Jeremiah 24:7 NKJV – Tell them to return to Me

Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart.

Scripture indicates that believers can wander away from God, but they must return to Him. Turning away from God takes us to places outside of His will. We become wayward. Wayward is defined as “tending to behave in ways that are not socially acceptable; not going or moving in the intended direction.” Scripture uses the word wayward. “Who are crooked in their ways, wayward and devious in their paths.” (Proverbs 2:15 AMP) When we are outside of God’s will for us, we are not moving in the direction God has appointed for us. It is then we find some of our hardest struggles and our hardest times.

I will be the first to confess that I have walked outside the will of God. I’m not proud of this statement. I’m just being transparent. Sometimes temptation over takes us or we find ourselves living as the world does. We begin to justify our acts. And the more we tell ourselves “That we’ll be ok. We’ll get back to doing what God intends”, the harder it is to return.

God gives us a way to return to Him. God has provided the means to come back. We need to call upon the Lord. “Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to me, and I will hear and heed you.” (Jeremiah 29:12 AMP) Prayer is the key. No matter if you step out of God’s will for just a few minutes, or you walk on the path you have ordered for a while, returning to God begins with a prayer.

God promises to hear and respond to the prayers of His people in their times of need. “He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.” (Psalm 91:15 AMP) When we stop and realize we are outside of God’s will and things just aren’t going well, we can return to Him. Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we are given free access into God’s presence. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8 NKJV)

Friend, over the last several months, God has impressed upon me that He has great and mighty things in store for all of His children, if they simply return to Him. He is our God and we are His people. Yet we move about sometimes thinking we are “#1”. That is just not true. It’s a trap that the enemy places in front of us to cause us to move outside of God’s will. Remember this promise, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3 NKJV) God already has something very special for us if we turn back to Him with all our heart. When we call upon God, we are asking God to act in dependence upon Him. Calling upon God is an act of worship.

Precious Lord, You have given us a heart to know You. Thank you, Lord. Sometimes I walk away from Your will and find myself in a place or situation I don’t desire. Forgive me Lord. Help me to always remain in the steps You have ordered and on the path You have laid out before me. Hear my prayers O Lord when I call upon You. Show me the great and mighty things You have planned for me. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Luke 1:11-20 NIV – Miracles often depend on faith

Luke 1:11-20 NIV – Miracles often depend on faith

“Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”

The angel of the Lord, Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, appears and gives Zechariah some news. Gabriel comes to let Zechariah know that his prayer has been answered. Wow. Zechariah serves in the temple only twice a year, but only once does he get to assist in the daily offering by going into the holy place. Out of all of the priests (studies indicate that there were about 18,000 priests), today is the day Zechariah is in the temple, among people who are praying. His job this day is to offer incense, in the holy place, symbolizing intercession rising up to God. And Zechariah’s prayer is being answered. In the midst of worship, God moves.

God sometimes moves in a dramatic way when we pray. Miracles often depend on faith on the part of those who will benefit from them. Some of us respond in faith and obedience, while others may not believe. I know one thing, Zechariah was taken by surprise. I think I would be gripped with fear as well. I probably would have fainted. Zechariah responds, questioning the angel. Sometimes when we hear from God, we, too, respond with questions. Zechariah lacked confidence in God’s ability to act in a supernatural way.

God’s power is released through faith. “He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20 NIV) We all have prayed, asking God to perform the impossible. Zechariah also prayed asking for the impossible. The bible says that both Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous before God; that they walked obeying God’s commandments. But both were well advanced in years. Elizabeth was barren. Sound familiar? Abraham and Sarah?

But Scripture emphasizes the importance of putting one’s trust in God. God makes the impossible, possible. God is faithful. “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6 NIV) When we pray and intercede, we can be confident that God will respond. Prayer embraces praising God for who he is, thanking Him for what He has already done, and looking forward with joy to what he has promised to do in the future.

Friend, we may never experience a visitation from an angel of the Lord to deliver us an answer to our prayers. But God will answer. He will bring you news. Faith relies upon God and His promises alone, and results in boldness and steadfastness in the face of difficulties. “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6 NKJV) Let us believe that God is and He will reward us as we diligently pray and seek Him.

Lord, thank You that You know every need and desire we have. Thank You that You answer each of our prayers offered. Thank You that You come to us in the most perfect time. Thank You for Your faithfulness. Forgive us Lord when our faith waivers. Teach us through Your Word to remain bold and steadfast in the midst of our difficulties. Trusting and believing You, Lord, to make the impossible, possible. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

John 5:46-47 NKJV – Believe

“For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”

Unbelief is defined as “incredulity or skepticism especially in matters of religious faith”. In this verse, Jesus debates the Jews regarding His relation to the Sabbath and to God. Jesus does not argue with His opponents about whether they understand the Sabbath legislation correctly. His interest is whether they understand who He is.

The Jews were expressing their unbelief regarding so many things; unbelief towards who Jesus was, unbelief in His miracles, unbelief of His claims, rejection of His words, and unbelief expressed towards God’s messengers. My questions are “Where does our unbelief lie?” “Do we really believe when we pray?” Yes, we too, have unbelief. There’s no condemnation here. There are times we place our trust in our own capabilities and not on God and His Word; times when we pray by simply going through the motions.

When we face trouble, even when we face insurmountable trouble, we need to place our trust in God’s Word and the promises of God within it. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6 NKJV) The times that I have faced where things really fell apart were the times when I trusted in my own judgment and effort. When I am the most discouraged is when I don’t remember who is in charge. When I find myself struggling with joy, it’s because I have forgotten where my joy comes from.  When I’ve simply forgot that God hears and answers my prayer and He is above all things. All of these things point back to Him. Will I believe that God is my all in all? “For “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.” (1 Corinthians 15:27-29 NKJV)

Simply stated it’s a matter of choice. I know that in the midst of things, sometimes we feel we can’t stop and take a breath and think about Jesus. But we need to. I have received my greatest encouragement when I have stopped. God already knows what we are facing. And when we stop, He is there. “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me,” (John 14:1 NKJV)

Friend, I post this devotion today because I have trouble with unbelief. I am a work in progress. We all are. Praise the Lord for His mercy and grace and being slow to anger. But I know, that I know, that I know, that if I “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV) Trusting in the Lord takes away all the guess work.   The Lord will direct our path and His path is straight. “I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, And crooked places straight. These things I will do for them, And not forsake them.” (Isaiah 42:16 NKJV) Each time. Every time. Never failing. Always for our good and God’s purpose. “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24b NKJV)

Precious Lord, thank You for Your faithfulness. Forgive us Lord when we doubt and place our trust in ourselves. Forgive our unbelief. Help us to always stop and seek You and pour out Your Holy Spirit upon us. Teach us to walk in Your ways and place our belief in You and Your Word. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Romans 7:15 NIV – Hello Lord

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

“Hello Lord. This verse Lord describes what I face from time to time. And it can be a struggle. And it’s true that it is hard to understand. I often ask, “Why did I do that?” or I state, “I hate when I do that” and then again, “I wish I had more time.” There exists a conflict between the energies of sin and the grace You provide in our lives. Lord, I know that my life in You is eternal and my life here on earth is temporal.   I realize I have my Victory in You, Jesus and I rejoice in that. What resides in my inner being should take priority over my outward being. Lord, we all have some knowledge of good and evil, but I know full knowledge is revealed to us in Your Word. But Lord, I sometimes fail, in that I miss the opportunities that You give me to study Your Word. Sometimes I miss Sunday School or miss a time or two at church where I am taught and fed. But Lord, sometimes I just don’t have the time. Our lives are so full and we feel like we’re in a tug of war just to get the simple things done. Lord, there’s work and the kids and my responsibilities. And Lord, the 24 hours a day You give me just seems to go by so quickly. Most of the time I feel that I can’t get caught up. So this letter is written so You can understand that I don’t like doing the things that I shouldn’t be doing. And the things I should do, I just don’t seem to have the time. I knew You would understand.”

The Christian’s life is a constant struggle against sin and the powers that exist to pull us away from the things of God. The apostle Paul goes on to say in Romans 7: 17-20, “As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”

But thanks be to God, “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 17:21-25 NIV)

We can accomplish the things we should do and stay away from the things we should not do. It’s all in our relationship with Jesus and His power to overcome. “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” (1 John 5:4 NKJV) The key to victory is our faith in the overcomer, Jesus Christ. As we cultivate a greater and deeper relationship with Jesus through prayer and the study of His Word, we will find time to do the rights things and be that lighthouse of faith that God has called us to be. By the way? The reason for the letter? I thought I would put it out front. These are the things we all have thought from time to time. I have found myself exactly in the place a time or two that the letter describes. Have you?

Precious Lord, thank You for Your great mercy and grace. Thank You that we too can overcome by blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. Help us Lord to continue to do the things we should be doing and call upon Your Name when sin begins to pull us away. In You Lord we have Victory. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Psalm 18:3 NKJV – My enemies have surrounded me

Psalm 18:3 NKJV – My enemies have surrounded me

“I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies.”

Do you want to know something? Enemies can take on a lot of forms and be a lot of different things. I have learned that. Sometimes there are individuals that seem to get their joy from making people feel uneasy, embarrassed, or even frightened. It seems that no matter what is tried to keep these people outside of our sphere, they find a way to get into the door. In the world, there are people who are just plain mean.

But there are other enemies that come in to take away our eternal joy. And these enemies are not flesh and blood. Their names are fear, jealousy, anger, bitterness, bigotry, greed, and lust. There are many more but I name these because the world feeds these every day and tries to make them stronger. The world places those listed here out for everyone to partake in. And these, like flesh and blood enemies, can be powerful and nearly impossible to take down. I said nearly. There is a way! The way is Jesus!

Our defense lies in the One who can save us from the enemies that come against us. It lies in our faith in Jesus and our confidence in Him. Scripture emphasizes the importance of putting our trust in God and God alone. “For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” (2 Timothy 1:12 NKJV)

What is the one requirement that is called out in our foundational verse? “I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised.” Sounds simple doesn’t it. And it is. By calling upon the Lord we demonstrate our trust in Him and this is a form of praise. Prayer, or calling upon the Lord, embraces praising God for who He is, thanking Him for what He has already done, and looking forward with joy to what He has promised to do in the future. When we are surrounded by our enemies, both human and not so human, we can do what David did as recorded in this Psalm below. We can call upon the Lord and praise Him and we will be delivered from our enemies.

“The Lord lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let the God of my salvation be exalted. It is God who avenges me, and subdues the peoples under me; He delivers me from my enemies. You also lift me up above those who rise against me; You have delivered me from the violent man.” (Psalm 18:46-48 NKJV)

Friend, when we face attacks or enemy forces, we are not alone. The Lord, our Rock is near. All we have to do is call upon His Name, Jesus. “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11 NKJV)

Dear Lord, thank You for Your protecting presence over our lives. You are worthy to be praised. Our enemies must bow to Your Name, Jesus. They must flee from us and leave. Thank You Lord that as we trust in Your love, our faith is increased. And no enemy, either human or not, can stand against the Your authority over all things. For greater is He that is in us than he who is in the world. Glory to You Lord. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Colossians 3:15 NKJV – The peace of God

“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.”

Sometimes we choose to live our lives outside of the peace of God. Yet as believers, we are called to be a lighthouse for the Lord; to be a showcase of the reconciliation and peace Jesus Christ has brought to us. The world should see in us His love, His forgiveness and His grace. Sometimes we choose to take hold of the world instead of taking hold of the hand of Jesus.

Peace is found only in God and is maintained through having a close relationship with Him. John 15: 4 says, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” Here Jesus emphasizes a steadfastness needed in a relationship with Him. This personal relationship begins with faith. “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:1 NKJV)

So why do you suppose we would want to live outside of the peace of God. I believe it’s a trust and submission issue. Failure to trust may be a result of a betrayal of trust in the past. But we can be assured that God will not fail us. We can put our trust in God’s power and strength, His unfailing love, and certainly in God’s salvation through His Son, Jesus. Trust in God is nurtured through His revealed truth.

Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.” (John 14:1 NKJV) The faithfulness of Jesus in shown in His character because He is the truth. He is the way. He is life. (John 14:6 NKJV) The peace that is found in Jesus Christ is a supreme remedy for all of our fears and it is a legacy that He left for each and every one of us because we are His heirs.

When was the last time we prayed for the peace of God to be upon us, our spouses, our children, our families, our friends, our church, etc?   The world is a fallen place. The world does not look out for us and cares not for our peaceful existence. The peace of God can only be found in Jesus and a relationship with Him. Join me as we make it a part of daily prayer that the peace of God would rule in our hearts and the in lives around us. Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27 NKJV)

Dear Lord, thank You that the peace we need to live in this world is found only in You. Thank You that You are constantly watching over us and waiting for us to simply submit to You. May we always walk in Your hand as You guide and direct us. May the peace of God rule in our hearts and the hearts of those around us. Forgive us Lord when we place our trust in the world to help us get through the day. May we turn back towards You in repentance and receive Your forgiveness and restoration. We love You Lord, and pray in Your Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Psalm 25:5 NKJV – What am I supposed to do?

“Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.”

Did you ever have a season of “What am I supposed to do when I don’t know what to do?” I know that I have had a season or two like that. So what do I do? Certainly prayer is on my priority list. Seeking to hear from God. But this scripture really defines what is at the heart of my prayers. I desire to know the truth of God and what’s in His Word to guide my steps. This is where I must place my trust. But friend, that is sometimes a lot easier said than done.

It has been written, “God is the essence of truth.” God is truth. Truth originates from God. Truth is an aspect of God’s character and it is demonstrated in His faithfulness.

“For the Word of the Lord is right, and all His work is done in truth.” (Psalm 33:4 NKJV)

“I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth from the great assembly. Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O Lord; Let Your lovingkindness and Your truth continually preserve me.” (Psalm 40:10-11 NKJV)

So if I need to know what to do, I need to know the truth. I need to seek the truth. “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32 NKJV) But sometimes, well, all the time, seeking the truth takes time. It takes effort even if that effort involves waiting. The best thing to do when you don’t know what to do…is wait.

“But, but, but. You don’t understand. If I don’t do something it will get worse?” Have you ever said this or even thought this. I have. That’s us trying to take control. Let’s think about this. If we don’t know what to do next, why try something just to try something. There is little if any success in that. Waiting is not a character trait that is taught necessarily or nurtured in our 21st century. We are a people of instant gratification. Waiting is not instant. But God’s Word says, “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 NKJV)

I just know that right now no matter how much I feel I need to know what to do right now, waiting is even more important.   Optimism is defined as the ability to face the future with confidence. For believers, this is possible because of their knowledge of God. Confidence in what God can do. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is in the Lord.” (Jeremiah 17:7 (NKJV) My waiting is strengthened by my optimism and confidence in the ability of Almighty God to see me through. God has proven this to me over and over and over again. God’s guidance is promised to those who genuinely desire it and seek it. Guidance is given to the humble and patient. And guidance is given to those willing to obey God.

Waiting on God means being prepared to patiently look towards God for his guidance and accepting the timing He proposes. Waiting on God can lead us into an atmosphere of expectation and confidence in God. So just because, “I don’t’ know what am I supposed to do” doesn’t mean God doesn’t know. I just need to wait and listen.

Heavenly Lord, thank You for being patient with me. Thank You for understanding that I sometimes find it hard to wait. I know that by waiting I’ll be renewed. By waiting, I allow You to work in my situation. By waiting, I am changed, restored, and set free. Help me Lord to wait. Open my heart, my eyes, and my ears to clearly understand what I am to do. I will be patient and obedient to what You desire. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!