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!

 

Seek Me.  You will find Me.

Seek Me. You will find Me.

Jeremiah 29_13From the still small voice of God, He is saying, “Seek Me.”  The still small voice that spoke into existence all things.  That still small voice that brought life from death.  That still small voice that the mountains bow down to.  That still small voice that captures your heart and holds it so gently waiting for you to submit to His love.

From that still small voice of God, He is saying, “You will find Me.”  He is not hiding.  He is not hidden.  He is ready to take you by the hand and pick you up and lead you in His ways.  His hand is not hardened by anger.  His hand will not pick you up and drop you.  His hand is strong yet gentle and filled with grace and mercy.  His hand will guide you into His loving care.  Hold (to his hand) to God’s unchanging hand. Hold (to his hand) to God’s unchanging hand. Build your hopes on things eternal. Hold to God’s unchanging hand

He will supply

And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. (Luke 12:29-31 NKJV)

In the times we are living right now, with the world being such a volatile and changing place, people place their faith on the things of survival. Food, shelter, clothing, water, etc. That is what we have been taught since childhood. We were taught that someday we would be old enough to care for ourselves. That we would get a job and use that income to buy those things that would help keep us alive. I learned the same lesson. What I found out when I got older, is that it got more difficult to meet all of my needs and that often times, those that I trusted to provide, let me down. That’s my testimony. It may not be yours, but there is only so much we ourselves can do.

But here Jesus is teaching us to not place our faith on the things of the world or our own efforts to survive, but rather on His Kingdom. Our Heavenly Father, the God of all Creation, sees all that we face and knows all that we desire. He is our provider. God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:19 NKJV)

Friend, there is so much to worry about now in our world. We need that place where we can release that worry and come into the presence and promises of God. I know that I cannot change the world by any effort of my own, but I also know that God hears my prayers when I seek Him. When I pray to God about my needs, He always blesses me when the answer comes and I realize that I have been overly blessed. It may not be able to be counted by the world’s standards, but God’s standards exceed anything the world can give me.

Dear God, thank You that You care for us. That when we seek You, You hear and know and supply all of our needs. This is a promise in Your Word. We can believe that regardless of what we are facing, You know, You care, You provide. Help us Lord, to trust in You and take the time to seek You. In Your precious Name Jesus. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

To the mountain to pray

But they were filled with rage, and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus. Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles: Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor. (Luke 6:11-16 NKJV)

We see hear in the book of Luke that this Scripture places the choosing of the twelve apostles immediately after the remark about the beginnings of a plot against Jesus. You see, Jesus had just healed the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath. There were folks that were not happy about that. They were watching Jesus closely to see if they could find something to accuse Him of.

What I want to key in on is it says “He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” There is no other New Testament passage that speaks of all-night prayer. Jesus knew His ministry here on earth and the choosing of His apostles required prayer. He was building His ministry and knew that prayer would be necessary.

We often find ourselves praying for what seems to be a very long time for our family, our friends, our home, our desires, even our ministries, to quickly find out we have only prayed for a few minutes. Jesus knew what was ahead of Him. There was a revolution brewing. He knew His apostles had much to understand. And He also knew that His answers would come from His Father. He went away to pray all night. What should we do? How many minutes/hours are long enough? I don’t have that answer. But I know this. That every moment of time we spend praying to our Heavenly Father is not wasted time. Our Father wants a relationship with us that keeps Him on our mind and on our lips. The choice is ours. How much time will you spend?

Friend, today I challenge you to spend time with God in prayer and remain in prayer a little longer than what you are accustomed. Let your conversation with God permeate His throne room. Let the ministering response from God wash over you. Prayer is relational. The more you pray to God the more you begin to know and understand the everlasting love and grace He desires to impart to you.

Holy and glorious Lord. Thank you for hearing our prayers no matter how long they last. Sometimes a quick prayer is what is needed when we encounter something suddenly. But many times Lord we choose the amount of time we spend with You. Help us understand that every instant of time with You is blessed time. Where we can capture Your attention and we can share our hearts together. Let us set aside those things of the world that keep us from prayer and help us to redeem that time in a conversation with You. We love You Lord and desire a relationship with You. Let’s spend some time together. In Your Name Jesus. 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!

Psalm 119:114 NKJV – Sometimes I just want to hide

You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word.

Did you ever have a day where you just wanted to become invisible to everyone around you? Maybe you made some poor choices or you might have said something you shouldn’t have said. Sometimes we just want to hide and hope what just happened will go away. Recently I made a poor choice and stood by a decision I made only to find out that people were not happy with my decision. When the discussion with them on the decision I made concluded, I realized I made an error in judgment. I just wanted to hide. I was wrong. I made a poor choice. My decision was based on inaccurate information. Yup. These kinds of events will happen. I placed my trust in something that proved to be weak.

God says that we can come to Him; He is our hiding place and our shield. You know, when it was all said and done, I felt the need to find God. I wanted His assurance that He was near. I wanted the feeling of security. I wanted to be safe. I wanted His comfort. I am more embarrassed than hurt by the inappropriate decision I made. But yet, I desired the presence of God to cover me.

God defends His own, especially when we are the most vulnerable. Today, I feel a little vulnerable. Nobody intentionally wants to make a mistake. Nobody intentionally wants to make a decision that is wrong and that affects others. But as Christians, we too, sometimes face trials and persecutions. We are no different. I was wrong and made a poor choice. But we must never forget that our eternal security is never threatened. I ran to God for cover. I ran to God for His security. I wanted a safe refuge. “Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear, to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may oppress no more.” (Psalm 10:17-18 NKJV)

My hope rests in God. It is a total grounding of my confidence and expectation in God’s goodness and care even in the face of trouble. I have learned a lot. I will learn even more. Will I make another poor choice? Maybe…Probably. But maybe I have learned to stop before I make a poor choice and seek my refuge first in God’s eternal and incredible wisdom and care. “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.” (Psalm 42:5 NKJV)

Friend, I have learned so much today. I share this with you so that you know that in the face of trials and poor choices and wrong decisions, we have a place to find shelter. We may have made a poor choice or wrong decision, but we don’t have to feel alone and secluded. We have a safe refuge. We have a hiding place. God is ready and able to gather us up to shelter us, to comfort us, to teach us, and to set us back out to do His will.

Precious God, thank You that we can run to You and seek refuge. Thank You that You are our shield. God, You walk with us even when we make poor choices and bad decisions. You never leave us. You are there to pick us up and dust us off and set us out again to do Your will. Thank You God for Your faithfulness. May all we say and do give glory to You. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!