Monthly Archives: April 2017

Answered Prayer

Matthew 7:7, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”

The other day I sat in the stands at a ballgame and found myself simply listening to the noises around me. Voices cheering; voices protesting; voices communicating; voices announcing; voices selling and buying; they ran together and blended to the point that I could not distinguish one voice from another. As I looked around, I realized the people filling the stadium seats were minuscule compared to the number of people in the world. I imagined the prayers of people floating up to our Heavenly Father; pleas for mercy; requests for forgiveness; cries for help; praise and thankfulness; and somehow, He hears them all.

I’m often asked if I believe God answers prayer. I know He does – not always in the way we wish He would answer and not always in the time frame we’ve chosen. Sometimes He says, “No” to our requests. We may understand later why He answered No or we may never understand. Sometimes He answers, “Yes!” It may take a while or it may be a quick answer. At other times, He has us “wait.” In waiting, He delivers an answer that usually makes more sense to us.

Garth Brooks wrote a song called “Unanswered Prayers.” He says, “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayer. Remember when you are talking with the Man upstairs. Just because He doesn’t answer, doesn’t mean He don’t care. Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”

I’ve also experienced times when waiting was the answer. It seemed difficult to understand until when the answer was delivered, I realized if it had happened when I wanted it to happen, the outcome would not have been the same.

And then there are the wonderful times when we ask, and God answers just as we asked or maybe even better than we expected. Sometimes, He can answer our prayers beyond our wildest imaginations.

We serve a God who can hear all those voices as if He is listening one-on-one at the altar. We serve a God who can give one man a word to deliver to 1000 people and every one of those people hear a personal message, spoken directly to them. We serve a God who wants good for our lives.  I don’t know how He does it, but then again, if I knew, He wouldn’t be God, now would He?

Today, as you spend time in prayer with God, thank Him that He hears your requests. Rejoice in His power and might. Know that He hears your heart and knows what is best for you.


His Favor

It is time that you enjoy God’s best for your life. He wants to give you His favor. He wants to extend kindness to us even though none of us deserve it; but He wants to bless our lives and show us favor because we are His children.

Genesis 39:3-4, “And his master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight…”

Job 10:12, “You have granted me life and favor, and Your care has preserved my spirit.”

Psalm 5:12, “For You, O Lord, will bless the righteous; with favor You will surround him as with a shield.”

Psalm 23, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

Numbers 6:25-26, “The Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace. “

We have to find a way to believe what God’s Words say about us more than we believe what the world says about us. When the negative comments come our way; when failed businesses define us; when our grades don’t display our efforts; when people misunderstand us or exclude us; when our thoughts tell us we are worthless, God’s Word must hold true in our hearts. Self-doubt causes us to put stock in those around us and not God. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful,    I know that full well.” – Psalm 139:14. You are no accident but designed and created uniquely. You are an incredible creation of God!

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11

Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” – Jeremiah 33:3

Today, realize who you are in Christ. Tell yourself that you walk in God’s favor; that you are the child of the King of kings; and you are loved more than you can imagine.


The Better Plan?

Jeremiah 12:5, “If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan?”

Most of us want God to use us in some capacity. We want to feel valuable to society. The majority of the people I know are striving to do ‘something’ with their lives that makes an impact.

I remember in the fourth grade I didn’t do my homework. I was just coming out of a long fun summer and the routine of school and homework hadn’t quite settled in with me. My teacher walked around the room with a red pen. We were to put our math assignment on our desks and she would put a big red check on the papers that were complete. I had nothing to put on my desk. The night before, I made the decision that math homework was a waste of my time. I needed something harder.

When she came to my desk, and there was no paper, she stopped, “Michael Franklin, where is your homework assignment?”

In the most convincing argument I could muster, I answered, “It was all review. I want to work on something harder.”

She did not respond and continued on to the next row. I wasn’t sure whether to be relieved or worried. After class, she instructed me to stay after school.

Sometimes God has simple task for us to do, on a regular basis, for Him. We may long for something more important; but, He wants us to do this or that faithfully and with a cheerful heart. Many of us refuse to do it. We think our time can be better utilized. We think we have a better plan.

Really?

After school, I found myself sitting in a desk waiting on my teacher. On the board was line after line of a math problem. I’d never seen such work. It was a problem in Linear Algebra, one I could easily do while studying mathematics in college, but in fourth grade, it looked like a foreign language. My teacher came into the room and asked, “Have you solved the problem?”

“No, Ma’am! I don’t even know what those symbols are!”

She pulled out her Bible and read the above scripture to me. Jeremiah 12:5. And I understood.

God is always preparing us for something just up ahead; but we can’t get there if we aren’t willing to do the steps needed to be victorious. See, God is a winner and through Him, so are we.

If you want to run with horses, then start running with men. If you want to go into other territories, then start living right in your own.


Are you objecting to your miracle?

There is a story in 2 Kings 4 about a woman who is considered in the Bible as a “great” woman or a “well-to-do” woman. She opened her home up to Elisha anytime he comes to town. This woman actually prepared a room for him in her home and cooked meals for him. One day Elisha called her to him because he realized how much she had done for him, and he wanted to do something for her. He wanted to bless her life in some way. The Bible tells us that Elisha was resting on his bed in her home thinking about ways to help her and in verse 13 he asks, “You have gone to all this trouble for us. Now what can be done for you? Can we speak on your behalf to the king or the commander of the army?” Her answer to him is very straight forward. She tells him she is fine, and she doesn’t ask him for anything.

But Elisha doesn’t let the issue drop. He wants something more for her, and he inquires with a servant to see if there is a need or desire. The servant tells him that the woman has wanted a child for a long time but has not been able to have one. Elisha instructs the servant to call her to him again, and as she stands in the doorway of his room he tells her, “’About this time next year,’ Elisha said, ‘you will hold a son in your arms.’

‘No, my lord!’ she objected. ‘Please, man of God, don’t mislead your servant!’”

Interestingly, she knows Elisha is a man of God, and a great prophet. She heard of the miracles he has performed. It is obvious because she has gone out of her way to provide and give to him a place to stay and food. Not that she wanted anything from him in return, but because she respected who he was. Here he is offering to give to her what she desires but she objects. It is easy to read between the lines of her objection. She has probably longed for a child for so long; prayed for a child; thought and dreamed of having a child; and maybe after all this time, she just can’t take the disappointment – not again. Instead of believing what Elisha said, she puts up her guard and refuses to accept it. She objects to God’s blessing because she doesn’t want to believe in the possibility.

I wonder how many of you can relate to her pain. I know I can. How many of you have hoped and prayed and longed for your break-through miracle and it just hasn’t come. Maybe you are objecting too.

But do you know, even when we do not have the strength to believe in the possibility, God wants to bless us anyway? You and I may give up, but God doesn’t.  God knows our desires; He knows our dreams; He knows our hopes. Even though we don’t want to go there anymore; we don’t want to be disappointed; we don’t want to stick our heart out one more time; God says, “Do it anyways! Objection overruled!”

2 Kings 4:17, “But the woman became pregnant, and the next year about that same time she gave birth to a son, just as Elisha had told her.”

You may be waiting on an answer even now from God or you may have given up on ever having what you long to have. Maybe its a baby; or restoration of marriage; or a spouse; or an education; or healing. Whatever it is, don’t give up. Don’t quit. Don’t object to the blessing because you don’t want to believe in it. When we do for God, He will bless us in ways we could never imagine.

Your miracle is coming.


The Unexpected

The unexpected. There is no way to get around it. You’re running late for work – the car doesn’t start. You have family photos in the morning – your four-year-old cuts all her hair off. The phone call comes in the middle of the night – a loved one is sick. Your boss calls you in his office – you lose your job. You visit the doctor thinking your health is good – you learn about cancer. The unexpected, lurking, slithering across the floor, pouncing when you are not looking times.

Life is a journey of twist and turns and blind drive. Not too long ago, an unexpected happened in my life, and I found myself on a plane leaving the country. How do you handle when life throws a curve ball?

John 16:12, “When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you…”

The unexpected leaves us guessing where to take the next step; but He will guide you.For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” – Ephesians 6:12.

There are times when our ‘unexpected’ is a spiritual attack against us. We need to understand the rules of engagement. See, God does not want us to be troubled. We hold an incredible weapon – prayer and God’s word. It is not about what is happening to you that concerns God; it’s what’s happening in you and how you respond.

Three things to remember when the unexpected hits your life:

1. Thank God that He is with you. Praise Him that the solution is on its way or that He will give you grace to endure. Know God is not surprised by the unexpected; He’s many steps ahead; He will see you through it.

2. Use your authority. The blood of Jesus Christ gives you the privilege to petition God to deliver you. Exercise your faith. Push those doubts aside. Walk boldly, knowing you carry the sword of the Spirit – His Word.

3. Use your weapons. Isaiah 54:17, “No weapon forged against you will prevail.” You have insight and discernment through the power of the Holy Spirit – use it.

1 John 4:4 tells us that with Jesus, living in us, we are greater than any power at work in this world.  Don’t let your unexpecteds throw you off-balance. Fight the good fight of faith. Don’t give up and don’t give in.


A Different Form of Peace

When I was a little boy, one of my buddies used to tell us about “The Peacemaker” in his home. It was a long wooden paddle which hung by the back door. His dad had no problem pointing it out to any one of us that came by to play. If we didn’t want to keep peace in his home, he had the answer. Once, when my buddy and I disobeyed his mom, I experienced “The Peacemaker” first hand.

Colossians 3:15, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”

We are called to be peacemakers by Christ. We are called to get along and keep peace with one another; however, in this scripture, He is talking to us about the peace that rules our hearts. Sometimes peace isn’t about conflict with others. Sometimes peace is conflict with ourselves to do or not to do something; to say or not to say something; to move or not to move in a certain direction. It’d be almost easier if we could take a paddle and spank ourselves into a decision like my buddy’s mom did for him. The Peacemaker could make up your mind pretty quick!

God gives us a different form of peace. It is a settling within our spirit that tells us everything is going to be OK. It is a gentleness that overcomes us when we need the assurance we’re walking in the right direction. It comes from within and although it is difficult to understand, we know when we feel it, it is from God.

Take the decisions of your life to God. Wait for the peace to flow over you. Give God time to answer your questions. Give God time to give you peace.


Just Ask Him…

There are two scriptures I want to focus on today and they are very close to one another in scriptures. The reading comes from Matthew 3:17. Jesus has gone to John the Baptist and has asked him to baptize Him in the River Jordan. As soon as Jesus is baptized, the skies open up and the Spirit of God descends from heaven “like a dove” and lights on Jesus. Verse 17 says, “And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased.'”

In the very next chapter of Matthew, Jesus is led by the Spirit into the desert for the purpose of being tempted by the devil. It doesn’t say, “He went into the desert to fast and pray and potentially be tempted; possibly be visited by the devil; or to be on the look-out for Satan; no, the Spirit, which just landed upon Him from Heaven and declared, “This is my SON…,” led Jesus into the desert to be tempted by the devil. Verse 3, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Don’t you want to just stop right there and say, “What an idiot!” The Heaven’s just opened up and the Word of God declared, “This is my Son!” And the very first words of Satan to Jesus, “If you are the Son of God…” Talk about overlooking the obvious!

And yet, Satan uses the same lines day after day with you and me. How many of you are buying what he is saying?

Has God really given you power over me? Did God really say you would be healed? Does He really have your best interest in mind here? Are His plans really to prosper you? Will He really turn this situation for good? Do you really think He is in control of your life?

Blah, lah, lah, lah, lah…and yet we continue to fall for it.

It’s time for some of us to tell Satan to take a hike. Matthew 4:4 gives Jesus’ answer to Satan’s idiotic question, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'”

I want to take my fist and shake it in the air and declare, “Satan, if God says it, I believe it. Take your doubt, your temptation, your chaos, and …”

The reality is, if Satan can use such on Jesus, how much more is he going to use on us. God sent Jesus there for a reason, to allow us to see how utterly ridiculous Satan’s arguments can be. God had just opened up the skies and announced, “Jesus is my Son! I love Him!” Can you get any clearer than that; and yet, Satan has the audacity to still question it? It’s pretty obvious in this example; but, know it is pretty obvious in your case and my case too. God’s Word is alive and well and true. If He says it, don’t let anything tell you differently.

The next time you hear that whisper in your mind, “Did God really say He’d take care of you? Are you really His child?” Answer with a resounding “Yes!” and go about doing the business God has for you.

I pray for clarity and wisdom for you today as you deal with others and with yourself. Know God has all the answers for you, He just needs you to ask Him.