James 3:17-18 NKJV – Seeking the wisdom of God

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

I can be scatter-brained every now and then. It’s true. My mind gets going in so many directions that it is hard to find my way out of a paper bag. I am not a person who operates very well by multi-tasking. I am the kind of person that has to keep my thoughts on a single point of interest. I find security in knowing if I keep my mind on the task at hand, I won’t get lost. When I try to do too much, I get frustrated and confused and don’t succeed very well. I wish I could be more multi-task oriented, but that is not how God created me.

So this brings me to our Scripture. The wisdom that God gives is pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits and is without partiality and hypocrisy. That is what I desire. Because let me tell you, when I try to do things in my own wisdom, there isn’t much wisdom of what this Scripture promises. Just the opposite. And in all of this confusion, what do you suppose are the attitudes displayed for the world to see? Yeah. Not good.

Scripture illustrates a range of attitudes towards other people, some of which are commended, while others are condemned. Commended attitudes include love, forgiveness, helpfulness, kindness, hospitality, generosity, humility, patience, submission, gentleness, and unselfishness. Condemned attitudes include pride, jealousy, judgment, anger, hatred, and partiality. So you can see why pursuing the wisdom of God in all things is so important. I’ve been thinking a lot about living out my faith as Jesus did. What I mean to say is demonstrating “Christ Alive” in everything I do so that others may see the difference that is in me. Christ in me defines or should I say should dictate how I react, what choices I make, and how my attitude is displayed. It “should”. Do I make mistakes? Yes. Do I let things get to me? Yes. Do I let my guard down? Yes.

But Scripture says, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.” (Psalm 103:8 NKJV) AND “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NKJV) Friend, I desire to live and demonstrate a peaceable life and manner, filled with the wisdom of God as I ask for it, always pursuing gentleness and a willingness to yield or submit to others. That is what we all should desire, but sometimes we will fail. How do we get back up when we realize the attitude we just displayed was not our best? We seek forgiveness; both from the affected people and from God. How do we seek the forgiveness of others and of God? First and foremost, humble submission. When we humble ourselves to those we may have offended or at least may have seen something in us that does not glorify God, we demonstrate an attitude that pleases and is commended by God. Secondly, spend some time in prayer seeking God to forgive your actions and to fill you with His wisdom in all things.

I spoke of being scatter-brained in the beginning. Maybe it’s not scatter-brained, but rather we sometimes get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the world and we lose track of our identity. Let’s focus on living out the wisdom of God and demonstrate that Jesus is alive in us. Therein lies our true identity.

Dear God, we call upon Your Name and seek Your wisdom. Thank You God that you are merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in mercy when we fail and try to live out our life in our own wisdom. Help us Lord to live out our life in Christ Jesus. Guide and direct us to demonstrate Jesus is Alive in everything we do. For Your glory and honor. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me believe God!

Matthew 28:18-20 NKJV – The “What If’s”

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

The fear of the unknown is something that all of us encounter from time to time. Not knowing what lies ahead can be frightening. “If only I could know” has resounded from my mouth. If we’re going to be honest, we’ve all said that. We’ve wanted to look into the future. It’s a trust issue. We don’t want to deal with what might lie ahead especially if it will challenge us. Can you imagine what Jesus’ disciples might have been thinking? Jesus was ascending into heaven to sit on His throne and the disciples would now have to walk in faith and complete that which Jesus commanded them to do. “What if?”

Jesus gave His disciples assurance of where their help would come from. First, Jesus was given all authority in heaven and on earth. So the power of Christ over all things was established. Second, Jesus gave them a commission; to go and make disciples in all the nations, baptizing them and teaching them to observe the things Jesus taught them. And finally, Jesus, Emmanuel, God with us, now promised to be with them to the end of the age.

That same assurance is given to us. We, too, have the promise. It’s available to all of us. But, yes, sometimes we forget. The fear of the unknown takes over. What I’ve learned is that when I find myself asking myself the “what if’s”, that’s the beginning of the fear of the unknown. “What if’s” drive me crazy. For the unknown, there are a lot of “what if’s”. When we try to look ahead to the future and realize we can’t, we rationalize the challenge ahead with “what if’s”. What if I just took on another job, then maybe I’ll have enough. What if I worked longer hours, then I know we could make ends meet. If I just do these things, I know God would bless us. Instead, what Jesus is saying is, “I’m right here. You can come to me. I will hear you. My plans will give you hope and a future.”

Jesus Christ’s faithfulness is seen in His character. He is faithful by nature. “Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.” (Revelation 19:11 NKJV) Jesus is faithful because He never changes. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8 NKJV) And Jesus is faithful because He is the truth. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14 NKJV)

I’m going to be a little transparent again with all of you. Last year at this time I faced a surgery that caused me to ask the “what if’s?” What if something goes terribly wrong? What if they find something worse that they didn’t expect? What if the recovery isn’t like what they said it would be? What if my faith in my healing fails? You see, I tried to justify my fear. I forgot what Jesus said and what He promised. He gave me a commission. He placed a call on my life. He has all the power and authority I need to fulfill His calling. He has told me, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” And yet, there have been times I’ve forgotten. I’m human just like everyone else. So one night just before my scheduled surgery my wife and I prayed.  Then we talked a lot about the “what if’s”. There were questions and even a few tears. And then I was reminded, so softly and gently, that when I find myself fearing the unknown, it is an opportunity to get closer to Jesus and call upon His name. I will find His everlasting love and the power of Christ will rest upon me. “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV)

Dear Lord, thank You for Your strength and Your promise to always be with me. Forgive me, Lord, when the “what if’s” take over my thoughts and I place my trust and faith in my own actions. You Lord have called me to fulfill a unique and special purpose. All authority has been given to You, Lord, and You are my guiding Light. May Your power rest upon me, Lord, I pray. 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!

Psalm 91:14 NKJV – Therefore, I will deliver him

Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name.

Another great promise of the Lord. Literally, this verse says that God’s promise of protection comes to those who have faith in Him. “Set his love upon Me” means you hold on to God in love. Your love of God takes a hold of Him and all He is. Your love of God takes precedence. You have made a choice to go with God or not go at all.

God is our only deliverer. God defends the weak and needy. “He will bring justice to the poor of the people; He will save the children of the needy, and will break in pieces the oppressor.” (Psalm 72:4 NKJV) When we walk with God and walk in His ways, He is near. God is our personal bodyguard. God is our guaranteed safety whether natural or spiritual, from danger or loss. God is our ultimate security. Jesus said, “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” (John 10:28-29 NKJV) We have to make the choice.

If we set our love upon the Lord; when we grab a hold of God there is nothing He won’t deliver us from. And the Lord will set us on high, above the struggle, above the battle, above the circumstance. High above where the danger lies. Why? Because He wants us to have faith in Him to defeat whatever we are facing.

God promises to hear the prayers of His own in our 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 NKJV) When we call upon God about our needs, we make a very important statement. We are asking God to act, in dependence upon Him and out of a sense of sometimes desperate need. God honors prayers of love and dependence to Him. And when we honor God, He honors us.

Friend, let us always set our love upon God. Let us always call upon God and honor Him with our total dependence of Him. Let us receive then, God’s great mercy and grace when He delivers us from our troubles. And when He does, and He will, let us honor God again with our love and praise and set the cycle to begin again.

Dear Holy and Gracious Lord. Thank You that You are our ultimate deliverer. Thank You that You rescue us from our troubles. We love You and honor You, Lord. We are dependent upon You Lord and only You. We place our faith and our trust in You and no one else. Help us make the right choice and choose You for our ultimate security. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Jeremiah 31:3 NLT – Everlasting love

Long ago the Lord said to Israel: “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.

The while back I was looking over posts to my Facebook account, I noticed a posting from a dear friend and Pastor. I asked him if I could share the posting and he graciously gave me permission. Here are his thoughts:

“As I’m spending some time meditating and listening to music this morning. I felt the overwhelming presence of God’s Love. And I say “overwhelming” because it moved me to tears. I got this message that I’m going to share because someone else may benefit from it. God’s love is not something you can earn or purchase-it’s more valuable than that. God’s love is not something you can convolute or complicate-it’s more simple than that. God’s love is not something you can manufacture or manipulate-it’s much more genuine than that. God’s love is unexplainable & unshakeable. God’s love is available for you whether you feel worthy or not. God’s love is AMAZING!”

Thank you Pastor. I thank God for you being a part of my life. I, too, believe that this message is for someone out there who needs or should I say desires to understand what defines the “Love of God”. What is God’s love? Well, God’s love cannot be purchased. It’s free…given to all who accept it. It has no price tag rather you can receive it just by asking for it.   It’s not complicated at all, it’s simply this, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16 NKJV) God loved you and He loved me even before time began. And He continues to love us with an everlasting love. A love that NEVER ends.

God’s love cannot be manufactured by anyone or any other thing. It comes from the heart of our Father in Heaven. It’s genuine. It’s real, having great value and cannot be pretended. It’s honest and open. And God’s love is unexplainable and it cannot be shaken. God said, “I have loved you, my people, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.” God has called you His people. God is our Creator. Believe it. And He will love you forever. And His love is unfailing. You can’t be disappointed in His love. It’s not an earthly love, but an eternal and everlasting love.

Friend, God’s love is amazing. It truly is. There was a time in my life where I could not understand the love of God or what it meant to be loved by God. I was not able to understand because the thought of God was not with me. I was lost and living for the benefit of myself and no one else. But let me tell you something, God’s love is real and it’s alive and it’s available. God’s love is named Jesus.   Yes, God’s love has a name.   A name above all other names. The Name of Jesus!!! “Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the Name that is above every name, that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11 NIV) God is love itself. “If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” (1 John 4:15-16 NIV) How can we be sure that God lives in us and we possess the love of God? We need to pray. We need to ask God to live in us and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Do you need to seek God today for this? You can. Right now if you choose. Prayer is foundational to a relationship with Jesus Christ. Our personal relationship with Jesus begins with a prayer and is nurtured through prayer. Why not begin today with the first prayer. Ask God to put His love in you in the person of Jesus Christ.

Dear Jesus. I don’t understand what God’s love means. I don’t know where to begin, but I am told that God’s love is in the Name of Jesus. I need this kind of love in my life. So Lord, come to me and come into my life and heart. Jesus I acknowledge You as love and the Son of God. I accept You as my Lord and Savior. I am a sinner in need of You. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the grave so that I can live eternally with You. Thank You for loving me with an everlasting love and placing Your love in me so that I can love others as You love me. Lead me in Your ways. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Hosea 11:4 NKJV – The Tenderness of God

I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love, and I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck. I stooped and fed them.

What imagery in this Scripture. God caring for His creation. I have found this to be true at all times. I may not have recognized it initially or I might have even rejected it, but God loves and cares for us. God’s love is His deepest expression to us because it’s God’s nature to love. He defines love. He is love.

God’s love for us is eternal. “The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” (Jeremiah 31:3 NKJV) God’s love is a covenant love. Covenant is defined as a serious and formal agreement. God made a covenant promise to Abraham. “And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. (Genesis 17:7-9 NKJV) This covenant love remains for us.

We can rely and absolutely trust God for His love. He bands us together with Him. He removes our yokes and He is faithful to feed us. God’s gift of supreme love is His Son, Jesus. “In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10 NKJV)

Jesus has a love especially for the lowly and needy; the lonely and bereaved. His words demonstrate God’s mercy and grace.  Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29 NKJV) “When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.”” (Luke 7:13 NKJV)

Friend, if you desire a tender, loving touch from God, it’s as close as a prayer. Prayer brings the supernatural into the natural. Prayer brings God into your situation, your need, your sorrow, your healing. Prayer brings you into God’s tender care; with gentle cords, with bands of love.

Dear Lord, thank You that You care for us. Thank You that You love us with an everlasting love. We delight that we are in an everlasting covenant with you and rejoice that You are our God. Teach us Your ways so that we remain in the steps You order. Forgive us Lord when we turn from You and go back to our ways. We repent Lord and seek You to bring us back to You. We love You Jesus and pray in Your name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Ezekiel 18:31 NKJV – Change of heart

Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel?

Ezekiel recognized that a new heart and spirit were gifts from God and not the product of any human effort. Ezekiel pleads with his audience to seek these gifts not through their own merit but by repentance. God’s justice displays His righteousness as it conforms to His moral law “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13 NKJV) and is seen in His perfect will. “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10 NKJV)

The Holy Spirit comes to take residence within a believer’s heart, renewing them and directing their hearts toward a greater love for God. “I will give you a new heart and put a spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26 NKJV) The Holy Spirit transforms the human heart, enabling it to love and obey God.

But you might be saying, “But how can that happen? How can something change my heart?” Fallen man has a mind that is in conflict with the mind of God. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NKJV) Nevertheless, the mind of man is capable of knowing God and can be changed and renewed by Him. “For it is God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6 NKJV)

Not having a relationship with God leaves us morally and spiritually without life. But we are rescued from spiritual darkness by God through salvation. He brings union with Him through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. In the above foundational scripture, Ezekiel was pleading with house of Israel to turn around, about face, turn from sin and turn towards God. It is the same today. We must turn away from sin, throw it overboard, and break all identification with it.

God loves us so much that He gives us a choice. We can choose to seek the Lord with all our heart, with all our soul, and will all our mind or we can choose not to. Repentance opens the way for blessing. God loves you so much. He desires that all people should repent. “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 is patient and not willing that anyone should die in sin. He loves you that much! That is what Ezekiel was pleading about. (Get the point about God’s love for you)

Friend, how does the process start for a new heart and a new spirit? It starts with a humble prayer. God hears and answers prayer. You have access to God and His presence through the work of Jesus Christ. Humbly ask God to create in you a new heart and a new spirit. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10 NKJV)

Dear Lord, I humble myself and ask for Your ear, Your presence. I know Your name, but don’t really know You. I am sinful but don’t want to die in my sins and be forever separated from You. Create in me a new heart and spirit to follow You and call You Lord and King. Forgive my sins and my old way of life and begin Your work in me. I believe in You, Jesus and how You died for me. You defeated my sin and death by Your resurrection. I rejoice because You did it for me. Pour out Your love on me, Lord, as I turn away from sin and turn to You. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!