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!

Proverbs 14:13 NKJV – Why do I feel this way?

“Even in laughter the heart may sorrow, and the end of mirth may be grief.”

Have you ever been just plain old sad and didn’t know why? I mean, deep down in your heart you ached and on the verge of tears at a moment’s notice. I can tell you, I have. In the stillness of trying to understand what all the emotion was about, you burst out in weeping and the tears don’t seem to end.

This has happened to me. Now I will share with you that I am a man of emotion. When I encounter God and His presence, I typically begin to weep in that knowledge. I am reminded of how majestic and glorified God is and how incredibly small I am. I understand that it was by God’s great mercy and grace that I am even alive. And I begin to weep.

But this particular season of grief, I just couldn’t understand. God blesses me every single day. He watches over me and guides me. He calls me His own and He knows my name. He loves me with an everlasting love. Yet, my heart weeps. I was profoundly sad.

Psalm 6:6 NKJV says it this way, “I am weary with my groaning; all night I make my bed swim; I drench my couch with my tears.” Yup. That pretty much describes it. So what is someone to do? Well God’s Word says that He is close to those who grieve. “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.” (Psalm 34:18 NKJV) And if we know that God is near, we need to pray. Keeping God close during these times is a great comfort. Just resting in the knowledge of God’s love for me takes the sorrow and sweeps it away.

Friend, there will be times when we feel sad and sometimes deep sorrow and simply can’t place our finger on the reason why. But I will tell you that no matter what, God is near. God is ready to send His Holy Spirit to comfort you. We might not even know what to pray for, but God is able to turn our tears into joy. “You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:11 NKJV)

Gracious Lord, thank You for being near when sorrow overtakes us. Thank You for taking away the tears and replacing it with joy. Even when we don’t seem to understand, Your mercy overcomes us and by Your Holy Spirit we are comforted. Thank You, O Lord. May we fix our eyes on You in our times of grief. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

1 Peter 5:6-7 NKJV – Cast all our cares upon You

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

A dear friend of mine from Florida, Bob, posted this prayer one day and it caused me to stop what I was doing, read it again, and pray. Thanks Bob!

Prayer of the day: Father God. Thank you for your reminders that we need never carry things alone. That many times, the burden we carry is not ours at all. Thank you that you have reassured us over and over that you care for each of your children and will never let even one of them go. Amen

I needed this reminder that the Lord is with me at every moment, at every step. God never leaves me alone. And He is able to carry the load of my life if I allow Him to do so. When I think about what constitutes the “load of my life”, it’s consists of my work, being able to get by in this world, the worries I have that my children are fine, being able to support my wife as a husband should, just being able to keep a smile on my face living in this world today. Some of you might say, “Now wait a minute! Aren’t you supposed to get through all this? You’re a Christian! Your faith should sustain you.”

Like I said before, “I needed this reminder.” My faith in the Lord does sustain me. I live in the knowledge of who God is and that He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6) Yet, there are times we all fall into the snare of the enemy and discouragement and worry takes over. Today’s post is about releasing our worry to God.

When we release our worry to God, He is there to take care of it and take it away; replacing it with His peace.   It’s all about letting go. God’s desire is for all of us to walk with Him in total confidence of His saving grace and His love for us. But sometimes we get in the way of that. It’s like saying to God, “Lord, I just have a few things I need to take care of. I’ll catch up to you in just a minute or so.” That’s pride. Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24 NKJV) Our union with Jesus Christ is the basis for our encouragement. It brings into our lives all of the benefits of being a child of God. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV)

The Message paraphrase says this in Proverbs 29:23, “Pride lands you flat on your face; humility prepares you for honors.” The recipe for releasing worry and the pride that sometimes goes along with it, is PRAYER. It seems to always be about PRAYER. Maybe that’s why God reminds us to, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJV)

Lord, thank You for Your reminders that You love us and care for us and that You desire that we need not to carry our burdens alone. You are with us always; even to the end of the age. Help us to remember to pray and to allow You to move in our lives so that we can walk with You in freedom and humility. You are our God and we are Your children. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Matthew 14:28-30 NKJV – Three Little Words

And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water. So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me!”

For a number of days, I have been thinking about the fullness we receive from God when we pray. When we make the connection with our Lord in prayer, there is nothing more sweet, there is nothing more loving, and there is nothing more powerful. My time in prayer seems to be all the time. I’m often reminded about something or someone or I hear a prayer need and I make that connection with Jesus and time seems to stand still for the few minutes we talk to each other.

A Scripture comes to mind in God’s Word that I think talks about the attitude of prayer and the posture of prayer. I think, as humans, we tend to make this more complicated than we should. Here is what I mean.

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector – Luke 18:9-14 NKJV

“Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Jesus explains that it’s all about the humbleness and honesty of the heart that resides in the tax collector. It was NOT about the fancy words, the prominence of the Pharisee, or even that he spoke loudly to draw attention to himself. The difference was the position of the heart. But recently, I also was impressed about our foundational Scripture verse in Matthew in regards to humble prayer. In the midst of Peter beginning to sink, his eyes were refocused on his Lord and he knew where his help would come from. He simply said, “Lord, save me!” “Three little words.

I’ve heard those words used before. Not long and drawn out prayers, but three simple words that carried the same impact as a detailed and purposeful prayer. “Lord, save me!” or “Jesus, save me!” or “Lord, help me!” I’m reminded of my dad as he was being hung by his kidnappers in the woods in Florida when he cried out to God, “Jesus, save me!” And not too long ago, when I felt the world crashing down around me. I was sinking fast in a whirlpool of emotion and pressure. I felt I couldn’t even stand any longer under the incredible weight of where I was. And I just prayed, “Lord, help me!”

I said before, I think, as humans, we tend to make this more complicated than we should. There’s room for purposeful prayers that we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us in. Like prayers for others, prayers for our families, prayers for our nation, and so forth. These kinds of prayers also carry incredible power when we are connected to Jesus in them. But in those times, when all we see is our Savior and all we know is that He is faithful, those “Three Little Words” will cause Heaven to rise up, will cause Almighty God to move, will cause the Power and the Presence of the Holy Spirit to gather us up and rescue us.

I know of another set of “Three Little Words” that also carry incredible power. Those words are “I Love You!” And you know what? That is exactly what Jesus says to us when we pray in humbleness, brokenness, and with Jesus on our minds. When we pray as Peter prayed, “Lord, save me!” Jesus responds with “I Love You!”

Dear Lord, thank You for responding to our prayers. Help us to connect to You in prayer. Thank You that when we cry out to You, Lord help me, You respond. Teach us Lord to remain humble and broken before You in prayer. May we always come to You with the attitude and position of humility. May our prayers be led by Your Holy Spirit and may we honor and glorify You within them. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Psalm 102:16-17 NKJV – Regard our prayers, Oh Lord

For the Lord shall build up Zion; He shall appear in His glory. He shall regard the prayer of the destitute, And shall not despise their prayer.

Have you ever been in a low and broken state? Have you ever felt weak, poorly in spirit, desolate from everything that is good, or stripped of all that can keep you afloat? I know that I have. There have been times that because of poor choices or wrong decisions, I found myself crying out at the end of the day. It wasn’t just simple complaining or just feeling mad that I had gotten myself in trouble again. It was crying out, falling on my knees, and feeling desperate. Like I heard someone say one time, “I’m at the lowest of my lows.”

It happens to the best of us. It happens to the strongest of us. And when it’s happened to me, I found myself bruised and battered. I’ve felt that I wanted to give up.

But I have something to tell you. It’s in these times of brokenness and lowly spirit that we capture God’s attention. When our circumstances drive us to our knees in pain and heartbreak that we cry out, it’s then that God looks graciously upon us. It’s a low and broken spirit which God looks for, in all who draw nigh to Him. “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit.” (Psalm 34:18 NKJV) God will regard our prayers. He will value our prayers and return an answer of peace to them.

I find it hard to remember sometimes that we have an advocate with the Father and His Name is Jesus. I’m just being honest here. Sometimes I let my circumstances take over my mind, my thoughts, every part of my emotions and I feel left outside and alone. That there was no one who would even listen. But we must remember that we are never alone. God is always with us. And we have an advocate that hears our cries and our pleadings and intercedes for us to our Heavenly Father. “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25 NKJV)

God desires that we come to Him in our time of need. Especially in times of grave need. When the world seems to be collapsing around us and we simply feel there’s nothing left. It’s in these times when all that is left is God, God’s heart is moved and He regards our prayers. Because, it’s Jesus Himself, who’s petitioning His Father on our behalf. The Power of God working in the Power of God to bring an answer to our needs. Jim Cymbala said in his book, Breakthrough Prayer, “The Lord accomplishes His purposes in cooperation and partnership with His people.” I embrace that and know that God desires to care for His own. “…casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”(1 Peter 5:7 NKJV)

Friend, when you are facing grave circumstances and the only choice is God to get you through; humble yourself in prayer and God will regard your prayer and NOT despise it.

Thank You Lord, for the promises of Your Word. Thank You, that in our times of grave need, when we are broken before You, our prayers capture Your attention. Thank You, Jesus for being my intercessor; the One who brings my prayers to the Father Himself. Glory to God! Help me to always remember that I’m never alone and that You are always near to hear and answer my prayers. Forgive me, Lord, when I cast You aside and forget of Your everlasting love for me and Your desire to care for me. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

John 8:36 NKJV – Our true declaration of independence

Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

Freedom is a word that people all across the globe hold on to as being fundamentally important. Especially if freedom is not something that they have at the present moment and only something that they’ve heard about. In our country, the United States of America, the word Freedom defines who we are. Our country fought hard to possess and then protect our freedom and the rights that came with it. Our Declaration of Independence is the foundation of our freedom. I believe in every single word and will fight to protect it.

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Alexander Hamilton in 1775 said, “The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for, among old parchments, or musty records. They are written, as with a sun beam in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of the divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.”

Freedom is our right and our country has proven that we will die protecting it. Yet sometimes within this freedom we hold so dearly, is bondage. The freedom that Jesus talks about in this Scriptural verse is the freedom accomplished on the basis of His death and resurrection on our behalf. Without new birth in Jesus, without a regeneration by the work of the Holy Spirit, we have little if any true freedom. Jesus was not speaking of political freedom, nor merely a freedom by which we are no longer placed in physical bondage as in the days of our forefathers. Yet, I have to say, that our forefathers knew and believed that our country was founded on the principles of God and freedom in our country could only stand with a connection to our Holy God. The freedom Jesus speaks about is true freedom found in serving God. The bondage outside of this freedom is sin.

Sin deprives us of the ultimate fulfillment of true freedom in Christ. It clouds over our minds, degrades our feelings, and enslaves us to its will. The only remedy, the only victory comes in the grace of God and a rebirthing. “Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3 NKJV)

Our freedom in Jesus Christ is manifested in the renewing of our minds. In serving Jesus, I find that I no longer look back at the way that I once lived and the ways of the world I once held close to my heart. I live and breathe in the knowledge that Jesus has set me free. Free to openly worship Him, anywhere and anytime. When I call upon His name, I know that He hears me and wants to have conversation with me. I don’t have to use a mediator to come before God so that I can petition Him to answer my prayers. I don’t have to seek permission or make an appointment. Freedom in Jesus Christ means I can seek Him, pray to Him, acknowledge Him, worship Him, and experience Him without any source of authorization or clearance. Accessing God is not “Top Secret” needing special privileges.

Jesus did not suffer and die on the cross for us to continue under captivity to the enemy. When Jesus died for you and me and rose from the grave to defeat sin and death and we accept Him in that belief, His grace and mercy is poured out and we are delivered from the bondage and slavery of sin and enter in to His Freedom.

Dear Lord, we are free indeed in You. Thank You Lord for that freedom. Thank You for defeating sin and death and paving the way for us to enjoy freedom in You. We are no longer tied up and held captive. We are free indeed. Help me to express that freedom in my worship to You, in my prayers to You and in my belief that You hear my prayers and answer them. Forgive me Lord when I take this freedom You have given me for granted. May all that I say and do give glory to Your Name. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Psalm 34:4 NKJV – Help for my fear

I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

There are some things that frighten me. There are some things that consider scary. But then there are a few things that I am fearful of. One of them is a real fear of dentists and any dental care. Some of you might think that is ridiculous. A grown man fearful of dental care. Yes, I am. I’m being transparent and in this case, it’s no joke. I’ve had terrible dental experiences, most if not all of them when I was very young. The dentists caring for me were not compassionate at all with children and I virtually was terrified of them. The instruments they used, the BIG light, the fact that I couldn’t see what they were doing and their disregard for a child’s fear. I am NOT condemning dentists or the dentistry profession. I’m talking about what I experienced. As a child, I was in deep fear.

Well on a trip to the dentist’s office this past year, that childlike fear came back to haunt me. I was fearful. I knew what needed to be done and I had all of the necessary information that assured me that the dental team would make it as painless as possible. But yet I had that same gripping fear. The kind of fear that makes you want to run and hide. The kind of fear where your preservation instincts kick in. What got me through the ordeal of dental extractions? Well, I leaned on God. “Well, duh! You should have.” Yes I should have and we should as well when fear grips us.

Not all of us will have fear of dentist’s like me and I’m not trying to trivialize fear. But our fears are real and the enemy uses those fears to paralyze us. To cause us to run and hide. The Word of God says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) That’s the truth. The spirit of fear is a scheme of the enemy. But what we possess in Christ Jesus is the Spirit of Power and Love and Wisdom. These things come when we say, “Lord, I need You. I can’t do this on my own.” And at that exact moment of time, the Lord responds.

What is your fear? What grips you and wants to make you run and hide? You and God know what they are. Would you like to call upon the Name of the Lord and let Him know you need Him? Today? Right now? You can do that.

Dear Lord, thank You that You are always close by when we need You? When we are fearful, You are near. When we call upon Your Name, You respond. Deliver us Lord from all our fears and replace it with the peace that surpasses all understanding. May we rest in the knowledge of Your everlasting love and protection over us. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!