Why More Is Never Enough

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” – Psalm 16:11

The world tell us it’s all about getting what you want as fast as you can get it. The problem is, once you get “it” you feel satisfied only for a short amount of time. Then? You need the next big “thing” and so on and so forth. “It” is never enough, we’re always chasing the next thing hoping that it will finally be the perfect long term solution that satisfies that deep longing in our souls for true joy.

The good news to this problem is we have the solution, truly Good News. We were created by God and for God, by love and for love. God created us and the things we enjoy. Sex, money, power, all from God and all created as good things! Not only did God create those things and us, He’s wise enough to know how those things should be enjoyed. This is something I’m thankful for more and more because I constantly prove how unwise I am by enjoying things incorrectly and giving them more power than they should have over the joy in my life which results in disappointment. God then took this wisdom of how things He created should be enjoyed and wired us in such a way that we are fully and truly satisfied by one thing, Him.

This doesn’t mean we aren’t supposed to enjoy those things He created for us. He wants us to enjoy those things, but in such a way that we do just that, enjoy them, but never treasure them. We are to enjoy things in such a way that says we are thankful for them, but we don’t treasure them above God. We are to be satisfied more in the Giver than the gift itself. When we enjoy things in their proper place and the way God intended, it can bring an added joy to our lives, He can bless it and be apart of it and most importantly, it doesn’t hinder our ability to enjoy Him. It actually increases our enjoyment of Him when we enjoy things properly because we aren’t replacing Him and idolizing something that cant satisfy, but we are enjoying something as a gift and doing so with a thankful heart towards the One who’s given it. When your parents give you gifts on Christmas are you thankful towards them? How much more so should we be towards a God who’s given us everything that we are and have?

Secondly, when we enjoy things out of their proper place we’re giving them a responsibility for bringing us joy that they will not be able to maintain, it will eventually leave us empty or sad. When that thing you’re idolizing becomes unavailable or disappears, what will happen? Even if it’s always available it’s impossible to indulge in it 24 hours a day! It’s like running to a well to fill a bucket with holes in it, you’re running home with it with joy that you have something to quench your thirst only to see that the water was there temporarily. Temporary is something foreign to an eternal God.

If you’re already a Christian and have experienced this overwhelming joy and fulfillment a relationship with Jesus brings then you know exactly what I’m talking about. If not, and you’re seeking that fulfillment and have tried everything but Jesus, give him a chance, why not give a chance to the One who created you and died to know you, who could know you better than Him?

As a christian this verse (psalm 16:11) will become more and more powerful in our lives as the truth of these words set themselves in our hearts, but it does not mean we won’t fall short. Jesus died the death we were meant to die because we couldn’t live up to God’s standards, we are fallen. But, He also lived the life we were meant to live, as an example for us to follow. We too often overlook this and just focus on His death that paid for our sins (which is still something to be extremely grateful for). Although we will fall short, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up too much when we fall, but we shouldn’t take it lightly either! We will never be perfect, but God gave us His Holy Spirit for a reason, to continually strengthen us to be more like Christ and live how He lived. Living how Christ lived means holding God as supremely valuable in the way we enjoy things. People make the mistake of thinking this is all about rule following but you won’t see it that way when you fully realize God created us, what we enjoy, and is wise enough to know how they should be enjoyed. That’s a life changing realization and can’t be repeated enough. It is a joy to follow God. It is the greatest joy to know God, because He made it so. At the end of the day, sin is unbelief in the promises of God, if you believe that “in His presence is fullness of joy” as his word says, you won’t sin. But when we do, we have an advocate in Jesus and God is just to forgive us. Take that leap of faith and get in on the life God has made available to us to live out, it will satisfy that longing you’ve been yet to satisfy.

 

Do We Truly Love Others?

Do we truly

Do We Truly Love Others as Ourselves?

Written On: 5/9/2016

Written by: Bryce Malone (@609turtle)


 

            As Christians we are always told not to judge, to let God handle it, to worry about ourselves because we aren’t perfect either. God will handle it, we aren’t perfect, but we are called to spread the truth of God, no matter how judgmental that may seem to some. In fact, in Ezekiel 33:7-16 He tells us WE are accountable for others just as we are for ourselves! I’m not quoting the scripture because I’m hoping it forces you to open up your bible! To sum it up, God tell us that if we warn a wicked person who is sinning against God to turn from their ways we will not be held accountable when they die in that sin; but, if we do not warn the wicked person who (whether willfully or unknowingly) is sinning against God, then WE are accountable and their blood is on OUR hands when that person dies in their sin! Think about that! How many times a day do we see even those we love and care about the most, doing something we know is doing nothing for them but distancing them from God and forcing Him to without natural blessings from them because they are straying from Him and proving themselves unready! I use the word unready rather than unworthy because we are ALL unworthy but through Christ are made worthy! God’s blessings are given not earned, but we can prove ourselves ready for certain things by committing our way to Him. We can grow in Him and trust in his spiritual pleasures rather than the pleasures of this world to show to Him we are ready for certain things. Now we may believe we are ready for certain things like a husband or a wife, and we very may well be, that may speed His timing up and it may not. It’s important to remember He is all knowing, not us, He knows the deepest desires and thoughts of our hearts, not us. All we can do is continue to improve, for instance, remove that seed that we plant in ourselves that causes us to sin, drive out that lust we have for every woman that walks by, become responsible by removing the willful ways we expose ourselves to this sin. Become responsible. You know following that half-naked woman on Instagram is a seed that could grow into potential lust later? Unfollow! You know that listening to certain music causes you to stumble? Delete it! Sometimes it may just be temporary until you’re able to look at all people the way God does, or until you can handle certain music in smaller quantities, everybody is different!

Now, how do we become responsible and begin to improve? We stay in our word, we pray daily, we pray whenever we can remember to no matter how short it may be. We begin to meditate on God’s word and realize what happened in what we read, why and what we can learn from it to apply that into our own lives. We let His Spirit renew us in mind and heart until we can see His glory in everything we do and see and begin to apply that to our everyday lives. We take our renewed selves and put the words and thoughts inside us into repetitive unselfish action as often as we can.

Going back to where we started, I don’t expect us all to interrupt every person we see doing something wrong and preach them the Gospel of Christ, but it takes only seconds to pray for them! Let’s start with ourselves, our loved ones, if we really love them we wouldn’t let them be living in sin falling away from God anyways, right?! Let’s begin to grow closer to God, allow Him access to the deepest parts of our hearts and take what he instills in us and put it into action, every. Single. Day. After all, wouldn’t you want them to tell YOU?

His Perfect Will

His Perfect Will

His Perfect Will

 

Devotional by: Bryce Malone (@609turtle)

Written on: 03/28/2016

 

                     Remaining humble is something some of us as Christians are aware of, maybe even most of the time but for smaller things we may be the furthest thing from it. It’s almost a habit for some of us to be so adamant about being right that when we’re wrong, even about the smallest things, we refuse to believe it, sometimes more than once! We find excuses as to how we could’ve been right or how the circumstances changed or even try to wait out hoping for a change that shows we were the slightest bit right. This can be harmless at times depending on the circumstances but can be harmful to us spiritually and emotionally if it becomes habitual.

So often we abandon our prayer life and reading our Word without realizing it when something we wanted doesn’t fall into place or we were wrong about “God’s will for us.” But, if you never truly sought God earnestly through prayer and in His Word for answers then you were just blind and mistaking His will for you, with your own will for yourself. How greedy and un-humble is that! It often takes things to fall apart more than just a couple times for us to see that we were only fooling ourselves and subconsciously trying to force God’s hand in our lives. I know I’ve been guilty of praying earnestly and seeking answers for something, only to ignore God’s signs and answers when they didn’t line up with what I currently wanted! I had forgotten that He knows what is best for me, and that my trust needed to completely be in Him.

When we make decisions, God reacts, whether the decision was according to His will for us or not. Certain things we do may be according to His will and those moments many a time go smoothly and bring us joy in the end even when we didn’t know what would happen; but because we trusted in Him and made the decision we knew He would see as best, things worked out. No matter the situation, if you make a decision, small or large, with God’s will for you in mind, only good can from it; maybe not immediately, but eventually, otherwise. We need to trust Him while also being content in all situations.

On the other side many of us (including myself at times) pray for something to be incorporated into His will for us. Sometimes we do it for things that we are truly unsure of, unsure of whether it’s in His will for us or if it can be. At times, if we are ready and He sees it fit, we can receive things that weren’t in His plans for us at that time because of our obedience and trust in Him. Opposite this, there are things we have already been shown red flags for, but we still pursue them hoping he can incorporate them into His will for us and we get upset when things constantly don’t work out. We become so infatuated with something that we want, that we begin to think His direction is completely wrong and ours is absolutely right. How many times must our own ways bring us down before we can truly trust in the One who leads us to what is always best for us?!

My prayer for us today is that we learn to not just trust God with our words but to actually trust Him in our thoughts and actions, every single one of them. Do what you need to do to remind yourself that your trust is not in the other people of this world but in the Creator of the universe, the Creator of YOU! I pray we can open up to God and openly admit our shortcomings so that He can continue us on the road that’s everlasting.

 

“Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” (Psalm 139:24)

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5)

“No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

“Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.” (Hebrews 10:36)

“Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

The Almighty View

The Almighty View

The Almighty View

Written On: 11/26/2015

Devotional edit by: Bryce Malone (@609turtle)


When you begin to follow Christ you’ll have important and meaningful decisions to make almost every single day. Many of these decisions will be seen as wrong and unpopular in the eyes of the world and even the people close to you. You may even come across as crazy. God may even be directly speaking to you and saying to do something that will most certainly upset someone, but because it’s the truth, it’s what’s necessary.

There are many quotes about society and the truth but the one I most recently discovered was this: “Every time somebody discovers truth he becomes a stone in society’s shoes.”

When I was growing up (still am) the “popular” thing to do was to be a rebel; to smoke, drink, have sex as soon as possible, and to do the opposite of what is basically, right. That has become the normal in society today, so for someone to actually be a rebel today, to do the opposite of what society is doing, you could say you’d actually have to follow Jesus! This isn’t my favorite argument to use but it does work for certain people. Now, you’ve probably seen by now that following Jesus will never be the right or popular thing to do. Jesus tells us this himself several times. In Matthew 7:14 he said “But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” John 15:18 says “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” Lastly in Matthew 10:22 it says “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

So, when making these decisions, big or small, every day, of course we need to seek answers from God in His word, through prayer, or trust that ever reliable presence of the Holy Spirit inside us if we are very strong in our faith. These things are all very important, but you also need to think about whose view of YOU matters most? Your view, the world’s view, or God’s view of you?

Galatians 1:10 says “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” And Romans 12:2 says “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.” The point is, you can’t aim to please people (the world) and God! Your actions can’t be for the approval of others, they should always be or seek the approval of God, because ultimately, what he sees as right will be useful for the people involved as well, even if you are the only one who knows it. We can’t follow Christ and seek to please people at the same time. [You may be thinking of the words pleasing people as in bringing joy and happiness to others. That is not the meaning for this circumstance; we are talking about making decisions for the APPROVAL of others.]

As much as we are capable it is important to remember this. As most things, it’s easier said than done, especially when we are so used to making split-second decisions so naturally on a daily basis! How many people would agree we should “Love our neighbors as ourselves”? Probably quite a few! Now, how many of those people have that instilled in their mind and actually practice that truth through the majority of their day? So let this serve as a reminder; you and God surely have things that you have deemed worthy of working on. Things deemed worthy of practicing daily, take this as the first step to not just talking about those things anymore, but remembering them to the best of your ability and putting them to use throughout your day. Remember that the Almighty’s view of you is the only view that should ever matter.

Don’t worry about hurting the feelings of others, when you are speaking TRUTH, you can only hope they can one day discover that same truth through the Grace of that very same God.

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” (Proverbs 29:25)

Slip and Slide

Slip and Slide

Slip and Slide

Written On: 11/4/2015

Devotional by: Bryce Malone (@609turtle)


You’re out somewhere in public and see someone you know that you’re sure may talk your ear off or that you’ve just never gotten along with so you do your best to slip your way out of the place without being seen. Or maybe you are in your house where every step makes the floorboards creek and you are trying not to wake anybody up. These may be terrible examples but the point is we all have moments where we do our best to get away quickly from a situation or avoid an encounter altogether.

Way too many of us try to find ways out of situations, out of encounters with other people in our lives. Maybe it’s because we are shy, unsure of what to say, lacking courage, or scared, but no matter what the reasoning is it can easily become repetitive and habitual. It gets to the point where you do it without even noticing until you recall what you did in the moment or maybe even not at all. The love or hate we experience from other human beings should not make or break us. The experience we have with a person or even a certain group of people shouldn’t change the way we interact with the next person we encounter. The love God has for us is unquestionable, unconditional and like no other love we will ever experience. His acceptance of us is reliable and never ending. HIS relationship with us is the relationship that not only matters most, but is the example of the kind of relationship we should aim to have with others: Non-judgmental, unconditional, without hidden agendas etc.

Thankfully, we don’t need to slide away from God, or find a way around Him when it’s time to talk with Him. No matter how undeserving you deem yourself He isn’t going to love you any less. The truth is, you’re right, you don’t deserve His mercy and grace, because none of us do! We are going to receive it anyway because that’s who He is, never because of who we are. We don’t have to be shy or unsure of what to say or scared around Him because He already knows the deepest thoughts of our hearts before we do ourselves. He knows the intentions of every word or action and the motive behind every thought. We are not 100% pure and holy in our hearts and minds and we never will be, but He understands that and tells us it’s ok. He loves us whether we try our best to act as representatives of His or if we have yet to enter into the relationship with Him that he desires (and that we all, deep down, do too). Others may judge you or treat you differently based on observing you and learning and assuming motives behind your actions but we always have a safe haven in our relationship with our God.

Being too careful in our interactions and relationships with others can ruin our social life, drive people further away, and bring forth missed opportunities to spread the love of Christ that resides inside you! The smallest gesture or word can turn someone’s day around and allow them to just for a moment feel the love of God that reflects off of you. Now, sometimes in certain relationships (or lack thereof) it’s necessary to slip and slide out of certain situations because you may know a conflict is guaranteed at that moment. Through the renewal of your mind and heart through prayer and God’s word you will have better discernment in these daily situations and more courage to enter into them with a strong attitude rather than attempting to escape them. You can also always be assured confidence in making the right decision in these situations once you allow the presence of God inside you to take over and guide you. It’s there, you just have to let that presence be in complete control. If you speak from that loving presence of the Holy Spirit inside you, then no matter the outcome of any situation, you can be confident you did what was righteous in the eyes of God.

Luckily, we don’t ever need to “slip and slide” into or around the presence of God. We can approach Him with confidence and infinite courage. We should have nothing to cover up when it comes to our relationship with Him, (sure because he already knows everything ahead of time) but because no matter what, He is going to love us and accept us for who we are. He is never-changing, His love is never-ending, His mercy and grace are without limits, and we can find comfort in that always.

Being open to learning about others and truly caring for them and their betterment will bring an increase to your confidence in approaching any situation and bring you an inner peace that is otherwise going to go unnoticed. Maybe there’s a girl you’ve been wanting to talk to, maybe there’s a person you see struggling daily that you want to fill with the love and joy God brings you, maybe there’s an old enemy you’ve been avoiding; whatever the situation you’ve been dodging is, it’s time to step into that limitless presence of God inside you and use it to conquer that moment.

“Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

Don’t Complicate Things

Don't Complicate Things

Don’t Complicate Things

Written On: 10/27/2015

Devotional by: Bryce Malone (@609turtle)


 

Too often we are way too hard on ourselves. We beat ourselves up when we make a mistake, or get down on ourselves when we sin. We hold ourselves to an extremely high standard, not to mention the people around you will often hold you to one even higher! You must have a successful job, a great family life, a perfect relationship. You always have to “look the part” or dress a certain way to represent who you are etc. I’m stretching what I mean a little bit to get the point across, but ask yourself what standard do you hold yourself to and how do you react when you do mess up?

We need to ask God what His standard is for our lives. What does our creator expect from us in this life He’s blessed us with? Through prayer He will give us all a different answer, but using our Bibles we can also easily find what God expects from us. We need to act in a righteous manner, love others, love kindness, stay humble and ultimately live like Christ to the best of our ability.

When we do what is righteous and act according to the words God has provided for us He will bless us exceedingly for obeying His commands! James 1:25 says “But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.” The best part is, when you come to truly know God, you know that keeping His commands will bring true happiness and unlimited blessings. Also, His commands aren’t difficult to keep, especially when you open yourself up to Him so he can help change you. Don’t make the mistake of placing all the weight on your own shoulders trying to obey his commands, but let Him takes that weight on His shoulders when you hand over all your burdens and problems to Him; after all, that’s what he commands us to do, because He knows we can’t do it alone! He lives inside each and every one of us, we just have to open up that part of us so that we can willingly grant Him access to it so He can support us.

Being kind to others is one of the easiest tasks we could ever be asked to do, yet so many people fail to do it repeatedly throughout the course of a single day! God’s word tells us:

“Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for He is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked.” (Luke 6:35)

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:21-32)

Kindness is one of the characteristics that God has, that we can easily have ourselves. It doesn’t take much to say a kind word or two, or give a kind gesture to someone you pass on the street or in traffic, it could mean the world to them. Kindness takes the selfish focus off ourselves and (sometimes) unknowingly places our focus on the needs of another person temporarily. There is a reason you yourself feel happier when you are kind to others!

The next thing we all need to also work on is being more humble.

“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2)

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” (James 4:10)

There are countless numbers of examples in the Bible where the failure to be humble caused a downward spiral of failures! Self-glory and pride causes us to place ourselves on a pedestal we have no right to be on and upsets God! When we are humble, and kind, and walk with God with these two (of many more) important characteristics, He promises to take care of the rest! It all comes back to us being WILLING. Submit to God, realize His way for us is better than our own ways, after all, who knows our hearts and minds better than the One who created them?! When we walk in this place that is when true blessings begin to add up in uncountable numbers. Walking with God isn’t a battle of earning promotions like a boy scout camp, you don’t get a new medal every time you do something good, instead you receive blessings from the creator of the universe and even greater, your relationship with Him can continue to grow. Don’t place a heavy weight on your shoulders in your journey with God, but focus on doing some of the simple things He promises will be beneficial to ourselves and others; being kind and remaining humble.

Hunger For More

Hunger For More

Hunger For More

Written On: 10/13/2015

Devotional by: Bryce Malone (@609turtle)


 

It’s difficult for people to appreciate a good meal when they aren’t hungry. If all day long we eat small meals and snacks to give us short bursts of energy we won’t be hungry for a real filling meal at dinner! Our relationship with God can be very similar to this. If we constantly fill ourselves with things that don’t feed our souls and cleanse us spiritually, we will never be hungry for more of God and as a result can miss out on many, many things that He has in store for us. God fills the people who are hungry for more of him and desire him, but the people who are rich (filling themselves with the desires of the flesh) get “junk food” or nothing! “He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away with empty hands.” (Luke 1:53)

Those who know how desperately they need God are those who are able to easily find Him. When you search and yearn for something and truly long for it, you normally find it, right? We need to have that same sense of desperation for our relationship with God. We need to come to terms that without God, we will never have anything worthwhile, but with Him, we have everything we will ever need. For me, I recently realized this; I did when I sensed that if I lost everyone, my friends and my family, that I would be ok because I have Jesus! I obviously would never want that to happen, but if it ever did, I know I’d be ok.

{ I won’t stay on this subject long, but this is something people who are always searching for a relationship need to realize. Stop thinking everyone you encounter is the one God has planned for you and let His will for you pan out. In being so desperate for a relationship with someone else we miss out on the fullness of a relationship we can have with the God who desperately seeks one with us. Once you realize Jesus is all you need, that is when you can truly learn to love yourself and find your worth. Jesus loves you no matter what, if you stay committed to your relationship with Him and allow Him to take control, He’ll never be restricted from the amount of blessings He can place into your life. Once you see He completes you and you need nothing but Him, you’ll never catch yourself wanting a relationship “just to have someone.” Why? Because you’ll have HIM! You’ll never settle for someone who doesn’t draw you closer to God, doesn’t appreciate you for who you are, doesn’t accept your flaws and try to build with you no matter what mistakes each of you make, and once you don’t settle for that, you’ll be able to identify the one God set aside for you much more easily. }

So all the junk food and needless snacks we eat throughout the day is the equivalent to the needless, senseless and useless activities we allow to fill our thoughts on a daily basis. The activities we do may not be wrong so to speak, they may be perfectly ok actually, but if they fill us with desires that reduce our spiritual hunger for what God has prepared for us, then it becomes a problem. Anything from a pointless journey to acquire something unnecessary, or watching television, or doing something that pleases us instead of finding something that pleases God and others. Now we don’t have to always be doing this, but if we are doing something that reduces that hunger for God, it should be cut down as much as possible, because otherwise, it will begin to take effect, and the times you do seek to please God and others will rapidly and steadily decline! Not only that, but ask anyone who tries to focus on pleasing God and others most of the time, I guarantee you they say they feel more “full” at those times, than when they are trying extremely hard to please themselves.

God has a great and delicious meal set at His table for each and every one of us. All we have to do is show Him that we are hungering for Him. “You satisfy me more than the richest feast.” (Psalm 63) It’s time to get rid of the “snacking” we have been slaves to in our everyday lives, and replace that with the fullness of the meals that God has prepared for us whenever we are ready to sit at His table.

Promised Love

Promised Love

Promised Love

Written On: 10/7/2015

Devotional edit by: Bryce Malone (@609turtle)


 

Psalm 106:4-5: “Remember me, Lord, when you show favor to your people,  come to my aid when you save them,  that I may enjoy the prosperity of your chosen ones,  that I may share in the joy of your nation and join your inheritance in giving praise.” This Psalm looks at the history of God’s people and how he has dealt with them. It mentions all the sins of the people, while Psalm 105 is more of a “positive” psalm in that it talks about what God does for His people. Psalm 106 Is less of what he does, and more of what his people HAVE done. SIN. History becomes longer every day, so, are things getting better or worse in the world? I’d say both, in different ways! What we should be doing, but few people do, is using the past to learn. Government, leaders, churches and people all don’t learn from it, and if they do, they don’t apply what they learned, the ignore it, so are they truly learning?! This is precisely what the Psalms are for. God’s dealings with His people are full of lessons that we can learn from. History is full of instructions, lessons and guidance we can use in our lives today. Read Psalm 106:4-5 again; the writer is applying the history lessons to himself. The rest of the Psalm is about other people and God’s dealings. He then says “Remember me, O Lord, O visit me.” He looked back at God’s dealings with His people and their dealings with God! He sees a need for help, for grace, and for mercy! He knows he needs help to live for God’s glory and to commit his work to God in this corrupted world. He is applying the lessons to his personal needs. Psalm 106 is filled with spirituality! Nothing of this world is asked for: food, drink, money. It is all spiritual, all things that are needed to feed the SOUL! “Remember me, O Lord, visit me!”

There are many things we can learn from this Psalm. For one, there are periods of time when God’s people experience sadness; God may even make us sad. This is a sad Psalm! It’s sad because of the things that went wrong at this point in time. “We have sinned with our fathers, we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly.” (v6); “They soon forgat his works; they waited not for his counsel: but lusted exceedingly in the wilderness, and tempted God in the desert. And he gave them their request, but sent leanness into their souls.” (v 13-15); The psalm reflects the many mistakes they made in the past. Sometimes we may live in a time where sad things surround us, sad memories of things that didn’t go our way. This is part of the way God deals with us as His people. Year after year we witness a tremendous decline in the number of church-goers, and more importantly, a decline in the number of people turning to God, for anything! This is something that makes God people sad in itself! We must all seek strength and toughness to live through difficult times like these. That’s exactly what this Psalm is doing, it’s showing us how to live and learn in such a dark age. No matter how bad of a time you may be going through, God is always working. In those same times, God is still with you, and with everyone who loves and trusts him. So what must we do in these sad times? We must do exactly what the writer of this Psalm does, he doesn’t give up hope, he runs to God for help and courage and strength to live in this dark time and place. “Remember me, O Lord”; “O visit me with thy salvation”; “that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, that I may glory with thine inheritance.”

The next lesson is this; every Christian long desires pieces of God’s love that are for them personally. The psalmist here expressed that when he says “Remember me,”; “O visit me.” He wants God to remember him because the people of our world too often forget us. Friends you once had, enemies, anything could happen in this world that may separate us from those people, whether it be God’s will or natural circumstances, but through that, God will still be there. You can always turn to him and say “Remember me,” and he will! What better example than Joseph. Wrongly imprisoned, and because he was fueled by God, he interpreted dreams for the baker and the butler in Egypt. The dreams came true, the butler was restored to his place on honor and at the end of the chapter it said “yet did not the chief butler remember Joseph, but forgat him.” (Genesis 40, 23); He didn’t forget him entirely of course, but he didn’t mention him to the king because it wouldn’t benefit him, it didn’t interest him. When people are selfish they don’t do anything to help you, they forget you! So as God’s people, we cannot rely on man to help us. If we are doing our work for God’s glory and doing his will we can say “Remember me, O Lord” and get the help we need from God himself.

God has a general goodness about him; the heavenly Father has the sun rise on the righteous, but also on the wicked. He sends rain, it falls on the holy and the unholy. He shows kindness to the holy and the unholy, the thankful and the unthankful. That is something we should all be grateful for. We can find rest in that. Though we can be thankful for his general mercies and blessings, that is not what we seek above all else as God’s people. We seek love. His love that brings redemption, grace, calmness, and through his mercy, it eventually brings a sense of glory and of salvation. “Visit me…with thy salvation.” Though we are grateful with things like food, money, cars, clothes and furniture, we are not content with them, we are not truly happy with them. We are yearning for spiritual blessings where we come into direct contact with God’s salvation.

Israel had gone astray: rebellion, apostasies, idolatry, and selfish pride. We can find all these things in our world today, can’t we? They sacrificed babies to false God’s, they burned their babies to give to a false God. Today virtually the same thing is happening; abortions are sacrificing our babies to the God of people’s selfish ways. These are the same mistakes that were made back then. Every single day you can look on the news and find these same very sins. As God’s people, knowing and being aware of this has an effect on our minds. We should behave as the writer of this Psalm does and say “O Lord, in the light of all that I see round about me in this world, O visit me, Lord, with this salvation that thou dost promise. Do not leave me like the world. Do not leave me like these false Christians, these false Israelites. Make me a child of God. Put thy Spirit in my heart, O Lord. Make me full of prayer. Give me a desire for the things of Jesus Christ. He is praying for a soul that longs for the blessings of God, as should we!

“Remember me, O Lord, with the favour that thou bearest unto thy people: O visit me with thy salvation; that I may see the good of thy chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of thy nation, that I may glory with thine inheritance.” As it was then, this prayer is relevant for all Christian’s today. Evil is still out there, maybe more so then ever! The word of God is taught less and less, and, in turn, apostasy and rebellion is taking place more and more. I pray that we all continue to be renewed and blessed with the strength and wisdom to avoid falling into the traps of his dangerous society. I pray that our God keeps our eyes focused on the good even when only surrounded with bad; that our feet stay planted firmly in the word of God even when the ground we walk on is disappearing before us. Most of all I pray that we never lose our sense of hope, as long as we have hope, we have everything we need.

The Psalm ends with this: “Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the heathen, to give thanks unto thy holy name, and to triumph in thy praise. Blessed be the Lord God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting: and let all the people say, Amen. Praise ye the Lord.” (v 47-28)

It’s Ok, Come Back

It's Ok, Come Back

“It’s Ok, Come Back”

Written on: 09/28/2015

Devotional by: Bryce Malone (@609turtle)


We sin, it happens. Yesterday I made a mistake, one I haven’t made in months! I was stuck wondering whether I became too proud and thought I was strong enough to finally handle some things on my own or if God allowed me to be given over to this temptation to teach me something. God will never cause us to sin, but He can allow us to be tempted, rather than stopping us from being tempted, without affliction, we will never learn. Thankfully, He’s given me the strength to see the good in everything. When I make a mistake, I ask for forgiveness and the wisdom to avoid whatever caused the mistake to begin with. I ask for the strength and guidance to fight it off if it somehow crosses my path again. Many times we feel like with His help we improve so much with areas we used to battle with that we think we can sometimes take it on by ourselves. When we do this, we are testing God without even knowing it. What I mean is, we might be tempted with something randomly or by chance throughout the natural course of our days. We may overcome whatever it was because we remember we’ve come a long way and that God is on our side. We don’t fight flesh with flesh, we fight flesh with Spirit! When we do that, there is never a battle we can’t win. So as the day goes on we may feel proud that we got through those tempted moments, but we have to be sure we don’t feel proud and haughty of ourselves, because without God’s strength and the renewal of our minds through prayer and His word, we could’ve never done some of these things. This is where God allowing us to be tempter may come in, if you read my previous post ‘Experiences’ you will realize that God may give us over to some of our lusts for a time just so we can realize how silly we were to want something so worthless, something not infinite! So the day went on and I tested God as I said without even knowing it. I conquered, with God’s help, the temptation from earlier, and now I said “this is awesome what God has done inside me, I’m so strong now!” So although I wasn’t proud of myself, I was proud of how far I’ve come with Jesus! Noticing progress is great, but then I decided to allow the temptation to overtake me, it didn’t happen by chance this time, I went to it thinking I could take it on again, not realizing what I was really doing was back-tracking and testing the God that I am so happy to have in control. I wasn’t too far along that he couldn’t rescues me as he always does, but he needed to remind me that I made a mistake going to the very thing we’ve worked so hard to get past! This is the best expression I could come up with: It’s like I was forced to play Russian roulette 100 times that day, 99 of the times were forced on me and I remembered God was on my side and got through each time. Then I willingly played the 100th time. The first 99 times God was there to rescue me because he knows I didn’t put myself in the situation, the first 99 times I was playing with 0 bullets in the gun because God was on my side! Then I tested God unknowingly and went to the temptation and said “try me!” So I went from playing with 0 bullets, to 2! I realized afterwards that it was my fault, not only did I bring temptation upon myself, but I did it AND didn’t fight it with God’s help. If I did still fight it with his help, I would’ve realized I still made the mistake of bringing a sin to myself, rather than it just coming to me unknowingly. Seeing the good in everything, I immediately realized that He allowed me to fall into this, so I could come back to him even stronger, even more submissive and willing than I already was! I didn’t think I could be any more submissive and accepting, but I realized nobody but Jesus was without sin, the only thing we can do is get better and improve in the areas we struggle with every single day. A Christian will ultimately battle certain sins until the day they die, that’s just the truth, but if they are willing, they can also improve on those same sins little by little every day. I was reminded that I am only human; I’m not here to be perfect, I’m here to introduce people to the one who is perfect, Jesus! We too often try to change behavior of those we introduce to Jesus, rather than just doing that, introducing Jesus, a friend. Who doesn’t love a new friend? Especially one who can do the things he can do! Sometimes you will be tempted to do things that you shouldn’t’ do through the course of a day randomly. Sometimes because of your own selfish desires you’ll tempt yourself; sometimes you’ll conquer one and not the other. The important thing is that you never turn away from Jesus, that each time you get knocked down you turn back to him stronger than the last time. You can never give enough of yourself to Jesus; you can’t give him half your heart and pray it makes you whole. Don’t just give him the good in your life, give him the bad and the good, he can handle and improve them both. Through every mistake he can teach you the wisdom of how it happened, where the root of the problem exists and how to remove that problem. He can give you the strength to get through it over and over again, and the strength of mind and heart to remove the thoughts of that very problem from your brain completely. All you have to do is trust him, submit to him. I was thinking how people who have done nothing but sin their entire lives, kill, cheat, lie, can turn to Jesus and say “I accept you and I’m sorry.” I thought about that and thought how their minds and hearts could mean that 1% and the other 99% doesn’t, because they don’t know any better! We could be fully committed to following Jesus, we could be the opposite, we could mean what we say 99% and not mean it 1%, but he will treat us the exact same and love us the exact same. The important thing is that we all realize that we need Jesus, and it will never be otherwise. There is always room for improvement, you just have to be open to it, and just like anything else we try to improve on, It takes practice and trust; with Jesus it takes trust, willingness, prayer and love. Whether you’re beating yourself up for something you continually struggle with or you think you’re too far away to turn back to Jesus, it’s the same for both parties, we need Jesus. We don’t deserve His grace and mercy but we get it anyway! There is good in everything, there is good in the good, and in the bad there is good. There is opportunity to learn and become stronger. For those in the opposite seat, believing they are too far away to turn to Jesus, you probably should be considered too far away for most people, they’ll tell you to “clean yourself up” before you step into God’s house. But, that’s exactly what Jesus is for; you can’t do it on your own, so turn to him, accept him, and let him go to work on you. Again, we do not deserve his grace and mercy, but we get it anyway! Not because of whom we are, but because of whom He is! For me, I decided to read and pray more every day, more than I have been in the past (which was already pretty often). If he flows out of us in everything we do, there aren’t many battles we will lose, and even if we do he’ll still be there saying “it’s ok, come back.”

Got Zeal?

“Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.”

Romans 12:11 (ESV)

Have you ever seen a misplaced belonging?  How do you determine who it belongs to?  You would probably look for some type of indicator or mark of its owner.  Or if you have ever helped someone find a lost belonging, how did you do it?  Well, most people would listen to how the item was described and then look for something with those same characteristics.

In that same way we can be identified by the characteristics we display.  In the same way that you can tell who an item belongs to by its particular marks or characteristics, we demonstrate who we belong to by our characteristics.  Romans 12:11 is right in the middle of a group of verses describing the characteristics that embody those who follow Christ.  Followers of Christ abhor what is evil and hold fast to what is good (Romans 12:9).  They will show hospitality to others (Romans 12:13).  They will not avenge themselves but will leave it to the wrath of God (Romans 12:19). The list goes on and on, but many of those verses describe the way that we interact with others.  But this verse, verse 11, is making a statement about how we interact with the Lord directly.

“Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.”  Let’s take a short trip back to high school English class and break-down what Paul is telling us here.  “Slothful” means lazy, sluggish, inactive, or apathetic.  “Zeal” is great energy and enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or objective.  “Fervent” is having or displaying a passionate intensity.  Put all of that together and the message is clear: Do not grow lazy, lacking enthusiasm in your pursuit of the Lord, be passionate in the spirit, and serve the Lord.  These are not friendly suggestions, they are commands.  Also notice that there is no break in Paul’s thought process here – the sentence is structured to show a connection between HOW we serve and WHO we serve.

For those of us who have felt discouragement from others regarding our passion for the Lord, this verse is here to speak truth to your heart.  Hearing things like “why do you bring God into everything?” and similar comments tends to send us into a place of discouragement and doubt.  In those moments, go back to the truth of God’s word.  Our natural tendency is to separate the day-to-day trials of our lives from the truth and power of the gospel, but we need to bring it back to the hope we have in the cross and the grace of Jesus Christ.  We are called to have enthusiasm in our pursuit of the Lord and the things of the Lord.  We are called to be passionate in the spirit and we are called to serve… who?  The Lord.  We are certainly called to encourage, love, and care for those around us, that is clear from the verses surrounding verse 11, but not at the expense of how we serve the Lord.  Do not let discouragement deceive you into believing that your passion and zeal for the Lord is “doing too much.”  Remember who you serve and how you are called to serve Him.

But maybe you haven’t been discouraged in this way.  Maybe you have been feeling a lack in your passion and enthusiasm for the Lord.  In our Christian walk we face highs and lows – each and every one of us.  But we cannot let our “lows” be an excuse for slothfulness.  If this verse doesn’t describe your current attitude toward God and the things of God, ask yourself “who am I serving?”  Because the connection between how we serve and who we serve is intentional.  We are called to serve God and we are called to pursue Him with enthusiasm and passion in the spirit.

If you think you are lacking in these areas, there are a few things you should consider.  First, how much time are you spending in the word?  How much time are you spending learning about your Savior?  Pastor Joel Shorey, from Covenant Fellowship Church, once said “If your relationship with God is dry it is not because you’ve explored all there is to explore in God and you’ve come to the end.  It is because your shallow view of God, the transcendent one, has run out and there is nothing left to find joy in.”  Knowledge of the true character of our God will create a passion for Him and the things of His Kingdom.

Second, how much time are you spending in fellowship with other brothers and sisters in Christ?  People who will exhort you daily to prevent your heart from becoming hardened (Hebrews 3:13)?  If you have ever seen a bonfire, you may have noticed the way the logs in the fire affect one another.  When you take a dry log and lean it against some of the logs that are glowing from the fire, the log that was once dry quickly becomes bright and glowing red from the heat of the other logs.  If you would take one of the bright glowing logs and pull it away from the other logs, just far enough to get away from the heat of the others, you would see the fire that was once burning brightly within the log extinguishes in a matter of seconds.  We are not much different.  Surround yourself with people who will encourage you, minister to you, challenge you, and be a part of the fire that fuels your passion for the Lord in the “lows.”  Then do the same for them during your “highs.”

Be intentional. Do not be slothful in zeal.  Be fervent in spirit.  Serve the Lord.