Sheltering in the midst of the storm

Psalm 91:1-2 1 “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.””

I have come to like watching the Weather Channel. Mostly because I’m interested in the local weather. Or I like to know what weather lay ahead if I’m traveling. But sometimes I see and hear about severe weather like hurricanes and tornadoes. I watch live feeds from the areas and see the devastation. I sometimes get to watch the rescue efforts and the people who come to provide relief for those who have lost everything.

I must confess that I take for granted where I live and what we have. We’ve had storms, sometimes even heavy storms, but I have never lost everything as a result of the weather.

The Word of God tells us that those who abide (to remain, continue, stay) in the secret place (the presence, intimate residence) of the Most High shall abide under the shadow (covering, overwhelming protection) of the Almighty. It is where our protection from the storms of life exists. In the loving strength of God who has overcome everything and given everything so that you may find peace and rest.

It reminds me of the old Dottie Rambo song, “Sheltered in the Arms of God”. The chorus says,

So let the storm clouds rage high,

The dark clouds rise, They don’t bother me;

For I’m sheltered in the arms of God.

He walks with me, And naught of earth shall harm me,

For I’m sheltered in the arms of God.

Those who face natural disasters often place their trust in the efforts of others to support them, provide for them, and get them back on their feet. We are instructed in the Word of God to place our trust in the Lord. “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) What this verse is saying is that the Lord will support us, provide for us, and get us back on the path He has ordered for us. But how often do we forget? Those who don’t have a relationship with the Lord as Savior, have no other way. They must trust their own experience, skills, and efforts of others. That is their only way. But as Christians, we’re told the Jesus is the only way. Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6 NKJV)

Friend, my point is this. The world is a difficult place; a lonely place. We face things that are sometimes overwhelming just like facing disaster. How do we respond to what the world throws at us? Our response should be to run to the place where God can shelter us. The most secret place of the Most High. We should run into the arms of God in an intimate relationship with Him. So that when the world is at its darkest, when the clouds of evil rise, they won’t bother us. We are sheltered by Almighty God Himself, where He takes our hand and walks with us. Where He leads us to His everlasting love and protection.

Do you know how to begin an intimate relationship with God? Has anyone ever told you? Well, it’s pretty simple. Humble your heart and pray. That’s where it begins. With a humble heart, begin to talk to the Lord and invite Him to remove your fears, wipe your tears, and rescue you from the evil and pain of this world. Prayer is simply talking to God. It’s not complicated. When you lift up a prayer to God, He promises to hear you. It may be hard at first, but once you humble yourself and begin to talk to Him from the deepest parts of your heart, you will experience such peace. And in that peace, resides the everlasting love and promise of life eternal. I can help you with this. Will you pray these words with me? It’s not the words that brings eternal life. It’s a humble and believing heart that releases God grace and mercy. Grace and mercy that none of us deserve, but is available to all of us. Please pray.

Dear Lord, I humble myself before You and ask You to hear my prayer. Lord, I cannot stand alone any longer is the world. I face so many things that overwhelm me at times. I’m in need of Your protection and sheltering. But most, I’m in need of a Savior. Forgive me Lord.  Lord, I believe that You suffered and died for the sins of mankind including mine. I believe that You died so that I could have eternal life. I believe that You are the only Way. Lord, after Your terrible death on the cross, You rose from the dead to defeat sin, my sin, once for all. Lord, come into my life and my heart and be my Savior. I submit myself to You and receive Your mercy and grace. Thank You Lord for saving me and giving me eternal life. I love You Lord and pray in Your name, Jesus. 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!

Romans 7:15 NIV – Hello Lord

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

“Hello Lord. This verse Lord describes what I face from time to time. And it can be a struggle. And it’s true that it is hard to understand. I often ask, “Why did I do that?” or I state, “I hate when I do that” and then again, “I wish I had more time.” There exists a conflict between the energies of sin and the grace You provide in our lives. Lord, I know that my life in You is eternal and my life here on earth is temporal.   I realize I have my Victory in You, Jesus and I rejoice in that. What resides in my inner being should take priority over my outward being. Lord, we all have some knowledge of good and evil, but I know full knowledge is revealed to us in Your Word. But Lord, I sometimes fail, in that I miss the opportunities that You give me to study Your Word. Sometimes I miss Sunday School or miss a time or two at church where I am taught and fed. But Lord, sometimes I just don’t have the time. Our lives are so full and we feel like we’re in a tug of war just to get the simple things done. Lord, there’s work and the kids and my responsibilities. And Lord, the 24 hours a day You give me just seems to go by so quickly. Most of the time I feel that I can’t get caught up. So this letter is written so You can understand that I don’t like doing the things that I shouldn’t be doing. And the things I should do, I just don’t seem to have the time. I knew You would understand.”

The Christian’s life is a constant struggle against sin and the powers that exist to pull us away from the things of God. The apostle Paul goes on to say in Romans 7: 17-20, “As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”

But thanks be to God, “So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 17:21-25 NIV)

We can accomplish the things we should do and stay away from the things we should not do. It’s all in our relationship with Jesus and His power to overcome. “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” (1 John 5:4 NKJV) The key to victory is our faith in the overcomer, Jesus Christ. As we cultivate a greater and deeper relationship with Jesus through prayer and the study of His Word, we will find time to do the rights things and be that lighthouse of faith that God has called us to be. By the way? The reason for the letter? I thought I would put it out front. These are the things we all have thought from time to time. I have found myself exactly in the place a time or two that the letter describes. Have you?

Precious Lord, thank You for Your great mercy and grace. Thank You that we too can overcome by blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. Help us Lord to continue to do the things we should be doing and call upon Your Name when sin begins to pull us away. In You Lord we have Victory. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

1 John 3:19-20 NIV – Where is our focus?

“This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in His presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts and He knows everything.”

Where are our thoughts? Where is our focus? God gives us the opportunity, a choice, of where we place our minds and our hearts for each moment of time we live. We can either go on our own or to capture the presence of God and go with Him.

When we wake up in the morning, God is with us. How do we respond? Do we jump up, look at the clock, run and get some coffee and get about doing what needs to be done? Or do we take some time to sit in the presence of God and allow His peace to engulf us. God did not sleep while we slept. “He who watches over you will not slumber.” (Psalm 121:4 NIV) Imagine the difference in our day if we took the few minutes to thank the Lord and welcome God into our day.

But God isn’t through with us in the morning. He continues to walk with us. In times of trouble or worry, God is with us. In our times of stress, God is with us. In our times of relaxation, God is with us. Would it not benefit us greatly to acknowledge His presence and soak in it as we go about our day?

Each time we bring God into our thoughts and into our lives, He stands ready to guide us and direct us and to mold us into what He designed us to be. Each moment, each step God is alongside and we are never alone. But the choice is ours. God knows what we will face and is ready to be our deliverer, our healer, our restorer, our defender, our lover. Whatever we need. But we need to make the choice. We need to enter into His presence and allow Him to set our hearts at rest. How do we do that? How do we enter into His presence? Acknowledge Him. That’s the answer. “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)

We acknowledge God when we take the time to settle our minds and hearts and pray to Him. Not jumping into a prayer of “my needs” and “my wants”, but rather acknowledge God for who “He is”. God is everything we need. He is the “the Great I Am.” All that we can think, all that we can imagine. God is everything we need. Acknowledging God first in our prayers sets Him in a position of love and adoration; thanksgiving and praise. We say, “Hallowed be thy Name”. God is gracious and full of mercy and knows all things. He is greater than our hearts and everything we are facing. God’s guidance is promised to those who genuinely desire it and seek it.

Let’s begin our days with acknowledging God and entering into His presence. Let’s carry that attitude of prayer with us throughout the day as we go about living life. And then let’s join together in the rich and bountiful blessings that come from an intimate relationship with our Lord.

Heavenly Lord, thank You that You are always with us. Thank You that You know what we will face each day. And Lord, if our hearts begin to condemn us, we know that You are greater than our hearts. There is nothing greater than You, Lord. Help us to acknowledge You in all we do and in every moment of our lives. Thank You for then directing our paths and forming us into what You have designed us to be. Forgive us Lord, when we try things our way. And thank You for Your mercy and grace to restore us when we do. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Psalm 25:5 NKJV – What am I supposed to do?

“Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day.”

Did you ever have a season of “What am I supposed to do when I don’t know what to do?” I know that I have had a season or two like that. So what do I do? Certainly prayer is on my priority list. Seeking to hear from God. But this scripture really defines what is at the heart of my prayers. I desire to know the truth of God and what’s in His Word to guide my steps. This is where I must place my trust. But friend, that is sometimes a lot easier said than done.

It has been written, “God is the essence of truth.” God is truth. Truth originates from God. Truth is an aspect of God’s character and it is demonstrated in His faithfulness.

“For the Word of the Lord is right, and all His work is done in truth.” (Psalm 33:4 NKJV)

“I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart; I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation; I have not concealed Your lovingkindness and Your truth from the great assembly. Do not withhold Your tender mercies from me, O Lord; Let Your lovingkindness and Your truth continually preserve me.” (Psalm 40:10-11 NKJV)

So if I need to know what to do, I need to know the truth. I need to seek the truth. “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:32 NKJV) But sometimes, well, all the time, seeking the truth takes time. It takes effort even if that effort involves waiting. The best thing to do when you don’t know what to do…is wait.

“But, but, but. You don’t understand. If I don’t do something it will get worse?” Have you ever said this or even thought this. I have. That’s us trying to take control. Let’s think about this. If we don’t know what to do next, why try something just to try something. There is little if any success in that. Waiting is not a character trait that is taught necessarily or nurtured in our 21st century. We are a people of instant gratification. Waiting is not instant. But God’s Word says, “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31 NKJV)

I just know that right now no matter how much I feel I need to know what to do right now, waiting is even more important.   Optimism is defined as the ability to face the future with confidence. For believers, this is possible because of their knowledge of God. Confidence in what God can do. “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is in the Lord.” (Jeremiah 17:7 (NKJV) My waiting is strengthened by my optimism and confidence in the ability of Almighty God to see me through. God has proven this to me over and over and over again. God’s guidance is promised to those who genuinely desire it and seek it. Guidance is given to the humble and patient. And guidance is given to those willing to obey God.

Waiting on God means being prepared to patiently look towards God for his guidance and accepting the timing He proposes. Waiting on God can lead us into an atmosphere of expectation and confidence in God. So just because, “I don’t’ know what am I supposed to do” doesn’t mean God doesn’t know. I just need to wait and listen.

Heavenly Lord, thank You for being patient with me. Thank You for understanding that I sometimes find it hard to wait. I know that by waiting I’ll be renewed. By waiting, I allow You to work in my situation. By waiting, I am changed, restored, and set free. Help me Lord to wait. Open my heart, my eyes, and my ears to clearly understand what I am to do. I will be patient and obedient to what You desire. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

1 Thessalonians 5:17 NKJV – What is prayer?

“Pray without ceasing”

Thank You, Lord. “Short and sweet.” But the more accurate description is “Short but so powerful.” This verse really packs a punch. What is the definition of prayer? Well it’s fellowship and relationship with God through Jesus Christ, expressed in love, thanksgiving, and intercession through which believers can draw near or nearer to God and learn more of His will for their lives.

That’s a lot of words. Too many to memorize if you’re inclined to do. Simply put it’s two way conversation with God through Jesus Christ empowered by the Holy Spirit with the sole purpose of developing a relationship.   Prayer is based on God’s love for His children. Through His grace, God gives to us things which we do not deserve, while through His mercy He shields us from those things which we do deserve.

Praying without ceasing is having an attitude by which a constant relationship between God and us is developed. Always wanting to be in His presence. It’s focusing every thought and action toward honoring God. As prayerful believers we are to continue praying earnestly and this requires patience and determination. Jesus taught His disciples to persist in prayer. Then the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall God not avenge His own elect who cry out day and night to Him, though He bears long with them? I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:6-8 NKJV)

Our foundational Scripture today doesn’t need more to say. It’s easy to read and memorize, but probably one of the most powerful commands in God’s Word. It’s that important. Scripture commends a life of prayer, characterized by simplicity of expression, sincerity of heart and trust and belief in the promises of God.

Precious Lord, thank You that You do not need fancy words or catchy phrases in prayer. What You are looking for is simplicity, sincerity, humbleness, and trust that You hear our prayers and will answer them. Help us to always have the attitude of prayer and focus every thought and action toward giving You honor and praise. Teach us to pray, Lord, this day. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

2 Corinthians 12:10 NKJV – How do we see things?

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

What a powerful statement of faith by the Apostle Paul. His spiritual view was crystal clear. He could see his sufferings as a reason to rejoice, because he knew that in them all of Christ’s power was at work.

There are times that I don’t look at things from a spiritual point of view. I see what is in front of me and respond accordingly. I look at them as stumbling blocks or things that are in the way of me getting from one place to another. But not so much with Paul. He saw what he faced with a different viewpoint. He looked at them through the eyes of Christ. He saw the Power of God at work to get him through.

God is omnipotent or all-powerful. He is able to do whatever He wills. God’s power is limited only by His character. “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13 NKJV) God demonstrates that power through the redeeming grace of His Son, Jesus. The same power that conquered the grave lives in us. The same power that defeated sin and death lives in us. This is what Paul understood.

How does the knowledge of this change the way we pray? Well, it’s like this. There is no illness, no sickness, no disease that is more powerful than the Power of God. There is no criticism, no accusation, no rebuke that is more powerful than the Power of God. There is no necessity, no requirement that is more powerful than the Power of God. There is no attack, no harassment, no oppression, no mistreatment, no intimidation that is more powerful than the Power of God, and there is no suffering, no pain, no sorrow, no anguish, no grief, no heartache, no concern, no worry, no misery that is more powerful than the Power of God.

The Apostle Paul’s faith was grounded in incredible belief. Paul encouraged Timothy by presenting himself as a model of faith and belief. “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) And we must also carry this faith with us in what we face and how we go about praying through it.

Friend, God cares for us and defends us. He protects us and teaches us. He guides us and keeps us. God is the guardian of His Word and His promises. When we pray, we must believe that the Power of God is at work in us and through us and resides in our prayers. We must simply believe that God is and He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)

Dear Lord, thank You that You take residence in us with the same love and same power that conquered sin and death. Thank You, Lord, that as we pray we can claim that Power to be brought forth against any sickness, criticism, necessity, attack, or suffering we or others are facing. Help us become strong in Your Power as we live and love and pray. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!