Missed opportunities

Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes.” Luke 19:41-42 NKJV

I read this scripture passage and my heart grieves. The triumphant entry of the true King of Kings was not recognized by Jerusalem. They did not know of the time of the visitation of their Messiah. The opportunity for peace had come and Israel said no.

How often do we miss opportunities that God places before us? I don’t have an answer for that question. But I know I’ve missed opportunities to share the truth about Jesus as our King of Kings. You know, when we pray for God to lead us to or give us individuals that need to hear about Jesus; when we ask God to be a lighthouse for Him and to enable us by the Holy Spirit to tell the world about Jesus, do we really understand what we’re asking?

There are two specific times that come to mind where I missed it. I missed my opportunity. They are seared into my memory so that I won’t ever forget them. The first was incredibly sad. The second was incredibly tragic.

Opportunity #1 – I was driving through town one afternoon, headed to an appointment with a pastor at my church. I was a little bit late so I was kind of in a hurry. I was meeting this particular pastor to let her know of my desire to partner with her in an evangelism ministry outreach. So as I was driving, my mind was on the meeting, yet something caught my eye. There standing on a corner of town, by the bus stop was a young lady who may have been 18 or 19 years old. She was wearing all black. Her face was pale and it caused me to see that she was weeping. Black streaks were running down her cheeks. At that instant, the Holy Spirit interrupted the moment and asked me to stop and ask the girl what was the matter. I heard the Holy Spirit as if He were sitting next to me. The traffic light turned green, I continued to drive, and I didn’t stop to ask. I was headed to a meeting on evangelism to tell the world outside of the church walls about Jesus and I didn’t stop. My thoughts were not on this girl’s eternal well-being. My mind was on getting to a meeting. As soon as I entered my pastor’s office, I sat down and began to weep. She asked me what was the matter. I told her I needed to confess to her and to God that I had turned my back on this girl when God gave me the opportunity. I didn’t know the time of His visitation with her. I had missed my opportunity.

Opportunity #2 – At one time I was a successful real estate agent working in our local community and in the tri-county area. I had a very nice office that was provided to me and my relationship with the other agents and brokers was exceptional. Everyone in the office knew that I called Jesus my Savior. Some embraced that knowledge while others just set it aside. There was one particular agent whose name was Tommy. For some reason, I felt Tommy was special and we always had a mutual respect for each other. From almost the first day I met Tommy, the Holy Spirit tugged on my heart to share the truth of Jesus Christ with him. I knew Tommy’s mom really well. She was also a real estate agent and we were friends. So when I began to feel the Holy Spirit prompting me, I thought thank You Lord. This one will be pretty easy. I already knew the family. And I also knew Tommy didn’t know about Jesus. Here is where the tragedy begins. My pride got in the way of where my heart needed to be. I had seen Tommy over and over in the weeks ahead. Each time I told myself I’ll talk to him the next time we see each other. One Monday morning, I came into the office as usual, but something was different. I felt a heaviness. There was sorrow surrounding me. I found out that over the weekend, Tommy had taken his life with a single shot from a gun. Tommy was 19. My whole being felt the grief. Every bone, every cell, every part of my body grieved. I went to Tommy’s wake a few days later and as soon as I entered the room, I began to weep uncontrollably. I hugged his mom and some of his relatives that I knew. I stood against the back wall of the room and continued to weep. The weeping didn’t end at the funeral home. I carried that with me for the next week as I wept each day at home. On Sunday morning, I walked in to my church’s Senior Pastor’s office and asked if he had time to talk with me. He said yes. I think it was because he realized I had been weeping. I asked him if I could address the congregation sometime during his morning message. I didn’t know what his message was, but I knew I had to ask. I told him this story. He said his message was on the opportunities God gives us to share the gospel with the lost. So he gave me time to speak to the congregation. I challenged the congregation to never pass up the opportunities God gives us. Later, I asked forgiveness from some of Tommy’s family who attended to our church that morning for not speaking to him and telling him about Jesus.

Jesus was entering Jerusalem as a proclaimed king but was not recognized as the King of Kings. Even though He was being praised as Hosanna, He knew He would be rejected. As Jesus approached the city, He wept over Jerusalem. By rejecting Him, Israel had chosen the way of judgment. It had missed the day and the moment. To miss Jesus was to miss the time of visitation and face accountability before God. And Jerusalem did.

I’ve grown in my walk with the Lord. God did not take away opportunities to share God’s love and the need for Jesus with others. God forgave me. His mercy has overwhelmed me. His grace has been undeserved and abundant. Will I miss opportunities again? I pray that I don’t. You see, every single person that walks and breathes on this earth is God’s creation and He “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4 NKJV) Let’s not miss it. “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)

Heavenly Father. Thank You for Your mercy and grace. Forgive us Father when we let opportunities to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the lost go by the wayside. Help us to discern when those opportunities arise and anoint us by Your Holy Spirit to be obedient to Your call. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

He will supply

And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. (Luke 12:29-31 NKJV)

In the times we are living right now, with the world being such a volatile and changing place, people place their faith on the things of survival. Food, shelter, clothing, water, etc. That is what we have been taught since childhood. We were taught that someday we would be old enough to care for ourselves. That we would get a job and use that income to buy those things that would help keep us alive. I learned the same lesson. What I found out when I got older, is that it got more difficult to meet all of my needs and that often times, those that I trusted to provide, let me down. That’s my testimony. It may not be yours, but there is only so much we ourselves can do.

But here Jesus is teaching us to not place our faith on the things of the world or our own efforts to survive, but rather on His Kingdom. Our Heavenly Father, the God of all Creation, sees all that we face and knows all that we desire. He is our provider. God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:19 NKJV)

Friend, there is so much to worry about now in our world. We need that place where we can release that worry and come into the presence and promises of God. I know that I cannot change the world by any effort of my own, but I also know that God hears my prayers when I seek Him. When I pray to God about my needs, He always blesses me when the answer comes and I realize that I have been overly blessed. It may not be able to be counted by the world’s standards, but God’s standards exceed anything the world can give me.

Dear God, thank You that You care for us. That when we seek You, You hear and know and supply all of our needs. This is a promise in Your Word. We can believe that regardless of what we are facing, You know, You care, You provide. Help us Lord, to trust in You and take the time to seek You. In Your precious Name Jesus. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

He saw the greater need

So he sent and had John beheaded in prison. And his head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, and she brought it to her mother. Then his disciples came and took away the body and buried it, and went and told Jesus. When Jesus heard it, He departed from there by boat to a deserted place by Himself. But when the multitudes heard it, they followed Him on foot from the cities. And when Jesus went out He saw a great multitude; and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. (Matthew 14: 10-14 NKJV)

When Jesus heard of the death of John the Baptist, though He knew of what would happen to John, in His humanness, He grieved. His friend had died. He wanted to be alone. But then something happened that changed everything. It says He saw a great multitude, and He was moved with compassion for them, and healed their sick. In the midst of the times in the land, Jesus’ grief and the sorrow of the death of a dear friend, He saw the greater need. He saw the multitude. He saw that the sheep were before Him. They, too, had great needs. Jesus, God in the flesh, set aside His personal grief, and what He was facing and ministered to those in need.

There are times in our life where we, too, face incredible stress, heart ache, and grief. It happens to all of us. We come to a place where we might think no one else has to deal with what I am facing. I’ve said that myself. But I’ve learned that when I can set aside just a little bit of the struggles I face and look to what others are facing and pray for them, I feel a release. I feel comforted in knowing that God knows what I struggle with and He is on it. And when my prayer for others opens up into an opportunity to talk with them, the release is even greater. I want to be able to see, and hear, and feel as Jesus did. With a heart of compassion that always recognizes the greater need.

Heavenly Lord, You poured out Your love to those in need because You desired for them to see their Savior in the flesh. You came to seek and to save that which was lost. As You walked this earth You always ministered with a heart filled with compassion. Help me Lord to walk with Your heart, to see with Your eyes, to hear with Your ears. To set aside our own needs to minister to those in need. May those we minister to see Your light in us. Help us Lord we pray. In Your precious Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Pray over and over and over again

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… (Luke 18:7-8a NKJV)

When we pray, God listens. He hears and fundamentally that means He answers our prayers. In the Scripture preceding this passage we see the widow who persistently brings her petition to the judge. So many times that the judge finally says to himself, “Though I do not fear God nor regard man, yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.” (Luke 18:4-5) Praise the Lord that we do not make God weary with our prayers. God loves to hear our prayers. Yes, over and over and over again. We are persistent just like we were persistent as a child to our parents. We asked our parents until we got their attention and then asked again.  It’s the same when we are persistent with God.  We come to our Father knowing He delights in our expectant prayers. He delights that we come to Him, to have conversation with Him.  Does He hear our first prayer? Well, yes He does. And all those that follow. Even if they are the same prayer. Mark Batterson in his book, “The Circle Maker” said, “Praying hard looks like: knocking until your knuckles are raw, crying out until your voice is lost, pleading until your tears run dry. Praying hard is praying through. And if you pray through, God will come through.”

Dear Lord, help us to know that it is Your desire to answer our prayers. To come to You day and night and lay our burdens before You. We rejoice in knowing that our prayers never make You weary. Just the opposite. Our prayers reside in Your heart to answer. Help us to pray through until You come through. Hallelujah! In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

And He prayed

I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father! The world has not known You, but I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me. And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them. (John 17:20-26 NKJV)

Jesus knew what was before Him. Every detail from His arrest to the Cross. He knew what He would suffer; all of the pain and agony. But He stopped and prayed. He prayed for “those who will believe in Me through their word”. The word of His disciples. Jesus was praying for His Church. The Church He knew would be established by His shed blood and the power of the Holy Spirit and through the words that would be given to His disciples. Jesus was praying for you and for me. Jesus prayed that “they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me”. He was praying for His Church, to be one in Christ, so the world would know the Name of Jesus. He saw the greater need.

I’m reminded that my life at one time was headed to eternal suffering and death. I’m reminded of the man whose name was Mark, who set aside what he was facing; his suffering, his cancer, his daily challenges and how he took me by the hands in his office, in the middle of a busy day and prayed for me. And two days later, I’m reminded of when I knelt before Jesus and asked Him to forgive me. The single most important day of my life when I called upon the Name of Jesus and was saved. This man lived out every day demonstrating the love and compassion of Jesus and took time for me because he, too, saw the greater need.

Who will we encounter? What will we need to set aside? Will we demonstrate the love and compassion of Jesus as Mark did for me? Will we see the greater need? Will we pray?

Oh dear Jesus, thank You for praying for us. You knew what You would be facing, but yet again, You set that aside and saw the greater need. You saw those whose lives would be trapped under the burden of sin and You prayed. You prayed that we too, would believe. That we would be one with You. Oh thank You Lord. May others see Jesus in me and know that You love them with an everlasting love and desire for them to call You Savior and spend eternity with You. In Your Holy Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Such simple instructions

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. (Matthew 7:7-8 NKJV)

Such simple instructions. Really, when you think about it. Jesus came right to the point. If you believe, these things will happen. The precept of this Scripture is these things will happen when you pray.

Matthew Henry, great commentator, wrote:

Ask “Pray; pray often; pray with sincerity and seriousness; pray, and pray again; make conscience of prayer, and be constant in it; make a business of prayer, and be earnest in it. Ask, as a beggar asks alms. Ask represent your wants and burdens to God, and refer yourselves to Him for support and supply, according to His promise. Ask as a traveler asks the way; to pray is to enquire of God.” I believe in having an attitude of prayer where prayer or at least the knowledge of opportunity to pray is always existent.

Seek Seek as for a thing of value that we have lost, or as the merchant man that seeks goodly pearls. Seek by prayer” Seek as Matthew Henry suggests. Seek as if what was lost is the most important thing in your life.

KnockKnock as he that desires to enter into the house knocks at the door. We would be admitted to converse with God, would be taken into His love, and favor, and kingdom; sin has shut and barred the door against us; by prayer, we knock; Lord, Lord, open to us. Christ knocks at our door.” “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Revelation 3:20 NKJV)

Friend, Jesus is ready to answer your prayers. He desires to pour out His love and favor. Prayer is the key. A prayerful life is the key. Prayer offers believers a means of acknowledging the character and purposes of God and the opportunity to seek guidance concerning His will for them. Prayer is a conversation. That’s what it is. And conversation must be two-way. As you seek God in prayerful conversation, He will hear you and respond to you. What else do you need to know? The Word of God says, “Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” (Mark 11:24 NKJV) Pray – Believe – Receive. Hallelujah!

Dear God, thank You that when we ask, You give. When we seek, we find. And when we knock, You open the door. Thank You God that Your Word is faithful and all we need to do is believe. God, prayer is simply a conversation with You. May we grow in our faith as we Ask, Seek, and Knock. In Jesus Name. AMEN

Don’t believe me, believe God!

To the mountain to pray

But they were filled with rage, and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus. Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles: Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; James and John; Philip and Bartholomew; Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot who also became a traitor. (Luke 6:11-16 NKJV)

We see hear in the book of Luke that this Scripture places the choosing of the twelve apostles immediately after the remark about the beginnings of a plot against Jesus. You see, Jesus had just healed the man with the withered hand on the Sabbath. There were folks that were not happy about that. They were watching Jesus closely to see if they could find something to accuse Him of.

What I want to key in on is it says “He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” There is no other New Testament passage that speaks of all-night prayer. Jesus knew His ministry here on earth and the choosing of His apostles required prayer. He was building His ministry and knew that prayer would be necessary.

We often find ourselves praying for what seems to be a very long time for our family, our friends, our home, our desires, even our ministries, to quickly find out we have only prayed for a few minutes. Jesus knew what was ahead of Him. There was a revolution brewing. He knew His apostles had much to understand. And He also knew that His answers would come from His Father. He went away to pray all night. What should we do? How many minutes/hours are long enough? I don’t have that answer. But I know this. That every moment of time we spend praying to our Heavenly Father is not wasted time. Our Father wants a relationship with us that keeps Him on our mind and on our lips. The choice is ours. How much time will you spend?

Friend, today I challenge you to spend time with God in prayer and remain in prayer a little longer than what you are accustomed. Let your conversation with God permeate His throne room. Let the ministering response from God wash over you. Prayer is relational. The more you pray to God the more you begin to know and understand the everlasting love and grace He desires to impart to you.

Holy and glorious Lord. Thank you for hearing our prayers no matter how long they last. Sometimes a quick prayer is what is needed when we encounter something suddenly. But many times Lord we choose the amount of time we spend with You. Help us understand that every instant of time with You is blessed time. Where we can capture Your attention and we can share our hearts together. Let us set aside those things of the world that keep us from prayer and help us to redeem that time in a conversation with You. We love You Lord and desire a relationship with You. Let’s spend some time together. In Your Name Jesus. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!