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I would be disobeying the Lord if I stopped praying for you! I will always teach you how to live right. 1 Samuel 12:23

When those around us fail, the natural inclination of our human nature is to write them off as losers. It would be nice if we could say it’s different in the church, but the reality it’s not. Sometimes we ‘graciously’ offer a grace period in which we test the guilty party to see if they are sincere, but if we are honest, we look more for opportunities to condemn than notice the small steps towards restoration.

The Israelites were notorious for having the attitude of a spoiled two-year-old. Time and again they would rebel against God’s commands, repent and enjoy God’s forgiveness and restoration, only to slip back into their old habits of self-serving, idolatrous living.

After being rescued from Egyptian slavery, miraculously provided for during their trek through the wilderness, protected from enemies more powerful than they were and established in the Promised Land, the Israelites looked around at the surrounding nations and begged Samuel for a king because ‘everyone else gets a king, why can’t we?’

In spite of constant warnings of the dangers of having a human king, God finally relented and allowed them to have a king but not without stern warning. Then the Israelites realized their sin, they repented (again) and asked for prayer (could be spelled protection?).

Samuel’s response challenges our ‘normal, human way of thinking’. He promises to continue to pray for the people out of obedience to God. There almost seems to be a bit of ‘horror’ in his words. NOT praying for the people, in Samuel’s view, would be an act of disobedience to God. But he adds another twist. Samuel didn’t just promise to pray for the rebellious Israelites, he promised to teach them in the way they should go. His actions backed up his prayers. He not only interceded for them, he promised to give them the tools to keep from falling again.

Just before Jesus ascended into heaven he gave the disciples a challenge for the future. He told them to ‘make disciples of all nations.’ Discipleship is building relationship. Discipleship isn’t pointing out the failures of those in our circles; it’s giving them the tools to deal this life attack. We don’t need to be told we are bad, we know that. We need to be shown how to be better.

When the Israelites realized their failure they went to God’s man and received not only prayer for protection but a promise to teach them the ways of Jehovah God. Discipleship takes time and personal interaction. Discipleship isn’t a program but a lifestyle.

When someone you know falls, Paul says to ‘gently restore’ them (Galatians 6:1). Prayer and teaching (time) are two the best ways to restore the broken soul.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, you changed everyone you touched by prayer and teaching with patience. Help us to do the same to those in need around us. In your name I pray, Amen.


I am innocent, Lord, and I will see your face! When I awake, all I want is to see you as you are. Psalm 17:15 (CEV)

Adam and Eve tried to hide among the trees with a few fig leaves hastily positioned in vital places.

Moses ran into the wilderness and opted for tending sheep rather than being ruler of the most powerful nation of the time.

David made a few choices intended to clear his situation by murdering one of his own men.

Peter hid in the shadows and pretended he didn’t know his very best friend.

Judas hung himself.

What do all these people and countless others have in common? Their sin drove them away from God. Their failures caused them to despair of life itself. These kinds of actions continue to this very day.

Even people who claim to have no relationship with or interest in God struggle to find the peace and contentment that comes from a vital, passionate, personal relationship with God. Call it sin, poor choices of whatever you want. When you live apart from God, you live without peace because true peace and contentment can only be found in him.

Too often we see sin as choices and decisions that make God angry at us. While God can’t stand sin, his anger is towards the sin, not us. When we live in sin, rather than relationship with him he has no choice but to turn his back on us.

The Psalmist longs to see the face of God. He longs for the restored relationship that will allow the love of the Father to permeate to his very soul. It’s only this passionate relationship that can soothe the pain of our waywardness and stop the bleeding of the wound hidden deep inside all of us.

The Psalmist also knows that the only way to see the face of the Father is to be innocent of all sin. “Impossible” you may say, and you would be right. None of us have any hope of innocence before God regardless of how spiritual, religious, moral or pure we are. Innocence of our soul only comes through the forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

Because of Jesus I echo the words of the Psalmist. I can’t wait to see your face my Father! You are all I want to see. The hope of seeing your face is all that keeps me going!

PRAYER: Father, I thank you for the innocence I have gained through your Son, Jesus Christ. Because of him I look forward to seeing you. Amen.


Although I grew up in the church, I came to a point in my life when I lost everything, including my faith. I didn’t lose faith in God or any of the great doctrines of the church. I lost faith in me. I finally came to the realization that the journeyof  faith wasn’t about my success or failure, but about grace. I’m convinced that there are many who are in the place I was in, having given up on God (and/or themselves) and believe God has given up on them. Built with Grace Ministries is about my passion to share the victory we have in Christ with those who are struggling in their walk. I welcome any opportunity to share my message at retreats, conferences, worship services or other events. If you would like to talk about how we can minister together I invite you to email me at: mdfisk@gmail.com. Further information on the ministry can be found at www.builtwithgrace.com.


“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Revelation 3:20 (NLT)

Closed doors can send a variety of messages. We close doors for protection at night or when we leave home, making sure they are locked to keep out intruders. We close doors for privacy when we need time for ‘personal business’. We close doors for time to think about issues of the heart. Sometimes we close doors to hide. We could be hiding for simple reasons like a friendly game of ‘hide and seek’, of because we are guilty and afraid or ashamed. Generally speaking, a closed door means ‘do not disturb’.

Physical doors are relatively easy to deal with. We can see a door to a room or building and know if it’s open or closed. We can try the handle and tell if it’s locked or unlocked. In emergency situations we can break it down and enter by force.

The door to our heart is quite a different matter. The door to our heart is impregnable. We close the door to our heart for a variety of reasons. We close the door to our heart to protect us from further damage. We get hurt in love and vow never to be hurt again. We close the door to our heart due to fear. We opened it once and it was abused, neglected or stomped on. We are afraid to open it again because it may bring more pain. We close the door to our heart in anger when people or God don’t measure up to our expectations. We close the door to our heart when the feelings of guilt or inferiority are too great.

Perhaps you can add your own reasons to the list. Reasons why you have shut up your heart to others or to God. Some may be perfectly understandable. Others, you’d admit are suspect. Whatever the reason for your closed heart, here is something you need to know. Jesus is at the door knocking.

People knock at a door for two reasons. People knock at a door because they desire admittance. Let that sink in for a moment in regards to Jesus. He knows your heart. He knows every room. He knows every secret sin. He knows where you store the feelings of anger and hate and bitterness. He knows where the box of unforgiveness is stored and the jar of judgmental attitudes is found. Still, regardless of the condition of your heart, Jesus desires to come in.

The people in thechurchofLaodiceahad done some things that were repulsive to Jesus Christ. They are likened to a drink that is lukewarm when it should be hot or cold. Their condition is such that were they to be drunk, would be vomited out of a person’s mouth. Even so, Jesus longed to enter in. Such Grace! Such Mercy! Such Love!

Secondly, a knock at the door means that the person knocking realizes and respects the right of the owner to keep the door closed. I don’t have to open the door of my house, my room, my business to you. I don’t have to open the door of my heart to Jesus.

Jesus Christ will never force himself on you. He’ll always respect your right to choose, but he earnestly desires for you to choose him so he can enter in and built a relationship of love and grace. He earnestly desires to come in and help clean out the corners of your heart that haven’t been touched in a long time.

I grew up hearing sermons on this verse in a variety of ways to refer to winning the lost to Christ. While there may be some justification to that line of thought, the letter was written to the church. Jesus stands at the door and knocks and calls to us. Will you recognize his voice? Will you realize his desire to enter in to heal those damaged rooms of your soul? He’s waiting patiently. He’ll never force himself on you. He loves you too much for that.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, you know my heart. You know the doors I’ve closed to you and others. You know the feelings of guilt and fear I have when I think of opening those doors. Thank you for your grace and mercy. Empower me by your Spirit to be willing to open myself completely to you. Every door. Every closet. In your name I pray, Amen.


The payment for sin is death. But God gives us the free gift of life forever in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23 (NCV)

Think about this. No matter where you are on the journey of life, there are certain things that are true for all of us. We were all created by God to be his pride and joy. God’s desire, from the beginning of time is to have a passionate relationship with each of us. A relationship like he had with Adam and Even at the beginning. To walk side by side, arm in arm, hand in hand. To laugh. To talk about the days events. To impart his wisdom, strength and joy to each of us.

Another thing that is true of all of us is that we all want to have our own way. We all seek to fill this void inside of us with things that are contrary to God’s desire for us. David did it when he decided to sleep with another man’s wife. Abraham did it when he took matters into his own hands. Moses did it when he murdered the Egyptian and struck the rock. And the list goes on and on. Your name is on that list.

We’ve all done it, we take matters into our own hands. Tried to fill the void on our own power. Call it sin. Call it poor choices or bad decisions. Call it whatever you want. The result is the same. When you live apart from God there’s an emptiness that can’t be satisfied.

Sin is sin. You can rationalize and say your ‘sin’ isn’t as bad. Really? Worry is just as ‘bad’ a sin as adultery because it breaks your trust in God’s ability to provide. Buying what you can’t afford is stealing from your future because debt ties us down. Legalistic attitudes steal the freedom God intended to give to others.  

You can run from him, but that won’t remove the pain. You can ignore him but that doesn’t take away the anger. You can claim he doesn’t exist, but the void won’t go away. You can bury yourself in all sorts of religious activity or social advocacy to hide your pain. That usually only leads to guilt and self-destruction. There is nothing that beats the pain. There is nothing that pays the price…nothing except for Jesus.

Jesus paid the price for your worry. Jesus paid the price for your anger and frustration. Jesus paid the price for the guilt you harbor because of your past. He paid it in full so you can live free. He asks nothing from you except for you to confess (admit) your need for him, and ask forgiveness for your weakness. Nothing else will fill the void in your soul.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I confess to you that there are still many things in my life that I’m trying to control on my own. Thank you for the free gift of forgiveness you have given. Nothing is really free. Thank you for paying the price for my sin when you knew I would fail. Amen.

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