Nehemiah 1:8-10 NKJV – A place which I have chosen

Remember, I pray, the word that You commanded Your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations; but if you return to Me, and keep My commandments and do them, though some of you were cast out to the farthest part of the heavens, yet I will gather them from there, and bring them to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling for My name.’ Now these are Your servants and Your people, whom You have redeemed by Your great power, and by Your strong hand.

If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you. But if you return to Me, I will gather you from there and bring you to the place which I have chosen as a dwelling place for My name. A conditional statement, but yet one of great love and desire from God. If you do not obey I will cause you to scatter but if you return to Me, you will be where I am. That’s really what this scripture is saying. God is our sole redeemer. Redeeming us from difficult personal circumstances, deliverance from our enemies, and Jesus is central to God’s redemptive purpose. “He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13-14 NKJV)

And why would we not want to be where God resides? Jesus prepares the place in heaven for His own, and the Holy Spirit prepares the redeemed on earth for their place in heaven. That is God’s desired location of your eternal dwelling. He tells us that He desires to bring us to His place. But let me share something with you. Until the day when we stand before Jesus; when our life on this earth ends, we can still be where God is. All we need to do is desire it and ask God to lead us there.

To reside in the place where God dwells is to desire an intimate relationship with Him. It means to access God in His throne room. “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16 NKJV) Let us then with confidence draw near to where God is. Coming to God honors Him because it demonstrates our dependence upon Him. Coming to God brings us to the place where He resides. Where there is only Him and us. No one else. And God responds in mercy to those who call to Him. “Yet regard the prayer of Your servant and his supplication, O Lord my God, and listen to the cry and the prayer which Your servant is praying before You today” (1 Kings 8:28 NKJV) And the path to the throne room; the path to meeting with God is prayer. Prayerfulness is an attitude by which a constant relationship between God and believers is developed. And prayerfulness is a way of life and a way to life. “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice.” (Psalm 55:17 NKJV) What better way “of life” and “to life” than a daily time of prayer and conversation with God.

Friend, God promises that if we return to Him and obey His commands, He will gather us and bring us to His place; where He dwells. The blessings and favor of the Lord await those who come to God and seek an obedient, intimate relationship with Him. “Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 28:1-2 NKJV)

Dear Lord, thank You for Your promises. Thank You that You have prepared a place for us. Thank You that we can come into Your throne room to meet with You, to worship You and to pray to You. Lord, Your Word is the gift of life. Forgive us Lord when we do not obey Your commands and try to live a life outside of You. But thank You Lord that if we return to You and obey Your commands, You will gather us up and take us to the place You have chosen n matter how far we might have drifted. We love You and praise You. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

 

Psalm 138:8 – I didn’t see it coming

The Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.

Have you ever thought that no one “had your back”? Did you ever feel that you were out there, in the world alone; a target on your back for others to take a shot at? I have felt this. Especially when out of nowhere, someone shoots and the arrow runs deep. You didn’t see it coming. You really had no fear but all of a sudden you’re left to pick yourself up, clean off your wounds, and move on. One version of this scripture says, “The Lord will vindicate me…”

Let me tell you, that God has your back. Our Heavenly Father watches over us. He sees what is about to happen. Nothing takes him by surprise. Scripture bears witness to God’s promises of guidance for his people. God’s desire is to keep us on the path that He has ordered. He always has our back. God desires His purposes and plans to be fulfilled. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye.” (Psalm 32:8 NKJV)

So what should we do when we are attacked, persecuted, or “thrown under the bus”? The Word of God is clear about this. “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” (Matthew 10:16 NKJV) Jesus was warning His disciples that trouble and persecution lay ahead. Believers ought to expect to suffer as an inevitable part of their calling. To believe is not to evade suffering; it is to face it with new confidence and hope. Rightly approached, suffering develops the character of believers, equips them for more effective service, draws believers closer to Jesus Christ and prepares them for eternal life.

Did what happened to me cause me to become more watchful? Yes. Not because that I thought I was alone, but rather more watchful because of the wisdom God imparts in us as we serve Him. I took some mental notes. I learned what to watch for. And I was encouraged by God’s Word when I went to Him seeking to hear what God had to say.

Friend, we will be taken by surprise from time to time. We will be targets for others to attach. We will suffer persecution. How we handle those attacks is what is important. Do we retaliate immediately with a counter-attack? Or do we seek our Protector and Defender and listen to what He has to say. When those times come, and they will, go to the Lord in prayer. Listen to what the Holy Spirit tells you and seek His Word for instruction.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Luke 10:19 NKJV – The power and authority is yours

Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.

The authority of Jesus Christ to speak and act on his Father’s behalf in forgiving sin, pronouncing judgment and promising eternal life to those who believe in Him. This same power, which by the matter of fact came through the Resurrection Power of God to His Son, Jesus, is available to us as believers through our faith in Jesus Christ. We have victory over all powers of the enemy by Jesus death and resurrection power. So why is it hard for us to believe?

I sat in this morning’s service at my church and was challenged and convicted by the Holy Spirit to allow the authority of God to work in and through me to break the chains of sin in my life. Yes, I am a sinner. We are all sinners. for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23 NKJV) But why is it so hard to believe and claim the power of God over sin in our lives. The reason is pride. Pride leads us down a path of self-righteousness. To conquer sin in our lives, it is the righteousness of Christ that we need.

We must every day put on the garment of praise and thank God for His righteousness that He has given us through our faith and belief in Jesus. Every time we take our minds and hearts off of the truth in God’s Word we open ourselves to straying from the truth and onto the path that leads to sin and rebellion against God. All sin is rebellion against God. Some may say that’s not true. I’m sorry it is the truth. God gave us His Word. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16 NKJV) And Jesus Christ is the Word of God. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14 NKJV)

Friend, we can live in victory by accepting the saving grace of Jesus Christ and believing that He died for our sins and rose from the grave to defeat sin and death once and for all. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and God’s resurrection power that rose Him from the grave is given to us and provides us with the authority over the sins and schemes of the enemy. Take some time in prayer, seeking the presence of God, and ask Him to open your heart to His power over what keeps you bound in sin. Ask God for His forgiveness and believe that the power of God is living in your life. May you find victory in God’s power over the enemy.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Psalm 6:2 NKJV – In times when we are weak

Psalm 6:2 NKJV – In times when we are weak

Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are troubled.

Have you ever been just plain weak and tired and feel you just can’t go another inch without just falling over? I have felt that way. Recently and in the past. I’m getting older and can’t do what I used to be able to do and certainly I don’t recover physically as quickly as I had in the past. Lack of physical strength may have a number of causes. Physical weakness comes from a body that isn’t as strong as it once was or maybe due to illness, weakness occurs. But there is also spiritual weakness; when we feel weary in the work of the Lord.

Spiritual weakness may lead us to be slack in our time with God. Spiritual weakness may be the result of persecution, spiritual warfare, or even being faced with opposition. My question is this, “when we are weak, where do we turn?” I pray we turn to God. The nature of God, Himself, is compassion and care. God is merciful. God has an understanding of human weakness and what is necessary to restore those in need. “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and- great in mercy. The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.” (Psalm 145:8-9 NKJV)

Friend, today I needed to call upon the name of the Lord and seek His care, His restoration power, His comfort, and His strength. Whether it be physical or spiritual weakness, God is the source of all that we need. As believers we should expect to suffer as part of our calling. To believe is not to evade suffering; it is to face it with new confidence and hope. Rightly approached, suffering develops the character of believers, equips them for more effective service, draws believers closer to Jesus Christ and prepares them for eternal life. The Apostle Paul said it best. “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12”9 NKJV)

O God, thank You for Your mercy in our times of need. Sometimes, God, we are weak either physically or spiritually. Thank You that we can call upon Your name for Your tender mercies. You care for us, You restore us, You comfort us, You strengthen us. Help us God to look toward You when we are weak so that You God can touch us and bring us back. We give You the glory. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Lamentations 3:22-24 – In the morning

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!

I’ve written about this Scripture a few times in the past talking about God’s amazing faithfulness. Today it struck me again. This morning, while sitting in the dining room, I noticed some things. The bright shining of the sun, the flowers of a blooming Magnolia tree, the residents out and about with their pets, young folk taking the time to get in their daily jog, and the movement of God’s creatures. There’s a lot going on.

For me, I see the Lord’s mercies. I see the freshness and newness of the day. Great is our God. But what struck me the most was that everyone and everything went about their business or what they were created to do. The people with their pets and the joggers doing what they do most of the time. The shining of the sun across a southern coastal marsh and touching the well-manicured lawns of a South Carolina development. The blooming flowers of a Magnolia tree opening up at exactly the correct time of day. And God’s creatures both big and small gathering fruit and food for their nests or to store away for later use. I particularly liked the squirrels and birds doing what they had to do in the same tree but appearing that they didn’t even notice each other.

What does this all say to me? The hand of the Lord upon all things. It didn’t matter who I was watching whether human or not. God’s hand was upon everything they did. The creatures moving about doing what God created them to do. The people using the God given time in a bright spring morning to walk their pets and get in a little exercise as well. I guess a more important question is who noticed or should I say who encountered God in the process?

The animals were obedient to what God created them to be and to do. The squirrels gathering the nuts from a tree and carrying them away told me that their instinctive response each morning was to care and feed their families and even take care of a future need. The birds eating the berries in another tree told me the same. The calling of the birds indicated me that they had something to say. But did the humans even notice the new day given to them by the mercy and grace of God? I can’t answer that. But what I can say is that this brief picture of a morning in South Carolina, painted and created by God, was a great gift to me. He gave me a portion of His great love. In His lovingkindness, God took this morning, wrapped it up and gave it to me a His present for today. For that I will praise Him. Yesterday the day was not bright and sunny because in God’s infinite wisdom and knowledge He brought the rains that were so desperately needed. The rains that brought life again to the landscape and I think to the people as well.

Friend, sometimes life goes by and we are so busy we allow it to pass. His mercies are new every morning. This is a promise we can take a hold of. The beauty of this promise lies in whether or not we’ll take the time to see it and encounter its beauty. Great is the faithfulness of the Lord. No matter what is going on, no matter what you are facing, God’s mercies, His love, and His grace are new for us each day that He decides we are to live. Let us praise Him. Today, I challenge you. I challenge you to spend some time in prayer and conversation with the Lord thanking Him for every new day He gives you. Just take time to praise Him for caring for you and for His great faithfulness. I challenge you to set aside your needs and the wants in your life and just thank Him. Don’t ask for anything, just worship God Almighty who spoke life into another day for you.

Precious and loving Lord. Today I thank You for Your great love for me and for Your faithfulness. Thank You for showing me Your hand upon all things; big or small. Thank You for pointing out to me the freshness and newness of the day. You are a glorious God. Lord, cause my mind and heart to slow down to notice You. Teach me O Lord, to see You in all things so that I would praise You and give You thanks. Great is Your Faithfulness over all things. I love You Lord. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

Psalm 119:114 NKJV – Sometimes I just want to hide

You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word.

Did you ever have a day where you just wanted to become invisible to everyone around you? Maybe you made some poor choices or you might have said something you shouldn’t have said. Sometimes we just want to hide and hope what just happened will go away. Recently I made a poor choice and stood by a decision I made only to find out that people were not happy with my decision. When the discussion with them on the decision I made concluded, I realized I made an error in judgment. I just wanted to hide. I was wrong. I made a poor choice. My decision was based on inaccurate information. Yup. These kinds of events will happen. I placed my trust in something that proved to be weak.

God says that we can come to Him; He is our hiding place and our shield. You know, when it was all said and done, I felt the need to find God. I wanted His assurance that He was near. I wanted the feeling of security. I wanted to be safe. I wanted His comfort. I am more embarrassed than hurt by the inappropriate decision I made. But yet, I desired the presence of God to cover me.

God defends His own, especially when we are the most vulnerable. Today, I feel a little vulnerable. Nobody intentionally wants to make a mistake. Nobody intentionally wants to make a decision that is wrong and that affects others. But as Christians, we too, sometimes face trials and persecutions. We are no different. I was wrong and made a poor choice. But we must never forget that our eternal security is never threatened. I ran to God for cover. I ran to God for His security. I wanted a safe refuge. “Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear, to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may oppress no more.” (Psalm 10:17-18 NKJV)

My hope rests in God. It is a total grounding of my confidence and expectation in God’s goodness and care even in the face of trouble. I have learned a lot. I will learn even more. Will I make another poor choice? Maybe…Probably. But maybe I have learned to stop before I make a poor choice and seek my refuge first in God’s eternal and incredible wisdom and care. “Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.” (Psalm 42:5 NKJV)

Friend, I have learned so much today. I share this with you so that you know that in the face of trials and poor choices and wrong decisions, we have a place to find shelter. We may have made a poor choice or wrong decision, but we don’t have to feel alone and secluded. We have a safe refuge. We have a hiding place. God is ready and able to gather us up to shelter us, to comfort us, to teach us, and to set us back out to do His will.

Precious God, thank You that we can run to You and seek refuge. Thank You that You are our shield. God, You walk with us even when we make poor choices and bad decisions. You never leave us. You are there to pick us up and dust us off and set us out again to do Your will. Thank You God for Your faithfulness. May all we say and do give glory to You. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me, believe God!

James 3:17-18 NKJV – Seeking the wisdom of God

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

I can be scatter-brained every now and then. It’s true. My mind gets going in so many directions that it is hard to find my way out of a paper bag. I am not a person who operates very well by multi-tasking. I am the kind of person that has to keep my thoughts on a single point of interest. I find security in knowing if I keep my mind on the task at hand, I won’t get lost. When I try to do too much, I get frustrated and confused and don’t succeed very well. I wish I could be more multi-task oriented, but that is not how God created me.

So this brings me to our Scripture. The wisdom that God gives is pure, peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits and is without partiality and hypocrisy. That is what I desire. Because let me tell you, when I try to do things in my own wisdom, there isn’t much wisdom of what this Scripture promises. Just the opposite. And in all of this confusion, what do you suppose are the attitudes displayed for the world to see? Yeah. Not good.

Scripture illustrates a range of attitudes towards other people, some of which are commended, while others are condemned. Commended attitudes include love, forgiveness, helpfulness, kindness, hospitality, generosity, humility, patience, submission, gentleness, and unselfishness. Condemned attitudes include pride, jealousy, judgment, anger, hatred, and partiality. So you can see why pursuing the wisdom of God in all things is so important. I’ve been thinking a lot about living out my faith as Jesus did. What I mean to say is demonstrating “Christ Alive” in everything I do so that others may see the difference that is in me. Christ in me defines or should I say should dictate how I react, what choices I make, and how my attitude is displayed. It “should”. Do I make mistakes? Yes. Do I let things get to me? Yes. Do I let my guard down? Yes.

But Scripture says, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.” (Psalm 103:8 NKJV) AND “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NKJV) Friend, I desire to live and demonstrate a peaceable life and manner, filled with the wisdom of God as I ask for it, always pursuing gentleness and a willingness to yield or submit to others. That is what we all should desire, but sometimes we will fail. How do we get back up when we realize the attitude we just displayed was not our best? We seek forgiveness; both from the affected people and from God. How do we seek the forgiveness of others and of God? First and foremost, humble submission. When we humble ourselves to those we may have offended or at least may have seen something in us that does not glorify God, we demonstrate an attitude that pleases and is commended by God. Secondly, spend some time in prayer seeking God to forgive your actions and to fill you with His wisdom in all things.

I spoke of being scatter-brained in the beginning. Maybe it’s not scatter-brained, but rather we sometimes get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the world and we lose track of our identity. Let’s focus on living out the wisdom of God and demonstrate that Jesus is alive in us. Therein lies our true identity.

Dear God, we call upon Your Name and seek Your wisdom. Thank You God that you are merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in mercy when we fail and try to live out our life in our own wisdom. Help us Lord to live out our life in Christ Jesus. Guide and direct us to demonstrate Jesus is Alive in everything we do. For Your glory and honor. In Jesus Name. AMEN.

Don’t believe me believe God!