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!

Luke 22:31 NKJV – We will be sifted – Part 1

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat.”

The term “sifting” is an agricultural one and its meaning is based on the knowledge of how grain is threshed. A sieve was used to separate the kernels of grain from the trash and junk they had mingled with in the threshing: pebbles, twigs, etc. The sieve would allow the farmer to sift the useful kernels into a sack. The farmer would have to shake the sieve back and forth to complete this process.

When Jesus addressed Peter, He said, “Simon, Simon”. This repetition identifies an intimate and personal relationship Jesus had with Peter. Jesus wanted Peter to know something very important.  Satan wanted to shake the disciples. Shortly, Peter and his fellow apostles would experience the unthinkable – the Man they believe to be the Messiah, the Son of God will be arrested, tried, condemned, and crucified in the space of less than 24 hours. Their own lives will be at risk, and their loss will be utterly devastating.

But wait there’s more. In verse 32 Jesus says, “But I prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” In other words, Jesus wanted Peter to know that He had prayed for him because out of all of the disciples, Peter would be in the most danger. Jesus prays for Peter because He knows that Peter is the natural leader of the disciples. Peter is the key. Jesus knew that his faith would fall apart. Jesus knew that Peter would deny him. Jesus prayed for Peter so that when he had come through the trial, he was to strengthen others.

The enemy knows all about you. He watches you and will use whatever you do and say against you. The enemy wants to shake you up. He wants to sift you. The sole purpose of the enemy is to keep those who don’t know Jesus as their Savior away from ever making that choice. And to those who call Jesus Lord and Savior, the enemy distracts, discourages, and places stumbling blocks in their paths. He will do anything and everything he can to keep you from demonstrating the love of Jesus and that Jesus lives in your heart. He seeks to exploit our weaknesses in order to deflect them from obedience to God. When believers experience difficult days, some fall away, while others gradually get their bearing and recover, and usually become stronger.

Friend, when we are sifted there is a time of weakness. Sometimes, a time of extreme weakness when we feel we can’t even breathe. But there is recovery; there is healing; there is restoration; there is hope. “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” (1 Peter 5:19 NKJV) God bestows help and strength sufficient for every occasion and need. We, too, can come to the Lord in prayer that our faith will not fail when we face the sifting of the enemy. We can pray for others, that God would increase their faith as well. For believers, the ability to face the future with confidence is possible because of our knowledge of God. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13 NKJV) Hope means more than a vague wish that something will happen to rescue us or restore us. Hope is a sure, confident expectation in God’s faithfulness and His presence in our situation. Confidence comes with an intimate relationship with God through daily prayer and the study of God’s Word. As we walk through difficult times, God will use us to encourage and lead others through the same thing.

Holy and Almighty God, thank You that You give us hope when we face the sifting of the enemy. That we can call upon Your Name and You will restore us, renew us, and strengthen us. Lord, the enemy wants to steal, kill, and destroy. But You Lord give us life. Thank You, Lord. Use us to encourage others who may face the same trials we do. Help us to see that our peace comes from You when we trust in You. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Luke 11:1 NKJV – A daily encounter with God

“Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.”

I’ve written about many aspects of prayer and the power of God in prayer. I’ve written about this particular scripture in the past; how the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. But today, I use this scripture to make another point about prayer. The point is that a daily encounter with God in prayer is vitally important. There is a necessity of connecting with God Almighty on a daily basis.

Jesus set an example with His disciples on the importance of prayer so that they might become more like Him. For us too, this is our goal; to be Christlike in everything we do. It’s called sanctification. We are being set apart or sanctified from the entire world so that we embody in mind, body, and spirit the image of Jesus Christ. And in regards to prayer, we need to be like Jesus.

It was customary that religious leaders of that time were expected to teach their disciples how to pray. Prayer is based on God’s love for believers. Through God’s grace, He provides things we do not deserve, while through His mercy, He shields us from those things we do deserve. Hallelujah! A vital aspect of our prayer is its purpose; to allow the will of God to be accomplished in us for the glory and honor of Him alone. God promises to hear and to respond to the prayers we offer. “O You who hear prayer, to You all flesh will come.” (Psalm 65:2 NKJV)

I believe that if I am to be called a believer in Jesus Christ I must reflect my longing after Him. I must demonstrate that I long to be like Jesus. Scripture accounts for this longing. “Then you will call upon Ne 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) What this verse is saying is our restoration is predicated on our seeking God with our whole heart in prayer.

Friend, access to God is a privilege. We have access to God through Jesus. Jesus said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” (John 10:9 NJHV) The disciples wanted to know how to pray because they witnessed Jesus’ access to His Father and wanted that. The disciples wanted the connection that Jesus had. Believing in and declaring Jesus Christ as Savior, draws us to be in His presence and to have a relationship with Him continually. To know God is not merely to know things about Him. That’s head knowledge. But to know God is also to experience His presence and power. To know God is to be transformed by Him. Prayer brings us this knowledge. The more we have conversation and intimacy with God in prayer, the more God reveals Himself to us. Prayer along with the study of God’s Word equips us for what He has called us to do. God gives knowledge of His greatness and grace through the experience of Him, submission to Him and in answer to prayer.

Precious Lord, thank You that we have access to You through Your grace and that when we call upon You in prayer You listen. Open up more time in our lives to spend time with You. Forgive us Lord when we set You aside to accomplish other things that could wait. You alone are our only hope. May we search for You with all of our heart. 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!

2 Corinthians 10:4 NKJV – The Power of God in prayer

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds”

Being a prayer warrior is tough. Warrior would indicate that we are in a fight. Not just a simple fight, but rather we face a battle each and every day. And this scripture talks about the kind of battle. It’s a “mighty” battle. One in which we need the power of God to pull down the strongholds that come before us while we are fighting. Spiritual strongholds of the enemy.

Our weapon in the war is prayer, the proclamation of the powerful Word of God which drives away to powers of the enemy. God is omnipotent or in other words all-powerful. “But Jesus looked at them and said, “With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.” (Mark 10:27 NKJV) God cannot be thwarted. “I know that You can do everything, and that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.” (Job 42:2 NKJV)

The world is a fallen place and has turned away from God. The world is under the power of the enemy and he holds the world in his grasp. “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19 NKJV) That is why we alone cannot ever defeat the enemy when he brings spiritual war against us. We must rely and call upon the power of God to defend us.

The warfare believers face is spiritual, personal, intense and continual. It calls for courage, determination and prayer. Believers must stand in God’s strength and use the armor he has provided us.

Spiritual: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12 NKJV)

Personal: “And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:31-32 NKJV)

Intense: “You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.” (Hebrews 12:4 NKJV)

Continual: “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” (2 Timothy 2:3 NKJV)

But we have hope. Hallelujah! God has the power to save and protect and through HIS power HE will defeat those who oppose HIM.

God’s Power to save: “Now I know that the Lord saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven with the saving strength of His right hand.” (Psalm 20:6 NKJV)

God’s Power to protect: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5 NKJV)

That is why when we face the enemy in battle God’s people pray for God to act in power. “O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.” (2 Chronicles 20:12 NKJV) Jesus Christ triumphs over and disarms all the powers of evil arrayed against him. Believers are able to share in this victory through faith in Jesus Christ. Power over temptation, sin, and even death.

Friend, we face spiritual battles daily as the enemy wants to separate us from the love and defending power of our Lord. But don’t be discouraged. The battle belongs to the Lord. It is by His Power that we are able to stand against the enemy’s work and keep on keepin’ on. Being a prayer warrior is hard work, but the rewards are far greater than the fight. “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5: 10-13 NKJV)

Lord, thank You for being our powerful and continual protector. Thank You that we can stand in Your power against the schemes of the enemy. Keep us Lord as we pray and intercede for others. Sustain us Lord when the war gets intense and enrich us Lord with Your presence. Remind us Lord that the battle is Yours. And we will give all of the praise and honor to You. 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!