But God…

Prayer touches God’s heart.  I’ve heard this from many and believe it with all my heart.  But sometimes we’re human.  Sometimes the circumstances of the world distract us and even paralyze us because of the severity of the issue.  There are circumstances that literally cause us to not move, to not think, to keep us speechless.  Sickness, death, addiction, children running away, divorce, so many other things happen.  Some might say, “That’s life.”  It’s true.  But when it happens to  you, unexpectedly, you’re left wondering.  I’ve found myself with my mouth open; even gasping for a breath.  I’ve fallen back into a chair as if I passed  out.  I’ve wept uncontrollably because of what I just heard or experienced.

I have survived all of what I have faced but I have been wounded.  Wounded deeply is some cases.  Why do I share all  of this?  Because we have a choice.  We can make the best of the situation in our own strength.  I’ll tell you, that won’t work.  We are imperfect individuals.  We don’t have the stamina or even wisdom to fix things ourselves.  We might think that we do, but without external strength, we won’t stand.  We will fail and that will lead to a death spiral.  Some of you know what I am talking about.  Some may think that I don’t have a clue.  If you believe you can take care of yourself without any help, I applaud you.  I’ve seen just the opposite.  I am proof of that.  My change came at  the point of  a gun where I had to choose death or eternal help.

I am not embarrassed at all to tell you that my strength comes in the form of Jesus Christ and His grace.  The day that I was to take my life, I was prayed for.  I was eternally changed.  The gun didn’t have any power.  My Savior, Jesus Christ, had the power over my desire to leave this world.  That was almost 20 years ago.  I experienced a “But God…” moment.

But God

God stepped into my circumstance that day and had other plans.  “But God” wasn’t ready to take me away from this world.  No matter what I thought or wanted to do, God said no.  These past 20 years or so, God stepped in more that just a few times.  The Bible says in Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”  God’s Word also says in Isaiah 14:24, “The Lord Almighty has sworn, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen.”

In the bible the words, “But God” show up 66 times.  That comes to me as a surprise.  God determined that more needed to happen, something had to change, or that He needed to change the direction of the individual or nation so that His purposes could be fulfilled.  In all of creation currently, of all the people occupying this world, God got a hold of me and in His still small voice said no.  I have another plan.  If I were to  write in God’s Word, I would say, “And he determined in his heart that he would leave this world, but God…”

My story is my story.  It’s no one else’s.  I’m not standing on a soapbox here.  But everyone has their own story.  I made a choice to hear the still small voice of God. There is only one place in Scripture where God is said to speak in a “still small voice,” and it was to Elijah after his dramatic victory over the prophets of Baal. (1 Kings 18:20-40; 19:12). The point of God speaking in the still small voice was to show Elijah that the work of God need not always be accompanied by dramatic revelation or manifestations. Divine silence does not necessarily mean divine inactivity. Zechariah 4:6 tells us that God’s work is “not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” meaning that overt displays of power are not necessary for God to work.

Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit says the Lord.  It’s not by our efforts but rather a move of God’s Holy Spirit.  Frederick Baker II said this in his sermon on “But God”, “In ancient Israel, God told the people to set aside six cities of refuge to whom a person could run for safety in a crisis. This psalm (Psalm 46) pictures God as a “refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” During any crisis, God is our refuge. Even when it seems as though the world is coming apart like mountains crumbling (Ps. 46:3), God’s people need not be afraid. Like the protective walls of a city, God is our refuge, surrounding and protecting us. David faced many crisis, and he knew to run to God for safety. To “be still” and know that He is God (Ps 46:10) means to rest in Him, even as the crisis swirls around us. Knowing who God is helps us to remember that He is ultimately in control.”

Friend, crisis and unfortunate circumstances are a part of this world.  But we need  not allow it to  control us.  Well, you might say that it’s easy for you to say.  Well, writing a blog is a little impersonal, but I will tell you this.  Faith in Jesus Christ and power of His resurrection helps us to stop and listen to what God is saying.  All of us have “But God” moments in our lives.  Yes, all of us.  God cares for you because His desire is to spend eternity with you.  He controls things because He desires to complete His purpose in you. Maybe you’ll never recognize your moments, but that doesn’t mean they don’t happen.

Take a look at what Matthew 19:26 says.  “Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”  With God all things, yes all things are possible.  You can count on Him.  God is your refuge. God is our strength and God is our very present help in times of trouble.  I want to hear God’s voice.  I want more “But God” moments where He encourages me that His purpose is better than mine.  I continue to have times of pride where I think I know more than God.  I confess over and over and repent.  But I’m human and get trapped in a snare of the world to move ahead of God.  “But God” is with me. He stops and opens the snare, takes me by the hand and sets me again on the steps He has ordered.

Matthew 19 26

I said previously that God has stepped into my situation many times.  To that I say thank You Lord.  God’s work in my life has forever changed  me.  God can move in your life too.  And it’s free to  those who simply believe.  Yup, that true.  I had to confess that I wasn’t able to live any longer on my own and that I needed a Savior to take over.  I confessed that Jesus was my Lord and believed that He rose from the grave to overcome sin and  death once and for all.  Yes, for  all.  I’m no one special.  I’m now a child of God who will spend eternity with Him in heaven.  But more importantly, I’ve submitted my life into His hands.  I’m living for Him, giving  Him all of the glory.

Jesus is Lord

Why is this blog in a post called, “Teach Us To Pray?”  Well, that’s where it begins.  It begins with prayer.  Prayer changes things.  Prayer touches God’s heart.  If you want to submit your life to Jesus because you just can’t go on living your life with you in charge, it’s time to pray.  If you feel that this just isn’t for you.  That with time, all things work out.  Well, time continues, yes.  But time is NOT on your side.  You don’t know what today has for you or if you will even continue another day.  The time for your life and salvation is now.  Don’t do this because of me.  Make the choice for you.  Open your heart to what God is saying to you right now.  The choice is yours.

Dear Lord, I find myself in many situations that seem to rip away at my ability to continue on.  I try to make the right choices but sometimes find myself on the outside of good decision-making.  Sometimes it has led me to very difficult circumstances.  It is then that I feel like a failure.  Lord, I don’t want this for my life any longer.  Lord, I am a sinner and confess that I need you as my Lord and Savior.  Come into my life now Lord.  I repent of my sins which you paid for at the Cross of Calvary.  I believe that you rose from the dead so that I may live.  I submit my life to you.  In Jesus Name, Amen.

If you prayed this prayer, contact a local church to let you know what’s next.  I’m sure that the Pastor will rejoice with you on your new beginning and new life in Christ.

Don’t believe me. Believe God!

 

Hello it’s me

 

Talking to God

Hello, it’s me God.  It’s been a rough few days and I know I’ve been trying to figure this all out by myself.  Again, I confess that I can’t.  You see God it’s overwhelming at times.  It seems that every day something new comes up and gets heaped upon my shoulders.  The weight is getting unbearable.  Yet, I think I’m superman or something.  I know you didn’t create me to be superman or any other super hero.  But I just seem to forget.

You know those white boards that we keep in our offices to keep track of things that need to be accomplished.  A visual “to do” list.  Well, when I was thinking about all of this before bed a few nights ago, I saw an empty white board in my thoughts.  And then all of a sudden the board was full.  Like there was no more room to add a single thing.  It was then I thought to myself, “That’s where I’m at.”  Again, it overwhelmed me.

I’m told God that You hear and answer every prayer.  I’m told that You are faithful and that You are able.  I’m told that You never leave my side and that You are my Rock, my Refuge, my Strong Tower.  Well, God, I really need You.  I’m at my end and I submit to You that I’m not able.  I need You to get through the next moment in time even if it’s just the next second because I have no more strength.  Help me God!  Really, help me God!

I have no more to say because I can’t put anything more into words.  So I’m turning to my faith and my hope in You.  Encourage me along the way because God I really need it.

Signed,

Your beloved.

Don’t believe me. Believe God!

His perfection is our protection

Every word of God is pure; He is a shield to those who put their trust in Him (Proverbs 30:5 NKJV)

God is complete, faultless and totally sufficient in every aspect of His being and ways. That perfection is made known in Jesus Christ, and is the ultimate goal of the Christian life. God is moral perfection. “Good and upright is the Lord”. (Psalm 25:8 NKJV) God’s work is perfect. “He is the Rock, His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice, a God of truth and without injustice; righteous and upright is He.” (Deuteronomy 32:4 NKJV) God’s words are perfect. “The words of the Lord are pure words, Like silver tried in a furnace of earth, Purified seven times.” (Psalm 12:6 NKJV) God’s will is perfect. “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2 NKJV) And God’s perfection is seen in Jesus Christ. “For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens” (Hebrews 7:26 NKJV)

Why do I take the time to discuss God’s perfection? It’s because His perfection is our protection. There is nothing that God can’t cover. No circumstance or struggle takes God by surprise. Scripture emphasizes the importance of putting one’s trust in God. This trust, which is nurtured by an understanding of God’s revealed truth, finds expression in a life lived according to His purpose. A life lived that is eternally protected.

What are the grounds for trust in God? Trust in God’s power and strength. “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 that Day.” (2 Timothy 12:1 NKJV) Trust in God’s unfailing love. “Show Your marvelous lovingkindness by Your right hand, O You who save those who trust in You from those who rise up against them.” (Psalm 17:7 NKJV) Trust in God’s salvation. “Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; ‘For Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:2 NKJV) And trust nurtured in God’s revealed truth. “So that your trust may be in the Lord; I have instructed you today, even you. Have I not written to you excellent things of counsels and knowledge, that I may make you know the certainty of the words of truth, that you may answer words of truth to those who send to you?” (Proverbs 22:19-21 NKJV)

Friend, God is perfect and His words are the truth. His perfection is our protection, if we choose to place our trust in Him. But what is that you said, “I find it hard to trust anyone or anything?” Well, I don’t know. But what I know is God is NOT anyone or anything. You can’t measure God with the same worldly scale you measure other things. God is faithful and will complete that which He has started. “…being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6 NKJV)

You can choose to place your trust in God or not. If you do, God will shield you and protect you. I tell you what. Go to God in prayer and let Him know those areas in your life where you might have some doubt. Let Him know why you might find it hard to trust. Then listen. God will answer you. His Word will come alive to you and you will see the purity and the perfection of God. You can count on it!

Dear God, You are pure and perfect. Your Word is the truth and we can place our trust in it. Teach us God the truths that are in Your Word so that we can be established in faith and encouraged as we walk together. Forgive us God when we turn our trust back into our own hands. Holy Spirit, guide us back to the steps God has ordered. May our life honor and glorify You. 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!

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!

Psalm 59:16 NKJV – God is our defense and refuge

But I will sing of Your power; Yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning; for You have been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble.

I cannot even count how many times I have shouted the essence of this verse at the top of my lungs to the Lord. I may not have said the exact words, but I have thanked the Lord time and time again for being my defense and rescue when I’ve gotten myself into something I shouldn’t have. And each and every time, the Lord has accepted me into His fortress and protected me from further injury or damage (both physically and spiritually).

I have learned that God is my absolute protection. He is my Rock on which I stand. His Word is the truth and my sword against the enemy. God is worthy to be praised. But above all, I speak about numerous times I’ve shouted praise to God for again defending me against the enemy. Some of those times, I’ve found myself ensnared in a trap left by the enemy that I didn’t see. And God lifted me out of that trap and covered me with His hand of protection. Those are the kind of situations where we are “blind-sided” and we don’t see it coming. But I have to admit there were times that I chose to step off of the path that the Lord placed me on and got stuck in the miry clay and began to sink. It was my choice. I made the error or mistake in trusting in my own devices and not on the faithfulness of God. I’ve cried out to the Lord and repented and found that His mercy and grace was made available to me. Praise the Lord!!!

God the Rock is our security. “The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my Savior, You save me from violence.” (2 Samuel 22:3 NKJV) Although we know this, how often do we find ourselves walking in our own ways and our own security? For me, I find myself making the wrong choices more than I would ever want to. Please don’t judge. I’m human and so are you. Sanctification is a process and I am a work in process. All of us are being molded by the Master Potter. It takes time for the piece of clay to be made perfect. It takes time to mold and remold and remold and then put in the fire, only to find that there are still some things wrong. I am so pleased and thankful for God’s eternal mercy and grace He gives to me and to all of us. God will never give up and He will complete what He has started. “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6 NKJV)

Friend, all of God’s people should honor God in every aspect of our lives. And part of honoring God is giving Him our worship and praise for the things He accomplishes in our lives. We are undeserving of anything from God, yet His grace and mercy is poured out on us time after time after time. It is never ending. Will we sometimes make mistakes and find ourselves in trouble and in need of God’s assistance? I know I probably will. I think you will as well. But thanks be to God that we can come to Him. “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16 NKJV)

Remember, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1 NKJV) I will sing of God’s great power and mercy over my life every day for He has been my defense and my safe refuge. He has never left me and is as close as my call upon His name.

Dear Lord, thank You for being my refuge and strength. I will sing praises to Your Name. Your mighty and glorious power is new for me each morning. Forgive me Lord when I walk outside of the path You have placed me on and find myself in trouble. Thank you for not turning away from me in my cry for help and rescue. Thank You for Your mercy and grace that is applied to me when I come to you humbly and repent. Teach me Lord through Your Word to recognize the traps of the enemy and to be aware of the snares that are left to capture me. I give You the praise, in Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

John 5:46-47 NKJV – Believe

“For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”

Unbelief is defined as “incredulity or skepticism especially in matters of religious faith”. In this verse, Jesus debates the Jews regarding His relation to the Sabbath and to God. Jesus does not argue with His opponents about whether they understand the Sabbath legislation correctly. His interest is whether they understand who He is.

The Jews were expressing their unbelief regarding so many things; unbelief towards who Jesus was, unbelief in His miracles, unbelief of His claims, rejection of His words, and unbelief expressed towards God’s messengers. My questions are “Where does our unbelief lie?” “Do we really believe when we pray?” Yes, we too, have unbelief. There’s no condemnation here. There are times we place our trust in our own capabilities and not on God and His Word; times when we pray by simply going through the motions.

When we face trouble, even when we face insurmountable trouble, we need to place our trust in God’s Word and the promises of God within it. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6 NKJV) The times that I have faced where things really fell apart were the times when I trusted in my own judgment and effort. When I am the most discouraged is when I don’t remember who is in charge. When I find myself struggling with joy, it’s because I have forgotten where my joy comes from.  When I’ve simply forgot that God hears and answers my prayer and He is above all things. All of these things point back to Him. Will I believe that God is my all in all? “For “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.” (1 Corinthians 15:27-29 NKJV)

Simply stated it’s a matter of choice. I know that in the midst of things, sometimes we feel we can’t stop and take a breath and think about Jesus. But we need to. I have received my greatest encouragement when I have stopped. God already knows what we are facing. And when we stop, He is there. “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me,” (John 14:1 NKJV)

Friend, I post this devotion today because I have trouble with unbelief. I am a work in progress. We all are. Praise the Lord for His mercy and grace and being slow to anger. But I know, that I know, that I know, that if I “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) Trusting in the Lord takes away all the guess work.   The Lord will direct our path and His path is straight. “I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, And crooked places straight. These things I will do for them, And not forsake them.” (Isaiah 42:16 NKJV) Each time. Every time. Never failing. Always for our good and God’s purpose. “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24b NKJV)

Precious Lord, thank You for Your faithfulness. Forgive us Lord when we doubt and place our trust in ourselves. Forgive our unbelief. Help us to always stop and seek You and pour out Your Holy Spirit upon us. Teach us to walk in Your ways and place our belief in You and Your Word. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!