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!

Proverbs 4:20-22 NKJV – Give attention to what you are hearing

“My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh.”

When I was a boy we lived in the suburbs. Just outside the “Big City”, in a neighborhood that was quiet and peaceful. There were kids of my age all around town. We all grew up in the same kind of house and we all went to the same school. Mom would give us a little more freedom in this place than what she gave us in the city. Back then she felt at ease. We could play just about anywhere outside we wanted, but when mom called we needed to be able to hear her.

You see, mom wanted us to give attention that she had something to say to us. She had a message to deliver to us verbally. From the front porch. As loudly as she could she would call, “George and Carl. It’s time to come home.” When I heard mom’s voice, I’d have to head for home. My brother and I knew we had to get going. It was probable dinner time. Mom cared for us to call us back home to be fed and to settle in for the night.

Mom had other words that spoke directly to us. Especially when we weren’t as good as we could have been. My brother and I would get into trouble. But when mom said, “Wait until your father gets home” we were shaken.

God’s Word is something worth hearing. God’s Word has something to say. We must give attention. God’s Word has a message for us. God’s Word cares for us. God’s Word is given for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. To take heed. To learn and to keep close to our hearts. God’s Word is a road map to us for everything we face. God’s Word is our lifeline. It’s a lamp to our feet; a light to our path. Without God’s Word, we are blind. God’s Word will bring us back home God’s Word will feed us. And God’s Word will shake us up. Hallelujah!

Thank You God, for Your Word. Help us set aside the things that keep us from hearing You and keep us from Your Word. Teach us Lord; instruct us Lord, in Your Word. May we walk in Your ways as a result. Light up our path, Lord. So that we remain on the narrow path. Bring us back home and shake us up, Lord. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Psalm 46:1 NKJV – God’s strength and not our own

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Recently, I have been posting a lot about where our strength lies. It lies in God. He promises to protect us and give us strength. That is what this scripture verse is all about. What God’s Word is saying is He is our refuge. Webster’s Dictionary defines refuge as “anything to which one has recourse for aid, relief, or escape. Shelter or protection from danger”. God is our strength. He imparts His Almighty strength to us. And God is a very present help. An omnipresent and omnipotent God. God who is everywhere at the same time and whose might and power is unlimited and infinite. Whoa…I have to catch my breath here.

If only I could recall this scripture when I’m face to face with a battle. And I try to use my own abilities and strength to defeat what I’m facing. And when I get brutally defeated, I wonder why? ARGHHHHHHHHHH. (a short little scream) You and I will continue to face battles. That’s just the way life is. But the strength to fight is in God. Remember David and Goliath? We read in 1 Samuel 17:45-46, “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”. Where did David find his strength? In the Power of God. Where should we find our strength? In the Power of God. We need to pray.

Oh Lord of Hosts, Almighty God. We come to You in repentance seeking forgiveness for the times we forget where our strength lies. Our strength is in You, God, within Your Power. May we seek our protection and refuge in You, Lord. You alone are our shelter from danger. You alone are our very present help in our times of need. You alone Lord are our defender and our shield. Forgive us Lord when we forget. We seek Your mercy and grace Lord. You are an ever present and all powerful God whom we can trust. Thank You God! In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Romans 8:32 – Our protection is in Him

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Matthew Henry published the following in his commentary, “The ground of the challenge is God’s being for us; in this he sums up all our privileges. This includes all that God is for us; not only reconciled to us, and so not against us, but in covenant with us, and so engaged for us—all his attributes for us, his promises for us. All that he is, and has, and does, is for his people. He performs all things for them.”

If we believe that God is truth as written in His Word (John 14:6, Psalm 33:4), then we must believe that God is all that He says He is and that we can rely on God’s covering against those things that try to rob us from the truth.

Sometimes when we hear things told to us from others, we respond, “I can’t believe that!” Or we might say, “You’re kidding me.” We respond that way because what we’ve been told might be pretty outrageous and our minds can’t comprehend that it is believable.

But God IS believable. Without question. God is our defender (Psalm 68:5), our protector (Psalm 61:3), our healer (Psalm 103:3), our deliverer (2 Samuel 22:2), our redeemer (Isaiah 47:4), our very present help in time of trouble (Psalm 46:1). He sees all and He knows all and He performs all. We are never out of His sight, His mind, His love, His rescue. God is fully engaged for us every minute of time. When we don’t feel that He is around, He is. (Deuteronomy 31:8) When we sleep, He does not. (Psalm 121:3) When everyone else doesn’t have time for us, God does. (Jeremiah 33:3) God is who He says He is. Our responsibility lies in believing.

Holy God, thank You for the truth of Your Word. That God, You are definitely for us and never against us. We can count on it, Lord, because You are truth. You see all that we face and nothing is a surprise to You. Help us Lord, to believe and not waver. Help us Lord, to know that in every instant of time, You are watching over us. And when we pray Lord, You listen. May we honor You Lord, with our belief. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Philippians 4:13 NKJV – Are you a fighter?

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Sometimes we need to fight. Sometimes we need to push back and fight those things which come against us. Is it easy? No, it’s not. It’s not easy sometimes because we try to fight in our own strength. When the Apostle Paul said that he could do all things, he knew that through the power of Christ, he could face all circumstances with contentment.

We will face hardships. We will face circumstances that are overwhelming and impossible to fight on our own. Those overwhelming circumstances may include poverty, hunger or thirst, oppression, or sickness. But victory is assured against every hardship as Jesus Christ has already won through the cross and His resurrection.

Yet we forget. Even worse, we might not even have a relationship with Jesus Christ and have no idea that His strength is available to fight when we can no longer fight. As humans, there are things that get into our thought process that are flawed. We are not super-humans who are able to conquer all things that can hurt or harm us. But, yet, that is what we sometimes feel. We don’t want to bother anyone with our problems, so we try to deal with them alone. Even as believers, we forget where our strength lies. But thanks be to God, He is watching over us. He is near when we need Him. God’s power is shown in the life of Jesus Christ. “And the whole multitude sought to touch Him, for power went out from Him and healed them all.” (Luke 6:19 NKJV)

Friend, I don’t know if you are suffering or facing any circumstance whereby you need the power of God to get you through. What I do know is God is faithful and His promises are available to us to grab a hold of and believe. The Apostle Paul knew where his strength came from. God’s infinite power was given to His Son, Jesus Christ. “And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.” (Matthew 28:18 NKJV) And God’s creative power is exercised through Jesus Christ. “Yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.” (1 Corinthians 8:6 NKJV) All we need to do is look up to God’s creative and infinite power in the name of Jesus. We all will face these things. We all will need God’s power to overcome. The bible says, “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor 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 8:37-39 NKJV) Accessing the strength and power to overcome starts with prayer. It starts with humble prayer seeking the Creator of all things and His infinite power. My question to you friend is, are you a fighter? We need to latch on to the power of God and fight. God is our strength and He will bring us victory. Let’s fight for God’s glory.

Precious and glorious God, thank You for being our strength. Thank You for Your power to overcome everything we face. Help us God to look upon you for our strength and forgive us when we think our strength is sufficient. With You God all things are possible. With You God we are more than conquerors. With You God we have victory. For Your glory and honor, in Jesus Name. AMEN

Friend, if you don’t know the power to overcome circumstances through Jesus Christ because you don’t have a personal relationship with Him as your Lord and Savior, you can change that. Yes, today, you can come into the redemptive power and strength of Jesus Christ. It also, starts with a humble prayer. God gave His Son, Jesus, to die for the sins of humanity so that we all can spend eternity with Him in Heaven. Yes, there is a Heaven. But also, there is a hell. Jesus gives life through His sacrificial death on the cross of Calvary and His subsequent resurrection. He died and defeated sin and death once and for all. Yes, for you as well. All you need to do is humbly go to God in prayer. We are all sinners and unable to save ourselves. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23 NKJV) Jesus died so that we all can have an eternal home with Him. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 NKJV)

If you want to make the choice to accept Jesus as your Savior and have access to His infinite power to overcome all things through Him, all you need to do is pray. It’s not the words of the prayer that saves you, it’s all about your heart. Submit your heart to Jesus and He will save you from eternal death and bring you into eternal life. Pray this prayer with me.

Dear Jesus, I am a sinner. I face so many things that overwhelm me and I can’t seem to get past them. I need You, Jesus, to be my strength. I submit my life into Your hands and ask You to come into my life and be my Lord and Savior. Forgive my sins, Jesus, and cleanse me by Your blood. Thank You Jesus for Your death and resurrection that defeated my sin and gave me eternal life in Your name. For Your glory and honor. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

If you prayed this prayer and humbly submitted your life to Jesus, tell someone about it. Contact a church in your area and speak with a pastor. Let them know that you have accepted Jesus as your Savior. Then let God’s Word and His power set you free.

Don’t believe me believe God!

Exodus 33:14 NKJV – Show me your way

And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Moses pleaded with God. Moses said to God to not bring them out, off of the mountain if God’s presence would not go with them. And God went with Moses. Even now, God goes with us as well. When we feel we need the power and the presence of God, God still says, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” When God turns His presence toward His children it is to offer us His grace and help; and to seek the favor of God is to seek His presence. Sometimes we use the phrase, “Seek the face of God”. It’s the same thing.

But let me offer this challenge. Sometimes we find that seeking the presence or the face of God is limited to the situation or circumstance we are facing. But God’s desire is that we seek His presence every minute of our lives. It’s God’s desire that we walk in His presence all the time. And when we seek the presence of God, God opens up the promises of His Word:

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14 NKJV)

“Blessed be the Lord, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised. There has not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised through His servant Moses.” (1 Kings 8:56 NKJV)

God has promised to never leave us. “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5 NKJV) So if we believe the promises of God in His Word, than why do we fail sometimes to seek the continual presence of God in everything we do? To walk with Him. To follow His direction. Answer? We are human and our life in Christ is a process. We think our ways are better or should I say we want to have control. God desires us to be with Him and have fellowship with Him. That is why prayer and the study of God’s Word is so important. They are means by which we have fellowship with God and when we have fellowship with Him, we will get to know Him and we will know the way in which we should go.

Prayer: We must be persistent in prayer. We must seek God day and night in prayer. “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice.” (Psalm 55:17 NKJV) Let me put it to you this way. We must have an attitude for prayer. We must be mindful of God in everything we do and keep Him close in our thoughts, our actions, our speech, and our interactions with others. Prayer may be just a few words for a friend or loved one who has asked you to pray. Or prayer may be a time we set aside in daily fellowship with God to petition, to intercede, and most important, to listen to Him.

Study of God’s Word: God’s guidance comes to those who genuinely seek it. And Scripture is the source of God’s guidance. “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105 NKJV) That is why the study of God’s Word is so important. You will grow in your knowledge of God through the study of God’s Word. God will reveal Himself through His Word and He will provide insight to guide us.

Friend, I’ve written many times about the importance of having a close, intimate relationship with God through prayer and the study of His Word. Recently, this subject has laid heavy on my heart. There are so many people requesting prayer, seeking others to pray with them, or simply facing so much that they have cried out to God for help. Moses said to God to not bring them off the mountain if God would not go with them. Moses knew He needed the presence of God to be his guide and to show the rest of the land that God was with them. And God promised to be with Moses and to give him rest.

What are you facing? What are you needing God’s presence in? Do you desire to be in God’s presence all of the time? Do you want others to see that God is with you? Only you know the answers to these questions. Let me encourage you to begin with prayer. Let your heart open up to God and tell Him your deepest desires. If you earnestly seek Him you will find Him. “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.’ (Jeremiah 29:13 NKJV)

Dear God, thank You that You are always with us. Thank You that if we seek You with all of our heart, we will find You. God, I seek You as Moses did and will not move until I feel and experience Your presence. Hear my prayers God and guide me as I call upon Your Name. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

 

James 1:2-4 The Message – Testing

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

Trials can be considered pure joy only when there is knowledge that they are designed by God for a purpose. They are tests of faith given in order to develop perseverance, thereby producing maturity in Christian character. “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance.” (Romans 5:3 NKJV)

I will tell you that I don’t like tribulation. I don’t like it, but I understand it and where I need to place my trust. God seeks proof of genuine love, faith and growth in the lives of His people. He tests them in various ways.

God tests us to refine us. “And it shall come to pass in all the land, says the Lord, that two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, but one-third shall be left in it. I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘This is My people’; and each one will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’” (Zechariah 13:8-9 NKJV)

God tests us to prove our obedience. “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not.” (Exodus 16:4 NKJV)

And God allows faith to be tested. Faith testing is the means through which the genuineness of our faith is proved and our Christian character developed.

Testing proves the genuineness of our faith. “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7 NKJV)

Testing develops our Christian character. That’s what our foundational verse is saying. But not only does testing prove and develop our character, it cleans and purifies us. “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” (Isaiah 48:10 NLKV)

But thanks be to God that He promises help during testing. “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:32 NKJV) and “When you pass through the water, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.” (Isaiah 43:2 NKJV)

Friend, our faith will be tested. Faith testing is not always pleasant, but with our minds and eyes fixed on God, it will produce a blessing that someday we will not be able to contain it. When we believe that our faith is being tested, that’s the perfect time to go to the secret place where you can call on the name of the Lord and pray. That’s the perfect time to ask Him to strengthen and enlighten you as you walk through your circumstance. It’s the perfect time to gather prayer partners around you to agree to pray with you. That’s the perfect time to worship the Lord. It’s in the midst of worship that God manifests Himself. When God appears in His awesome power, those things, the enemies of God (sickness, disease, conflict, unforgiveness, strife, heartache, fear, sorrow, pain, sin) have reason to fear Him and flea as they will be destroyed. In the midst of worship, God moves. Worship is turning to God in awe, praise and joy, as his people realize how wonderful He is. Prayer is a natural part of worship: to know God is to want to worship him and pray to him. Prayer demonstrates our absolute dependency on God.

Dear Lord, thank You that You test our faith and our obedience. Thank You that You refine us and cleanse us and make us stronger. Teach us to turn towards You when we face testing. Teach us to call upon You in prayer and praise. Thank You for the promises of Your Word that the testing of our faith will develop our patience, and patience will bring about perseverance so that we can run the full race and not fail. Forgive us Lord when we think that giving up is a better answer than to keep on keepin on. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!