Tag Archives: Spiritual Growth

Have you ever just asked?


Eunice in London, 2018

Most of you know me as Pastor Neil, a guy who loves God and His Son Jesus Christ. There was a time when I didn’t. I believed in God like most people. He was the creator, some universal good or love that I prayed to when I needed help. Sometimes, my prayers even seemed to get answered. Yet for the most part, I was an American atheist, just out for my own way. Oh, I was a good guy. Most of you would have thought I was pretty good. But when it came to who Jesus was, I was certain he was not God. Good, yes, a great teacher, yes, an amazing man, certainly…

but was he God? No way could Jesus be God.

I distinctly remember a friend’s Father showing me from the Bible how God was Spirit, so no one could be God. Jesus was just a great man. Then one day, not sure why, I asked God if Jesus Christ was His Son. God, is Jesus your son? Is He, God come in the flesh?


London, 2018


Looking back now, I cannot remember the complete process of my transformation from doubt to faith, but it was not because I was taught by anyone. I did pray and I did ask God to forgive me of my sins. I did confess that Jesus saved me. Then it all changed. The light came on and a knowing replaced the unbelief I had had for years. Yes, it was an overnight change; not one that I controlled or needed anyone to explain. I just knew He, Jesus Christ, was God.

All I did was ask, “God is Jesus your son?” Have you ever asked…sincerely wanting to know if the Baby born of Mary was the Son of the Most High God? I pray you will.

our responsibility in our spiritual battle

Meditation Journey Day 51      

Hi Friend,

King David’s response to seeing evil is:

Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! Men of blood, depart from me! They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain!  Psalm 139:19

We have seen how David has been made aware of God’s loving kindness in verses 1-18 of Psalm 139, and he has embraced the precious thoughts God has about him. Now he sees the evil in and around him in vivid colors. His first reaction was to expect God to destroy them; his second response was to simply expect them to leave. God wants us to do more in a battle with evil.

God wants us to do more in a battle with evil.

In verse 20, David turns to God and petitions Him once more; this time for God to defend God’s good name.  “They speak against you (God) with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain!” David is still expecting God to do what only David can do, which is take the responsibility for the sin he has in his life.

rosevelt(Please note, I know the battle is the LORD’s and it is His power that defeats the enemy, but there is a personal responsibility in our spiritual battles that we must accept. It is not that we must pay for our sin because we cannot. Jesus Christ is our Redeemer and justifier.  Our responsibility is to accept our choices and to bring them to God in humility. The battles are allowed so that we might seek His grace and power to work through us. Our spiritual battles are allowed by Him to transform us, not just to change our circumstances. Romans 8:28-29)

What David is saying is true; the enemy does speak against God. Satan always wants to malign the character of God. People that speak maliciously about God or the Bible do have evil thoughts working in their minds. They ignore that God’s word judges them, they do not judge it!

God’s enemies do take His name in vain. When we think ugly thoughts about God we concur with the evil of this world. If we allow the thoughts of the wicked to become our thoughts, we set ourselves against God.

God wants David to understand that the evil facing him in his spiritual battle will only be changed as David makes the internal decision to be in total agreement and dependence on God. God never makes anyone believe in Him. God always honors our freedom to choose.  He allows the wicked to be wicked, and He gives us, His Beloved, opportunity to become Christ-like as we take ownership of our behavior.

“God wants David to understand that the evil facing him in his spiritual battle will only be changed as David makes the internal decision to be in total agreement and dependence on God.”

What David is doing up to this point in the process is typical of human nature. We think God or someone else will be the solution to our problems. That is not how God wants to relate to us. He wants us to trust Him by faith, therefore, giving us the spiritual tools to allow Him to work through us. Spiritual transformation is always from the inside out. We must receive God’s life in our human spirit and grow Christ’s nature in us through faith and obedience.

Our natural thinking is to ask God to change our circumstances to our liking, and if God does not do what we think is right, we typically resent His decision.  However, God has another agenda for us. He redeemed us to transform us internally by way of our trusting and obeying Him. We are naturally on a track to be conformed externally to our surrounding environment. But the Holy Spirit wants us to be spiritually transformed by God’s word internally (Romans 12). It all depends on whether or not we turn to God and humbly take responsibility for the choices we make.

Observation: In verse 20, David continues his typical human response to the problem of evil. He is expecting God to remove it. Only this time He is appealing to God’s honor as the basis of why God must act. However, God has an eternal desire for His Beloved to be transformed from the inside out to become Christ-like. 

Interpretation: When we see God’s goodness and kindness, as we observe in Psalm 139, the evil in the world and in our lives challenges its veracity. We naturally hope God will remove it or that it will just go away. God in His perfect wisdom designed us not just to know the truth but to become like Christ. That only happens as we are transformed internally by His eternal power. This happens as we nurture the new nature of Christ in us by engrafting His word and yielding to His Spirit.

Application Prayer: Father God, Thank you for insisting I grow in my faith by making me take responsibility for the evil in my life. Give me the grace to trust your word and to yield to your Spirit as I fight the good fight of faith. … in Jesus Name, Amen.

What is your take away?



the spiritually normal response

Meditation Journey Day 50       

Hi Friend,

What is the spiritually normal response to truth?

We are now in the Valley of Victory of Psalm 139:19-22. These verses are a pattern and process of how we gain Victory over evil and sin in our own life. They come after we have seen the beauty of the LORD in the preceding verses 1-18. David is displaying what our hearts will do when we have seen the Lord’s loving-kindness and gracious mercy.

This is the process of repentance and it is the spiritually normal response.

Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! Men of blood, depart from me!

What David is saying is, LORD I see your truth and hold your thoughts precious in my change-1heart. Now I know the wickedness around me and in me and I do not like it! Turning towards God, David asks, “God, can you please change my circumstances?” Then David turns towards the evil and says, Men of blood, depart from me!” David is sick of the sin his eyes see and his heart is burdened by the evil associations he has accepted. His expectations are that God will remove them and change the circumstance. David then turns to the men of blood and hopes that by simply telling them to leave the problem will be solved. It won’t.

The wicked and the men of blood, while they may have been real people to David, are metaphors of the lies and half-truths we believe.

The wicked and the men of blood, while they may have been real people to David, are metaphors of the lies and half-truths we believe. The wicked thoughts that we believe have been leading us to rebellion and darkness. They are the seeds of bitterness and rejection that tell us God does not love us. The evil thoughts are lusts of all kinds that sell us pleasure as a sanctuary of false peace. The men of blood are demon’s lies that murder our hope and slaughter our purpose. Friend, they will not go away simply because we ask.

The Holy Spirit is powerful enough to destroy them all independently of us, but He does not always choose to exercise His power.

repent-turnaround1Why, because He wants us to gain the victory from the inside out. He wants us to “stand strong in the Lord and the power of His might” with an internal confidence in God. How we stand in the Lord’s power will come clearer as we proceed on this journey. Just remember what you have learned to this point. The Holy Spirit has given us God’s precious thoughts in Psalm 139 and now He wants us to receive it, believe it and obey it. This is the only path the world, sin, and Satan will be defeated in our lives.

Observation: David sees the wickedness around him and he responds in the spiritually normal way of wanting freedom and change. His first two responses to the realization he needs change are typical and non-productive. David was expecting God to change his circumstances or he hoped they would just go away on their own accord.

Interpretation: The road to spiritual victory starts with the Holy Spirit revealing to us God’s loving kindness. He leads us to the foot of the cross to see the grace poured out on us. That is what we have been receiving through Psalm 139:1-18. Jesus Christ’ sacrifice on the cross obtained all the blessings we have received from God. As we become alive in Christ, the wickedness of this world becomes more uncomfortable. Our response typically is to expect God to change our circumstances. He could but He does not because He wants an internal and everlasting transformation of our hearts.

Application Prayer: Father God, Thank you for your gracious mercy revealed in Jesus Christ dying for me. I know all your grace freely flows to me through His death, burial and resurrection. As I receive your precious thoughts and obey them the sin in my life becomes more obvious. It challenges your word and resists your truth. Help me to take the responsibility to internally allow you to change me. … in Jesus Name, Amen.

What is your take away?

Slay the wicked, O God!

Meditation Journey Day 49     

Hi Friend,

Have you ever felt like David did in Psalm 139:19? He cries out, Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!” God, will you please get rid of the evil around me?

That cry begins the process for David to gain a victory in his spiritual battle. It is where we begin too! Keep in mind while David may have been thinking of literal bad people in his world whereas our spiritual battle is not against flesh and blood. Our battles are against the lies and half truths pressed upon us by the world, the devil, and our own sinful nature.

Keep in mind while David may have been thinking of literal bad people in his world whereas our spiritual battle is not against flesh and blood. Our battles are against the lies and half truths pressed upon us by the world, the devil, and our own sinful nature.

David has journeyed through the wonderful truths of verses 1-18 in his song of praise to God, Psalm 139. As he becomes aware that all the heavenly blessings are true he also realizes the wickedness he has accepted in his life. He has internalized God’s loving kindness, and it has changed his perspective of The LORD, himself and the evil around him. He now understands he has been living by Satan’s thoughts and the world’s values. Radical change is coming to David; he is beginning to be transformed as he puts off the lies of Satan and puts on the truth of God. This is also our first step to being transformed. When we see God as He really is and ourselves through the lens of His precious thoughts, we will change our direction and perspective to His way. The Bible calls this repentance.

Anytime we read, hear or see the kindness of God and do not breathe a prayer repentof humble thanks for His mercy; we are not receiving His truth into our hearts.

Repentance always happens in our lives when we receive God’s kindness and embrace His goodness revealed in Jesus Christ. Listen to what Paul wrote about repentance, “Do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” All the truth of the first eighteen verses of Psalm 139 is God’s kindness to us. It was given by the Holy Spirit to lead us to change our direction and repent. Anytime we read, hear or see the kindness of God and do not breathe a prayer of humble thanks for His mercy; we are not receiving His truth into our hearts. We would then be presuming on God’s grace. The Holy Spirit is trying to transform us through God’s thoughts, and we resist Him by thinking they are not important! We assume God is not speaking about me, or we consider the Bible as a book just written by man and doubt its truthfulness. You may be presuming at this very moment I am not in need of this message! Remember the first step in receiving God’s Word is to realize it is a personal word from God to us (Proverbs 2). All our negative presuming about God’s Word is just a form of arrogance and pride.

David did receive God’s thoughts as precious, and now he sees the wickedness all around him. The prophet Isaiah experienced the same repentant attitude when he saw the Lord high and lifted up in the temple. He cried out, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!” All through the Bible, we have accounts of people who saw the Lord’s grace and kindness and they melted into a new perspective of God and themselves. It always happens when we encounter the Living God! I pray it begins to happen to you as you humbly receive the precious thoughts in Psalm 139:1-18. 

You will know you have begun to transform when you become aware of the lies you have accepted about God and yourself. David cried, “Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!” He was saying, God, please get rid of the evil I now see in me and around me! Are you beginning to experience a changing attitude toward God and yourself as you journey through Psalm 139?

This is the point where the spiritual battle rages all the time. What we believe about God and ourselves is the critical point of us gaining freedom. Psalm 139 paints a grace-filled picture of Father God’s love and kindness. The more that becomes clear the more we can see the evil we have believed and accepted into our hearts. Then we too will become very uncomfortable with the world’s evil that we accept and the secular thoughts we embrace. We will also begin to cry out, O God take away the wickedness in my heart and in my world!

Observation: Verses 19 is David’s cry as he becomes aware of the evil around him. This is the first step of transformation when we have actually received and internalized God’s precious thoughts.

Interpretation: Verses 19-22 are a model of the process of repentance. It may be somewhat different for each person, but it contains the basic process to walk us through repentance. Each step is another layer of transformation in our walk of faith. If this process of internal change is not happening in us; then we are assuming that the message is not true or not for us. We are probably not nurturing our spiritual garden. Have you hidden any of Psalm 139 in your hearts ?

Application Prayer: Father God, I see you in a different light through the words of Psalm 139. I view myself different too. I am ashamed of the lies I have believed, and I pray that you will remove the evil from my life. Please slay my sinfulness and the wickedness in me  … in Jesus Name, Amen.

What is your take away?

How to win the Spiritual War!

Meditation Journey Day 48              

Hi Friend,

Today we begin a very practical and critically important section of Psalm 139. At first look verses, 19-22 do not feel like they should be in this Psalm. Up till now, we have received one gracious blessing after another.

Through Psalm 139:1-16, we learned God esteems us worthy of His constant attention and time. He never leaves us, His Beloved, because He cares so deeply about our welfare. He chose us and created us for a glorious purpose. Then in verse 19-22 the tone changes and the air is charged with anger and hate. The vitriol is not God’s attitude towards David, but it is David’s feelings toward the wicked.

Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God! Men of blood, depart from me! They speak against you with malicious intent; your enemies take your name in vain! Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? I hate them with complete hatred; I count them, my enemies! Psalm 139:19-22

What is curious about the passage is that it is mostly a discussion between David and God. David only gives one negative sentence to the bloody men; the rest of the passage is David speaking to God and himself.

hit-1This is a model of how to win the spiritual warfare that every Christian faces. Over the next several days we will dissect this passage to learn the course of action we must take to resist Satan. The Holy Spirit wants us to understand this because He desires to destroy the Enemy’s strongholds in our minds.

Jesus said He came to give us abundant life, yet many Christians walk in defeat. Every day they are badgered by guilt, shame or fear. If we personally receive God’s thoughts about us in Psalm 139 and obediently believe them we can experience what Jesus promised. We need to trust His word and believe it is possible for us to continually experience the abundant life Jesus promised.

Here are some basic facts about this war. The spiritual battle of a Christian’s life is unavoidable. Our primary enemy is Satan, he hates God and all God has created and loves, therefore, he hates us. Jesus described Satan clearly when He said, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10).

The devil and his minions are the enemies; not any person in your life. Paul made it clear in Ephesians 6 that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” When we are mentally fighting with people we are losing the battle and Satan just laughs.

The battlefield of this continual war is in our minds. The weapon we use to defend ourselves and destroy Satan’s strongholds is the Word of God. The power of this lethal weapon is the Spirit of the Living God. Our role in this fight is to yield to God’s Spirit and engraft His word into our hearts and minds. As we humble ourselves to God, He gives us the grace to resist Satan and causes him to flee. (James 4).

Our role in this fight is to yield to God’s Spirit and engraft His word into our hearts and minds. As we humble ourselves to God, He gives us the grace to resist Satan and causes him to flee. (James 4).

The Christian life does not work for many people because they do not yield to God’s Spirit and obey God’s word. Learning how to resist Satan and his deadly temptations is a major step in living a healthy spiritual life. If you embrace the truth of this Psalm you will have a solid framework to nurture your faith in God and experience a confident relationship with Christ.

Please notice I never said you would have a pain free, struggle free, or conflict free life. SurrenderThat is heaven’s reward. What God gives to us here is a joyous life filled with His presence and peace.

The battle is raging. I pray you will put on the armor of God’s precious thoughts and stand against the enemy.

Observation: In verses, 19-22 David’s tone has changed from praise and wonder of God’s blessing to anger and hatred towards God’s enemies. We are in a spiritual war with evil and we must learn how God designed us to win. Remember we wrestle not against flesh and blood!

Interpretation: Through this section, we begin to see the battle in which we are engaged. This passage is a model of how we defeat sin, Satan and the lies of the world. Many Christians are defeated by the Enemy because they do not yield themselves to God’s Spirit and believe His precious thoughts.

Application Prayer: Father God, Teach me to fight the good fight of faith. I chose to humble myself to your gracious thoughts revealed in Psalm 139. I believe you see me worthy of loving. I believe you are always with me and have created me to be a blessing. Help me to resist Satan’s lies and keep me close to you. … in Jesus Name, Amen.

What is your take away?


Ready for Battle?

Meditation Journey Day 46                

Hi Friend,

Soon we will enter verses 19-22 which is the Valley of Victory in Psalm 139. Those verses are our spiritual war zone. To prepare for the battle ahead we need to walk carefully through the next two verses, 17-18, “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.”  

As we unpack these two verses we begin to see the way they equip us for the coming conflict with sin and Satan. The three important points of these verses are

 1) the attitude we must have toward God’s word,

2) the assurance of the vast depth of God’s thoughts about us, 

3) God’s total commitment that even if we sleep or die in the fight, He is still with us.

In the last blog, I focused on the first point, “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!” today I want us to look at the abundance of God’s thoughts about us. The amount David gives, speaks to us of the assurance and confidence we have as we daily face our struggles.

confidence-farzana-featured-1024x489Confidence is the most important weapon in any fight. If you have the assurance of your arsenal, you will be assured of your victory. The weapons of warfare are not physical because our battle is in our hearts and minds. The weapons on which we depend are the words and thoughts of God as revealed in Psalm 139. Jesus used the word of God when He faced Satan in His spiritual battles (Matthew 4). We are to fight in the same manner using the proven weapon, the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6).

David is amazed by God’s vast and continual stream of loving, kind, and gracious thoughts about him. God wants us to know the amount is so vast we can sink our roots deep in His love to stand firm and grow strong. At the same time, Satan tries to fill us with doubts and fears that God is always angry and impatient with us. The Evil One wants us to believe somehow that God does not know our circumstances or problems and that He is fed up with our lack of faith. Some people have been told all their lives that God desires to punish them for their weaknesses. Psalm 139 paints a completely different perspective. God does hate our sin because He knows how much it hurts us. He accepts us as we are, but He loves us too much to allow us to stay in our filth of sinfulness. He sends us an abundance of kindness and goodness to lead us to repentance and trust in Him.

What David received from The LORD also belongs to us.

lion-3We must embrace that God continually bathes us in a sea of mercy and grace. The sum of God’s gracious and good thoughts are not few, they are more in number than the grains of sand! Think about it; God has more loving thoughts about each of us than all the sand in the entire world. Picture all the sand on every beach, every desert and in all the earth. Each grain of sand represents a new and different loving thought about you and me. He thinks more precious thoughts about us than we could ever imagine! We are constantly in His view, persistently in His presence and always held close in His arms. He is at all times around us and dwells within His Children. That is why in every conflict we can be assured of victory because “Greater is He (Jesus) that is within you than he (Satan) that is in the world” (1 John 4). Now connect that thought with Jesus’ teaching in John 8. Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

In every conflict we face, spiritual freedom comes through the Word by the Holy Spirit. We need to embrace the sweet thoughts of God towards us and walk confidently in His vast love for us. Peace always comes when He reigns over our mind. Isaiah said it best, “You (LORD) keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you.” (Isa. 26)

Today review in your minds all that God says about you in Psalm 139:1-18

Observation: David is amazed by the vastness of God’s precious thoughts about him. All that David learned is ours too. We need to rest in the confidence that our Savior has us in mind 24/7/365.

Interpretation: God’s love never ends. His Presence with us never wavers and His purpose is in progress continually in our lives. He is always working all things together for the good for His beloved. We need to deeply embrace His continual and constant care that is higher than the heavens and deeper than any hole we think we are in!

Application Prayer: Father God, open my eyes to the grace and mercy you wrap around my life. As I think of the conflicts and struggles of my life, help me to lean into your grace and trust you more.  … in Jesus Name, Amen.

What is your take away?

The Valley of Victory

Meditation Journey Day 45             

Hi Friend,

Our meditation through Psalm 139 has been a journey into the treasures of God’s love towards us. In the last section, verses 13-16, we came to the highest vantage point on our expedition. From this beautiful view, we can see where we have been and where we will be going. We have traveled through the foothills of our worth to God (vs. 1-6), the highlands of belonging in Him (vs. 7-12), and now we rest in the majestic mountains of our purpose (vs. 13-16).

Ahead is a tough valley. I call it the valley of Victory (PS.139:19-22). It is actually a war zone. There we must fight using the truths we have gained in verses 1-16 to have victory over the lies of the world, sin, and Satan. The battlefield on which we fight is our hearts and minds; it is a spiritual battle, not a physical one.

To prepare for this battle we need to walk carefully through the next two verses, 17-18, “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.” 

David was a warrior king, and these words are actually a strategy that will equip every one of us for the coming conflict. David gives us three important points:

1) The attitude we must have towards God’s thoughts (truth),

2) The assurance of the vast wealth of His thoughts about us and

3) Our need to understand the total commitment to follow God knowing that even after death I am still with Him.


David calls God’s thoughts precious, and he adds a personal depth of worship by saying, “O God!” This is the essential attitude we must have if we are to put to death our fleshly nature (Col.3) and out maneuver Satan’s fiery arrows (Eph.6). The Precious thoughts in this Psalm are what David has revealed about God in verses 1-16. They are God’s thoughts and ways (Isa.55). They are higher than our thoughts; full of power and strength. As we cherish God’s thoughts they become the word to us that is “the sword of the Spirit” (Ephesians 6). Our meditation in His word and the Holy Spirit’s presence in us breaks down the strongholds of lust, doubt, fear, and guilt in our minds.

To defeat Satan we must treasure God’s word. This is where Adam & Eve lost the battle years ago (Genesis 3). We too have lost many conflicts with sin because we did not trust God’s precious word; instead, we believed Satan’s lies. We will only win as we abide in God’s Word, the Living Christ. Our battle cry is “Greater is He (Jesus) that is within you than he (Satan) that is in the world” (1 John 4).

Therefore, we must understand David is not just saying something nice about God when he says, “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!” This worship filled response is equipping David’s heart with the necessary attitude for victory and we must possess the same attitude! The Apostle Paul wrote about Spiritual warfare in 2 Corinthians 10, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds.  We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” We are equipped with divine power when we humble our hearts to God receiving His word and abiding in His precious thoughts.

I pray that God’s word has become dearer to you as we have journeyed together. His thoughts are more precious than gold and silver. He has given them to us to protect and guard our hearts and minds against the enemy.

Observation: David’s praise was an expression of his soul being filled with God’s love. He is realizing God’s thoughts about him are a precious gift.

Interpretation: In verses 17-18, David gives us three important ways to prepare for the battle against the world, sin, and Satan in our hearts. The first is that we must regard God’s thoughts, truth, and word as precious to us. This is an attitude that will guard our hearts and minds.

Application Prayer: Father God, King David says your thoughts are precious. I need your help to comprehend the magnitude of love revealed about me in Psalm 139. I want to walk in victory and to know my worth, belonging and purpose all came from you. Help me to win the spiritual battles I am fighting. … in Jesus Name, Amen.

What is your take away?