Righteous Verdict

One-minute read.

Righteous verdict.

David is not excusing his behavior but illustrating the distance between him and God. Sin separates us from our relationship with the Lord and others. Human nature cries out to God for help.

“For I do not understand my actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” Romans 7:15

Paul summed up our humanity well in his letter to the Romans. Even the writer of most of the New Testament struggled against his natural desires. We easily succumb to the things we don’t want to do or don’t do what we want. David knew the difference between right and wrong; only with God’s wisdom could he find a remedy for his sinful heart. 

God knows everything; we can’t hide our sins from Him.  Knowing that should help you confess to the Lord the areas you need help with. God loves you; nothing can stop Him from caring for you. Honestly, telling the Creator your struggles helps you defeat them. Instead of doing what you don’t want, partnering with God enables you to do what you want: love Him and others well.

Christ draws us into a relationship; sin separates us from it. Following Jesus will help you have strong relationships, not only with God but also with others. Trust Jesus and His promises and live abundantly in Him.


Lord, thank You for Jesus. As we recognize our sin, help us confess it to You and receive Your grace. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear the truth in all things. Strengthen our relationships with You and others as we apply Christ’s teachings to our lives, overcoming our poor behavior and responding like Jesus. IJNIP. Amen

Against the Lord

One-minute read.

Against the Lord.

David, the author of Psalm 51, knows who he sinned against, God. Instead of arguing against divine justice, the psalmist admits his guilt. Only when we confess our sins can we begin to heal from them. But introspection takes work. We must objectively examine ourselves and find faults no one likes to discover.

When I first started writing devotionals, I had a friend who would periodically send me notes about mistakes I made in my writing. At first, I felt offended. But then I realized I had to learn to take feedback to become a better writer. When people give me their opinion, I evaluate it, keeping the meat and removing the bones. Only then can I become a better writer.

To become more like Jesus, we must acknowledge the areas of our lives that need work. Pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, anger, and laziness all lead us down harmful paths. If we learn to identify these in our lives, we can confess them to the Lord and ask for His help overcoming them. When we sin, we do so against the Lord, hurting Him more than anyone else. God helps us defeat the sins that separate us from Him, cause us harm, and break our relationships. Then, we become more like Christ, shining His light to the world around us.


Lord, thank You for loving us despite our sins. Thank You for helping us overcome our human tendencies and become more like Jesus. Make us sensitive to the Holy Spirit, identifying the sin in our lives, confessing it to You, and finding victory over it. As each day passes, help us become more like Jesus, loving the world one person at a time. IJNIP. Amen

Sinful Heart

One-minute read.

Sinful heart.

Besides the Lord, no one knows our sins better than we do. From stealing penny candy at my uncle’s country store to forging my mom’s name on absence notes so I could skip school and lying to my professor in college to get him to let me retake a test, from birth to now, I know my transgressions. I only talk about some of them with God and my therapist. The Lord loves us despite our sinful ways. He loved us before we ever thought about loving Him.

“We love because he first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

Jesus came to Earth as an act of love, knowing our past, present, and future sins. Because of Christ’s actions on the cross, we can confess our sins, confident the Lord will still love us. The Lord doesn’t expect perfection, but He does want honesty. Sharing our sins with God cleanses us and helps us overcome them. Admitting we have a problem leads us to solve it. We can’t solve what we don’t acknowledge.

Understanding that the Lord already knows my secrets helps me live an honest life. Truth always reveals itself; I’ve learned in five and ½ decades of living that honesty up front saves heartache in the end. No use trying to hide from God, He already knows. Accept your limitations, admit them to the Savior, and experience the Lord’s grace and mercy. Nothing will heal your heart faster than the Lord’s unconditional love.


Lord, thank You for loving us despite our sins. Help us live honest lives as we become comfortable identifying and acknowledging sin. Let the Holy Spirit nudge us from within our souls if we start down a forbidden path. Give us the strength to overcome our past discretions and live fully for You.  IJNIP. Amen

Act of Grace

One-minute read.

Act of grace.

Nothing feels better after a long day working in the yard, covered in grit from head to toe, than taking a shower. Cleansing our bodies with warm water rejuvenates, giving us new life. In the same way, when the Lord gives us grace, it washes away our sins, purifies our hearts, and renews us. Unlike taking a physical shower, turning on the water, scrubbing ourselves clean, and rinsing off, receiving God’s grace requires only one thing: that we receive it. 

Nothing we do earns the Lord’s mercy; we can’t work our way into heaven. God’s grace rains down on us from above, washing us thoroughly without human effort. Forgiveness blots out sin. As we receive the Lord’s grace and accept His gift, we must give it to others.

“Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

God’s grace multiplies; His never-ending stream of mercy flows into us and out to others. The more we learn to accept divine forgiveness, the quicker we forgive others. If you read the Bible 4 or more times a week, your likelihood of sharing your faith increases to 228%.[i]  Leading with grace will share the Gospel faster than anything else. Divine forgiveness leads to forgiving others and sharing the love of Jesus.


Lord, thank You for leading with divine forgiveness and showing us how to do the same. As we learn to accept and receive Your gift of mercy, help us share it easily with others. Strengthen and encourage us as we walk through the day, facing giants we didn’t see coming. Help us find victory in Jesus as we follow You.  IJNIP. Amen

[i] https://www.centerforbibleengagement.org/research

Abundant Mercy

One-minute read.

Divine forgiveness.

We can do nothing to earn God’s grace. The Lord gives us His mercy when we cast ourselves upon Him, asking for it. Defined as “courteous goodwill,” grace comes from God’s goodness. Of course, if we don’t acknowledge we need the Creator’s mercy, we can’t receive it. Some people struggle with admitting they have sin in their lives. Everyone has distorted thoughts, and if we believe them, they will take us away from God.

Distorted thinking blinds us from reality. To receive God’s grace, we must discover the lies we believe and replace them with truth. Anyone who says they don’t sin has distorted thinking. Only when they remove the lie can they admit their shortcomings and turn to the Lord for help. Accepting Christ into your heart helps illuminate the lies, replace them with God’s truth, and receive His mercy.

When we humble ourselves before the Lord, He freely gives us His mercy. God blots out our transgressions. Jesus shows us a different way to live, leaving our sins behind and discovering a new life. Let down the walls of your heart, confess your transgressions to the Lord, and let Him cleanse you. God has fresh mercies for us every morning. No matter what happened yesterday, today, we can try again, hopefully doing better than the day before.


Lord, thank You for freely giving us grace when we turn to You.  Illuminate any distorted thoughts in our mind, replacing them with Your truth. Help us live fully in Christ as we pursue new life in Him. With each day that passes, let us become more like Jesus. Assist us in making better choices today than we did yesterday. Let our actions glorify and honor You. IJNIP. Amen

Rejoice in Forgiveness

One-minute read.

Rejoice in forgiveness.

Becoming upright in heart means receiving God’s forgiveness. Whatever sins lie in your past, the Lord forgives when you lay them at the foot of the cross. We can let go of our old ways and begin anew. Changed behavior reveals an upright heart and relays a profound apology.

Nothing reveals my sinful nature more than becoming one with another person in marriage. Maintaining a healthy relationship requires changes in behavior, not just an apology. When Ron feels I don’t appreciate him, I must evaluate what I’m doing and then change my behavior. Saying “please” and “thank you” helps me remember all he does for me and appreciate him. But he can quickly feel taken for granted if I don’t say the words. 

In the same way, when we confess our sins to the Lord, we can rejoice at the opportunity to change our ways and become more like Christ. Instead of continuing down a sinful path, we course correct and follow Jesus, doing what He would do. The closer we follow Christ, the more upright our hearts become, giving us plenty of reasons to rejoice and thank our Savior.

Shout for joy as you receive the Lord’s forgiveness. Each day, we become more like Christ, putting away our old selves and cloaking ourselves in Jesus’ love.


Lord, thank You for forgiving us. Help us become more like Christ as we change our ways and do what Jesus did. Let us overcome the desires of the flesh as we apply Your word to our lives, allowing it to transform us into new people. Hear our shouts of joy as our hearts become upright and our lives reflect Jesus more and more each day. IJNIP. Amen

Steadfast Love

One-minute read.

Steadfast love.

Surrounded by God’s love, we can rely on the Lord to protect us from life’s storms. During gusting winds, His protection keeps them at bay. We can always turn to the Lord at any hour, and He will answer our cries. But those who deny God’s existence can’t experience His presence or protection. Without belief, we can’t find what Jesus offers. Sorrows abound for those who live life without Christ.

Without hope, sorrows abound. Jesus gives us hope that today’s troubles won’t last because His death on the cross overcame them. We find the hope of victory and the strength to persevere with Christ.

“I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

If you don’t believe in Jesus, you have no hope. The troubles that ail unbelievers overwhelm them because they can’t see any way out. But for Christ’s followers, He shows us how to overcome today’s problems because we hope for a better tomorrow. In the light of eternity, the issues of today pale, and mountains become molehills as we focus our eyes on Jesus and trust in Him.


Lord, thank You for giving us hope through Jesus. Praise You for overcoming the troubles of this world and giving us peace. As we face today’s mountains, help them become molehills as we focus on Your promises. Let the promise of eternity remind us that the troubles of this world will pass, and one day, we will live in heaven with You.  IJNIP. Amen

Bits and Bridles

One-minute read.

Bits and Bridles

Horses and mules have bits and bridles that keep them in check; the Lord uses other things for us. Paul had his issues:

“So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited.” 2 Corinthians 12:7

Paul doesn’t tell us the identity of the thorn in his flesh, but he does share with us what it prevented: egotism. Receiving revelations from God can swell anyone’s head, making them think highly of themselves. But the Lord knows how to keep us in check. When an alcoholic man asked his pastor why God didn’t take away his desire to drink, the minister responded with a question.

“What do you do when you want a drink?”

“Get down on my knees and pray.”

“Would you pray as much if you didn’t have the desire to drink?”

Each of us has some thorn in our side, the thing we talk to God about the most. If we didn’t have the problem, would we spend so much time in conversation with the Lord? My blood likes to clot. After two blood clots, I will now take blood thinners for the rest of my life. I spend much time talking to God about my blood, discovering His grace and a heightened closeness to the Lord. My thorn in the flesh keeps me tightly connected to my Maker.

Think about your thorn. Ponder how it brings you closer to God. Would you talk to Him as much if you didn’t have it?


Lord, thank You for keeping us in check. Thank You for the problems that draw us into a closer relationship with You.  Help us accept our limitations and trust You to make the impossible possible. Fill our hearts with Your Spirit, hold us close in Your hand, and help us become the best version of ourselves. IJNIP. Amen

Wise Living

One-minute read.

Wise living.

Shifting from encouraging God’s protection when we seek Him, the Psalmist now quotes the Lord’s promises of instruction. The Bible provides an instruction manual for life, from handling finances, having healthy relationships and bodies, and living abundantly. Following Jesus helps us find and fulfill our purpose, giving our lives meaning. By seeking the Lord’s counsel, we will find it.

God reveals eighty percent of His will through scripture. The Ten Commandments give us guidance on loving Him and others. Applying them to our lives will help us fulfill God’s greatest commandment.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

Jesus gave us the greatest commandment: love God and others. Following Him will help us do it. As we get to know Christ, invite Him into our lives, and learn about Him through scripture, we will become better lovers. Jesus teaches us how to forgive and pray for people. He shows us how to encourage people and help them become their best version. Christ helps us become more like Him every day we follow Him.

If you want direction for life, look no further than the Bible. In it, you will find all you need to live life to the fullest.


Lord, thank You for Your instruction manual. As we open the Bible and begin looking for direction, open our eyes to see and hear what You have for us. Show us how to apply Your word to our lives, helping us live abundantly in Christ. In all things, we give You the glory. IJNIP. Amen

Hiding Place

One-minute read.

Hiding place.

Growing up in the countryside of Pennsylvania, I loved our little house on the hill, overlooking our neighbor’s houses below, the church we attended sitting opposite us on the next hill. Our concrete driveway sloped to a flat surface; the garage sat at the end. Two bushes grew between the garage and the driveway, no longer there. Inside those bushes, I found the perfect hiding place. Crawling into the small space, I would read and live in my imaginary world, safe from the outside world and its dramas.

God gives us a hiding place. When we turn to Him in our troubles, He protects us, holding us in the palm of His hand. Always available and ready to hear our prayers, the Lord never leaves nor forsakes us.

“Because he bends down to listen, I will pray as long as I have breath!” Psalm 116:2

Can’t you picture God bending down to hear your prayers? I can. Like a beloved Grandfather leaning in to hear the thoughts of his grandchild, God bends to listen to us. Crying out to Jesus in our time of need will help us find a secure hiding place from the world’s troubles. When we turn to Him in prayer, we can discover God’s peace that surpasses all understanding. The Lord’s ready to listen when we start praying.


Praise You for never leaving nor forsaking us and giving us a hiding place during life’s storms. Thank You for preserving us from trouble and surrounding us with shouts of victory. Let us live boldly for You, knowing You always have our back, and we can rest in You.  IJNIP. Amen