Jude 24-25 The Message – All glory and majesty and dominion and authority!

And now to him who can keep you on your feet, standing tall in his bright presence, fresh and celebrating—to our one God, our only Savior, through Jesus Christ, our Master, be glory, majesty, strength, and rule before all time, and now, and to the end of all time. Yes.

What a doxology! Expressing the confidence in God’s power to preserve His people to the very end, and acknowledging God’s eternal greatness in His “GLORY, MAJESTY, DOMINION, AND AUTHORITY”! Noted also in Romans 16:25-27 “All of our praise rises to the One who is strong enough to make you strong, exactly as preached in Jesus Christ, precisely as revealed in the mystery kept secret for so long but now an open book through the prophetic Scriptures. All the nations of the world can now know the truth and be brought into obedient belief, carrying out the orders of God, who got all this started, down to the very last letter. All our praise is focused through Jesus on this incomparably wise God! Yes!”

How incomparable our Lord is. Matthew Henry wrote, “God is able, and He is as willing as He is able, to keep us from falling, and to present us faultless before the presence of His glory; not as those who never have been faulty, but as those whose faults shall not be imputed, to their ruin, which, but for God’s mercy and a Savior’s merit, they might most justly have been” Through our One and only Savior, Jesus, we can stand before God pure and spotless; in the fullness of God’s glory. No longer will we have to turn from the Glory of God, but we can allow God’s glory to surround us, to encapsulate us. We will forever dwell within the Glory of God forever and ever.

God’s power and authority through His Son, Jesus, keeps us upright and standing tall. Ready to celebrate and worship the King. Where there is no sin, there will be no sorrow. Where there is perfection in holiness, there will also be perfection in our joy; our exceeding joy. That is why this verse in other translations ends with a rousing, “AMEN!” or in this case The Message says, “Yes!”

Friend, the Lord is strong enough whenever you need it. Strong enough to face your greatest fears and heartaches. God is our “All in All”. God’s strength is perfected in our weakness. “And He said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV) The Lord is everything we need for every situation. We don’t need to “new version” of God. We don’t have to wait for the upgrade to come out. God is the same, yesterday, today and forever more. When we call upon the name of the Lord, He hears us and is ready to reside in the midst of our prayers. When we don’t know what to pray, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and the Lord begins to move. Our God is greater, our God is stronger, our God is higher than any other. Our God is healer, awesome in power, our God, our God!

O great and glorious God, thank You that You are higher than all things. Greater than all fears, all worries, all trials, all temptation, all disease, all burdens and all struggles. Great and Mighty are You. You God are our exceeding joy and we give You all the praise and glory. Help us Lord to stand tall in the face of our weakness knowing that Your strength is perfected in our weakness. Nothing is impossible for You. We love You and thank You in Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

1 Peter 4:7 NKJV – Why wait?

But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers.

Peter is saying that there is a need to be serious and watchful in prayer and that the end is coming. The end being a reference of Jesus’ return. The call to vigilance is frequent in the New Testament. But today I write with a slightly different point of view. It starts with this question, “Why wait?”

Sometimes we find ourselves slacking in our prayers because we get complacent. We think that all is well and put our lives on “cruise control” and just move along as the world takes us. We believe that we can put on the brakes when we need to, so that we can deal with what lies in front of us. Once we are past that, we can get moving again and hit the “cruise” once more.

The problem with this kind of life is that prayer then only becomes important when something lies in front of us blocking our path. We pray only when we are facing something; when crisis comes. Now, it’s important to bring God into our situations and struggles; to open our hearts to Him in time of need. Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” But to be watchful in our prayers is to have a life of prayer.

A life of prayer can be defined as having an attitude of prayer. “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 4:2 NKJV) Prayerfulness is an attitude by which a constant relationship between God and ourselves is developed. So having an attitude of prayer or being prayerful is totally dependent on our relationship with God. This relationship arises from a deep desire to be with God and an awareness of need that can only be met by God.

To be serious and watchful in our prayers demonstrates a relationship with God and a continuing trust in Him. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” (John 15:5-8 NKJV)

Friend, I go back to the first question, “Why wait?” Should we not find it important to develop our relationship with God so that we can live with an attitude of prayer? Being watchful is seeing with the eyes of God and allowing God to move in every part of our lives as we trust Him. Yes the end times are coming when Jesus will return to gather us who call Him Lord and Savior and take us to His place, Heaven. But let’s begin to nurture our relationship with God in praise, and worship, and prayer. Prayer embraces God for who He is. Prayer is conversation with God and connects us with His Mighty Power. Prayer says to God that we know we are powerless and we need His power to get through whatever we are facing. And God’s power is released through our faith. “Jesus said to him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes.” (Mark 9:23 NKJV) Take some time and call upon the name of the Lord in prayer. Love Him. Tell Him what is on your mind. Listen to Him when He speaks back to you. And allow His power to live in and through you.

Dear God, thank You that we can come to You at any time and talk with You. Teach us to be serious and watchful in our prayers by having daily conversation with You. Help us develop an attitude of prayer that keeps You in the front of our minds. Forgive us when we place You and prayer in the back seat and think all is well until we come to a road block. May You guide and direct our paths as we place our trust in You. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

2 Corinthians 12:9 – God’s strength and not ours – Part 2

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Back in October 2013, I wrote Part 1 of this Scripture verse. Well, I didn’t know there was a part one until I sat down to write again (Part 2) about 2 Corinthians 12:9. The last time I wrote it was about the understanding that God will accomplish His purposes without taking from His servant the thorn that seems to hinder him. And despite human weaknesses, God’s grace attains His purposes. This is a promise that gives us strength to endure anything we face and it encourages us to “keep on keepin on”.

This time I’m writing from a different viewpoint that centers on the second part of this verse. Boasting in our infirmities so that the power of Christ will rest upon us. Over these last 4 weeks or so, God has imparted this verse into my spirit. You see, God knew what was ahead of me. I believe for a very personal and pointed reason. It’s personal and pointed to me, but I willingly share this because I know that it’s personal and pointed to someone else. Please settle your heart and hear me out.

As I wrote yesterday, there are times that we all feel pain. Sometimes that pain is physical as I have had over the last 4 weeks. The pain I have been facing recently has been pretty intense. At times the pain is so intense I cry out. All the time praying, “Lord take my pain away for even a moment.” But when the Lord began to impart upon me a new understanding of our Scripture verse, the prayers I prayed began to change. The Lord began to give me understanding of why Paul said what he did in the second part of this Scripture. Paul said that he would rather boast in his infirmities. Paul would rather boast about all the things that he faced and suffered through to get to the point where the Power of Christ would rest upon him. Paul knew he needed all of God’s power to finish the race laid before him. I now have begun a journey with God as well with my current physical illness.

I am so thankful for the dozens and dozens of Pastors, friends, family, prayer warriors, intercessors that have come along side of me in prayer for God’s healing touch in me. Now I don’t want anyone to think that I am suffering from a life ending sickness. I am not. Just a very painful sickness that the doctor’s say can only be fixed by surgery. But God has taught me something very powerful. That through the painful times of my sickness He can be glorified. It’s all about God’s power and His glory no matter what I or you suffer. It’s all about the Power of Christ resting upon us. We can because He can.

Today I learned that the surgery that had already been planned to occur in a few weeks was pushed out another week. Did the news from the surgeon discourage me? No. It was a little annoying, but not discouraging. If another week of what I’m facing can glorify God even more, then I’m ok with it. As a matter of fact, the last 36 hours, the pain has incredibly subsided as a result of God’s healing hand and answers to prayer. Praise the Lord!

Matthew 10:29-31 (NKJV) says, “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” I’ve said this before that God’s love is the deepest expression of His character. God’s nature is love. And God’s love is eternal. “The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: Yes, I have loved you with and everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” (Jeremiah 31:3 NKJV) In God’s infinite love, He gave us His Son, Jesus, to be our Savior; to suffer and die in our place so that we could live eternally. He died for my sickness. He died for my infirmities. He died for whatever I face. And you, too!

Friend, there is no sickness, illness, pain, trial, trouble, scorning, persecution, that we together with Christ cannot face. It’s God’s strength that is made perfect in weakness, not our strength.  God’s strength is perfected to meet whatever we face, whatever holds us back, whatever sickness we might have, whatever keeps us from fulfilling God’s call on our life.  It’s done for you; finished so that all we need to do is BELIEVE. When we pray, we must believe it is God’s strength that will accomplish what we ask.  It’s God’s strength that resides in that prayer.  There’s more to knowing God hears and answers prayer. It’s believing His Power resides in that prayer!  That’s why, Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Precious Lord, thank You for Your sufficient grace. Thank You that Your strength is made perfect in our weakness. Lord, pour out Your power in our lives and may it rest upon us. For every sickness, illness, trial, struggle, weakness, may it be Your Power that sees us through. For Your glory and Your honor. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Psalm 23:1 NKJV- I need nothing else

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

The image of God as a shepherd is expressly amazing. A shepherd stays with his flock and the flock is totally dependent on the shepherd. So that is why this first verse of Psalm 23 is so incredibly powerful. If defines who our shepherd is and a reward for following Him.

This verse has been in my spirit for a few weeks. During this time, I’ve been thinking deeply about the power of God to take care of everything that I face or am in need of. I’ve not been in a season of question, but rather a season of meditation on how much God cares for me and how much He establishes my way. Proverbs 21:29 says that God establishes our way. God’s hand is on everything we do. Above what we can think or even imagine. Establishing our way indicates that God is involved beforehand. Establishing indicates God’s work begins way before we know what it is to do or what it is we face. That kind of shepherding is what I’m talking about.

“I shall not want.” A promise given by God that if I heed the voice of the shepherd, He will guide me to a place that He not only establishes for me, but it will be filled with whatever I need. “The steps of the man are from the Lord, and He establishes him in whose way he delights.” (Psalm 37:23 RSV) I shall not have any desire to want anything else. Think about that for awhile. We are a culture of want. We are! We want the new gadget, or the new computer or iPhone. But when we are in Christ, God, our Father, provides everything to satisfy His desire for us. It’s His desire for us. The ultimate loving Father. He knows what’s best. He can provide the best. And He protects us from anything less than the best.  For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV)

I love Psalm 23 in its entirety, but the very first verse establishes the incredible plan and love for those who call Jesus, Lord. Our Lord provides all that we can ever need. Our needs are determined by His great love and plan for us and are more that we can ever comprehend. “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19 NKJV) The supply comes from the storehouses of God’s love, His grace, His mercy, His providence, His care, His Glory!!! Let me be transparent just for a minute.  Sometimes there are very painful days in my life due to some health issues I am facing.  Sometimes that pain is very severe and I’ve prayed, “Lord take my pain away even for a moment.”  There’s nothing wrong with that prayer.  Nothing at all.  But recently, since meditating on this verse, I’ve found myself praying differently.  I now pray, “Lord, I pray my life glorifies you.  I’ll face whatever will give You glory.”  I’ve learned what the Apostle Paul knew when he said, “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV) You see, I need nothing else.  I have my Lord and I shall not want.

Friend, as imperfect humans we will from time to time set our eyes upon the things of this world and maybe even make a “wish list”. I’ll tell you what I’m going to do when those thoughts come across my mind. I’m going to pray. I’m going to ask the Lord to show me what He desires for my life and go after that. Jesus is our shepherd and we know His voice and He will lead us as we follow Him.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.  You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.

Precious Lord, thank You that You are my shepherd. I know Your voice. You provide for me according to Your riches. You guide me and direct me. My cup runs over. Forgive me Lord when I decide that my wants are my needs. Forgive me when I don’t submit everything into Your hands. I love You Lord and thank You that You establish my ways. I give You the glory in Jesus Name. AMEN

 Don’t believe me, believe God!

 

James 1:2-4 The Message – Testing

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

Trials can be considered pure joy only when there is knowledge that they are designed by God for a purpose. They are tests of faith given in order to develop perseverance, thereby producing maturity in Christian character. “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance.” (Romans 5:3 NKJV)

I will tell you that I don’t like tribulation. I don’t like it, but I understand it and where I need to place my trust. God seeks proof of genuine love, faith and growth in the lives of His people. He tests them in various ways.

God tests us to refine us. “And it shall come to pass in all the land, says the Lord, that two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die, but one-third shall be left in it. I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘This is My people’; and each one will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’” (Zechariah 13:8-9 NKJV)

God tests us to prove our obedience. “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in My law or not.” (Exodus 16:4 NKJV)

And God allows faith to be tested. Faith testing is the means through which the genuineness of our faith is proved and our Christian character developed.

Testing proves the genuineness of our faith. “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7 NKJV)

Testing develops our Christian character. That’s what our foundational verse is saying. But not only does testing prove and develop our character, it cleans and purifies us. “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” (Isaiah 48:10 NLKV)

But thanks be to God that He promises help during testing. “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:32 NKJV) and “When you pass through the water, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you.” (Isaiah 43:2 NKJV)

Friend, our faith will be tested. Faith testing is not always pleasant, but with our minds and eyes fixed on God, it will produce a blessing that someday we will not be able to contain it. When we believe that our faith is being tested, that’s the perfect time to go to the secret place where you can call on the name of the Lord and pray. That’s the perfect time to ask Him to strengthen and enlighten you as you walk through your circumstance. It’s the perfect time to gather prayer partners around you to agree to pray with you. That’s the perfect time to worship the Lord. It’s in the midst of worship that God manifests Himself. When God appears in His awesome power, those things, the enemies of God (sickness, disease, conflict, unforgiveness, strife, heartache, fear, sorrow, pain, sin) have reason to fear Him and flea as they will be destroyed. In the midst of worship, God moves. Worship is turning to God in awe, praise and joy, as his people realize how wonderful He is. Prayer is a natural part of worship: to know God is to want to worship him and pray to him. Prayer demonstrates our absolute dependency on God.

Dear Lord, thank You that You test our faith and our obedience. Thank You that You refine us and cleanse us and make us stronger. Teach us to turn towards You when we face testing. Teach us to call upon You in prayer and praise. Thank You for the promises of Your Word that the testing of our faith will develop our patience, and patience will bring about perseverance so that we can run the full race and not fail. Forgive us Lord when we think that giving up is a better answer than to keep on keepin on. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!