Thanksgiving (Psalm 50:4)

What is giving to God? Think about it, you cannot give anything to him because he already owns everything. Giving isn’t a yielding, because he can take it anytime that he wants. So what is giving to God.

Giving stems from a desire and that desire should be to express how you feel towards someone. When we give to God, we express how we feel towards him. The Psalmist writes that the emotion behind his giving is thankfulness.

Offer unto God thanksgiving… ( Psalm 50:14)

A thankful heart is what God wants. Gifts to God result from thankfulness. These gifts aren’t given out of coercion, responsibility or even guilt. They come from hearts that recognize what God has done for them and are mere expressions of that thankfulness.

As I look back, I can see many occasions when my gift to God was nothing more than the relinquishing of my possessions to him. I guess I’ll see those items as wood, hay and stubble at the bema seat, but there were many times when along with the possession, I gave to God a heart overflowing with thankfulness.

To correct my errors, I have decided to check my heart before each offering to God and make sure that I am expressing gratitude instead of obedience or any other attitude. Secondly, I will guard my heart for complaining and instead ask God to help me recognize his plan so that I can be yielded and thankful for his sovereignty and provision.

Deceiving Yourself (1 John 1:8)

How can a person deceive themselves?  Do they purposefully lead themselves away from what they know to be the right way?  Some may think so, but that is not exactly the case.

A person leads themselves astray when they do not agree with or recognize truth, but instead create their own ideas and acknowledge them as truth.  The result is that they actually believe they are doing or believing what they should.

The Holy Spirit convicts all men of sin.  In order for a person to believe that they do not have sin, they first must disagree with the Holy Spirit’s conviction and then speak falseness to themselves.  When they walk in light of this falseness, they have deceived themselves.

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8)

Each of us have this tendency.  We do it when we resist conviction for sin and explain it away with circumstances or justify our actions with motives or results from our acts.  We also deceive ourselves when we resist God’s leading.  We respond with excuses as to why we cannot do as he leads and then accept those excuses as truth.

Am I deceiving myself?  Are you deceiving yourself?  God knows the answer.  What we must do is submit ourselves to God and allow him to lead us with truth.  We may not like how he leads, but the results will definitely be better than living in deceit.

Truth Inside (Psalm 51:6)

Have you ever faced a decision that you needed to make and you found yourself undecided?  Of course you have.  As you begin to figure out a solution to your problem, you convey it by saying, ” I am leaning towards …”

When it comes to pleasing God, he wants our hearts to lean towards truth.  The only way our hearts can do this is for truth to be present in our hearts.  Consider Psalm 119:11, where the psalmist states that he hides truth in his heart and the believer is encouraged to meditate upon truth as stated in Psalm 1.

Without truth in your heart, it will become more difficult for your heart to lean towards it.  It seems that when we sin, the effect of truth in our hearts is either erased or at least its effect is diminished.

It is like the old game, King of the Mountain where each person playing attempts to pull the one person down from on top of the mountain and once this is achieved, they take his place and the game continues.

Truth in the heart sits supreme, but our sin pulls it down and then has its time of power.  Only by cleansing away sin can truth again influence the heart.  That is why the psalmist asks the Lord purge and clean him (Psalm 51:7).

In order to live as God desires, get truth into your heart and when you fall, seek him to cleanse away your sin.  This is a daily process and should never be neglected or ignored.  With truth in your heart, your ability to lean toward and respond to truth will become more consistent and successful.

Mercy and Truth (Proverbs 3:3)

Our attitude towards the law will determine whether or not we forget the law and commandments.  If we desire them and their benefits, our hearts will be inclined to guard God’s laws and commandments, but if we seek the world and its vanity, we will forget or mislay them.

Mercy and truth may come to us, but they will not stay with us unless we hold onto them.  If we do not bind them about our necks and write them upon our hearts, they will depart.  When mercy and truth depart, their blessings leave with them.

The Motive (Psalm 95:10)

From the beginning, man has always looked outside of himself when it comes to blame for his actions. It started in the garden and continues to this present day. People have blamed ethnic heritage, financial status, lack of education, social oppression, situational circumstances and even the sins of others as an excuse or cause for their sinful actions. However, God sees the matter differently.

Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: (Psalms 95:10)

God reveals that the origin of sin is in our hearts. It is a heart of lust and covetousness that steals items from those who worked for them. It is a prideful and angry heart that lashes out at those who hinder them from gaining what they desire. It is a proud selfish heart that believes people are just objects to satisfy its sexual pleasures. It is an envious and jealous heart that gossips about others in an attempt to make themselves look better. It is not the Italian, Irish, German or any other ethnic culture that causes a person to have angry or wrathfully outbursts. It is the heart of a person that determines their actions. Circumstances do not determine actions or else everybody would respond the same way to those circumstances. However this is not the case.

Consider for example people who work with a complaining coworker. Some may respond with anger while others may respond with compassion. While some may react by complaining about the complaining coworker, still others may put a lid on their emotions and just deal with it. If situations cause people’s reactions, then the situation must cause the same reaction in all people all of the time. Since they don’t, then the motive for reactions must come from within the individual.

How have you been acting lately? Your outward actions reveal to yourself the condition of your heart. Consider the following verses.

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. (Proverbs 4:23)

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil:for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. (Luke 6:45)

Prayers Not Heard (Psalm 66:18)

Why is it that sometimes God hears my prayers and at other times does not? What determines if God will hear them? When I need God, I want to make sure that he is attentive to my requests. As a sinner, I know that I sin daily, but there have been times that God seemed to hear my prayers in spite of me sinning. Why is that so?

The affection of your heart determines God’s attention to your prayer. (If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: Psalms 66:18). It is not so much the sin, but the affection that our heart has towards it that motivates his response. When we regard sin in our heart, we are holding it dear to ourselves. Our heart’s focus is on the sin and our desire to keep and enjoy it. It is this heart condition that is really divided against God, which causes him not to be attentive to our prayers.

Remember when you were lost in your sin? You then heard the gospel and your heart was changed. Instead of wanting to hold on to your sin or have regard for it, you disdained it. You experienced what the bible calls repentance. It was that change of heart that brought attention to your call to the savior. I remember calling out to Jesus throughout my entire childhood to have him as savior. I believed he was the savior. I knew he died on the cross to pay for my sins, but my heart kept getting in the way. It was not until I was nearly 22 years of age before my heart was changed and that change made all the difference with my prayer. No longer was I regarding sin in my heart and finally my prayer was answered.

Remember, it isn’t any different today. We still sin and we still need God to answer our prayers. Thankfully we do not need to live a sinless life in order to get prayers answered. What we do need is a heart that wants God instead of wanting to hold on to sin.


Making The Big Decision (Luke 5:28)

Levi was called by The Lord to follow him to which he did exactly what The Lord requested. As to why he made such a radical decision so quickly without really knowing The Lord and whom he would be following is unknown. It may have been the power of The Lord and his word or it could have been the culmination of dissatisfaction with his lifestyle coupled with a desire to change that brought about his response. However one thing we can ascertain is that a decision was made.

The bible tells us this about Levi’s decision: And he left all, rose up, and followed him. (Luke 5:28). Notice the progression. He left all, then rose up and eventually followed The Lord. An important question to ask is, “How did Levi leave all before rising up? The answer is that before physically leaving all, he first made the decision in his heart. The words used for “left all” carry the idea of abandoning. Before Levi walked away and abandoned all, he first abandoned it all in his heart. After making the decision in his heart, the action of walking away from his work and the prosperity and security that it offered was much easier.

We must remember that it is impossible to follow The Lord with our lives if our hearts are still attached to something else. When we trusted Christ as Savior, our calling out in prayer happened after we first made the decision in our hearts. Our acts of walking away from temptation occur after we first walk away in our hearts. This principle relates to every area of the Christian’s life.

I remember years ago when I tried to quit smoke cigarettes. I did twice. On the first try, I was very unsuccessful, but my second attempt has set me free for the last few decades. The difference between my two attempts was simple. On the first try, I refrained from smoking, but constantly talked about needing or wanting a cigarette. Needless to say, after a month of being smoke free, I fell back into the grips of my addiction. On the second try, I kept from smoking and in my heart, the last thing that I wanted was to smoke again. What was the difference? The decision in my heart affected the actions that I did.

If you continually struggle with getting victory in your life, look at how you are trying to accomplish it. Are you trying to break free from some sin because you want to escape the consequences, but all the while desire the thrill that your flesh experiences each time you engage in the act? If so, pray to The Lord to help you make the heart decision necessary for you to get victory. That pray, you know he will hear and begin to answer.

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Sorrow Makes The Heart Better (Ecclesiastes 7:2-3)

The scriptures tell us that sorrow is better than laughter because by sorrow the heart is comparatively made better.

It is better to go to the house of mourning, than to go to the house of feasting: for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart. Sorrow is better than laughter: for by the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better. (Ecclesiastes 7:2-3)

When Adam plunged mankind into his sinful state, man’s heart became astray from God. Although Jesus may have redeemed man from his penalty for sin, man’s heart is still affected by it. As man grows in grace and is progressively sanctified by the working of the Holy Spirit, his heart over comes sin’s effect and is made better or more closely to how God intends for man to be. It is through sorrow that man recognizes his weakness and need for God. Although the sorrowful event may appear to present God as uncaring or devoid of love, it is really the opposite. God wants our hearts in fellowship with him and for us to be conformed to the image of his son. He accomplishes this work in the heart of man. It is for our betterment that he allows these events to occur.

If sorrow is to make the heart better, we would be wise in helping people as they endure sorrow and experience the work that will change or make their heart better. The Scriptures admonish us that if you have the opportunity to celebrate with people or mourn with others, you would be better to mourn with the mournful. Consider that when celebrating with those feasting, there is no burden to bear, but those in mourning need help to bear their heavy burden. As we help those who are hurting, it will be taken to heart because the heart was greatly relieved and touched.

Helping others through hurt does not mean that we need to take the hurt away. That is impossible for us to do, but with empathy and compassion, we can carry the hurt with them. While living our lives, we must strive to recognize and focus on the sorrowful needs of others. It should be easy to find hurting people because it seems that in some way everybody is hurting.

If you would like to read more of these thoughts in a hard copy format, my new book is now available at the link below.

Like A One Way Street (Proverbs 11:2)

When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom. (Proverbs 11:2)

I remember one time driving around a town and trying to get to a particular destination. Along the way, I made a wrong turn and was trying to get myself turned around and back onto the right track. Since this was before GPS devices, I needed to figure out my route on my own. It seemed that each time I was close enough to get back to where I made my error, I would run into a one way street. I didn’t want the street to go in the one way direction, I wanted it to go my direction. Facing life’s problems can much the same way.

When a person’s heart is filled with pride, it is like a one way street. The solution for everything comes from within them. They never allow advice to come in and influence their hearts and mind because of the pride that resides there. The Lord warns us that when prides comes into our hearts, the end result will be shame or disgrace. However for the humble it is different. They don’t see themselves as self sufficient, but instead look outside of themselves for strength and help and desire that it would come into them. Their end result is wisdom.

This passage warns us to guard our hearts: not only from outside influences that can corrupt our hearts, but from the corruption that has dwelled within man since the fall. God’s word is sufficient to produce all the wisdom necessary for us to be successful, but we must seek it and yield to its teaching.