A Prayer For God’s Guidance

Psalm 143:7-10 (NIV)

7 Answer me quickly, Lord;
my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me
or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
 
8 Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I entrust my life.
 
9 Rescue me from my enemies, Lord,
for I hide myself in you.
 
10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
lead me on level ground.

So often, we try to make our own plans without slowing down and seeking God’s wisdom. We can be in such a hurry that we lack the patience needed to wait on God. We want a quick answer, and if we don’t receive one, we make our own decisions and go our own way. And what usually happens when we do that? Quite often, those hasty choices we make without conversing with God, leads us down a dead end path.

If you are seeking God’s will about a certain situation, begin your day by asking God for discernment and direction. When asking for God’s guidance, we must be careful to listen to God, instead of reciting a long list of needs and desires that we want God to grant us. “Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.” As you begin each day by trusting God and even entrusting your life to God, you can find peace and comfort in knowing that God’s love for you is unfailing. His mercies are new every morning and if you will only “listen” for God, He will lead you into your Promised Land.

Ask God to give you what you need to follow God’s will for your life. I go before God many times during the day asking Him for guidance and discernment. As I learn to listen to God, His Holy Spirit leads me to make the decisions I should make so as to follow God. The Holy Spirit “teaches” us to follow and to stay in God’s will for our lives. The Holy Spirit will never lead us astray; He always leads us on “level ground.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

God’s Amazing Grace

Ephesians 2:8-10: 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

I know many people who are really struggling with so many difficult issues in their lives. And often when you are struggling, it can seem that God is so very far away. If you feel that way today, please know that God is not only near you, He is with you in every circumstance that you are facing in your life. God can and will give you the strength that you need to endure and to persevere during the most trying and uncertain moments in your life.  

God loves you so much that He sent His only Son, to die for my sins and for your sins, while we were still sinners! Romans 5:8: But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. It is only by the grace of God that we can be saved. There is absolutely nothing that you or I can do to earn salvation. It is the gift of God’s amazing grace. And if God loved you so much that He sent His Son to die for you, God will lead you out of the dark and seemingly hopeless place where you are now.

God wants each of us to live a life that honors and glorifies Him. But in living out that life, we must go through difficult times, and it is during those times that we grow stronger in our faith and trust in God. The God that loved us so much that He sent His only Son to die for our sins, is the same God who watches over you and is present with you, in every moment of your life. Life can be hard and at times seem cruel, but no matter what life on this earth sends our way, we serve a God who loves us and is making a way for us out of our seemingly impossible situations.

Cling to God’s amazing grace and remember what God has done for you in all of the difficult situations in life that you have faced so far. God can and will overcome the many obstacles that you face. The Apostle Paul wrote, “It is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him, in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:5b-7).  

Thank you Lord for our Savior Jesus Christ and for your amazing grace!

 

The Problem With Sin

1:1 John 1:7-9(NIV): But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Be honest with yourself for a moment. How often do you stop to address the sin in your life and then go to God in prayer asking for forgiveness of those sins? Sin is not something most of us feel comfortable discussing with others and we often push our sin aside and make the choice not to deal with it. We allow the evil one to whisper in our ear and say that it’s just a little sin; it won’t make a difference in your relationship with God. But the truth is that sin damages your relationship with God. To be perfectly clear: sin disrupts the relationship between you and God.

I was explaining to my daughter the other day about how we first had to connect to the internet using a dial up connection. She is accustomed to being able to get on the internet instantly and couldn’t imagine a time when you had to wait several minutes to get a connection. And often after getting connected, you would lose your connection. I remember how frustrated I was when that would happen!

Our relationship with God operates in the same way. We sin, and we confess our sin to God, and sometimes it takes a while for God to restore us back into full fellowship with him. While we are waiting for that connection with God to go through, he is correcting, teaching, and helping us to learn from our mistakes, and our sin. After a while, we are connected with God again, but when we stumble and revert back to our sinful ways, we once again lose that connection with God and we are forced to start all over. We must learn to overcome our sin problem so that we can avoid having our relationship with God disrupted.

In our house, we now have a high speed internet connection and we have become accustomed to accessing the internet very quickly. This is exactly what God has in mind for us in our own personal relationship with him. God wants us to be able to gain access to him instantly and he wants to keep a continuous, personal connection to each one of us. Sin disrupts that connection and that is not God’s desire or intention for our life and our daily walk with God.

God wants us to deal with our sin and to approach God and confess our sin and then to ask for forgiveness of our sin. Our scripture from 1 John 1:8 reminds us: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” We must recognize and name our sin, ask God for forgiveness, and then pray for our relationship with God to be restored. Anything less and we are simply deceiving ourselves.

God wants to maintain an uninterrupted connection with us so that he can use us for his purpose and lead us into a more fulfilling life that is lived out for His glory. If we deal with the problem of sin, we can live a life that glorifies God in our daily walk with Him and we can live out the purpose for our life that God created us for.

The Apostle John gives us good news about what occurs when we deal with our sin in the right way: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

 

 

Comfort in Difficult Times

2 Corinthians 1:2-5( NIV):  Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. {3} Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, {4} who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. {5} For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows.

 As you read this today, you may be feeling all kinds of hurt and pain. Maybe you received some difficult news this week and you are hurting and struggling to make sense of it all. I know of those who have received positive answers to their prayers and there are those whose prayers have not been answered in the way they would have preferred. The good news is that we believe in a God that is compassionate and provides comfort to His people, especially in the midst of difficult times.

            Psalm 46:1: God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in (times of) trouble.

How do I draw near to God you may ask? If you want to “hear” from God you must do two things.

First, we must pray to God and then “listen” for what God has to say. We must be quiet and allow God, through the Holy Spirit, to speak to our heart and our mind. Our senior pastor gave an excellent example of this on Wednesday night when talking about praying and then listening for God. He said we tend to pray to God and give God a list of what we want and need and we never give God a chance to respond. So as you pray to God, tell Him your worries and your troubles, and then be quiet. Allow God to speak to you through His Holy Spirit.

Second, we need to open up our Bible and stay in the Word. For me, this is the primary way that God “speaks” to me. We can’t truly complain that God is distant from us if we don’t even open up His Word and seek to draw closer to Him. I am still amazed how God can lead me to a specific scripture that I need when I open up my Bible and seek to draw near to Him. Psalm 64:8: Trust in Him at all times, O people; Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.

Psalm 46:10: “Be still, and know that I am God.”

 

Keeping Your Mind and Heart Focused on Christ

Colossians 3:1-4 (NASB): Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory. 

Are you growing weary of watching or reading the “news” and just becoming so completely discouraged at what is happening in our country and our world? There is so much hatred and a lack of unity that it reminds me of the words of Jesus from the 24th chapter of Matthew’s gospel: “most people’s love will grow cold.” You could certainly argue that there is a growing lack of love in the world we live in today. A very wise lady in the Sunday School class I teach said, “People just don’t love each other anymore.” As Christians, as we continue “seeking the things above,” our response to this world must be to love one another.

Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).

As Christians, we need to wake up every morning, open up our Bible, and allow the Holy Spirit to speak to our heart and mind. (We also need to do this throughout the day and before going to sleep at night). By staying in the Word, we draw closer in our relationship to God and we have what we need to face a sinful and hurting world. As we set our mind “on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth,” we think less about the sinful desires of the world we live in and more about how to overcome the things of this world. We are given power from above to actually show the world what it needs most – the love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

So many people measure their life by what they accumulate and accomplish while on this earth. They desire to make a name for themselves and to leave behind a legacy that will keep their memory alive. Our text from Colossians today reminds us as followers of Christ, we have died to this world and our “life is hidden with Christ in God.” Although we continue to live in this world we are not of this world. Our eternal future and our life in Christ is not measured by what we have done or accomplished but rather by what Christ accomplished on the cross at Calvary.  Continue to “set your mind” on the things above.

“When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”

 

Resist the Devil

James 4:7 (NIV): Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 

1 Peter 5:8 (NIV):  Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 

Ephesians 6:12 (NIV): For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Have you tried to resist the devil in any aspect of your life this week? And if you have tried to resist temptation or sin, have you been successful? I have been trying to write this post for over a week now, but it seems that every effort I make towards writing has been hindered. If you are a follower of Christ, and you are making an effort to share the gospel message of Christ, you will at some point come under attack from the spiritual forces of evil. How will you respond when faced with trials and temptations? Will you succumb to those trials or will you call upon the power of God to overcome and persevere these times of testing?

There are three things a believer must do in order to wage spiritual battle against the dark forces of evil. 1) We must call upon the name of Jesus for protection against the forces of evil. 2) We must pray. 3) We must remain constantly in the Word of God.

The first thing I do when I feel the attacks of the evil one is to call upon the name of Jesus for protection. I ask Jesus to safeguard my mind and to protect me.  When we attempt to resist the devil, we must be careful to do so in the name of Jesus. Trying to resist the evil one without doing so in the name of Jesus is useless. The archangel Michael, probably the most powerful angel in the Bible, knew that the devil must be rebuked in the name of our Lord. 

Jude 1:9 (NIV): But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

The seven sons of a Jewish chief priest named Sceva, found out what can happen when you misuse the name of Jesus to drive out evil spirit for selfish gain.

Acts 19:13-16 (NIV): 13 Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. 15 One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” 16 Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding.

The second way to fight off the advances of the evil one is to pray. Jesus told us to “watch and pray” so as not to fall into temptation (Mark 14:38). Satan wants to take our thoughts and mind away from God so that he can tempt us in sinful ways which prevents us from being in close communion with God. He knows that if he can get us to take the bait, then we will have a difficult time letting go of our sin. When we pray for Jesus to help us in our time of temptation, we are calling upon a higher power, our Lord and Savior, to protect us from the temptations of the evil one.

Jesus gives us the example of prayer as a weapon to resist the temptations of the devil. Luke 22:31-32 (NIV): “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail.” If Jesus himself prayed for the protection of his disciples from the evil one, then we certainly must be doing that as well.

The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, is the third way that we can resist the devil. (Ephesians 6:17). 

When Satan tempted Jesus in the Judean wilderness, Jesus answered every temptation with scripture. 

“It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.’” (Matthew 4:4) 

“On the other hand, it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.’” (Matthew 4:7) 

“Go, Satan! For it is written, YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’” (Matthew 4:10)

When faced with temptation from the devil, resist him and call upon the name of Jesus for protection. Then pray for protection from the evil one and stay in the Word of God, in order to use scripture to “extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who Do You Worship?

Luke 4:5-8 (NASB): And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. 6 And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. 7 Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.” 8 Jesus answered him, “It is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.’”

Luke’s gospel gives us the account of Jesus, “full of the Holy Spirit,” being led around by the Spirit in the Judean wilderness for forty days. Jesus had been in the wilderness for forty days without anything to eat and it was at the end of these forty days that the devil came and tempted him. It was at his weakest point that our Lord was tempted, and his refusal to yield to temptation, teaches us how to respond when the evil one tempts us.

The Holy Spirit led me to this text from Luke this morning and I felt the need to share it with you today. Who do you worship? What do you worship? I believe that each of us was created to worship our creator God, but sin tempts us and constantly seeks to draw us away from a close relationship with God. Satan has a unique way of tempting us with worldly things and pleasures and he knows that if he can get us hooked, we will gradually let go of God more and more each day. Satan wants us to depend on and draw strength from anything other than God and he is tirelessly at work creating other things for us to worship.

In the text from Luke, Satan tempts Jesus with “all the kingdoms of the world” if he will only bow down and worship him. And Jesus answers, “You shall worship the LORD your God and serve him only.”

Many people today are allowing themselves to be drawn away from God and from going to church because they worship other things. Their priorities are not in developing a closer relationship with God but rather they “worship” their material possessions and the things of this world. Satan will absolutely place in our path many obstacles that keep us from worshipping and developing a closer relationship with God.

Who or what do you worship? You can find the answer to that by where you spend your Sunday mornings? Are you in church worshipping God and trying to draw closer to Him, or do you have more important priorities? God created each one of us for a close and dependent relationship with Him and He is constantly calling out to us through his Holy Spirit, desiring an intimate relationship with each of us.

It breaks my heart to see people living out their lives as if God doesn’t exist. They go about their lives without even stopping to consider God’s great love for them and the purpose that He has for them. As individual believers and as the “church,” our hearts should constantly be burdened for those who do not know Christ. We must tirelessly pray and reach out to these people and help them to know God and to draw closer to Him. As followers of Christ, our mission is to evangelize and make disciples of those who do not believe. Christ gave us the example of who we are to worship and Christ alone will help us as we speak God’s truth to a world that doesn’t place God at the center of their lives.

Who or what do you worship? If the answer is not God, then I urge you to make some immediate changes in your life. God is patient with you and he doesn’t want anyone to perish, but one day your opportunity to acknowledge Christ, as Savior and Lord of your life, will draw to a close. Decide today who you will worship. God is waiting and he stands ready to forgive you of past sins and mistakes. All He asks is that you believe upon His son Jesus Christ, and ask Him to come into your life and to be the Lord of your life. If you will place your faith and trust in God, you will find a purpose and meaning for your life, and you will have a deep desire to worship and praise God.

Joshua 24:14-15 (NIV): “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Imitating the Humility of Christ

Philippians 2:1-11 (NASB): Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, 2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

In your daily walk with God, do you strive to been seen and noticed, or do you take great joy in working behind the scenes, quietly going about the tasks God has given you? Our worldly culture certainly elevates those who strive to be noticed. People are enamored with “celebrity” and really anyone who seeks to gain attention. The loudest and most boastful, tend to be given more attention.  And to be perfectly honest, that is the type of person most people aspire to be like or at least admire.

Christ set a different example for his followers to emulate. Christ, the ultimate example of humility, calls his followers to “value others” above ourselves. We are called to be loving, compassionate, and caring towards others. A follower of Christ does not think more highly of him/her self and always strives to put the needs of others first. This means not only considering the needs of others in your family or church, but also the needs of complete strangers that you happen to meet. Christ followers should consider everyone as being a child of God and a creation of God.  

Christ certainly set the ultimate example of humble obedience for us when He gave his life for our sins on the cross. And because Christ died for the sins of the entire world, “God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.”  

There are many in the world today that do not know the name of Jesus or have completely rejected the name of Jesus. Our duty as followers of Christ is to not be ashamed to speak the wonderful name of Jesus to those who do not believe, out of our love and compassion for our fellow man. God’s desire is that every person on the face of the earth would praise the wonderful name of Jesus and acknowledge Him as Lord. The name of “Jesus”, what a wonderful and powerful name!

 

Dry Bones Coming Alive

Ezekiel 37:1-5 (NASB): The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones. 2 He caused me to pass among them round about, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley; and lo, they were very dry. 3 He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, You know.” 4 Again He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.’ 5 Thus says the Lord God to these bones, ‘Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life.

Ezekiel chapter 37 gives us one of the prophet’s key visions. Ezekiel finds himself in a valley of dry bones and the Lord asks him if these bones can live. God tells the prophet that God can “cause breath to enter” so that these dry bones “may come to life.” The dry bones in this passage refer to the “whole house of Israel” whom God will bring forth from exile. God is speaking to the hopelessness of his chosen people, and through his prophet, He is giving the message of hope.  

Relating this passage to our present time, we all have those around us who represent these dry bones or “dead hearts” and we pray for them to come alive. During the last several weeks, I have been praying for those I know who have not accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. We must certainly do our part to live a life that serves as an example or witness to them, but it is ultimately the power of the Holy Spirit that draws people to faith in God. I am praying for the Holy Spirit to “breathe life” into the lives of those who do not know Christ.

If you are praying for someone to come to faith in Christ, keep on praying! So often when circumstances seem hopeless, that’s when God prefers to show up and change circumstances and give hope. Remember that nothing is impossible with God – even dry bones can come alive!

Seeking God and Finding Comfort

Have you come to the end of your day only to feel so tired, drained, and completely wiped out? Most of us experience at least one, two, or even more days like this in any given week. The demands of the world can be so overwhelming and stressful and it can leave you with seemingly nothing left when you finally near the end of your day.

That was my day today, and as I sat down to try and write a devotional tonight, I really struggled with the words that I wanted to write and the hope that I wanted to convey. So I began to read my Bible and listen to worship songs and I came across a song that I haven’t heard in some time and a passage of scripture that I haven’t read in a long time. As I listened to the song while reading the scripture, the stress and the feeling of being overwhelmed began to fade away. I began to think less about the world and more about my creator God.

So maybe that’s my devotional tonight, the song and the scripture passage, because both very strongly express the promise that we have through faith in God and the praise that is to be lifted up to God by the whole creation. So I invite you to read the scripture and listen to the song and hopefully you will be as blessed by both as I was.

Psalm 148New American Standard Bible (NASB)

The Whole Creation Invoked to Praise the Lord.

148 Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
Praise Him in the heights!
Praise Him, all His angels;
Praise Him, all His hosts!
Praise Him, sun and moon;
Praise Him, all stars of light!
Praise Him, highest heavens,
And the waters that are above the heavens!
Let them praise the name of the Lord,
For He commanded and they were created.
He has also established them forever and ever;
He has made a decree which will not pass away.

Praise the Lord from the earth,
Sea monsters and all deeps;
Fire and hail, snow and clouds;
Stormy wind, fulfilling His word;
Mountains and all hills;
Fruit trees and all cedars;
10 Beasts and all cattle;
Creeping things and winged fowl;
11 Kings of the earth and all peoples;
Princes and all judges of the earth;
12 Both young men and virgins;
Old men and children.

13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
For His name alone is exalted;
His glory is above earth and heaven.
14 And He has lifted up a horn for His people,
Praise for all His godly ones;
Even for the sons of Israel, a people near to Him.
Praise the Lord!

 

My Daily Journey With God in Athens Ga.