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!

Sheltering in the midst of the storm

Psalm 91:1-2 1 “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.””

I have come to like watching the Weather Channel. Mostly because I’m interested in the local weather. Or I like to know what weather lay ahead if I’m traveling. But sometimes I see and hear about severe weather like hurricanes and tornadoes. I watch live feeds from the areas and see the devastation. I sometimes get to watch the rescue efforts and the people who come to provide relief for those who have lost everything.

I must confess that I take for granted where I live and what we have. We’ve had storms, sometimes even heavy storms, but I have never lost everything as a result of the weather.

The Word of God tells us that those who abide (to remain, continue, stay) in the secret place (the presence, intimate residence) of the Most High shall abide under the shadow (covering, overwhelming protection) of the Almighty. It is where our protection from the storms of life exists. In the loving strength of God who has overcome everything and given everything so that you may find peace and rest.

It reminds me of the old Dottie Rambo song, “Sheltered in the Arms of God”. The chorus says,

So let the storm clouds rage high,

The dark clouds rise, They don’t bother me;

For I’m sheltered in the arms of God.

He walks with me, And naught of earth shall harm me,

For I’m sheltered in the arms of God.

Those who face natural disasters often place their trust in the efforts of others to support them, provide for them, and get them back on their feet. We are instructed in the Word of God to place our trust in the Lord. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV) What this verse is saying is that the Lord will support us, provide for us, and get us back on the path He has ordered for us. But how often do we forget? Those who don’t have a relationship with the Lord as Savior, have no other way. They must trust their own experience, skills, and efforts of others. That is their only way. But as Christians, we’re told the Jesus is the only way. Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6 NKJV)

Friend, my point is this. The world is a difficult place; a lonely place. We face things that are sometimes overwhelming just like facing disaster. How do we respond to what the world throws at us? Our response should be to run to the place where God can shelter us. The most secret place of the Most High. We should run into the arms of God in an intimate relationship with Him. So that when the world is at its darkest, when the clouds of evil rise, they won’t bother us. We are sheltered by Almighty God Himself, where He takes our hand and walks with us. Where He leads us to His everlasting love and protection.

Do you know how to begin an intimate relationship with God? Has anyone ever told you? Well, it’s pretty simple. Humble your heart and pray. That’s where it begins. With a humble heart, begin to talk to the Lord and invite Him to remove your fears, wipe your tears, and rescue you from the evil and pain of this world. Prayer is simply talking to God. It’s not complicated. When you lift up a prayer to God, He promises to hear you. It may be hard at first, but once you humble yourself and begin to talk to Him from the deepest parts of your heart, you will experience such peace. And in that peace, resides the everlasting love and promise of life eternal. I can help you with this. Will you pray these words with me? It’s not the words that brings eternal life. It’s a humble and believing heart that releases God grace and mercy. Grace and mercy that none of us deserve, but is available to all of us. Please pray.

Dear Lord, I humble myself before You and ask You to hear my prayer. Lord, I cannot stand alone any longer is the world. I face so many things that overwhelm me at times. I’m in need of Your protection and sheltering. But most, I’m in need of a Savior. Forgive me Lord.  Lord, I believe that You suffered and died for the sins of mankind including mine. I believe that You died so that I could have eternal life. I believe that You are the only Way. Lord, after Your terrible death on the cross, You rose from the dead to defeat sin, my sin, once for all. Lord, come into my life and my heart and be my Savior. I submit myself to You and receive Your mercy and grace. Thank You Lord for saving me and giving me eternal life. I love You Lord and pray in Your name, Jesus. AMEN

 Don’t believe me, believe God!

Psalm 6:2 NKJV – In times when we are weak

Psalm 6:2 NKJV – In times when we are weak

Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled.

Have you ever been just plain weak and tired and feel you just can’t go another inch without just falling over? I have felt that way. Recently and in the past. I’m getting older and can’t do what I used to be able to do and certainly I don’t recover physically as quickly as I had in the past. Lack of physical strength may have a number of causes. Physical weakness comes from a body that isn’t as strong as it once was or maybe due to illness, weakness occurs. But there is also spiritual weakness; when we feel weary in the work of the Lord.

Spiritual weakness may lead us to be slack in our time with God. Spiritual weakness may be the result of persecution, spiritual warfare, or even being faced with opposition. My question is this, “when we are weak, where do we turn?” I pray we turn to God. The nature of God, Himself, is compassion and care. God is merciful. God has an understanding of human weakness and what is necessary to restore those in need. “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and- great in mercy. The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.” (Psalm 145:8-9 NKJV)

Friend, today I needed to call upon the name of the Lord and seek His care, His restoration power, His comfort, and His strength. Whether it be physical or spiritual weakness, God is the source of all that we need. As believers we should expect to suffer as part of our calling. To believe is not to evade suffering; it is to face it with new confidence and hope. Rightly approached, suffering develops the character of believers, equips them for more effective service, draws believers closer to Jesus Christ and prepares them for eternal life. The Apostle Paul said it best. “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)

O God, thank You for Your mercy in our times of need. Sometimes, God, we are weak either physically or spiritually. Thank You that we can call upon Your name for Your tender mercies. You care for us, You restore us, You comfort us, You strengthen us. Help us God to look toward You when we are weak so that You God can touch us and bring us back. We give You the glory. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

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!