Jeremiah 24:7 NKJV – Tell them to return to Me

Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the Lord; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God, for they shall return to Me with their whole heart.

Scripture indicates that believers can wander away from God, but they must return to Him. Turning away from God takes us to places outside of His will. We become wayward. Wayward is defined as “tending to behave in ways that are not socially acceptable; not going or moving in the intended direction.” Scripture uses the word wayward. “Who are crooked in their ways, wayward and devious in their paths.” (Proverbs 2:15 AMP) When we are outside of God’s will for us, we are not moving in the direction God has appointed for us. It is then we find some of our hardest struggles and our hardest times.

I will be the first to confess that I have walked outside the will of God. I’m not proud of this statement. I’m just being transparent. Sometimes temptation over takes us or we find ourselves living as the world does. We begin to justify our acts. And the more we tell ourselves “That we’ll be ok. We’ll get back to doing what God intends”, the harder it is to return.

God gives us a way to return to Him. God has provided the means to come back. We need to call upon the Lord. “Then you will call upon Me, and you will come and pray to me, and I will hear and heed you.” (Jeremiah 29:12 AMP) Prayer is the key. No matter if you step out of God’s will for just a few minutes, or you walk on the path you have ordered for a while, returning to God begins with a prayer.

God promises to hear and respond to the prayers of His people in their 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 AMP) When we stop and realize we are outside of God’s will and things just aren’t going well, we can return to Him. Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, we are given free access into God’s presence. “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” (James 4:8 NKJV)

Friend, over the last several months, God has impressed upon me that He has great and mighty things in store for all of His children, if they simply return to Him. He is our God and we are His people. Yet we move about sometimes thinking we are “#1”. That is just not true. It’s a trap that the enemy places in front of us to cause us to move outside of God’s will. Remember this promise, “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3 NKJV) God already has something very special for us if we turn back to Him with all our heart. When we call upon God, we are asking God to act in dependence upon Him. Calling upon God is an act of worship.

Precious Lord, You have given us a heart to know You. Thank you, Lord. Sometimes I walk away from Your will and find myself in a place or situation I don’t desire. Forgive me Lord. Help me to always remain in the steps You have ordered and on the path You have laid out before me. Hear my prayers O Lord when I call upon You. Show me the great and mighty things You have planned for me. 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!

John 5:46-47 NKJV – Believe

“For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”

Unbelief is defined as “incredulity or skepticism especially in matters of religious faith”. In this verse, Jesus debates the Jews regarding His relation to the Sabbath and to God. Jesus does not argue with His opponents about whether they understand the Sabbath legislation correctly. His interest is whether they understand who He is.

The Jews were expressing their unbelief regarding so many things; unbelief towards who Jesus was, unbelief in His miracles, unbelief of His claims, rejection of His words, and unbelief expressed towards God’s messengers. My questions are “Where does our unbelief lie?” “Do we really believe when we pray?” Yes, we too, have unbelief. There’s no condemnation here. There are times we place our trust in our own capabilities and not on God and His Word; times when we pray by simply going through the motions.

When we face trouble, even when we face insurmountable trouble, we need to place our trust in God’s Word and the promises of God within it. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6 NKJV) The times that I have faced where things really fell apart were the times when I trusted in my own judgment and effort. When I am the most discouraged is when I don’t remember who is in charge. When I find myself struggling with joy, it’s because I have forgotten where my joy comes from.  When I’ve simply forgot that God hears and answers my prayer and He is above all things. All of these things point back to Him. Will I believe that God is my all in all? “For “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.” (1 Corinthians 15:27-29 NKJV)

Simply stated it’s a matter of choice. I know that in the midst of things, sometimes we feel we can’t stop and take a breath and think about Jesus. But we need to. I have received my greatest encouragement when I have stopped. God already knows what we are facing. And when we stop, He is there. “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me,” (John 14:1 NKJV)

Friend, I post this devotion today because I have trouble with unbelief. I am a work in progress. We all are. Praise the Lord for His mercy and grace and being slow to anger. But I know, that I know, that I know, that if I “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV) Trusting in the Lord takes away all the guess work.   The Lord will direct our path and His path is straight. “I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them, And crooked places straight. These things I will do for them, And not forsake them.” (Isaiah 42:16 NKJV) Each time. Every time. Never failing. Always for our good and God’s purpose. “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24b NKJV)

Precious Lord, thank You for Your faithfulness. Forgive us Lord when we doubt and place our trust in ourselves. Forgive our unbelief. Help us to always stop and seek You and pour out Your Holy Spirit upon us. Teach us to walk in Your ways and place our belief in You and Your Word. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Matthew 19:26 NKJV – All things are possible with God

“But Jesus looked at them and said to them, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Do we pray believing all things are possible with God? When I look at this verse that’s the question that I have to ask myself. Do I believe in the sovereignty of God? God reigns over all creation and He is free and able to do all that He wills. So why would there ever be any doubt in God’s ability to make the impossible, possible?

God’s sovereignty extends over all created things. “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.” (Revelation 4:11 NKJV) God is sovereign over human life. “Both riches and honor come from You, and You reign over all. In Your hand is power and might; in Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.” (1 Chronicles 29:12 NKJV) God is sovereign over the minutest details of life. “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.” (Matthew 10:29-30 NKJV) God is sovereign over the sufferings of believers. “For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” (1 Peter 3:17 NKJV)

So where does the doubt set in? We go through periods of doubt and indecision, especially on account of our difficulty in trusting God or accepting certain aspects of His will for us. “Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24 NKJV) It happens to all of us. Scripture emphasizes the importance of putting our trust in God. This trust, which is nurtured by an understanding of God’s Word, finds us living out our life according to His purpose. “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 the Day.” (2 Timothy 1:12 NKJV)

Doubt and a lack of faith feeds unbelief and it blinds us to the truth found in God. The nature of faith is a confidence in and a commitment to God and to Jesus. True faith is seen in obedient action, love, and continuing service to God.   A life of faith is the way believer’s journey through this world and into the life to come. It is the confidence expressed in the life of a believer, worked by the Holy Spirit. It derives from reliance upon God and His promises alone and results in boldness, strength, and steadfastness no matter what we face or what we need.

So I ask again, do we pray believing all things are possible with God? Or should I ask, should we pray believing all things are possible with God? Yes, I say. Again I say, Yes. God’s power is released through faith. “So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20 NKJV) Even a tiny grain of true faith and belief, rooted in submissiveness to God is effective.

Friend, when you pray, expect the impossible to be answered. “Bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers. God isn’t offended by your biggest dreams or boldest prayers. He is offended by anything less. If your prayers aren’t impossible for you, they are insulting to God. Why? Because they don’t require divine intervention. There is nothing God loves more than keeping promises, answering prayers, performing miracles, and fulfilling dreams.” (an excerpt from “The Circle Maker” by Mark Batterson)

Heavenly Father, thank You that nothing is impossible with You. You are God and You are all powerful and Sovereign. You commanded all things into existence and You can answer my boldest prayers. Help my unbelief Lord. Bring me into a complete understanding of the truth and promises of Your Word. Guard my heart against doubt and unbelief and turn me towards complete trust in You for You are my Lord and King. Thank You, God for being my All in All. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Isaiah 58:8 NKJV – When your circumstance becomes God’s answer

“Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.”

Christians face troubles and problems just like anybody else. We are human as well. We suffer pain and have sickness just like others. Our difference lies in that we have the righteousness of God. We carry the Holy Spirit in us and God’s majestic glory and light is shown to the world through the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

No sickness or disease is too small for God to take care of. No matter what the world says about your illness, if it’s a big deal to you, it’s a bid deal to God. Several months ago, I had to seek medical care for a sickness and go to the Emergency Room for care. My wife and I had been praying for God’s intervention the entire week. People from our Prayer Ministry began to pray for God’s healing touch. Our faith in the power of God never wavered. And God intervened.

What I was facing would seem very small in comparison to someone facing a life threatening illness. The world’s standard would say that I was making a mountain out of a mole hill. But I had been suffering for a few weeks, and it just got worse. The medication I had been taking was not helping. So my wife and I prayed to the Lord and asked Him to give us wisdom to understand what He wanted us to do. We went to the Emergency Room. God placed the doctor and nurses in the Emergency Room that day to care for me. And God answered our prayer for wisdom and provided healing through these medical professionals.

Now I sit here testifying that God heard and answered the prayers offered to Him by my wife and I and the others who were praying. There is no level, no measurement that can adequately define the Power of God to heal. God is true and faithful to demonstrate His power through faithful prayers. Faithful prayers depend on the willingness and submission to trust in God’s faithfulness to His promises. “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5 NKJV)

It is God’s desire that all people should seek after Him. Those who seek God with all of their heart are rewarded. We sought God and others prayed in agreement with us. And God revealed His glory to us. My healing sprang forth speedily and the Lord was my guard. God’s promises and rewards are found by those who seek Him. “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently will find me.” (Proverbs 8:17 NKJV)  “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) “Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.” (Matthew 21:21 KJV)

Friend, we all face circumstances when we need God’s intervention. Seeking God begins in the heart. “And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13 NKJV) That’s when our circumstance becomes God’s answer. Let’s submit to God’s authority, God’s faithfulness, God’s promises and God’s power.

Precious Lord, when I called upon Your Name, you heard me. When we gathered in one accord to pray and believed, You responded. You knew in advance what I would be facing and You placed others in my path to help. Thank You Lord for my healing. You are my redeemer. I give You praise. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Luke 12:22-26 NKJV – What, me worry?

Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on. Life is more than food, and the body is more than clothing. Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest?”

Did you know that chronic worrying and emotional stress can trigger a long list of health problems? The problem occurs when the “fight or flight” stress response kicks in from daily excessive worrying and anxiety. Health problems like:

  • Suppression of the immune system
  • Digestive disorders
  • Muscle tension
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Premature coronary artery disease
  • Heart attack

But Jesus provides arguments against worry. First, concern for worldly goods is foolish because life itself is more important. Second, God always takes care of His own, just as He cares for the birds of the air. Third, worry accomplishes nothing. Finally, as children of God and heirs of His Kingdom, we should not worry about earthly details when we have access to God’s inexhaustible riches.

I love how this scripture passage concludes. “And which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? If you then are not able to do the least, why are you anxious for the rest?” Can any of us add a single minutes to our lives? Really? How foolish for any of us to think we can when God controls every single breath we take. Glory to God!!! If we think we control anything, just look back at what we did with those decisions and how thankful we are now that God was there to rescue us. Hallelujah!!! Don’t get me started!!!

God supplies all of our needs and gives us His special care. Jehovah Jireh, the Lord who provides. So what do we do when worry creeps in and it captures our thoughts? Well God’s Word says this, “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5 NKJV) How do we do that? By prayer. Calling on the Name of the Lord and praying. Let me share what happens when we go to God in prayer, especially when we are in a state of worry. When we turn our thoughts toward God, we begin to think differently. Another transformation takes place. Conversation or dialogue with God in prayer sets our minds on what is truly important. I’ll let you in on a secret. When I worry, I tend to talk to myself out loud a lot. Now channel that energy and begin to talk to God out loud instead. Try this and see what happens.

Thank You Lord that we have a place to go in the midst of our worry. That place is Your Holy presence as we call upon Your name. Help us Lord to see that worry gets us nowhere and that trust in Your care gets us everything we will ever need. Forgive us Lord when we let worry take over our lives even to the point of illness. Come Holy Spirit and fill us with Your presence so that there is no room for worry any longer. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Psalm 16:1 NKJV – Preserve and protect

Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust.

Preserve – To keep, guard, observe, to have charge of, to keep watch over, protect, save life; to be a watchman.   This is how Strong’s defines Preserve. It’s from the Hebrew word shamar. This word is referenced 23 times in the Bible. As in Job 10:12 NKJV which says, “You have granted me life and favor, and Your care has preserved my spirit.”

There are some days when the news hits me in a hard way. We live in a violent country. And an even more violent world. When I was growing up, I found my home to be a safe haven. A place where Mom and Dad would always protect me. When I left the home to go to school, I was secure and felt safe. When I walked to and from school, I felt at ease. But times have changed.

This scripture touched a place in my heart today. Because we live in such a volatile country and world, it is important to me to know where I can place my trust and feel secure. There are those of you who will read this that feel secure in your local law enforcement. Some of you will place your security in the government. While others live in areas of the world where both law enforcement and government can’t be trusted. Where is their security?

When we feel safe and secure, our whole emotional state is at rest. In times of crisis or times of attack, our emotional state is no longer at rest. It’s stirred up. Our self-preservation instincts kick in. Some call it “survival of the fittest”. I will tell you right here and now I will stand on the front lines and protect those I love without hesitation. That protective stance is birthed in unconditional love. That same emotion lives and breathes in every American veteran, both past and present. Their unconditional love for our country drives them to stand on the front lines and protect our freedoms. But we are only human and you must ask, “Is that enough?”

Today I thought about that. Today I was stirred. My family is safe. My loved ones are safe. But the events of recent times drew out my self-preservation instincts. It drew me out to look to the Lord. Mathew Henry once said, “Those that by faith commit themselves to the divine care, and submit themselves to the divine guidance, have reason to hope for the benefit of both.” In our foundational Psalm, David was submitting himself to both the care and guidance of his God. Today, I submitted myself to both the care and guidance of my God.

Prayer is the perfect way to tap into the absolute security that we need to survive in this violent and often senseless, wicked world. Prayer is the perfect way to tap into the safe haven of rest that we need to take shelter in. Prayer is the perfect way to catch the attention of our protector, El Shaddai. “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.”” (Psalm 91:1-2 NKJV)

Every day, the world changes. Every day, we can expect the unexpected. We can either trust man to preserve us or trust Almighty God to preserve us. I choose to place my trust in God.

“Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge, Even the Most High, your dwelling place, No evil shall befall you, Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling; For He shall give His angels charge over you, To keep you in all your ways. In their hands they shall bear you up, Lest you dash your foot against a stone. You shall tread upon the lion and the cobra, the young lion and the serpent you shall trample underfoot.” (Psalm 91:9-12)

Heavenly Father, in You I place my trust. In You I have my protector. My El Shaddai. Preserve me Lord and watch over me. Protect my comings and goings. Take charge over me and ensure that no harm will come my way. For my family, my loved ones, and those reading this today, may NO evil befall them. NO sickness come near them. Keep them and protect them. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!