guide me

Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.  (Psalm 119:133)

People often ask me, “How can I know if I am redeemed?” To be sure, Scripture provides great insight into the confident assurance we are to have in knowing our right standing before God. However, when I am asked that question, I always direct people to read today’s verse and search their hearts to see if the request of the psalmist is their request too. Only the redeemed will request of the Redeemer that no sin will rule over them. Is this your daily request?

Sin would occupy the throne of our lives if it could, because sin is never satisfied with coming in second. But when Jesus went to the cross and cried, “It is finished,” He was announcing that Satan, death, and sin had been defeated. However, there is something every saint of God must remember about the Christian life: Inasmuch as sin no longer reigns in the life of the believer, it still remains. Sin has been defeated, yes, but it is not yet totally destroyed. As Steve Brown says, “The dragon has been slain, but his tail still swishes.”

Because the old nature is still alive within every child of God, it must be our daily prayer that no sin will rule over us. It is a battle we must be willing to fight—not just daily, but moment by moment. Each day we wake up in the crosshairs of the world, the flesh, and the devil. The battle is fierce and the enemy is ferocious; the tempter will do everything in his power to gain ground in the life of the believer.

Throughout this ongoing battle, there is something you must never forget, which is the response of the Redeemer to the request of the redeemed:

Sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. (Romans 6:14)

Will we still struggle with sin? Yes, we do and we will every step of the way into glory. But sin will never again reign in the life of the redeemed. We will be weakened and we will be wounded, but we will never be wrecked on the sandbar of sin. If we were still trying to save ourselves under the law, sin would have its way with us. It would discourage us, derail us, and ultimately defeat us. But we are not under the law. We are under grace, and the grace of God has promised to comfort, correct, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness

Regardless of where this message finds you today, keep fighting the good fight of faith against all the schemes of Satan. Know that He who began a good work in you has promised to complete what He started. Make your request each day that no sin will rule over you and know that it shall not.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!


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“I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” (1 Kings 19:4)

Did you ever consider that the man who asked God to take his life never did taste death, but instead was carried off to heaven in a chariot of fire? After God granted Elijah a great victory over the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, the prophet feared for his life and went on the run from evil Queen Jezebel. Instead of continuing to trust in the God who had caused one man to triumph over 450 pagan prophets, Elijah was paralyzed by Jezebel’s threats and cried out to God to kill him. However, God had no intention of granting Elijah’s selfish and sinful request. God knew what was best for His servant, and what was best was a resounding “No” to Elijah’s fearful, unrighteous prayer for death.

Let me ask you this question: Can you not look back over your life and recall times when God said “No” to your prayer requests? And don’t you rejoice that He did? Surely it was God’s mercy that refused your plea, which would have taken you out of His perfect will and into your own wildly imperfect plan.

When we consider our prayer life from that perspective, we realize just how often we asked for what was contrary to God’s will for our lives. Too many times we desire temporal gain when God has eternal glory in store for us. How often we seek to satisfy our old, sinful nature! And, to be sure, there are times when God removes His restraining hand and we (and those around us) learn the lessons of life the hard way.

The apostle Paul asked God to remove his “thorn in the flesh”—not once, but three times—and each time God said “No” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Why? Because God knows the beginning from the end, He knows all points in between . . . and He knows what is best for us.

I pray that you will allow this word to encourage you today. The grace of “No” in your prayer life is a grace you should receive with great joy. When God says “No,” it is because He has something infinitely better in store for you. God will not give you trinkets when He has treasures multiplied with your name on them.

Ask and you will receive; whether His response to you is “Yes,” “No,” or “Wait,” you can rest assured that the outcome will ultimately be for His glory and your good. You have His Word on that truth.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else. (1 Thessalonians 3:12)

Notice the objects of the love that our Lord says is to overflow from your heart: the first object of your love is to be your family of faith, but it does not end there. Your love is also to overflow into the lives of “everyone else”—that is, those who do not share your Christian faith.

The first level of love is directed to the Lord’s people. We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:19), and we are to love first His family of faith. We are brothers and sisters in the Lord, and we declare this truth to the watching world by the way we love each other. Jesus made this crystal clear when He said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35). The first century church was known for the love its members showed one another, and the 21st century church is to be known by its love for each other too.

But our love is not to be focused solely on the family of faith. Our second level of love is to be directed to “everyone else.” This includes those who are lovable and those who are unlovable. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” Jesus said, “that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” Our Lord continued, “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? (Matthew 5:44-47).

The Bible makes it clear that we are to love even those who treat us badly, remembering that “While we were still sinners [enemies of God], Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Love is the differentiating mark of the true disciple of Christ, and it is love that makes the greatest difference in this life. Paul wrote, “These three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

If we are to be effective in putting the Gospel on display for all the world to see, we must do it with both our lips and our lives. “Lips only” love is no love at all. Yes, we are to speak the gracious words of Jesus, but we must also do the works of Jesus. We are to be His hands and feet in a world that desperately needs His love.

But remember this too: We must not reduce love to merely a verb (an action word). To be sure, we are not to neglect this aspect of love, but if we diminish love to only a behavior, we miss the supernatural source of that love itself: Jesus Christ. As John Piper says, “Making love only a verb will likely make us Pharisees.” To know love, we must know the God of love (1 John 4:8). And to know the God of love is to know the cross of Christ. Jesus poured out His love from that cross upon all mankind, and it is this love that we are to direct to everyone else.

Our love to others is simply the overflow of God’s love to us. We are not to be cul-de-sacs of His selfless, cosmic love; rather, we are to be conduits that allow His unconditional love to flow through us to pour out on all those we come in contact with. Remember, because God is love, we increase His exposure to those who are objects of our own overflowing love.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Remain true to the faith. (Acts 14:22)

The dictionary definition of the word “remain” is as follows: To continue to exist, especially after other similar people or things have ceased to exist. To remain true to the faith is to not only exist but to endure, last, abide, go on, carry on, persist and prevail. And how is this to be done? By continuing to remember Whose you are and to rest in His strength, power, and mercy—not just daily, but moment by moment.

John Stott, the influential evangelical preacher, teacher, and author, observed that “The Christian landscape is strewn with the wreckage of derelict, half-built towers—the ruins of those who began to build and were unable to finish.” Why does this happen? Because too many Christians lose sight of the One who promised that “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). The key that keeps us on the road “Remain” is to remember this promise. Jesus never shied away from telling His followers what the cost of following Him would be. Our Lord included no “fine print” in His presentations; He made it crystal clear that there would be a great cost in following Him.

The world, the flesh, and the devil line up to deliver one hardship after another to every child of God, all of them intended to turn us away from our walk with the Lord. We hear the whispered echo of the wicked words of Job’s wife: “Are you still holding on to your integrity? Why don’t you curse God and die!” (Job 2:9). And, sadly, many who started out well do just that. They allow the waves of challenge to engulf them and wash away their witness for their Lord. They forget the truth that our Lord allows these waves of challenge—not to crush His children, but rather to conform them into the image and likeness of Jesus, who was “crushed for our iniquities” (Isaiah 53:5). Jesus was crushed so that you and I would not be!

God did not bring you this far just to leave you here. He has promised to bring you safely to the other side of the Jordan, but He never promised that the journey would be free of struggle. Hardship is the high ground to holiness. It will be walked by every child of God. But it is never walked alone. Jesus has promised to be with you every step of the way. Trust Him even when you cannot trace Him, and you will remain on the road called “Remain” for the glory of your God . . . and ultimately your eternal good.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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He will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the Lord. (Isaiah 51:3)

No matter what kind of desert or wasteland you may be facing today, whether it is in your professional or your personal life, the grace God has poured out upon you will turn your wasteland into a wonderland in His perfect time and in His perfect way. May this truth set you free to be all God is calling you to be!

All too often we see nothing before us but a great and terrible and seemingly endless wasteland. It seems as if all the world is against us, whether in sickness, sorrow, or storm winds of trial that continually blow our way. We believe we are surrounded by the sands of struggle and the unbearable heat of unholiness, and there is no oasis in sight. We feel as if we are stuck in the middle of the Sahara Desert with no way out but up. And that is exactly when our God has promised to show up and turn our wasteland into a wonderland! Our God will give us the necessary grace to get through every wasteland race.

Beloved, Scripture likens Jesus to the rose of Sharon and the lily of the valleys (Song of Solomon 2:1). The rose is considered to be the most beautiful and perfect of all flowers, and the same is true of our Lord Jesus. He is perfect in His nature. He is perfect in His disposition. He is perfect in His personality. He is perfect in His character. When God gave you Jesus as Lord and Savior, He turned your wasteland into a wonderland forevermore, making all things new . . . including you! This promised paradise is your unending Eden, and it can never be taken away from you.

So regardless of where this message finds you today, fix your vision not upon your circumstances but on your Christ. See the wonder of His beauty and the witness of His majesty. Know that He has promised to deliver you from every scorching sun and sea of sand. Look closely at your Christ and see the pool of clear, life-giving water that lies ahead. It is not a mirage. It is your Master calling you to come, drink, and be refreshed for the journey ahead.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. (1 Timothy 4:15)

Oh, what a word of encouragement we have before us today! In giving our hearts “wholly” to our Lord, the goal is for the watching world to see progress . . . not perfection. We are to give our hearts wholly to holy things; when we do, we can be assured that our God will cause us to make progress on our spiritual path.

Timothy was a young leader in the church who might easily have felt intimidated by or inferior to those who were older and more mature. But the Word of God came to Timothy and encouraged him to give his heart wholly to his calling and not to neglect the gift of service that God had given him.

There is a biblical truth that we all must remember, and I’ve stressed it many times here: God does not call the equipped; rather, he equips those He calls and gives them everything they need to do all He is calling them to do. When we follow our calling wholeheartedly, we can be assured that progress will be made in God’s way and in God’s perfect timing.

The witness of “wholly” is one of the primary ways God has ordained for the Gospel to be put on display for the watching world. The Christian is the only Bible that many who walk in the world of unbelief will ever read. The world “reads” and studies the saints of God to see just how closely their walk matches their talk, and God promises that when we give ourselves wholly to holy things, He will prosper us with progress that will bless both us who bear witness and those who are watching.

God will tolerate no rival, nor should He. When we give ourselves less than wholly, we are giving our God a divided heart. The Bible emphasizes that we cannot serve both God and material wealth . . . another way of saying it is that we cannot serve both the Savior and the self. When we give to Him less than wholly, we simply will not make progress in holy things.

Christian, have you given yourself wholly to Jesus? If not, what is holding you back? May the confession of all our lives be that of Caleb, who God said “has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly” (Numbers 14:24).

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me. (Psalm 101:6)

The world may take no notice of you, but you can be certain that the everlasting eyes of the Almighty are fixed upon the faithful . . . and that includes you! Notice that the psalm does not say God’s eyes are on the perfect; if that were the case, His glance would never extend beyond Heaven’s gate, except for those few short years our Lord walked this earth. No, God has promised to keep vigil over His faithful, those whose hearts beat for Jesus, even though they beat imperfectly.

The key to receiving the power and promise of this verse is found in God’s faithfulness to us, not our faithfulness to God. It is God who is faithful to see us as faithful, because He has clothed us in the righteous robes of our Redeemer. The apostle Paul assured us that “If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). You see that it is God’s covenant faithfulness to us that keeps us both seen and secure.

Let’s go back to today’s verse and notice the result of being seen: “That they may dwell with me.” When God fixes His gaze upon the faithful, they are forever fixed in His faithful presence. We are eternally forgiven. We are eternally loved. We are eternally redeemed. We are eternally in His eternal presence and nothing can change that—not our sin . . . not Satan . . . not even death. We are told that nothing in the entire universe will ever separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. Does that not encourage you today to face whatever waves of challenge that may come up against you with strength, courage, and joy?

Regardless of where this message finds you today, remember that you are both seen and secure. And when you find yourself lacking in your faithfulness to Jesus, remember these words from our Lord: “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

May that truth set us all free to desire nothing less than living lives of complete faithfulness to our Savior . . . even when we are not.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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