Over the summer, while many had taken to vacationing in exotic locales, spending time with family and friends, I had the opportunity to donate a large portion of my time to the worship band at our local church. In between the practices and the lugging of guitar equipment back and forth, I set aside some time to write my new book Pleasures Forevermore: 36 Daily Devotions for Enjoying God.
Here is the description:
In every miracle God is there showing His love for those who believe. His powerful presence is in all things He created, for by His spirit He holds all things together for good. Whatever may become of us when we perish will not hold fast, for as true as the sun rises, so will we one day rise to stand before the throne of God and marvel at His heavenly countenance.
Each moment we breathe is a moment closer to being with God. His plan is for us to be like Him: gracious, kind, considerate, gentle, patient, loving and joyful; His spirit in our hearts is all it takes for Him to live through us.
Pleasures Forevermore looks at how Christians can grow in God’s nature and find ultimate joy by seeking Him continually. By asking God for His spirit, our prayers will be as sweet incense that fills the heavens with heartfelt praise, and by it that we may reap gladness with every word we pray, for God is good and His goodness makes our soul glad.
Available here: eBook, Paperback
All royalties go toward supporting Looking to God Ministries.
How can one forgive if love is not in the heart? When a person does us wrong, do we curse them and go on our way? This ought not to be. For as God is love, so is He forgiveness. He forgave us when we repented and gave our hearts to Him. In the same way, we ought to forgive others their transgressions so that we might become as God, filled with love, overlooking another’s sin against us.
“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25)
When we forgive, we have released ourselves from harboring a grudge. Bitterness is poison to the heart, slowly laying waste our most prized attributes: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Why would we want to hate someone and lose our souls in the process?
God has given us the greatest example of forgiveness when he gave up His Son Jesus so that we might have salvation. No other event is as meaningful as His sacrifice on our behalf. We no longer carry the burden of sin, for Christ alone carried it for us to the cross.
God not only had forgiven us, but He also sent the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to help us forgive others in the same way. By this, we would become as He is, loving and forgiving, for God is forgiveness.
King David ran from his enemies yet never failed to honor God. His comfort was in the Lord his salvation. He drew upon God’s spirit for strength. He looked to God for hope and rescue. In turn, God the Father, the creator of all things, never abandoned the king. He gave him the power to overcome and lifted David in spirit and stature.
“He said, ‘The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my savior; you save me from violence.’” (2 Samuel 22:2-3)
When we believe Jesus is the Son of God, we believe in God’s plan of salvation. For Adam fell to sin, and the penalty of sin is death. All have fallen to sin, but God, having given His son as a sacrifice to atone for our sins, rescued us from death. We are free, no longer slaves to sin.
Through grace, God has saved us, not for anything we have done, for there is nothing we can do to earn salvation but by His mercy, He gives it freely. He chooses the weak, the helpless and the maimed and gives us strength, support and healing. And He does it all for His glory.
Our joy is knowing Jesus came down from heaven, sacrificed His life for us so that we can live once again.
How wonderful a gift is it to know the Lord is our salvation.
God’s wonderful nature is unbound. He has set us apart as His sons and daughters to be partakers of His glorious plan of salvation. We no longer bear the penalty of our sins, for Jesus, the Lamb of God, gave His life so that we could live. No other truth is as incredible in depth, as magnificent in width and as breathtaking in height as that of knowing God loves us.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:35,37)
In every miracle God is there showing His love for those who believe. His powerful presence is in all things He created, for by His spirit He holds all things together for good. Whatever may become of us when we perish will not hold fast. As true as the sun rises, so will we one day rise to stand before the throne of God and marvel at His heavenly countenance.
Had God not loved us, we would not exist. For as we draw breath into our lungs, God is giving us life continually. Our days are as autumn leaves falling to the ground, blown by the wind to disappear in the distance. Yet our hope lies in living once again—this time forever.
Therein is God’s everlasting love for us.
If we were to take note of all the ways we have loved and of all the times we have loved, our love would be as a drop in the ocean, for God’s love is greater. He loved us first, He loves us unconditionally, and there is no bound to His love. God is love.
“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:8-9)
How powerful a message it is to know that God would give up His divinity so that He could walk among us, experience things like us and die like us. His love for us is so vast that He would choose to die for us in order that we might live.
Every moment we have of breath is a moment closer to being with God. His plan is for us to be like Him: gracious, kind, considerate, gentle, patient, joyful and loving; His spirit in our heart is all it takes for Him to live through us.
If we feel defeated, God’s love is greater. If we tell ourselves no one cares, God’s love is greater. If our spirit has taken to surrender to forces unknown, God’s love is greater. With God’s love, we will defeat. With God’s love, we will care. With God’s love, we will have the spirit to overcome. That is because God’s love is greater.
In our weakest state, in that moment when we are about to do anything to remove a trial from our lives, our only choice is to look to God. He, and He alone, will give us the relief we need to rise from our sufferings and move forward.
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
We have no reason to fear. God is great above all other gods. He is the one and only God. If He can create the simplest of flowers, how difficult is it for Him to rescue us from the sufferings of this present age?
Our hope remains in God the Father, who sacrificed Jesus His Son for the forgiveness of our sins. We should count it all joy to know that our tribulations are for a purpose; and that is to change us to become more like Him every day.
What may seem impossible to us is possible for God. What may seem extraordinary to us is ordinary to God. He takes the weak from the world, imparts His spirit and builds His church. We are of the body of Christ; fashioned of the same countenance; saved by God’s grace.
No one other than God is our fortress.
Jesus forgave those who persecuted Him. Likewise, we should do the same also; for when we forgive our enemies, God will forgive us. Even more so, He will bless us beyond that which we could have ever imagined possible.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12)
God commands us to rejoice and be glad when we face persecution. Our hardships are as seasons, and as seasons change, so do the circumstances to our hardships. What seems difficult now may one day seem as a distant memory. Our persecution will one day fade.
Every trial we face by the hands of an enemy is one step closer to what God wants us to look like. He is building a new person within us. When we are ready, He will rescue us from the hands of our tormentors. It is a promise our Father will keep. He will not surrender us to anyone.
Outwardly, we may have the countenance of sheep, meek and willing to serve. Inwardly, God has given us the heart of a lion, ready to roar at the face of trial. We may feel weak, but with God’s spirit living within us, we are strong. We are of the same unshakable resolve as our Father: to do good to all, even to our enemies.
For then we will have fulfilled our calling, and these words will come to pass: blessed are the persecuted.