Romans 7:15 NIV – Hello Lord

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

“Hello Lord. This verse Lord describes what I face from time to time. And it can be a struggle. And it’s true that it is hard to understand. I often ask, “Why did I do that?” or I state, “I hate when I do that” and then again, “I wish I had more time.” There exists a conflict between the energies of sin and the grace You provide in our lives. Lord, I know that my life in You is eternal and my life here on earth is temporal.   I realize I have my Victory in You, Jesus and I rejoice in that. What resides in my inner being should take priority over my outward being. Lord, we all have some knowledge of good and evil, but I know full knowledge is revealed to us in Your Word. But Lord, I sometimes fail, in that I miss the opportunities that You give me to study Your Word. Sometimes I miss Sunday School or miss a time or two at church where I am taught and fed. But Lord, sometimes I just don’t have the time. Our lives are so full and we feel like we’re in a tug of war just to get the simple things done. Lord, there’s work and the kids and my responsibilities. And Lord, the 24 hours a day You give me just seems to go by so quickly. Most of the time I feel that I can’t get caught up. So this letter is written so You can understand that I don’t like doing the things that I shouldn’t be doing. And the things I should do, I just don’t seem to have the time. I knew You would understand.”

The Christian’s life is a constant struggle against sin and the powers that exist to pull us away from the things of God. The apostle Paul goes on to say in Romans 7: 17-20, “As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”

But thanks be to God, “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 17:21-25 NIV)

We can accomplish the things we should do and stay away from the things we should not do. It’s all in our relationship with Jesus and His power to overcome. “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” (1 John 5:4 NKJV) The key to victory is our faith in the overcomer, Jesus Christ. As we cultivate a greater and deeper relationship with Jesus through prayer and the study of His Word, we will find time to do the rights things and be that lighthouse of faith that God has called us to be. By the way? The reason for the letter? I thought I would put it out front. These are the things we all have thought from time to time. I have found myself exactly in the place a time or two that the letter describes. Have you?

Precious Lord, thank You for Your great mercy and grace. Thank You that we too can overcome by blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. Help us Lord to continue to do the things we should be doing and call upon Your Name when sin begins to pull us away. In You Lord we have Victory. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Luke 22:31 NKJV – We will be sifted – Part 1

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat.”

The term “sifting” is an agricultural one and its meaning is based on the knowledge of how grain is threshed. A sieve was used to separate the kernels of grain from the trash and junk they had mingled with in the threshing: pebbles, twigs, etc. The sieve would allow the farmer to sift the useful kernels into a sack. The farmer would have to shake the sieve back and forth to complete this process.

When Jesus addressed Peter, He said, “Simon, Simon”. This repetition identifies an intimate and personal relationship Jesus had with Peter. Jesus wanted Peter to know something very important.  Satan wanted to shake the disciples. Shortly, Peter and his fellow apostles would experience the unthinkable – the Man they believe to be the Messiah, the Son of God will be arrested, tried, condemned, and crucified in the space of less than 24 hours. Their own lives will be at risk, and their loss will be utterly devastating.

But wait there’s more. In verse 32 Jesus says, “But I prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” In other words, Jesus wanted Peter to know that He had prayed for him because out of all of the disciples, Peter would be in the most danger. Jesus prays for Peter because He knows that Peter is the natural leader of the disciples. Peter is the key. Jesus knew that his faith would fall apart. Jesus knew that Peter would deny him. Jesus prayed for Peter so that when he had come through the trial, he was to strengthen others.

The enemy knows all about you. He watches you and will use whatever you do and say against you. The enemy wants to shake you up. He wants to sift you. The sole purpose of the enemy is to keep those who don’t know Jesus as their Savior away from ever making that choice. And to those who call Jesus Lord and Savior, the enemy distracts, discourages, and places stumbling blocks in their paths. He will do anything and everything he can to keep you from demonstrating the love of Jesus and that Jesus lives in your heart. He seeks to exploit our weaknesses in order to deflect them from obedience to God. When believers experience difficult days, some fall away, while others gradually get their bearing and recover, and usually become stronger.

Friend, when we are sifted there is a time of weakness. Sometimes, a time of extreme weakness when we feel we can’t even breathe. But there is recovery; there is healing; there is restoration; there is hope. “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (1 Peter 5:19 NKJV) God bestows help and strength sufficient for every occasion and need. We, too, can come to the Lord in prayer that our faith will not fail when we face the sifting of the enemy. We can pray for others, that God would increase their faith as well. For believers, the ability to face the future with confidence is possible because of our knowledge of God. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13 NKJV) Hope means more than a vague wish that something will happen to rescue us or restore us. Hope is a sure, confident expectation in God’s faithfulness and His presence in our situation. Confidence comes with an intimate relationship with God through daily prayer and the study of God’s Word. As we walk through difficult times, God will use us to encourage and lead others through the same thing.

Holy and Almighty God, thank You that You give us hope when we face the sifting of the enemy. That we can call upon Your Name and You will restore us, renew us, and strengthen us. Lord, the enemy wants to steal, kill, and destroy. But You Lord give us life. Thank You, Lord. Use us to encourage others who may face the same trials we do. Help us to see that our peace comes from You when we trust in You. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Psalm 121:8 NKJV – The Lord is our watchman

“The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.”

God takes care of His own. Our going out and our coming in. He establishes our steps, “He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps.” (Psalm 40:2 NKJV) and guards our return, “He will guard the feet of His saints, but the wicked shall be silent in darkness.” (1 Samuel 2:9 NKJV)

He is on constant watch over us to ensure our protection and our safe passage. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1 NKJV) God defends His people and because of God’s defense, believers can be assured that their eternal security in never threatened.

So let me ask you something. Why do we not believe? Why is it so hard for believers to place their faith and trust in God to protect them, rescue them, and deliver them? I have some thoughts on that. Sometimes we feel we have to be in control in order to feel secure. That’s a human emotion that is spurned by the need to survive. But there are some flaws in that thinking. We trust our own strength rather than the strength of God.

I will tell you that I will defend and protect my wife, Nancy, and my children and take whatever steps are necessary to ensure they are safe. This kind of protection of your loved ones is not flawed. But when anyone begins to think that they are in charge and capable of taking on the world and the dominion of the enemy, that is where these thoughts are flawed. It is only through the power of God and His strength that we can overcome the world and the enemy.

Courage to face this world comes from the strength of God. God gives strength to His people. He enables them to be courageous through His gift of faith. God proves Himself faithful to His promises and enables His people to trust Him in everyday life. That is what David was saying in our foundational verse. God preserves our going out and our coming in forevermore. David was able to place his complete trust in God to be His everlasting protector.

God gives us His strength and courage and provides a means to receive it. And that means is to boldly come, in prayer, to the very throne room of God. “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 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 4:14-16 NKJV)

Friend, be encouraged. The Lord is our protector and defender and our very present help when we need Him. He establishes our comings and goings and is ready and able to protect and defend us from everything this world and the enemy throw at us. “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 1:12 NKJV)

Thank You, O Lord, for watching over us. Both when we go out and when we come in. You establish our steps and protect us as we return. You are our strength and our shield. Help us Lord to trust in Your protection and Your strength and not our own. Deliver us from the evil one as we need and raise us up to serve You another day. We seek Your will for our lives and commit our steps into Your care. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

1 Samuel 17:45-47 NKJV – Who or what is your “Giant”?

“Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you and take your head from you. And this day I will give the carcasses of the camp of the Philistines to the birds of the air and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. Then all this assembly shall know that the Lord does not save with sword and spear; for the battle is the Lord’s, and He will give you into our hands.”

Ladies and gentlemen, “Giants” come in all different kinds of packages. Some are human and some can’t even be seen. The “Giants” I’m speaking about are those things that keep us or should I say we allow keeping us from living out what God has planned for our lives.

We sometimes give a lot of credit to those things that keep us from being effective for the Lord. We say things like, “If only I had gone to Bible College.” Or “If only I had an outgoing personality.” Or “I could do my job better if it weren’t for my boss.” Yup. These are “Giants”. These “Giants” are self-doubt, fear, or even low self-esteem. We don’t want to admit that we have “Giants” and we sometimes choose not to go with the Lord as David did.

Some “Giants” in our lives we can’t control. Serious illness can bring down the strongest person alive. Or even the death of a spouse or child and we realize we are alone. But we have hope. We have a defender, a healer, and a comforter. We have someone bigger than any “Giant” we face. God Almighty Himself.

No matter what the army of Israel saw in Goliath, David refused to look upon the giant in the same way. God had caused David to defeat both a lion and a bear. He saw Goliath as no different. If God got me through that, this Philistine was no match. Is it difficult for us to look at our “Giants” as David did? Yes it is. It can be very difficult. But this I know. God is the source of all victory. He grants victory to those who put their trust in Him. For both physical and spiritual victory. “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57 NKJV)

What shall we do in the face of our “Giants”? Face it in the power of our Lord Jesus Christ. Face it with belief and prayer that God is our protector and defender. Face it with the confidence that Jesus Christ is victorious over temptation, sin, the enemy, sickness, anger, addiction, fear, and even death. “The last enemy that will be destroyed is death.” (1 Corinthians 15:26 NKJV)

Friend, we all face “Giants”, but Jesus said, “I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20 NKJV) Some of our “Giants” are huge and cause fear to rise up in us. But God is bigger. Turn to God in prayer. Call upon His name. Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up. The battle belongs to the Lord. And your “Giant” will not survive.

Precious Lord, You are our defender and protector. You go before us and the battle belongs to You. May we walk in belief and faith that the giants we face will be defeated in the power and the Name of Jesus. Teach us Lord through Your Word to trust in You for all things. For You Lord are already in our tomorrows. Thank You Lord. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

 

Psalm 103:12 NKJV – How vast is God’s mercy and grace?

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

“But Lord, You can’t possibly forgive me for all that I have done. How could forgiveness be for me! You don’t know me. And if You did, You couldn’t love me.” Oh how the enemy wants us to believe all of this. The enemy wants us to think that there is no way that God could love us to forgive us. I remember the times I’ve let the devil speak to me this way. I remember the helplessness I felt when I found myself bound in sin and thinking there was no hope.

But that is not what this verse tells us. When God forgives sins, He completely removes them. The height and breadth of His mercy is vast; as far and as wide as the east is separated from the west. WOW! “For I’m persuaded that neither death nor live, nor angels nor principalities not powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 NJKV) If nothing can separate us from the love of God, than God can forgive us no matter what we have done. His love is everlasting and He loved us so much that He died for us.

Then why do we think these things? First, we allow the enemy to speak to us this way. We don’t rebuke him or resist him. We allow his lies to penetrate our minds. Second, we fail to look at God for who He is. He is our everlasting Savior. The gospel reveals the purpose and the power of God to deal with sin and ALL of its effects. God forgives the sins of believers on the basis of the once for all sacrifice by Jesus on the cross. Believer’s sins are no longer held against them, on account of the atoning death of Jesus Christ.

Scripture reveals God’s assurance of forgiveness. My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2 NKJV) Jesus is our Advocate. He is one who speaks on our behalf and because of His blood sacrifice, the price has been paid for our forgiveness. Restoration is demonstrated by God in His love and grace which restores a fallen humanity and by His lifting of His people to their former place within His service.

Believers are assured of the unfailing love of God and of their relationship with Him as Father, the salvation and eternal life which He offers and the absolute hope one day of sharing His glory. “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)

Don’t listen to the enemy’s lies. Turn away from them and believe in the power of God to forgive no matter what. “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) Let’s take time today to turn toward God in awe, and in praise and in joy as we realize how wonderful God truly is. Prayer is a natural part of worship; to know God is to want to pray to Him and worship Him. Let’s take time today to pray and ask God to forgive us from the sin that keeps us from a right relationship with Him.

Dear Lord, forgive me when I think that You cannot love me. Thank You Father that You loved me so much You gave Your only begotten Son, Jesus. Thank You Jesus that You died for me and all my sin. Forgive me when I believe the lies of the enemy and turn from You. You are my hope and I believe in You. So Lord, forgive me and cleanse me today. You are my salvation and nothing can keep me from Your love. Thank You Lord for the promises of Your Word. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Psalm 25:5 NKJV – What am I supposed to do?

“Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.”

Did you ever have a season of “What am I supposed to do when I don’t know what to do?” I know that I have had a season or two like that. So what do I do? Certainly prayer is on my priority list. Seeking to hear from God. But this scripture really defines what is at the heart of my prayers. I desire to know the truth of God and what’s in His Word to guide my steps. This is where I must place my trust. But friend, that is sometimes a lot easier said than done.

It has been written, “God is the essence of truth.” God is truth. Truth originates from God. Truth is an aspect of God’s character and it is demonstrated in His faithfulness.

“For the Word of the Lord is right, and all His work is done in truth.” (Psalm 33:4 NKJV)

“I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth from the great assembly. Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O Lord; Let Your lovingkindness and Your truth continually preserve me.” (Psalm 40:10-11 NKJV)

So if I need to know what to do, I need to know the truth. I need to seek the truth. “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32 NKJV) But sometimes, well, all the time, seeking the truth takes time. It takes effort even if that effort involves waiting. The best thing to do when you don’t know what to do…is wait.

“But, but, but. You don’t understand. If I don’t do something it will get worse?” Have you ever said this or even thought this. I have. That’s us trying to take control. Let’s think about this. If we don’t know what to do next, why try something just to try something. There is little if any success in that. Waiting is not a character trait that is taught necessarily or nurtured in our 21st century. We are a people of instant gratification. Waiting is not instant. But God’s Word says, “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 NKJV)

I just know that right now no matter how much I feel I need to know what to do right now, waiting is even more important.   Optimism is defined as the ability to face the future with confidence. For believers, this is possible because of their knowledge of God. Confidence in what God can do. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is in the Lord.” (Jeremiah 17:7 (NKJV) My waiting is strengthened by my optimism and confidence in the ability of Almighty God to see me through. God has proven this to me over and over and over again. God’s guidance is promised to those who genuinely desire it and seek it. Guidance is given to the humble and patient. And guidance is given to those willing to obey God.

Waiting on God means being prepared to patiently look towards God for his guidance and accepting the timing He proposes. Waiting on God can lead us into an atmosphere of expectation and confidence in God. So just because, “I don’t’ know what am I supposed to do” doesn’t mean God doesn’t know. I just need to wait and listen.

Heavenly Lord, thank You for being patient with me. Thank You for understanding that I sometimes find it hard to wait. I know that by waiting I’ll be renewed. By waiting, I allow You to work in my situation. By waiting, I am changed, restored, and set free. Help me Lord to wait. Open my heart, my eyes, and my ears to clearly understand what I am to do. I will be patient and obedient to what You desire. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

2 Corinthians 12:10 NKJV – How do we see things?

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

What a powerful statement of faith by the Apostle Paul. His spiritual view was crystal clear. He could see his sufferings as a reason to rejoice, because he knew that in them all of Christ’s power was at work.

There are times that I don’t look at things from a spiritual point of view. I see what is in front of me and respond accordingly. I look at them as stumbling blocks or things that are in the way of me getting from one place to another. But not so much with Paul. He saw what he faced with a different viewpoint. He looked at them through the eyes of Christ. He saw the Power of God at work to get him through.

God is omnipotent or all-powerful. He is able to do whatever He wills. God’s power is limited only by His character. “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13 NKJV) God demonstrates that power through the redeeming grace of His Son, Jesus. The same power that conquered the grave lives in us. The same power that defeated sin and death lives in us. This is what Paul understood.

How does the knowledge of this change the way we pray? Well, it’s like this. There is no illness, no sickness, no disease that is more powerful than the Power of God. There is no criticism, no accusation, no rebuke that is more powerful than the Power of God. There is no necessity, no requirement that is more powerful than the Power of God. There is no attack, no harassment, no oppression, no mistreatment, no intimidation that is more powerful than the Power of God, and there is no suffering, no pain, no sorrow, no anguish, no grief, no heartache, no concern, no worry, no misery that is more powerful than the Power of God.

The Apostle Paul’s faith was grounded in incredible belief. Paul encouraged Timothy by presenting himself as a model of faith and belief. “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 1:12) And we must also carry this faith with us in what we face and how we go about praying through it.

Friend, God cares for us and defends us. He protects us and teaches us. He guides us and keeps us. God is the guardian of His Word and His promises. When we pray, we must believe that the Power of God is at work in us and through us and resides in our prayers. We must simply believe that God is and He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)

Dear Lord, thank You that You take residence in us with the same love and same power that conquered sin and death. Thank You, Lord, that as we pray we can claim that Power to be brought forth against any sickness, criticism, necessity, attack, or suffering we or others are facing. Help us become strong in Your Power as we live and love and pray. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!