Sometimes you smile to keep from crying

Hand over hand compassion

God’s Word promises that through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed.  And because His compassions fail not, our mercies are new every morning.  Great is Your faithfulness God.  A rousing “Thank You Lord” is appropriate.  This morning I was watching a story on the television of a young man who has endured the death of his mother in his arms at a very young age.  As the interview progressed the young man said, “Sometimes you smile to keep from crying.”  That statement impacted me.  I grabbed the first blank sheet of paper I could find which was an envelope and jotted it down.  God has certainly been faithful to this young man each morning as he woke up.  The young man proceeded to say how much his life has been blessed.  I started to think deeply about what I had just heard.

How often are we asked, “How ya doing?”  How often do we reply, “Doing good” and we move on.  I have replied the same way at times so that I could avoid a long conversation with someone about exactly how I was feeling.  But this post is not about how I’m feeling but rather how the other person feels when they reply, “Doing good.”  God has given us His Holy Spirit to help us discern at times when someone is hurting or struggling so that we can show the compassion of God and offer His mercies to them.  I have to ask myself do I really cultivate that discernment?

I thought of how many times the young man was asked how he was doing over the many years since his mother’s death.  I thought of his emotions and how he really wanted to cry but yet smiled.  Today his life is being used as a testimony of God’s mercies and faithfulness.  He has moved past the event and into his testimony for God’s glory.

We all know of people who have faced or are facing very difficult and emotional events in their lives.  The Holy Spirit can bring us into an understanding of the need for a compassionate heart and the ability to offer grace and mercy.  Sometimes it is accomplished by words but sometimes it’s accomplished by a loving glance into the person’s eyes where no words are needed.  Sometimes just holding their hand or sending them a card communicates our love.

Friend, my prayer is that God would give all of us His Holy Spirit discernment so when we encounter a person who may be looking for a compassionate and understanding heart, we would be ready and obedient to respond as God directs.  It’s important to remember that the person more than likely is not looking for you to solve anything for them.  They are looking for the compassion and mercy of a faithful God.  Remember others smile to keep from crying.  Maybe just maybe when you need God to send you a person in your time of need with His compassion and mercy, He will.

Don’t believe me. Believe God!

Our Redemption

Psalm 130_7Today I was thinking about my future.  In not too many years, I’ll be ready to retire.  I’ve worked my entire life since I was 9 years old.  The time is coming for me to say that’s it.  I’m done.  In those thoughts, I also meditated on all of what the Lord has given me.  How He redeemed me from my life of sin.  How He has healed me, restored me, poured into me His Holy Spirit.  I’m overwhelmed by all He has done and know He’s not yet finished.

As we approach the new coming year, my hope is not in what this world can provide.  There is no hope in this world and no man can convince me that I should place my hope and trust in him.  I know that things are terrible.  I know that there are those screaming for a change.  I know that some think that a new president is the answer.  I say, “No!”  Our only hope is in Jesus Christ.  Thank You Jesus for the truth and the promises of Your Word that I can confidently stand on.  Your Word will not fail.  Your Word will not break.  Hallelujah!!!

Lord it’s only through you that we are redeemed. May we place our hope in you. Father, my prayer is this. Pour out Your abundant redemption on Your children. Fill every part of them with Your love, Your healing, Your deliverance, Your provision, Your grace, Your mercy, and Your forgiveness. In the coming year Lord, may we turn toward You for all that we need. Lord, we receive this promise in Your Word and thank You in advance for a year of abundant redemption. For Your Glory, Lord. Amen.

Don’t believe me. Believe God!

Missed opportunities

Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” Luke 19:41-42 NKJV

I read this scripture passage and my heart grieves. The triumphant entry of the true King of Kings was not recognized by Jerusalem. They did not know of the time of the visitation of their Messiah. The opportunity for peace had come and Israel said no.

How often do we miss opportunities that God places before us? I don’t have an answer for that question. But I know I’ve missed opportunities to share the truth about Jesus as our King of Kings. You know, when we pray for God to lead us to or give us individuals that need to hear about Jesus; when we ask God to be a lighthouse for Him and to enable us by the Holy Spirit to tell the world about Jesus, do we really understand what we’re asking?

There are two specific times that come to mind where I missed it. I missed my opportunity. They are seared into my memory so that I won’t ever forget them. The first was incredibly sad. The second was incredibly tragic.

Opportunity #1 – I was driving through town one afternoon, headed to an appointment with a pastor at my church. I was a little bit late so I was kind of in a hurry. I was meeting this particular pastor to let her know of my desire to partner with her in an evangelism ministry outreach. So as I was driving, my mind was on the meeting, yet something caught my eye. There standing on a corner of town, by the bus stop was a young lady who may have been 18 or 19 years old. She was wearing all black. Her face was pale and it caused me to see that she was weeping. Black streaks were running down her cheeks. At that instant, the Holy Spirit interrupted the moment and asked me to stop and ask the girl what was the matter. I heard the Holy Spirit as if He were sitting next to me. The traffic light turned green, I continued to drive, and I didn’t stop to ask. I was headed to a meeting on evangelism to tell the world outside of the church walls about Jesus and I didn’t stop. My thoughts were not on this girl’s eternal well-being. My mind was on getting to a meeting. As soon as I entered my pastor’s office, I sat down and began to weep. She asked me what was the matter. I told her I needed to confess to her and to God that I had turned my back on this girl when God gave me the opportunity. I didn’t know the time of His visitation with her. I had missed my opportunity.

Opportunity #2 – At one time I was a successful real estate agent working in our local community and in the tri-county area. I had a very nice office that was provided to me and my relationship with the other agents and brokers was exceptional. Everyone in the office knew that I called Jesus my Savior. Some embraced that knowledge while others just set it aside. There was one particular agent whose name was Tommy. For some reason, I felt Tommy was special and we always had a mutual respect for each other. From almost the first day I met Tommy, the Holy Spirit tugged on my heart to share the truth of Jesus Christ with him. I knew Tommy’s mom really well. She was also a real estate agent and we were friends. So when I began to feel the Holy Spirit prompting me, I thought thank You Lord. This one will be pretty easy. I already knew the family. And I also knew Tommy didn’t know about Jesus. Here is where the tragedy begins. My pride got in the way of where my heart needed to be. I had seen Tommy over and over in the weeks ahead. Each time I told myself I’ll talk to him the next time we see each other. One Monday morning, I came into the office as usual, but something was different. I felt a heaviness. There was sorrow surrounding me. I found out that over the weekend, Tommy had taken his life with a single shot from a gun. Tommy was 19. My whole being felt the grief. Every bone, every cell, every part of my body grieved. I went to Tommy’s wake a few days later and as soon as I entered the room, I began to weep uncontrollably. I hugged his mom and some of his relatives that I knew. I stood against the back wall of the room and continued to weep. The weeping didn’t end at the funeral home. I carried that with me for the next week as I wept each day at home. On Sunday morning, I walked in to my church’s Senior Pastor’s office and asked if he had time to talk with me. He said yes. I think it was because he realized I had been weeping. I asked him if I could address the congregation sometime during his morning message. I didn’t know what his message was, but I knew I had to ask. I told him this story. He said his message was on the opportunities God gives us to share the gospel with the lost. So he gave me time to speak to the congregation. I challenged the congregation to never pass up the opportunities God gives us. Later, I asked forgiveness from some of Tommy’s family who attended to our church that morning for not speaking to him and telling him about Jesus.

Jesus was entering Jerusalem as a proclaimed king but was not recognized as the King of Kings. Even though He was being praised as Hosanna, He knew He would be rejected. As Jesus approached the city, He wept over Jerusalem. By rejecting Him, Israel had chosen the way of judgment. It had missed the day and the moment. To miss Jesus was to miss the time of visitation and face accountability before God. And Jerusalem did.

I’ve grown in my walk with the Lord. God did not take away opportunities to share God’s love and the need for Jesus with others. God forgave me. His mercy has overwhelmed me. His grace has been undeserved and abundant. Will I miss opportunities again? I pray that I don’t. You see, every single person that walks and breathes on this earth is God’s creation and He “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4 NKJV) Let’s not miss it. “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)

Heavenly Father. Thank You for Your mercy and grace. Forgive us Father when we let opportunities to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the lost go by the wayside. Help us to discern when those opportunities arise and anoint us by Your Holy Spirit to be obedient to Your call. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

He saw the greater need

So he sent and had John beheaded in prison. And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. Then his disciples came and took away the body and buried it, and went and told Jesus. When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities. And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. (Matthew 14: 10-14 NKJV)

When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, though He knew of what would happen to John, in His humanness, He grieved. His friend had died. He wanted to be alone. But then something happened that changed everything. It says He saw a great multitude, and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. In the midst of the times in the land, Jesus’ grief and the sorrow of the death of a dear friend, He saw the greater need. He saw the multitude. He saw that the sheep were before Him. They, too, had great needs. Jesus, God in the flesh, set aside His personal grief, and what He was facing and ministered to those in need.

There are times in our life where we, too, face incredible stress, heart ache, and grief. It happens to all of us. We come to a place where we might think no one else has to deal with what I am facing. I’ve said that myself. But I’ve learned that when I can set aside just a little bit of the struggles I face and look to what others are facing and pray for them, I feel a release. I feel comforted in knowing that God knows what I struggle with and He is on it. And when my prayer for others opens up into an opportunity to talk with them, the release is even greater. I want to be able to see, and hear, and feel as Jesus did. With a heart of compassion that always recognizes the greater need.

Heavenly Lord, You poured out Your love to those in need because You desired for them to see their Savior in the flesh. You came to seek and to save that which was lost. As You walked this earth You always ministered with a heart filled with compassion. Help me Lord to walk with Your heart, to see with Your eyes, to hear with Your ears. To set aside our own needs to minister to those in need. May those we minister to see Your light in us. Help us Lord we pray. In Your precious Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Pray over and over and over again

And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily… (Luke 18:7-8a NKJV)

When we pray, God listens. He hears and fundamentally that means He answers our prayers. In the Scripture preceding this passage we see the widow who persistently brings her petition to the judge. So many times that the judge finally says to himself, “Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.” (Luke 18:4-5) Praise the Lord that we do not make God weary with our prayers. God loves to hear our prayers. Yes, over and over and over again. We are persistent just like we were persistent as a child to our parents. We asked our parents until we got their attention and then asked again.  It’s the same when we are persistent with God.  We come to our Father knowing He delights in our expectant prayers. He delights that we come to Him, to have conversation with Him.  Does He hear our first prayer? Well, yes He does. And all those that follow. Even if they are the same prayer. Mark Batterson in his book, “The Circle Maker” said, “Praying hard looks like: knocking until your knuckles are raw, crying out until your voice is lost, pleading until your tears run dry. Praying hard is praying through. And if you pray through, God will come through.”

Dear Lord, help us to know that it is Your desire to answer our prayers. To come to You day and night and lay our burdens before You. We rejoice in knowing that our prayers never make You weary. Just the opposite. Our prayers reside in Your heart to answer. Help us to pray through until You come through. Hallelujah! In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Such simple instructions

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8 NKJV)

Such simple instructions. Really, when you think about it. Jesus came right to the point. If you believe, these things will happen. The precept of this Scripture is these things will happen when you pray.

Matthew Henry, great commentator, wrote:

Ask “Pray; pray often; pray with sincerity and seriousness; pray, and pray again; make conscience of prayer, and be constant in it; make a business of prayer, and be earnest in it. Ask, as a beggar asks alms. Ask represent your wants and burdens to God, and refer yourselves to Him for support and supply, according to His promise. Ask as a traveler asks the way; to pray is to enquire of God.” I believe in having an attitude of prayer where prayer or at least the knowledge of opportunity to pray is always existent.

Seek Seek as for a thing of value that we have lost, or as the merchant man that seeks goodly pearls. Seek by prayer” Seek as Matthew Henry suggests. Seek as if what was lost is the most important thing in your life.

KnockKnock as he that desires to enter into the house knocks at the door. We would be admitted to converse with God, would be taken into His love, and favor, and kingdom; sin has shut and barred the door against us; by prayer, we knock; Lord, Lord, open to us. Christ knocks at our door.” “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20 NKJV)

Friend, Jesus is ready to answer your prayers. He desires to pour out His love and favor. Prayer is the key. A prayerful life is the key. Prayer offers believers a means of acknowledging the character and purposes of God and the opportunity to seek guidance concerning His will for them. Prayer is a conversation. That’s what it is. And conversation must be two-way. As you seek God in prayerful conversation, He will hear you and respond to you. What else do you need to know? The Word of God says, “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” (Mark 11:24 NKJV) Pray – Believe – Receive. Hallelujah!

Dear God, thank You that when we ask, You give. When we seek, we find. And when we knock, You open the door. Thank You God that Your Word is faithful and all we need to do is believe. God, prayer is simply a conversation with You. May we grow in our faith as we Ask, Seek, and Knock. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Amazing God You’re still amazing me

Psalm 147:1 – Praise the Lord! For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful.

Do you want to know something? God resides in every new day He gives us. He never quits on us. God never thinks He’s given us enough. He never leaves us and ravishingly pours out His blessings on us each and every day. How do I know that? Well, God’s Word tells us so.

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)

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, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21 NKJV)

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10 NKJV)

So why today do I write about an amazing God? My story begins with sickness in my body and great physical pain as a result. Doctors have told me that there are things going on in my body that are causing the pain. I’ve had my kidney healed by a touch of God. I’ve been told that one particular organ was dead and no longer working. How did I react? Not well, at first. I’m human. I’ll confess my faith was weak at that point. But God quickly moved and I found rest and peace in His Word. I sit here today to tell you that the so called “dead” organ is alive and producing as God has intended it.

Many who know me have prayed for me. Many have laid hands upon me in prayer; anointed me with oil and prayed the prayer of faith. My health is improving every day. I exercise more now than I have ever before. The cane I used to have to use is no longer in hand.

I’ve seen miracles of God’s great grace and healing in others. I witnessed a man who needed oxygen to breathe be completely healed and his lungs restored. I’ve heard about cancer leaving a woman’s body after 7 years. I’ve seen financial miracles take place that have literally taken my breath away. So above what could have been expected that I simply thank God for His great grace. He poured out exceedingly.

Friend, God is able and willing to touch your life as He has touched mine and others. If you are in a place where you need healing. Maybe the pain has brought you to tears. I’m here to tell you that God still is mending hearts and drying tears. God has never changed. In the book of Matthew, God’s Word says this, “And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick.” (Matthew 14:14 NKJV) Jesus today continues to be moved with compassion. Our world is ever changing. New things are brought to life and old things are pushed aside. We’re attacked from every angle. But God still cares for us and He still hears when we cry out to Him. He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. If you need life today from pain, suffering, financial burden, heartache, depression, a loss of a loved one, or just the thought that you don’t matter anymore, believe this. “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.” (John 6:35 NKJV) Will you pray with me today?

Holy and precious God, thank You for Your love and faithfulness. Thank You that each and every day begins with new mercies for us. Thank You that You love us with an everlasting love. Help me today Lord with my unbelief. Help me to draw You close through Your Holy Word. Lord, I hurt and struggle and don’t know how I can continue to go on. I’m told that You are in my tomorrows. Give me peace and an assurance today that You have my hand and that I can walk with you. Pull me to the path that You have ordered. Take me by the hand and guide and direct me. Thank You for this day and every breath You give me. I place my trust in You. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!