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!

Ephesians 3:14-21 NKJV – Running on empty

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Have any of you felt that your personal “gas tank” is getting low and you are running on empty? What I’m talking about is your body’s gas tank. I’m sure you’re all saying, “I’ve been there.” Me, too. The world as we know it is a very busy place and our days are very busy days. We have learned to adapt and try to keep up with the pace. I endeavor each day to complete my “To Do” list. This list is a way for me to keep track of the highest priority things that I need to accomplish. I grade each item as to its particular importance (A1,A2,A3, B1, B2, B3…etc) and I go about my day. I’m a little geekish when it comes to organizing. But if you looked at my desk, you wouldn’t think that. Oh my!

You know, running on empty is one of the most successful, yet devious schemes of the enemy. The enemy will use strategies of organization to keep your list full and to get you to strive to complete it. If you’re not careful, the enemy will get you to believe you can squeeze even more into your day and have you believe it’s because you’re a master of getting things done. When he does that, it directly attacks your pride cells in your brain and the vicious circle begins. The more I do, the more I can get done and the more I can get done, the more I can do. Etc, etc, etc. Whoops!

Sometimes that scheme works its way into ministry for the Lord. I am sure you’ve heard someone say, “I just got burned out serving.” What that statement really means is “I didn’t see what the enemy was doing and I didn’t go to God to get refilled and refreshed.”

These Scripture verses encourage me. It’s a prayer for those who serve. It’s a prayer as to where we can get restored and get our “tanks filled up again”. Paul is praying for believers in the church to be strengthened by the Holy Spirit in might. In other words, all that the Holy Spirit has. And directed to the inner man so that the power of the Holy Spirit grips them to maintain the faith in Christ. Then he prays that they would be empowered to grasp the extent of God’s love by which they have been saved and made secure and filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Hallelujah!!! Giving God the glory that He is able to go above and beyond anything they can ask or imagine according to the Holy Spirit power that lives in them. Again, Hallelujah!!!

In the same way, as Paul prayed for the church, we also should be praying not only for ourselves, but for others who serve God. For other believers so that they too would be strengthened. We should be praying for our pastors. We should be praying for Sunday School teachers. We should be praying for our Deacons/Elders. We should be praying for our Trustees. We should be praying for our ministry leaders. We should be praying for the church staff. We should be praying for our missionaries. We should be praying for all those who serve. Daily prayer for those who serve the Lord is fundamental and essential.

Before I conclude, I have another thought when I read these verses. It doesn’t matter how often we need to go back to God to be refilled and refreshed. We can come to God over and over and over for a touch from His Holy Spirit. There are no boundaries. These verses are promises encapsulated within a prayer. For within prayer is the power to release God’s promises. Let’s not look to other ways to be refilled and refreshed. Let’s look to God and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Thank You, Oh Lord, for Your Word and the promises that live inside of it. Help us understand that we are not made to keep going and going and going until we are empty, but that we can come to You for refilling and refreshing. We accept and submit to Your call for our lives and we eagerly serve for Your glory and honor, but we rebuke the scheme of the enemy that would lead us to believe that we would be more effective serving You by doing it all. We humbly receive our strength by the power of Your Holy Spirit. Refill us Lord today with Your fullness and help us comprehend the magnitude of Your love for us. Do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we can ever ask or think in our lives for Your glory and in Your Holy Name, Jesus. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!