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!

Ezekiel 18:31 NKJV – Change of heart

Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel?

Ezekiel recognized that a new heart and spirit were gifts from God and not the product of any human effort. Ezekiel pleads with his audience to seek these gifts not through their own merit but by repentance. God’s justice displays His righteousness as it conforms to His moral law “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13 NKJV) and is seen in His perfect will. “Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10 NKJV)

The Holy Spirit comes to take residence within a believer’s heart, renewing them and directing their hearts toward a greater love for God. “I will give you a new heart and put a spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26 NKJV) The Holy Spirit transforms the human heart, enabling it to love and obey God.

But you might be saying, “But how can that happen? How can something change my heart?” Fallen man has a mind that is in conflict with the mind of God. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9 NKJV) Nevertheless, the mind of man is capable of knowing God and can be changed and renewed by Him. “For it is God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6 NKJV)

Not having a relationship with God leaves us morally and spiritually without life. But we are rescued from spiritual darkness by God through salvation. He brings union with Him through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus Christ. In the above foundational scripture, Ezekiel was pleading with house of Israel to turn around, about face, turn from sin and turn towards God. It is the same today. We must turn away from sin, throw it overboard, and break all identification with it.

God loves us so much that He gives us a choice. We can choose to seek the Lord with all our heart, with all our soul, and will all our mind or we can choose not to. Repentance opens the way for blessing. God loves you so much. He desires that all people should repent. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9 NKJV) God is patient and not willing that anyone should die in sin. He loves you that much! That is what Ezekiel was pleading about. (Get the point about God’s love for you)

Friend, how does the process start for a new heart and a new spirit? It starts with a humble prayer. God hears and answers prayer. You have access to God and His presence through the work of Jesus Christ. Humbly ask God to create in you a new heart and a new spirit. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10 NKJV)

Dear Lord, I humble myself and ask for Your ear, Your presence. I know Your name, but don’t really know You. I am sinful but don’t want to die in my sins and be forever separated from You. Create in me a new heart and spirit to follow You and call You Lord and King. Forgive my sins and my old way of life and begin Your work in me. I believe in You, Jesus and how You died for me. You defeated my sin and death by Your resurrection. I rejoice because You did it for me. Pour out Your love on me, Lord, as I turn away from sin and turn to You. 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!

Psalm 61:1 NKJV – Hear my prayer

“Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer.”

When we pray, we are seeking God’s counsel and readiness to answer. That is exactly what this verse is saying. O Lord, I am here and I need Your help. Hear me O God. Whether we are seeking Godly wisdom, or an answer to something not understood, or healing for oneself or a loved one, or prayers for deliverance from an addiction, you can call upon the Name of God.

Psalm 50:15 says, “Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” When we call upon the Name of God we are demonstrating a dependence upon Him. Sometimes this is out of a sense of desperation. Sometimes it’s acknowledging who God is. And as intercessors, we call upon the Name of God as a function of prayer. In all of these cases, we are making known we need the power and the presence of God.

God promises to hear and respond to the prayers of His children. And God expects His children to make requests of Him in prayer. ““Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:7-11 NKJV)

So crying out to God in prayer is not something strange. Among other things, crying out to God in prayer should be central to a believer’s life. And prayer is a form of worship. As I said before, when we call upon the Name of God we are demonstrating our dependence on Him. We are literally saying, “Only You Lord can take care of this.”

God’s desire is that all people should seek after Him and find Him. Those who seek God with all their heart are rewarded. “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near.” (Isaiah 55:6 NKJV) So in times of need, times of trouble, times of sorrow, times of confusion, seek the Lord and cry out to Him. He will certainly attend to your prayer. And while you’re at it, thank Him for hearing you and answering you.

Dear Lord, we thank You that You are always ready to hear our prayers. Thank You that You answer our prayers. Help us Lord to come humbly to You and believe in advance that You completely understand our needs. Teach us Lord to trust in You and wait even when things seem to be needed almost immediately. Forgive us when we sometimes lose faith in the midst of Your answer. Hear my cry O God and attend to my prayer. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Luke 23:34 NKJV – Everlasting love

“Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”

An incredible final prayer. Until Jesus’ final breath, He interceded for those who persecuted Him. This prayer reveals God’s amazing love for sinners. The Apostle Paul said, “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 8:38-39 NKJV) This prayer continues to motivate and inspire believers today.

The everlasting love of Jesus is so much above anything we can ever explain, experience, or even think or imagine. These past few days, I’ve felt led to write about the love of Jesus and the impact on our lives because of it. The love of Jesus caused Him to leave His eternal glory. In the glory and honor that was eternally His in heaven, Jesus came to earth to live as a man and to suffer and die. All for you and me. All so that we could spend eternity with Him. All because “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)

Grace and mercy are the qualities of Jesus by which He is compassionate, accepting and incredibly generous. Jesus Christ demonstrates these qualities towards those whom he encounters. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14 NKJV)

And the love, mercy, and grace of Jesus caused me to see my need for a Savior. God in mercy makes Himself known through His Son, Jesus and the illumination of human minds to understand Him. We are not capable to discern who God is with our own finite minds. God’s majestic brilliance is shown to the world supremely through Jesus Christ. When I heard His Word preached, when I heard about the love of Jesus and that He was ready to meet me at my point of need and redeem me, I was captured. The light of Jesus overpowered me and Jesus became my Savior. Thank You Holy Spirit!!!

Friend, are you in need of experiencing the incredible and everlasting love of Jesus? The love of Jesus is for all who seek it. The love of Jesus is open to you if you would call upon His name. Would you make Jesus your top priority and call upon His name today? He will hear you and He will answer you. Will you pray this prayer today?

O Lord Jesus, there are days that I don’t know the meaning of love. I feel that nobody even cares for who I am or what I’m going through. But I’m told that You are full of grace and mercy. I’m told that You hear and answer prayers. I’m told that nothing can separate me from the love that is in You. Hear me, Lord, right now. I am in need of Your love. Bring it to me in a way I can fully understand. Make Yourself real to me. Thank You, Jesus, for Your saving grace on my behalf. Help me with my unbelief. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Philippians 2:13 NKJV – By the grace of God

“for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure”

The power of God is working within us. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV). It is the grace of God which enables us to perform the will of God and to act according to His principles. We cannot act without the grace of God. We cannot claim it. We cannot pretend we deserve it. God’s good will toward us is the cause of His good work in us.

When I ponder on the goodness of God and how each day His will is worked out in me, I stand amazed. I wonder what God sees in me and what He could possibly desire from me. But that is where my thoughts are flawed. God is looking through the eyes of salvation and mercy and grace. I am wondering through my own eyes. When God looks at me He sees His son, His child. Grace has taken over and what God views is an open vessel ready to be filled.

When we pray each day, we need to remind ourselves that God is hearing and seeing and moving through His good will and His purpose. When doing so, it takes all doubt away that we might have in the corners of our heart where unbelief resides. It’s for His will and His own purpose. It is His desire that we are saved. It is His will that we are restored. It is His will that we are healed. It is His will that we return to Him. It is His will that we be blessed. It is His will that we are comforted. Is there any doubt within the will and the purpose of Almighty God? No.

So when we’ve had a bad day and have felt we have turned our back on the Lord, we can run to Him. When we’ve made a bad choice, we can run to Him. When we’ve been stubborn and refused to listen or been disobedient, we can run to Him. When our hearts have been broken, we can run to Him. When we think that He cannot possibly hear or answer our prayers, we can call upon the Name of the Lord in confidence. You see, it’s always about God’s will at work in us.

Friend, it’s God who spoke life into all creation. It’s God who knew us before the foundation of the world. It’s God who loves us all with an everlasting love. So much that He sent Jesus to the world to seek and save the lost. It’s God who works in and through all of us to accomplish His will and for His good pleasure. What do we have to do? Just believe, submit, and rejoice. The Christian life, from the beginning to its end, is totally dependent upon the grace of God.

Father, thank You for working in us to do Your will and for Your good pleasure. Thank You that we can have confidence that by Your grace, all things are made complete. When we sin we have the promise that we can come to You and seek Your forgiveness and we will receive it. When our hearts are broken and we’ve been kicked around by this world, we have the promise that when we call upon the Name of the Lord, You will save us. Help us Lord to never forget that through You and only You we have strength to complete Your will. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

James 5:16 NKJV – It’s not in the power of the words, it’s in the Power of the Lord!

Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

I have seen a Christian banner that says, “Prayer changes things, starting with the one who prays.” Some people have said and published in books that prayer doesn’t change anything because of the sovereignty of God. God has already determined by His will what He will cause to change. Our prayers don’t matter. Well I don’t believe that! Period. That’s nonsense to me.

Prayer certainly does change things, but it’s not in the power of the words, but in the Power of the Lord. Prayer delivers people out of addictions and bondage. Prayer heals those in need of physical healing. Prayer restores families who have drifted apart. Prayer repairs and makes broken hearts new. Prayer provides for both financial and spiritual needs. Prayer establishes your path and your calling to follow. Prayer protects you. Prayer brings you joy and peace and hope. How do I know? All of this happened to me. As I prayed, things changed and it started with me. The change in me was my full trust in God that He hears and answers prayers.

I have come to learn that there were a lot of people praying for me when I had my heart surgery a number of years ago. I have also come to learn that every day there is a group of people praying for my wife and I and our prayer ministry. I am humbled and thankful for these prayers offered on our behalf. Prayer gets God’s attention. I’ve said over and over again. Prayer is an active response to the grace of God and it’s Worship. When we pray with the understanding that God answers and that He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6) our prayers become powerful.

Mark Batterson says in his book, “The Circle Maker”, “There is nothing God loves more than keeping promises, answering prayers, performing miracles, and fulfilling dreams.” If this doesn’t change me when I think about this, then I think nothing will. I am walking, talking, living and breathing proof that God changed me when I began to pray and when others prayed for me.

Precious Lord, thank You for hearing and answering prayer. Thank You that You have changed me as a result of my prayers and the prayers of others. Help us Lord to understand Your desire to reward those who seek You. May we never think are prayers don’t matter. We love You Lord and trust in the truth of Your Word. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!