Mark 11:25 NKJV – Forgiven so I can forgive

And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.

God’s forgiveness of believers’ sins leads them to pray for His forgiveness of others and to be forgiving to others. This is a command and not a choice. “Whoa! Wait a minute. You don’t know what he/she did to me.” No, I don’t, but Jesus is very clear with this command. Jesus said, “anything against anyone, forgive him”. Being forgiven is dependent on forgiving others.

I know that I struggled with obedience to this Scripture even after I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Though I would tell you that my heart and mind were changed, I still had deep hurts from my past. Some of the hurt was actually bitterness that I refused to let go of. Bitterness is a bad seed. I’ll tell you that it eats at your life and endeavors to consume you. It’ like the worst kind of killing weed. The enemy uses bitterness to keep us from forgiving others. But our God is greater. The enemy is of the world, but God is not. “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than He who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4 NKJV)

I had to learn that forgiveness begins with love for that individual. Loving those who hurt you. Loving those who persecute you. Loving those who scorn you. Loving those who tell lies about you. Loving those who others say are unlovable. “Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8 NKJV) Jesus was very clear about loving your enemies. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:43-45 NKJV)

Being changed and delivered from bitterness in my life gave me a freedom that cannot be adequately explained. A freedom of extreme joy. The change and the deliverance came after long hours and many days of being discipled from many brothers and sisters in the Lord and prayer. It was a process that was nurtured and fed with every moment I sought God in prayer. To love like Jesus loves, you need to have a relationship with Jesus. Man cannot love as Jesus loves without the power of His mercy and grace. Man cannot love as Jesus loves without an active relationship with love Himself, Jesus. Jesus is love!

Friend, our forgiveness of others is to be without limits. We are to forgive as Christ forgave us. Jesus went to the cross to pay the price for mankind’s sin. He suffered and died because of us; our sin nailed Him to the cross. The good news is, Jesus forgives. He rose from the grace to defeat sin and death once for all and forgives those who come to Him in faith and belief. Jesus forgives unconditionally when we humble ourselves and submit our lives to Him based on His mercy and grace. Our forgiveness of others must be as unconditional as Christ who forgave us. So where do we start? We start with prayer, seeking God for the mind and heart and compassion of Jesus. Jesus prayed for those who persecuted Him when He said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34 NKJV) You can choose to carry the bitterness of unforgiveness or you can choose to forgive those who have hurt or persecuted you. Make the right choice and go to God in prayer.

Precious Jesus, thank You for Your forgiveness. Lord, there have been times when bitterness has overtaken our hearts. Thank You Lord that You give us Your love that transcends our bitterness. We can love our enemies because Lord you love them. Teach us how to love as You love. Bring us to our knees as we seek You to understand the depth of Your forgiveness and love. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Psalm 91:14 NKJV – Therefore, I will deliver him

Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him on high, because he has known My name.

Another great promise of the Lord. Literally, this verse says that God’s promise of protection comes to those who have faith in Him. “Set his love upon Me” means you hold on to God in love. Your love of God takes a hold of Him and all He is. Your love of God takes precedence. You have made a choice to go with God or not go at all.

God is our only deliverer. God defends the weak and needy. “He will bring justice to the poor of the people; He will save the children of the needy, and will break in pieces the oppressor.” (Psalm 72:4 NKJV) When we walk with God and walk in His ways, He is near. God is our personal bodyguard. God is our guaranteed safety whether natural or spiritual, from danger or loss. God is our ultimate security. Jesus said, “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” (John 10:28-29 NKJV) We have to make the choice.

If we set our love upon the Lord; when we grab a hold of God there is nothing He won’t deliver us from. And the Lord will set us on high, above the struggle, above the battle, above the circumstance. High above where the danger lies. Why? Because He wants us to have faith in Him to defeat whatever we are facing.

God promises to hear the prayers of His own in our 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 NKJV) When we call upon God about our needs, we make a very important statement. We are asking God to act, in dependence upon Him and out of a sense of sometimes desperate need. God honors prayers of love and dependence to Him. And when we honor God, He honors us.

Friend, let us always set our love upon God. Let us always call upon God and honor Him with our total dependence of Him. Let us receive then, God’s great mercy and grace when He delivers us from our troubles. And when He does, and He will, let us honor God again with our love and praise and set the cycle to begin again.

Dear Holy and Gracious Lord. Thank You that You are our ultimate deliverer. Thank You that You rescue us from our troubles. We love You and honor You, Lord. We are dependent upon You Lord and only You. We place our faith and our trust in You and no one else. Help us make the right choice and choose You for our ultimate security. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Deuteronomy 7:9 NKJV – Great is Thy Faithfulness

“Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments”

Well, AMEN and AMEN. God is faithful. I have been meditating lately on the faithfulness of God; even to the point of the sound of “Great is Thy Faithfulness” resounding in my mind’s ear.

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!

Morning by morning new mercies I see;

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!

 God’s faithfulness is an integral part of His nature. His limitless power and steadfast love imply complete faithfulness which is contrary with human nature. “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23 NKJV) God’s mercies are not consumed by the world and the things the world throws at us. His Compassion, His Power, and His Glory overshadow everything. When we feel we need so much more, God provides. The enemy would like us to believe that there is only one level of God’s faithfulness that is available and that we have to apply the rest. That’s a LIE!!! God’s faithfulness is abundant in power and grace and always surpasses what we need. Don’t believe the enemy’s lies.

God’s is faithful to His name and His character. “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13 NKJV) God’s faithfulness is known through fulfilled promises. “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’s faithfulness is not negated by human unfaithfulness. God’s desire has never changed since before time began. He has always desired to spend eternity with His creation. That’s you and me.

Jesus Christ is the ultimate evidence of God’s faithfulness. “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” (2 Corinthians 1:20-22 NKJV) Jesus is one with the Father and the Father is one with Him. “that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (John 17:21 NKJV)

God is faithful. It’s the grace and the mercy of God that are the qualities of God’s character by which he shows himself compassionate, accepting, and generous to sinful human beings, shielding them from his wrath, forgiving them, and bestowing on them his righteousness so that they can live and grow in faith and obedience. God’s faithfulness, grace, and mercy are made known in Jesus Christ. “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:16-17 NKJV) “Great is Thy Faithfulness” ends with this last verse:

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,

Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;

Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,

Blessings are mine, with ten thousand beside!

Friend, a relationship with a faithful God begins with a prayer; a humble conversation with a loving God who desires to pour out His love and faithfulness over your life. He desires nothing more than to spend eternity with you. His love for you is everlasting and Jesus Christ has already paid the price for your sin. Why don’t you pray today and ask God to forgive you and cleanse you and come into your life and heart. Jesus died and rose from the grave so that He could lift you out of the miry clay and snatch you away from the grips of the enemy. Sin and death have no power over you if only you would believe.

Dear Lord, I no longer want to walk in this life without hope. I am tired of living for myself and desire a relationship with You. I am a sinner and I am in need of a Savior. Forgive me Lord and come into my life and my heart. I submit my life into Your hands and believe that You died for me and rose from the grave to defeat sin and death once and for all. Even for me, Lord. Be my Savior and wash me clean by Your blood, today, Jesus. I love You. 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!

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!