Through it all…

god's been good

I know that I know that God loves me. He rescued me from the depths of my sorrow, fear, feeling abandoned. I’ve had seasons of great challenge. I’ve had times of pain both mentally and physically. But through it all, God’s been Good. I’ve placed my trust in the Lord and have given up the things of the world. I once thought that these worldly things were necessary for me to be happy. They are not. God has saved me, He has raised me, He filled me with the Holy Ghost. He healed me, to the uttermost. He picked me up and turned me around. He placed my feet on solid ground. For all of this, I thank Him and give Him Praise. Again, through it all, God’s been Good in my life.

You might ask why I am so confident of this.  How do I truly know?  Well, each story or in this case, every testimony is different.  When I received the touch of God, I was at my rock bottom.  Really!  I’m not giving you the standard testimony of someone who now goes to church and is all happy.  That kind of person, I am not.  I am a realist.  I was raised to study and investigate and always question what lies before me.  I lived my whole life that this was the only way.  To cover all the bases; to get all the answers to all the questions.

So how long do you think I studied the question, “Does God love me?”  Well, I don’t have knowledge of how long, but I will tell you it took 45 years for me to think about that infamous question.  My life was at a point where I needed to make a choice.  Sometimes that’s where you need to be so that the only thing left is “Choose Jesus or Die.”   “Oh, come on, George.  Really?  Sounds to me that you are saying all the right things. Is this real?”  Before I asked myself the question “Does God love me?” I was ignorant. I was wandering around lacking any knowledge of God’s love.  Jesus was calling me to come home to Him.  All the while, I closed my ears and eyes of that.  I know now the truth.  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 ESV)  Yes, He was chasing after me from the beginning of time, though I didn’t know it.

My testimony began with a man sharing his love for me by telling me that there was a man who loved me and wanted a relationship with me.  His Name is Jesus Christ.  For me it was like bait in the water of a great pond filled with fish.  Except it’s not about hooking fish.  It’s all about His mercy and grace that pulled me out with one great pull.  Great is the Lord. “I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.” (Psalm 145:1-3 ESV) 

You may have heard the following praise, even if you don’t think of yourself as spiritual or religious.  It has been said, “God is Good all the time. And all the time God is Good.”   This has nothing to do with being spiritual or anything to do with religion.  It has everything to do  with relationship.  The Bible says this.  And it is a promise.  “But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”” (1 Corinthians 2:9) “Does God love me?  Most wholeheartedly Yes.”  I now serve One Master.  It’s in Christ Alone that I give my life.  Has it been easy?  No. Have I been blessed?  If you’re looking for me to quantify this question, I can’t.  God’s blessings are immeasurable.  Overflowing.  More than I can even imaging.  His grace is sufficient for me.   Through it all, God’s been Good!

Friend, I don’t know what you are facing.  I  don’t know of the circumstances by which you live your life.  I don’t know if you feel that if God knew me, He couldn’t love me.  But I know this that God loves you with an everlasting love that can never change or be diminished.  If you knew Him like I know Him you would know that He is Alive and death has died.  Jesus paid the price for sin and death by His suffering, crucifixion and resurrection.  I’m just asking you to come to  the everlasting love of Jesus and have a talk with Him.  My joy is unspeakable because I know that someone will read this and join in everlasting life, the Family of God.  It’s not how much you have done.  It’s simply about belief.  There is nothing you can do to earn eternal life.  God paid the price for you.  It’s His grace that will be applied to you once you accept Him.

Jesus, You paid the price for all of us to receive Your grace and partake in everlasting life with You in Heaven.  You’ve not applied a lot of rules or duties to receive the greatest gift.  We only need to believe.  Then we will see Jesus in all of Your glory.  Thank You that You have been with me since the beginning of the age and through it all You have been good.  Help me to understand more and more about You.  Bless our relationship Lord.  Forgive me sin and come into my life.  Thank You Lord.  I will serve You until I die.  I’m on the battlefield for the Lord.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

 Don’t believe me. Believe God!

Seize the Moment

“The National Football League” – “The NFL”. Of all the professional sports played, my favorite is professional football.  Well, I also love Curling, but that’s another story.  I have been a fan of pro football for as far back as I can remember.  I played intramural football in grade school and around the local neighborhoods.  I was very small while attending school so I did not participate in football in either Jr. High School or Sr. High School.  But that did not deter me.  Sunday afternoons were spent watching the NFL on television.

nfl logo

I guess you can say that I became a student of the game.  I was interested in intricacies of the game.  I wanted to learn both offensive and defensive strategies.  I understand the situations and play calling.  I was into everything.  I read a lot and studied my favorite teams.  I watch the NFL Draft every year.  I look at trades between the teams.  I am a FAN.

Chris Ogbonnaya, Vincent Rey

One thing I have learned is that the entire game of football can be expressed in taking advantage of every moment you get to move forward.  The whole objective of the game is to score points.  In order to do that you have to seize every moment that would produce points.  I’ve come to understand that as a team practices for the upcoming game, they go over everything that they need to have an advantage over their opponent.  They even go over what is called “the fundamentals”.  Those include blocking, tackling, running, catching passes, returning kicks, etc.  They also study play books and look at film.  You might say that this is enough, but many times it is not.  It all lies in the minds of the players.  Are they aware of what is happening on the field?  Do the really know what their opponent will do in every situation.  Good teams, playoff teams know their opponent that well.  Seizing every opportunity is key to success.  Their ears and eyes must be attentive to what is going on.

touchdown

Jesus Christ gave us very important instructions to seize opportunities that He lays before us.  Jesus said, For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” (John 3:17 ESV)  This was Jesus mission.  He said, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” (Luke 19:10 ESV) Jesus was obedient to the end to reach those who were destined to die in their sins.  He looked and moved with one thought in mind.  This gospel that He was teaching must be shared to the entire world.  His plan would give everyone who believed the best opportunity to win.  The Bible says, “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15 ESV)   For this is known, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16 ESV) Here in lies the absolute truth.  If we set our ears and eyes on Jesus Christ, we will always win.  Defeat is not a part of those who believe.

We must seize every opportunity to share the gospel with a dying and lost world.  It is our command.  It is spoken in the Word of God and is the absolute and unchangeable truth.  The question is are we focused on ourselves or are we ready to take hold of the utmost prize.  No football game victory.  No Super Bowl win can compare to what is in store for those who believe.  The Apostle Paul said this, “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9 ESV)  The game plan you need to have is Jesus.  He is all you need.  Victory in Jesus, on-time every time.  You just need to believe.  It’s that simple.

Calvary

Friend, you may not have thought about the intricacies of the sport of football.  And that’s OK.  Really there are a lot more things to focus your mind on.  But let me tell you this.  There is nothing more important than a relationship with Jesus Christ as your Savior.  I made the choice to follow Jesus and his plan for my life in 1999.  Since then my life, my focus, my priorities have changed.  Has it been easy?  No.  Every day I have to pray for Jesus to give me the necessary steps to take to glorify Him with my life.  If you have never made the step to believe and trust in Jesus, you can do that if you want.  You can simply talk to Jesus and He will listen.  You can then be on the everlasting winning team.  Pray this little prayer.  It’s not the prayer that matters.  It’s your heart and acceptance of Jesus that saves you.

Lord, I know that I am a sinner.  I know that I have made mistakes in my life.  I’m told that if I confess these sins to You and repent from them that I can be saved.  Lord, forgive me of my sins.  Every one of them and I believe that you came to earth, was crucified, and died.  And you rose from the grave to defeat sin and death.  I believe this.  I confess this.  I receive Your saving grace.  I am now saved.  Thank You Lord.  I pray in the Name of Jesus.  Amen.

Glory to God!!!  Another child of God welcomed into the Family of God.  If you prayed and believed, it’s important for you to be fed daily with the love of Christ and the promises of His Word.  Find a local church to attend.  Talk to the Pastor and tell him that you are saved and want to know more.  I am sure he will be excited to walk with you on your journey to eternal life.  God bless you friend.  I will be praying for you.

Don’t believe me. Believe God!

And He prayed

I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 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. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them. (John 17:20-26 NKJV)

Jesus knew what was before Him. Every detail from His arrest to the Cross. He knew what He would suffer; all of the pain and agony. But He stopped and prayed. He prayed for “those who will believe in Me through their word”. The word of His disciples. Jesus was praying for His Church. The Church He knew would be established by His shed blood and the power of the Holy Spirit and through the words that would be given to His disciples. Jesus was praying for you and for me. Jesus prayed that “they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me”. He was praying for His Church, to be one in Christ, so the world would know the Name of Jesus. He saw the greater need.

I’m reminded that my life at one time was headed to eternal suffering and death. I’m reminded of the man whose name was Mark, who set aside what he was facing; his suffering, his cancer, his daily challenges and how he took me by the hands in his office, in the middle of a busy day and prayed for me. And two days later, I’m reminded of when I knelt before Jesus and asked Him to forgive me. The single most important day of my life when I called upon the Name of Jesus and was saved. This man lived out every day demonstrating the love and compassion of Jesus and took time for me because he, too, saw the greater need.

Who will we encounter? What will we need to set aside? Will we demonstrate the love and compassion of Jesus as Mark did for me? Will we see the greater need? Will we pray?

Oh dear Jesus, thank You for praying for us. You knew what You would be facing, but yet again, You set that aside and saw the greater need. You saw those whose lives would be trapped under the burden of sin and You prayed. You prayed that we too, would believe. That we would be one with You. Oh thank You Lord. May others see Jesus in me and know that You love them with an everlasting love and desire for them to call You Savior and spend eternity with You. In Your Holy Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Mark 11:25 NKJV – Forgiven so I can forgive

And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.

God’s forgiveness of believers’ sins leads them to pray for His forgiveness of others and to be forgiving to others. This is a command and not a choice. “Whoa! Wait a minute. You don’t know what he/she did to me.” No, I don’t, but Jesus is very clear with this command. Jesus said, “anything against anyone, forgive him”. Being forgiven is dependent on forgiving others.

I know that I struggled with obedience to this Scripture even after I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Though I would tell you that my heart and mind were changed, I still had deep hurts from my past. Some of the hurt was actually bitterness that I refused to let go of. Bitterness is a bad seed. I’ll tell you that it eats at your life and endeavors to consume you. It’ like the worst kind of killing weed. The enemy uses bitterness to keep us from forgiving others. But our God is greater. The enemy is of the world, but God is not. “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than He who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4 NKJV)

I had to learn that forgiveness begins with love for that individual. Loving those who hurt you. Loving those who persecute you. Loving those who scorn you. Loving those who tell lies about you. Loving those who others say are unlovable. “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8 NKJV) Jesus was very clear about loving your enemies. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:43-45 NKJV)

Being changed and delivered from bitterness in my life gave me a freedom that cannot be adequately explained. A freedom of extreme joy. The change and the deliverance came after long hours and many days of being discipled from many brothers and sisters in the Lord and prayer. It was a process that was nurtured and fed with every moment I sought God in prayer. To love like Jesus loves, you need to have a relationship with Jesus. Man cannot love as Jesus loves without the power of His mercy and grace. Man cannot love as Jesus loves without an active relationship with love Himself, Jesus. Jesus is love!

Friend, our forgiveness of others is to be without limits. We are to forgive as Christ forgave us. Jesus went to the cross to pay the price for mankind’s sin. He suffered and died because of us; our sin nailed Him to the cross. The good news is, Jesus forgives. He rose from the grace to defeat sin and death once for all and forgives those who come to Him in faith and belief. Jesus forgives unconditionally when we humble ourselves and submit our lives to Him based on His mercy and grace. Our forgiveness of others must be as unconditional as Christ who forgave us. So where do we start? We start with prayer, seeking God for the mind and heart and compassion of Jesus. Jesus prayed for those who persecuted Him when He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34 NKJV) You can choose to carry the bitterness of unforgiveness or you can choose to forgive those who have hurt or persecuted you. Make the right choice and go to God in prayer.

Precious Jesus, thank You for Your forgiveness. Lord, there have been times when bitterness has overtaken our hearts. Thank You Lord that You give us Your love that transcends our bitterness. We can love our enemies because Lord you love them. Teach us how to love as You love. Bring us to our knees as we seek You to understand the depth of Your forgiveness and love. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

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!