“Singing in the Rain!”

Image by Fer Galindo from Pixabay

Today, like most days here lately, it’s rainy, dreary and of the dismal sort.  It’s the kind of cold, wet rain that settles down in your bones which you can’t seem to warm up from.  It makes you want to crawl back under the covers and wait for a better day.

But real life is here with a call each and every day that must be answered, compelling us to rise and get going no matter what the weather is outside.  Answering that call on a  morning such as this, I remember one day when I drove across the highway to take my daughter to her college campus.  On the way home I saw something that put a smile on my face.  A man was walking in the rain with a bright orange raincoat.  He was literally bouncing along with happiness in his steps.  His mouth was moving and he appeared to be singing.  It was as if he was dictating his day; as if he was telling the rain he was not going to let the dreariness get him down.

Oh, how true does that ring out in life?  How many dreary situations have kept us from enjoying the day; from enjoying each and every moment God has given us above ground?  Unfortunately, as life goes on we find that every day is not peaches and cream.  Times of trouble and hardship can arouse the rainy day blues in anybody.

Psalm 137:4 asks, “How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a strange land?”  How many times have we felt it hard to work up the happiness inside when going through difficult times?  But Psalm 43:5 declares, “Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.”

In other words, Sing in the Rain!  

I feel like getting on board with the attitude of the guy in the orange raincoat.  There you can catch me Singing in the Rain today, too.  After all, we still have a reason to praise God no matter what.  My hope for this day and every day is in Him.  

God Bless!

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“Honor God!”

Photo by Samuel Martins on Unsplash

“For those who honor Me I will honor,” 1 Samuel 2:30

One day, some years ago, I remember when my son accompanied me to the grocery store to do some shopping. He was wearing his military uniform at that time and when people saw him they kept stopping him to shake his hand, to talk to him, or to tell him to keep up the good work. They were proud of him. They honored him for his service.

You know, as a mom, how I felt. I really thought it was something special for people to recognize him and his service to our country in that way. As much as I love the many fields in which one can be honored (military, teachers, firefighters, police officers, and many, many others), no one deserves our respect and adoration more than God. It is customary to stand to our feet when a judge enters a courtroom and there is a hush in the crowd when they bang that gavel. What about God?

Too many go through their day without ever considering the fact that hey, He is God, and He should be before all others. With that realization in hand, I want my life to reflect that great truth. I want every word, every action and every thought to magnify the greatness of who He is and all of His glory. When I go about my day I want people to see Him in me. Do I make mistakes? Oh, yeah! But, I have a goal. I aspire to do better and to be better every day. God has been so good and wonderful to me, and I feel that as His child the least I can do is showing Him the honor due Him.

“Give unto the Lord, O ye mighty, give unto the Lord glory and strength. Give unto the Lord the glory due unto his name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness,” (Ps. 29:1-2). These two verses have been among favorites of mine for many years now. When you think of “giving to the Lord” one realizes just how futile our efforts can be because of His vast greatness. But, something that each of us can give is honor. Not only can we gift it to Him, but it is a gift that He in turns honors.

“For those who honor Me I will honor.” Our God is an appreciative God and He believes in rewarding them that diligently seek Him (Heb. 11:6). If you don’t like the returns you have been getting in life examine what you have given. And let me make myself really clear at this point. I DO NOT want you to see the above statement as to how you can get something from God. These things will happen because it’s what the Bible promises.  It’s a residual effect of obedience.  Instead, I want you to just focus on God because He is God and not what you can get from Him.  Just honor God because He is WORTHY!

Sunday School Lesson – “Made Righteous in Christ” Romans 3:21-31

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

VERSE DISCOVERY: Romans 3:21-31 (KJV, Public Domain)

Since “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23; discussed further in this lesson), then how can one ever be truly justified by a holy and righteous God?

The answer is a simple one although it is not always simply accepted: Jesus Christ.  Through His sacrificial atoning of our sins, He changed our former status into one who now becomes righteous in the eyes of our righteous God, Paul explains in this lesson.

The Righteousness of God

Romans 3:21-22 “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:”

Although the Apostle Paul did not plant the Church in Rome as he had in other cities, he still took a fatherly-leadership role in helping this church to thrive to be all that God calls them to be.

He prayed for them and desired to visit them (1:1-15), but in the meantime, he wrote this letter to encourage and instruct them on the matter of salvation, God’s righteousness, and how we as sinners, can be made righteous in the eyes of God.

After establishing his fearless zeal in wanting to preach the gospel to them, for in it, he knows, “the righteousness of God” is revealed (1:15-17), which is really the main focus of this letter, Paul continues on discussing what all this means.

God’s righteousness can be described as everything just and right and holy.  God is right, there is no other way to put it.  What He does is right.  Always.  His ways are higher than ours and they are above reproach (Isaiah 55:8-9).  Opposite that is the “ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Romans 1:18).

Since the Fall in the garden, mankind has been corrupted by sin.  Since that day, when the age of innocence has passed off the scene, mankind has been subjected to the “wrath of God” (1:18), “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God” (1:21).  They, mankind, are accused of changing the glory of God (1:23) and the truth of God (1:25) to follow after sinful ways.  Although creation itself testifies to the power of God (1:20), Paul sums up the ungodly truth of sinful man by saying, “Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” (Romans 1:32).

God’s judgment is against ALL SIN and He will render to “every man according to his deeds,” (2:6).  It doesn’t matter who they are, Jew or Gentile.  It doesn’t matter if they have been raised in the Law or not (2:11-15).  Anything that one can boast in outside of faith in Jesus Christ will profit nothing in that coming day (more on this later).

The law cannot justify one before God.  The law, and it’s following the adherence thereof, cannot earn one true salvation.  The law’s purpose was to bring about “the knowledge of sin,” (3:20), but it could never erase sin for good and make people righteous before God.

Then Paul introduces a “but now” moment that begins to explain how the “righteousness of God” is “manifested.”  This “but now” introduces the wonderful realization that mankind is not left to drift in the world of sin without help; without an anchor to steady and save them.  There is a way for them to receive “the righteousness of God” and it is “by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe.”

In Christ, lies that hope to be justified before the Father, accomplishing something the law never could do.  “For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit,” (Romans 8:3-4).

In the work of the cross of Christ, salvation is available for them that believe.  Jesus Christ is the only answer to heal mankind from their dreaded sinfulness and to make them right before a holy and just God, “upon all them that believe.”

It doesn’t matter who they are, where they’re from, or what they’ve done: “there is not difference.”  Any and all who turn to Jesus Christ by faith can be saved.  The answer to all our sins’ woes is fulfilled in what Christ accomplished on the cross (compare Romans 10:12).

All Have Sinned and Need to be Justified

Romans 3:23-26 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”

Just as there is no difference in who can receive the righteousness of God by faith in Christ, there is no difference in who can be categorized as a sinner in need of this grace, in need of redemption, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”  Everyone who ever was and ever will be needs to be saved by the redemptive blood of Christ.  No one measures up to God’s standard on their own.  We all need Jesus!

It is through Him, where one can be “justified freely by his grace.”  The word “justifies” signals the “being made right before God” part, while “grace” speaks of the undeserving mercy we receive in that.  Our guilt had us bound, but Jesus set us free through “redemption,” by redeeming us.  He paid the cost.  He “gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,” (1 Timothy 2:6).  So that our eternity could be secured before the Father, He “freely” satisfied the demand against mankind’s sin.

Jesus became our eternal sacrifice that atoned for our sins once and for all: “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood.”  The Bible declares and attests to this truth in other areas, saying, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins,” (1 John 4:10).  The word “propitiation” in both of these verses speak of Christ’s complete, atoning sacrifice.  “His blood” was shed that we might be made free (compare Hebrews 10:4).  Christ died for our sins.  Our justification is not a human invention.  God “set forth” Christ and the plan of salvation through Christ.

“To declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past.”  Not only today are our past sins taken care of, but the yesterday and the yesteryear sins of sinners are taken care of for all who believe, both before the cross and after the cross (compare Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 9:15)!  Hallelujah!  The “past,” and those in the past, have been covered by the cross, also!  The cross, and what Jesus did on the cross, is enough to satisfy and uphold the demands of God’s “righteousness” against the sin and sinners of today, yesterday, and forevermore.  Nothing else is needed.  It has already been proven that nothing else will do (read Hebrews 9:12-14).

“Through the forbearance of God.”  God’s own “righteousness” (above), which is the very “habitation of His throne” (Psalm 97:2), is shown in His willingness and longsuffering to withhold final actions upon mankind’s sin as a whole before the time of the cross.  At the time of His death, all sin, past, present, and future, were placed upon our Savior as He hung on that cross.  It’s what one does with the revelation of the cross for their own life that makes the difference.  This is what one will be judged by.

God has always been fair in His actions toward humanity, sinful though they may be.  He gives everyone time and space to repent: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” (2 Peter 3:9).  But, as we know, all will not come to repentance.  The time of ignorance is over and there is an appointed day for the judgment for all, past, present, and future (Acts 17:30-31).

But, for the one that “believeth in Jesus,” God justifies.  Because of what Christ did, and because of our belief and acceptance of what Christ did as our Savior, God credits that to our account as righteousness.  God declares them/us right and justified!  Mankind, any person in human history outside of Jesus Christ, is far from perfect and right in the eyes of God.  But, when one believes in Jesus, for all He accomplished on the cross and accepts that sacrifice for their life; when God looks at that person, He no longer sees them and their wrongs.  He sees Jesus and His right, and He is the one that declares them now to be righteous.

By Faith, Jesus is Enough

Romans 3:27-31 “Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.  Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.  Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith.  Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”

Because everything is based solely on what Christ has done, and because it is only God who is able to aptly justify one, what right does anyone have for “boasting”?  They don’t!  That’s the plain and simple truth. No one can make themselves righteous.  No “law” could declare one righteous.  Nor, could any “works” (compare Ephesians 2:9).  Salvation is not something that can be earned.  It is something we are blessed with through “faith.”

Instead of being a source of contention, this should be a relief, for salvation does not depend on what a person can do perfectly, it only depends on what Christ has already done perfectly.  Only the self-righteous would find some kind of joy in trying to pat themselves on the back for a job well-done in trying to get to heaven for all eternity on their own accord or by their own works.  But self-righteousness won’t get you or me there.  Only those who are found Christ-righteous will enter in.

Therefore, “boasting” is kicked to the curb.  “Boasting” is a symbol of pride.  “Boasting” glorifies self and what self can accomplish on its own.  But salvation, I repeat, is NOT something that people can accomplish on their own.  Everyone needs forgiveness and reconciliation through Jesus Christ!  “No flesh shall glory in his presence,” (1 Corinthians 1:29).  National heritage, religious pride, or any other reason one may exalt themselves believing them worthy of this great gift by what they have done or do – all of that is made null and void before the perfect sacrifice of Christ.  For it is ONLY “by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God,” (Ephesians 2:8).

True salvation requires true “faith” in the right source, and we are not it, nor were the receivers of this letter in the Roman church.  What self can do is not it.  The gospel tells the story and the way of that right source who is Christ our Lord.  He is it!  Any other way outside of Christ is “excluded.” 

“Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law,” Paul said.  The reality of this truth permeates Paul’s letter to the Roman Christians.  Prior to reaching the text of study in this lesson, in verse 20 of this same chapter, Paul writes, “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight…”  Later in Romans, he will write, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Romans 5:1).  Here, he is declaring exactly what Christ’s sacrifice on the cross accomplished for the sin-sick soul.  He justified us and made us right with the Father (Romans 5:1).  None of this was based on our own efforts or human goodness.  Our new position in Christ was and is solely based on the sacrificial love of Christ that propelled Him through any hurt and pain He was personally feeling to think outside of Himself and see a world of humanity drowning in an ocean of wayward disobedience and rebellion leading them to a lost path of which there is no return unless their souls be saved!

Because of what He did, we now have “access by faith into this grace” and we have a reason to “rejoice in hope of the glory of God,” (Romans 5:2).  With His blood, He bought the key that would give us an open door to our heavenly Father.  And, with everything we face, our end reward is hope (Romans 5:3-5).

He, Jesus, did it all for us and our job is to whole-heartedly accept it, accept His work, accept His sacrifice “by faith.”  Those words, “by faith”, “through faith”, “the law of faith”, and other references to faith appears no less than thirty-seven times in the book of Romans alone.  The “law”, and the works of the law couldn’t do it (compare Acts 13:38-39).  “For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it written, The just shall live by faith,” (Romans 1:17).  It’s a faith thing!

And, this is God’s plan for all.  It’s not just for the “Jews” or for the “Gentiles.”  There is only “one God” with one plan of salvation for all to accept: faith in what Jesus Christ has already done.

Does this make the law “void”?  Absolutely not!  Through Christ, God fulfilled the law.  The law was “established”.  Before His death, Jesus plainly stated, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil,” (Matthew 5:17).  In Him, the requirements of the law were fully and completely satisfied.  Therefore, God is just when He makes one righteous through Christ because, in Christ, all the law is fulfilled.  By faith, Jesus is enough!

PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – Made Righteous in Christ

Suggested Activities:

Object Lessons from Better Bible Teachers

“Balloon and Rock: The Weight of Sin Object Lesson” from Ministry-To-Children

Games about Salvation from Classroom

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Redeemed

Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Jesus Saves

Blank Journal Pages: Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages

Draw the Scene: Made Righteous in Christ Draw the Scene

Word Search: Made Righteous in Christ Word Search Answers: Made Righteous in Christ Word Search Answers

Crossword: Made Righteous in Christ Crossword Answers: Made Righteous in Christ Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Made Righteous in Christ Word Scramble Answers: Made Righteous in Christ Word Scramble Answers

“Memory Verse Activities for Any Lesson” from Calvary Curriculum

“Memory Activities for Sunday School” from SundaySchoolSources.com

“Sketching Bible Memory Verse” from Ministry-To-Children

“Jesus Can Set Us Right Activity Page” from Ministry-To-Children

“Bible Verse Game for Romans 3:32” from Scripture Lady

Explaining Justification from Jelly Telly Parents

Romans 3:32 Coloring Page from HomeschoolRoundup.com

 

“Do More Than Pray. Believe!”

 “Why could we not cast him out?  And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief,” Matthew 17:19b-20a, KJV

 This is where the proverbial “rubber meets the road,” or where the heart meets with true faith.  Jesus’ disciples tried to cast a demon out of the man’s son but to no avail.  The Bible says, “They could not cure him,” (Mt. 17:16, KJV).  They didn’t get the results of their prayer on that day.  Perplexed they asked Jesus about what happened.  Jesus’ response was very simple.  He told them it was “because of your unbelief.”

Sometimes in life, I think we tend to downplay the importance of our faith and what we believe.  We hear about it so much that I think as Christians we have become desensitized to its power in both our spiritual and our natural lives.  This is not what it should be since we are told in four verses of the Bible, “The just shall live by his faith,” (Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:17; Gal. 3:11; Heb. 10:38, KJV).

Our faith, our belief should be the marker for everything in our lives.  Not just for salvation, but for every action and prayer.  We know all the right words to say and all the proper “Christian” motions to make, but is our faith alive and put into full force action?

If you feel a little waning in this area and if you feel like Jesus is talking to you, here are some steps to build up your faith and belief:

1. Pray:  Yup, that’s right!  Keep praying.  Jesus did not have an issue with their prayer; He had a problem with their lack of belief in their prayer.  In Mark 11:24 Jesus said, “What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them,” (KJV, see also Mt. 21:22; Ja. 1:16).  Continue to pray, yet make sure you believe in your prayer being heard and you believe in the One who hears your prayer and is able to be your help (more on this a little later).  Many ask a lot of things of the Lord, but those that catch His attention the most are those who have faith when they ask.  On several occasions, Jesus said it’s because of “your faith” that healing has taken place (Mt. 9:22; Mk. 10:52).  Too many people focus on the right words to say during prayer when the real focus should be on Whom we believe.  Do our heart’s match up with the words that are coming out of our mouths or are they just that, words, instead of a powerful instrument implemented by what we believe?  Your faith matters more than your words.

2. Nourish:  Every believer has to nourish their faith with a daily diet of the Word of God.  “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart…,” (Jer. 15:16, KJV).  We’ve all heard the phrase “you are what you eat” and no truer is it than here.  Our natural bodies depend on us to eat properly for it to maintain its daily functions.  Our spirit depends on us to fill it with the necessary spiritual nutrients to help our faith and belief thrive to be all that God has designed for you and me to be.  A rich diet in God’s Word will supply the believer with encouragement, wisdom and truth to hold on to their faith and to build the spiritual muscle to believe more.  “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God,” (Mt. 4:4, KJV).

3. Rest:  Not only rest in our salvation but also in the fact that He heard (told you there was more 🙂 ).  “For we which have believed do enter into rest…,” (Heb. 4:3, KJV).  “I called on the LORD in distress; the LORD answered me…,” (Ps. 118:5, NKJV; see also my article “Know That God Hears!”).  We have to trust in Him to handle our prayers.  That’s what resting is all about.  We prayed it, we committed it to Him, and we rest.  Is this hard to do sometimes?  Yes, but oh so needful.  It’s disciplining ourselves like Jesus did when He spoke at Lazarus’ tomb saying, “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me,” (John 11:41, KJV).  He didn’t try to persuade God, He rested in the fact that He knew already that God heard Him.  We have to discipline ourselves to rest in Him.  Those that are in a continual state of worry are not resting.  Rather, they are anxious over the conditions in their life.  Paul said, “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus,” (Phil. 4:6-7, KJV).  Peace will cover the one who prays it and gives it to God allowing him/her to rest.

Is this a sure-fire way to have God answer your prayers the way you want?  NOPE!!!  Nonetheless, we still are to be people who believe when we pray.  Unbelief will cause you and I to miss out on the amazing things that God wants to do in and through us.  Don’t take that chance today.  Don’t ever stop praying but do more than just pray – BELIEVE!

“There is power in prayer!”

Photo: Pixabay/jaefrench

“Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him.” Acts 12:5 (read Acts 12:1-11)

Martin Luther is quoted as saying, “To be a Christian without prayer is no more possible than to be alive without breathing.” Why is that? Because as breath is with the body, with each inhale and exhale one’s life is sustained; so is the prayer line that fosters that interpersonal relationship between God and man. It is not only life-sustaining, but it’s soul-sustaining keeping that glorious love connection betwixt the two opened and flowing.

Prayer is and of itself a discipline where one places themselves at the feet of the Almighty; to draw near to Him; to get to know Him more. Yet, prayer is often as well a plea of desperation when the times and trials of this life are too hard to bear. When we are at the end of our rope; or, when we just don’t understand what is happening or the road we should take – we pray.

We pray because deep within ourselves we know that try as we might, we can find no better help. Nor, is there any higher intervention than that which comes from God. Therefore, through prayer, we seek the release of His help and power into our problems, our lives, and the lives of those whom we intercede for.

Prayer is, and becomes, that connective key where God and man meet to converse on an intimate level, recognizing His greatness and sovereignty in the midst of our humanness and weaknesses.

And, this is what the church was hoping for when they offered up prayers on behalf of Peter who was now in prison. By this time persecution was not a new thing to the church. Throughout the Book of Acts, there are uprisings against the faith. The idea of the church enduring hardship was not going away anytime soon.

As a matter of fact, James, one of Jesus’s original disciples, was killed in the process by the sword (beheading, some say). Then, seeking, even more, favor among men, Herod proceeded further in attacking the church and imprisoning Peter also.

The Bible tells us, “Prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him,” (Acts 12:5). This is the epitome of what it means when the Psalmist declared, “I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD. . .” (Psalm 121:1-2a).

Pain and suffering were taking place in the church but hope was not lost because their hope was not in the circumstances that surrounded them – their hope was in God who reigned above them.

Therefore, they prayed!

Don’t tell me prayer doesn’t matter; that it doesn’t make a difference. Yes, it does! God will literally make chains fall off and set captives free through the power of prayer (as He does for Peter here).

Unbeknownst to Peter, God heard their prayers and He was working on his case. Peter, shackled and asleep between two soldiers, was about to experience a miraculous breakthrough of a lifetime. He may have been appointed to be kept under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each; but, Peter had just one God that would step in and free him from their midst.

See, it doesn’t matter how bad they have you wrapped up, God can break through it all. It doesn’t matter how many chains and shackles the enemy will try to place on you, prayer to the right Source; to God alone, will free you from their hold.

Peter was getting an up close and personal lesson in this area. God sent an angel to come to Peter in the night. With light filling the prison house the angel stood before Peter and aroused him from his sleep by hitting him on his side.  He spoke, “Arise up quickly,” (Acts 12:7). And, immediately his chains fell off.

Through the initial intervention of prayer, God was literally breaking chains off of Peter to set him free! You have to get happy about that and feel it in your spirit what God wants to do for His people. God will move and instruct His heavenly hosts to work on your behalf as He did for Peter through the power of prayer.  Never underestimate the power of God. He can do “exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think,” (Ephesians 3:20).

The church was praying corporately and God was listening attentively, and He was working it out. When the shackles fell from his hands, the angel then instructed Peter to get himself together and put his shoes on and to follow him (Acts 12:8).

Acts 12:10 tells us, “When they were past the first, and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him.” Amazing!  You have to admire the beauty of it all coming together. God not only freed him, but took him past one enemy, and then another enemy. He took him through the prison and out the huge iron gate unknown to anyone. This blew my mind. None of the enemies had a clue to what God was up to in freeing Peter. I don’t know if they were all in a heavy sleep or not, but God did it. He freed Peter.

Peter’s freedom was spawned through the prayers of the church. Yes, God could most certainly move without the intervention of anyone. But, here in these verses, a special note was made to stand out that when they prayed; when they got together collectively and on one accord to seek for Peter’s freedom, that’s when the miracle happened. God wants us to know the importance and the power of prayer. He said, “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me,” (Psalms 50:15).

Prayer was a huge key at work in the moving and miracles of the first-century church and it should be a huge key at work in our current lives and ministries as well. Paul later teaches, “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting,” (1 Timothy 2:8). There is never a wrong time or place to pray. And, when you pray – BELIEVE! Believe that He hears, and believe that He will answer as He sees fit.

Your prayers DO make a difference. There is power in prayer! “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:7-11).

God made the impossible happen for Peter and He can do so in the church today. People can be freed. Chains can be broken. Ministries can flourish through the power of prayer. Prayer never hurts anyone, but it can always help everyone.  We are told, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit,” (James 5:16-18).

What can you do through your prayer life?

Trust and believe that your prayers are never wasted; that there is power in prayer. Prayer can reach where physically we cannot. Prayer can go behind the veil into the throne room of God. Think about that for a second and let it sink in. Didn’t the book of Hebrews tell us, “Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)? This is done through prayer.

We are not alone in this life. Our way of viewing things and situations can become impaired in our day to day struggles. We may feel like we don’t have power to do anything; as if we are in the dark, but prayer offers a light of hope.

Whether falling on our knees or reverently and silently offering up with heart pleas and thanksgivings to God, your prayers matter.

We serve a God who wants to hear from us and invites us to pray.  We will never know all the ins and outs of why God answers some prayers immediately, and why with some He chooses a different course. But, I do know this; prayer is never wasted, nor is it a waste of time. God hears each and every petition. He’s paying attention to the cause of His people. Don’t be discouraged if it seems like it’s not coming through for you like you want it to. God may have a greater course of destination in mind. Just hold on, keep the faith, and never stop praying. There is power in prayer!

 

The Sweet Wonder of the great, “I AM.”

 

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There is so much that goes on inside of us, outside of us, and around us, that can literally make our heads spin.  There are so many if’s, and’s, and but’s that we deal with daily making us feel deflated, depleted, and downright drained.  Sometimes, it just seems that things are out of control and we can’t get a handled on anything and we have mastered or accomplished nothing.

But, I take comfort in the words God spoke from the midst of the burning bush to Moses, His prophet.  He said, “I AM THAT I AM,” (Exodus 3:14) and I am drawn into a world of sweet wonder at the love my God has for us.

The human heart can get so muddled and become so bogged down to the point that it can’t even express properly how it feels or what it wants to say.  But, the great “I AM” doesn’t need our proper articulation of words to understand our deepest needs on the inside.  In His beautiful care for us, He needs only to take a peek behind the scenes on the inside of our being to see what cares we bear.

He is our perfect heart inspector.  When you feel like you can’t get it out – seek Him out because He already knows, in His loving sovereignty, how to deal beautifully with you.

God can be absolutely anything we need Him to be.  But, God already is the great “I AM.”  Those two words with only three letters cover us, lives inside of us through His Spirit, and helps us in our most desperate need.

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So, if it’s tears that’s on the menu of your heart today, that come without explanation, the great “I AM”  is the perfect set of shoulders to unload the heaviness of it all.  If life just seems overwhelming at times.  The great “I AM” is, well, greater than anything, any plan, or any thoughts against you.  Whatever may seem to overpower us will never take over Him.  He will always be in control.  During every waking moment or any sleeping night, the great “I AM”  will always be standing watch, guarding, and keeping us at those times when we can’t keep ourselves.

Photo: Pixabay/StockSnap 

I smile when I think of the wonder of it all – the sweet wonder of Him.  He really is the lifter of heart, mind, body, and soul.  He is beyond anything we need Him to be.  God, is simply, the great “I AM.”  With a period on the end of it, it closes the case on exactly who He is.

 

“Sitting Around Won’t Win the Battle!”

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“The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat,” Proverbs 13:4

 All of us have goals and dreams, or at least, we should.  All of us “desire” things we would like to see accomplished in our lives.  But, desire can only get you so far.  There has to be a proactive approach in order for one to see the fulfillment of these aspirations come to pass.

I love the Bible because it gives us so many true to life examples of these valued lessons.  For instance, in 2 Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat and his people were getting ready to be attacked.  The enemy had come against them and “Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the Lord,” (vs. 4).

I want you to look at this picture Scripture represents.  It’s one of great sadness.  In verse 13, it describes “All Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.”  It’s as if they were saying, “If not for us, Lord; then please remember our wives and children.”  Awwww!!!

God’s response was, “Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s,” (vs. 15).

“That’s what I’m talking about!  We don’t have to fight!  Woo-hoo!  Let’s go home and watch some TV!”

I’m playing.  We all know they didn’t have TV, but what they probably had was a sense of relief that they didn’t need to proactively do anything to win the battle.  Time to hit the couch!

Wrong!

While God did declare the battle was His, He has never been the promoter of laziness.  Too many people want the victory without ever really doing anything.  Too many people want to reach the next level without ever having to walk up the stairs to get there.

It’s too much work!  Too many people get in prayer lines and the like; want God to do everything without themselves ever putting a hand to the plow to till something up.

God works in miraculous ways.  God is a prayer answering God.  Jehoshaphat and his people will find both of these to be true.  He’s going to work a miracle and they are going to get a tremendous answer to their prayer.  But, God has something that He wants them to do.  He said, “To morrow go ye down against them . . . ye shall find them,” (vs. 16).

GULP!

Then God reiterates, “Ye shall not need to fight in this battle,” (vs. 17).

Yeah!

Then, He proceeded to tell them, “set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you… go out against them…,” (vs. 17).

Hold up!  Wait a minute!  If the battle belongs to God, I don’t understand why I have to go down there and set myself up like I am sure enough going to fight these people.  Huh?

Because God said so.  That’s why many of us lose out.  We want to sit on the couch instead of getting up and following the instructions He gives.  The “sluggard” wants the glory without the work.

In opposite of that, he that is diligent pushes forth to follow through.  Sometimes it’s a hard thing to do.  These people were put in the terrifying position to get in battle formation before the enemy; in front of people who were ready to annihilate them.  Gulp is right!

Yet, they maintained their ground believing God’s promise.  Verses 18-22a tell of the people actively praising God.  Then, the tables turned on the enemies, (vs. 22b).  “Every one helped to destroy another,” (vs. 23), and “none escaped,” (vs. 24).

The result they received was due to their diligence to follow through with the Lord’s instructions.  “Jehoshaphat and his people came to take  away the spoil of them, they found among them in abundance both riches with the dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away: and they were three days gathering the spoil, it was so much,” (vs. 25).

You may not have to go fight an enemy but you have a goal to reach that will only come by diligence and obedience to God.  I’m not promising you riches, but know this; any time you are diligent to work with God you will see success at the end.

Seek the Lord, He will help you to receive that “expectant end” Jeremiah speaks of, Jeremiah 29:11.  Then, we can rejoice like Jehoshaphat because we saw the fruition of hard work pay off.

“The soul of the diligent shall be made fat.”

“My Promise is Coming!”

“For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall
speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come,
it will not tarry,” Habakkuk 2:3, KJV

I’m excited!!!! It’s coming!!!! It can’t hold off too much longer!!! It’s almost here!!!

I see something that has me positively giddy.  BUDS!!!  That’s right, tree buds!  Oh, does it get me worked up.  When I see those pretty little things start to form on the end of barren tree branches it sets my soul soaring because I know spring has sprung.  The season has come.  It couldn’t hold off forever no matter how dim and dismal the weather may seem right now.

This anticipation is much like our spiritual lives.  We know the promises of God.  We read them daily in His Word.  We have rehearsed some of them.  Bound them in our hearts.  Hold with a death grip on them.  Yet, they are not here at this moment.  But, it’s coming!

Often times the branches of hope in our lives can seem so barren as if no fruit or leaves will ever produce on them again; dry and lifeless things just blowing in the wind.  But, it can’t stay like that forever.  There is hope on the horizon that the promise of new life and productivity will once again blossom for you and me, bringing to pass the vision that God has for you in your life.

The Bible tells us, “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven,” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).  We don’t know why we often seem to be in a holding pattern but we can be assured that during the process God is working out His purpose in the midst of it all.

“Though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come!”  When God appoints the process to be done and the vision plan to initiate, it CAN NOT hold off.  It has to COME!  I know, I know!  It’s the waiting part that’s hard – tell me about it!  But as a mother carrying a child, the vision has to be birthed when the term is up.  It can’t stay in that holding pattern for long.  It has to come forth.  It’s coming!

Do you want to know something else?  One day I heard the birds chirping.  A sure sign that Spring has arrived.  Pretty soon I’ll be planting flowers and such but right now I’m giddy over the fact of the potential for what’s on the way.  It’s coming!

What are you waiting for today?  The Bible says, “No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly,” Psalm 84:11.  God is not our magic genie but He is a promise keeper.  “Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations,” Deuteronomy 7:9.  If it’s in His will and we are doing what we are supposed to be doing – It’s Coming!

We have a hope to hold on to today.  Though we may not see it at this moment, the signs are around us.  My promise is coming!  “It will surely come and will not tarry!”  Don’t Give Up!

SAY TO YOURSELF, “MY PROMISE IS COMING!”

Text Free Photo Source: Pixabay

“Greater Is He!”

Photo: Pixabay/go_see

Greater is He that is in me!

The life inside that I cannot see.

Only feel with the passion and the burn

Love from the cross that flows unearned.

 

Glowing embers His spirit unfolds.

Power inside of stories untold!

Ripping away all the fear and frights;

Layering on His love’s holy light.

 

The life inside has been swept and cleaned

By the Master who defeats enemies unseen.

Foes tremble, their strength can’t compare,

‘Cause greater is He now resides there.

“Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world,” 1 John 4:4

The Anointing Breaks the Yoke! | An Isaiah 10:27 Prayer

Father God, we know Your Word declares that it is the anointing that destroys the yoke that tries to bind Your people (Is. 10:27). We are praying that You would rain down Your anointing this day and break every chain that tries to hold Your people down. We pray for release to walk in the power of all You have declared for us over our lives. We believe in You! We know that You are at work on our case even as speak. You are our hope and confidence in everything we face. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

Text Free Photo Credit: Pixabay