You are not alone.

You are not aloneAs I write this lesson someone very dear to me is struggle to find joy. Her struggle and those of many others right now is why I feel God gave me these words to tell all of you going thru some tough trials.

You are not alone. Jesus will never leave you.

Right now are you so down now that you don’t believe that. Are you thinking that is nice but it is just something I am saying? God promises this in His Word, where He tells us, He is always there and will never leave us.

Deuteronomy 31:6 – “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Joshua 1:9 – “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” And Isaiah 41: 10 – “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

In addition to our Lord always being there with you, He is holding your right hand. We can see this in these two scriptures, Isaiah 41:13 – “For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you. Do not fear; I will help you” and in Psalm 139: 10–11 – “Even there Your hand will lead me, And Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light round me will be night.”

I cannot tell you how many times when going thru trials that I just simply reached down with my right hand and squeezed the hand of my Lord Jesus. To many this may sound silly but to me God’s Word is truth and it bring life to our very soul.

Lets look at it another way. You are down, depressed, and weary. You see no relief from your troubles. At that time spiritually, and definitely mentally, you’re at that proverbial “fork in the road” and you have two ways you can go. If you go further down the road of depression and despair, God only knows what might happen to you.

And that is the point!

God does know what you’re going to do. Psalms 139:1-4 says “O Lord, your have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.”

So if God knows and if God is “I Am”. WOW, what power in those two words. “I AM”.

If God, who told Moses his name is “I Am”, is right now, through our Lord Jesus Christ, standing right next to you holding your right hand, don’t you think you should trust him and grab tight and let him lead you? Let him take you down the path he knows is best for you. Trust God at His word when He says in Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

My loving wife is always sending me scriptures especially when she thinks I need encouragement. We all need it at some time in our lives. She sends them because she knows that God’s Word will grow within me and strengthen me. And I have learned that some times, I need to literally speak out the scriptures because my mind is filled with so many thoughts that just reading it does not get through to me. But when I speak it out, and my ears hear the Word, my mind stops thinking and hears the Word of our Lord speaking to me.

The other day my wife sent me a verse out of Psalm 23. I know you all know that one. Everybody knows that one.  You hear it at many funerals but I thought, yes I know it, but perhaps I should read it again.

Here is a little nugget of truth. One of the best tricks of the devil is to get you so familiar with certain scriptures that you no longer hear the message. You just say in your mind, oh I know that one, it is about walking through the valley of death and you go on to thinking about other things. So lets stop and lets look at the message of hope and strength that God gives us in Psalm 23.

Verse 1 – “The Lord is my Shepard, I shall now want.” A Shepard is responsible for his sheep. It is his job, to make sure we are protected and have all we need to be safe, sound and nourished. It tells us in Isaiah 40:11 that our Lord is the Great Shepard. It reads “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”

Verse 2-3 – “He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters. He refreshes my soul.” Have you ever had the chance to lie down in a lush green field by a nice quiet brook? It is so relaxing, and yes refreshing. Such is the place our Lord will bring you to in the times you need it. A place so peaceful and quiet, a place that you can trust you will have the time to lie down and your soul will be refreshed.

Verse 3- 4– “He leads me in the path of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for your are with me.” Our Lord will actually lead us on the path of righteousness for his name’s sake. Literally this means he will guide you on a path that brings glory to His name. Pretty cool! Your life and what you do will bring glory to His name.

The second part of this again talks about God holding us with His right hand and leading us on the right path. In verse 4, our Lord is assuring us that when we are in those dark valleys, when fear, stress, worry and depression are getting us down, and for some, to the point of thinking death would be better, that He is telling us to not be afraid, He will get us through the valley and He will always be with us.

Verse 4 cont’d – “your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Shepherds carry a rod and a staff. The rod is normally use to protect the Shepard and the sheep and for gentle correction. The staff is used to care and manage the sheep. It had been used to help pull a sheep out of trouble. Think of how wonderful our Lord is that even his correction will comfort us and His staff will helps out of trouble.

Verse 5 – “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” In biblical times, and still the custom in many countries, after a peace treaty or covenant was made with one’s enemy, they would sit down and have a meal together to signify the peace between them. In this verse, God is telling us, He will make peace with our enemies for us even if the biggest enemy is ourselves.

Verse 5 cont’d – “You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows” In the Bible, the custom of anointing the head of someone with oil was reserved for honored guests. And a cup overflowing means you will have more than you will ever need and your can share your blessings with others. So God is saying that He treats us as an honored guest and will give us overflowing blessing so that we can also be a blessing to others.

Verse 6 – Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Simply put God’s blessing and love will follow us. We cannot out walk or out run God. Like it says in Psalms 139, he really does know where we are at all times. This verse also reminds me of a wonderful Christian song that I love to hear Kari Jobe sing.

The refrain or chorus is so powerful, I sing it out loud to feed my mind, soul and spirit. I recommend you do the same. Let me end this lesson with the words in the chorus.

I am not alone
I am not alone
You will go before me
You will never leave me.

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Lord what do you mean, pray all the time?

What if I told you God wants us to pray all the time. What if I told you it was His will for us. It is true!

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Well, you can do this and see this right now in our time. I see God and his blessings every day in my life, I hear from him in prayer and his Word every day and through his Holy Spirit he has made himself known to me and talks with me. And he can do that for any one of his children who asks Him. And that is a very important point. If any of you want to know God better and hear from Him then you need to have your prayer time and you need to have your time in his Word. And you need to ask for God’s Holy Spirit to dwell in you. It is that easy. And you will hear from God if you follow those three easy steps.

Read God’s Word
Receive and listen to the Holy Spirit within you.

Perhaps easy is not the correct word. With all the demands on our lives from home, kids if you have them, pets, work, relationships plus all the demands we add to that, work outs, TV, sports, hobbies to name a few, we just run out of time.

Most people, rightly so, try to spend this alone time with God, first thing in the morning. My wife gets up earlier than our kids or me so she can make a cup of tea and read her Bible and pray. That is usually 5:30 in the morning. That is impossible for me. My clock runs different. I am a night owl. I tried first thing in the morning to read my Bible and pray but I fall asleep. It is just not fair to God that I don’t give him my full attention and I’m not fully awake.

So I find my sweet spot of time where I can spend it with the Lord. That is the time that I can hear from him through His Word, prayer and the “Be still and know I am the Lord” time as it says in in Psalm 46. And that is the most common time that God speaks to me through his Holy Spirit. My sweet spot is first thing when I get to my office desk, I do not use my computer, check emails, read papers, instead this is my prayer time. To be the most effective during this time, you need to also find that sweet spot when you can pray or carve out that time.

But we should not just be praying and talking with our Lord just during that time. We can pray all day, rejoice in the Lord all day and talk and hear from our Lord all day.

I know what you are thinking. Really? Come on I can’t pray all day, I have things I need to do. My boss would fire me if I just prayed all day at work. Or I would not be able to do anything with my kids if I just prayed all day. But again let me remind you praying all the time is God’s will.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

For years when I would read that I would think and often say, I can’t do that. It’s impossible to pray without ceasing. And if you are thinking in the physical realm you are correct. It is impossible. But through the Holy Spirit it is not impossible. That is why having the Holy Spirit working in us and through us is so important.

Romans 8:26-27 – “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know how we ought to pray, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groans too deep for words. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

Now you have to trust me on this, it works.   Let’s look at this a different way. First what is prayer? Sometimes, it is verbally spoken prayer such as a written prayer from the Bible, or at certain times an inspired prayer. But it can also be just talking with God because that is all prayer is, talking with our God through Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior and with the help of the Holy Spirit.   And praise is a form of both prayer and worship. I do find myself praising out loud all the time when I see my kids laughing, when I see my beautiful wife, when I see a beautiful moment in nature.

I praise the Lord every time I succeed at anything. Ask any one who plays golf with me, I immediately say “Thank you Lord” if I make a great putt. Or when I thank God for bubbles. I tell you that because being thankful to God is a state mind and once you start you will find, that more often than not, you will be thanking the Lord all day for something.

But let’s get back to the praying unceasingly. Trust me when I tell you this can and will happen through the Holy Spirit if you ask Him into your life. At first I found myself, to achieve this praying unceasingly, thinking “God I praise you or thank you Lord.” I would be trying to think it a lot throughout the day. But again it because impossible.

It is just like you cannot earn your salvation by doing every commandment perfectly all the time. You need our Lord, Jesus Christ for salvation and you need the Holy Spirit to pray unceasingly. Without Him, it was just impossible.

I found that even thinking praises, which is a type of prayer, was impossible. Our minds wander. It takes little journeys all of the time to a vacation I need, something my children or wife did and of course to worries and fears. Although most of the time when your thoughts turn to worries and fears, you immediately start praying and often times it is out loud.

But you can pray unceasingly through the Holy Spirit. Again trust me, it works through the Holy Spirit. It has gotten to a point in my life that I can sometimes hear in a corner of my consciousness praise and prayer to our Lord through the Holy Spirit. And definitely when I am in my alone time and I’m being still, I can really hear the Holy Spirit both praying for me and talking to me.

In closing, remember Philippians 4:13 “ I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

If you have not asked the Holy Spirit into your life, I implore you to. Your life and relationship with the Lord will change dramatically. You will see his deeds, and he will make himself known to you. And if you want more of an incentive, dwell on Romans 8- 14-17.

“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ”

Praise you Lord your mercy endures forever.

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Guilt. Let that word just dwell in your mind for a moment. Try not to think of anything else but the word guilt. What happens? For most of us, thoughts of things we did wrong start coming to mind. We begin to think of the past mistakes, which then can bring on regret. So now you have the double punch. Guilt and regret.

In my opinion, guilt is the most powerful tool the devil and, we ourselves; use to keep us from total fellowship with the Lord. It keeps you thinking you are unworthy. Guilt keeps us in bondage. It keeps us down. And we use it to tell ourselves we are not worthy of the free gift of salvation.

Have you even seen someone be given an award and they say, no please I do not deserve this, I really did not do anything to deserve it. In a way, we do the same thing with God’s love and gift of salvation to us. We also apply this towards blessings from God as well.

But we say it a bit different though. We don’t say we didn’t do anything to deserve it. We normally bring up all we did wrong and say something like, Lord I do not deserve this after all the things I did wrong.

Well let’s settle that point right away. No you do not deserve it. And you did not earn it. And no you are not worthy to have it. It was and is a gift from God. Our Lord Jesus earned your salvation by dying on the cross for your sins. Jesus Christ’s act of love made you worthy to receive salvation.

There are many scriptures to back this up but here are two that address it very well.

Ephesians 2: 8-9 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast.

Romans 3:22-25 – “And this righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

So what does it mean when we allow guilt into our lives. Or better put when we continually keep guilt in our lives and continually remind ourselves of the sins that we have done.   Simple put, it means we are calling our Lord, a liar. I know that is harsh but it is true yet is it not something I am just saying, God’s Word says in 1 John 1: 9-10.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.” Yes that scripture is referring to the case that if we are claiming we have not sinned we are calling our Lord a lying.

But can you see how that if we claim that, the first part of 1 John 1:9-10 is also not true, that we would also be calling him a liar.

The first part says “if we are faithful to confess our sins, God is faithful to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.   Living in guilt is the same as saying we are not forgiven AND that we are not cleansed from that unrighteous act which is causing the guilt.

So I ask you again. If we are saved and believe that our Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins and the Bible say “if we confess our sins God is faithful to forgive them AND will cleanse us from all unrighteousness”, then…

Why do we let guilt keep us in bondage? Why do we let it affect our lives?

Let me take this one step further. Here is the ultimate biblical proof that we can and need to stop felling guilt, Hebrews 8:12 says “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

Did you get that? God will no longer remember your sins. So let me ask you, as I have asked myself many times, why do we remember our sins if God doesn’t? Why do we regret our actions, mentally beat ourselves up and hold ourselves down because of guilt that God doesn’t even remember but what we can’t seem to forget.

Yes it is that simple. He remembers our sins no more. You need to trust and have faith in God’s promises. You simply need to believe and have faith.

Every time, guilt rears its ugly head and keeps reminding you of what you did wrong and that you are not worthy. Just remember God’s truth. In fact some times, you literal need to speak it out. You need to say, through Jesus, God has forgiven my wickedness and he remembers my sins no more.

My oh my, what a liberating moment that will become when guilt no longer has power over you.

Dear Lord Jesus, I thank you for what you have done for me and everyone who believes you died for our sins and because of that we are saved. Please Lord have your Holy Spirit help all of us to remember, that when guilt tries to convince us that we are not worthy and tries to keeps us in bondage, you remember our sins no more. Amen

Praise God!

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