power to deceive our friends. Also, give us a firm understanding of Your word and truth, so that we will have the strength and desire to remain in Your will.

It’s All For Our Own Good

It’s All For Our Own Good

 
Read Psalm 119:57-80
Ps 119:65 Do good to Your servant according to Your word, O LORD. 66 Teach me knowledge and good judgment, for I believe in Your commands. 67 Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey Your word. 68 You are good, and what You do is good; teach me Your decrees. 69 Though the arrogant have smeared me with lies, I keep Your precepts with all my heart. 70 Their hearts are callous and unfeeling, but I delight in Your law. 71 It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn Your decrees. 72 The law from Your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold.
Today’s thoughts will not be a continuation of yesterday’s, but it could be. Chapter 119 is a tribute to God’s word, a love letter written by the author to his Lord. We would be well served to develop our love for the word of our Lord so that the writer’s thoughts could be equally as applicable to us as to him. But today we are going to look at something different from the writer’s hand. In this short section, he mentions ‘affliction’ twice. What did the Psalmist mean?
I can’t say with total assurance that I have it figured out, but I can say that I can find application in my life and in the lives of some other men I know. In verse 67 the writer states that before he was afflicted, he went astray. I personally know three men who were merrily rolling along, living gay lives, when something very destructive happened to them. They discovered they were HIV positive. All three of them were believers, or at least had professed belief in Christ, even before that time. When this devastating news came to them, they knew that their only hope was to turn to the Lord.
All three of them drew close to God, began being more faithful in church attendance and joined a Christian SSA support group. They believed that God had done something (or allowed something, if you prefer) to gain their attention. As we studied in an earlier devotion, God often does something drastic to bring His children back into His fold. Subsequently, these men became heavily involved in bible study and seemed to have found their way back into complete submission to God’s will. Disagree with me if you wish, but I believe these three men had been ‘afflicted’ by the Lord.
After my last venture into the homosexual conduct, the Lord got my attention also. He completely took away my peace and left me with an emptiness of heart that was severely unbearable. I was ‘afflicted’ by my Savior. This affliction did not relent until I had completely turned around and went back to my Father in heart-felt humility and complete submission. It was then that I realized (hopefully permanently) that I could no longer stray away from Him. Peace and harmony with my Savior is much more to be desired than the devastation of being outside His will.
The Psalmist stated his return to the Lord this way: “But now I obey Your word.” And, “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn Your decrees.” There is a lesson to be learned when God goes out of His way to bring us back to Him. We must pay attention to what just happened to us, and our resolve to stay close to Him should be concretely embedded in our minds and hearts. The Psalmist obviously learned his lesson, based on the way he expressed his love for God’s word.
There is one sad thing to add to today’s thoughts. Two of the three men mentioned earlier have returned to their gay life. Even worse, both of them are now embracing the ‘new’ theology that God doesn’t have a problem with their gay lifestyle. They falsely believe that they are in full fellowship and good standing with Christ. If they are true believers, God will bring something into their lives that will be even worse that HIV. I don’t even want to think about the alternative.
The true believer will understand that he cannot willfully live contrary to God’s word and continue to be blessed by our Lord. There is no biblical basis to believe otherwise. We see all throughout the bible that God’s people do not get away with living in continual sin. Both the Old and New Testament reveal instances when God chastened and disciplined those who belong to Him.
Our ‘afflictions’ are designed specifically for the purpose of forcing us back to our Lord. We must not ignore such warnings.
Ps 32:9 Do not be like the horse or the mule, which have no understanding but must be controlled by bit and bridle or they will not come to you.
Prayer: Why does it take such things for us to finally get our act together? Lord, we must be the most stubborn of all Your children. Forgive me for making You chasten me. I should have come back to You on my own, rather than have to suffer Your afflictions. I pray for the two men who have not heeded Your warning, and all others who are like them. I don’t know how to pray for them, so I will simply ask that Your will be done in their lives.

How Badly Do We Want Purity?

 How Badly Do We Want Purity?

Read Psalm 119:1-24
 Ps 119:9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By living according to Your word. 10 I seek You with all my heart; do not let me stray from Your commands. 11 I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You. 12 Praise be to You, O LORD; teach me Your decrees. 13 With my lips I recount all the laws that come from Your mouth. 14 I rejoice in following Your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. 15 I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways. 16 I delight in Your decrees; I will not neglect Your word.
I’ve stated it before and it bears repeating: spiritual maturity is not for the spiritually lazy. We who are vulnerable to giving in to same-sex attractions often think, “How can I keep my way pure?” The Psalmist has some great, great thoughts on that subject. These few verses give us some very powerful ideas. I can almost guarantee that any of us can achieve sexual sobriety if we will but utilize the truths that lie in these verses.
Every time someone calls me, lamenting that he has once again failed in his quest for purity, I can guarantee that he has not been heeding this advice. Truly, a man or woman who is escaping the slavery of homosexual addiction cannot and will not achieve his desired goal of purity if he or she ignores God’s word. I’ve never heard one man say, “I’ve been faithful in diligently studying and meditating on God’s word, and still I gave in to my weakness.” Let’s examine what the Psalmist writes.
Living according to Your word.
Well, this one is a given. Of course, if any of us will live according to God’s word, we will never again give in to our same-sex temptations.  The Psalmist stated a simple truth, which we all know, but have failed to heed. If the writer had stopped at this point, we would have gained nothing which could help us work toward sexual purity.
I seek You with all my heart.
Now the writer is getting personal. How many of us can truthfully say, “I have sought the Lord with all my heart.” Not many of us can be so bold. Here is where the spiritual laziness comes into play. To seek Him with all our hearts will require much more diligence and perseverance than most of us are willing to commit. Giving the Lord our undivided attention for just a few minutes each day does not fit the definition of ‘seeking with all one’s heart.’ It will require lot of work, both in studying God’s word and in focusing our minds on Him all day every day.
I have hidden Your word in my heart.
Have we? How much of His word do we know? Have we sincerely studied and meditated so often on God’s word that it has become a permanently implanted fixture in the vaults of our minds? Our purity will demand that we know His word, learning more each day, and retaining what we have learned. But there’s more. Is His word in our hearts? Have we come to not only know His word, but also fallen in love with it? We must love God’s word; otherwise, we will not obey it. Many men know what the bible says; few men are in love with its truths.
I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways.
How often do we think about His commands during the day? How often do we turn to His word when that first moment of temptation shows up in our minds? God’s word must be the most important thing we think about during the day. Every move we make each day must be filtered through the word of God. If it is not, we are very likely to make a wrong decision. That is true no matter what we are doing at that moment; whether working, playing, interacting with friends or family, or whatever. Everything should be done taking His word into consideration.
I will not neglect Your word.
This one wraps up all the others into a neat package. We cannot neglect God’s word and expect to be victorious over our enemy and his ways. The biggest mistake that any Christian can make is to neglect the bible. And once again, let us remember that our bible study must be more than simply reading it. We must immerse ourselves into the spiritual work of bible study. It is the most important, and perhaps the most difficult, thing we will do every day. We cannot succeed in our spiritual walk without it.
Prayer: Lord, we know with our minds that today’s topic is vitally necessary to our spiritual growth and our spiritual welfare. However, as You know, we sadly neglect to apply it to our lives as we should. We know that our sexual purity will not come if we are not fully involved in Your word, in all the ways the Psalmist mentioned. Help us to be resolved to remedying this shortcoming in our lives.
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