Monday, November 06, 2017

How to Overcome the Flesh

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

“Yeah, but how can I overcome the flesh?

That’s what someone asked me, and it’s a good question.

Different sins can get hold of different people – Christian people – and sometimes they even battle those sins, and lose.

So what’s the answer?  How can you overcome the flesh, and the sin and temptation that go with it?

My advice is don’t try to tackle it head on, but turn your attention elsewhere.

Dealing with the flesh can be like dealing with a toddler.  You can fight all day with a toddler about that thing they are fixated on, but sometimes it’s just better to say, “Hey, how about a popsicle?”  Then they squeal with delight, run to the kitchen, and forget all about that other thing.

In the same way you can battle your flesh all day long.  “Drop that sin.  Drop that sin.  Drop that sin.”  But the flesh wants to hold onto it.

So what do you replace it with?

Instead of fighting the flesh head on, you present yourself to the Lord, and keep presenting yourself to the Lord.  “Lord, here I am.  I’m all Yours.”

Romans 6:13 tells us to present ourselves to God.

Romans 12:1 tells us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God.

I like the words of the new song “Broken Things” by Matthew West.  It says, “But if it’s true You use broken things, then here I am, Lord, I’m all Yours.”

I recommend doing it everyday.  Lift your hands in surrender to heaven and present yourself as a living sacrifice to God.  “Lord, here I am.  I’m all Yours.  I want to do want You want me to do, say what You want me to say, be what You want me to be.  I want to bear good eternal fruit and I can only do that in You.”

So how do we overcome the flesh?  We keep presenting ourselves to the Lord each and every day, and when our hearts and minds are fixated on Him, it just doesn’t leave any room for the flesh.

May God bless you, today.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Spiritual Growth: Outwardly Inward and Inwardly Outward

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

I asked a young man how his spiritual growth was going.

He said, “I’m reading the Bible a lot, and several devotionals.”

I said, “And how is that impacting you?”

He said, “I’m always looking for personal applications – how I can apply what I learn.”

And that, my friend, is one half of spiritual growth, what I call outwardly inward.

You read the Bible, you hear a sermon, you read your daily devotion, you listen to a teacher, you talk to Christian friends and hold one another accountable.  That is outwardly inward.  It starts outside of you, you receive it, and you allow it inside of you to change your heart and mind.

And then there is inwardly outward.  What is that?

That is when the Holy Spirit inside of you is teaching you and leading you, convicting you and encouraging you and cheering you on...from the inside of you.

In John 7, Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would be inside of us, and would be like rivers of living water, flowing from the inside out.

Hebrews 10:16 says, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them.”

This is what the Holy Spirit does.  He brings us spiritual growth from the inside out.  It begins inwardly and works outward.

So when you are looking at your spiritual growth, look for two things.

Are you reading and listening and learning from the Bible and teachers and preachers, and applying what you’ve heard? the Holy Spirit speaking inside of you, leading and guiding and teaching you, and raising up the gifts and the fruit of the Spirit inside of you?

Because that is how spiritual growth takes place:  outwardly inward and inwardly outward.

May God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

I Am One of the Triumphs of His Grace

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

Maybe you’ve sung it a thousand times.

O for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King, the triumphs of His grace!

The triumphs of His grace.

When I sing that line, my heart cries out with joy:  I am one!

I am one of the triumphs of His grace.

He set me free!  He delivered me from the net of the fowler.

Have you ever heard that illustration?

Psalm 91:3 says, “Surely He shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler...”

A fowler catches birds, so imagine the tricks.

Maybe he throws down bird seed and all the birds come out and eat.  Then he drops the net and they are caught!

That’s what the world does, and our sin and our flesh and our selfishness and our pride.  Out goes the tempting seed, and in we rush, right into the stupid place, where the fowler is waiting.

Have you ever been caught in that trap?  A lot of birds die in that trap, and yet here I am, a trophy of His grace.

How many times has the fowler wanted to spring the trap on me...but God.

But God, my Redeemer, saved me from the snares of the fowler.

The fowler sprung the trap, dropped the net, and many birds were caught.  I can see the net coming down.  I can see it starting to snare my feet, and just in time God snatches me out.

He spared my feet from the net of the fowler.

And that’s why I sing the triumphs of His grace, because I am one!

I am one of the triumphs of His grace...all glory and praise and thanks be to God.

May God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Monday, October 09, 2017

The Jesus Fire

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

Do you have The Jesus Fire?

That’s a question I’ve been asking people lately.

“Do you have The Jesus Fire?”

Unfortunately most people are telling me, “No,” or “I don’t know,” or “Not like I used to.”

One man told me, “I guess I just don’t have the fire like you do.”

I told him, “As a believer, you have the same fire as me or any other believer.  It’s the same fire of the Holy Spirit inside all Christians.”

The question is, are you fanning the flame?  Or are you quenching the Spirit?

What do I mean by The Jesus Fire?

I get that from the words of John the Baptist in Matthew 3:11, where John said that Jesus would baptize us with the Holy Spirit...and fire.

So I call it The Jesus Fire, and when I say, “Do you have The Jesus Fire?” I’m basically asking, “Is the Spirit of God rising up in you as a roaring fire?”

If the answer is yes, then hallelujah!  Thank God!

If the answer is no, now what?

Now you need a healthy dose of James 4:8, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

As Jesus said in Matthew 6:6, you need to go into your room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in the secret place.

You need to say, “Lord, I love You, and I desire to seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness!”

You need a healthy dose of Psalm 25:4, “Show my Thy ways, O Lord, teach me Thy paths.”

Yes, you can be filled with the roaring Jesus Fire if you want it! 

It just means humbling ourselves before God, coming to Him in surrender and saying, “Not my will, but Your will be done.”

So fan the flame, and let The Jesus Fire rise up in you today!

God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Reporting for Duty, Sir

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

In the morning my alarm goes off.  I roll out of bed, get down on a knee, point a finger to heaven and say, “Reporting for duty, Sir.”

I want to hit the ground running for Jesus.  I want to be the guy in 2 Timothy 2:3, “...a good soldier of Jesus Christ.”

Being a soldier in a huge army simplifies some things.

A soldier doesn’t have to make up things to do each day.  He is TOLD what to do.  He has orders, and his agenda is to obey those orders.

You don’t do whatever you feel like.  You don’t do what everyone else is doing.  You don’t go with the flow or look out for number one.  You do what you are TOLD to do by your commanding officer.

So being a good soldier of Jesus Christ simplifies your schedule.

It also simplifies your education.  So many people today are trying to figure out what they want to do to and what education they need.

But a soldier submits himself to the commander, and the commander orders the training that prepares the soldier for the mission.

And being a soldier means being provided for.  A soldier doesn’t worry about his provisions.  That’s the army’s job.  Food.  Clothing.  Shelter.  Weapons.  All provided for the soldier.

Now I know that being a good soldier of Jesus Christ is not the same as being a soldier in an army.

And yet that is how I approach each day.  I say to Jesus my Commander, “Show me Thy ways, O Lord.  Teach me Thy paths.  What do You want me to do?  How do You want me to do it?  When do You want me to do it?  Lord, I want to do YOUR will every day.  I want to follow You as my Good Shepherd, as my Provider and Leader and Commander.”

So my alarm goes off.  I roll out of bed, get down on a knee, bow my head, point a finger to heaven and say, “Reporting for duty, Sir.”

God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Friday, June 30, 2017

My Eyes Are Ever Toward the Lord

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

My eyes are ever toward the Lord, to behold the beauty of the Lord.

That’s my own personal mix of Psalm 25:15 and Psalm 27:4.

Add to that the message of Psalm 101:3, I will set before my eyes no vile thing.

What a contrast! 

We can ever turn our eyes toward the Lord to behold the beauty of the Lord, or we can set before our eyes vile things.

And when we set before our eyes vile things, it BLINDS us to the beauty of the Lord.

You say, “Man, I’m TRYING to see the beauty of the Lord, but I’m not seeing it.”

Maybe it’s because you are setting before your eyes vile things, and it’s blinding you to the beauty of the Lord.

You say, “What is the beauty of the Lord, anyway?  It’s not like we can look into heaven and see it.”

You can look into your HEART and see it...if Jesus is there.

If God is in your heart, you can easily see His beauty in the work He is doing sovereignly in your life.

You can see His beauty in His creation.  You can see His beauty in His concepts like love and peace and joy, righteousness and justice and holiness.

Imagine going to a theater and watching a vile movie.  It’s vile, but it’s exciting and bold and loud.  You’re on the edge of your seat, captivated.

Then you walk out of the theater, and there’s a little flower springing up through the cracks of the sidewalk.  It’s beautiful and amazing.  Miraculous!  Uncreatable by any mere mortal. 

But we are blinded to it by the vile, bold and brassy.  We wonder where the beauty of the Lord is while we walk right over it.

Make a vow today.  I will set before my eyes no vile thing.

Instead, my eyes are ever toward the Lord, to behold the beauty of the Lord.

God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

What Then?

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

Second Corinthians 2:11 says we are not unaware of the devil’s devices.

Whenever I read that I think, “Oh yes we are.”

Jesus called Satan “the father of lies,” so if you ever fell for the lies of a man, how quickly will you fall for the schemes of the master deceiver?

He’s as smooth as a snake, but here is one way to smoke him out. 

Ask the question, “What then?”

For example, you had a terrible week and you just need some relief.  Then someone invites you to a place where the alcohol is flowing.  There’s your relief!

But what then?  You get drunk and forget your problems, but what then?  Get drunk again and forget again?  But what then?

See?  Asking “what then” pokes holes in Satan’s stupid, gassy temptations.  They cannot hold up to the What Then line of questioning.

So you’re having problems in your marriage.  Meanwhile, this other person really understands  you.  They get you.  They even like you!  You’d rather go spend time with them than go home to your unhappy mate.  The game is afoot.

But what then?  So you spend time with them.  What then?  Are you going to bust up your family, break your vows, squander friendships and shipwreck your integrity?  And for what?

But when God leads you, and you follow His ways, the What Then question brings fulfilling answers!

If you are having marriage problems, maybe you get some marital counseling.  What then?  Then you learn and grow together and solve some problems.  What then?  Then you are building a home and family on deeper love and respect.  When then?  Then you grow old together, fully respected by family and friends, with a deep and lasting family legacy which can be replicated by generations to come!

So yes, the devil has his devices, but we do not need to be unaware.

And one way to unmask him is to ask this simple question.

What then?

God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Wisdom Preserves You

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

Wisdom preserves you.

If you want to save yourself, if you want to preserve yourself, get some wisdom!

Proverbs 4 says, “Get wisdom...she will preserve you.”  (NKJV)

One great example is your teeth.

What are three obvious things that wisdom says will preserve your teeth?

Well, it’s wise to brush your teeth.

It’s wise to floss your teeth.

And it’s wise to go to the dentist for regular cleanings and checkups.

Follow this wisdom and your teeth will be preserved.

And yet I know so many people who chuck this wisdom out the window.  And what is going to happen?  Their teeth are not going to be preserved.

Think of tobacco products.  Wisdom says, “Don’t use tobacco products and you will be preserved.”

Now I’m thinking of the woman my age who has been smoking, I guess, since high school, and when I saw her Facebook picture I was aghast!  She almost looked old enough to be my mother, because all that smoking was sucking the life out of her.

Wisdom, though, would have preserved her.

My dad had a bad motorcycle accident when I was in high school.  His wisdom in wearing a helmet preserved his life.  But his wisdom in not riding motorcycles since then preserved him from all such accidents.

Wisdom in wearing a helmet will obviously preserve you if you have an accident, and wisdom in choosing a car over a motorcycle means you will never, ever be harmed on your motorcycle.

Wisdom preserves you, so get wisdom! 

You ate that questionable food and ended up writhing in the bathroom.

Wisdom preserves you!

In your health.  In your marriage.  In your family.  In your career.  In your business.  In your church.  In all things, keep working to grow in wisdom, because one thing is clear.

Wisdom preserves you.

God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Turn Thee Unto Me

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

Here is a simple prayer you can pray anytime, for anyone, starting with yourself.

Four simple words:  turn Thee unto me.

Turn Thee unto me.

Yes, that’s the old King James English, and it’s pretty simple.  It’s a simple prayer saying, “Lord, please turn towards me.”

And when the Lord turns toward us...well imagine a shepherd surrounded by sheep.  Then imagine the shepherd turning his attention specifically to one particular sheep.  He kneels down.  He cares for the sheep.  He loves on the sheep.  He checks on the sheep.

A sheep never feels more loved and secure and KNOWN than when the shepherd turns toward that particular sheep.

And that’s what this prayer encapsulates.  “Lord, turn Thee unto me.”

It’s asking for God’s specific attention, for His specific favor and care and love and mercy.  It’s asking for His guidance and wisdom and light.

It all comes when the Shepherd turns Thee unto me.

So you can pray this for yourself, just like David did in Psalm 25:16.

Or you can pray it for others, anyone and everyone!

“Lord, turn Thee unto my brother.”  “Lord, turn Thee unto my sister.”  Lord, turn Thee unto my boss and my coworkers and my pastor and my church.”  “Lord, turn Thee unto our president and our senators and congressmen.”

It’s a powerful prayer, and it doesn’t require a bunch of words, because there is an eternity full of power in this one simple prayer.

“Turn Thee unto me.”

God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Friday, May 05, 2017

A Robe of Light

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

He covers Himself with light, as with a garment.

He’s wearing a robe of...not white...but LIGHT.

A robe of light.

Psalm 104 says it, and let that sink in for a minute.

The Lord our God wraps Himself in light.

I don’t know if you’ve ever studied the properties of light, but they are amazing.

And if you think God created light when He created the sun, moon and stars, think again.

In Genesis 1:3, on Day One, God said, “Let there be light.”

Then He didn’t create the traditional sources of light until DAY FOUR.

It’s impossible to imagine this, because when it comes to light, all we know is light that comes from a light source.

But when God wraps Himself with light as with a garment, it’s not because a spotlight is on Him.  It’s not because He is wearing a garment full of light bulbs like some crazy Vegas show.

He is wrapped in pure, total, original light.  The kind of light that came before the sun, moon and stars!

And it’s like nothing we’ve ever seen, or even can see!

First Timothy 6:16 says that God dwells in unapproachable light.

And remember that light includes gamma rays and X-rays and radio waves and microwaves.  It’s shooting out photons of energy, and no wonder “no man can approach!”

So when Psalm 104:1 says God is clothed in majesty, don’t think of purple robes and shiny baubles, but think of this.

God robes Himself in light.

God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Start at the End and Work Backwards

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

The ink is going to run.

If you don’t think of that, you’re going to make a bad newspaper ad like the one I’m looking at.

The words are white, surrounded by color.  I’m sure it looked good on the computer screen, but they didn’t think about the end result, so the ink bled into the small, white letters making them impossible to read.

When you design a sign, don’t start on your computer screen.  Go out and stand where the sign will be posted.  Start at the end and work backwards.

One local church spent the money and posted a beautiful billboard; but I guess they didn’t go look at the site.  The billboard was surrounded by trees, but what did they do?  They made the billboard green, too! 

This is great advice in so many areas of life:  start at the end and work backwards.

I want to grow old and live out my days with the wife of my youth.  I knew that the day we married, so looking at that end helps me make wise decisions today.

Parenting – wow.  My end was that I wanted my children to grow up and be self-sustaining adults, contributing to society, and having their own relationship with Jesus; so I made my parenting decisions with those end results in mind.

And our own lives.  How do we decide what to do each day?  What do we value?  What gets our time and attention and resources?

Start at the end and work backwards, and the end I’m thinking of is the judgment seat of Christ.

Romans 14:10 says, “For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.”

So how are you planning your life?

Start at the end and work backwards.

God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Monday, April 17, 2017

How to Read Medieval Art

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

How to Read Medieval Art.

That’s the name of the new book I picked up at the library.

How to Read Medieval Art.

So you mean there are hidden messages and clues in the art, like a mystery?  I’m in!  Give me that book.

Then I read something very interesting in the foreword, which was written by Thomas P. Campbell, the director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

It’s also known as The Met in New York City, it’s the largest art museum in the United States, and it’s among the most visited art museums in the world.

In the foreword he points out that much of medieval art is based on biblical themes.  Now listen to this.  He wrote, “To modern readers and museum visitors, the narratives of the Judeo-Christian tradition may be as unfamiliar as those of Egyptian gods.”


So here we are, with more Christian publishing, more Bibles, more books, more media, more websites, more preaching, and probably more churches and evangelism than ever.

And yet medieval art with biblical themes requires special explanation, similar to what we need to understand long-defunct, ancient Egyptian gods.

Can that be true?

It may be – partly because a chunk of the people hanging around at The Met are probably not prone to be in church this Sunday.

But even among church-going Christians, studies show a plunge in biblical literacy, especially among younger people.

Well, we can’t change the world, but we can make sure that in our homes and families, and in our churches, we are providing the education and teaching and biblical training that’s needed.

If we don’t, the truths of God are going to seem as mysterious to coming generations as some ancient Egyptian god.

God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

How is Your Family Dynasty?

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

Have you heard of the dynasty of King Jeroboam?

No, because it never happened.

Oh, it should have happened.  The dynasty of Jeroboam was foretold by the prophet.

In First Kings 11:38, it was Ahijah, the prophet of Shiloh, who told Jeroboam that God was going to make him king, and that God would give him a family dynasty...IF he would listen to the Lord’s commands and do what was right in God’s eyes.

And you know what?  That’s what I want to do!  It’s my heart’s desire and my prayer.  “Lord, I want to listen to Your commands.  I want to walk in Your ways.  I want to follow You, Good Shepherd, every day!”

And that, my friend, is how you build your family dynasty.

You establish your family dynasty on the foundation of God and His ways. 

Look around and see.  Families that put God in the center and walk in His ways – those are strong families.  They aren’t riddled and pockmarked with divorce, adultery, abuse and neglect. 

So how are you doing with your family dynasty? 

The good news is that, even if your family is a garbage heap up until now, you can change that starting today.  Start following God, walk in His ways and you will immediately begin to see the foundation start to firm up beneath you.

But poor Jeroboam.  He decided to ignore the prophet.

Some of the saddest words in the Bible are found in 1 Kings 12:28.  After seeking advice, Jeroboam made two golden calves.

He took the promise of the prophet and chucked it. 

No dynasty for Jeroboam.

But we can build a rich family dynasty!...when we seek the Lord with all of our heart and desire to walk in His ways.

God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Are You Drinking the Kool-Aid or the Living Water?

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

Are you drinking the Kool-Aid or the living water?

I mean, where are you getting your values?  On what foundation are you building your life?

Are you plugged into TV all day?  Is your favorite news channel like an IV pumping Kool-Aid into your veins?

Is it soap operas?  And you know that show you’re binging on is basically a soap opera, right?  That’s why you can’t stop watching.

But all these things impart values and morals.  Our books.  Our novels.  The people filling our news feeds.  The click bait.

We keep going back to the same sources and drinking the artificial...but colorful!...Kool-Aid.

Meanwhile, we have an amazing source of living water – the Holy Spirit of God who lives inside every Christian believer.  (John 7:38-39)

Living water – it’s a spiritual spring, teeming with life! 

It’s the Spirit of God inside of us, flowing within us...but we have to tap into it.  We seek God in prayer and praise and Bible study, and we tap into His living water.  We draw near to Him, and He draws near to us.  (James 4:8)

Then He shows us things, ways to live, attitudes to adopt; and when we do, He establishes our lives on a firm foundation.

In the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew chapter 7, Jesus said that when we hear His teachings and do them, we are building our lives on a solid foundation.

Sometimes people accuse fired up Christians of drinking the Kool-Aid.  On the contrary.  The world is sucking down the Kool-Aid like a maniacal third grader.  And even Christians can fall for the cartoonish colors, shovels of sugar and short-lived satisfaction. 

So stop with the Kool-Aid.

Instead, let us run to the living water, clean and refreshing and satisfying! 

God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

I'm Supposed to Love People...But How?

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

Yes, yes, yes, I know I’m supposed to love people...but how?

I think we all know that if we are on our way to Jericho and we come across a beaten man, we’re supposed to load him on our donkey and take him to the inn, right?  Like the good Samaritan.

But life is full of people and their drama, full of neighbors and friends and strangers and people we like and people we don’t like so now what?

We’re supposed to love them...but how?

First let me note that love is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.  (Galatians 5:22)  So the more we let the living water of the Holy Spirit flow in our lives, the more we will love people, automatically.

And the more we quench and grieve the Holy Spirit by our own sin and selfishness and disobedience and laziness, the less we will love people...automatically.

But I’m getting to a prayer we can pray, and this has really set my heart on fire.

Philippians 1:9 says, “And this is my prayer:  that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.”

So that’s my prayer.  “God, please give me that depth of insight into how to love people, each and every one of them.”

I’m a father of four adult children, all married.  I need to love them in different ways than when they were 5, 7, 9 and 11.  What do I say?  What do I give?  When do I act?  When do I offer my insanely wise advice, and when do I keep my big mouth shut?

To love them well I need depth of insight!

The homeless man on the corner, or at least he says he’s homeless.  See how I am?  I need depth of insight!

And so I pray, “Lord, please, I love You so much, and to love all these people You bring into my life, I need to abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.”


God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Power Through

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I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

What might you have been excellent at if you had powered through?

Let me say it again.

What might you have been excellent at – if you had powered through?

See, we’re all made in the image of God.  He created us, and He packed us with individual gifts and talents. 

But it’s raw material.

It’s like the planet.  God created it, and He packed it full of astounding raw materials.  And I think we have only just begun to discover all the amazing things He put here.

The same is true with us.  Every one of us.  He packed us full of raw materials, but they are hidden.  They are under the surface.  It’s not obvious.  We have to dig, excavate, plow, work it.

I hate to see young people squandering so much time.  I hate to see anyone wasting time, but especially young people, who are still so much like an undiscovered land.  What might they be able to do if they just worked at it?

That’s the problem with raw materials.  They require a lot of work.

Phil Collins became known as one of the best drummers in the world.  But as a child it was just bare, raw materials.  He liked to hit things in a rhythm.

But he worked it, hard.  In his new autobiography he writes, “I must have put in my 10,000 hours before I’m even a teenager...when I’m home, I drum, to the exclusion of pretty much all else.”

You are a wonderland of raw materials, just waiting for you to discover!  What are you good at?  What can you be great at? 

Whatever it is, greatness never comes easy.  You start with the raw materials, and then you work.  You work, man!

You work now, so you don’t end up older with someone like me saying, “Just think - what might you have been excellent at if you had just powered through?

God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

But You Don't Want to Go to Church

I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

We lay down our lives for the brethren.

But you don’t want to go to church.

First John 3:16 says, “...we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”

That’s our Christian brothers and sisters...the brethren.

It’s our fellow Christians and our fellow church members, and we’re supposed to LAY DOWN OUR LIVES for them.

But you don’t want to go to church.

“This is how we know what love is:  Jesus Christ laid down His life for us.  And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.” (NIV)

When you lay down your life, you give up your own wants and desires.  You say, “What I want?  I give that up. I give it up to be with you, to love you, to help you, to serve you, my brothers and sisters.”

Man, what would the church look like if we did this? 

God has placed every believer in the body of Christ, and we all are assigned a particular part in the body.  We all have gifts and talents and resources to be spent in the service of the body.  The body will thrive and grow (be edified) as we each fulfill our part.

The church would look like a wonderland of love and service!  And the fulfillment and satisfaction level would be out of this world!

But you don’t want to go to church.

Or you’re a church consumer, shopping around like a little Me Monster for the Me Me Me.

Man, that’s the OPPOSITE.

Going to church is about finding your brothers and sisters, connecting with them in the body of Christ, serving with them, working together along side in the mission of Jesus Christ!

We serve one another humbly in love.  (Galatians 5:13)

Because He laid down His life for us, we ought to LAY DOWN OUR LIVES for each other.

But you don’t want to go to church.

God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

A Just Man

I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

I want to be a just man, like Noah.

Genesis says Noah was a just man, and he walked with God.

I want to be a just man, like John the Baptist.

Mark 6:20 says that Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man...and holy.

I want to be a just man, like Joseph of Arimethea. 

Luke says, “Now behold, there was a man named Joseph, a council member, a good and just man.”

I want to be like that:  a good and just man.

I want to be a just man like Cornelius.

Acts 10:22 says Cornelius the centurion was a just man, one who feared God and had a good reputation.

Hardly anyone in the Bible is called “just,” but I want to be like them, a just man.

Proverbs 9:9 says, “Teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.”

“Lord, I want that.  I don’t want to be a fool who can’t learn his lessons.  Lord, I want to be a just man who increases in learning.”

Proverbs 20:7 says the just man walks in his integrity.  His children are blessed.

“Lord, I want to be that man, the just man, with integrity, whose children are blessed!”

Proverbs 24:16 says a just man falls seven times...and rises up again!

“Thank You, Lord, that even if I stumble I will rise up again!  By Your Spirit I will keep the faith.  I will run the race.  I will live for You and love You with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.”

“Lord Jesus, I am clay on the wheel.  Mold me into the man You want me to be.”

A good man.

A holy man.

A just man.

God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Selfish Little Baby Wah Wah Wahs

I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire! (Luke 24:32)

Selfishness is like a pac-man.

It just keeps eating and eating and is never satisfied.

If you live to please yourself, you will never be satisfied.

I want this. I want that. I want her. I want him.

You can consume all the dots, gobble them up, every dot you see, and you won’t be satisfied.

Selfishness is sin, and you don’t gobble up sin. It gobbles up you!

Selfishness wrecks marriages and families. It wrecks businesses and churches. And it will wreck your life.

To the degree that you are selfish, to that degree you will be hollow.

But there is a glorious alternative!

Jesus died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him. (2 Corinthians 5:15)

As Christians, the key is that we no longer live for ourselves, but for God.

We take our eyes off of ourselves, off our desires, our wants, our selfish little baby wah-wah-wahs.

And we fix our eyes on Jesus!  We focus on Him and we run towards Him!

We want what He wants! We desire what He desires.

Our heart is turned toward Him. We surrender to Him. We love Him and desire Him, and we soak up His Spirit and are filled with the Holy Spirit and fire!

He sets us on fire for Him, for God, for eternity. Our eyes are fixed on heavenly things! And like the old song says, the things of this earth grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

And selfishness? It melts and disappears, like cotton candy dropped in the ocean.

“He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.”

God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Think of the Crown of Thorns

I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire! (Luke 24:32)

Think of the crown of thorns, brother.

When you think you’re going to sin a little, and it’s okay, because Jesus forgave you, or will forgive you, or whatever….think of the crown of thorns, brother.

Of all the things He suffered, man, He suffered for our SINS.

Those sins that separated us from God, He suffered for those.

He suffered so we could be forgiven and made right with God.

And then we’ll so easily return to the hog slop...after a meal with the King has been prepared?

“But I’m saved, Doug, I’m free! I have the righteousness of Christ so I’m free from the bondage of the law. I live under grace, so I can pretty much do whatever I want.”

I’m saying take a good, hard look, under the bright light. Then answer the question, “Is it sin?”

If it is, drop it. Drop it immediately and walk away.

And if you need a little motivation, remember that our forgiveness came at a price, and a transaction was made, and if you are a saved, born again Christian, you are not your own. You belong to God and you were bought at a price, therefore glorify God in your body and your spirit, which belong to God. (First Corinthians 6)

We. Belong. To God.

He saved us so we could be with Him, be close to Him, be His.

We are His. We are to be like Him. And He is holy.

And our sin, even as His children, will block up the works, quench and grieve His Spirit, and make us stink.

So the next time you are willing to throw caution to the wind and step your big boot right into that steamy, stenchy cow pie of sin...think of the crown of thorns, brother.

Think of the crown of thorns.

God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Look a Fright

I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire! (Luke 24:32)

So there you are, looking in the mirror again.

Every morning, looking in the mirror, and making adjustments.

How much of our life is spent looking in the mirror and making adjustments?

But thank goodness we do!

I’m not sure I want to live in a world where y’all aren’t making those daily adjustments. 

But what if you didn’t have a mirror?  I mean literally, what if you went day after day without being able to look in the mirror, see what you look like, and make those daily adjustments?

You’d be a mess.  As we say here in the South, “You’d look a fright!”

Well the same thing happens spiritually. 

Every day we need to look in the mirror of the Word, the Bible, see what we look like, and make adjustments (James 1:25)

If we don’t make those daily adjustments based on the mirror of the Word, we look a fright...spiritually, that is.

One good thing is that the Word of God stays the same, like a mirror that gives a true reflection every time.

Imagine a crazy mirror that gives different reflections every time you look at it.  That’s what the world is like.  Just think if social media was your mirror, and you tried to groom your soul on that ever-changing fickleness.

Or the world’s idea of beauty or strength or success.  It’s a shifting mirror! 

But the Word of God is a good mirror, never changing, ever true.

James 1:17 – in God there is “no variation or shadow of turning.”

Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away.”

So to be our best, morally and spiritually, we must continue to look daily into the mirror of  the Word, and make those adjustments that take away the wretchedness and help us become the beautiful creations that God has created us to be.

God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Squeeze It Into the Glove

I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire! (Luke 24:32)

When I was helping little leaguers stop dropping the ball, I would tell them, “Squeeze it into the glove!”

I know it seems obvious, but really, they didn’t all know to do that, to just squeeze the glove and hold it once they had the ball.

Now if you’re laughing at the poor kid who didn’t know about squeezing the ball into the glove, let me ask you...have you ever dropped your phone? Is your phone screen cracked right now, even as we speak?

You gotta squeeze it into the glove!

I mean, there you are, your phone is in your hand...and then you drop it. It just falls out of the glove, so to speak.

You gotta take more care. You gotta get a handle on it, get a firm grip on it. Otherwise it’s going to slip and you’re going to drop it.

And the same is true with God’s Word. And it’s far more important than catching a baseball and more valuable than your phone.

You gotta squeeze it into the glove!

So the preacher preaches a great word, and there was especially that one point that really hit home, really hit you where you live. Write it down, man! Meditate on it. Let it sink in, sink deep, take root. Learn it. Live it. Love it. Share it. Shine it!

You read the Bible, and something hits you solid. It makes your heart burn within you. Now what? Underline it, man! Highlight it! Put it on a post it note. Memorize it. Let that thing set your heart on fire!

I should be able to ask you right now, “What Bible verse really has you lit up these days?”

Jesus said, “The sower went out to his seed.” The seed is the Word, and it’s hitting soil...and you and I are the soil.

Here comes the seed of the Word! It’s coming at you. What do you do? Does it bounce off? Or maybe you catch it, for like a minute, and then you inexplicably let it fall to the ground.

Come on, man! You gotta squeeze it into the glove.

Squeeze it into the glove, man.

Squeeze it into the glove.

God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Thou Knowest

I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire! (Luke 24:32)

Here is a phrase I use a lot in my prayers:  Thou knowest.

When I face uncertain circumstances (and aren’t they all) I simply turn my mind toward heaven and say, “Thou knowest.”

What should I do?  “Thou knowest.”

How should I use my time?  “Thou knowest.”

Where’s the money going to come from?  “Thou knowest.”

How should I pray for my kids?  “Thou knowest.”

It’s my way of expressing my serious lack of knowledge to the Lord, submitting to Him, and running toward Him in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

I surely don’t know how the world really works and what I’m supposed to do...but He knows.  God knows.  The Lord almighty knows.  El Elyon knows.

It goes back to Ezekiel 37, when God took the mighty prophet Ezekiel to the valley of dry bones. 

Imagine the quiet.  The wind.  The solitude.  The arid land. 

God says to His prophet, “Can these bones live?”

And here’s where my phrase, “Thou knowest” comes from, because that’s exactly what Ezekiel says to God in this divine moment. 

Ezekiel doesn’t try to guess, or take a random stab, or even make light of it.

He just answers with the most sober, most humble and yet most trusting, sheep-like answer to the Shepherd.

Thou knowest.

God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Great Is Thy Faithfulness

I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire! (Luke 24:32)

Lately I’ve been all cranked up about the old hymn “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”

What powerful, encouraging words!

I decided to learn and memorize all the lyrics, I mean, how many songs do you know ALL the words to, right?

And sometimes the words aren’t worth memorizing, like those hymns where sing “verse 1 and 3, and definitely not 4, but maybe 5.”

Well “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” is worth singing and memorizing all the way through.

Just listen.

Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee,
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not,
As Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided,
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

I hope this causes your heart to burn within you today like it has mine.

The powerful and encouraging hymn, “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”

God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

They That Turn Many to Righteousness

I’m Doug Apple...and my heart is on fire!  (Luke 24:32)

So today I’m red hot on this verse fragment, from Daniel 12:3.

It says, “...they that turn many to righteousness...”

That’s what I want to be!

I want to be one of those people who help “turn many to righteousness.”

There is a righteousness, and it is God’s righteousness.

There is no shadow of turning in God’s righteousness.

It is not as shifting sand, but it is solid as a rock.

It does not change with the wind, or with our ever-shifting culture.

There is a righteousness, solid as a rock.

It is God’s righteousness, and I want to help “turn many to righteousness.”

I want to point people to God’s ways, His principles, His statutes, His precepts, His laws.

I want to say, “Hey, look, here is God’s righteousness, in all its beauty and splendor and power.

Let’s live like this!  Let’s live in God’s boundaries, by His principles, according to His ways and no other!

Whatever path we are on, let’s reset the GPS and turn toward God’s righteousness.

When we come to a fork in the road, let’s always take the road that leads to more and more of God’s righteousness, no matter the cost.

Let’s not take the road of compromise, or of the world, or of sin, or even of ease and laziness and cheap grace.

But let’s run hard and fast and with the zeal of the Lord, straight into the brilliant light of God’s amazing righteousness!

I hope this word causes your heart to burn within you today.

Daniel 12:3, “...they that turn many to righteousness...”

God bless you, today.

I’m Doug Apple.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Border War - Apples of Gold - January 11, 2017

The Christian is on fire!

He is full of the Holy Spirit and he is on fire.

His sins are forgiven. He's forgiving others, and the grace of God is flowing out of him. The Kingdom of God is literally expanding because of him!

The Christian is grateful and humble, running to God in prayer daily because he loves Him and he needs Him and he must have sweet fellowship with his Savior!

He is seeking God's will for every part of his life. He is shining God's light into every area of his own life and into every area of the world around him. He is holding everything up to the piercing light of Jesus and His Word, His double-edged sword.

The Christian is doing a world-dump. A world dump. He is dumping worldly things out of his life. Those things look the light of God and eternity. So cheap.

The Christian is offering his body to the Lord as a living sacrifice. “Jesus, use me; and O Lord don't refuse me...for surely there's a work that I can do.”

The Christian loves God and his heart aches to please Him. “As the deer pants for the water, so my soul longs after Thee!”

He hungers and thirsts for righteousness, and the living water of the Holy Spirit is flowing within him, bringing revelation and understanding, bringing deep conviction of sin and deep adoration for Jesus.

The thought of taking Jesus' name in vain...or anything close to appalling. His love is so great for his Savior, he wants to do nothing that would hurt Him, or even disappoint Him.

To what shall I liken the Kingdom of God? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches.

Because of the Christian, the Kingdom is expanding. The tree is growing, and neighbors are finding peace and rest and salvation in its branches!

He is like the nation of Israel in its best days. The nation was expanding and growing in power and influence. Foreign dignitaries came to marvel!

But then the people gave in to sin. They would relax their MORAL borders...then their PHYSICAL borders would be raided by enemies.

The Israelites really NEVER did a great job of establishing strong borders.

Listen to Judges 1:27. It's an awful passage, but we have to ask ourselves….is this a picture of our spiritual borders today?

27 However, Manasseh did not drive out the inhabitants of Beth Shean and its villages, OR Taanach and its villages, OR the inhabitants of Dor and its villages, OR the inhabitants of Ibleam and its villages, OR the inhabitants of Megiddo and its villages; for the Canaanites were determined to dwell in that land.

So back to the Christian. He is on FIRE for JESUS!

But sin....but SIN, like the determined to dwell in his land.

Are his borders strong enough to keep sin out?

Or has the enemy already breached his borders and taken little bits of territory that rightfully belong to Jesus?

Listen to this. Sin is OBDURATE. It is stubborn. It doesn't want to be driven out. It wants to DWELL IN YOUR LAND.

Ephesians 4:22 says, “...that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the OLD MAN which grows corrupt...”

The Christian had driven out that old man in the past. Jesus had sent him packing!

But sin is obdurate. That old man is stubborn, and he wants to dwell in the land...and he is just waiting for his chance to cross back over the border and get back to work, making things corrupt.

That's a word you don't hear very often. Corrupt. “Whoa, Doug, it sounds so harsh.”

But you don't want your milk to be corrupt.

And you don't want your spirit to be corrupt, because the smell is even worse!

Judges chapter 1 ends with these fateful words, “Now the boundary of the Amorites was from the...” blah to the blah to the blah.

Wait a second. I'm wondering, “Why do the Amorites have boundaries at all? They are supposed to be GONE.”

But it's like the sin in our lives. It's supposed to be gone, but next thing you thing you know, we draw a little map. It's a wretched little map in our brain where we give some space to sin.

We set up a boundary for sin. On Saturday night....

On business trips....

While I'm single....

In Judges 2 the Angel of the Lord said, “I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which I swore to your fathers; and I said, ‘I will never break My covenant with you. 2 And you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall tear down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed My voice. Why have you done this?”

The Christian doesn't make a covenant with sin. He tears it down! He gives it no space, no quarter.

Don't you know that friendship with the world is enmity against God?

So the fire of the Holy Spirit is still burning in the Christian...but it is being quenched. Sin is being allowed....and it is grieving and quenching the Holy Spirit who once set him ablaze!

The borders of the Kingdom are no longer expanding in this man, but they are contracting. They are shriveling.

In Judges 2, the Israelites allowed their borders to be weak and their enemies to remain; so their judgment would be that those enemies would be, now listen, “thorns in your side...and a snare to you.”

The Christian can't allow sin to remain! He can't draw up special borders for sin. It will be thorns in his side and a snare...a trap. Thorns and traps! That's what sin brings to the Christian's life....if he gives it space.

In Israel, the enemies were consistently creating breaches in their borders. They would invade and raid, ransack and plunder....steal, kill and destroy.

It started small, but grew larger as they grew bolder and the Israelites grew less resistant.

One of the Israelites' huge problems was their desire to fit in and be like the people around them.

So the Christian begins to allow border breaches in order to fit in with the people around him.

What borders does he relax first? The borders his neighbors have already relaxed. If it's okay with them, then it's okay with him!

Judges 5:8 offers a terrifying statement, “They chose new gods; then there was war in the gates.”

When we give way to sin, instead of being on fire for God, instead of offering our bodies as living sacrifices and seeking Him in every area of our life....if HE is not the God of that area of our life, then SOMETHING ELSE is the God of that area....and when they chose new gods; then there was war in the gates.

When we let anything but GOD ALMIGHTY call the shots for any area of our life, then we are allowing a border breach for sin....and we will have war in the gates.

That's not war afar off. That's not war on the other side of the ocean. That's not war down at the river. That's war AT YOUR DOOR.

To create a space for sin is to allow a border breach, and you will have WAR AT YOUR DOOR.

Do you love your family? Then do not bring the war to your door by allowing sin to have space in your life.

So where might the border be breached?

What about media? Do you allow things on your screens that taint, that desecrate the holy place within you. As I asked a group of Christian young men recently, “Is there anything you won't watch?”

So the Christian begins to let his morality loosen. After all, why be so judgmental and legalistic. That's not what Jesus came and died for, good grief. Loosen up, man!

The Christian was once concerned about his witness, about shining the light of Jesus as brightly as possible to a hurting, lost world. He didn't want to waste any time or opportunity to plant a seed for eternity.

But that drive has slipped. After all, who really cares? If the world's salvation is hanging on one little witness, we're in big trouble anyway.

So he pulls back and allows a border breach, because it doesn't matter!

Now he's thinking about intoxicants. I mean, really, where does the Bible say he can't? And the next generation is completely forgotten, ignoring that the small border breach in his life is likely to lead to a larger border breach in the next generation because when they are young, they rarely have the power on their own to rush in and reestablish a border that their parents and grandparents GAVE UP.

So he in-takes a little intoxicant.

And the war is at his door.

Another border is breached. His language. God set the Christian free from bad language, bad words, foul words, cursing, swearing, taking the Lord's name in vain, using sexual phrases, vulgar phrases, excrement phrases, bawdy jokes, double entendre....wait a minute... How clever! How cute! How witty and funny. In the ballrooms, the dance halls, the clubs, the bars, it doesn't matter where...from the crack house to the White House, WHY WATCH YOUR TONGUE? It's about FREEDOM, man, FREEDOM.

And in the name of freedom, another border is breached.

Another border is breached.

Look. If you have to redraw the map in your brain to account for the border losses to sin, YOU MIGHT HAVE A PROBLEM.

The sanctity of the marriage bed. The holiness of a Godly, Christ-centered marriage and family. For better, for worse. For richer, for poorer. In good times and bad. 'Til death do us part. What God has joined together, LET MAN NOT PUT ASUNDER.

Put asunder. The striking words of the sword of the Lord.

Make a vow to the Lord and keep it.

Except the marriage vow, which what is marriage anyway? Why, it's malleable! It's changeable. Shapable. Expandable! Shrinkable…..just like our borders.

The Christian's borders are shrinking. His borders are shrinking, and the war is at his door.

There is a devil and there are demons, and the Christian forgot. And he forgot their intentions, to steal and to kill and to destroy.

And he forgot that the devil is a roaring lion, and that lions go for the weakest in the herd, WHICH IS THE CHILDREN.

But now the Christian thinks he's a Lion Tamer. Strong in himself, doing what is right in his own eyes, redrawing boundaries, even thinking they are getting LARGER. After all, he's doing more, saying more, experiencing more. His life is getting bigger! Yolo, man! Live like you're dying. Tackle that bucket list. And if you get hurt, well don't be a burden, man. Let's have assisted suicide and just let Jesus welcome you into heaven on His magic carpet, with a little stash of your favorite intoxicant.

Forgetting that the middle word is TOXIC, as in poison, as in harmful and hurtful and the borders are eroding like sand, and now his children are wasted.

And his wife has Momma's Little Helper.

Now unforgiveness crashes through the border and takes up a stronghold in the Christian. It started with a few unforgivenesses, people that Jesus told him to forgive, but he wasn't quite ready know, like his favorite Disney song, Let It Go. So he held on to it, but he had to keep it quiet, because those judgmental Christians down at the church would have told him to forgive, and that's the LAST thing he felt like doing.

And now he won't forgive the driver that isn't driving the way he wants, meaning mostly get the blank-blank-blank out of his way, because his language border was breached a long time ago, and where better for a good language breach than when you are in the car, alone, and someone doesn't MOVE THE INSTANT THE LIGHT TURNS GREEN GOOD GOD THEY'RE ON THEIR PHONE. And he tells himself, while redrawing the map in his brain, “Well, I meant it, because God is good,” but then he doesn't say that anymore, and pretty soon he drops the “good” and he's just screaming “Oh God” about every INFRACTION.....and his border is shrinking and his life is getting the name of freedom.

And you know who the worst people are, that he might never forgive just for spite? The Christians who won't GET OFF HIS BACK about these LITTLE SINS.

But really, he doesn't even think about that word anymore...sin.

And he's not really thinking about going to church anymore, either.

And now his marriage bed has a gleaming wall of unforgiveness right down the middle of it.

Now the question is….what about us?

Where have we allowed border breaches?

Where have we redrawn the map in our brains, giving sin a little space, telling ourselves we will let it go this far, and no farther?

It's time for us to do a “world dump” and to return to the Lord with all of our heart!

Judges 10:10 says, “And the children of Israel cried out to the Lord, saying, “We have sinned against You...”

Judges 12:3 says the Lord delivered them and gave them the victory.

And He will do the same for us!

So ask the Lord to show you any border breaches, where you have allowed sin to creep in and take space...and then repent! Ask God for forgiveness and deliverance! Give all that territory back to Him! Let's reclaim those borders for Jesus!

Let us be the people who give no space to sin, but are full of the Holy Spirit and on fire for Jesus!

Let us be the people who are forgiven and walking in forgiveness, forgiving everyone.

Let us be the people who are literally expanding the borders of the Kingdom of God!