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!

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!