Thoughts in Worship

Message Magazine


Thoughts in Worship, Message Magazine's Daily Devotional, with Host, L. David Harris

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Final Thoughts in Worship Episode, with Claudia and David

> Final Thoughts in Worship Episode, with Claudia and David > The devotional thought that so many have grown to love is in transition. You can still read the devotional, but David's reading has transitioned to our new 15-minute podcast titled, Message Daily, a short Bible study that further expounds the devotional thought. > For more information about Message Daily, visit:

Sep 30, 2019
Thoughts in Worship 09 09 2019

Thoughts in Worship Message Magazine's Online Devotional for Monday, September 9, 2019 This is devotional thought number 5 in our devotional series, “Removing the Veil: Sanctuary Living in the 21st Century.” Our subject is: Preparing to Tabernacle With God Here’s the question for consideration: What steps does God take to prepare us for sanctuary living? “And Moses went up unto God, and the Lord called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.” (Exodus 19:3–6). God always has a plan. If we learn to trust Him and follow His plan, we will be saved. Now we have a birdseye view of God’s plan of salvation. Paul said that the children of Israel were given to us as examples for our learning. What I notice immediately from our theme text is how God prepared the people for holiness. Think about it. The children of Israel were in captivity for many years. They only knew the Egyptian master’s scourge. They were subjugated by a power, that, in past generations elevated one of their brothers to provide help to the entire world during seven years of famine. Their master saw them as a threat, disrespected their God, owned their children, controlled their food, attempted to obliterate their religion, and forced free labor to elevate themselves. Does this sound familiar? So if God was ever to keep His promise to Abraham, that his offspring would be plentiful upon the face of the earth, and inherit the land now inhabited by innumerable enemies, He would need to lead them on a success path that would change their hearts, build their trust, increase their faith, vanquish their enemies, and glorify their God. Step one: deliverance. If God is preparing us for sanctuary living (i.e. holy living), He first needs to give us a downpayment on that holiness. He miraculously delivered the children of Israel from Egyptian slavery first, and then promised them power, prestige, and holiness if they would just obey Him. Notice that, with God, deliverance comes first. If God were to tell a sin addict to keep His law without delivering that addict from slavery to sin, it would be a recipe for failure. Paul said the carnal mind cannot please God. It cannot be subject to the law of God. Why? That mind has another master—sin/the devil. When you have an opportunity, please read Romans 6-8 and you’ll see what I mean. God breaks the spell unfettered sin has upon us when, through His strength, we accept Him as our Lord and Savior. In a simultaneous transaction, the Holy Spirit begins to empower us to actually live according to our calling. When we receive Him into our lives, we become His children; that is our calling (John 1:11-12; Romans 8:29). And having become His children by faith, we learn to live like children of God. God’s miraculous deliverance begets the power to live holy lives in God’s presence. If you are yearning to experience the fullness of sanctuary living, accept God’s plan of deliverance, learn to follow His plan, and when you’re feeling faint under trials, don’t give up! Take courage in the following passage: “Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the Lord, And my judgment is passed over from my God? Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, That the everlasting God, the Lord, The Creator of the ends of the earth, Fainteth not, neither is weary? There is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; And to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, And the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings as eagles; They shall run, and not be weary; And they shall walk, and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:27–31).—L. David Harris ( #messagedaily

Sep 09, 2019
Thoughts in Worship 09 08 2019

Thoughts in Worship Message Magazine's Online Devotional for Sunday, September 8, 2019 This is devotional thought number 4 in our devotional series, “Removing the Veil: Sanctuary Living in the 21st Century.” Our subject is: Understanding Shadows Here’s the question for consideration: How are we to understand the principle of patterns so we can stay on track? “And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.” (Exodus 25:8–9). Well, before we get too deep here let me say one thing of certainty: shadows, types, figures, representations, symbols, and the like help us get a picture of the genuine article, but are not such themselves. Just as the Bible enjoins that our bodies are the temple of the Holy Ghost, and that we are to follow Jesus’ example, yet even when we follow His example we are not Him, such is the case with the sanctuary, as we know it. Simply stated, we are representatives of Christ; reflectors of His light in the world, but He is the true light. Likewise, whatever we learn about the Old Testament sanctuary on earth is a representation of the higher, more perfect entity of the heavenly sanctuary, and ultimately, Jesus Christ Himself. If we don’t get that straight in our minds early, we will certainly get off track. God would have us learn eternal lessons from the symbols and not try to squeeze the eternal realities into their earthly shadows’ mold. Just as shadows give us a view of that upon which the light is shining, the shadows of the Old Testament sanctuary, its articles, services, ceremonies, etc., also give us a view of God’s ministry of salvation, in heavenly places. After the Old Testament system of sacrifices met their fulfillment in Christ, inspiration taught us the following: “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:” (Hebrews 9:24). As we learn more on this subject, it will become vital that we hearken back to my near perseverative coverage on this point. Here’s another way of expressing the thought, in living color examples. The Ark of the Covenant in the OT sanctuary had a lid on it called the mercy seat, over which the presence of YHWH hovered. Are we to assume that in heaven there’s a box made of shittim wood over which the presence hovers, or that YHWH sits upon His throne? He sits upon His throne. Crafted on either side of the ark were two cherubims. Are we to assume that images of cherubims are represented in heaven, or that there are real live covering cherubs attending the throne? God has real cherubs attending Him. There was a golden candlestick with seven lamps fueled by olive oil in the sanctuary. Are we to assume heaven needs a light or does it represent the seven spirits of God? There was an altar of incense just before the veil before the presence of God. Is there an actual altar presently in heaven whereon is special incense burning, or does this all represent the prayers of the saints, which Jesus and the Holy Ghost make acceptable to the Father on our behalf? I could go on, but suffice it to say, we have so much to learn through the OT sanctuary symbols about what God is currently doing for us. We will take our time, and with the aid of the Holy Spirit, we will discover sweet truths that will engender praise, thanksgiving, respect, and full-on worship of our wonderful Savior. Put on your seatbelts, dear friends. It’s going to be a wonderful ride, in Jesus’ name.—L. David Harris ( #messagedaily

Sep 08, 2019
Thoughts in Worship 09 07 2019

Thoughts in Worship Message Magazine's Online Devotional for Sabbath, September 7, 2019 This is devotional thought number 3 in our devotional series, “Removing the Veil: Sanctuary Living in the 21st Century.” Our subject is: The Pattern We Must Follow Here’s the question for consideration: What is the Sanctuary? “And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.” (Exodus 25:8–9). Let me answer today’s question at the outset. The sanctuary, during the Old Testament era was a place especially designed according to the blueprint God gave, for the purpose of connecting God and humanity. It was the place upon which God descended to give special guidance to His people through signs, ceremonies, practices, and the priestly order. It was a place where God’s people could surrender their sins, in exchange for an agreement with God. It was where God’s people learned to fellowship with one another. The Scriptures say that the Old Testament sanctuary was a place of worship, which was a symbol or shadow of the true sanctuary in heaven. The sanctuary is all of this, and more. I’m not sure if you know this or not, but the sanctuary, whether on earth in the Old Testament or in heaven today, though very real places, direct our attention to a higher principle. All things sanctuary represent Jesus Christ Himself, which is why it matters how we treat this subject. This is much larger than a structural blueprint. It’s much larger than even recognizing there is a sanctuary above (we’ll talk about that in the future). The sanctuary, in its essence, is God. “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, Or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” (Psalm 90:1–2). “Be thou my strong habitation, whereunto I may continually resort: Thou hast given commandment to save me; For thou art my rock and my fortress. Deliver me, O my God, out of the hand of the wicked, Out of the hand of the unrighteous and cruel man.” (Psalm 71:3–4). “Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord God; Although I have cast them far off among the heathen, and although I have scattered them among the countries, yet will I be to them as a little sanctuary in the countries where they shall come. Therefore say, Thus saith the Lord God; I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries where ye have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel.” (Ezekiel 11:16–17). If you search the Scriptures from Genesis to revelation, you will find scores of verses that say clearly that our God is our refuge, fortress, and protection—a sanctuary. And as we said the other day, the sanctuary God introduced to the Old Testament peoples was a manifestation of the Emmanuel (i.e. God with us) Principle. Therefore, it makes sense why the same God who called himself a sanctuary to His people in Ezekiel 11, would manifest that reality. “Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body. When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.” (John 2:19–22). Thus, it also makes sense, then, why John said the following about Jesus Christ in the Revelation: “And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. And they shall bring the glory and honour of the nations into it. And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Revelation 21:22–27). Now, we truly see through a glass darkly, but then, when God reveals all, in heaven and the new earth, we will see Him and the blessed mysteries face-to-face!—L. David Harris ( #messagedaily

Sep 07, 2019
Thoughts in Worship 09 06 2019

Thoughts in Worship Message Magazine's Online Devotional for Friday, September 6, 2019 This is devotional thought number 2 in our devotional series, “Removing the Veil: Sanctuary Living in the 21st Century.” Our subject is: Moving Back in With God Here’s the question for consideration: What is the real purpose of the sanctuary? “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Revelation 21:3–4). What a day of rejoicing that will be! When we all see Jesus, see our heavenly Father, and experience the blessed Holy Spirit, it will be a day of rejoicing. When we see those angels who excel in strength, and kept their charge to protect us from evil forces, it will be a day of rejoicing. When we have finished our work during the thousand years we live in heaven and are blessed to take an elevator ride down to the earth inside the New Jerusalem, it will be a day of rejoicing. When God finally destroys every root and branch of sin, it will be a day of rejoicing! When the New Jerusalem rests upon the New Earth and the tabernacle of God is with humanity, it will be a day of rejoicing. Look forward to that day. Prepare for that day. Sing wondrous songs leading up to that day. It won’t be long now, but first we all need to move back in with God. A dramatic indication of broken relationship is when a beleaguered spouse takes his or her things and leaves the marital home. There may have been abuse, adultery, knock down drag out arguments, insults, rage, etc., that eventually led to storming out the door without looking back. That’s sort of how we are in our relationship with God, at times. When we are deceived into thinking we cannot live another day with Him and we choose darling sins instead remaining in the spiritual house with Him, we storm out the door. The problem is, there’s a big bad world out there that will buffet and destroy us if we do not get to safety; and fast! As always, God made the first move to facilitate the process. We learned yesterday that God removed the frilly little fig leaves of human devising, from Adam and Eve, and covered them fully with the symbol of Jesus Christ’s righteousness, coats of skins. We did not talk about the verses that followed that exchange. The Bible says, “And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” (Genesis 3:22–24). God had to evict Adam and Eve so they would not perpetuate their sinfulness by eating from the Tree of Life while in that state. The man and woman for whom the garden was created, had to go; but they did not go without God enacting His plan to move them back in, in due time. What a day of rejoicing that will be! Fast forward many years to a time when Adam and Eve’s offspring were enslaved in Egypt because the Pharaoh feared the blessings God gave His people under the leadership of Joseph, now deceased. To make a long story short, God enacted a plan to obliterate their slavemaster, release them from bondage, and move them into a land He promised to their ancestor, Abraham. But, as you might imagine, as with every slavemaster in history, Pharaoh, stripped his slaves of their God! God needed to continue their path of freedom, by elevating Himself while diminishing their love for sin, and releasing their minds from bondage too. Part of the way forward was the following: He told Moses, to “... let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.” (Exodus 25:8). This was, what I call, the “Emmanuel Principle.” God decided that in order for us to enjoy eternity with Him, He would have to dwell with us first. He was steadily reversing what necessarily happened in Eden when He barred access to the Tree of Life. What is the real purpose of the sanctuary? God shared the sanctuary blessing so He could come close to us and bring us back into full communion with Him. It’s real purpose was to facilitate eternal life, communion with God, and immortality.—L. David Harris ( #messagedaily

Sep 06, 2019
Thoughts in Worship 09 05 2019

Thoughts in Worship Message Magazine's Online Devotional for Thursday, September 5, 2019 This is devotional thought number 1 in our devotional series, “Removing the Veil: Sanctuary Living in the 21st Century.” Our subject is: Naked and Full of Shame Here’s the question for consideration: What does it take to be protected from exposure to the consequences of our sins? “Behold, I am going to come like a thief! Blessed (happy, to be envied) is he who stays awake (alert) and who guards his clothes, so that he may not be naked and [have the shame of being] seen exposed!” (Revelation 16:15, AMP). My all-time favorite hymn, written by Franklin E. Belden is titled, “Cover With His Life.” I find comfort and hope the message that though I have made many mistakes and committed many sins over the years, I can be be made pure in God’s sight if I am covered with the life of the sinless Son of God, Jesus Christ. It’s not that He acts like sin is not sinful and just gives us a pass. Rather, He took the full brunt of the punishment due those who deserve eternal death due to our sins, and gives us a clean slate due to His righteousness when we keep faith in Him. When we have faith in Jesus Christ, He empowers us to abandon our sinful lifestyles while He covers us with His righteousness. And when we have to appear before the judgment seat of the Most High (blessed be His name), Jesus’s spotless character appears in our stead. Our theme text underscores the need for us to walk circumspectly in all we do, so we can walk humbly, yet boldly in the presence of a holy God. There was a time, believe it or not, when the first human beings, Adam and Eve, had no need to be ashamed. They lived such holy lives, never having sinned, that they could walk with and speak to God in the Garden of Eden. They were naked, unashamed, and fully connected to the King. As you may know, the devil, having come down to earth with great wrath, and a score to settle with God, entered the Garden of Eden and deceived Eve into disbelieving the Word of God, devaluing close communion with Him, and eating that which God forbad. Adam, with his eyes wide open, chose not to trust God, and followed his Eve down the slippery slope to destruction. The first thing they did was hide, played the blame game, and contrived covering in an attempt to hide their shame. When God came looking for them following their inauspicious fall, here’s what happened: “And the Lord God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?” (Genesis 3:9–11). For the first time in earth’s history, Adam and Eve experienced fear. Fear further drove a wedge between them because of sin. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve began to die, right then and there. The couple who was intended to live forever, began losing vital energy as the hands of time ticked down to the day they would die, along with all their offspring. Sin breeds death, every single time. The blessing is that God had already intervened to protect them against eternal death. In Him, there would be hope for a resurrection. How? I am so glad you asked. Notice what happens next: “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them.” (Genesis 3:21). YHWH covered His fearful children with coats of skins after they attempted to cover their shame with aprons of fig leaves. As you know, aprons don’t do a great job of covering naked bodies. Much is left exposed. How appropriate, then, was it for God to give them the full coverage of those animal skins. It is quite reasonable to believe that the first animal sacrifice occurred to provide them the covering they needed. The very first substitution, life for life, took place to symbolize the fact that Jesus would one day give His life so we can live eternally, and for this reason, we have chosen to engage you in this all-new devotional series—to facilitate a close encounter with our Savior, Jesus Christ. What does it take to be protected from exposure to the consequences of our sins? It takes absolute faith in Jesus, who suffered an ignominious death for you and for me. May God teach us to be thankful for giving His all, so we can live the abundant life, by faith.—L. David Harris ( #messagedaily

Sep 05, 2019
Thoughts in Worship 09 03 2019

Thoughts in Worship Message Magazine's Online Devotional for Tuesday, September 3, 2019 Audio Link: Today’s Scripture Focus: Mark 5:19 We are focusing on sin recovery principle number 12 of 12: “We had a spiritual awakening through these steps, and now we give this message to others.” Freedom is much sought after these days. We're looking for freedom of religion, freedom to own property, freedom to speak our minds. We're looking for freedom from debt, bad relationships, and freedom to make decisions we deem appropriate for our lives. In all of this seeking, it would be well to seek freedom from sin. God has made every spiritual resource available to give us this ultimate liberty. Having received the power of God to live for Jesus, it is our privilege also to be free to witness. We cannot be a witness for the Lord before we have a personal relationship with Him. If we are still in bondage to ungodly habits and thoughts, we cannot honestly share good tidings about God’s ability to save, because we are not saved ourselves. “And they came over unto the other side of the sea, into the country of the Gadarenes. And when he was come out of the ship, immediately there met him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, Who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no man could bind him, no, not with chains: Because that he had been often bound with fetters and chains, and the chains had been plucked asunder by him, and the fetters broken in pieces: neither could any man tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains, and in the tombs, crying, and cutting himself with stones. But when he saw Jesus afar off, he ran and worshipped him, And cried with a loud voice, and said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of the most high God? I adjure thee by God, that thou torment me not. For he said unto him, Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit.” (Mark 5:1-8). The man was finally free. The devils had to leave at the command of Jesus. What would he do with his new-found liberty? He went to Jesus with a heart full of gratitude and wanted to follow Jesus wherever He went, but Jesus did not allow him to. What good would it have been if the man went with Jesus to preach the same message? Who then would go to Decapolis? Jesus told him to go home and tell his friends what the Lord had done for him. “And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel.” (Mark 5:20). This man exercised his freedom to witness because the Lord had delivered him from a life completely controlled by the devil. Has God delivered you from anything? Are you exercising your right - your freedom to witness?—L. David Harris ( #sinrecovery #recovery

Sep 03, 2019
Thoughts in Worship 09 02 2019

Thoughts in Worship Message Magazine's Online Devotional for Monday, September 2, 2019 Audio Link: Today’s Scripture Focus: Psalm 105:1–9 We are focusing on sin recovery principle number 11 of 12: “We sought God’s presence in our lives and the power to do His will through consistent prayer and meditating upon His Word.” God is worthy of our praise! Where have I read that before? I know this is the same way we opened with yesterday’s thought, but it’s as true today as it was then. In today’s theme text, the psalmist ushers us into a worship session – a how-to of sorts. He opens this particular song with thanksgiving and praise. He said to give thanks and call upon His name. Do you realize that there is power in God’s name? He’s God, our healer. He is God our strength. He is God our deliverer. He is God our way out of no way. He is God our resting place. He is God our provider. And because He is all of that and infinitely more, He is worthy of our praise! Call Him by name and He will answer. The psalmist continues by encouraging us to sing of and talk about His wondrous works. He created the world and all that is in them. He gave you the Sabbath in which you can delight. He caused the sun to rise this morning. He refreshed the earth with rain so you could have food to eat and water to drink. He protected you from your crazy boss. He helped you say kind words to your neighbor when that neighbor said foul things to you about people that look like you. He helped you be cooperative on that last traffic stop. He put food on your table when your money ran out last month. He saved your daughter from that evil boyfriend she chose and she just broke up with him. Are you getting this? He kept you in your right mind as you read about the horrible news in Turkey, Russia, France, and even in America. He woke you up this morning, and although you were not ready to worship Him at first, you are ready now. Recount the many blessings He has bestowed upon you. He is worthy of your praise! The psalmist continues by encouraging us to seek the Lord’s face and His strength. Seek Him while He may still be found, friends. I found myself praying all through the night because I wanted God to enlighten my mind with truth. Call on Him and He will answer. When you are too weak to overcome that temptation, call Him and seek God’s face. When you want to reach for that comfort food at midnight and you know you shouldn’t, call Him up. When your husband or wife seems to have lost his/her mind, call Him up. When all you want to do is get a decent night’s rest and your neighbor’s dogs keep barking, call Him up. When you want to hear a word from the Lord in church and your pastor obviously did not invest time in sermon preparation, call Him up. When you feel like you cannot get a prayer through to heaven, do not stop praying! Call Him up! Today’s Scripture focus is deliberately geared toward encouraging us to actively, thankfully engage in worship and praise. The Bible says that the Lord inhabits the praises of His people. If you want a sure fire way to experience the fullness of God, learn to worship Him. And as you do so, you will soon discover that sin no longer has dominion over you. Give God your praise. Give God your worship. Give God your life!—L. David Harris ( #sinrecovery #recovery

Sep 02, 2019
Thoughts in Worship 08 31 2019

Thoughts in Worship Message Magazine's Online Devotional for Sabbath, August 31, 2019 Audio Link: Today’s Scripture Focus: 1 Timothy 4:7–8 We are focusing on sin recovery principle number 10 of 12: “We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.” Time is a valuable, unredeemable commodity, which is why we need to learn how to maximize it in every way. While the Lord can help us to recover in areas we wasted time in the past, He will not give any of us more hours in the day to be used to recover that which was lost. Our bodies are of great value too, which is why we should do our best to live a healthy lifestyle. Daily exercise is one way we can do that. The more we exercise, the more efficient we become at building strong muscles and optimal heart health. The time we invest in healthful practices, while very profitable, pale in comparison to the time we invest in developing our spiritual health and wellbeing, which transcends this life. If as we develop spiritually we recognize times we have been wrong, it is imperative that we admit it immediately and do our part to rectify the situation. Then we will continue to grow in our relationships with God and others. Many of the interpersonal problems that have been highlighted in the news recently could be somewhat amended if guilty or offensive parties would simply admit they were wrong as they aspire to growth. This is a good way to begin the process of building bridges and overcoming pride.—L. David Harris ( #sinrecovery #recovery

Aug 31, 2019
Thoughts in Worship 08 30 2019

Thoughts in Worship Message Magazine's Online Devotional for Friday, August 30, 2019 Audio Link: Today’s Scripture Focus: Ephesians 4:26–27 We are focusing on sin recovery principle number 10 of 12: “We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.” We really need to be honest with ourselves (there goes that principle again). Are we easily frazzled? Are we uptight and cantankerous? The Bible exhortation today is clearer than many of us are willing to admit. God wants us to put away unholy anger. Full stop. I know that this comes as a surprise to most. You may even see it as some kind of puritanical contradiction of the verse itself. However, that is the reason we must take our time and not rush through the Bible. Then, we will surely have understanding. Before we go too far, let’s consider the life of Jesus. Do we have any examples of Him becoming angry? Yes! For what reasons was He angry? Did He display anger when His enemies slapped Him? Do we have any record of Him being angry when they ripped the beard from his face, opposed Him openly, attempted to murder Him on multiple occasions, or finally nailed Him to the tree? No! Whenever Jesus was angry, it was directly related to righteousness. He was angry about hypocrisy, judgmentalism, hard heartedness, disrespect of His Father’s honor, oppression, and self-righteousness. If you notice, none of these manifestations of His anger had to do with what persons X or Y did to Him. Please look carefully to see whether what I am saying is so. I know, it’s not easy reading this concept. After all, is not anger natural? Well, yes! Hunger is also natural, but gluttony is sinful. A desire for sexual relations is natural, but lust is sinful. Having fun is natural, but intemperance is sinful. Talking is natural, but gossip is sinful. Are you getting the point here? Anything can be taken to places God never intended. Our natural desires, involuntary responses and perspectives may begin in a good place, but morph into the sin arena. I do realize there is still a giant elephant in the room. What about the be angry and don’t sin injunction? I am so glad you asked. This is twofold: We are never to be controlled by anger. To be controlled by anger is to sin. How do we know? Here’s the second part of our answer. What did God say we must do with anger? “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:30–32). Please do not run by this. The Bible just continued the thought from the beginning of this chapter on holy living by saying we must put away all, wrath, evil speaking, and bitterness. We must exchange all of this for kindness and tenderheartedness. I know this is a difficult pill to swallow. It is for me too. But, here’s another verse to help: “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: Fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, Because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath: Fret not thyself in any wise to do evil. For evildoers shall be cut off: But those that wait upon the LORD, they shall inherit the earth.” (Psalm 37:7–9). Yes, the Bible does say that we should put away, and cease from anger. It is natural. True. But we absolutely must not run by the counsel of the Spirit and example of Christ. Let’s super simplify here: If you find that you are becoming angry with others because of how they have treated you, surrender that anger to God! If you find that Jesus has placed a special indignation in you against hypocrisy, judgmentalism, hard heartedness, disrespect of His Father’s honor, oppression, and self-righteousness ask Him how to mobilize that holy indignation to work of Him and change the world around you. Give God your holy indignation for His use. Please, by all means, search the scriptures to learn whether what I have said here is true. If you find that God says something different, please share the verses and let us grow together in the comments section. Otherwise, let today be the day you admit if you have difficulty with anger, rage, or wrath, and let God give you His strength to overcome it.—L. David Harris ( #sinrecovery #recovery

Aug 30, 2019
Thoughts in Worship 08 29 2019

Thoughts in Worship Message Magazine's Online Devotional for Thursday, August 29, 2019 Audio Link: Today’s Scripture Focus: Romans 5:3-5 We are focusing on sin recovery principle number 10 of 12: “We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.” God intrigues me. He has thousands of ways to provide for us that we scarcely even begin to understand. There are situations in life that, quite frankly, we should never have encountered. There are mistakes that we have made. There are problems that we have brought upon ourselves. There relationships in which we should never have been involved. Some consequences have come as a result of all of this, and yet when we go through the trials, if we are patient through the process, we seem to be better off than had we not gone through the trials. I know this is unreal, but it’s true. Let’s use Jonah as an example. Here we have a man to whom God gave specific instructions. Not only did Jonah refuse to do what God said, but he went out of his way to do the exact opposite. God said go right, and Jonah went left. God said preach and Jonah kept silent. And along his journey, Jonah became a witness to men on the ship he should not have even boarded in the first place. Let’s use Adam as another example. God created Adam and Eve in His image and likeness. God never intended for Adam and Eve to sin. God planned for them to live in perfect harmony with Him forever. But you know how the story goes: Eve was deceived into eating the fruit. Adam fell head over heels for Eve and joined her in her sin. Now all humanity has inherited the predisposition to sin. Paul teaches us that in the same way death came to all humankind by one man’s sin, so did life come by one man’s obedience. Adam sinned, and we naturally love death. The second Adam, Jesus Christ lived a perfect life, and now those who have faith in Him can have eternal life. Jesus assumed human flesh, demonstrated how to be in full submission to God, gave His life in our place, rose from the grave victoriously, and now ministers in heaven on our behalf. As a result of all of this and more, we are closer to God than had we not sinned. That is a miracle. Does that mean that we should sin to get closer to God? No! God forbid. If we know better, and God has given us the power to do better, we must do better. So what am I saying here? As we take a life inventory every day and recognize that many of the trials we encounter are self-imposed, we should be thankful that God has put a plan in place that converts our trials into opportunities for growth. These growth opportunities develop in us endurance, strength, and good character if we keep faith in God. This is a reason to rejoice! Every trial, including those that could have been avoided, can be used by God to ultimately draw us closer to Him. The key is for us to be patient under tribulation and thankful for the Holy Spirit, who fills our hearts with love as we await the coming of Jesus Christ.—L. David Harris ( #sinrecovery #recovery

Aug 29, 2019
Thoughts in Worship 08 28 2019

Thoughts in Worship Message Magazine's Online Devotional for Wednesday, August 28, 2019 Audio Link: Today’s Scripture Focus: Genesis 31:45-55 We are focusing on sin recovery principle number 10 of 12: “We continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.” It’s not easy to admit when you’re wrong. The blame game mentality seems to be issued to every person who enters this battlefield called life. It seems we always want whatever happened or whatever was neglected to be someone else’s fault. Since we have been highlighting these sin recovery principles for some time now, it must be apparent that this is not good. The Spirit has been given to all receptive people to, among other things, help us understand the truth about ourselves. It is very important that we take this blessing seriously. It is when we are honest about ourselves that we can cooperate with God to leave the blame game behind and take ownership of our faults. There is plenty of blame to go around in Jacob and Laban’s story. It is a story of deceit, greed, and paybacks. But I must be honest; it is also a great example of two men recognizing their wrongs and not being willing to continue down that path. As the Lord opened their eyes to assess their relationship, they recognized that they needed to call a truce. They would not allow their mistakes to dictate a destructive path going forward. They agreed not to cross that line again, as the Lord gave them strength. Are there boundaries you need to set as you assess your life on a moment by moment basis each day? Are there people you now realize you cannot visit, text, call, or associate with on social media? Are there mistakes about which you need to be honest with yourself so you can rectify them? Are there habits you need to abandon because they have gotten out of control? Are there conversations from which you need to refrain? Are there apologies that you need to make? Ask the Lord to help you draw a symbolic line in the sand over which you will not pass as He gives you strength. Ask Him to give you a clean heart and renew a right spirit within you, lifting the veil of self-deception so you will be able to recognize areas in your life that need to be modeled after His plan for you. If you make mistakes, quickly admit them to yourself, confess them to God, and if they involve others, make amends and thank God for being with you as you learn to do His will.—L. David Harris ( #sinrecovery #recovery

Aug 28, 2019
Thoughts in Worship 08 27 2019

Thoughts in Worship Message Magazine's Online Devotional for Tuesday, August 27, 2019 Audio Link: Today’s Scripture Focus: Genesis 33:1-11 We are focusing on sin recovery principle number nine of 12: “We made amends as much as possible with people, except when doing so would injure them or others.” Facing our fears and past can be difficult to be sure. Facing people we have hurt in the past can be particularly difficult. As we have said many times over the past few weeks, we must do so only as the Lord leads. Today’s Scripture gives an example of a situation that worked out very well, despite the incredible risk of danger. Jacob and Esau had parted on difficult terms. Fortunately, the Lord had already intervened on Jacob’s behalf, changed his heart, prepared Esau, and provided a blueprint for reconciliation. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. There are situations we may have caused through our unholy behavior, that attempting to make apology and amends directly could be catastrophic. Here is an example: Brother Z is a recovering child molester. He has experienced the power of God to recognize his need to stop his deviant behavior. He has sought professional help to address the root causes of the problem. He has consistently prayed, attended counseling sessions, and has not preyed on or harmed any more children. How does he now apologize to or make restitution to those families and children he has injured? Does he call and confess? Does he write a letter and deliver by certified mail? Does he contact a third-party and seek a face-to-face meet to tell his side of the story (whatever in the world that means)? I think you can see and possibly feel the tension in my example. There are many cases like these where the offender who wants to confess and make amends must tread lightly due to the volatile nature of the situation. An unwise approach could cause immense harm to the offended parties. We at Message are not qualified to counsel you on just how to address something like this, but now you know that it is necessary to seek godly, professional, and possibly legal counsel in certain situations. Remember as you do so, that there will be pain. There will be consequences. Yet, God is able to guide you as you seek to do His will.—L. David Harris ( #sinrecovery #recovery

Aug 27, 2019