Psalm 59:16 NKJV – God is our defense and refuge

But I will sing of Your power; Yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning; for You have been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble.

I cannot even count how many times I have shouted the essence of this verse at the top of my lungs to the Lord. I may not have said the exact words, but I have thanked the Lord time and time again for being my defense and rescue when I’ve gotten myself into something I shouldn’t have. And each and every time, the Lord has accepted me into His fortress and protected me from further injury or damage (both physically and spiritually).

I have learned that God is my absolute protection. He is my Rock on which I stand. His Word is the truth and my sword against the enemy. God is worthy to be praised. But above all, I speak about numerous times I’ve shouted praise to God for again defending me against the enemy. Some of those times, I’ve found myself ensnared in a trap left by the enemy that I didn’t see. And God lifted me out of that trap and covered me with His hand of protection. Those are the kind of situations where we are “blind-sided” and we don’t see it coming. But I have to admit there were times that I chose to step off of the path that the Lord placed me on and got stuck in the miry clay and began to sink. It was my choice. I made the error or mistake in trusting in my own devices and not on the faithfulness of God. I’ve cried out to the Lord and repented and found that His mercy and grace was made available to me. Praise the Lord!!!

God the Rock is our security. “The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my Savior, You save me from violence.” (2 Samuel 22:3 NKJV) Although we know this, how often do we find ourselves walking in our own ways and our own security? For me, I find myself making the wrong choices more than I would ever want to. Please don’t judge. I’m human and so are you. Sanctification is a process and I am a work in process. All of us are being molded by the Master Potter. It takes time for the piece of clay to be made perfect. It takes time to mold and remold and remold and then put in the fire, only to find that there are still some things wrong. I am so pleased and thankful for God’s eternal mercy and grace He gives to me and to all of us. God will never give up and He will complete what He has started. “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6 NKJV)

Friend, all of God’s people should honor God in every aspect of our lives. And part of honoring God is giving Him our worship and praise for the things He accomplishes in our lives. We are undeserving of anything from God, yet His grace and mercy is poured out on us time after time after time. It is never ending. Will we sometimes make mistakes and find ourselves in trouble and in need of God’s assistance? I know I probably will. I think you will as well. But thanks be to God that we can come to Him. “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16 NKJV)

Remember, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1 NKJV) I will sing of God’s great power and mercy over my life every day for He has been my defense and my safe refuge. He has never left me and is as close as my call upon His name.

Dear Lord, thank You for being my refuge and strength. I will sing praises to Your Name. Your mighty and glorious power is new for me each morning. Forgive me Lord when I walk outside of the path You have placed me on and find myself in trouble. Thank you for not turning away from me in my cry for help and rescue. Thank You for Your mercy and grace that is applied to me when I come to you humbly and repent. Teach me Lord through Your Word to recognize the traps of the enemy and to be aware of the snares that are left to capture me. I give You the praise, in Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

James 5:17-18 NKJV – Elijah’s effectual prayers

Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth produced its fruit.

Elijah held the special office of Old Testament prophet, but he shares a common humanity with all believers. His effectual prayer life is a model for all.

Drought comes because there is an absence of rain. This leads to hardships for those who are affected by it. It certainly affects the ability for things to grow. Crops produce necessary food. I can’t even imagine the feeling of not having the needed rain and being short of food to eat for three years and six months. Sometimes I get cranky when I have to postpone my lunch time due to work. Forgive me Lord!!!

But Elijah knew in the power of God as a result of prayer. He knew that God could stop the rain and he also knew God could restore the rain. How much faith do we have that God will answer our prayers and move in our circumstances? Effective prayer depends on faith, especially on our willingness to believe and trust God’s faithfulness to the promises given to us in His Word.

Faith is necessary in order to approach God. “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) This verse is foundational to an effective prayer life. We must believe that God is…and He rewards those who diligently come before Him in prayer. Elijah had faith. The same faith as this verse proclaims we also must have.

Earnest prayer is characterized by commitment. Earnest prayer says, “I will not move from prayer Lord until You move.” It’s just like someone said…pray through until you get a breakthrough. I believe that. Earnest prayer takes a lot of hard work. The answer to our prayers may not come immediately. So we have to continue in prayer; minute by minute, hour by hour, day after day, until God answers. This requires patience, determination and, at times, a willingness to wrestle with God for the desired outcome. “O Lord, God of my salvation, I have cried out day and night before You.” (Psalm 88:1 NKJV)

God is the hearer of prayer…”O You who hear prayer, to You all flesh will come.” (Psalm 65:2 NKJV) And God has promised to answer prayer. So I ask again, how much faith do we have to believe that God hears our prayers and will answer them? I think the prayers of Elijah were pretty big. Don’t you? So this leads me to believe that God is and will reward those who diligently seek Him with BIG prayers just as Elijah did.

Friend, where is your faith today? Do you have a need that you believe is too big for God to hear and answer? I can tell you that Elijah knew in whom he believed. He prayed big, bold prayers and he trusted God. When you pray you can absolutely believe that God hears you. When you seek Him with all of your heart, the Bible says you will find Him. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:12-13 NKJV) Come to God today with your big prayer, your big need, your healing, your restoration, your deliverance, and even your eternal salvation. Humble yourself today and pray. God is ready to hear you and answer you.

Precious Lord, thank You that You hear us when we pray. Lord, Elijah had faith to call upon You in earnest prayer. You answered him. Help us Lord to understand that Elijah is no different than any of us. We, too, can come to you in earnest prayer expecting You to answer. Help us to remain committed in prayer and patient as we pray. Forgive us Lord when we quit just short of Your answer. We love You Lord and give You praise. 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!

Luke 22:31 NKJV – We will be sifted – Part 1

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat.”

The term “sifting” is an agricultural one and its meaning is based on the knowledge of how grain is threshed. A sieve was used to separate the kernels of grain from the trash and junk they had mingled with in the threshing: pebbles, twigs, etc. The sieve would allow the farmer to sift the useful kernels into a sack. The farmer would have to shake the sieve back and forth to complete this process.

When Jesus addressed Peter, He said, “Simon, Simon”. This repetition identifies an intimate and personal relationship Jesus had with Peter. Jesus wanted Peter to know something very important.  Satan wanted to shake the disciples. Shortly, Peter and his fellow apostles would experience the unthinkable – the Man they believe to be the Messiah, the Son of God will be arrested, tried, condemned, and crucified in the space of less than 24 hours. Their own lives will be at risk, and their loss will be utterly devastating.

But wait there’s more. In verse 32 Jesus says, “But I prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” In other words, Jesus wanted Peter to know that He had prayed for him because out of all of the disciples, Peter would be in the most danger. Jesus prays for Peter because He knows that Peter is the natural leader of the disciples. Peter is the key. Jesus knew that his faith would fall apart. Jesus knew that Peter would deny him. Jesus prayed for Peter so that when he had come through the trial, he was to strengthen others.

The enemy knows all about you. He watches you and will use whatever you do and say against you. The enemy wants to shake you up. He wants to sift you. The sole purpose of the enemy is to keep those who don’t know Jesus as their Savior away from ever making that choice. And to those who call Jesus Lord and Savior, the enemy distracts, discourages, and places stumbling blocks in their paths. He will do anything and everything he can to keep you from demonstrating the love of Jesus and that Jesus lives in your heart. He seeks to exploit our weaknesses in order to deflect them from obedience to God. When believers experience difficult days, some fall away, while others gradually get their bearing and recover, and usually become stronger.

Friend, when we are sifted there is a time of weakness. Sometimes, a time of extreme weakness when we feel we can’t even breathe. But there is recovery; there is healing; there is restoration; there is hope. “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (1 Peter 5:19 NKJV) God bestows help and strength sufficient for every occasion and need. We, too, can come to the Lord in prayer that our faith will not fail when we face the sifting of the enemy. We can pray for others, that God would increase their faith as well. For believers, the ability to face the future with confidence is possible because of our knowledge of God. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13 NKJV) Hope means more than a vague wish that something will happen to rescue us or restore us. Hope is a sure, confident expectation in God’s faithfulness and His presence in our situation. Confidence comes with an intimate relationship with God through daily prayer and the study of God’s Word. As we walk through difficult times, God will use us to encourage and lead others through the same thing.

Holy and Almighty God, thank You that You give us hope when we face the sifting of the enemy. That we can call upon Your Name and You will restore us, renew us, and strengthen us. Lord, the enemy wants to steal, kill, and destroy. But You Lord give us life. Thank You, Lord. Use us to encourage others who may face the same trials we do. Help us to see that our peace comes from You when we trust in You. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Psalm 121:8 NKJV – The Lord is our watchman

“The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore.”

God takes care of His own. Our going out and our coming in. He establishes our steps, “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) and guards our return, “He will guard the feet of His saints, but the wicked shall be silent in darkness.” (1 Samuel 2:9 NKJV)

He is on constant watch over us to ensure our protection and our safe passage. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1 NKJV) God defends His people and because of God’s defense, believers can be assured that their eternal security in never threatened.

So let me ask you something. Why do we not believe? Why is it so hard for believers to place their faith and trust in God to protect them, rescue them, and deliver them? I have some thoughts on that. Sometimes we feel we have to be in control in order to feel secure. That’s a human emotion that is spurned by the need to survive. But there are some flaws in that thinking. We trust our own strength rather than the strength of God.

I will tell you that I will defend and protect my wife, Nancy, and my children and take whatever steps are necessary to ensure they are safe. This kind of protection of your loved ones is not flawed. But when anyone begins to think that they are in charge and capable of taking on the world and the dominion of the enemy, that is where these thoughts are flawed. It is only through the power of God and His strength that we can overcome the world and the enemy.

Courage to face this world comes from the strength of God. God gives strength to His people. He enables them to be courageous through His gift of faith. God proves Himself faithful to His promises and enables His people to trust Him in everyday life. That is what David was saying in our foundational verse. God preserves our going out and our coming in forevermore. David was able to place his complete trust in God to be His everlasting protector.

God gives us His strength and courage and provides a means to receive it. And that means is to boldly come, in prayer, to the very throne room of God. “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:14-16 NKJV)

Friend, be encouraged. The Lord is our protector and defender and our very present help when we need Him. He establishes our comings and goings and is ready and able to protect and defend us from everything this world and the enemy throw at us. “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)

Thank You, O Lord, for watching over us. Both when we go out and when we come in. You establish our steps and protect us as we return. You are our strength and our shield. Help us Lord to trust in Your protection and Your strength and not our own. Deliver us from the evil one as we need and raise us up to serve You another day. We seek Your will for our lives and commit our steps into Your care. 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!

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!