Romans 12:10-15 NKJV – The importance of love

Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”

In these verses, there is a common theme…the importance of love. We are to love one another in brotherly love as of the “Household of God”. The believer should be fervent in living for Jesus Christ. We should have enthusiasm and high energy. We should rejoice with each other, have patience when we face difficult times, and remain diligent in prayer. And we should care for each other as the need arises.

When we are insulted and pushed around, made to feel like we don’t matter, we should bless those who do that to us. We should be praying for God’s favor for them and that their hearts would be softened to receive the power of the Holy Spirit to guide them to turn towards Jesus. Jesus said, “But I say to you who hear; Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.” (Luke 6:27 NKJV) Our unity as Christians is best displayed in the empathy we show each other in moments of extreme joy or deep, deep sorrow. In short, we must behave like a Christian.

Where do we start? We start with a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. Jesus is love. So much so that He gave His life for us so that we could be with Him where He is. “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:3 NKJV) A genuine relationship begins with prayer. Setting aside time each day to spend with Jesus. To let Him know how we’re feeling, what we are facing, to thank Him, to praise Him, to tell Him how much we love Him. Prayer is so important to help us grow in the knowledge of the love Jesus has for us because it’s in those times of prayer that Jesus speaks to us. The more we get to know about Jesus in prayer and the study of His Word, the more He returns that love to us in abundance.

I can tell you that when I felt there was no one or nothing else that could love me, Jesus came boldly and aggressively into my life. He pursued me and captured my heart and my love. “And he arose and come to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” (Luke 15:20 NKJV) And Jesus will do that for you as well, if you would let Him.

Dear Jesus, help us to love as You love us. Lord, thank You for teaching us in Your Word what it means to be Christlike. Lord, we desire to have a genuine relationship with You. We desire to spend time with you. Help us to grow in our knowledge and love for You. Thank You for pursuing us and capturing our hearts. We love You and praise You. 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!

Genesis 6:9 NKJV – I want to walk with You

This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.

I like the part of this verse that declares Noah walked with God. I think about that proclamation and ponder the magnitude of that. Noah’s devotion to God was unchallenged. Noah lived in a time of great corruption. A time where “all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth” (Genesis 6:12). A time not so different than right now across our world. Human beings have become separated from God through sin, and are divided among themselves. We are divided individual against individual, man against woman, nation against nation, rich against the poor.

Why is this true? The world is in a condition of spiritual blindness. The human race is estranged from God.

I believe that in order to walk with God as Noah did, we MUST have a personal relationship with God. God MUST be the central point of our lives. Nothing can be above our need for God. We need Jesus. Grace and mercy are the qualities of God’s character by which he shows Himself compassionate, accepting, and generous to sinful man. He forgives them and bestows on them His righteousness. Grace and mercy are expressed through Jesus Christ’s atoning death on the cross. Jesus is the only way.

Our source of God’s incredible grace and mercy is Jesus. God’s grace and mercy are expressed in an intimate and personal relationship with Jesus. Salvation comes by grace whereby punishment is withheld and sin is forgiven. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Faith is the way by which believer’s journey through this world. Jesus Christ, Himself, is the way to life everlasting. In order for us to “walk with God” as Noah did, we must have a daily, intimate prayer life. One not of just conversation about wants and needs, but one that includes knowing God and His character. Prayer partnered with His Holy Word.

Friend, do you desire to “walk with God” just like Noah did. Do you desire for your faith to be unchallenged? Do you desire to have that daily, intimate relationship with God through prayer? I do. Join me.

Lord I come to You and seek a deeper relationship with You. Lord, I want to walk with You. I desire that no other thing come between us. I desire only You Lord, only You. Teach me to seek and know Your character. Guide me in all of Your ways. 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!

Philippians 2:13 NKJV – By the grace of God

“for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure”

The power of God is working within us. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV). It is the grace of God which enables us to perform the will of God and to act according to our principles. We cannot act without the grace of God. We cannot claim it. We cannot pretend we deserve it. God’s good will toward us is the cause of His good work in us.

When I ponder on the goodness of God and how each day His will is worked out in me, I stand amazed. I wonder what God sees in me and what He could possibly desire from me. But that is where my thoughts are flawed. God is looking through the eyes of salvation and mercy and grace. I am wondering through my own eyes. When God looks at me He sees His son, His child. Grace has taken over and what God views is an open vessel ready to be filled.

When we pray each day, we need to remind ourselves that God is hearing and seeing and moving through His good will and His purpose. When doing so, it takes all doubt away that we might have in the corners of our heart where unbelief resides. It’s for His will and His own purpose. It is His desire that we are saved. It is His will that we are restored. It is His will that we are healed. It is His will that we return to Him. It is His will that we be blessed. It is His will that we are comforted. Is there any doubt within the will and the purpose of Almighty God? No.

So when we’ve had a bad day and have felt we have turned our back on the Lord, we can run to Him. When we’ve made a bad choice, we can run to Him. When we’ve been stubborn and refused to listen or been disobedient, we can run to Him. When our hearts have been broken, we can run to Him. When we think that He cannot possibly hear or answer our prayers, we can call upon the Name of the Lord in confidence. You see, it’s always about God’s will at work in us.

Friend, it’s God who spoke life into all creation. It’s God who knew us before the foundation of the world. It’s God who loves us all with an everlasting love. So much that He sent Jesus to the world to seek and save the lost. It’s God who works in and through all of us to accomplish His will and for His good pleasure. What do we have to do? Just believe, submit, and rejoice. The Christian life, from the beginning to its end, is totally dependent upon the grace of God.

Father, thank You for working in us to do Your will and for Your good pleasure. Thank You that we can have confidence that by Your grace, all things are made complete. When we sin we have the promise that we can come to You and seek Your forgiveness and we will receive it. When our hearts are broken and we’ve been kicked around by this world, we have the promise that when we call upon the Name of the Lord, You will save us. Help us Lord to never forget that through You and only You we have strength to complete Your will. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Exodus 33:13-14 NKJV – Standing in the gap

Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.  And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Sometimes I pray with specific thoughts and requests in mind. They come from what I am facing in life and often times from those who ask me to pray for them. I love when I can offer prayers for others in as an intercessor for them. I learned early on that there was a term that people used. They said they, “Stood in the gap” for someone else. I remember the first time I stood in the gap for someone. He was very sick. It was during a Saturday evening prayer service. There was a call to the altar for those needing healing and it was asked that if there be anyone who would stand in the gap for someone who was not in attendance, to come forward. I responded and when the people surrounded me and laid hands on me there was an incredible presence. I remember after the prayer feeling overwhelmed by God’s touch.

I think about that night how God moved. I also think about those times when God places someone on my heart to pray for. It may come at any time. I’ve had the feeling to pray while driving, while at home, at work, outside while working on my lawn. I’ve even felt it in the middle of the night after something woke me up. It’s God call to intercede.

God moved so graciously for Moses and the children of Israel because of Moses’ prayer. He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” I believe that when we pray or “Stand in the gap” for others, God’s Holy Presence goes with us. God’s Presence is in the midst of our prayers for others. And God is ready to answer on behalf of the individual we are praying for.

Many times I don’t even know what the person is facing or what the person’s prayer need is. I just know God has called me to pray. And I will remain obedient to that call. I don’t say that to puff myself up as some Mega Prayer Warrior. I remain obedient to the call of prayer because someone remained obedient to the same calling when I was lost.

I love when I can take someone by the hand and we can seek the Lord in prayer. But I also love when God awakens my spirit to His call to prayer. I believe an essential aspect of the life of a believer is that it is more than a matter of prayer, but a total and heartfelt commitment to God when we pray. Moses knew what the children of Israel did to deserve the wrath of God. Sometimes I don’t know the reason to pray, but I know whom I have believed. I, too, am able to say, Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.”

Friend, I don’t know what you may be facing or what others around you face. But I know that God is a hearer of prayer. “O You who hear prayer, To You all flesh will come.” (Psalm 65:2 NKJV) And God will see you through it all. If you are facing something or thinking of someone that you believe needs a touch from the Lord, join with me in the prayer below. I will stand in the gap with you and believe with you that God will hear and answer your prayer. If you know of someone who might be in need and not able to see this devotion, please share this with them. I will stand in the gap for them as well.

Heavenly Father, I pray for those who are feeling they have no hope. I pray for those who are looking for an answer to their heartache, their worry, their pain. I pray, dear Lord, for those who have been separated from You. Lord, I ask in Your precious Name, Jesus, that this day You would touch their situation and bring hope, bring peace, bring healing, bring restoration, bring renewal, and pour out Your love upon them. Dear Lord, I know not all that they face, but I know that You will answer this prayer. Lord may this day be a day of celebration of the Glory, and the Power, and the Love that You have poured out. Thank You Lord Jesus, in Your Precious Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!