“People with integrity walk safely, but those who follow crooked paths will be exposed.”
Proverbs 10:9 NLT
This verse says a lot. Integrity has been defined as doing the right thing even when no one is watching. I remember a case in point back in the 90's. If I recall the details correctly, a very good friend of mine had picked up a shovel along the side of the road on his way home from work. It was one of those with a fiberglass handle. It was in great shape. I remember suggesting to him that he call the State to inform them of his find since it appeared to be a "State" shovel. It concerned me that if it was the property of the State that they would appreciate its return. Now, I realize that many people would simply pick up the shovel, toss it in their vehicle, and not give a second thought. Because my friend had respect for my opinion, he called the state. He sort of chuckled at the idea but did it anyway. The State told him that this happened quite often and for him to keep it. Even though it didn't change the fact that he already had it in his possession, it did give him a clear conscience concerning the item. Now, every time he uses that shovel, he can do so with absolute confidence that he honored the Lord in such "trivial" matter.
May God help us to seek His approval in all our ways. When we are concerned about pleasing God, we will do the right thing even when no one else sees or knows.
Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, forgive me of my past shortcomings. From this day forward, help me to honor You in all my ways, those seen by others and those that aren't. Help me to recognize that You are always watching!!!
““Be strong and courageous, for you are the one who will lead these people to possess all the land I swore to their ancestors I would give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.””
Joshua 1:6-9 NLT
Joshua had just taken over following Moses death. He had been an assistant to Moses for the entire journey through the wilderness (approximately 40 years). God confirmed Joshua as the one who would lead the Israelites into the "Promised Land". This would be a monumental task to accomplish. God told Joshua to do exactly as he had been instructed by Moses and to be strong and courageous. God assured Joshua that he would be successful if he obeyed the instructions in the law. This required complete devotion. Joshua had proven his faithfulness to God by being faithful to serve Moses all those years. I Peter 5:6 tells us “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.” NLT.
When we serve faithfully in the place God appoints us, we, too, will see the exalting hand of God upon us in due season. We need to do two things:
First, know where God places us and serve faithfully there.
Second, follow God's Word meticulously. Then, and only then, will we be truly successful in life.
Verse 8 of today's reading verifies the simple, yet profound pathway to success in God's sight - constantly meditating upon and executing the instructions of the Lord.
Only God's Word can properly direct our steps. Are your steps in line with God's Word?
Prayer for today:
Father, in Jesus name, order my steps in Your Word and help me be strong and courageous in a very challenging culture. May I never compromise Your Word. Help me remain faithful to You!
“Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)”
Ephesians 2:1-5 NLT
Apart from Christ, we are dead men walking. We are existing but not living. Sin has left its awful price on our heads: death.
There are two types of death:
Spiritual and Physical. Spiritual death is separation from God. Physical death is the cessation of the natural life we now live in our corruptible bodies. Physical death is the result of Spiritual death. Without separation from God, we would not have known physical death. When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden of Eden (Genesis 3:1-7), immediately, they died spiritually. The result was inevitable physical death. The only cure for our terminal disease of sin is Jesus Christ!!! Romans 6:23 describes it this way "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.” NLT.
God, in His mercy, has made eternal life possible. When we turn to Him in faith, repent of our sins, and receive Him as Savior and Lord we are immediately transformed from being a creature of death to a creature of life. We are no longer separated from Him. Yes, our physical bodies still die, but we have the promise of resurrection. Because we have been made alive in Jesus, we will experience the blessing of a new body at Christ's return.
“But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control.” Philippians 3:20-21 NLT
Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, I come to you in faith. I confess my sin, repent of it, and receive Jesus as my Savior and Lord! Fill me with the Holy Spirit so I can live for you. Thank you for giving me eternal life!!!
“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.
And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”
Hebrews 11:1, 6 NLT
We cannot see God through our natural eye. We see Him by faith. This doesn't mean that we will never see Him through natural eyes. Revelation 22:4 says “And they will see his face,..." NLT
When Jesus walked this earth in flesh, He was God in a human body.
"For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.”
Colossians 2:9 NLT
Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you?”
John 14:8-9 NLT
“The Father and I are one.””
John 10:30 NLT
There are so many other passages to verify this absolute truth. The disciples actually were looking at God when they looked at Jesus. When we look at Jesus by faith, we see God! There is no other way to see Him! It is through Jesus that we can see, approach, and know God. Let me be absolutely clear here. I, by faith, have accepted the Word of God as the Truth. By faith, I live in Jesus name!!! One day I will see His face! When He comes the next time He will be seen by the whole world for who He really is: King of kings and Lord of lords.
“Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is.” 1 John 3:2 NLT
“Look! He comes with the clouds of heaven. And everyone will see him— even those who pierced him. And all the nations of the world will mourn for him. Yes! Amen! “I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.””
Revelation 1:7-8 NLT
“On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords.”
Revelation 19:16 NLT
“Stop forming inappropriate relationships with unbelievers. Can right and wrong be partners? Can light have anything in common with darkness? Can Christ agree with the devil? Can a believer share life with an unbeliever? Can God’s temple contain false gods? Clearly, we are the temple of the living God. As God said, “I will live and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people.” The Lord says, “Get away from unbelievers. Separate yourselves from them. Have nothing to do with anything unclean. Then I will welcome you.” The Lord Almighty says, “I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters.””
2 Corinthians 6:14-18 GW
Paul addresses the issue of ungodly relationships with the church of Corinth. He quotes several passages from Leviticus, Ezekiel, and 2 Samuel to substantiate his message.
Our relationships affect our life choices. Bad relationships negatively affect us and good relationships positively affect us.
1 Corinthians 15:33 says: “Don’t let anyone deceive you. Associating with bad people will ruin decent people.” GW.
If we want to see good things come to our lives, we must make choices that reflect that desire. God is not saying that we should not care about, or reach out to, unbelievers. In fact, that is our mission. However, we cannot "hang out" with those who live ungodly lives and expect to live a godly life. There is an old saying about physical health: "You are what you eat." The same is true socially and spiritually. Often I have said: "You can't soar with eagles if you hang out with turkeys."
We are called to love our fellow man, without question, but we cannot allow the lifestyle of the ungodly to influence our way of life. We are called to represent the Master, Jesus! Jesus ate with sinners (see Matthew 9:11; Mark 2:16; and Luke 15:2). We should too! There is, however, a distinct difference between being friendly and "hanging out" with those that we are trying to reach. We must not make our inner circle of influential relationships with those who are living opposite of what God's Word says. Should we choose to, the results will be disastrous.
We must surround ourselves with relationships that are godly. I'm not saying "religious". I know many "religious" people that are no better than the Pharisees of Jesus time. I'm speaking of honorable, godly, reputable, people.
What relationships are shaping your life?
Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, help me to live a life that pleases you. Help me make relationship choices that reflect that. Amen!
“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
Isaiah 1:18 KJV
When snow blankets the earth as a covering it is a beautiful and serene thing to gaze upon. All the world around us suddenly becomes calm and peaceful. This is the analogy that Isaiah uses to describe how our sin is transformed from dirty, dark, and bleak to bright and beautiful. God can take our messes and transform them into something glorious. Only He can do this. We are incapable of accomplishing such a thing. God, in His mercy and grace, stands waiting and willing to cleanse us from our sins. His Son Jesus has shed His blood as the atonement for our sin. All we have to do is simply recognize our sin, repent of it, and ask the Lord to cleanse us through the blood of Jesus. He eagerly awaits our response. He doesn't want to destroy us. He wants to transform us!
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
1 John 1:9 KJV
Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, I come to you in humility and ask that you forgive me of my dark, wicked sin. Make me white as snow. Turn my life from dark and bleak into bright and beautiful. Amen!
“So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law."
"For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”"
Galatians 5:1, 13,14 NLT
It is abundantly clear that Jesus has set us free through the body and blood that He gave. When we place our trust in what He has done, we are then justified (made righteous) in His sight. As a result, we are free from the penalty of sin, which is death. We put so much emphasis on physical death (the natural cessation of the body we now have). God sees death so much deeper than just physical. The most potent form of death is separation from God spiritually. So, when we accept Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we immediately receive right standing with God spiritually. As a child of God we still face physical death unless Jesus returns before that time. One thing is sure, either way, we are in God's favor through Jesus. The great blessing is the fact that, one day, we will be given an eternal body.
Until the time comes for Christ to return or physical death, we must live as children of God who are free. We are made free, by Jesus, from the rigid regulations of the law. We do not need to get entangled in a self righteous attempt to do enough. We simply need to recognize the righteousness that has been imparted to us through our faith in Jesus (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). Now that we are free, we must also recognize the importance of our conduct in relation to how it affects our fellow man. We must not allow our freedom in Jesus to get out of proper perspective or we, then, become a stumbling block to others.
Jesus has made us free. Free to live for Him, not ourselves. Let's serve Him and represent His character. Bottom line: You are saved through Jesus, not your own works. However, your works should represent Him (see Ephesians 2:8-10). Don't let your freedom become a license to do unrighteous things.
Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, I trust fully in your work on the cross as the payment of my sin. Help me, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to live free in, and for, You!!
“In the beginning God created heaven and earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep water. The Spirit of God was hovering over the water. Then God said, “Let there be light!” So there was light. God saw the light was good. So God separated the light from the darkness. God named the light day, and the darkness he named night. There was evening, then morning—the first day.”
Genesis 1:1-5 GW
Can you imagine what it was like to see this event take place? Wow!!! What a magnificent Creator!!! He did it!!! No one or nothing else can take this credit!! We are created! This gives us value. This makes us intentional.
To acknowledge creation is to acknowledge the Creator. If I look at a book I must acknowledge that there was an author. If I sing a song I acknowledge that someone wrote it. If I drive a car I acknowledge that there was a manufacturer. How foolish of any human being to simply gaze upon the canvas of the earth and the universe and deny it's Creator.
I declare to you, without doubt or question, that there is a Creator! His name is Jesus!!!
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.”
John 1:1-3 NASB
“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.”
Hebrews 1:1-2 NASB
“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”
Colossians 1:13-17 KJV
Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, I humbly acknowledge that you are the Creator! Help me to live in constant awareness of your created purpose in, and for, my life!
“The human spirit can endure a sick body, but who can bear a crushed spirit?”
Proverbs 18:14 NLT.
Overcoming a crushed spirit is only possible through the power of Jesus Christ! When life has given you blows that have left you injured and down for the count, call on the One who can pick you up and carry you to your destination. The only hope of winning this race is to turn to the Only One who has run this race and won it - Jesus. Frankly, there are times when someone betrays you, walks out on you, hurls insults at you, slanders you, and even seeks to destroy you. Perhaps you lose your job, lose a loved one to death, or face ongoing circumstances that constantly challenge you and you are worn out from the fight. At those moments, you become weak and vulnerable. You can even begin to question God. Hardships are a part of life, and everyone has some level of them. However, there are times when life leaves you on the mat waiting for the ten count. I have often heard this statement "God won't put more on you than you can bear!" No, but the world we live in sure will! We cannot equate all of life's circumstances with God. Yes, God is Sovereign, yet, He gave us a free will. That free will plunged us into a dark world full of sin, sickness, and sorrow when Adam and Eve sinned in Genesis 3:1-7. God didn't do this to us! We live in a sin cursed world and Satan is out to destroy us! We are now living in a society that is under the dark spell of the evil one.
John 10:10 says “A thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But I came so that my sheep will have life and so that they will have everything they need.” GW.
I Peter 5:8 says “Keep your mind clear, and be alert. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion as he looks for someone to devour.” GW.
Look at Proverbs 24:16 “For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again, But the wicked stumble in time of calamity.” NASB.
God wants to deliver and preserve you!!! Satan is the one trying to kill you! Turn to the Only One who can pick you up out of the pit of despair and set your feet on solid ground once again. Psalms 40:2 says “He pulled me out of a horrible pit, out of the mud and clay. He set my feet on a rock and made my steps secure.” GW.
Prayer for today - Father, in Jesus name, deliver me from this despair so I may do your will and finish the race you have set before me. Through Your strength I can win!! (Philippians 4:13).
“The godly hate lies; the wicked cause shame and disgrace. Godliness guards the path of the blameless, but the evil are misled by sin.” Proverbs 13:5-6 NLT
Through the years I have pondered the consequences of my choices. As I look around at the society I also ponder the choices of others. Often I have observed the devastating impact that sinful choices have had on the lives of people. So many families have been ravaged by the awful results of a wicked lifestyle. Ungodly choices never lead to a good result. It is utterly important that each of us consider our choices. If we want blessing rather than cursing we must make godly choices. Let us determine today to be careful to examine every choice we make and ask Jesus to give us His heart and mind about everything we do. “And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” Colossians 3:17 NLT
Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, help me make godly choices in all that I do! Amen!
Rev. Curtis Norris