Isaiah 14:3 KJV – How could you love someone like me – Part 2

 And it shall come to pass in the day that the Lord shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve

Welcome back. In Part 1 of this devotion, we heard of a man who lived a life outside of the will of God and it pushed him to the point of making a decision to take his own life. But praise the Lord that God had a different plan. We learned that God used a man named Mark to minister to him when this man initially thought he was in control. God led Mark to pray for him that day and two days later, this man found himself in church and then at the altar and finally giving his life to Jesus as his Savior. Glory to God!

Today, we examine how God began His plan of restoration in the man’s life and redeemed everything that the enemy had taken away. Today’s devotion:

Part 2 – How God Restores

Well, this man continued to come to church. He was open to Godly leading from Mark who discipled him over many, many months. How blessed he was to work in the same office as Mark. God really had His hand over all of his life. Eight months would pass and he would encounter his first real test of faith.

He had just returned home from being away on business and he pushed the play button on his answering machine to listen to the messages. The first message was from his brother. The message was to call him as soon as he could. Something had happened to their dad. He quickly dialed up the number of his brother and listened as he was told that dad was in a very bad way. He was told to call his mother for the details.

His mom lived in Florida with his dad. They were retired. He called his mom to find out that his dad had been kidnapped, beaten, left for dead in the woods, and was not doing well at all. Mom asked, “Can you come down and help?” He was stunned. He didn’t know how that could have happened to his dad, but he told his mom he would come down as soon as he could.

Since he had just returned from a 2 week business trip, he didn’t see how he could possibly put enough funds together to get down and see his mom and dad. It would take some time for his expenses to be paid from the previous trip. He went to work and began to think about what he could do. He remembered that though he didn’t have the answer on how he could afford the trip, he knew at least he could pray. So he did. He also took time to post a prayer request on his workplace’s prayer chain.

A few hours went by and he received a phone call from someone on the prayer chain to tell him that he was going to Florida and that he would be able to see his dad. He wondered how could this be. He was told that the Plant Vice President had heard about his dad and what happened. The Plant Vice President had provided the necessary funds to purchase a plane ticket to Florida. And he also arranged for expense money to be given to him. He was overwhelmed. God had answered his prayer. A few days later, he would be in Florida.

He sat in his seat on a flight to Florida waiting for the runway to clear before takeoff. Some fog had rolled in and it was going to be a little while. But he had time. On to Atlanta, then on into Orlando. He had some time. He prayed again. He prayed, “Lord, you’ll have to help me with this. I’m still a new believer. I have no idea what I’m to do or how I need to help mom and dad. How could anyone know what to do if they were in the same place as I am?”

Well about an hour had passed and the flight took off. He arrived safe in Atlanta where he called his mom and told her that in a few hours he would be there. Mom said she would arrange for his pickup at the airport. Well, with the delay at the initial airport, his flight from Atlanta to Orlando had already departed. He would now have to find an alternate flight. He called his mom and assured her he was still on his way. As he waited at the gate of the plane he was told he was on standby on, he heard a young lady talking. She had been waiting for 36 hours to get a flight to Orlando. It was spring break. She, too, was on standby. About 6 more hours passed, when he heard his name called. He went to the desk and was told he had a ticket and it was time for him to board. He thought about the young lady waiting for 36 hours. He thanked God that He had intervened on his behalf. He finally arrived in Orlando and found his mom. Soon he would see his dad.

They got to their home and his dad came to the door. He was shocked to see the man at the door. He couldn’t recognize him as his dad. This man was unclean, unshaven, and had bruises all over his back. The man had broken fingers. He looked awful. But when this man spoke in a timid and quiet voice, he realized it was dad. But Dad was never a timid and quiet guy. He always spoke with conviction and integrity. But now it was different. The man said, “Dad, we’ll do this one day at a time.”

You see, his dad was carjacked at a gas station after stopping for gas after work. His dad still worked though he was “retired”. He liked that. Sometimes, mom did, too.

His dad was told to get down on the floor between the seats in his van. Over the next 3 hours, his dad’s assailants beat him while they drove around. When his dad would put his hand over his back to block the repeated blows, the assailants broke his fingers. Then when they got bored with his dad, they took his dad’s belt and put it around his dad’s neck and began to hang him. They opened the side door of his dad’s van, and dumped his dad in the woods to die. But dad didn’t want to die. He put his hand behind the belt and when they raised him to hang him, he passed out. His assailants thought they were successful in getting rid of the witness. But, God had a different plan. When his dad woke up, he crawled out of the woods on his hands and knees and signaled someone walking their dog for help. His dad told him that this was the hardest point of the ordeal. His dad said, “I didn’t want the people I called out to, to think I was a vagrant. I just wanted help.” The rescue squad came and took his dad to the hospital and then the fire department called his mom.

Well, they took one day at a time. The detective bureau at the Sheriff’s office was a big help. He spoke with them daily. They were tracking down his dad’s van. They had a victim advocate working the case and she was a blessing. Dad had to restore his identity by getting a new drivers’ license, social security card, etc. Everything you have to do when someone takes your wallet and identity from you. Each day, Dad would get up and he would seem to get stronger and stronger. He cleaned himself up and began to be the strength he had always remembered dad to be. Then a few days later while watching the evening news, something startled the man and his family. There being displayed, live on TV, was an arrest being made. You know. Like the “OJ Simpson kind of thing”. Pictures overhead from a news chopper. They were showing three men being pulled from a vehicle and being arrested. Right there, on TV, in front of this family was a picture of his dad’s van. They had found his van and found three men in it that shouldn’t have been in it. God allowed the man and his family to see His justice being served.

The detective’s called and this family had to go to the Sheriff Department’s Forensic Lab to retrieve the van. His mom was really angry and bitter. She said she would never ride in the van again. He said he would take it somewhere to be cleaned up and it would be alright. He told his mom he would pray over it and ask God to bless it. He went away to find an auto detailer.

A few hours later, he returned to his mom and dad’s home only to find the news media all over the place. There was a big satellite tower in the front yard and camera’s everywhere taking pictures. His dad was there doing an interview for the local news station. They had heard of his dad’s story. He heard the news anchor ask his dad, “What were you feeling when this happened?” And on camera, in a live broadcast over entire the Orlando area to thousands of television sets, He heard his dad say, “I knew this is not how I was to die. I prayed, Jesus save me.” He was amazed. He was overwhelmed. The neighbors all came out. It was a sight to see. His mom wanted her turn with the camera to give her point of view, but praise God, He had different plans. You see, his mom always spoke what was on her mind.

The man began to talk to the people from the news channel and found out the reporter was a woman of God herself, and the main camera guy, GREW UP IN THE SAME NEIGHBORHOOD OF THIS MAN!!!

This man went home a few days later. He stayed with his mom and dad for 11 days. They witnessed miracle after miracle. This man never forgot. He prayed, “God if You could make a way for the world to know this story. Not for my glory but for Yours.”

When this man returned to work the following Monday, he went to see the Vice President and Plant Manager to say “Thanks”. And God moved again. In the waiting area just outside of the Plant Manager’s office this man told the story. People began to come out of adjacent conference rooms just to listen. God gave this man his first pulpit.

He started with a simple prayer to help him help his mom and his dad. His dad prayed, “Jesus, save me” and the story continues with God being glorified on a local news channel for a whole city to see and ends in front of this man’s peers for them to hear as well.

God restores. He loves us with an everlasting love. In our darkest hours, God hears us, God answers us , and God delivers us.

Remember how I said in the beginning of this blog, that God would redeem everything the enemy took away from this man. Well, there is more. This man’s children, both his daughter and son, also gave their lives to the Lord, shortly thereafter. And, God blessed the man again when God brought His choice to him to take as his wife.

Well, as you may have already guessed, this is my testimony. I share it for one single purpose and that’s to give glory to God; My Savior, Redeemer, and friend, Jesus.

Tomorrow, we’ll look at how God continued to work in my life as I began to serve Him as He called me. Part 3 examines, “How God enables.”

Heavenly Lord, thank You that You hear our prayers and answer them. Thank You that in our darkest hours You are near. Closer than a whisper. Thank You that we can place our trust in You to be our protector and defender. Help us Lord to always call upon Your name. We love You Lord. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Isaiah 14:3 KJV – How could you love someone like me – Part 1

And it shall come to pass in the day that the Lord shall give thee rest from thy sorrow, and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou wast made to serve.

Today begins a 3 part Prayer Devotion entitled, “How could you love someone like me”. The foundational scripture comes from the Book of Isaiah, chapter 14, verse 3. God is speaking here to the children of Israel as they were held captive in Babylon. God is making a promise that He will again deliver them from bondage as He once did in Egypt. But His blessing is going to take on two characteristics. God is going to work to make a blessed change in their present state and also in their spiritual state.

(1.) In their present state. The children of Israel, they shall have rest from their bondage; the days of their affliction, though many shall have an end; and the rod of the wicked, though it is long, it shall not always lie on them.

(2.) In their spirit. They shall have rest from their sorrow and fear, sense of their present burdens and dread of worse things to come. Sometimes fear puts the soul into a torment (confusion, upheaval, turmoil, uproar) as much as sorrow does. Those who are freed from the bondage of sin have a foundation laid for true rest from sorrow and fear.

But this 3 part devotion is not a study on what God accomplished in the children of Israel. The focus will be on what God accomplished in the life of someone who too was trapped in bondage and now is free.

Part 1 – How God Saves

He went to work on this particular Friday because he had extra work to complete. There were very few people at work that day because most everyone was working a 4 day work week. Mark, his boss, was working with him. They were the only ones in their group that was working that day. It was Friday, July 17, 1999.

It started out to be a regular sort of work day. But something changed. He began to have thoughts of his past. The past of being a drunk and a drug user that included all of the bad things that go along with that. How he neglected his duties as a father. How he would waste money and time getting drunk or high on the weekends. Going to drug houses and the things that go with that. Can anyone imagine the heartache that he encountered when he would bring his little daughter with him to the drug houses only to wait until she fell asleep so that he could satisfy his desires?

That Friday, he began to feel awful. So much so, that he couldn’t concentrate on his work. It got harder and harder and he began to feel pushed into a corner and out of control, squeezed. He didn’t know what was happening to him only that it had to stop. It was the hardest emotional and psychological attack that had ever happened to him. He was shaking and not feeling well. Then came the thoughts of taking his life to put an end to it all. Only then did he realize that it was the one year anniversary of his divorce. He then began to remember all that divorce meant to him and his children. He thought that if he took his life, he would not be a burden to anyone and he wouldn’t have to re-live the things going through his mind.

Mark was his boss at the time. He gave Mark a lot of respect and thought of him as a good person. Mark was someone he could like and get along with. They had a mutual respect and friendship for each other as coworkers. He thought to himself that he probably could get Mark to let him go home early for the day. That way he could take his life. He had the means to do it; he just had to get Mark to say he could go home.

He went over to Mark’s office to talk to him. He said, “Mark, it’s the one year anniversary of my divorce and I can’t keep my mind on my work. Can I go home?” Mark said, “Can I pray for you instead?” He said, “OK” and he sat down on the empty chair in Mark’s office. Mark held his hands and Mark began to pray. He never had a man pray for him before. He began to cry. Mark then told him that he went to church and wanted to know if he ever went to church. He said no and that he hadn’t gone in a long time. Mark gave him the phone number of the Pastor and asked him to call the Pastor and find out when church is on Sunday. Mark asked if he would think about coming to church that coming Sunday morning. He told Mark that he would think about it. He remained at work that day and didn’t go home. The next 36 hours or so he can’t remember.

The next thing he remembered was waking up on Sunday morning and getting ready to go to church. He didn’t want to, but kept getting ready and actually drove to the church. When he parked he still didn’t want to be there, but the church door opened and there stood Mark.

Mark took him to Sunday School and then had someone sit with him in the service while Mark led worship as the worship leader. Then the Pastor began to preach and he felt something different happening in him. That sermon had his name on it. He began to cry again and then the Pastor said there was someone there today that didn’t want to live the life he is leading any longer. The Pastor then said I want him to come up here to the altar. There is someone waiting for him and His name is Jesus. He immediately went to the altar to pray but didn’t know how. Right then and there, Mark put down his guitar and came down to where he was kneeling and asked if he knew what was happening. He said no, but he didn’t want to live like he was living any more. Mark then led him to accept Jesus as his personal Savior. They hugged each other and prayed for over 2 hours.

Two days earlier, he had plans to take my life. On Sunday, July 18, 1999, God had different plans and saved him from eternal death and gave him eternal life. That was 15 years ago and this is now.

Just as God worked in the lives of the children of Israel to make a blessed change in their present and spiritual state, God worked in this man’s life. He didn’t realize that there was a God who could love him. He wondered, “How could you love someone like me?” God poured out his love on him that day. And his life was never the same.

Tomorrow, we’ll look even more deeply into this man’s life when Part 2 examines, “How God Restores”.

Heavenly Lord, thank You for the cross. Thank You for meeting us at our time of need and giving us Your Son Jesus to forgive us, cleanse us, and set us on the path that You have chosen. Help us Lord to live a life that gives You the glory. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Proverbs 4:20-22 NKJV – Give attention to what you are hearing

“My son, give attention to my words; Incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; Keep them in the midst of your heart; For they are life to those who find them, And health to all their flesh.”

When I was a boy we lived in the suburbs. Just outside the “Big City”, in a neighborhood that was quiet and peaceful. There were kids of my age all around town. We all grew up in the same kind of house and we all went to the same school. Mom would give us a little more freedom in this place than what she gave us in the city. Back then she felt at ease. We could play just about anywhere outside we wanted, but when mom called we needed to be able to hear her.

You see, mom wanted us to give attention that she had something to say to us. She had a message to deliver to us verbally. From the front porch. As loudly as she could she would call, “George and Carl. It’s time to come home.” When I heard mom’s voice, I’d have to head for home. My brother and I knew we had to get going. It was probable dinner time. Mom cared for us to call us back home to be fed and to settle in for the night.

Mom had other words that spoke directly to us. Especially when we weren’t as good as we could have been. My brother and I would get into trouble. But when mom said, “Wait until your father gets home” we were shaken.

God’s Word is something worth hearing. God’s Word has something to say. We must give attention. God’s Word has a message for us. God’s Word cares for us. God’s Word is given for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. To take heed. To learn and to keep close to our hearts. God’s Word is a road map to us for everything we face. God’s Word is our lifeline. It’s a lamp to our feet; a light to our path. Without God’s Word, we are blind. God’s Word will bring us back home God’s Word will feed us. And God’s Word will shake us up. Hallelujah!

Thank You God, for Your Word. Help us set aside the things that keep us from hearing You and keep us from Your Word. Teach us Lord; instruct us Lord, in Your Word. May we walk in Your ways as a result. Light up our path, Lord. So that we remain on the narrow path. Bring us back home and shake us up, Lord. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Romans 10:13 NKJV – The Lord is waiting and listening

For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

So what does “call on the name of the Lord” mean? Well, that’s prayer. Matthew Henry, the great commentator said, “What is the life of a Christian but a life of prayer? It implies a sense of our dependence on God, an entire dedication to Him and a believing expectation of our all from Him.”

I love the preciseness of this Scripture passage. It clearly tells us who it is written for. There is no mistaking. It is for “whoever calls” without exception. It is a promise with no strings attached. We live in a world where so many times things are promised to be “FREE” or a “Money Back Guarantee” is given only to find out that there were other hidden charges or conditions attached.

I’m so thankful that God loves us and He sent His Son, Jesus to us without us meeting any special circumstance or conditions. I don’t have to “just pay for the shipping and handling” to have eternal life in Heaven. I just need to call on the Name of the Lord and declare that I am a sinner in need of Jesus, believe that He died and rose from the grave for me, and He will save me. Not only will He give me and you eternal life in Him, but He will also save me and you from every single thing that the world and the enemy will throw at us to try to steal, kill and destroy us. Everything!

Understand the devil has already lost. The enemy is defeated. Sin and death has forever lost its grip on us. Our life is secure in Jesus Christ. A true promise and there’s no strings attached. Thank You Jesus!!!

God of all creation. Thank You for Your Word and the truth within it. Thank You Jesus that when we call on Your Name, YOU HEAR US, and YOU ANSWER US, and YOU SAVE US from all the schemes of the enemy. Living in this world, we need You, Lord. You are as close as our call. Glory to God!!! We give You the praise. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Hebrews 7:25 NKJV – The Uttermost

Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

I remember that there were times when I thought that nobody would pray for me. Nobody cared enough and that they didn’t know what I was facing. It was my pride that caused me to think that. But nothing is hidden from God. The message that Jesus Saves continues even when we walk into the land of self-doubt and pity.   Jesus brought me out of that land and into the land of redemption, salvation, and eternal life. He saved me to the uttermost. He met me when I was at my lowest so that all that was left was death or life in Him. All that time I wallowed in self-doubt and pity, Jesus was interceding for me. Jesus, the ultimate intercessor. Thank You Jesus!

Friend, if you find yourself in a place of self-doubt, pity, or you just don’t think anyone cares, call upon Jesus. He knows what you are facing and He is ready to pick you up, dust you off, and set you free. Remember, he loves you with an everlasting love and He desires to spend eternity with you.

Heavenly Lord Jesus, thank You that You always desired to walk with me in the “cool of the day”. Thank You, Lord, that You always loved me and You gave Yourself for me. When I thought nothing except self-doubt and pity, You came and lifted me up. Took my hand and called my name. You stood in the gap for me and I say Glory to God! In Your Holy Name, Jesus. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

2 Samuel 22:3 NKJV – God the Rock

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.

Where does our help come from in times of need? Where can we place our trust? The answer to both of these questions is God. God is our Rock and we can rely on Him for absolute protection and salvation.

God the Rock is a refuge for His people. “In God is my salvation and my glory; the rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.” (Psalm 62:7 NKJV)

God the Rock is His people’s fortress. “But the Lord has been my defense, and my God the rock of my refuge.” (Psalm 94:22 NKJV)

God the Rock is His people’s security. “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.” (Psalm 18:2 NKJV)

And God the Rock is our deliverer. God is the only deliverer and deliverance reaches its climax in the saving work of Jesus Christ. God’s work of salvation is accomplished supremely through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Through faith, the believer is able to share in all the saving benefits won by Jesus Christ through his obedience to God. “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. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17 NKJV)

Friend, today’s message is short and simple. God is your strength and where you should place your trust. He is your shield and protector; your stronghold and safe refuge. He is your salvation who will keep you safe. But it requires you to see the need for Him. It requires you to make a choice. Do you want Him to be your strength or not? Scripture 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) Scripture also says, “For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13 NKJV) So how does this all come to be? What do I need to do to have God as my Rock? It starts with humble heart which recognizes and admits a need for a Savior and a simple prayer. It’s not the prayer that saves anyone or anything that you can do. It’s God’s gift to anyone who accepts His Son, Jesus, as their Lord and Savior. If you’ve chosen to seek God as your strength, your shield, your protector, your deliverer, and your Savior, pray this prayer.

Dear Lord, I am a sinner in need of a Savior. I’ve come seeking Your mercy and grace. I desire You to be my Rock, my fortress, my strength, my shield, my protector, and my Savior. Forgive me, Lord. I’ve sinned against You. I come to You humbly and seek Your presence in my life. Forgive my sins and cleanse me today, Lord, by Your blood. Come into my life, Lord, today. I accept You as my Lord and Savior. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

You’ve made probably the most important decision of your life. You now will also be able to proclaim what the psalmist did. “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.” Your life is secure by the promises of God and the blood of His Son, Jesus.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

 

Psalm 145:18 NKJV – Here “I Am”

The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.

God is omnipresent in that He transcends all limitations of space and is present in the fullness of His being in every place. Everywhere. God is present throughout heaven and earth. ““Am I a God near at hand,” says the Lord, “And not a God afar off? Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him?” says the Lord; “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the Lord.” (Jeremiah 23:23-24 NKJV) So if we can agree to accept that God is everywhere and nothing is hidden from Him, then why do we sometimes think God is far away from our circumstance or what we are facing?

God gives us an access to Him. Yes, it’s a privilege and a generous gift to enter into His presence. We receive that gift when we make Him our Lord and Savior. His presence extends our time with Him while we are here on earth. His presence is the very essence of our intimate relationship with Him. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8 NKJV) Under the old covenant, coming near to God was closely linked with the sacrificial system, but under the new covenant Jesus Christ’s sacrifice has given believers free access into God’s presence.

This intimate relationship I write about begins with prayer. Yes, prayer. Prayer is based on God’s love for believers. Through his grace, he gives them things which they do not deserve, while through his mercy he shields them from those things which they do deserve. God’s desire since the beginning of the ages was always to spend eternity with His creation. Only because of man’s fall to sin, did our relationship end with God. But God never changed His desire. His desire remains today; to spend eternity with us.

Prayer reflects a longing after God. “Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:12-13 NKJV) When we long after God, we humble ourselves and submit our ways to His ways. Longing after God is defined as a deep desire for God, which Scripture often compares to hunger or thirst. And only Jesus Christ can truly satisfy this longing for God.

I think we don’t access God or even call upon Him before our circumstances become critical or when what we are facing becomes a crisis because our relationship with Him is not where it should be. I think that if our relationship with God was intimate and close, we would call upon Him knowing He is right with us. Dependence on God for help with spiritual and physical needs arises out of an awareness of human helplessness. We need to look at our dependency in God as if nothing else matters. We need to bring God into each and every circumstance, each and every decision, and each and every moment of our lives. If God is our focal point, then we will by faith call upon Him.

Friend, my point is this. God is near; very near to you. You cannot hide anything from Him and there is nothing that surprises Him. There is nothing you are facing that He cannot take care of. “But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26 NKJV) I don’t care if you need healing, deliverance, forgiveness, strength to endure, a financial miracle, or just know that you have someone who loves you. God is present in His fullness; His power; His glory. Call upon Him and have conversation with Him. That’s all prayer is. And when you talk to God, listen to Him. Yes, God will answer you. Through His Word, through revelation of the truth, or however else He decides. He created you and knows how to get your attention.

Dear Lord, thank You that You remain near to us. Thank You that You are not far away. Help us Lord to remember that when we come to You and pray to You, You will listen. Nothing is impossible for You, Lord. Forgive us when we place You in a small box and our faith is not what it should be. You are a great BIG God who answers great BIG prayers. I believe Lord, help my unbelief. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!