Psalm 118:24 NKJV – When the world gives you lemons…

This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

We’ve all heard the saying, “When the world gives you lemons, make lemonade.”   I prefer lemon meringue pie, but the point is the same. When the world discourages us, we have a choice of what we can do. We can labor in the discouragement or trouble, or we can turn and make something beneficial out of it.

The Psalmist here is saying because of God’s victory, His people will turn the day of despair into a day of worship before the Lord. Believers often quote this Scripture when they gather together corporately on Sunday to worship the Lord in church. They may exchange this Scripture in conversation with a brother or sister in the Lord. Amen.

When thinking about what God would have me write about, this verse came to mind. God created all things and they were good. God created man in His image and He said it was very good. “Then God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good. So the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:31 NKJV) The very essence of His work of creation speaks of His goodness. “For every creature of God is good.” (1 Timothy 4:4 NKJV) This is why our Scripture verse means so much more. It should be our daily Victory cry.

We experience God’s goodness to us every day. God is good to those who place their trust in Him. “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good; Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!” (Psalm 34:8 NKJV) As God’s children we can rely on His goodness. “And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from doing them good; but I will put My fear in their hearts so that they will not depart from Me.” (Jeremiah 32:40 NKJV) God works positively for good in not so good circumstances. “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28 NKJV) And God’s goodness is to be praised. “Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; Sing praises to His name, for it is pleasant.” (Psalm 135:3 NKJV) Or I like how the New Living Translation states it, “Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; celebrate His lovely Name with music.”

Friend, every one of our days are “this day”. The Lord has made each and every day. Let us celebrate what God has done each day; even each and every morning we wake up alive. What a great morning prayer if we say, “Good morning Lord. This is the day which You have made. I will celebrate You and rejoice in it.”   The next time that the world gives you lemons, why not shout to the Lord and give Him praise. Then go make your lemonade or pie. But remember, He gives us new days so that His plan for us can be accomplished and He can be glorified. We were created to do good works. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10 KJV)

Dear Lord, thank You for this day. I lift Your Name above all things and shout praises to You. Thank You that we are created in Your image to do good works. May we honor You in everything we say and do. We give You the glory Lord, in Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

John 15:12-14 NKJV – Greater love has no one than this

“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.”

I am persuaded that I will not love like others love. I will love like Christ loves me. Such love is an outgrowth of a life that has witnessed the dramatic quality of God’s love. Jesus died on behalf of those He loves. Such love requires that we also love God with our entire heart, soul, and strength.

How a person loves is formed early on in life. Some people love as they saw their parents and family love. This can be a warm and genuine love, or it can be a static love. If you came from a home where warm genuine love was displayed, you may find it easy to love someone else. But if you came from a home where love was really just a word and not demonstrated, you may find it more difficult to love.

Some people came from homes where they witnessed their mom and dad split up and their love for each other vanished. If you came from a home where you witnessed this, you may find it difficult to trust anyone with your love as you don’t want to be hurt. And then some may have come from a destructive home where they witnessed fighting and pain and violence. If you came from a home which was destructive, you may find it impossible to love.

The love demonstrated by Jesus Christ by His suffering and death on the cross reveals God’s amazing love for all mankind. Jesus Christ’s love stems from His Father. “The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand.” (John 3:35 NKJV) The love given by Jesus to all of us when He freely gave His life for us on the cross inspires us to believe that there is no greater love. No matter what we have seen or what we have lived through, there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life. When Jesus suffered and hung on the cross, you, my friend, were on His mind. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NLJV) He gave up His life because He desired that you be able to spend eternity with Him.

Eternal life is a gift of grace and mercy. “So that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:21 NKJV) You may believe that no one can love you like this. I remember thinking “If you really knew me, you wouldn’t love me.” But that’s simply not true. Jesus loves with an everlasting love. “The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” (Jeremiah 31:3 NKJV) This kind of love is shown in God’s character by which He is compassionate, accepting, and generous. He shields us from His wrath and forgives us. We can be confident that the Lord loves us. It’s His unchanging and faithful nature. “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor 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 NKJV)

Friend, Scripture offers an understanding of what true love is and it is based on the nature and character of God.   God’s love is not static nor is God’s love untrusting. God desires and intimate relationship with you. That relationship is fueled by a daily commitment to prayer. In time of prayer, you can partake in the fullness of God’s love because as you speak to Him, He returns an answer. Prayer is two way communication with the desired outcome to be closer to God each and every day. And you can be confident that God hears and answers every prayer you pray.

And you can trust in God’s love for you. That is why I can say that I will love others as Jesus has loved me. Faithfully, never changing, and with His full mercy and grace. Would you like this kind of love in your life and then be able to love others just like Jesus loves you? Do you wish to have a relationship with Jesus? You can receive this. Just simply pray.

Lord, Jesus, I want to know and experience the love that You have. I’ve not lived a life that is filled with genuine love. I am seeking love that is never ending, that is full of mercy and grace and is accepting no matter who I am. I’m told You have this love for me. I confess that I need You in my life so that I can experience Your love and demonstrate it to others. Come into my life Lord Jesus and be my Savior. Teach me Your ways and pour out Your love on me. Help me be a light to others. Thank You Jesus for dying for my sins and bringing me new life when You rose from the grave. There is no greater love than this. I commit my life to You. 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!

 

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 18:3 NKJV – My enemies have surrounded me

Psalm 18:3 NKJV – My enemies have surrounded me

“I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies.”

Do you want to know something? Enemies can take on a lot of forms and be a lot of different things. I have learned that. Sometimes there are individuals that seem to get their joy from making people feel uneasy, embarrassed, or even frightened. It seems that no matter what is tried to keep these people outside of our sphere, they find a way to get into the door. In the world, there are people who are just plain mean.

But there are other enemies that come in to take away our eternal joy. And these enemies are not flesh and blood. Their names are fear, jealousy, anger, bitterness, bigotry, greed, and lust. There are many more but I name these because the world feeds these every day and tries to make them stronger. The world places those listed here out for everyone to partake in. And these, like flesh and blood enemies, can be powerful and nearly impossible to take down. I said nearly. There is a way! The way is Jesus!

Our defense lies in the One who can save us from the enemies that come against us. It lies in our faith in Jesus and our confidence in Him. Scripture emphasizes the importance of putting our trust in God and God alone. “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)

What is the one requirement that is called out in our foundational verse? “I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised.” Sounds simple doesn’t it. And it is. By calling upon the Lord we demonstrate our trust in Him and this is a form of praise. Prayer, or calling upon the Lord, embraces praising God for who He is, thanking Him for what He has already done, and looking forward with joy to what He has promised to do in the future. When we are surrounded by our enemies, both human and not so human, we can do what David did as recorded in this Psalm below. We can call upon the Lord and praise Him and we will be delivered from our enemies.

“The Lord lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let the God of my salvation be exalted. It is God who avenges me, and subdues the peoples under me; He delivers me from my enemies. You also lift me up above those who rise against me; You have delivered me from the violent man.” (Psalm 18:46-48 NKJV)

Friend, when we face attacks or enemy forces, we are not alone. The Lord, our Rock is near. All we have to do is call upon His Name, Jesus. “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11 NKJV)

Dear Lord, thank You for Your protecting presence over our lives. You are worthy to be praised. Our enemies must bow to Your Name, Jesus. They must flee from us and leave. Thank You Lord that as we trust in Your love, our faith is increased. And no enemy, either human or not, can stand against the Your authority over all things. For greater is He that is in us than he who is in the world. Glory to You Lord. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Luke 19:10 NKJV – He came for you and for me

“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which is lost.”

Hallelujah! God’s work of salvation is accomplished through the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Through faith, the believer is able to share in all of the saving benefits won by Jesus Christ through His obedience to God.

Jesus Christ is the promised Savior. “From this man’s seed, according to the promise, God raised up for Israel a Savior – Jesus.” (Acts 13:23 NKJV) The mission of Jesus was His work of salvation. Jesus was called to this mission since the beginning of time. Jesus came to reveal Father God and to redeem a sinful humanity through His death on the cross. He did this not only for the Jews, but for all of humanity. And His work continues through the Holy Spirit empowered witness of the church.

Jesus’ mission was completely motivated by God’s love. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NKJV) God’s desire since the beginning of time was to spend eternity with all of His creation. His desire has never changed. Not one bit. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 NKJV)

As human beings we come to life spiritually only through faith in the redeeming work of God in Jesus Christ. There is no other way. This spiritual life is a taste of the life we as believers will enjoy to the fullest in heaven. This is our hope. “To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27 NKJV)

Friend, Jesus Christ came to this earth with a purpose. That purpose was to glorify His Father and to seek and save that which was lost. That’s you and me. It was only by Jesus’ blood sacrifice and resurrection that we can even partake in His riches in glory. It’s God’s mercy and grace applied to our miserable lives that opens the door to eternity for us. We just have to make that choice. There is no other love anywhere, any place, by anyone that is greater than the love of God for you. And to receive all of His benefits, we need to simply make a choice. Will I live for myself and in accordance with the worldview or will I give up myself and submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ? Will you pray?

Dear Lord, thank You for the cross of Calvary. Thank You that You died for me a sinner. Thank You for the hope that is in You, Jesus. There are no promises that this world can make that are greater than eternal life with You. I am in need of a Savior and His name is Jesus. Forgive me and come into my heart, Lord. I submit my life into Your hands. Protect me and guide me as we walk together. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

2 Corinthians 4:3-4 NKJV – Let us pray!

But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.

It’s all about praying for those who have not yet called Jesus Christ their Lord and Savior. It’s all about realizing that the world is full of those who believe in the world order. It’s all about grieving for those who cannot understand because their minds are blinded.

To be spiritually blind means that there is an inability or unwillingness to perceive the truth of the Gospel. Unbelievers are spiritually blind. “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14 NKJV)

God is beyond unaided human knowledge and it is impossible to fully know God without revelation. The revelation comes from the Word of God and the belief in its inerrant truth. So if the lost of this world cannot even begin to understand and are blinded to their need for Jesus Christ, what can we do?

We can pray. It’s only through prayer that the lost can be reached. It’s only through prayer that the lost can see their need for a Savior. Charles Finney, well known revivalist once said, “In the case of an impenitent friend, the very condition on which he is to be saved from hell may be the fervency and importunity of your prayer for that individual.” I absolutely believe that is true. I know that I was headed to death and hell had it not been the prayers of a man who called on the Name of Jesus on my behalf.

Do my prayers or your prayers make a difference? Yes they do. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” (James 5:16 KJV) God hears and answers prayers that are offered in accordance with His will. “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.” (1 John 5:14 NKJV) And it is God’s will that all of us see our need for Jesus Christ as our Savior. “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)

Precious Lord, I pray right now that those who are reading this and do not call You Lord and Savior would receive a touch from You today. Lord, their minds are blinded but Lord You can restore their sight, You can renew their minds. May we pray daily for those who are lost and are dying in their sins. May Your love penetrate and break the hardness of their hearts. Soften them Holy Spirit to be able to see their need for Jesus and bring them into the knowledge of the truth. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!