Sheltering in the midst of the storm

Psalm 91:1-2 1 “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him I will trust.””

I have come to like watching the Weather Channel. Mostly because I’m interested in the local weather. Or I like to know what weather lay ahead if I’m traveling. But sometimes I see and hear about severe weather like hurricanes and tornadoes. I watch live feeds from the areas and see the devastation. I sometimes get to watch the rescue efforts and the people who come to provide relief for those who have lost everything.

I must confess that I take for granted where I live and what we have. We’ve had storms, sometimes even heavy storms, but I have never lost everything as a result of the weather.

The Word of God tells us that those who abide (to remain, continue, stay) in the secret place (the presence, intimate residence) of the Most High shall abide under the shadow (covering, overwhelming protection) of the Almighty. It is where our protection from the storms of life exists. In the loving strength of God who has overcome everything and given everything so that you may find peace and rest.

It reminds me of the old Dottie Rambo song, “Sheltered in the Arms of God”. The chorus says,

So let the storm clouds rage high,

The dark clouds rise, They don’t bother me;

For I’m sheltered in the arms of God.

He walks with me, And naught of earth shall harm me,

For I’m sheltered in the arms of God.

Those who face natural disasters often place their trust in the efforts of others to support them, provide for them, and get them back on their feet. We are instructed in the Word of God to place our trust in the Lord. “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) What this verse is saying is that the Lord will support us, provide for us, and get us back on the path He has ordered for us. But how often do we forget? Those who don’t have a relationship with the Lord as Savior, have no other way. They must trust their own experience, skills, and efforts of others. That is their only way. But as Christians, we’re told the Jesus is the only way. Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6 NKJV)

Friend, my point is this. The world is a difficult place; a lonely place. We face things that are sometimes overwhelming just like facing disaster. How do we respond to what the world throws at us? Our response should be to run to the place where God can shelter us. The most secret place of the Most High. We should run into the arms of God in an intimate relationship with Him. So that when the world is at its darkest, when the clouds of evil rise, they won’t bother us. We are sheltered by Almighty God Himself, where He takes our hand and walks with us. Where He leads us to His everlasting love and protection.

Do you know how to begin an intimate relationship with God? Has anyone ever told you? Well, it’s pretty simple. Humble your heart and pray. That’s where it begins. With a humble heart, begin to talk to the Lord and invite Him to remove your fears, wipe your tears, and rescue you from the evil and pain of this world. Prayer is simply talking to God. It’s not complicated. When you lift up a prayer to God, He promises to hear you. It may be hard at first, but once you humble yourself and begin to talk to Him from the deepest parts of your heart, you will experience such peace. And in that peace, resides the everlasting love and promise of life eternal. I can help you with this. Will you pray these words with me? It’s not the words that brings eternal life. It’s a humble and believing heart that releases God grace and mercy. Grace and mercy that none of us deserve, but is available to all of us. Please pray.

Dear Lord, I humble myself before You and ask You to hear my prayer. Lord, I cannot stand alone any longer is the world. I face so many things that overwhelm me at times. I’m in need of Your protection and sheltering. But most, I’m in need of a Savior. Forgive me Lord.  Lord, I believe that You suffered and died for the sins of mankind including mine. I believe that You died so that I could have eternal life. I believe that You are the only Way. Lord, after Your terrible death on the cross, You rose from the dead to defeat sin, my sin, once for all. Lord, come into my life and my heart and be my Savior. I submit myself to You and receive Your mercy and grace. Thank You Lord for saving me and giving me eternal life. I love You Lord and pray in Your name, Jesus. AMEN

 Don’t believe me, believe God!

John 8:32 NKJV – Knowing the truth

And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free

When I was a little boy, one of the things that my dad always demonstrated was that his word meant everything to him. He spoke the truth and being truthful was a part of his character. When dad went to be with the Lord, I was asked by someone what I remember most about my dad. I responded by saying, “He was a man of integrity. He spoke the truth.”

I learned a lot about truth from dad. Telling the truth always was the best course of action. Even if, by telling the truth, you had to pay some price. As a boy, I paid the price a time or two. Well, more than two. Dad led by integrity and respect. Mom led by the “yardstick”. Come to think of it, we had LOTS of yardsticks at home. You know, the one’s you could get at the hardware store. I called it a 36 inch ruler. Mom was the disciplinarian and called it her attitude adjuster.

Learning that truth is important helped me quite a bit growing up. But then, something happened. I began to see that truth wasn’t as important as I was taught. I saw in the world around me that truth could be manipulated and somehow work to your advantage. You might be able to defer or postpone paying the price. I saw it on TV.   I saw it in government. I saw it in business. I saw it in people. It affected me. I, too, would learn, to manipulate truth. Am I proud of that statement? Not at all. But I’m being truthful.

I found that I could hide pretty much anything I wanted from those around me. I learned to play the game, to be an actor and people believed me. Not cool. Thinking back at those times I didn’t even remember what dad worked so hard at trying to get me to understand. Being a man of integrity was everything.

Those times in my life are not something that I rejoice in. I remember those times as a way of understanding of how much God has done in my life. I have hurt a lot of people along the way with selfishness, self-pride, and deceit. And I have asked and received God’s forgiveness for those sins. I also have returned to those I have hurt and sought their forgiveness.

When I called upon the Name of Jesus and asked Him to come into my heart and be my Savior, I was set free. Free from sin and guilt and shame for my past sins. I was brought into His way, His truth, and His life. And I have learned that truth is everything. That truth sets you free. I don’t manipulate it any longer. I promote it in the things I do. I am not perfect and sometimes I still fail. But instead of accepting being less than truthful, I seek the Truth again and He forgives me. When I pray, I lay it all down before Jesus. I speak the truth that is on my heart. In prayer, we need to not try to hide anything. There’s no sense in that. God knows all things. But He also waits for us to speak to Him in truth. When I spend time with the Lord, I want nothing to stand between us. I want nothing to hinder our relationship.

My past is painful to look back on. I was pretty messed up. But now I’m free. The chains and the shackles are broken. Being a man of integrity means a lot to me. Being a man of God is everything to me.

Dear Lord, thank You for Your forgiveness. Thank You for the Truth. Your truth. The truth of Your Word which has set me free. Continue Your work in my life so that I can demonstrate the Truth of Jesus Christ to everyone I encounter. Guard me and protect me from the lack of truth in this world. May all I say and do give glory to Your Name. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

John 14:14 NKJV – Power in the Name of Jesus

If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.

God’s name is synonymous with His person, His presence and His power, and is therefore held in the highest honor. The apostle Peter said to the man at the temple gate, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” (Acts 3:6 NKJV) Peter then reached down and took the man by the hand and lifted him up. Peter was bestowed power in the name of Jesus. It was not Peter’s own power, but the power of Jesus.  What a glorious day for a man who was lame his entire life. What does this scripture passage mean to us today?

The person of Jesus is a name above all other names. This was bestowed upon Jesus for His obedience to death on the cross for us. God highly exalted Him. There is no other like Jesus. No other Name by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12) The right of Jesus Christ to speak and act on his Father’s behalf in forgiving sin, pronouncing judgment and promising eternal life to those who believe in him. Jesus’ authority underlines His divine status.

The presence and power of Jesus that has authority over nature (Mark 4:39), authority over sin (Luke 5:18-26), authority over sickness (Matthew 20:31-34), authority over evil (Luke 10:17), and even authority over death. (Matthew 28:1-7)

Matthew Henry said in his commentary, “To ask in Christ’s name is to plead his merit and intercession, and to depend upon that plea.” What he is saying is we can depend on receiving what we ask in the name of Jesus because of what Jesus did for us. And Jesus’ intercession for us covers each and every prayer we pray in the name of Jesus. Think about it. If we were to ask in our own name, we cannot expect to receive anything. Being sinners we have no name in Heaven, no authority in Heaven, no place in Heaven. But Jesus’ name is a highly exalted name, well known in heaven, and very precious. Jesus said, “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” (Matthew 28:18 NKJV) We should aim at His glory and to seek this as our highest end in all our prayers.

Lord God, thank You for the cross. For because of Your great sacrifice we can be assured that You cover and intercede in our prayers in the name of Jesus. You are highly exalted Lord and given all power in heaven and in earth. All authority is Yours. Our confidence lies in Your power to save, to deliver, to heal, to restore, to encourage, and to give eternal life. Thank You, Jesus. Your Name be praised. In Your honor and glory we pray. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Psalm 78:42 NJKV – Turn your eyes upon Jesus

They did not remember His power: The day when He redeemed them from the enemy

We all come from diverse situations and backgrounds and in some cases our past lives are as different as day and night. Childhood memories can be warm and loving for one, but not so much for another. And growing up in the city may not compare to growing up in a rural community.

As Christians, we face the same trials and struggles as anyone living today. We have joy and heartache; peace and fear; abundance and lack.   And sometimes our past can makes itself out to look pretty good when we face circumstances that are hard. When we thought we had no worries and could conquer the world, we lived a superficial care free life. And maybe we said, “I’m on top of the world.” And then there are those times in the past where maybe life wasn’t so good. When we made big mistakes or lived recklessly and had to pay a great price. And then maybe we said, “The past; it always comes back to haunt me.”

We can let our past come back to haunt us. God has given each of us a mind that can make choices. The Children of Israel made a choice as they wandered in the desert hungry and thirsty. They thought that their captivity in Egypt may not have been so bad. As least, they thought, it was better than what they were facing. They had a flawed viewpoint. They took their eyes off of Almighty God, who rescued them from their long years of bondage.

And then, on the other hand, we can bring back into our minds the heartache that our past may have brought and allow us to be discouraged, defeated, chained, and back into a bondage of self-doubt and lack of worth. Again, it’s a flawed viewpoint. Again, we allow our eyes to be torn away from the One, the Holy God, the Almighty Savior who took us out of the miry clay.

“He also brought me up out of a horrible pit. Out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps.” Psalm 40:2 NKJV

My friend, Almighty God loves you so much; more than you can comprehend. God chose to send His Son, Jesus, to seek and save the lost. Jesus, the Rock of our Salvation. We can set our eyes on Jesus and know that no matter what we face, no matter what happened in the past, He remains. He loves us with an everlasting love and we never have to look back. We can look ahead to the Glory that He promises. We can rebuke the mistakes and heartache of the past that we might be tempted to recall and we can set our eyes on one thing. Jesus. The way, the truth, and the life.

Blessed Lord. Thank You for being the one thing that we can set our eyes upon and be saved, blessed, restored, renewed, delivered, and healed. Thank You God that You chose to send us Your Son, Jesus, to rescue us from our past and deliver us from the bondage of sin and heartache. Glory to Your Name. Help us Holy Spirit to set our eyes on Jesus and not be turned away in the midst of our struggles. For Jesus is our Rock. In Your Holy Name, Jesus, we pray. AMEN and 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!

Isaiah 44:22 NKJV – He’s my Redeemer

I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.

The Lord alone is our Redeemer. He alone has the ability to save. God’s redemptive will and power is demonstrated supremely through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. God redeems because of His great love. “But because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers, the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh King of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 7:8 NKJV).

As I said, Jesus Christ is central to God’s redemptive purposes. “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13-14 NKJV) By His death and resurrection, Jesus paid the price for all of our sins. Every one of them.  Jesus redeems believers from all forms of sinful bondage and oppression.  And we are called to make a choice; to believe in what Jesus did by dying on the cross and His defeating sin by being raised from the dead; or to not believe.  He is asking that we return to Him.

There is nothing that you and I can ever do to defeat our sinful nature and enter into eternal life. It’s only by the grace and mercy shown through faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection that we have access to eternal life. Salvation must be accepted as a free gift of faith. “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:4-9 NKJV)

“But you don’t know me. You don’t know what I’ve done. I’ve hurt a lot of people along the way and I’ve done a lot of bad things. I’ve lost everything because I’ve wanted to do things my way. I don’t even like myself.” No, I don’t know you. But Jesus does. And before time began, He created a plan for you. And you don’t have to like yourself, because, whether you believe it or not, Jesus loves you with an everlasting love. His love does not come from you doing or not doing anything. His love is eternal and unconditional. He loves you because He has put His fingerprint on you. He created you. And He died for you.

Friend, if you know Jesus as your personal Savior and you find yourself in a place where you’ve made some mistakes, done some bad things, feel separated from God, you can return to Him because He has redeemed you. If you don’t know Jesus as your Savior and want to be redeemed from the pain, suffering, confusion, indifference, and heartache you are feeling because of the life you lead, you can go to Jesus and be redeemed. Either way, you start with prayer. A humble prayer with a heart that wants to repent. You simply need to seek God in conversation, laying down all that you have before Him, ask Him to forgive you and cleanse you by His blood, and you will be redeemed. The bible says, “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10 NKJV) Take the time sometime today and get alone with God and seek His presence. Humbly go to Him and talk with Him. He is as close as a whisper. Remember this, “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)

Dear Lord, I am a sinner in need of redemption. I’ve messed up and made a mess out of my life. I’ve hurt others and don’t think anyone could love me as I am. But I’m told Lord that You died for me and paid the price for all of my sins. I’m told Lord that Your redemptive power covers all that I’ve done and it’s a free gift by faith through Your grace and mercy. Come into my life and my heart and forgive me today, Jesus. I repent before You and receive Your forgiveness by Your blood. I love You Lord and pray in Your Name, Jesus. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

1 Corinthians 1:9 NKJV – Never give up! (Part 2)

God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Back in March of this year, I wrote about this Scripture and the faithfulness of God. That we must never give up and turn our eyes upon Jesus. We can face the future with absolute confidence that God will order our steps and He will bring us back when we wander off on our own.

Today, I write with a little different point of view. Sometimes we face situations, circumstances, or even just life that causes us to doubt our existence; our ability to stand firm in it. Even worse to stand firm in the promises of God. Simply put we lack confidence that God will do what He says He will do. But confidence actually originates from God. Confidence does not originate in us. We cannot be confident in anything outside a relationship with God. God is unchanging and faithful. “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)

I don’t know what you are facing. I don’t know the circumstances you look at each day. And I don’t know if I can convince anyone to trust in God. But I know this. God’s Word is the truth and through it, you will be set free. “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32 NKJV) God and His Word are a trustworthy foundation for life because He speaks the truth and is utterly reliable and consistent in His character, His revelation of Himself, His promises and His pronouncements.

The gospel cannot be subscribed to half-heartedly or in part; it must be either accepted or rejected. The gospel calls for a positive response. “For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, “The man who does those things shall live by them.” But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, “‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:5-13 NKJV) So I guess the choice is yours. To believe or not believe. If you choose to believe, you will find understanding and confidence in God’s Word so that you can repeat what Jesus said, “Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.” (Matthew 21:21 KJV)

Friend, I really don’t know what your mountain is, but you can’t give up. Turn toward God and His Word, Jesus. Set your eyes on Him and the promises of His Word. Let God’s Word transform you, encourage you, strengthen you, enlighten you, give you hope and peace. Your struggle may be insurmountable. But with Jesus, nothing is impossible. “But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, with men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26 KJV)   Call upon Him, and He will walk with you and your circumstance will be under His power and authority.

Heavenly Father, You are faithful. Your Word is the truth and we can place our complete trust in it. Nothing is impossible with You. Father, help us to see our circumstances and our situations with Your eyes of faith. Father, help us to stand firm in the face of uncertainty and say, “I will not give up for God is with me”. Teach us the truth in Your Word and may it reside in the center of our hearts. For Your Glory and Honor. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!