Blog — April 30

“Teach me Thy way, ‘O Lord, and I will walk in Thy truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear Thy name!’”(Psalm 86:11).

We who are gloriously born of the Holy Spirit of God are also genetically confirmed, card-carrying descendants of Adam.  The Spirit enables us to live godly lives, but our tendency to do so is sporadic.  While our spirit is often willing, the flesh remains weak.  Two natures in one body can make for an exhausting struggle, but we are not alone.

The burden of the divided heart is common in scripture; Paul said in Romans 7:18, “I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.”  Even Peter contradicted his claim that he would never forsake Jesus, denying Him three times.

Most Christians even embrace our corruption, give up the battle and let the old nature win.  But there is a wiser way, and it is by the power of the Holy Spirit, not of ourselves.  We will never be completely delivered from the fight until we are in heaven, but victory is possible.  God said in 1 Kings 14:8, “My servant David who did what I told him and lived from his undivided heart, pleasing Me.”

Many Psalms reveal David’s view of God and demonstrate why he was “a man after God’s heart.”  He is the Omnipotent Creator, Omniscient God, Omnipresent Spirit, Loving God, Faithful and Righteous God.  David was not a perfect man, but he had a beautiful and true view of God, which affected his own heart.

You can have an undivided heart like David; ask for it daily!  Be aware of all that would compete for the throne of God in your heart and take your attention off of it, whatever it is.  Put your attention on the breathtaking beauty of God.  Be captivated by God alone.  If your heart is immersed in God, sin will have no room to thrive!  The heart reflects the real person!

Blog — April 29

This Psalm intrigues me for so many reasons.  David’s passionate desire for forgiveness is astounding.  This is no light-hearted prayer said in a few fleeting moments in a public setting, but rather a prayer from deep within an anguished heart birthed out of the convicting power of the Holy Spirit. I am additionally intrigued by the thoughtfulness with which David prays. He prays with a complete awareness both of His own sin as well as of that of his Heavenly Father’s character.  David’s prayer shows the depth of personal relationship and scriptural instruction within his life. David’s faith in God’s desire to show grace is impressive. These aspects, astounding as they may be, are trumpeted by one thing: God’s Grace.  This is nearly unbelievable to the human mind.  David lied, deceived, lusted, committed adultery, recruited others to sin with him, betrayed a loyal friend, murdered, covered-up and on goes the list, yet God’s grace wipes it away in a single prayer. We learn much about having a heart like David in this Psalm, but that would not matter one bit if we did not have a Savior like JESUS! God’s grace is great!

All this leads me to wonder about the following:

  • When was the last time our repentance was as heartfelt as David’s?
  • How long has it been since the Spirit’s convicting power stopped you in your tracks?
  • Are we praying prayers that are equally aware of our sin and our Savior’s nature?
  • Do we really accept the complete forgiveness afforded to us by the cross?
  • Will we both believe and fully accept God’s grace and continuing redemption in our lives?

I love the message of grace for all of us in this Psalm. I believe understanding His glorious grace was what drove David to his knees in this prayer of repentance. Great grace compels passionate repentance.

Blog — April 28

This account in Scripture is perhaps the most talked about.  Countless movies have been made.  I’ve heard everything there is to be said on the subject.  For instance, Bathsheba was a temptress and harlot; Bathsheba was a victim.  I will say that Bathsheba was no Abigail.  Here, we see David swinging from one extreme to another.  Not long before this, he was consumed with seeing God’s will done on earth to falling into immorality and premeditated murder.  He lost the respect of all who were near him, as well as the Prophet Nathan, his Commander-in-chief Joab, his family – particularly Amnon and Absalom—not to mention his murder victim Uriah who was one of “the thirty.”

As dark as it looked at the time, God had a plan.  First, He sent the man of God to David.  Secondly, once David repented, the sin offering was available.  Once he completed that with a repentant, humble heart, David had the peace offering available which restored fellowship with his God.

Newsflash!  God offers the same thing to us today.  When believers fail, we have I John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  Is there anything God can’t do?  Is He a Father who shuns us at every turn?  Are our sins bigger than the power of the Cross?  What is your take on today’s Scripture and how has it helped you?

April 26 sermon recording and handout

Click here to listen to Randy & Kathy Cartwright’s message.

Click here to view or print the handout.

Blog — April 27

Today I chose Psalm 103 to focus on. With all the bad and frightening news we have, this Psalm is a reminder that God ‘has our back.’

103:11-14 states, “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. Just as a father has compassion on His children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.”

We must keep this thought with us: God is our Father. He didn’t just redeem us from the slave holder Satan; He didn’t just cleanse us from all our sin. God became our Father. We need to think of Him in that way—our Father.

Blog — April 24

King David’s victories over these small kingdoms surrounding Israel can provide insight into our daily walk with Jesus. The kingdoms that King David defeated were small city-like states that constantly tormented the Israelites (in the past, present and future). These small kingdoms represent what Christians perceive as smaller sins (listening to immoral music, gossiping, swearing, etc.) that we let creep into our life slowly.  If these sins are not defeated, they will torment our relationship with God in the present and future.  Most people focus on the perceived bigger sins such as murder, adultery, stealing to name a few (if I am not committing these sins than I should be okay, right?), but it is the perceived smaller sins that slowly creep into your life and will disrupt and possibly terminate your relationship with God. These perceived smaller sins sometimes lead to the bigger sins. Notice how this passage doesn’t discuss the “super-countries” of the day such as Egypt, Rome or Assyria, as these countries represent perceived bigger sin. Next, to defeat the small kingdoms, King David had to rely and be aligned with God just as we need to turn all our sins over to Jesus and ask Him for His help to destroy sin (our enemies) in our life. Finally, after King David defeated his enemies with God’s help, he gave all the glory and praise to God as what he accomplished was only possible with God’s help.

Today’s challenge is to notice all the little sins in your life: maybe it’s a TV show that you watch, music you listen to or conversations you have with others. Identify these and ask God for His help in defeating them in your life. Satan creeps into our life slowly over time, so we must be guarded against the perceived smaller sin (small kingdoms). Once God has helped you defeat the sin (enemies) in your life, remember to give him the glory and praise.

Blog — April 23

Psalm 96:3 instructs, “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all the peoples.”

In November 1914, the early leaders of the Assemblies of God met at Stone Church in Chicago and made a declaration that is still resounding today: “As a Council…we commit ourselves and the Movement to Him for the greatest evangelism that the world has ever seen.” Over 100 years has passed since that declaration of faith and the movement is still going strong. The message is simple.  The lost must hear about the glory of God and his marvelous deeds. The greatest deed God ever performed was sending his Son to take away our sins through his death on a cross. The story has been repeated thousands of times around the world.  Yet, as you read this devotional there are still millions of people who have never heard of the marvelous deed God performed on their behalf. Let me encourage you today to take a few minutes and pray for those who have not heard. Pray for the nations, but also pray for your neighbor or the co-worker who is not a follower of Christ. Maybe God will tug at your heart to declare his glory among your friends, family members and co-workers. Finally, pray for the missionaries who are declaring his glory in some of the most remote and hard to reach places in the world. The world is in a desperate state as millions declare the glory of false gods.  It’s only when we worship the one true God that we are able to experience His peace and joy. The nations are waiting to hear His glory. Let us be the generation that ends their wait. To God be the glory!

Blog — April 22

Ever done the right thing in the wrong way?  Remember the undesirable fallout?  Just so, it is somewhat comforting to find that the “man after God’s own heart” struggled sometimes in this area as well.  Clearly, David’s desire to bring the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem was right; the problem was he didn’t undertake this project in the divinely prescribed manner.

Perhaps he was carried away by his enthusiasm and failed to do the proper research regarding transport for the Ark of the Covenant.  Or, maybe he actually knew that the Ark was to be hand carried by members of the Levitical priesthood (Deuteronomy 10:8) but resorted to the more expedient method of ox and cart with the men at hand thinking that he could make this happen faster and that “the ends justify the means.”  Whatever the motivation, this plan didn’t work out so well for Uzzah.

So, the Ark was sidelined for a time, and David withdrew to lick his wounds. Eventually the Ark of the Covenant was brought into Jerusalem properly with great joy and celebration.  Ultimately, David got it right, and God received the glory.

May the Spirit of God help us to exercise wisdom and patience that we get it right the first time.  And when we don’t, may the grace of God sustain us to try again, for His glory.

Engage discussion questions for Wed., April 22

1. In order for us to fight self-control, what must we battle? [1 Peter 2:11]
2. What points did Paul make about envy and jealousy in Rom. 1:28-29, 1 Corinthians 13:4, and Galatians 5:19-21?
3. What kind of self-control, envy and jealousy temptations do you face?
4. If God is sovereign over the abilities and blessings He’s given us, how should this truth influence our tendencies toward envy and sinful jealousy?
5. Can there be non-sinful jealousy? Read Exodus 20:5, Psalm 78:58, Zechariah 1:14 and 1 Corinthians 10:21-22.
6. Do you struggle with judgmentalism or competitiveness?

Blog — April 21

This Psalm is one of six Psalms written by King David known as the “Creation Psalms,” because they focus on what God has created and what this reveals about its creator. Psalms like this are beautiful to read and meditate on.

But some have read Psalms like this with their statements like, “The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork,” and think that if creation declares who God is, then evangelism and missions are irrelevant. At its best this heresy (and that is what it is) says that people can come to know the living God solely through His creation. At its worst it teaches a doctrine of “universalism” which says that everyone will be saved in the end.

It is tempting to believe this, especially for people like me who are surrounded by millions upon millions of people who don’t know Christ. I want to believe that there is some other way that they can come to know the grace and forgiveness of Christ without being told. I want to believe that there is some hope for my friends who have died in their sins. But I cannot because that is not what this Psalm says, nor is such a doctrine supported any place else in the Bible.

Truly “the heavens declare the glory of God” but not His forgiveness. They demonstrate that there is in fact a Creator – it is undeniable. But to know who that creator is takes more than that. Because “the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” and by the decrees of the Lord, we are warned.

Salvation takes an active voice. It takes a witness to the grace of God. Because “how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Romans 10:14).  Yes, it is tempting to look at this beautiful Psalm of praise to the Lord and somehow try to change its meaning to something that removes my responsibility to open my mouth and be a witness. But it cannot. What I am left with instead is, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord.”