Do you make praising God a priority in your life? I confess I didn’t know the importance of praising God until 2020. When we went through the pandemic, and the world seemed to fall apart, there were two things that truly changed me. One was reading the Psalms, and the other was praising God. I learned the truth of the words found in Psalm 89:25, “Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, LORD.”
I bet it is more common to praise God when something good has happened. We rejoice when we accomplish a goal or when we obtain something we had hoped for. We are happy when a blessing comes into our lives or when we see an answer to prayer.
But one thing I have found to be helpful is to praise God before the blessing. If I am…
I’m excited to announce that book 1 of the Tainted Love Saga, Of Love and Deception, is a Gold Award winner in the Global Ebook Awards for 2021! You can find it in the New Adult Fiction category here: 2021 Global Ebook Award Winners. Congratulations to all the other winners too!
This can be one of the hardest things to do, but when God forgives us, we must forgive ourselves. Satan will keep throwing your past sins up in your face to bog you down with a false sense of guilt. He wants to steal our joy in Christ. The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins, but once we ask forgiveness, we’re forgiven, so we don’t have to carry those burdens anymore. Accept God’s grace, and ask Him to remove any false sense of guilt you’re harboring over forgiven sins.
18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.
20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.
21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.
22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.
23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.
24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.
MARCH 24, 2021
Is there something from your past that continues to stir up feelings of guilt? Unless you rest in God’s complete forgiveness, you won’t experience the fullness of His divine grace.
If you feel ashamed but don’t know why, the problem could be a false sense of guilt. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin so we can repent and be free. But guilt that persists with no specific cause comes from the devil. Ask the Lord to cleanse of you of any false guilt today.
Another source is legalistic teaching. Many people have been taught a distorted version of the gospel and think, I’ll never measure up. For example, the religious leaders of Jesus’ time followed a code of man-made rules, and they communicated the idea that “unless you do this, God won’t accept you.” Righteous deed by righteous deed, they tried to earn the Lord’s acceptance—and sometimes so do we. But this legalistic view always becomes an enslaving vicious cycle.
Remember, Jesus came to liberate us. The Bible says that when you are set free by Christ, your freedom is complete (John 8:36). It’s time to let His grace cleanse you from any shame. Ask the Lord to help you walk in this truth—and enjoy unhindered fellowship with your Savior.
Sometimes feelings of fear wash over us. Sometimes it’s confusing and doesn’t make sense. We know that God tells us not to have a spirit a fear, that we can trust in Him. But still it grips us anyway. I especially struggle with this when I have panic attacks. As Dr. Charles Stanley says in his devotional below, even seasoned Christians like him who have been walking alongside God all their lives are subject to fear from time to time. When we’re overwhelmed with fear for whatever reason, we need only turn to God. Seek Him more, and He will help you. I know when I have panic attacks, the ONLY thing that eventually calms me down is focusing on God. I read his Word, listen to Holy Spirit-annointed music and pray. He always reaffirms His promises to me, and I eventually calm down and end up feeling even closer to Him than before.
27 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.
3 Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.
Psalm 27:1-3 KJV
MARCH 19, 2021
I’ve walked with the Lord for more than seven decades now. I have read the Bible from cover to cover, preached thousands of sermons, and written pages and pages of study material. But let me tell you: In spite of all that, sometimes I still get scared.
When fear begins to sink in, I pray harder, study longer, and read my Bible more closely. I decided long ago that I would not let apprehension stop me from doing what God calls me to do. However, before I can take a stand against fear, I have to admit it is there. That’s the key to conquering feelings of anxiety.
I imagine you, on occasion, may feel frightened too—whether of failure, ridicule, loneliness, or something else entirely. There is no shame in admitting you’re afraid. In the Psalms, in fact, King David makes this confession several times! (See Psalm 34:4; Psalm 55:4-5.) His confessions are often wrapped in prayer, acknowledging the Lord’s power over his fears and his enemies. And these are examples we can follow.
That same power is available to you today. God wants to cast out the fear and doubt in your life. Are you willing to go before Him today and say, “Lord, I’m afraid of … ”?
Hebrews 13:5 is one of my favorite bible verses. It’s one of the first ones I read after I’d truly been saved, and it’s God’s promise to us. He will never leave us or forsake us, so when we feel like He has, we need to just remember this verse. God doesn’t lie. His Word doesn’t lie. He said this, so we can trust it as truth. We’re to trust Him by faith—not by sight or feelings. Just because we can’t always feel Him there doesn’t mean that He isn’t. What a great comfort!
5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.
6 So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.
7 Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.
8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.
9 Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.
Hebrews 13:5-9 KJV
MARCH 17, 2021
In troubled times we may begin to think that God doesn’t care or has forsaken us, but that’s not true. If we’ve trusted Christ as our Savior, He promises never to desert or abandon us (Heb. 13:5). No matter how we may feel, God is always with us.
As great as this promise is, we have yet another foundational truth on which to rely. We can fully trust whatever our Savior says because “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8). He doesn’t save us one day and then abandon us later. Jesus said, “Everything the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37). He affirmed this same truth, saying that no one can snatch us out of His or the Father’s hands (John 10:28-29).
If we think that the Lord has suddenly abandoned us, we are walking by sight and not by faith. The reality is that we are the ones wavering, but Jesus and His promises have not changed. He is present, providing for our needs, and working for our good in every situation.
This is the only time when we see Jesus display any type of aggressive behavior. This was done to demonstrate how serious an offensive was occurring against God by those in the synagogue. It’s important to note that Jesus acted in righteous anger, and He waited upon the directive of the Holy Spirit before doing so. It is important not to use this scripture as an excuse to give into our temperaments or unrighteous anger.
MARCH 14, 2021 SUNDAY
When the Lord overturned tables in the temple court (Matt. 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-18), He drove out moneychangers along with people buying and selling goods. By all accounts, this was a passionate demonstration. Jesus purposefully expressed His convictions and took action. Remembering this is helpful as we think about attachment and detachment—it highlights that being passionate about something can be totally different from a passion that draws us away from God.
Imagine how often Jesus passed those tables and chose to do nothing until it was the right time to act. But pausing didn’t mean He was indifferent. His decision to act when He did—not sooner or later—came out of His obedience to the Father and from His love and concern for the world. Freedom results from confronting and relinquishing unhealthy attachments. But we also should be motivated by love and consideration for the world, without getting caught up in it.
Think about it
• Do you relate to the way Jesus took action in the temple courts? Why or why not?
• When you see an unhealthy attachment in your life, do you tend to respond rashly or to consider the situation prayerfully?
Sanctification is a lifelong process throughout which the Holy Spirit molds us more into the image of Christ. In order for the Holy Spirit to do this, we must keep Jesus Christ and what He did for us at the Cross of Calvary as the object of our faith. Only then can the Holy Spirit work within our lives and hearts to sanctify us.
11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
Romans 13:11-14 KJV
Put on the Lord Jesus MARCH 11, 2021 THURSDAY
Modern culture encourages doing whatever comes naturally, but that approach leads only to self-centered, sinful living. In contrast, we as believers are told to make no provision for our natural or fleshly desires. This means we don’t place ourselves in the path of temptation or consider going back to the old sinful longings, attitudes, and habits that were ours before we knew the Lord.
When I was a young Christian, I heard talk about sanctification and “doing away with sin.” I mistakenly thought that when I was older, I’d have some kind of spiritual experience that would rid my life of wrong desires and thoughts. But that’s not how sanctification works. Instead, it’s a lifelong process in which God’s Spirit progressively transforms us into Christ’s image.
Even after three years in Jesus’ company, the disciples couldn’t live the Christian life on their own. They had to wait for the indwelling Holy Spirit, who gave them strength, guidance, and wisdom. That has not changed—it remains true that apart from Christ’s Spirit, we cannot overcome fleshly desires and live in obedience to God’s will. But when we rely on Him instead of ourselves, He produces godly desires within us, empowers obedience, and transforms our character into Christ’s likeness.
This is definitely one of the things that I think many of us struggle with. When life gets us down, we begin to doubt our salvation. I think this is one of Satan’s greatest weapons against Christians. He whispers we’re not good enough into our ears or we’re just deceiving ourselves and we’re not really saved. All you have to do to be saved, though, is to truly believe in your heart that Jesus is the son of God, that He died on the Cross for our sins, and that He was raised from the dead. You must also confess these truths with your mouth. Then, it’s important that we keep our faith in Jesus Christ and what He did for us so we can be assured our faith is true. When we focus on Christ and Cross, the Holy Spirit will be able to work within our lives to help us follow in Christ’s footsteps.
5 Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.
2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.
3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?
6 This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.
7 For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.
8 And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.
9 If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.
10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.
11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.
13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
1 John 5:1-13
MARCH 09, 2021 TUESDAY
Many Christians struggle with doubts about their salvation. As they look at their failures, they question whether they’re truly saved. The apostle John wrote his first epistle to assure believers of their eternal security. Throughout the book, he gives three tests by which professing believers can evaluate themselves to see if they are truly in the faith.
1. The Word Test. Genuine Christians believe what Scripture says about Christ—that He is God’s Son, who came in the flesh to die for mankind’s sins.
2. The Witness Test. The Holy Spirit indwells true believers. They experience His transforming work, and He gives them a deep, abiding conviction that they belong to Christ.
3. The Walk Test. Christ’s life flows through His followers and will be evident in their words, attitudes, and actions. The sins they once loved are now repulsive to them, and obedience to Christ is the new direction of their life.
While we can’t be 100 percent certain about the authenticity of anyone else’s faith (Matt. 7:21), God doesn’t want His true children wavering in uncertainty about their own. That’s why John’s first epistle says, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13, emphasis added).