Learn this prayer, “Look on my affliction and my pain, And forgive all my sins.” Psalm 25:18 Not all of the pain and suffering one encounters in life is because of sin that has been committed. However, much suffering today can be traced back to some indiscretion or sin against God. King David finally confessed his sin, but only after he was confronted by Nathan the prophet sent by God. Sin is the problem of the world today. If we could rid the world of sin, the colors would be brighter, the air would be purer, and life would be incredible for all of humanity. But until that moment of purging and purification comes, God in His wisdom sent Jesus to forgive sins one person at a time. You need to learn this prayer because these are the words expressed from the heart of someone who desires to have a relationship with Holy God: “Lord, forgive all my sins!” Only those who are willing to admit their sins would ever pray such a prayer. And only those who would sincerely examine their hearts and lives and allow the work of the Holy Spirit to guide them would ever admit they have sinned against God. This is not only the prayer to pray for a relationship with God, but this is the prayer to pray to stay in fellowship with God. 1 John 1:8 says “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
I am in a covenant relationship with my wife for 28 years now, but from time to time our fellowship gets broken, something happens and it’s usually me asking her for forgiveness. For all those years she has never failed to extend the forgiveness and our relationship has been sustained. She forgives and I forgive based on our mutual love for each other. But God forgives when we ask based on His love for His Son Jesus. The Father knows the price Jesus paid on the cross to keep giving forgiveness when we ask. As long as you live, sweet fellowship with God will only continue so long as we keep praying, “Lord, forgive all my sins.” If you know what sin it is, confess it to the Lord and then get back to enjoying the fellowship He wants with you.
Keep this in mind! The enemy’s goal today is to crush your spirit. Recently I’ve been watching this couple who’s life God has really been working in. Last night we got a phone call from them telling us their dog had been ran over and killed. They loved their dog like we all love our animals and they were heartbroken over their loss. Was this really the unfortunate fate of an unlucky dog with bad timing, or just an accident or the work of the enemy? It’s hard to know what is behind every heartbreaking moment in our lives, but keep this in mind, the enemy doesn’t care how he crushes your spirit so long as he accomplishes his goal. And we all go through these moments in life, but especially in times when spiritual progress is taking place. Maybe you’re reading this and your heart has been broken. Keep this in mind what David said in the 23rd Psalm. “He restores my soul: he leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” Our God is a restorer of crushed and broken hearts—Praise God! What needs to happen when you’re crushed under the weight of any kind of loss, rejection or betrayal is go to God in prayer and ask Him to restore you just like the word says.
Life is unfair and accidents do happen, but our enemy is ruthless, but God! Think about it, if God were not a restorer of crushed and broken hearts, we all would stay hidden in our homes living in despair. But God is a restorer of hearts!Let Him counsel you today back to the strong and powerful person He created you to be.
1 Samuel 30:6 “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.” After returning from a battle, David and his solder found their homes burned to the ground and the wives and children taken captive. Those solders were following their leader, but exhausted and now completely grieved by their loss to the point of stoning David to death and David was aware.
David had a choice, just as we do today when it seems everyone has turned on us and you have no strength to take another step. David chose to strengthen/encourage himself in the Lord. And maybe that’s what you need to do in this moment. Don’t wallow in defeat and don’t wait for those around you to come and lift you up and strength you. Many times remaining weak is a choice, and being strengthened is up to you. You may be down today with everyone against you, but if God is for you, you can renew your strength. You can play the leading role in your own encouragement. How? Where do you begin in strengthening and encouraging yourself in the Lord? Start by praying to God and confessing the truth about how you feel at this moment. After that, talk to God about what you know God would have you live and engage with those around you. You can strengthen yourself in the Lord by speaking the truth over your life out loud. Listen for a moment to uplifting praise music. Ask God to give you a word to repeat through you day, or a phrase like, “God is for me!” Believe deep in your heart that God alone is the strength of you life. Do not live long in the defeat of a moment, but rally yourself in the name of Jesus, because the enemy has not won. Strengthen yourself for the sake of those held captive. After David strengthen himself in the Lord, he lead 600 men to go on a rescue mission to take back their wives and children. Two hundred of those men didn’t have enough strength in themselves to go all the way, but David with 400 men took back what was stolen. Today you can count your losses and lay down or you can strengthen yourself and go on a rescue mission for what has been stolen from you. No one can decide this for you. Only God can renew your strength.
Judges 16:7 (NKJV) “And Samson said to her, “If they bind me with seven fresh bowstrings, not yet dried, then I shall become weak, and be like any [other] man.”
In case you didn’t know, if you’re a man, this is the enemy’s goal. His goal is to make a man of God like any other man, however he can do it, whoever he can use to do it, and whatever it costs him to do it. Samson was an unstoppable force until he met his match in Delilah. The enemy knows who to use against you. The enemy knew women were Samson’s weakness. The desires of his flesh controlled him and the determination of the enemy is what got him. And unless your devotion and dedication to God is greater than the determination of the enemy, you will join the ranks of those defeated and become like any other man. Delilah wouldn’t stop until she learned the secret of Samson’s strength. If the enemy has not brought you down and made you level with everyone else, he has not given up. So you must guard your heart and mind from sexual immorality, pornography and perversion. You must keep pursuing God because you are being pursued like David and even Solomon. For 20 years Samson put up a good fight and God’s people lived free from the enemy’s oppression, but the day his hair was cut and separated from his head, so was his mighty strength, so was the thing that distinguished him from other men. The enemy’s plan is to make you talk like, walk like, act like, and look like any other man (or woman) morally and spiritually. He could care less how physically or intellectually strong you are.
Think about this, the first thing the enemy did to Samson was put his eyes out. The enemy doesn’t want you to see where you are or recognize you are like all other men. Many times we are blind to ourselves. The enemy always celebrates too quickly because the Bible tells us that as blind and weak Samson was grinding in the Philistine’s prison, v. 22, “his hair began to grow.” If what happened to Samson has happened to you, there is some good news, your strength can be renewed. In the Philistines early celebration God gave Samson enough strength to kill more of his enemies in his death than in his life. Don’t forget this, unless your devotion and dedication to God is greater than the determination of the enemy you will become like any other man. You will become like any other Christian. To guard yourself get some spiritually healthy people around you, Samson didn’t do that. That still will not be enough though, you must have a man inside of you Jesus Christ. He will make you the unstoppable force you were made to be.
What do you have in your house? This was the question the prophet Elisha asked a widow woman who was grieving because she had just lost her husband and was living under the threat of losing her two sons to a creditor she owed. Her response was “nothing except a jar of oil.” Her house was literally empty as the creditor had most likely taken everything she owned to satisfy her debt, and the only thing left of any value were her two sons. She was filled with grief over her loss, filled with fear about losing her sons, and completely empty and drained of life as a result—and the creditor didn’t care. We live in a world that’s the same way, and the events, demands, losses, attacks will leave you the same way. If that describes you right now, you need to study the widow woman in 2 Kings 4, because her life turned around. Her life turned around because she knew where to go for directions. Because her husband feared the Lord, she knew that in a time of need she needed to go to a man of God, Elisha. There are men and women of God who can point you in the right direction and should ask you, “What do you have in your house?” The widow already had what she needed, she just didn’t know what to do with it. Elisha gave her specific instructions, “Go and borrow a lot of empty vessels from your neighbors, and get a bunch,” (my paraphrase). Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you and pour out into the empty vessels. Sounds strange, but here’s the point—when you have a crisis-level need and ask God for provisions, always be ready to follow His instructions no matter what.
The widow had what she needed already, she just needed to pour it out. As she poured out in faith and obedience, God poured in. She started out with nothing, but ended up with all she needed and was a witness to all her neighbors, the creditor, her sons, and to us. God is ready today to pour into your life, but you have to answer the question, what’s in your house? If you have by faith accepted Christ’s death on your behalf, the Spirit of God lives within you and you are the dwelling place of His Spirit—He lives in your house! In Him, you have all that you need. Follow God’s instructions in faith and obedience and let your life be full again.
When I Pray
Praying to God has always been a part of my life. I know how to pray, but I’m still learning to hear God’s voice and to pray those things He places on my mind, and I’m still learning how to be still in His presence. One of the privileges we have in praying is making intercession for others. Recently I have been especially blessed by visualizing myself standing before the throne of God in my prayer time, and I sincerely believe I am there. This is the faith of every believer whether they visualize this or not. I’m not trying to visualize God, but rather, as I stand there and talk to God, I begin to call out the names of those I’m praying for and then visualize individuals joining me as I speak their name to the Father. Usually I’m standing there before God and I start calling out the names of my family. And I will say something like, “Father, I have Kristen (my wife) with me, and I know you know her needs, so I ask you to bless her (and I will name in details of what I know to pray for her). And I will do every member of my family that way, but the point is I’m standing before God with them beside me. After that, I go through my prayer list of other names, calling each one out and then again seeing them with me. I call out the names of those in my church, and by the time I finish my time in prayer, I’m standing in the throne room of God with a lot of people!
Praying this way takes time and faith and it can renew your love for praying for others. God’s Word says, “But without faith [it is] impossible to please [Him,] for he who comes to God (in prayer) must believe that He is, and [that] He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.“ —Hebrews 11:6
Why not try this the next time you go to the Lord in prayer and see how many people you can bring into the throne room of God with you. “…praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” —Ephesians 6:18
When you go to God in prayer, don’t go by yourself. Bring as many people as you can into the throne room of God. That’s what it’s there for and that’s why the door is always left open.
It appears that our youngest son has fallen in love. He met a young lady a few months back and we have met her, had dinner with her a few times and have spent a weekend together. Now this may not be a big deal to many parents, but we know our son had really never been in a serious relationship up to this point. And our son has a very quiet and gentle personality, so he is not the most talkative person in the world. We also know and have jokingly advised him that in order to have a relationship with someone, it’s beneficial to be able to talk and communicate. It’s amazing, however, the transformation that takes place when you find that person that seems to fit you and you fall for them. Our son hasn’t told us that he has fallen for this young lady, but he doesn’t have to. You see, our son has never really been the affectionate type, but nowadays when he comes home, he loves on his mother more. He hugs me and seems to be the happiest he has ever been. My wife has talked about the noticeable change in his life. To us, he has fallen in love with someone, and his love and affections are being poured out on to us as well.
Let me ask you, have you ever fallen in love with someone? Shouldn’t what has happened in our son’s life happen in the life of every Believer who loves Jesus Christ? Our love for Jesus ought to be noticeable in how we love on the people who are around us. His love for her has been expressed in love for us. I think this is Biblical. If you love God, your affection for Him should be noticeably expressed on those around you. But is that happening in your life? Do you love Christ so much that those around you are reaping the benefits? If not, then why not fall in love with Christ again?
Samson was not the smartest guy in the Bible, but he was definitely the strongest. I’ve always visualized Samson as the Arnold Schwarzenegger type with bulging biceps and a rippled body. After reading his story several times, it dawned on me, it wasn’t obvious where his strength came from so maybe he looked like me. He could have looked like all the other men around him, but his strength made him radically different. The Philistines were so set on capturing Samson that they used a woman as their bait. Women were Samson’s kryptonite. Delilah was the one sent to find out where Samson’s strength came from. If it had been obvious, then it would have been strange to keep asking the question, “Tell me where your strength lies, and with what you may be bound to afflict you.” Judges 16:6 Several times Samson told her different things that would zap him of his strength, and each time he followed up by saying, “then I shall be weak, and be like any other man.” You need to know this is the enemy’s goal in your life—to make you like any other man or woman.
Finally Samson told the secret of his strength and that was then end of his great standing among God’s people. His hair was cut and he was easily carried away to the Philistine’s prison where he became a grinder at the wheel with his eyes plucked out. A movie came out in 2018 about Samson starring Taylor James because this story was so captivating.
You do not live in the movies, but God has given every child of God amazing strength. It’s not physical, but it’s spiritual and mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds. Your strength is what the unseen enemy is after, and he will use any tactic to make you like every other man or woman. The enemy’s success rate is high because he knows our weaknesses and he is relentless in his mission. And if you have succumbed to his tactics and all your strength is gone, there is good news for you and it’s found in one verse in the Samson story. While blind and grinding in circles in a dark prison it says, “However, the hair of his head began to grow again...”Judges 16:22 Samson’s strength was growing back about the pace of the hair growing on his head, and you can believe your strength will come back as well. It may not come back as fast as you want it to, but in time you can be back to full strength in the Lord. Make no mistake and be encouraged today that if you’ve lost all strength and you’ve become like every other man or woman, seek the Lord to renew your strength. God wants you to be strong in Him.