Sometimes you smile to keep from crying

Hand over hand compassion

God’s Word promises that through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed.  And because His compassions fail not, our mercies are new every morning.  Great is Your faithfulness God.  A rousing “Thank You Lord” is appropriate.  This morning I was watching a story on the television of a young man who has endured the death of his mother in his arms at a very young age.  As the interview progressed the young man said, “Sometimes you smile to keep from crying.”  That statement impacted me.  I grabbed the first blank sheet of paper I could find which was an envelope and jotted it down.  God has certainly been faithful to this young man each morning as he woke up.  The young man proceeded to say how much his life has been blessed.  I started to think deeply about what I had just heard.

How often are we asked, “How ya doing?”  How often do we reply, “Doing good” and we move on.  I have replied the same way at times so that I could avoid a long conversation with someone about exactly how I was feeling.  But this post is not about how I’m feeling but rather how the other person feels when they reply, “Doing good.”  God has given us His Holy Spirit to help us discern at times when someone is hurting or struggling so that we can show the compassion of God and offer His mercies to them.  I have to ask myself do I really cultivate that discernment?

I thought of how many times the young man was asked how he was doing over the many years since his mother’s death.  I thought of his emotions and how he really wanted to cry but yet smiled.  Today his life is being used as a testimony of God’s mercies and faithfulness.  He has moved past the event and into his testimony for God’s glory.

We all know of people who have faced or are facing very difficult and emotional events in their lives.  The Holy Spirit can bring us into an understanding of the need for a compassionate heart and the ability to offer grace and mercy.  Sometimes it is accomplished by words but sometimes it’s accomplished by a loving glance into the person’s eyes where no words are needed.  Sometimes just holding their hand or sending them a card communicates our love.

Friend, my prayer is that God would give all of us His Holy Spirit discernment so when we encounter a person who may be looking for a compassionate and understanding heart, we would be ready and obedient to respond as God directs.  It’s important to remember that the person more than likely is not looking for you to solve anything for them.  They are looking for the compassion and mercy of a faithful God.  Remember others smile to keep from crying.  Maybe just maybe when you need God to send you a person in your time of need with His compassion and mercy, He will.

Don’t believe me. Believe God!

Missed opportunities

Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” Luke 19:41-42 NKJV

I read this scripture passage and my heart grieves. The triumphant entry of the true King of Kings was not recognized by Jerusalem. They did not know of the time of the visitation of their Messiah. The opportunity for peace had come and Israel said no.

How often do we miss opportunities that God places before us? I don’t have an answer for that question. But I know I’ve missed opportunities to share the truth about Jesus as our King of Kings. You know, when we pray for God to lead us to or give us individuals that need to hear about Jesus; when we ask God to be a lighthouse for Him and to enable us by the Holy Spirit to tell the world about Jesus, do we really understand what we’re asking?

There are two specific times that come to mind where I missed it. I missed my opportunity. They are seared into my memory so that I won’t ever forget them. The first was incredibly sad. The second was incredibly tragic.

Opportunity #1 – I was driving through town one afternoon, headed to an appointment with a pastor at my church. I was a little bit late so I was kind of in a hurry. I was meeting this particular pastor to let her know of my desire to partner with her in an evangelism ministry outreach. So as I was driving, my mind was on the meeting, yet something caught my eye. There standing on a corner of town, by the bus stop was a young lady who may have been 18 or 19 years old. She was wearing all black. Her face was pale and it caused me to see that she was weeping. Black streaks were running down her cheeks. At that instant, the Holy Spirit interrupted the moment and asked me to stop and ask the girl what was the matter. I heard the Holy Spirit as if He were sitting next to me. The traffic light turned green, I continued to drive, and I didn’t stop to ask. I was headed to a meeting on evangelism to tell the world outside of the church walls about Jesus and I didn’t stop. My thoughts were not on this girl’s eternal well-being. My mind was on getting to a meeting. As soon as I entered my pastor’s office, I sat down and began to weep. She asked me what was the matter. I told her I needed to confess to her and to God that I had turned my back on this girl when God gave me the opportunity. I didn’t know the time of His visitation with her. I had missed my opportunity.

Opportunity #2 – At one time I was a successful real estate agent working in our local community and in the tri-county area. I had a very nice office that was provided to me and my relationship with the other agents and brokers was exceptional. Everyone in the office knew that I called Jesus my Savior. Some embraced that knowledge while others just set it aside. There was one particular agent whose name was Tommy. For some reason, I felt Tommy was special and we always had a mutual respect for each other. From almost the first day I met Tommy, the Holy Spirit tugged on my heart to share the truth of Jesus Christ with him. I knew Tommy’s mom really well. She was also a real estate agent and we were friends. So when I began to feel the Holy Spirit prompting me, I thought thank You Lord. This one will be pretty easy. I already knew the family. And I also knew Tommy didn’t know about Jesus. Here is where the tragedy begins. My pride got in the way of where my heart needed to be. I had seen Tommy over and over in the weeks ahead. Each time I told myself I’ll talk to him the next time we see each other. One Monday morning, I came into the office as usual, but something was different. I felt a heaviness. There was sorrow surrounding me. I found out that over the weekend, Tommy had taken his life with a single shot from a gun. Tommy was 19. My whole being felt the grief. Every bone, every cell, every part of my body grieved. I went to Tommy’s wake a few days later and as soon as I entered the room, I began to weep uncontrollably. I hugged his mom and some of his relatives that I knew. I stood against the back wall of the room and continued to weep. The weeping didn’t end at the funeral home. I carried that with me for the next week as I wept each day at home. On Sunday morning, I walked in to my church’s Senior Pastor’s office and asked if he had time to talk with me. He said yes. I think it was because he realized I had been weeping. I asked him if I could address the congregation sometime during his morning message. I didn’t know what his message was, but I knew I had to ask. I told him this story. He said his message was on the opportunities God gives us to share the gospel with the lost. So he gave me time to speak to the congregation. I challenged the congregation to never pass up the opportunities God gives us. Later, I asked forgiveness from some of Tommy’s family who attended to our church that morning for not speaking to him and telling him about Jesus.

Jesus was entering Jerusalem as a proclaimed king but was not recognized as the King of Kings. Even though He was being praised as Hosanna, He knew He would be rejected. As Jesus approached the city, He wept over Jerusalem. By rejecting Him, Israel had chosen the way of judgment. It had missed the day and the moment. To miss Jesus was to miss the time of visitation and face accountability before God. And Jerusalem did.

I’ve grown in my walk with the Lord. God did not take away opportunities to share God’s love and the need for Jesus with others. God forgave me. His mercy has overwhelmed me. His grace has been undeserved and abundant. Will I miss opportunities again? I pray that I don’t. You see, every single person that walks and breathes on this earth is God’s creation and He “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4 NKJV) Let’s not miss it. “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)

Heavenly Father. Thank You for Your mercy and grace. Forgive us Father when we let opportunities to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the lost go by the wayside. Help us to discern when those opportunities arise and anoint us by Your Holy Spirit to be obedient to Your call. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Isaiah 32:17-19 NKJV – In His rest

The work of righteousness will be peace, and the effect of righteousness, quietness and assurance forever. My people will dwell in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings and in quiet resting places, though hail comes down on the forest, and the city is brought low in humiliation.

The Holy Spirit brings a sense of well-being, contentment and wholeness to believers whatever their outward circumstances. Peace is therefore an indication of the Holy Spirit’s presence. What an incredible promise and thought. Especially in the times in which we live. It seems that there is torment and turmoil on every corner.

We find that the Holy Spirit brings peace of mind to those facing difficult decisions. “For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,” (Philippians 1:19 NKJV) My wife and I have been in a season of challenge and some might say, “a season of struggle”. There have been times over the last several months where our faith has been fully tested. Our trust was challenged it seemed almost every day.

But one of the things we found as God walked with us during this time was God’s amazing desire to gather us up. God brought us out of the situation as we called upon His name and brought us to a spiritual rest where the peace of God truly surpassed all understanding. It continues to be in those quiet times when all that is left is God, do we find our greatest strength and joy. This rest is promised to all who place their trust in God. Spiritual rest is found only in God. “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV)

This is God-given assurance. It’s a promise to all of us. This assurance produces spiritual maturity and stability, so that believers may withstand the adverse conditions of life. Friend, we will stumble and sometimes forget the powerful assurance that God gives to us through the promises of His Word. We are human. But we have hope. Hope in the One who defeated all temptation, all struggle, all circumstances, and all sin. The Resurrection power of Jesus Christ conquers all that we face. When grounded in God, hope provides the motivation to live the Christian life even in the face of trouble and un-rest.

Heavenly Father, thank You that we can place our trust and faith in You and Your Word. God, we live in a world tossed around by turmoil and un-rest. But Praise God that we don’t have to fear because through You and Your loving care we have hope. We come to You Lord with our cares and struggles and place them before Your throne. We lift up our praises to You and thank You for delivering us. Holy Spirit come and encourage us as we walk together to fulfill Your plan. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Don’t’ believe me, believe God!

Hebrews 7:26 The Message – No One Higher

“So now we have a high priest who perfectly fits our needs: completely holy, uncompromised by sin, with authority extending as high as God’s presence in heaven itself.”

God is set apart from all other things. God is holy; His nature is holy; His name is holy and His dwelling place is holy. As I lay in bed last night, the thought of God being above all things resounded in my mind. God is far above, beyond and outside all of created order.

And in the midst of our imperfections, God calls us to be holy as He is holy. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1 NKJV) God’s pattern of thought and attitude of His heart is holy, righteous and good. It is expressed in His Word and also in the outworking of His mercy and grace; ultimately beyond human understanding.

But there is hope. We as believers have the mind of Christ. “For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16 NKJV) Through the Holy Spirit, we have understanding of the things of God. The mind of Christ reveals the essence of God’s nature; including God’s holy nature. Having the mind of Christ leads to holiness. Believers are enabled to grow in holiness on account of the sacrifice Jesus paid on the cross and through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.

What should our response be to God’s calling us to be holy? We are to have a repentant heart, obedient to God’s call, and driven by faith.

1 John 1:9 NKJV – If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 Peter 1:22 NKJV – Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart.

Galatians 5:5 NKJV – For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

Friend, the holiness of Jesus Christ is seen in His divine nature and work, as He stands apart from and above the created world with divine power, authority and purity. Recognition of the holiness of Jesus leads both to a realization of sin and unworthiness, but also it leads us to worship and adoration of Him. Prayer is the highest form of worship. Why? Because it sets God in a place where He is higher than all things. Prayer says, “Holy God, we acknowledge that it is only You who can answer this prayer. Meet me God at my need.” Think about this friend. Our Holy God wants to gather up your prayer and take it Heavenward to be captured by His mercy and grace and to be answered for God’s glory and your good. Hallelujah!!!

Precious Lord, You are higher than all things and we praise Your Holy Name. Help us Lord to live a life of praise to You. Thank You Lord that You give us Your mind and by Your Holy Spirit we have understanding of the things of God. Teach us to grow in holiness through repentance, obedience, and faith. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Mark 1:35 NKJV – Is that You, Lord?

Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.

I’ve blogged about going into the still of the night to pray where you can be alone with God. These are the best of times with the Lord. There’s something about the stillness that enables your senses to experience things that you wouldn’t normally notice. Your ears become more aware of the sounds of the night. Your eyes get accustomed to the lack of lights and become keener; more able to see through the darkness. Jesus also enjoyed the times before daylight to pray.

There have been times in the middle of the night or very early morning that I have woke up only to feel a pressing need to pray. I believe that the Holy Spirit at times stirs up my heart and this causes my body to wake up and find a place to pray. Sometimes the things brought to my heart and mind are individuals. I sense the Holy Spirit leading me to pray for specific people at times without the knowledge of any particular need. Then there are times that I’m not praying for individuals, but rather I may be praying for events, or churches, or God’s presence over a community, or even Holy Spirit revival.

What is my point? Prayer is a part of every Christian’s life. Or should I say, God commands us to pray in His Word. His Word doesn’t say when to pray, but it does say “that men always ought to pray and not lose heart.” (Luke 18:1 NKJV) Prayer is our opportunity to have conversation with God. Have you ever been called late at night by a friend or maybe a family member? And they may have said, “Did I wake you?” And your response may have been, “Oh, not really. I was just laying here.” After all of the niceties, you spend time in conversation because they must have called you for a reason and that reason was important to them.

Well, I believe the Holy Spirit does the same thing. The Holy Spirit has a reason and it’s important to Him that He gets your attention. We may never know what a person is facing in the people the Holy Spirit brings to our hearts and minds, but that’s ok. I leave that to God. If we will spend time talking to family or friends to hear and help them out, how much more important is it to hear what the Holy Spirit has to say. You might say, “I’ve never experienced that. I’ve never felt the Holy Spirit needing me to wake up in the middle of the night.” You may never have. And that’s ok. No condemnation here. But I’m just saying again, prayer is our opportunity to spend time with God and have conversation with Him. If you feel the sudden presence of God and the need to pray, take the time to pray. No matter what the time. God will certainly bless your obedience.

Heavenly Father. Thank You for those times You send the Holy Spirit to stir me up in the middle of the night to spend time with You and pray. Thank You Lord that I have experienced that. Lord, help me to lay aside the time of day and the things that would distract me, and lead me into Your presence. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Romans 8:26-27 NKJV – A Dear Friend thought to share this with me

Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

FOR MY FRIENDS NEEDING PRAYER AND GOING THROUGH TOUGH TIMES

Have you ever just NOT known how or what to pray? Perhaps you have run out of words, or a situation has left you speechless or in so much pain that all you can do is groan? In Romans 8:26 Paul explains a prayer resource we may not realize we have or do not take advantage of: the Holy Spirit. When circumstances or pain leave us without words to pray, we can yield to God’s Spirit. This means that we do not pray out of our own understanding or try to figure out what to pray but we rest in the fact that HE knows our heart and HE knows the situation. Verse 27 says that the Father who knows all hearts also knows what the Spirit is saying on our behalf in the most baffling or distressing times. HE makes prayers out of our tears, our sighs and our groaning’s. What a wonderful thing to know that the Holy Spirit is interceding and, even beyond that, pleading for us believers in harmony with God’s will. In addition, Jesus, at the right hand of the Father in heaven, the place of highest honor is praying for us! Thank-You, Holy Spirit, for praying through us in perfect agreement with God’s will and, with Jesus, interceding for us at the throne of God. When we don’t know the words to say or have no words at all, you carry our sighs, groans, and tears into God’s presence for us. What Amazing Grace!” (From “The One Year Book of Praying Through the Bible”, Copyright 2003 by Cheri Fuller, www.tyndale.com)

Thanks, Rachel.

Dear God. Thank you for my dear friend who thought enough to share this wonderful study from Your Word. Holy Spirit when we don’t have the words to pray, You are already there. All we need to do is submit to Your love. When our tears run dry and our hearts are breaking, You make prayers out of our sorrows. Direct to the Your throne room where they will reside in God’s presence. Thank You Jesus! Help us understand that when there is nothing left in us, even words, that You are always there. We love You Lord and pray in Your Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

John 14:16 KJV – The Comforter

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever.

What an incredible promise of the Lord. Jesus was giving final instructions to His disciples on what was next. What would lie ahead for them. This was Jesus reassurance to them. That God would send “another” Comforter. The true meaning here in the word “another” is from the Greek word “allos” which means “another of the same sort”. Jesus was telling His disciples that the Comforter would be just like Him, an exact representation of Himself. The disciples were hearing that even though Jesus was leaving, God cared enough for them to send His Holy Spirit who would live and abide with them forever.

Wow! I remember hearing this passage as a new believer and it impacted me a great deal. It gave me a feeling of great security in Christ; that the Holy Spirit would live and reside in me to guide me along the way of serving Jesus. I realized I wasn’t going to have to follow Jesus alone and be a servant of Him all by myself. That God had sent “another”, just like Jesus to walk with me, to guide me, to teach me, to comfort me. In my prayers in the morning, I try to remember to pray that the Holy Spirit direct my path so that everything that I say and do would bring honor and glory to God. What great love God has for us that since the beginning of time, God’s plan was to be with us at all times. Thank You, God!!!

Heavenly God, thank You that You sent Your Holy Spirit to be with us and live in us. To guide us as we live our lives. Help me, God, to seek Your Holy Spirit in time of need, in time of trouble, when I need direction, or when the world overcomes me and I need a Comforter. Help me to not try to figure it out all by myself but seek You Lord. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!