GOD IS OUR REFUGE
In the past month, we have experienced something that we’ve never experienced in our lifetime. People are dying in numbers that we’ve never seen before because of the Coronavirus outbreak worldwide. We, in the United States, did not think it would impact us when the virus first took hold. We thought we lived too far away from danger. We thought we were safe. Our government officials told us that. So, we continued life as usual. Some people used scripture to give us the false hope that we were secure from the danger that was spreading quickly to other countries. And then it happened. The virus was in our country. We were now faced with this deadly virus that no one had a cure for. Little by little, our lives began to change. And now, we are in a state of limbo. No one knows what to do. No one has a cure causing many to fear for their lives. Thousands die in a day. Before it’s all over, someone we know or know of, or someone who knows someone we know will either be infected and/or die from this virus.
Where is the hope for us? Who will listen to the clarion call that we need to get our lives in order? There have been numerous commentaries on what we should do to help stave off the numbers of infections and deaths, nonetheless, the fear intensifies. However, the true believers do not live in fear. They trust God as their refuge. They know He is our shelter and protection. He alone is our place of safety.
Psalm 91 is God’s promise of protection. This scripture reminds us that God will protect us from deadly diseases. He will cover us with his feathers and shelter us with his wings. “If you make the Lord your refuge, if you make the Most High your shelter, no evil will conquer you; no plague will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you wherever you go” Psalm 91:9-11.
This scripture says WE must make the Lord our refuge (our protection, our shelter from trouble)! Then He will protect us and keep us safe. He further says in the following verses, “The Lord says, “I will rescue those who love me. I will protect those who trust in my name. When they call on me, I will answer; I will be with them in trouble. I will rescue and honor them. I will reward them with a long life and give them my salvation.” Psalm 91:14-16.
Our source in everything is our Father. We must look to Him when things are well and when things are not so well. We must accept God’s promises that He will take care of us and our households IF we put Him first. He’s going to make Himself known. The psalmist wrote these words,
“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” The Lord of Heaven’s Armies is here among us; the God of Israel is our fortress. Psalms 46:10-11.
So, my brothers and sisters, if you come across anyone who needs some comfort through this crisis, let’s direct their attention to our Father. Let us share the promises of God with them. We can offer them the best hope and cure for these trying times.
Remember Your Source
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21).
Here we are as a nation and the world dealing with a pandemic we did not ask for or properly plan for. The Coronavirus has infiltrated and changed the way we embrace our daily activities including dining out, visiting family and friends, and even traveling to places of employment and worship services. Panic has begun to govern the actions of many that include buying more than necessary from grocery stores, and in some instances performing violent acts.
Every day social media, television and radio contribute much (and most) of their time updating us of how many virus cases exist and the current death toll. It seems that the more some of us hear about it, the more we entertain fear. Many people seem to be confused, angry, and distant – so much so that they don’t seem to be their normal selves.
I encourage and challenge you to turn/return to the Word of God to sustain and keep you in perfect peace during this difficult (and very real) time we are experiencing. The apostle Paul informed and reminded the church at Ephesus that they served a God Who is “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” Our God is able to cover, protect, and guide us through every situation and circumstance we face. We (born again believers) must remember that the Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and Omniscient God we serve is our true Source. The economy, the political system, the workforce, nor any pandemic determines whether or not we continue to sustain and even strive during the most challenging times.
Remember your Source. He (the Holy Spirit) is with you at all times if you are a part of the royal family of God. No weapon formed against you shall prosper (Isaiah 54:17). He will keep you in perfect peace if you keep your mind focused on Him (Isaiah 26:3). Satan wants us to be distracted from God by all the negative things that are happening. Yes, these things are very real. But in times like these the world needs a Savior, Jesus Christ the Anointed One. If Jesus is the Author and Finisher of your faith then you have no reason to live a life of fear. God did not give us a spirit of fear, but the spirit of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).
Live a life of victory in the time of struggle. Live a life of peace in the time of uncertainty. Live a life of joy in the midst of sadness. Remember your Source.
EVERYONE IS INCLUDED!
Our heavenly Father had a plan in mind for every single person from before the beginning of time. We often hear that God loves us. But sadly, it is not accepted that He loves all of us. There is not one person who exists that wasn’t in God’s plan. We need to think about that more often. Some people view the God of the scriptures as the God of the Jewish nation, and by default, those who are not Jewish have been included in the family of God. But that is not the picture God has revealed in scripture. It is true that God revealed Himself to the Jewish nation and desired that they would be His special people to represent Him in the earth. However, it was never His intent that He was exclusive only to them.
The prophet Isaiah wrote about God’s inclusion for all nations when He said, “ Also the sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the Lord to serve Him, and to love the name of the Lord, and to be His servants, to everyone who keeps from polluting the Sabbath and takes hold of My covenant, even them I will bring to My holy mountain and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted on My altar; for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people”. (Isaiah 56:6-7).
Paul, the apostle, spends much of his writing on the inclusiveness of God’s plan for everyone. He calls it the mystery of God that was hidden in past ages. He explains it this way. “… by which, when you read it, you may understand my knowledge of the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it is now revealed to His holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit, how the Gentiles are fellow heirs, and fellow members, and partakers of the promise in Christ by the gospel. (Ephesians 3:4-6).
He further writes in the letter to the Galatians that God doesn’t see people according to ethnicity, gender, nationality, or even class. All God sees is His creation whom He desires to be in fellowship with. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, and there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:28-29).
The good news of the gospel is that everyone is included! No one is left out for any reason! God loves all of His creation. Luke, the Gentile doctor who was the author of the Gospel of Luke and the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, wrote that when the angel came and announced the birth of Jesus to the shepherds, he said, “…For I bring you good news of great joy, which will be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11).
This is the truth that God wants us to share with others. The door is open to all to accept Christ Jesus as the resurrected Son of God! This is good news! Our Father shows no partiality or favoritism. We are all the favorites of God. Let’s get this truth down in our spirits. Let’s share this good news with others that everyone is included!
Look for The Good
“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28 KJV).
Certainly Romans 8:28 is one of the most recognized and most quoted scriptures in the bible. It is recited to encourage, rescue, give strength, and assist believers while we go through trials and tests.
However, I want to bring some points to the forefront of our thinking and reckoning about reading and quoting this verse. First, the scripture contains the words “we know.” Who are the we? Who are the people being talked about and talked to? Those people are the ones who love God and understand that God has called (petitioned) them to be included in His process of “showing up and showing out.” We understand and accept the fact that God, in His infinite wisdom, has a definite purpose and plan in using us to show the world that He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we ask or think (Ephesians 3:20).
Next, I want to emphasize that all things are “working and “working together for good.” How often do we see our trials and tribulations all working together for our good? The question usually is “Something good is going to come out of this? You have got to be kidding!” God’s Word does not lie. Some good thing(s) will result – maybe not when we expect it or want it, but something good will come on the scene.
Finally, if we know God is working things out for our good, we should expect the good. We should “look” for the good. I believe looking for the good will put and keep us in the right frame of mind as we go through our situations. Also, looking for the good will cause us to give thanks and rejoice even while we are going through. We won’t concentrate on the problem(s) but will center our attention on the God Who loves us and has promised not leave us. We are reminded that we never walk alone.
What are you facing today? What test, trial, or tribulation is at your front door? What looks impossible to conquer? Look for the good in all of it and rest and trust God to deliver you out of all your adversities. The sooner you look for the good – the sooner you will find it.
MAKE PRAYER YOUR PRACTICE
However, he made a practice of withdrawing to remote places in order to pray. (Luke 5:16)
One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night. (Luke 6:12)
One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!”
Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So, don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?” (Luke 18:1-8)
One of the things that I love most about Luke’s account of the gospel is the attention that he gives to Jesus’ prayer life. More than any of the other gospel accounts, Luke depicts the prayer life of Christ most vividly. Throughout his narrative, we are continually reminded that Jesus had an intimate relationship with His Father. Luke writes of so many examples of Christ’s prayer life that you just can’t miss it. I believe Luke also lived his life praying. He made prayer his practice as well.
The word practice is both a noun and a verb. When used as a noun it means repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it.
When used as a verb it means to perform (an activity) or exercise (skill) repeatedly or regularly in order to improve or maintain one’s proficiency. To carry out or perform (a particular activity, method, or custom) habitually or regularly.
As believers, we ought to be doing both as we pray. We need to make praying our practice so that we will acquire or maintain proficiency in our prayer life. We also need to be praying continually so that we develop and maintain a strong and effective prayer life.
Many believers throw out the word pray/prayer so lightly. Some don’t pray at all because they feel there’s a certain skill that’s involved. Thus, they feel their prayers will not be answered. Others pray every now and then. But then there are those who actually make prayer their practice. These believers want to hear from God. They desire to be in God’s presence. They long for God. David describes these believers in the book of Psalms, “As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him? (Psalm 42:1-2). These believers are not always asking God for something, but are seeking God for who He is. They love on God when they pray. They want to hear from Him.
They know that God hears and answers their prayers.
How would you evaluate your prayer life? Is prayer an exciting part of your relationship with your Father? Is prayer your practice? Is it your norm? If it isn’t, meditate on the above scriptures as Luke takes us on the journey of how Christ lived. Ask Him like the early disciples to teach you how to pray. I promise you there is nothing compared to loving on our God in prayer.
Making prayer our practice is deeper than asking God to do something for us. It’s time well spent in our spiritual, emotional, and physical development. It draws us closer to God. Prayer allows us to experience God’s blessings and favor throughout our daily activities. Those who make prayer their practice quickly recognize when God is at work. They see things with a spiritual eye, and quickly thank Him. They continue to strengthen their faith by making prayer the norm in their lives.
Today I challenge you that if you are not already making prayer your practice that you begin to participate more in praying, and develop an active prayer life. Once you do this, you will not be able to exist without spending time with your Father. Prayer will be your life line to God.
God’s Never-Ending Provision
2 Corinthians 9:10-15
10) “Now he that ministereth (serves, supplies) seed to the sower both minister (serves, supplies) bread for your food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness (the harvest of your prosperity): 11) Being enriched in everything to all bountifulness (liberality) which causes through us thanksgiving to God. 12) For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want (needs) of the saints, but is abundant (abounding, in full supply) also by many thanksgivings unto God; 13) While by the experiment (proof) of this ministration (ministry) they glorify God for your professed subjection (the obedience of your confession) into the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution (sharing) unto them, and unto all men; 14)and by their prayer for you, which long after you (yearn for you) the exceeding grace of God in you. 15) Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable (indescribable) gift. (KJV)”
Paul explains to the Corinthian church that it is God Who provides them with their seed or increase. He provides two parts of seed or increase. The first part is bread for their food. This refers to their daily substance, whether it is food, clothing, shelter, health, or finances. The second part is seed or increase for sowing (sharing or giving). It is the seed for sowing that God multiplies or increases. This multiplied or increased seed is always a result of the fruit of your righteousness (prosperity, which means favor, spiritual growth, health, wisdom, and other things in addition to money). When you do not sow the “sowing portion” of your seed but hold on to it (store it up) or use it for other than its intended purpose of sowing, there will be no increase of your righteousness (prosperity). Paul emphasizes that God gives to His children to first satisfy their daily need (Phil.4:19) and then to provide something for them to sow (give) to others. Those others include but are not limited to the local church, other ministries, the community, non-profit organizations, and individuals. What you sow should include your time, talent, and treasure (financial resources). When you sow accordingly, your seed becomes your investment upon which God promises a mighty and overwhelming return!
Paul states that when we receive and give liberally we give thanks to God because our giving not only supplies the needs of other saints but it also gives them a reason to give thanks to God for His provision. Paul adds that these receiving saints glorify God for what they (the Corinthians) say (profess or preach) and for what they freely give. They thank God that the Corinthians’ talk and their walk match and complement each other. In their prayers, they yearn for God’s continued blessing with His grace (unmerited favor) so that the Corinthians would continue to be obedient and sow to them because they realized that part of what they received would be used to sow into the lives of others.
Paul refers to God’s seed as an indescribable gift. Words cannot properly define or explain God’s giving. The lesson for us today is that God gives us seed (provision) for our daily bread (needs) and He gives us seed to “sow.” The seed to sew is our time, talent, and treasure (financial resources). As we use the “sowing seed” to sow or invest, God promises to multiply our fruit (harvest) with continual prosperity (favor, spiritual growth, health, wisdom, finances).
If you are a child of God (in addition to being God’s creation) He will provide you with all you need to sustain yourself and with abundance (full supply) to sow and bless others. God cannot and does not lie! Oh, what a blessing. To God be the glory!!
Don’t Reject the Son
If anyone hears what I am saying and does not observe it, I don’t judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world. Those who reject me and don’t accept what I say have a judge — the word which I have spoken will judge them on the Last Day. For I have not spoken on my own initiative, but the Father who sent me has given me a command, namely, what to say and how to say it. And I know that his command is eternal life. So, what I say is simply what the Father has told me to say.” (John 12:47-50)
When Jesus spoke these words, He had just entered Jerusalem and the people were praising Him and acknowledging that He was from God. They shouted, they sang, and even laid their garments on the ground in worship. Yet, Jesus did not get caught up in the moment. He did not want to miss the opportunity for a final warning to those who were present.
He pointed the people in the direction of His Father. From the beginning, Jesus plainly taught that He came to save the world (people), not condemn it (them) (John 3:17). Earlier in his ministry, Jesus taught that there was one greater who had power over life and death. (Mt. 10:28) Here, Jesus wanted to remind the people that not accepting His assignment to them would mean judgment from the Greater One.
Notice in this text that we are not judged if we hear and don’t do what Christ says, but we are judged when we refuse to believe in Him. That is when the Father steps in. For to reject His Son is the same as rejecting Him, and rejection of His Son has eternal consequences. For Christ said that He simply obeyed the command of His Father by saying what His Father told Him to say.
This is a new year, and it is the time when many of us make new resolutions. We set new goals and start new projects. We even revisit some previous ones that we haven’t accomplished and add those to our list. But brothers and sisters, let’s not focus so much on us and forget about Christ. It is true some have never heard the gospel. But others have heard and dismissed Him choosing not to believe. Let us put Christ on our list. For our eternal hope rests on Jesus. He is the One who makes our relationship with the Father possible.
Jesus never took credit for anything He said or did. He always gave credit to His Father. The Father had a plan for us through His Son. We cannot skip over Jesus. We must believe in Him, who He said He was and what He said. He is our Savior, our redeemer, the Son of God, the Holy One of Israel, the Keeper of our souls, the Bright and Morning Star, Immanuel (God with us). He is the one speaks to us in these last days. (Hebrews 1:2). Let’s not reject Him. If we do, we fall into the Father’s judgment. Let’s lift Him up. Let us receive all of the Father’s blessings by believing in His Son. This is what brings pleasure to Him. He has glorified His Son. Let us also glorify Him.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,” (Ephesians 3:20, NIV); “However, as it is written: What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived the things God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9, NIV).
We have entered our journey into a new year and a new decade – 2020. There is a lot of dialogue sharing and conversation about what is expected in this new year and how much success we (individually and collectively) will realize.
While thinking about this and in preparing for this devotional, the Lord reminded me of the prayer message the apostle Paul gave to the Ephesians in Chapter 3, verse 20: “Now unto him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us.” This tells me that my God is able to do much more than I can ask or think in connection with the power (Holy Spirit) at work in me. God filled me with His presence, His Spirit to be at work and accomplish things He wanted to perform in my life. Paul wanted the church at Ephesus to understand that principle and to live by and with it.
In 1 Corinthians 2:9, the apostle Paul tells the Corinthian church that we (as humans) really don’t conceive, grasp or understand completely the things (good and great things) God has prepared for those who love Him. I love Him. Do you? If so, then we have great and wonderful things and times to look forward to.
But my main challenge in this writing is to remind you that we should not look and expect great things to begin at the start of a new year. We should live in “grateful expectation” at all times – each and every day. We do not serve a God Who shows up every January 1 to do something nice for us. We serve a God Who delights in doing good things for His children and shows up every day and all day.
I purpose to live in grateful expectation at all times and I encourage you to do the same. Never forget that God loved us from the foundation of the world and has pleasure in seeing us in a continual position of expectation of spiritual blessings first and then material blessings. He is a God Who supplies all our needs (Philippians 4:19). He will always do what He says and will never come short of His Word.
Let’s all be careful not to reduce His love and care for us to a “one-day” prayer of expectation at the beginning of each year. Let’s purpose to live in “grateful expectation” each and every day of our lives.
Do You Hear the Words Coming Out of Your Mouth?
I often marvel about the things I hear people say. Sometimes I hear the words, and ask myself, “Do they really hear what they are saying? It’s unbelievable that at times, people really say things that don’t make any sense, or say hurtful or disrespectful words, and feel like it doesn’t matter. Then, at other times, I hear words of life that a person may speak. They are equally impactful, and bring about a different reaction in me. Those words are uplifting and encouraging – soothing even. Those words make me feel better about myself and my life-even when I’m going through a challenge.
Scripture has a lot and I mean a lot to say about the words that come out of our mouths. Proverbs 18:21 says this: “The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences”.
James writes these words about the tongue. “And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body”. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself. People can tame all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and fish, but no one can tame the tongue. It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! (James 3:6-10)
What powerful words! One might think that these words may not apply to them because it’s talking about an object. But no, my friend, these words are for you and me. Matthew recorded these words of Jesus “The words you say will either acquit you or condemn you.” (Matthew 12:37)
So, the question is, what words are you speaking, and do you really hear the words coming out of your mouth? We as believers are exhorted in scripture to be mindful of the words we speak. Let’s look at some of the adjectives that teach us what our words produce. They bring life or death. There are consequences for the words that we speak. The tongue is compared to fire. It can be destructive and corrupt our whole body and even our lives. The tongue can not be tamed. It is restless, always looking for something to destroy. It can work positively or negatively. It can praise God and at the same time curse those who have been made in the image of God. The words we speak will either acquit us or condemn us when Christ comes back to judge us.
So, I say we have a choice to use our words for good or use them for evil. We can choose words of life or words of death. We should choose life. Let our words produce life. Let our words represent what is in our hearts. If our hearts are pure, our words will be pure, and the pure in heart will see God. Let’s make a conscious effort to pay attention to the words that are coming out of our mouths!
“And the angel said unto them, fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David, A Savior which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:10-14 KJV).
Here we are, once again in the midst of the Christmas season. As has always been in the past (as far back as I can remember), several displays of colorful lights, trees (evergreen, real and artificial), decorations and sounds of happy music are all around. Sights and sounds of the season are in most neighborhoods and business districts.
But what is not as visible and what is not talked about as much is the real reason for the season. Christmas, in its true form, is the time we set aside to give a specially recognized celebration of the Almighty God bringing a Savior into the world. It’s the annual time of the year we celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The news of our Savior’s birth was announced by the angel who said, “I bring you good tidings (news) of great joy.” The good news was that a Savior for all people had been born. This truly was the greatest gift of all. Glory to God was proclaimed. Peace on earth was proclaimed. Good will toward men was proclaimed. Look at the impact this gift (the Savior) had and continues to have on the world.
My desire is that all would recognize, understand, and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. My desire is that all people in every corner of the world would “celebrate Jesus.” I am not saying Christmas should not be a time of giving gifts, being with family, and enjoying feasts. But, most important is to celebrate the ultimate gift God gave because He loved us and wanted to offer a Savior so that we (mankind) could be reunited into the fellowship we once had with Him. Simply stated, there has never been and never will be a Christmas without Christ.
I ask and challenge all who read or hear these words to remember the true reason for the season and commit to informing others of that reason and challenging them to spread the news as the angel did with those shepherds who watched over their sheep by night. Let’s celebrate Jesus!
See, Hear and Understand!
Moses summoned all the Israelites and said to them, “You have seen with your own eyes everything the Lord did in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to his whole country— all the great tests of strength, the miraculous signs, and the amazing wonders. But to this day the Lord has not given you minds that understand, nor eyes that see, nor ears that hear! (Deuteronomy 29:2-4).
In this passage, Moses reminds them of what they had personally witnessed in the land of Egypt with Pharaoh and with his servants. But it’s the last sentence that is most impactful. “But the Lord has not given you minds that understand, nor eyes that see, nor ears that hear!”
We tend to become dull to the miracles and victories that the Lord has brought us through. We fail to experience God’s true blessings and presence because of our inability to fully understand what God has done for us. This scripture challenges us. Moses was at the end of his ministry. He had gone as far as he could go with the Israelites, and Joshua was prepared to take the baton and lead them into the promised land. This is Moses’ last discourse with the Israelites. He calls the people together to remind them of where they have come from, where they are going, and gives them a glimpse of their future. However, the people did not get it!
Jesus challenged His disciples in the same way. Jesus had fed more than 5000 and later fed more than 4000. When He was alone with His disciples, He told them to beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Herod. They thought he was talking about physical bread and were arguing with each other because no one had brought any. “Don’t you know or understand even yet? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? ‘You have eyes—can’t you see? You have ears—can’t you hear?’[a] Don’t you remember anything at all?... “Don’t you understand yet?” he asked them.” (Mark 8:17-21)
Even the disciples “forgot” about the miracles in just a short time. Why? Because we are in the way. We often fail to focus on God’s agenda for our lives. We spend more time and energy on what we want rather than on what God wants or even what He says. We act as if God doesn’t know or have a plan. But if God is first as we say, and if we want to be obedient as we say, then we must have a continued commitment to understanding what we hear and see God do for us, and remember what He has already done for us! Then God will give us minds to understand, eyes that see, and ears that hear.
God wants us to have a mindset that we will fix our hearts on Him with the purpose to obey Him. We must decide to listen attentively, listen to obey, listen for understanding – in other words we will give earnest heed to what we hear. I want to encourage each of us to remember that our God does not change. He is the same as He was yesterday, He is the same today, and He will be the same always. It’s up to us to see, hear and understand!
Then Jesus said unto them, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.
For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.”
Then said they unto him, Lord evermore give us this bread.
And Jesus said unto them, “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:32-35 KJV).
Feed Us and Fill Us
Father, feed us and fill us
with the true Bread from heaven.
Let us continuously eat
from your spiritual table.
Father, we long to be served by you -
the full course meal only You can give.
And please give an extra portion to
those of us who need it most.
Father, we know that every time we feast
from the blessings of Your Word,
we won’t be able to digest it all,
but yet we will still want more.
Father, don’t let us ever get enough
Of what You have for your children.
And every time we seek nourishment for our souls,
Feed us and fill us again.
LIVING IN PRAISE
A Collection of Christian Poems
Copyright © 1987 by R. J. Lightsey
Vantage Press, New York, New York
Why Do I Feel Down?
Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God! Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you— (Psalms 42:5-6)
Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God (Psalms 42:11)
Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God! (Psalms 43:5)
Did you ever feel like everything was against you? Did you feel that life was so overwhelming that you just couldn’t see your way out? Well, you’re not alone. David felt this way. Yes, David – the man after God’s own heart. David the psalmist, the poet, the king.
Brothers and sisters, there will be times in our lives when we feel all alone-literally. We may feel that God has left us. And like the Psalmist, we ask ourselves why? Why am I feeling lost, alone, depressed, down, hopeless? It is during these times that we, like the Psalmist did, must encourage ourselves in our God. It is during these moments when we must command our soul and everything on the inside of us to bless the Lord. (Psalm 103:1-2)
David is our example. He asked himself the question, why is my heart so sad? But then he said, even though my heart is sad, I will put my hope in God. I will praise him again. I will not be overtaken by my circumstances or what people say about me or how they treat me. Yes, it hurts. Yes, it bothers me. But I will put my hope in God. I will praise him again and again and again!
When you read through the entire verses of these Psalms 42-43, you’ll see how overwhelming things were for David. He had a lot of questions about his current circumstances. Why has God forgotten me, why must I wander around in grief, why are my enemies oppressing me, why aren’t things the way they used to be, why am I so discouraged, why is my heart so sad? Why?
Well, my brothers and sisters, sometimes we don’t know why. We don’t always understand the shifting in our lives. That is why we have to encourage ourselves in our God. That is why we must do what the Psalmist did. We must put our hope in God. We must praise Him again. We must remember what He did in previous times.
Though it takes a lot of effort, this is what we, the people of God must do to bring ourselves up and out. This becomes our testimony. This is our victory. If you’re going through a season of loneliness, and emptiness, follow the Psalmist’s lead. Tell yourself: “I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again – my Savior and my God”!
Rooted and Grounded in Love
“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of Whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith ; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:14-17, KJV).
In Chapter 3 of Ephesians, the apostle Paul writes to the church at Ephesus and tells the believers that he prays for them. His prayer is that God would grant many things for them. One of his prayer requests is that they would be “rooted and grounded in love,” (verse 17). Dictionary.com defines “rooted” as being firmly planted and “grounded” as fixed firmly, settled, or established. Thus, his prayer is for them to be firmly planted and established in love. It would take being in this position to know and understand the love of Christ (verse 19).
If the love of Christ firmly dwells in us we will be equipped and able to love all mankind regardless of our differences. Of course, there will always be challenges due to different backgrounds, opinions, teachings, and the like. However, the love that is rooted and ground in us requires and equips us to love all mankind and realize the fact that we all have been equally created. The scriptures do not mention any account of God, the Ultimate Creator, the Author and Finisher of our faith, and the Great “I Am” creating humankind of separate and various levels. For God so loved “the world” (all mankind) that He gave His only begotten son as a ransom for all – not for some (John 3:16).
My prayer, as was the apostle Paul’s, and I hope yours also, is that all believers understand, accept, and live this principle without fear or shame. If we are truly rooted and grounded in love (the God kind of love) we will treat others with dignity and respect, be concerned about each other’s well-being, and desire God’s best for all. We will love others as we love ourselves and will not be ashamed or fearful of living a rooted and grounded love life each and every day.
Finally, we should, as I mentioned earlier, pray the prayer that the apostle Paul prayed. We should pray that all born again believers pray for the body of Christ to be unified in love, thought, and deed. Let’s get and remain rooted and grounded in love.
How Great is Our God!
This is what the Lord says: “Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool. Could you build me a temple as good as that? Could you build me such a resting place? My hands have made both heaven and earth; they and everything in them are mine. I, the Lord, have spoken! (Isaiah 66:1-2)
God Almighty, through the prophet Isaiah tells us that heaven contains the throne of God where He reigns! These verses give us a picture of how great and powerful our God is as He sits on His throne. Just think of how vast heaven must be to occupy the throne of God! A throne is defined as “the chair or seat occupied by a sovereign, bishop, or other exalted personage on ceremonial occasions, usually raised on a dais and covered with a canopy.”
On a previous occasion, the prophet described the vision he saw of God’s glory. “It was in the year King Uzziah died that I saw the Lord. He was sitting on a lofty throne, and the train of his robe filled the Temple.” (Isaiah 6:1). The reaction of the prophet to this heavenly vision was so overwhelming that he literally felt like he would die because he saw himself and his nation as filthy in the presence of God.
God told the prophet that no man-made structure could contain him, because He himself made the heaven and earth and that everything in them were His! Think about that! This is a description of a God Whose power has no limits! The prophet Jeremiah acknowledged this when he said “O Sovereign Lord! You made the heavens and earth by your strong hand and powerful arm. Nothing is too hard for you! (Jeremiah 32:7).
King Solomon, too, acknowledged the greatness of God in his prayer after he had finished building the temple for the Lord’s name. “But will God really live on earth among people? Why, even the highest heavens cannot contain you. How much less this Temple I have built! (2 Chronicles 6:18).
Brothers and sisters, it would do us well to keep in mind how great our God is. We must continuously, unceasingly, without stopping acknowledge the greatness of our God. We must live in complete and unwavering confidence in our God at all times – under every circumstance. Jesus Himself taught us this in the model prayer. Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy. (Matthew 6:9).
The key word is “kept” which indicates we must hold onto and maintain our view of our God continuously. We must represent Him truthfully by acknowledging our God’s power and glory at all times for our God, indeed, is a great God!
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“I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1, KJV).
In the fourth chapter of the apostle Paul’s writing to the church (believers) at Ephesus around A.D. 60, he addresses their relationships with other believers. He instructs and encourages them to walk worthy of the vocation (lifestyle) they have been instructed to live with others. He challenges them to be unified in the Spirit of peace.
Once we attain and announce the status of born again believers (through the work of Christ the Anointed One) we have a charge to walk worthy of the new lifestyle we have adopted. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we read, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things have passed away; behold, all things are become new”, KJV). When we make that confession of accepting Christ as Lord and Savior, we commit to living a life that is pleasing to God. The “old way” of living passes away. The old way may include lying, jealousy, hatred, fornication, gluttony, envy, strife, stealing, and much more. The new way of living graduates or promotes us to truth, honesty, love, faithfulness, meekness, peace, and the like. We are instructed to live this new lifestyle and “walk worthy” of the confession we have made that we are the Lord’s representatives.
How we interact, communicate, and treat others will be shown by the walk we project and the sincerity of our commitment. It all centers around maintaining peace with others in our daily walk. Sure there will be days when we are tried or challenged. Sure there will be days of opportunities to overcome and dealing with people who may be trying “our last nerve.” But the challenge and directive from the apostle Paul is to walk worthy of who we are and Whose we are. Our light should shine before men that they see our good works and glorify our Father Who is heaven. We should always represent the kingdom well.
We should be patient and exhibit understanding with others, knowing that the God we serve is able to remedy any situation or circumstance. We should be confident in knowing that all things work together for good to those who love God and are the called according to his purpose. Here is the question. Is your walk a worthy walk?
Accuser – Diablos meaning adversary, enemy, or slanderer. It is a legal term used in the context of one bringing a charge against another. Scripture describes Satan in these terms: the accuser of the brethren, adversary, enemy.
Satan, the Accuser, constantly brings charges to God against us. He watches us closely, develops his strategy, and goes in for the kill. We must know not only who we are, but who our enemy is. Not knowing our enemy is where we fail. Our accuser is expert not only in this area, but also in deception. This truth is illustrated in the book of Job.
In Chapters one and two, we find two instances when Satan came to God to accuse Job. “One day the members of the heavenly court came to present themselves before the Lord, and the Accuser, Satan came with them.” (Job 1:6)
This is a legal setting. The spirits (angels) of God presented their cases before Him. The heavenly court allows the accuser to present as well. This was the case with Job. In the dialogue between Satan and God, God commends Job for his integrity and reverence for Him. However, Satan brings forth the accusation that Job only has integrity and reverence because God has faithfully put a wall of protection around him, his home and family. If these were taken away, Job would no longer have reverence for God, and would surely curse him to His face.
Once the accuser presented his accusation against Job, God allowed Job to experience a season of testing giving the accuser an opportunity to win his case. Thus, it was on the accuser to prove his case against Job. God gave him permission to take all of Job’s possessions and even took all of his children away. Satan did this in a way that was deceptive. He made it look like God was involved in his loss. For Job’s reply was “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord! In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God.” (Job 1:20-21)
Still, the accuser was not willing to lose his case against Job, and presented to God another accusation against him. This time, he challenged God with these words. “A man will give up everything he has to save his life. But reach out and take away his health, and he will surely curse you to your face!” (Job 2: 4-5).
God again gave Satan the opportunity to prove his case, and Satan struck Job with painful sores all over his body. Job described it like this: “My body is covered with maggots and scabs. My skin breaks open, oozing with pus.” (Job 7:5).
Although Job did not sin by blaming God for his losses or the attack on his health, he thought God was the cause. “Why won’t you leave me alone, at least long enough for me to swallow! If I have sinned, what have I done to you, O watcher of all humanity? Why make me your target? Am I a burden to you? Why not just forgive my sin and take away my guilt? (Job 7:19-20)
The Accuser’s goal is to separate us from our Father. He will attempt to do this by any means at his disposal. How do we win? We follow Christ’s example of trusting in God’s Word. Just as Christ depended on the Word of His Father in His season of testing, we must follow his example when we undergo our seasons of testing. We must know our Father, know His Word, use His Word to win our battles, and acknowledge the power of His Word to make us victorious over the power of our enemy.
Rev. Sharen K. Lightsey
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 KJV).
The scripture referenced above is truly one of my favorites. The two verses have always reminded me that whatever man needs to know about life – the purpose, the formula for success, the antidote for all ills, and everything else can be found in the Word of God. These verses tell us that God inspired men of His choice to write His messages of believing, encouraging, chastising, and teaching so that we (His creation) could live the best life possible.
Yet, with that being said, I still converse with people who find a way to bring in their belief that the holy scriptures, the Bible, is merely a collection of history and mankind’s guide to “live a good life” and to share his individual thoughts and promote his own agenda. These individuals only purpose is to share their own thoughts and promote their own agenda. But that is not what concerns me the most. What’s most troubling for me is that they don’t want me to believe as I do: that all scripture is given by inspiration of God. Yes, God inspired and used man (humans) to record His instruction and direction for all human life. In addition, He let it be known that all of His inspired and written Word is profitable. It is of the utmost value.
My response is never to try to convince them of God’s Word through an argument. I simply state that I believe what is written is God inspired just as much (and probably more) as they say otherwise. I encourage all believers to do the same. God’s Word is not to be argued over. Our Creator, the Heavenly Father has given each of us the ability and privilege of deciding to accept or reject His Word. Therefore, we should respond to the “naysayers” by simply saying. “You make the choice.” Yes, they are free to believe what they want to believe and the best thing we can do is pray for them to come to accept God’s Word by faith. We don’t need their permission to pray for them so they can’t hinder our act of doing so.
I have learned that rather than becoming upset, frustrated, or angry with them to simply listen and allow them to share their thoughts. I share mine and then tell them "you make the choice.” I hope this process is of benefit to all believers and “you make the choice” be known as our final statement in the conversation. now.