Ephesians 1:7 NKJV – Redemption

Ephesians 1:7 NKJV – Redemption

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.

Redemption simply means deliverance, as from slavery or captivity, by paying a price or ransom. Now racial slavery was abolished after the Civil War. But slavery continues to exist today in many other ways and horrors. This devotion will not be discussing that issue, but I will say, “Lord, have mercy on us.” The slavery I will discuss is the slavery and bondage to sin. God alone has the ability to save us from sin and bondage. It’s through His redemptive power in Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection that we can be free. Jesus Christ paid the ransom for all of humanity. His payment for us defines the “riches of His grace.” When we didn’t deserve the grace and mercy poured out by His suffering and death, Jesus continued in obedience to the Father because God loved us so much. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 NKJV) A very familiar Scripture verse and probably most of us have heard since early on in our life. But the verse not so familiar is John 3:17. You really see the everlasting love of God even more. John 3:17 says, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.”

Bondage and slavery are a byproduct of condemnation. Any way you look at it, when someone is bound and held captive (bondage and slavery) they have been condemned of something. Jesus came not to condemn you but to save you; to break the power of bondage and slavery to sin by defeating sin and death once for all. His act of love by dying on the cross and rising from the grave (the Resurrection Event) enables us to live eternally. It’s by His undeserved grace we are saved. “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV) What Jesus accomplished by His death and resurrection could never have been accomplished by us. Never! It’s only through our belief and submission to Him that we can freely receive His perfect grace to free us from every chain that binds us and every sin that ensnares us.

Jesus is our Redeemer. And we have complete access to Him. Our time with Him in prayer and praise is so important. Jesus gave His life for us. Jesus paid it all. The world gives us nothing and death is certain. But even though our physical bodies will die, we have life in Christ and that life can be more fulfilling the more we spend time with Jesus in prayer.

Let me ask you some things? If this applies to you, I just want you to think about it. Before you were married and you believed that you had found the spouse that you wanted to spend your entire life with, was it not important to get to know them? Was it not important to know their personality, their likes, their dislikes, etc? How important was that for you? I don’t believe there are too many folks who didn’t want to get to know their spouses before marriage. (I may be naïve, but I don’t think so) So knowing that you pondered on the questions above about your spouse, how much more important is it for you to ponder about establishing and having a relationship with Jesus and then spend time with Him getting to know Him, listening to Him, learning about Him in His Word, talking to Him. “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13 NKJV)

Friend, this may have been the first time that someone has placed Jesus Christ in front of you this way. Jesus wants to redeem you and set you free from all slavery and bondage. Remember, redemption simply means deliverance, as from slavery or captivity, by paying a price or ransom. Jesus paid the price for you. Jesus simply asks “Will you accept my grace?” The choice is yours. Prayer is the beginning to the process by humbly submitting yourself to Him and talking to Him. It’s not something that needs to be elaborate; it just needs to be spoken with humility and truth. The choice is yours, my friend. Will you make that choice today?

Dear Jesus. I am a sinner in need of a Savior. Will you be my Redeemer today? The world had bound me up with chains and slavery that I cannot free myself from. Deliver me, Jesus, as I humbly submit myself to You and commit my life to You. I believe you died for my sins and rose from the grave to defeat sin and death for me. Come in to my life today Jesus and be my Lord. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Ephesians 3:20-21 NKJV – God is able. Really able.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

God is able.  Our Heavenly Father is truly able.  He spoke and all things became.  That’s pretty awe inspiring.  Now suppose we understood this truth in the deepest areas of our hearts.  Not just our mind, but in our heart.  How much more would we believe for God to do “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think”?

Exceedingly and abundantly; words I like.  Above ALL that we ask or think. This means beyond our understanding or human capabilities to comprehend.  How?  By the power that works in us, the Holy Spirit.  For whose glory?  God’s glory.  How long?  Forever and ever and ever and ever.  Eternally.  Really, Forever?  Yes.  For all eternity, God makes this promise to us.

Now let me ask you again.  Suppose we understood the truth of our foundational verse in the deepest areas of our hearts.  What would hold us back from praying to the God of the universe, Creator of all things?  I mean really taking hold of the power of the Holy Spirit in our prayers and allowing Him to work in us.  Then believing God hears us and will answer our prayers.  How much more would we see and experience the magnitude, the glory, and the miracles of God.  I believe that we are only seeing a small fraction of what God wants to accomplish for His glory in His Church.

Scripture says, “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him.” (Psalm 34:8 NKJV) Here the psalmist describes his personal experience of God’s goodness. God is alive. Knowledge that God is alive comes from personal encounter of the goodness of God. You might ask, “When have I had any personal encounter with God?” If you have been saved and renewed by the Holy Spirit, you have had a personal encounter. In me, that encounter was exceedingly, abundantly above all that I could ask or think.

Friend, you and I are only one defining decision away from a totally different life. One decision. Will we choose to believe in the power of God to answer prayer or not? The size of our prayers should be relative to the size of our God. And if God knows no limits, then neither should our prayers. God is able to do more, provide more, heal more, equip more, restore more, renew more, and to save more than ALL that we can ask or think.  Let’s just believe.  Hallelujah!

Great and mighty God.  You are above all things and You desire to answer our prayers beyond our ability to understand or comprehend.  May we, Lord, fully take hold of this promise and allow Your Holy Spirit to work in us so that we can experience the magnitude of You.  Help us with our unbelief, God, that You are truly able to do the impossible.  In Jesus Name.  AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Deuteronomy 7:9 NKJV – Great is Thy Faithfulness

“Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments”

Well, AMEN and AMEN. God is faithful. I have been meditating lately on the faithfulness of God; even to the point of the sound of “Great is Thy Faithfulness” resounding in my mind’s ear.

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!

 God’s faithfulness is an integral part of His nature. His limitless power and steadfast love imply complete faithfulness which is contrary with human nature. “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23 NKJV) God’s mercies are not consumed by the world and the things the world throws at us. His Compassion, His Power, and His Glory overshadow everything. When we feel we need so much more, God provides. The enemy would like us to believe that there is only one level of God’s faithfulness that is available and that we have to apply the rest. That’s a LIE!!! God’s faithfulness is abundant in power and grace and always surpasses what we need. Don’t believe the enemy’s lies.

God’s is faithful to His name and His character. “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13 NKJV) God’s faithfulness is known through fulfilled promises. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9 NKJV) God’s faithfulness is not negated by human unfaithfulness. God’s desire has never changed since before time began. He has always desired to spend eternity with His creation. That’s you and me.

Jesus Christ is the ultimate evidence of God’s faithfulness. “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” (2 Corinthians 1:20-22 NKJV) Jesus is one with the Father and the Father is one with Him. “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (John 17:21 NKJV)

God is faithful. It’s the grace and the mercy of God that are the qualities of God’s character by which he shows himself compassionate, accepting, and generous to sinful human beings, shielding them from his wrath, forgiving them, and bestowing on them his righteousness so that they can live and grow in faith and obedience. God’s faithfulness, grace, and mercy are made known in Jesus Christ. “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:16-17 NKJV) “Great is Thy Faithfulness” ends with this last verse:

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 are mine, with ten thousand beside!

Friend, a relationship with a faithful God begins with a prayer; a humble conversation with a loving God who desires to pour out His love and faithfulness over your life. He desires nothing more than to spend eternity with you. His love for you is everlasting and Jesus Christ has already paid the price for your sin. Why don’t you pray today and ask God to forgive you and cleanse you and come into your life and heart. Jesus died and rose from the grave so that He could lift you out of the miry clay and snatch you away from the grips of the enemy. Sin and death have no power over you if only you would believe.

Dear Lord, I no longer want to walk in this life without hope. I am tired of living for myself and desire a relationship with You. I am a sinner and I am in need of a Savior. Forgive me Lord and come into my life and my heart. I submit my life into Your hands and believe that You died for me and rose from the grave to defeat sin and death once and for all. Even for me, Lord. Be my Savior and wash me clean by Your blood, today, Jesus. I love You. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

 

James 5:17-18 NKJV – Elijah’s effectual prayers

Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

Elijah held the special office of Old Testament prophet, but he shares a common humanity with all believers. His effectual prayer life is a model for all.

Drought comes because there is an absence of rain. This leads to hardships for those who are affected by it. It certainly affects the ability for things to grow. Crops produce necessary food. I can’t even imagine the feeling of not having the needed rain and being short of food to eat for three years and six months. Sometimes I get cranky when I have to postpone my lunch time due to work. Forgive me Lord!!!

But Elijah knew in the power of God as a result of prayer. He knew that God could stop the rain and he also knew God could restore the rain. How much faith do we have that God will answer our prayers and move in our circumstances? Effective prayer depends on faith, especially on our willingness to believe and trust God’s faithfulness to the promises given to us in His Word.

Faith is necessary in order to approach God. “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) This verse is foundational to an effective prayer life. We must believe that God is…and He rewards those who diligently come before Him in prayer. Elijah had faith. The same faith as this verse proclaims we also must have.

Earnest prayer is characterized by commitment. Earnest prayer says, “I will not move from prayer Lord until You move.” It’s just like someone said…pray through until you get a breakthrough. I believe that. Earnest prayer takes a lot of hard work. The answer to our prayers may not come immediately. So we have to continue in prayer; minute by minute, hour by hour, day after day, until God answers. This requires patience, determination and, at times, a willingness to wrestle with God for the desired outcome. “O Lord, God of my salvation, I have cried out day and night before You.” (Psalm 88:1 NKJV)

God is the hearer of prayer…”O You who hear prayer, to You all flesh will come.” (Psalm 65:2 NKJV) And God has promised to answer prayer. So I ask again, how much faith do we have to believe that God hears our prayers and will answer them? I think the prayers of Elijah were pretty big. Don’t you? So this leads me to believe that God is and will reward those who diligently seek Him with BIG prayers just as Elijah did.

Friend, where is your faith today? Do you have a need that you believe is too big for God to hear and answer? I can tell you that Elijah knew in whom he believed. He prayed big, bold prayers and he trusted God. When you pray you can absolutely believe that God hears you. When you seek Him with all of your heart, the Bible says you will find Him. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:12-13 NKJV) Come to God today with your big prayer, your big need, your healing, your restoration, your deliverance, and even your eternal salvation. Humble yourself today and pray. God is ready to hear you and answer you.

Precious Lord, thank You that You hear us when we pray. Lord, Elijah had faith to call upon You in earnest prayer. You answered him. Help us Lord to understand that Elijah is no different than any of us. We, too, can come to you in earnest prayer expecting You to answer. Help us to remain committed in prayer and patient as we pray. Forgive us Lord when we quit just short of Your answer. We love You Lord and give You praise. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Luke 1:11-20 NIV – Miracles often depend on faith

Luke 1:11-20 NIV – Miracles often depend on faith

“Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”

The angel of the Lord, Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, appears and gives Zechariah some news. Gabriel comes to let Zechariah know that his prayer has been answered. Wow. Zechariah serves in the temple only twice a year, but only once does he get to assist in the daily offering by going into the holy place. Out of all of the priests (studies indicate that there were about 18,000 priests), today is the day Zechariah is in the temple, among people who are praying. His job this day is to offer incense, in the holy place, symbolizing intercession rising up to God. And Zechariah’s prayer is being answered. In the midst of worship, God moves.

God sometimes moves in a dramatic way when we pray. Miracles often depend on faith on the part of those who will benefit from them. Some of us respond in faith and obedience, while others may not believe. I know one thing, Zechariah was taken by surprise. I think I would be gripped with fear as well. I probably would have fainted. Zechariah responds, questioning the angel. Sometimes when we hear from God, we, too, respond with questions. Zechariah lacked confidence in God’s ability to act in a supernatural way.

God’s power is released through faith. “He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20 NIV) We all have prayed, asking God to perform the impossible. Zechariah also prayed asking for the impossible. The bible says that both Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous before God; that they walked obeying God’s commandments. But both were well advanced in years. Elizabeth was barren. Sound familiar? Abraham and Sarah?

But Scripture emphasizes the importance of putting one’s trust in God. God makes the impossible, possible. God is faithful. “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6 NIV) When we pray and intercede, we can be confident that God will respond. Prayer embraces praising God for who he is, thanking Him for what He has already done, and looking forward with joy to what he has promised to do in the future.

Friend, we may never experience a visitation from an angel of the Lord to deliver us an answer to our prayers. But God will answer. He will bring you news. Faith relies upon God and His promises alone, and results in boldness and steadfastness in the face of difficulties. “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) Let us believe that God is and He will reward us as we diligently pray and seek Him.

Lord, thank You that You know every need and desire we have. Thank You that You answer each of our prayers offered. Thank You that You come to us in the most perfect time. Thank You for Your faithfulness. Forgive us Lord when our faith waivers. Teach us through Your Word to remain bold and steadfast in the midst of our difficulties. Trusting and believing You, Lord, to make the impossible, possible. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Luke 22:31 NKJV – We will be sifted – Part 1

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat.”

The term “sifting” is an agricultural one and its meaning is based on the knowledge of how grain is threshed. A sieve was used to separate the kernels of grain from the trash and junk they had mingled with in the threshing: pebbles, twigs, etc. The sieve would allow the farmer to sift the useful kernels into a sack. The farmer would have to shake the sieve back and forth to complete this process.

When Jesus addressed Peter, He said, “Simon, Simon”. This repetition identifies an intimate and personal relationship Jesus had with Peter. Jesus wanted Peter to know something very important.  Satan wanted to shake the disciples. Shortly, Peter and his fellow apostles would experience the unthinkable – the Man they believe to be the Messiah, the Son of God will be arrested, tried, condemned, and crucified in the space of less than 24 hours. Their own lives will be at risk, and their loss will be utterly devastating.

But wait there’s more. In verse 32 Jesus says, “But I prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” In other words, Jesus wanted Peter to know that He had prayed for him because out of all of the disciples, Peter would be in the most danger. Jesus prays for Peter because He knows that Peter is the natural leader of the disciples. Peter is the key. Jesus knew that his faith would fall apart. Jesus knew that Peter would deny him. Jesus prayed for Peter so that when he had come through the trial, he was to strengthen others.

The enemy knows all about you. He watches you and will use whatever you do and say against you. The enemy wants to shake you up. He wants to sift you. The sole purpose of the enemy is to keep those who don’t know Jesus as their Savior away from ever making that choice. And to those who call Jesus Lord and Savior, the enemy distracts, discourages, and places stumbling blocks in their paths. He will do anything and everything he can to keep you from demonstrating the love of Jesus and that Jesus lives in your heart. He seeks to exploit our weaknesses in order to deflect them from obedience to God. When believers experience difficult days, some fall away, while others gradually get their bearing and recover, and usually become stronger.

Friend, when we are sifted there is a time of weakness. Sometimes, a time of extreme weakness when we feel we can’t even breathe. But there is recovery; there is healing; there is restoration; there is hope. “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (1 Peter 5:19 NKJV) God bestows help and strength sufficient for every occasion and need. We, too, can come to the Lord in prayer that our faith will not fail when we face the sifting of the enemy. We can pray for others, that God would increase their faith as well. For believers, the ability to face the future with confidence is possible because of our knowledge of God. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13 NKJV) Hope means more than a vague wish that something will happen to rescue us or restore us. Hope is a sure, confident expectation in God’s faithfulness and His presence in our situation. Confidence comes with an intimate relationship with God through daily prayer and the study of God’s Word. As we walk through difficult times, God will use us to encourage and lead others through the same thing.

Holy and Almighty God, thank You that You give us hope when we face the sifting of the enemy. That we can call upon Your Name and You will restore us, renew us, and strengthen us. Lord, the enemy wants to steal, kill, and destroy. But You Lord give us life. Thank You, Lord. Use us to encourage others who may face the same trials we do. Help us to see that our peace comes from You when we trust in You. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Matthew 19:26 NKJV – All things are possible with God

“But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Do we pray believing all things are possible with God? When I look at this verse that’s the question that I have to ask myself. Do I believe in the sovereignty of God? God reigns over all creation and He is free and able to do all that He wills. So why would there ever be any doubt in God’s ability to make the impossible, possible?

God’s sovereignty extends over all created things. “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.” (Revelation 4:11 NKJV) God is sovereign over human life. “Both riches and honor come from You, and You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; in Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.” (1 Chronicles 29:12 NKJV) God is sovereign over the minutest details of life. “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.” (Matthew 10:29-30 NKJV) God is sovereign over the sufferings of believers. “For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” (1 Peter 3:17 NKJV)

So where does the doubt set in? We go through periods of doubt and indecision, especially on account of our difficulty in trusting God or accepting certain aspects of His will for us. “Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24 NKJV) It happens to all of us. Scripture emphasizes the importance of putting our trust in God. This trust, which is nurtured by an understanding of God’s Word, finds us living out our life according to His purpose. “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until the Day.” (2 Timothy 1:12 NKJV)

Doubt and a lack of faith feeds unbelief and it blinds us to the truth found in God. The nature of faith is a confidence in and a commitment to God and to Jesus. True faith is seen in obedient action, love, and continuing service to God.   A life of faith is the way believer’s journey through this world and into the life to come. It is the confidence expressed in the life of a believer, worked by the Holy Spirit. It derives from reliance upon God and His promises alone and results in boldness, strength, and steadfastness no matter what we face or what we need.

So I ask again, do we pray believing all things are possible with God? Or should I ask, should we pray believing all things are possible with God? Yes, I say. Again I say, Yes. God’s power is released through faith. “So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20 NKJV) Even a tiny grain of true faith and belief, rooted in submissiveness to God is effective.

Friend, when you pray, expect the impossible to be answered. “Bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers. God isn’t offended by your biggest dreams or boldest prayers. He is offended by anything less. If your prayers aren’t impossible for you, they are insulting to God. Why? Because they don’t require divine intervention. There is nothing God loves more than keeping promises, answering prayers, performing miracles, and fulfilling dreams.” (an excerpt from “The Circle Maker” by Mark Batterson)

Heavenly Father, thank You that nothing is impossible with You. You are God and You are all powerful and Sovereign. You commanded all things into existence and You can answer my boldest prayers. Help my unbelief Lord. Bring me into a complete understanding of the truth and promises of Your Word. Guard my heart against doubt and unbelief and turn me towards complete trust in You for You are my Lord and King. Thank You, God for being my All in All. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!