devotional

True Love

We study the Bible, usually in great detail.  We concentrate on verses, we dig for details, inspect words for insights, and string together references for a thorough analysis.  There is nothing wrong with this.  Yet, never forget to step back and realize the big, broad picture.

Today, as I pondered several verses, I again realized the Bible is the greatest love letter ever penned.  Have you  considered what a perfect, written, proclamation of love God has given us?   Take a few minutes and consider the following phrases:

I love you, forever

I wont leave you

I will always be with you

No matter what you have done, I forgive you

If you are troubled, tell me about it, let me help

If you want me, look, and I will be there

These may look a little more familiar in another format:

I have loved thee with an everlasting love

I will never leave nor forsake you

If you are faithful to confess your sin, He is faithful to forgive

Cast your cares upon Me

Seek and you shall find

These proclamations are not trivial.  These are but a few of the promises of love.  This love is available to everyone.  This is true and eternal love.  The only requirement is our acceptance of His love toward us in Jesus Christ.  Jesus is that promise and fulfillment of love toward us.

I just wanted to take a minute, step back, and give thanks for the opportunity to see the love letter that could be missed.  There is a quote that goes something like this:  “He couldn’t see the forest for all the trees”.   Take a moment, step back from the verses, word studies, and chain references.  Gaze upon the masterpiece that is God’s love for you, then go back to studying the brushstrokes with which He painted this work of art, and see the details anew.

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Prayers (A Few Thoughts and Discernments)

1st Thessalonians:5:17: Pray without ceasing.

We are instructed to pray. There should be a point in time where our prayer life begins, and continues without end. Our prayers are our communication with God. Prayer should not become a one-way conversation. We are quick to speak and make our needs known, yet, slow to receive, slow to hear, and quick to dismiss that small, still voice.

Prayer is a wonderful tool (for lack of a better word in this instance). It is an entrance into the presence of God. There are times it is a solemn, introspective experience, when mourning, confessing, or pleading for His helping hand. Other times it is informal, such as giving thanks, giving praise.

Prayer is not just an individual experience. There are times we enter prayer as a group, in agreement. This is sometimes referred to as corporate prayer. Many have gathered together and recited the Lord’s prayer, prayed in agreement at the opening of a church service, or even at the close of a church service.

A question came to mind during prayer and it is a question I must share and ask: What if all your prayers were answered instantly? My immediate reaction was surprise, wonder, awe, and excitement. I know God is able to do all I can ask and more.

Ephesians:3:20: 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

I also know there are times we ask amiss. There are times when our faith waivers, times when we are weak, times when His will must be done, because our requests are contrary to His way. I know He hears the prayers of the righteous. The thought that really came to mind was: “What if all your prayers were answered instantly, all you need to do is ask”?

As this question became clearer, the big picture came into focus. This is where I began to see some shortcomings of my own prayer life. Should all my prayers that evening have been answered, me and my family would have been blessed abundantly, our debts would be gone, our health would have been assured, our church would be blessed and grow in number and would have reached the lost of our community, just to name a few. These are great things and I still pray these things will come to pass.

The problem was not in what I was asking. The problem is, my prayer life would have shown the deficiencies of my prayer life. My neighbors would not have prospered as I did, and we are commanded to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. My enemies, or those who are against me would not have received any type of blessing, there would have been no reconciliation between us. The other area churches would not have received as our church would have. Those that I work with would not have been any better off. There would still be nations at war, our state and national leaders would still be untouched, and our brothers and sisters in other nations would still be suffering persecution without relief or any sign of comfort.

As complete as our prayer life may seem at any time, there will always be more that we can do. Our reach must exceed the boundaries of our home, our state, and our nation. We must not be guilty any longer of praying in manner that resembles “bless me and my four and no more”. Through the gift of prayer and the blood of Christ we are able to go boldly before the throne of Almighty God and make our petitions known to Him. We have the ability to ask not only for ourselves, but many others in need, faces you may never see or meet. We must pray for our enemies and our neighbors.

Let me end with this thought: If your prayers were answered instantly, what would your deficiency be? What would everyone else see? Who would be left out? Who would still be in need? I hope to encourage you as I have been encouraged, during a simple prayer where I not only spoke but listened as well. May God bless and keep you, and as always, to Jesus be the glory!

Where Did You Meet…

We all have a story of how we met our closest friend, our significant other, a distant relative, or maybe even a favorite pet. Do you remember the details? Can you still picture it as though it happened just yesterday?

Did you see them several times before you actually met? Did you hear someone else say their name? Or maybe you read their name on an office door, maybe even on a name tag or badge. Thinking back on that day, do you remember their clothing, their cologne or perfume? Did you meet them by chance or did you purposely start a conversation?

These are just a few of the details and questions that come to my own mind. Whether you remember the smallest details or not, you usually remember the place or setting in which you met. In an office, on the street, in the market, at work, or at church? These are common places to many meetings.

My question for you is this: Do you remember where in scripture you met Jesus? Do you remember the sermon, the message, the song, or the teaching? Where in His Word did you meet Him? Now, let us go back to the second paragraph and ask some very similar questions with Christ as the subject. Did you see Him in others a few times before you met Him yourself? Did you hear others speak His name? Did you read His name and wonder? Did you purposely meet Him? Maybe you just meant to get some information on Him and ended up meeting Him unexpectedly.

I met Jesus in the twenty fourth chapter of Matthew. I had heard about Him and learned about Him from the time I was a small child. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I met Him for myself. When I met Him in His word, He was at the Mount of Olives telling His disciples what would happen at the time of the end. He gave a detailed, passionate prophecy. It sounded so much like the world I live in. I then thought “how wonderful that Jesus was seeing a place and time where He would meet me, and probably many others, in His word”. Since then I have realized the place, time, setting, details, or circumstance did not hold as much value as the simple fact that we met and I accepted Him as my Savior.

It does not matter which sermon led you to the Savior, Jesus Christ, as long as you accept Him. The songs that were sang are now of little consequence, a minor detail in a major event. I am not trying to downplay sermons or songs or words or prayers, they all play a very important, vital part. Yet, nothing compares to the moment of salvation, the perfect work of Christ being made manifest in the life of a believer. It is of little importance where each of us met Jesus, me in the book of Matthew, another in the book of John, one in the book of second Peter, and another in the book of the Revelation, as long as we met Him and accepted Him as Savior. The one common ground we have is this, we all meet Him at the cross.

Ga:2:20: I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

There was a time, as a sinner, we drove those spikes into His flesh. The sin of man put Christ on the cross. His work defeated sin once and for all, for everyone that will accept Him as Savior. Once you come to the cross by His blood, our old man is crucified to the cross with Him. No longer are we guilty, for it is not we who live from the moment we are saved, it is He that lives within us! There at the cross, it was He who loved me, it was He that loved you. He gave himself for us. If you have not yet met Jesus, He can be found anytime, anyplace. You can arrange that meeting at once, just simply reach out to Him in prayer, in faith believing, confess your sin and ask Him into your heart, accept His atoning blood to cover your sin, and you too can have a time and place, where you met the Savior. Glory to His name!

Down at the cross where my Savior died,
Down where for cleansing from sin I cried,
There to my heart was the blood applied;
Glory to His Name!

Glory to His Name,
Glory to His Name:
There to my heart was the blood applied;
Glory to His Name!

Failing

Prior to salvation through Jesus Christ, we fail. We fail Him, we fail to see, we fail to hear, we fail to understand, we fail to seek His word. Instead, we seek the advice of friends, we look for a better relationship from the world, our time is spent on self. God is neglected.

Romans:3:23: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Failing God is not just for those who have not yet accepted Jesus as Savior. Failure is only permanent for those who die in their sin, those who do not confess and turn from their sin, those who do not accept a relationship with Christ. Those who proclaim Jesus, confess Jesus is Lord, have faithful church attendance, do good for others, they fail too. The difference is, there is grace for the believer. For the unbeliever there is forgiveness. Thank God that we all have a way, through Jesus and His work to be cleansed.

1st John:1:8: If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1st John:1:9: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1st John:1:10: If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

While this could be a broad generalization suited for many, I am directing this article at myself. Often, Christians are called hypocrites, holier than thou, and two-faced. Let me confess to all who take the time to read this, I fail. Everyday it seems I find a new way to fail. There are times I fall flat on my face, inconvenient times when I have to “practice what I preach”. Still, I fail.

Recently, I realized a new way I have failed. I have failed to reach those close to me, my friends. I have not taken opportunities to present the gospel, instead, I have made the assumption they know my life, what I believe, and considered it enough. There are friends I have not spoken to in a very long time, friends I have lost touch with, people I may not have another chance to present the gospel to. Failure to take every chance to present the gospel can have eternal consequences, especially for those who do not have a relationship with Jesus and never knowing if we have a tomorrow.

As much as this article is for me, it is just as much for my friends, family, and anyone else who cares to read this. We all fail, in different ways. We all fail to different degrees. One thing that does not fail is the salvation offered by God through Jesus Christ. Today, I will try harder, and even harder the following days. Even on the days I do not feel as though I have failed, I will bow before the Lord in prayer, confess my sin, ask forgiveness and the strength to do better with every day I am given. Time is short, with no guarantee. I am sorry for the times I have failed, so now I will do better to rectify the situation.

I have set up an email account for this blog. If I can be of help to you, if you need prayer, if you have questions, please feel free to contact me: prophetic.steps@yahoo.com or you can comment or send a message to the facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/propheticsteps

We have all failed, we have all fallen short of God’s glory. We must cast those things aside and carry on that His strength be seen, that He be given the glory, for when we are weak, then He is strong.

Handwriting on the Wall

Have you noticed we live in a world where slogans are everywhere and used to remind us of something? For instance, slogans are one of the most used, most efficient, most reliable ways of advertising. Some examples would be “Just Do It” (Nike), “Made from the best stuff on Earth” (Snapple), “They’re Grrrrrreeaattt” (Frosted Flakes), and “Have it your way” (Burger King). Some of these are a bit old, and probably outdated by now, but you get the idea.

Phrases have a way expressing a big idea using few words. We often hear familiar phrases used in a variety of contexts. Lately, I have heard a phrase used several times, meaning that a person “should have seen it coming”, but the phrase used is: “They should have seen the handwriting on the wall”.

For me this always brings to my mind the fifth chapter of Daniel. This is quite possibly one of my favorite events to read, re-read, and study. It is also a realization, shouldn’t we “see it coming”, should we not be able to discern some of those things which are about to happen? Of course I’m not referring to fortune-telling, nor am I specifically referring to the gift of prophecy. When we are given numerous examples throughout the Bible, when we are given specific actions and reactions, shouldn’t we be able to know what is going to happen? Sure, the consequences of repeated actions may not be immediate, but they are imminent.

In the fifth chapter of Daniel we find that Belshazzar was giving a great feast, a party, and gave orders to bring the gold and silver vessels, which had been used in the Jewish Temple. Once those vessels were brought out and used, something happened:

Daniel:5:5: In the same hour came forth fingers of a man’s hand, and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaister of the wall of the king’s palace: and the king saw the part of the hand that wrote.
Daniel:5:6: Then the king’s countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.

The hand and writing caused the king such horror that his bowels were loosed and his knees buckled and began to shake. I suppose the phrase “caught red-handed” could apply here. There is a very important lesson to be learned, you should not mis-use nor tarnish the instruments set apart for the service of God!

1st Chronicles:16:21: He suffered no man to do them wrong: yea, he reproved kings for their sakes,
1st Chronicles:16:22: Saying, Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.

Those instruments were created, finely crafted, and sanctified for use in serving God. The equivalent today are those who are saved and serving Jesus. We have been cleansed by His blood, we are set apart from this world, and serving our Lord. We are those instruments, indwelled by the Holy Spirit, serving a risen, living Savior, seeking to accomplish His will in our lives, giving our testimony, letting our lives be a witness, moving in faith, praying always, loving in truth and in deed, all that the glory be His. We offer our bodies a living sacrifice.

Just as Belshazzar was living it up in the world (eating, drinking, and being merry), he misused the instruments dedicated to God. Today, this world is misusing and mistreating the instruments dedicated to God. Belshazzar did not see the writing on the wall and his reign ended that very night. There is coming a point in time where someone in this world will say “we should have seen the handwriting on the wall”, and just as it was then, it will be too late. Be of good cheer, we will suffer things in this world, we will be hated in this world, but I have good news, Jesus overcame this world and by Him, we shall too! To Jesus be the glory forever, amen.

More Than Enough

We can never praise God enough. He is worthy of all praise for everything, for the past, the present, and the future. In sickness, in health, in good times, in bad times, in every season, He is truly worthy of all praise. Be sure to take note, I did not say it was easy nor did I say it was the first thought I have. He is deserving in every situation, we often fall short of recognizing that.

Too often, in our times of trouble, we fail to realize our shortcomings. We can’t always see what our trials and tribulations are leading us toward. In short, we can’t see the victory for the battle, we can’t see the forest for the trees.

There is cause for praise regardless of the season. We do not serve a God of “just enough”, we serve God Almighty, God of more than enough! God gives in abundance. Jesus said it like this:

John:10:10: The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

Have you really considered the meaning? It means to “present in great quantity, more than adequate, well supplied”. It does not mean “just enough, only the right amount, enough to get by”. You see, we serve our Lord Jesus Christ, who gives more than enough. Should you need further testimony, consider these verses:

Psalms:23:5: Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. (The cup is not only filled, it runs over)

Ephesians:3:20: 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, (exceeding, abundant above all that we ask OR think, this speaks volumes!)

When Jesus went to the cross, He did not give just enough blood to cover sin, He gave His life for His friends and gave His blood to cover all sin for all eternity to those who would believe on Him. He gave all for all, I consider that an abundance. We should not stop with things present, consider those things yet to come:

Romans:8:18: For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

There are times when things appear impossible, when no one else can help, and all things seem lost. Why do we seem to be placed in these times? So that we can know God is in control and only He is deserving of the praise. All things are possible with Christ, and He is True and Faithful. He is our Provider, our Friend who is closer than a brother, the One who has prepared a place for us, so that where He is, we can be with Him. This life is only the beginning, there are better things to come for those who know Jesus as their Savior.

Sing His praises, give your testimonies, and let Him be glorified. It isn’t always easy, and it isn’t usually our first thought, but we must praise Him for He is the God of more than enough!

Where Do You Stand?

There are so many issues within the church today. I am referring to the church in a general sense. As the times change, so do the people within the church. The most important thing is this: The message must remain the same. The Word of God cannot be infringed upon, it is perfect and perfection does not change.

The people in the church change, they grow older, new people come, some people go, others pass from this life to the next. As the church experiences a generational change, which has been occurring for quite some time now, one should expect to see some differences. For example, the implementation of technology, a change in music, a change in the way a physical church building looks on the inside and the outside. Even the order of the services change, the times of service change, but again, the message must remain the same; the message must be the gospel of Christ Jesus.

Mark:16:15: And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.

We see the church changing in many ways, but do we see or sense the change within the church? I will not suggest this applies to every church, but I will infer that it applies to many. Maybe one of the most important questions that can be asked is “why do YOU go to church”? Do you go because it is expected from you? Do you go to make someone else happy? Do you go to keep up your appearance? Has the church become your social club? Do you attend so you can sing, so you can feel better, to be seen, so you can lead? What is your true motive?

You see, many people go to church, but not everyone goes for the same reason. This question came to me several days ago, and initially I was shocked that I would ask myself “why are you going to church”. My answer, and I hope many of you who read this can agree, was “to worship my Lord, Jesus”. As much as I go to learn, first and foremost is to worship and praise the One who has offered salvation, to worship Him in spirit and in truth. Secondly, I go to learn of Him, to receive instruction in righteousness, to receive His word.

You see, there is a definite divide within the church. There are those who have a relationship with Jesus, who hunger and thirst after Him. This is where I hope to always be until the day I am with Him. This is what the church should be, in my very humble opinion. A place of worship, instruction, prayer, and praise.

On the other side of this divide are those who have religion. They are there for the ritual. They are there in body, performing tasks as though it is a menial job. Though the body is found in the pew, the heart is off doing other things. Often their joy is found outside the doors of the church, and their pained grimace on the inside. There is a spirit of religion that says “I am here, I am doing my job, I never miss a service which makes me better than most of the others here”.

Religion, by appearance, resembles a relationship with Jesus. Religion is a dangerous game. We must be honest about our intents and reasons.

Proverbs:21:2: Every way of a man is right in his own eyes: but the LORD pondereth the hearts.

If you have read this and asked yourself the same questions, please take the time to prayerfully think on these things and seek the truth. Find where you stand, then let the Lord order your steps. It can be easy to slide into a rut, but staying there becomes a decision. There is nothing more important than our relationship with Jesus. We must pursue this relationship, truthfully, sincerely, and prayerfully.