Luke 11:1 NKJV – A daily encounter with God

“Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”

I’ve written about many aspects of prayer and the power of God in prayer. I’ve written about this particular scripture in the past; how the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. But today, I use this scripture to make another point about prayer. The point is that a daily encounter with God in prayer is vitally important. There is a necessity of connecting with God Almighty on a daily basis.

Jesus set an example with His disciples on the importance of prayer so that they might become more like Him. For us too, this is our goal; to be Christlike in everything we do. It’s called sanctification. We are being set apart or sanctified from the entire world so that we embody in mind, body, and spirit the image of Jesus Christ. And in regards to prayer, we need to be like Jesus.

It was customary that religious leaders of that time were expected to teach their disciples how to pray. Prayer is based on God’s love for believers. Through God’s grace, He provides things we do not deserve, while through His mercy, He shields us from those things we do deserve. Hallelujah! A vital aspect of our prayer is its purpose; to allow the will of God to be accomplished in us for the glory and honor of Him alone. God promises to hear and to respond to the prayers we offer. “O You who hear prayer, to You all flesh will come.” (Psalm 65:2 NKJV)

I believe that if I am to be called a believer in Jesus Christ I must reflect my longing after Him. I must demonstrate that I long to be like Jesus. Scripture accounts for this longing. “Then you will call upon Ne 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) What this verse is saying is our restoration is predicated on our seeking God with our whole heart in prayer.

Friend, access to God is a privilege. We have access to God through Jesus. Jesus said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9 NJHV) The disciples wanted to know how to pray because they witnessed Jesus’ access to His Father and wanted that. The disciples wanted the connection that Jesus had. Believing in and declaring Jesus Christ as Savior, draws us to be in His presence and to have a relationship with Him continually. To know God is not merely to know things about Him. That’s head knowledge. But to know God is also to experience His presence and power. To know God is to be transformed by Him. Prayer brings us this knowledge. The more we have conversation and intimacy with God in prayer, the more God reveals Himself to us. Prayer along with the study of God’s Word equips us for what He has called us to do. God gives knowledge of His greatness and grace through the experience of Him, submission to Him and in answer to prayer.

Precious Lord, thank You that we have access to You through Your grace and that when we call upon You in prayer You listen. Open up more time in our lives to spend time with You. Forgive us Lord when we set You aside to accomplish other things that could wait. You alone are our only hope. May we search for You with all of our heart. 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!

John 6:35 NKJV – Where does my nourishment come from?

“And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.””

I like this verse because it always causes me to think about where I receive my nourishment. I’m not talking about actual food and drink. That’s for my physical body. But where do I go to receive nourishment for my mind and soul.

Bread was a basic staple in the diets of those living in biblical times. To this day, there are places of business where you can buy fresh baked breads of various kinds. There are bread makers that you can purchase if you are inclined to make fresh baked bread right at home. I admit that fresh baked bread is very good and I enjoy it from time to time.  It’s also said that a person can live longer without food than without water to drink. Some experts say that a person cannot live longer than 3 days without water. But this verse directs our focus to the true “Bread of Life” and the “Living Water” that keep us spiritually alive.

What Jesus is saying here is that if you come after Me, you shall never feel hungry. If you believe in Me, you will never thirst. If we pursue Jesus as if He would fulfill our emptiness from natural nourishment, He would fill us with His spiritual nourishment which lasts for eternity. “Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:13-14 NKJV)

Everything on this earth is temporary. “For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:18 NKJV) The visible world is passing away. The unseen world is what is most important and most real. If we put our trust and faith in the things of this world, the things will eventually all die away. Then what do we have left? We are left with emptiness and a need to look for something else to fill the void. And if we continue to fill the void with things of this world, the cycle of emptiness is not broken.

But if we place our trust and faith on the things that are eternal (the unseen world), these things will never die away. If we hunger and thirst for truth and hope and the answers we are looking for, and we eat and drink from the truth and hope and answers of the Lord, we are given eternal nourishment. And God promises we will never go hungry or thirst again. Where will you place your trust and faith?

Friend, I don’t know what you are facing or where your struggles lie, but if you are seeking after the world for a solution, know that the solution grounded in the world has a life span and will die someday.   But Jesus Christ offers you an eternal solution and that is grounded in His grace, His mercy, His love, and His salvation for you. I’m asking you. What choice will you make? If you choose Jesus, it all starts with a prayer. A prayer that believes that Jesus died for your sins and that You desire to have a personal relationship with Him. His love, His Mercy, and His grace await you. Jesus loves you with an everlasting love and desires to spend eternity with you.

Dear Jesus, I need some answers and the world is not able to give me those answers. I feel lost without any help. I’m told You love me and that I can find the hope I’m looking for in You. Please help me, Jesus. I am a sinner and I need a Savior. I believe You died for me and You defeated my sin when You rose from the grave. Come into my life Jesus and be my Savior. I give You my life. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

 

Matthew 18:10 NKJV – The little girl story I’ll never forget

“Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.”

Nancy and I were reminiscing the other day, back a number of years ago to a very special meeting we had with a little girl in the hospital. We were asked to visit her and to pray for her. She had terminal cancer. We were so blessed to go. We took her a teddy bear.

When we arrived her parents were with her along with some family friends. After some time for everyone to get comfortable, I was asked to pray. I sat down next to her and took her little hand in mine. I remember feeling that this little girl and I were connected someway. While I prayed, the little girl stroked my hand with her other hand. Time seemed to stand still. This little sweetheart of a girl went to be with Jesus a few days later.

I share this with you because prayer is a direct connection with the heart of God. I didn’t know if she would be healed. I just knew that I had to pray. What happened in her room that night changed all of us.

Nancy and I look forward to when we will see her again. She lived a very short life of 5 years, but I will carry her story until I see her again. She was very special, showed no fear, and her story will now touch a world.

Precious Lord, thank You for the opportunities that You give us to pray for others. I am so grateful that You gave me an opportunity to pray for this little girl. I rejoice that she is standing with You in heaven. Help us Lord to hear Your still small voice and respond in obedience. Lord, you capture our prayers and surround them with your mercy and grace and then take them heavenward for You to answer. Always for Your purpose and our good. We give You praise, Lord. 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 (Part 2)

Part 1 written on October 12, 2013

“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.”

The last time this verse was discussed, it dealt with the subject that “Prayer changes things, starting with the one who prays.” We wrote that God hears and answers prayers and the power of prayer does not come from the words we use, but rather the power of prayer works because of the Power of the Lord! Power to heal, Power to deliver, Power to restore, Power to repair, Power to provide, Power to guide and direct, Power to protect, Power to give hope.

Part 2 asks, “But, can I be forgiven?” The Apostle James states in our verse that prayer of a righteous man avails much or is powerful and effective. But what about prayer of one who seeks God’s forgiveness.

An admission of sin on the part of an individual is what is called confession. Confession or in other words humbly calling upon God leads to divine forgiveness. “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” (1 John 1:8-10 NJKV) God’s forgiveness is given as soon as we admit our need of it, not on the basis of some kind of act or service on our part to earn it, but rather solely because of God’s grace. The free gift of forgiveness carries with it complete purification of unrighteousness. God the Father accepts us as righteous in His sight and He imputes to us the righteousness of His Son, Jesus. And this is because Jesus died and rose again to defeat sin and eternal death. Jesus’ blood sacrifice on our behalf.

God’s character shows Himself as compassionate, accepting and generous to sinful man; shielding us from His wrath, forgiving us so that we can live and grow in faith and obedience. His grace and mercy are particularly expressed through God’s covenant with His children through the atoning death on the cross by Jesus. All of this is our assurance that when we seek God in prayer and ask for His forgiveness and repent from sin, He hears and forgives. Period!

Repentance from sin opens the way for God’s blessings. God 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) I say, “Praise the Lord for His longsuffering or patience.” God is patient and He is slow to anger. (Jonah 4:2 NKJV)

Forgiveness begins with Jesus and is all about Jesus. Not ourselves, but what Jesus accomplished through His death and resurrection. The fulfillment of God’s purpose of salvation is sealed by the blood of Jesus. It is a covenant grace, the benefits of which include forgiveness and a renewed relationship with God, through the Holy Spirit; an inward transformation that enables obedience.

Yes, again I say Yes! Humble, repentant prayer for forgiveness will lead God to hear and answer your prayer. God’s desire is to spend eternity with you in heaven and His plan involved sending His Son, Jesus, to earth for you to ensure this happens. Jesus’ death and resurrection provided what was needed and He defeated sin and eternal death. What’s next is a choice. Eternal fellowship with God or eternal separation from God. Fellowship with God begins with a prayer. Let’s pray.

Dear Lord, I am a sinner and I need Your forgiveness. I cannot continue living the way that I do. I need a Savior. Jesus, I believe that You died for me and rose from the grave to defeat my sin and eternal death. You did this for me. Forgive me now, Lord. I repent of my sin, and submit my life to You. Come into my heart and life and be my guide. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Psalm 103:12 NKJV – How vast is God’s mercy and grace?

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

“But Lord, You can’t possibly forgive me for all that I have done. How could forgiveness be for me! You don’t know me. And if You did, You couldn’t love me.” Oh how the enemy wants us to believe all of this. The enemy wants us to think that there is no way that God could love us to forgive us. I remember the times I’ve let the devil speak to me this way. I remember the helplessness I felt when I found myself bound in sin and thinking there was no hope.

But that is not what this verse tells us. When God forgives sins, He completely removes them. The height and breadth of His mercy is vast; as far and as wide as the east is separated from the west. WOW! “For I’m persuaded that neither death nor live, nor angels nor principalities not 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 NJKV) If nothing can separate us from the love of God, than God can forgive us no matter what we have done. His love is everlasting and He loved us so much that He died for us.

Then why do we think these things? First, we allow the enemy to speak to us this way. We don’t rebuke him or resist him. We allow his lies to penetrate our minds. Second, we fail to look at God for who He is. He is our everlasting Savior. The gospel reveals the purpose and the power of God to deal with sin and ALL of its effects. God forgives the sins of believers on the basis of the once for all sacrifice by Jesus on the cross. Believer’s sins are no longer held against them, on account of the atoning death of Jesus Christ.

Scripture reveals God’s assurance of forgiveness. My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2 NKJV) Jesus is our Advocate. He is one who speaks on our behalf and because of His blood sacrifice, the price has been paid for our forgiveness. Restoration is demonstrated by God in His love and grace which restores a fallen humanity and by His lifting of His people to their former place within His service.

Believers are assured of the unfailing love of God and of their relationship with Him as Father, the salvation and eternal life which He offers and the absolute hope one day of sharing His glory. “Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for Yah, the Lord, is my strength and song; He also has become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:2 NKJV)

Don’t listen to the enemy’s lies. Turn away from them and believe in the power of God to forgive no matter what. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NKJV) Let’s take time today to turn toward God in awe, and in praise and in joy as we realize how wonderful God truly is. Prayer is a natural part of worship; to know God is to want to pray to Him and worship Him. Let’s take time today to pray and ask God to forgive us from the sin that keeps us from a right relationship with Him.

Dear Lord, forgive me when I think that You cannot love me. Thank You Father that You loved me so much You gave Your only begotten Son, Jesus. Thank You Jesus that You died for me and all my sin. Forgive me when I believe the lies of the enemy and turn from You. You are my hope and I believe in You. So Lord, forgive me and cleanse me today. You are my salvation and nothing can keep me from Your love. Thank You Lord for the promises of Your Word. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Psalm 136:1-9 NKJV – His mercy endures forever

“Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Oh, give thanks to the God of gods! For His mercy endures forever. Oh, give thanks to the Lord of lords! For His mercy endures forever: To Him who alone does great wonders, For His mercy endures forever; To Him who by wisdom made the heavens, For His mercy endures forever; To Him Who laid out the earth above the waters, For His mercy endures forever; To Him who made great lights, For His mercy endures forever—The sun to rule by day, For His mercy endures forever; The moon and stars to rule by night, For His mercy endures forever.”

God’s mercy is His total devotion to those who believe. God is unchangeable. His love is consistent. His mercy is consistent. His grace is consistent. His purposes and plans do not change. And God’s Word does not change. God’s grace and mercy are made known in Jesus Christ. Let us give thanks!

We must give thanks to God, not only because He does good, but because He is good; not only because He is merciful to us, but because His mercy endures forever.   Do you know that we are reminded that “His mercy endures forever” twenty-six times in this Psalm? I’m thankful for that. I need the mercy of God each and every moment I live. There’s little wonder that the psalmist begins with a command to thank God three times. Daniel said it this way, “To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him.” (Daniel 9:9 NKJV)

God is compassionate. It is an aspect of God’s nature. It is reflected in His understanding of human weakness and His willingness to restore those in trouble. “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy. The Lord is good to all, and He tender mercies are over all His works.” (Psalm 145:8-9 NKJV) Again this demonstrates God’s steadfast love and devotion to His people. His mercy endures forever!

Precious Lord, we give You thanks. Let us lift You above all things. Let us never forget that You are good and Your mercy endures forever. Even when we fail, Your plans and purposes never change. Even when we turn away from You, Your love never changes. In the midst of our human weaknesses, You are gracious Lord and full of compassion. Thank You Lord for Your mercy endures forever. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

 Don’t believe me, believe God!