Psalm 118:24 NKJV – When the world gives you lemons…

This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

We’ve all heard the saying, “When the world gives you lemons, make lemonade.”   I prefer lemon meringue pie, but the point is the same. When the world discourages us, we have a choice of what we can do. We can labor in the discouragement or trouble, or we can turn and make something beneficial out of it.

The Psalmist here is saying because of God’s victory, His people will turn the day of despair into a day of worship before the Lord. Believers often quote this Scripture when they gather together corporately on Sunday to worship the Lord in church. They may exchange this Scripture in conversation with a brother or sister in the Lord. Amen.

When thinking about what God would have me write about, this verse came to mind. God created all things and they were good. God created man in His image and He said it was very good. “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:31 NKJV) The very essence of His work of creation speaks of His goodness. “For every creature of God is good.” (1 Timothy 4:4 NKJV) This is why our Scripture verse means so much more. It should be our daily Victory cry.

We experience God’s goodness to us every day. God is good to those who place their trust in Him. “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” (Psalm 34:8 NKJV) As God’s children we can rely on His goodness. “And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me.” (Jeremiah 32:40 NKJV) God works positively for good in not so good circumstances. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NKJV) And God’s goodness is to be praised. “Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; Sing praises to His name, for it is pleasant.” (Psalm 135:3 NKJV) Or I like how the New Living Translation states it, “Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; celebrate His lovely Name with music.”

Friend, every one of our days are “this day”. The Lord has made each and every day. Let us celebrate what God has done each day; even each and every morning we wake up alive. What a great morning prayer if we say, “Good morning Lord. This is the day which You have made. I will celebrate You and rejoice in it.”   The next time that the world gives you lemons, why not shout to the Lord and give Him praise. Then go make your lemonade or pie. But remember, He gives us new days so that His plan for us can be accomplished and He can be glorified. We were created to do good works. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10 KJV)

Dear Lord, thank You for this day. I lift Your Name above all things and shout praises to You. Thank You that we are created in Your image to do good works. May we honor You in everything we say and do. We give You the glory Lord, in Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Jeremiah 24:7 NKJV – Tell them to return to Me

Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart.

Scripture indicates that believers can wander away from God, but they must return to Him. Turning away from God takes us to places outside of His will. We become wayward. Wayward is defined as “tending to behave in ways that are not socially acceptable; not going or moving in the intended direction.” Scripture uses the word wayward. “Who are crooked in their ways, wayward and devious in their paths.” (Proverbs 2:15 AMP) When we are outside of God’s will for us, we are not moving in the direction God has appointed for us. It is then we find some of our hardest struggles and our hardest times.

I will be the first to confess that I have walked outside the will of God. I’m not proud of this statement. I’m just being transparent. Sometimes temptation over takes us or we find ourselves living as the world does. We begin to justify our acts. And the more we tell ourselves “That we’ll be ok. We’ll get back to doing what God intends”, the harder it is to return.

God gives us a way to return to Him. God has provided the means to come back. We need to call upon the Lord. “Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to me, and I will hear and heed you.” (Jeremiah 29:12 AMP) Prayer is the key. No matter if you step out of God’s will for just a few minutes, or you walk on the path you have ordered for a while, returning to God begins with a prayer.

God promises to hear and respond to the prayers of His people in their times of need. “He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.” (Psalm 91:15 AMP) When we stop and realize we are outside of God’s will and things just aren’t going well, we can return to Him. Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we are given free access into God’s presence. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8 NKJV)

Friend, over the last several months, God has impressed upon me that He has great and mighty things in store for all of His children, if they simply return to Him. He is our God and we are His people. Yet we move about sometimes thinking we are “#1”. That is just not true. It’s a trap that the enemy places in front of us to cause us to move outside of God’s will. Remember this promise, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3 NKJV) God already has something very special for us if we turn back to Him with all our heart. When we call upon God, we are asking God to act in dependence upon Him. Calling upon God is an act of worship.

Precious Lord, You have given us a heart to know You. Thank you, Lord. Sometimes I walk away from Your will and find myself in a place or situation I don’t desire. Forgive me Lord. Help me to always remain in the steps You have ordered and on the path You have laid out before me. Hear my prayers O Lord when I call upon You. Show me the great and mighty things You have planned for me. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Isaiah 58:8 NKJV – When your circumstance becomes God’s answer

“Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.”

Christians face troubles and problems just like anybody else. We are human as well. We suffer pain and have sickness just like others. Our difference lies in that we have the righteousness of God. We carry the Holy Spirit in us and God’s majestic glory and light is shown to the world through the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

No sickness or disease is too small for God to take care of. No matter what the world says about your illness, if it’s a big deal to you, it’s a bid deal to God. Several months ago, I had to seek medical care for a sickness and go to the Emergency Room for care. My wife and I had been praying for God’s intervention the entire week. People from our Prayer Ministry began to pray for God’s healing touch. Our faith in the power of God never wavered. And God intervened.

What I was facing would seem very small in comparison to someone facing a life threatening illness. The world’s standard would say that I was making a mountain out of a mole hill. But I had been suffering for a few weeks, and it just got worse. The medication I had been taking was not helping. So my wife and I prayed to the Lord and asked Him to give us wisdom to understand what He wanted us to do. We went to the Emergency Room. God placed the doctor and nurses in the Emergency Room that day to care for me. And God answered our prayer for wisdom and provided healing through these medical professionals.

Now I sit here testifying that God heard and answered the prayers offered to Him by my wife and I and the others who were praying. There is no level, no measurement that can adequately define the Power of God to heal. God is true and faithful to demonstrate His power through faithful prayers. Faithful prayers depend on the willingness and submission to trust in God’s faithfulness to His promises. “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5 NKJV)

It is God’s desire that all people should seek after Him. Those who seek God with all of their heart are rewarded. We sought God and others prayed in agreement with us. And God revealed His glory to us. My healing sprang forth speedily and the Lord was my guard. God’s promises and rewards are found by those who seek Him. “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me.” (Proverbs 8:17 NKJV)  “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6 NKJV) “Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.” (Matthew 21:21 KJV)

Friend, we all face circumstances when we need God’s intervention. Seeking God begins in the heart. “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13 NKJV) That’s when our circumstance becomes God’s answer. Let’s submit to God’s authority, God’s faithfulness, God’s promises and God’s power.

Precious Lord, when I called upon Your Name, you heard me. When we gathered in one accord to pray and believed, You responded. You knew in advance what I would be facing and You placed others in my path to help. Thank You Lord for my healing. You are my redeemer. I give You praise. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

John 6:35 NKJV – Where does my nourishment come from?

“And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.””

I like this verse because it always causes me to think about where I receive my nourishment. I’m not talking about actual food and drink. That’s for my physical body. But where do I go to receive nourishment for my mind and soul.

Bread was a basic staple in the diets of those living in biblical times. To this day, there are places of business where you can buy fresh baked breads of various kinds. There are bread makers that you can purchase if you are inclined to make fresh baked bread right at home. I admit that fresh baked bread is very good and I enjoy it from time to time.  It’s also said that a person can live longer without food than without water to drink. Some experts say that a person cannot live longer than 3 days without water. But this verse directs our focus to the true “Bread of Life” and the “Living Water” that keep us spiritually alive.

What Jesus is saying here is that if you come after Me, you shall never feel hungry. If you believe in Me, you will never thirst. If we pursue Jesus as if He would fulfill our emptiness from natural nourishment, He would fill us with His spiritual nourishment which lasts for eternity. “Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:13-14 NKJV)

Everything on this earth is temporary. “For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18 NKJV) The visible world is passing away. The unseen world is what is most important and most real. If we put our trust and faith in the things of this world, the things will eventually all die away. Then what do we have left? We are left with emptiness and a need to look for something else to fill the void. And if we continue to fill the void with things of this world, the cycle of emptiness is not broken.

But if we place our trust and faith on the things that are eternal (the unseen world), these things will never die away. If we hunger and thirst for truth and hope and the answers we are looking for, and we eat and drink from the truth and hope and answers of the Lord, we are given eternal nourishment. And God promises we will never go hungry or thirst again. Where will you place your trust and faith?

Friend, I don’t know what you are facing or where your struggles lie, but if you are seeking after the world for a solution, know that the solution grounded in the world has a life span and will die someday.   But Jesus Christ offers you an eternal solution and that is grounded in His grace, His mercy, His love, and His salvation for you. I’m asking you. What choice will you make? If you choose Jesus, it all starts with a prayer. A prayer that believes that Jesus died for your sins and that You desire to have a personal relationship with Him. His love, His Mercy, and His grace await you. Jesus loves you with an everlasting love and desires to spend eternity with you.

Dear Jesus, I need some answers and the world is not able to give me those answers. I feel lost without any help. I’m told You love me and that I can find the hope I’m looking for in You. Please help me, Jesus. I am a sinner and I need a Savior. I believe You died for me and You defeated my sin when You rose from the grave. Come into my life Jesus and be my Savior. I give You my life. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

 

Matthew 18:10 NKJV – The little girl story I’ll never forget

“Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.”

Nancy and I were reminiscing the other day, back a number of years ago to a very special meeting we had with a little girl in the hospital. We were asked to visit her and to pray for her. She had terminal cancer. We were so blessed to go. We took her a teddy bear.

When we arrived her parents were with her along with some family friends. After some time for everyone to get comfortable, I was asked to pray. I sat down next to her and took her little hand in mine. I remember feeling that this little girl and I were connected someway. While I prayed, the little girl stroked my hand with her other hand. Time seemed to stand still. This little sweetheart of a girl went to be with Jesus a few days later.

I share this with you because prayer is a direct connection with the heart of God. I didn’t know if she would be healed. I just knew that I had to pray. What happened in her room that night changed all of us.

Nancy and I look forward to when we will see her again. She lived a very short life of 5 years, but I will carry her story until I see her again. She was very special, showed no fear, and her story will now touch a world.

Precious Lord, thank You for the opportunities that You give us to pray for others. I am so grateful that You gave me an opportunity to pray for this little girl. I rejoice that she is standing with You in heaven. Help us Lord to hear Your still small voice and respond in obedience. Lord, you capture our prayers and surround them with your mercy and grace and then take them heavenward for You to answer. Always for Your purpose and our good. We give You praise, Lord. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Zechariah 7:9 NKJV – A Thanksgiving Message

“This says the Lord of hosts: Execute true justice, show mercy and compassion everyone to his brother.”

Guest Blogger: Social Media

The beginning of this prayer devotion is an excerpt of something that has been passed around on social media and shared with me. A big thank you to Pastor Scott. I thought I would share it here. (edited for clarity)

“It’s important to remember that not everyone is surrounded by large wonderful families. Some of us have problems during the holidays and sometimes are overcome with great sadness when we remember the loved ones who are not with us. And, many people have no one to spend these times with and are besieged by loneliness. We all need caring thoughts and loving prayer right now. We need to set aside some time in loving support and care for those who have family problems, health struggles, job issues, worries of any kind that hinder them from enjoying what we sometimes take for granted. Sometimes folks just need to know that someone cares. Nobody is immune from these things.”

Let’s think about this. What would Jesus do? Well, scripture tells us time and again that Jesus was moved with compassion. He looked upon the multitudes and was moved with compassion. Forgive me, Lord, for sometimes looking away because of what I thought was more important.

I’ll let you in on a secret. I was one of those folks as written above. When I was alone, not knowing if anyone cared, someone contacted me. I was a new believer, but knew no one I could call upon. My old friends had gone. And then a wonderful family in the Lord asked me what I was doing for Thanksgiving. They cared. They invited me and my young son to their home where we were made to feel a part of their family. Their kindness continued for a few more years at Thanksgiving and even over a couple of Christmas Day celebrations. Those memories will never be forgotten and we are forever grateful. This wonderful family demonstrated “Jesus Christ Alive” to us.

During this Thanksgiving Holiday, why not take some time and give someone a call. Tell someone that you care and you love them. Maybe even invite them to your Thanksgiving celebration.

Precious Lord, thank You for Your love and compassion. Thank You that You teach us to demonstrate Your love in our lives. Help us Lord to see with Your eyes, hear with Your ears, and love with Your heart. Thank You Lord for all You give to us. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Daniel 6:10 NKJV – Matter of habit

“Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home. And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.”

Recently, I was impressed by something I heard while having dinner in an old fashioned diner. There was an elderly couple who announced when their friend had arrived to join them, “Well, it’s about time you got here.” Now I don’t really know what their intentions were. It may have been a way they greeted their friends. (????) Or maybe, they had developed a habit of eating at the same precise time every day and they were running a little late.

This got me to think. I pondered what some of my habits are. Well, first, I must say that I believe we are a habitual culture. We like to have habits to put order in our lives. We like when we do something so much that we don’t have to think about it. Like driving the same way each and every time we go to the mall, or the grocery store, or even to church. I am a habitual man. I like the routine I go through at bed time. There are certain things I do that are the same each and every night. The certain way I have to arrange the pillows. The certain place I have to lie to be comfortable. When I used to cut my lawn, it was cut the same identical way each and every time. I found the most efficient way to cut it and never changed my pattern. No I don’t have to cut my lawn. Someone else does that for me. (Thanks, Austin.)

Anyways, there are a lot of habits. Some good, some ridiculous, and some not good. Yes, we may still have habits that we would love to be delivered from. This is where we need to continue in prayer. It’s all a process, but I would love to lose those bad habits. And I know that the Lord will deliver me of those bad habits as a result of my prayer.

And then there are the good habits like our foundational scripture talks about with Daniel. He knelt to pray three times each day giving thanks to God. And it says that, “as was his custom since early days.” Daniel had a habit to pray. Hallelujah!!! And that habit was established early in his days.

Having a prayer habit is so good. Keeping in the attitude of prayer helps develop that prayer habit. It also keeps your relationship with Jesus current and ongoing. One of the most precious times I have in daily prayer is when I pray with my wife, Nancy. Each night we end the day in prayer with and for each other. And even when we have been apart (like sometimes when I’m out of town on business), we have called each other and prayed together. We have a prayer habit of praying for our families and lost loved ones each night. We habitually pray for our pastors and church leaders.

Friend, there are good habits and bad habits. We can make the choice what to keep our focus on and what to be delivered from. It’s like this. Choose wisely.

Dear Lord, thank You that we can come to You to deliver us from those habits in our lives that do not honor You. Deliver us from critical hearts, judgmental minds, and unkind thoughts and actions. May we not just react to circumstances but stop to ask, “Does what I’m about to do or say honor You.” Help us always to choose wisely. Help us to grow in good habits like continual prayer and seeking a relationship with You. May You open up even more time in our lives to spend with You. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!