In the course of a twenty-four hour period we make gobs of decisions. Some of these we make with a serious amount of forethought and prayer. Others we make spontaneously with little or no thought as to the consequences or impact our decisions will have—not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives are intertwined with ours.

Have you ever thought much about how a single decision can change your life forever? For better or worse?

In these blog posts I’d like to look at the one good decision that some people in the Bible made that changed the course of their life for the better. By looking at ourselves in the mirror of God’s Word I hope we’ll all take comfort, courage, and hope in the fact that, despite the mess we’re presently faced with, we can still turn things around. A lousy past or dismal present doesn’t have to give us the same future. By God’s grace, our future and life can be changed for the better…if we only make the right decision today. May God help us do that on a daily basis!

By way of introduction, the daily news are replete with reports of people who, quite tragically, were at the wrong place at the wrong time. Some of these unfortunate people end up being horrifically hurt or scarred for life. Many end up dead.

I don’t ever want to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. No matter where I am, I want to be where I’m supposed to be. Where God wants me to be.  I want to be at the right place at the right time.

But am I? Are you? Self is so deceitful and we can brusquely dismiss the question with a positive Yes, I am where I’m supposed to be! But, really and truthfully, are we where we’re supposed to be? How can we tell if we are or aren’t? Just so you know, I don’t have all the answers. But the Lord was good enough to give me one telltale way to know if we’re where we’re supposed to be.


The time was rapidly drawing nigh when Jesus would be killed. Months prior to this, Jesus began preparing His disciples for the fate that awaited Him in Jerusalem. He would be killed. The chief priests would arrest Him, try Him, then condemn Him to death. He was gonna be crucified. As He approached Jerusalem, Jesus broke the sad and awful news: one of His very own disciples would betray Him and hand Him over to the chief priests. One of the twelve was gonna help Him get killed! It was, for sure, very sad and disturbing news.

But, good news! He was gonna come back to life on the third day. He wasn’t gonna stay dead forever. He’s was gonna come out of the grave and live again! Live forever! Hallelujah! That’s really great and fantastic news!

The problem is, even though Jesus is going to live again, He isn’t going to live on earth. He’s going back to Heaven where He came from (John 14:1-3, 16:5-7).

The thing I really like about Jesus is, He doesn’t just dump the bad news on us: He follows up with good news. WITH GOD, THERE’S ALWAYS GOOD NEWS WITH THE BAD. In the context of His departure, the good news is, when Jesus leaves this ole world He’s gonna send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to live and be with us (John 14:16, 16:7).

The Comforter is gonna do a lot of really neat things for us. He’s gonna help us, teach us, and remind us of everything Jesus taught us in His Word (John 14:26, 16:13).

The best part is coming. We’re here on earth to do a mission for God (Matthew 28:16-20). We’re supposed to be telling other people about Jesus and getting them to follow Him. We can do that on our own with very limited effects or results. But when the Spirit of God comes upon us and lives inside us, wow!, we’re gonna be filled with so much Spirit and heavenly power that we’ll take the Gospel worldwide and people in every corner of this ole world will become believers and followers of Christ (Acts 1:8). The truth is, we need the Spirit to help us make Christ known and make Christ-believers!

Jesus knew His disciples needed the Holy Spirit in order for them to be successful in their evangelistic mission. That’s why He told them in Acts 1:4, Don’t leave Jerusalem yet. Wait here for the Father to give you the Holy Spirit, just as I told you he has promised to do.

True to the Lord’s command, the disciples stayed put in Jerusalem. They waited. And prayed (Acts 1:13-14).

The day of Pentecost came, much like any other day. The sun came up, people woke up, and everyone began their daily routine. For the twelve apostles in particular, they continued doing what Jesus told them to do. They all met together in someone’s house and prayed. All twelve of them (Acts 2:1, 14).

Suddenly, at about 9 o’clock in the morning, the Father kept His promise. The Spirit came down from Heaven in such a mighty outpouring of power that Peter and the rest of the apostles went right to work, witnessing for Jesus. By the time Peter was done preaching, about three thousand Jews became believers and followers of Christ! Hallelujah! It just goes to show what great works we can do for Christ when we’ve got the Spirit working in and through us!

So what’s the point? All twelve apostles were baptized and filled with the Spirit because all twelve of them were obedient to the Lord and waited. They stayed together. They met together. They prayed together. They were where God wanted them to be. They were where they were supposed to be—all together. All waiting. All praying. Just like what Jesus wanted them to do.

Now here’s a probing question. I asked you earlier how we can tell if we’re where we’re supposed to be. We may not always see the answer for ourselves. But we can readily see it in others. Here’s the question. What if one of the apostles was a No-Show on that Pentecostal morning? What if he decided that it was more important for him to be somewhere else, doing something else? Would he have received the Pentecostal experience? Would he have been in the street that morning, with the rest of the apostles, witnessing for Jesus, and seeing thousands of his fellow Jews get saved? No, I don’t think so. The Scriptures explicitly state that the Spirit of God filled the entire house where the apostles were and they were all filled with the Spirit (Acts 2:1-4). Nothing is said about the Spirit filling and baptizing anyone outside the house.

The point is, Jesus gave His disciples a promise: the Spirit is coming! He told them what to do: wait for the Spirit to come upon you. They obeyed Him. And, as a result, God kept His Word and the Spirit came upon them just as Jesus said would happen. They were obedient to the Lord’s command. They put themselves in a position to receive the promised Holy Spirit. They were at the right place at the right time.

Like the promise of the Holy Spirit, God’s made us all sorts of promises. Gobs of them. We want them all. And, like the Pentecostal baptism, God’s going to keep His promises. Every last one of them.

But, in a manner of speaking, are we all together in the same place, in one accord, praying and waiting? Are we doing what God’s told us to do in the mean time? Are we at the right place at the right time? Are we where we’re supposed to be?

Sometimes, maybe a lot of times, it looks to us as if God’s a No-Show with some of the promises that we’ve prayed to Him about. It looks like God’s not going to keep His promise. But, instead of God being the problem, could it be we’ve not received the promise because we’re a No-Show? Because we’re not where we’re supposed to be at? Because we aren’t at the right place at the right time? Could it be we haven’t received what we’ve asked God for because we haven’t been doing what God’s told us to do?

Let me say it once again. God gave these apostles a promise. He told them what to do. They did it. And, as a consequence, they received the promised Holy Spirit. They received the Spirit because they were obedient. They were at the right place at the right time.

So where’s the right place at the right time? Where are you supposed to be? How do you get to where you’re supposed to be? Friends, you obey the Lord. You do what God’s told you to do.

In a manner of speaking, if you’re not with the rest of the disciples praying in the house, you’re not gonna receive the promise God made you. If you’re not doing what God’s told you to do, then you’re not where you’re supposed to be. You’re not at the right place at the right time. WHEN YOU’RE DISOBEDIENT TO GOD YOU’RE AT THE WRONG PLACE AT THE WRONG TIME.

You may think you know a better way. You have a different, howbeit, a better, idea of where you need to be and what you need to do.

Aghast! Are you for real? Have you lost your mind? When did you become smarter than God? What could possibly be better than obeying the Lord? What on earth could be more important than doing what God’s told you to do?  What could possibly be more right than obeying God?

Despite whatever temptations the apostles had to do other things beside meet and pray, they kept Jesus’ command foremost in their thoughts, priorities, and actions. They obeyed Him. And waited. And prayed. All of them together in one place.

And, as a consequence, they all received the Spirit’s indwelling. They were never again the same. Pentecost changed them into mighty missionaries. They stayed loyal and obedient to Christ that not even the threat of death, or death itself, could turn them away from Him. THEY CHANGED THE WORLD BECAUSE PENTECOST CHANGED THEM. THEIR OBEDIENCE CHANGED THEM.

Let’s be clear about one thing. The disciples were just like you and me. They weren’t omniscient. They didn’t know that Pentecost would change them. They didn’t know that the promised Holy Spirit would come on Pentecost morning. Jesus didn’t tell them exactly when the Spirit would come. They just kept on obeying the Lord. The met together and prayed. Day after day. Until God kept His promise to them and gave them the Holy Spirit. Continuing to meet and pray together was their best decision ever and it changed them for the rest of their lives.

Friends, it’s Pentecost morning. The promise is a coming. I know you’ve got a thousand and one things to do today. There’s a bunch of really important stuff you need to get done today. You’ve gone to church a lot lately. You even went to the last prayer meeting. You’re tempted to skip your time with the Lord and the rest of the believers because something you think is more important has come up.

Brethren, don’t be a No-Show. Be where you’re supposed to be. Where God wants you to be. Where God Himself is gonna be. Be at the right place at the right time. How do you do that? JUST DO, AND KEEP DOING, WHAT GOD’S TOLD YOU TO DO. IT’S HOW YOU GET ANSWERS TO PRAYER. GOD SHOWS UP WITH THE PROMISE WHEN YOU’RE WHERE YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE, DOING WHAT YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE DOING.  So be there! Like the twelve, newly Spirit-baptized apostles, it’ll be your best decision ever! God bless you. And thanks for dropping by.


To get answers to prayer  (1) there are things God wants us to do BEFORE we pray; (2) there are things God wants us to do WHEN we pray; and (3) there are things God wants us to do AFTER we pray.

 We’re looking at the things God wants us to do BEFORE we pray. We said IF YOU WANT GOD TO ANSWER YOUR PRAYERS YOU’VE GOT TO BE RIGHT. There are five aspects of being right. (1) Being right with God. (2) Being right with people. (3) being right yourself. And now, (4) asking for the right things.


A CARDINAL RULE OF ANSWERED PRAYER IS YOU’VE GOT TO PRAY IN ACCORDANCE WITH GOD’S WILL. 1 John 5:14-15 tells us, And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: {15} And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

IF YOU WANT ANSWERS TO PRAYER YOU MUST KNOW WHAT GOD’S WILL IS BEFORE YOU PRAY. Then once you know what God’s will is, you pray in accordance or agreement  with  His  will. 

Brethren, YOU JUST CAN’T RUSH INTO PRAYER WITHOUT FIRST TAKING THE TIME TO ASK GOD WHAT HIS WILL IS! This is where a lot of us miss it and it’s the reason why a lot of us, a lot of times, don’t get answers to prayer–it’s because we asked God for what we wanted without taking the time to find out if it’s what He wanted. ANSWERED PRAYER IS FIRST AND FOREMOST WHAT GOD WANTS. If God doesn’t want us to have whatever it is we’re asking for, then He isn’t going to answer our prayer no matter how hard or how long we pray.

So how do you find out what God’s will is? You read the Bible and pray. And wait. That’s where a lot of us miss it. We don’t wait and listen. God wants to show you His will and, if you’re listening, God will speak to you by His Spirit. Sometimes He uses other people to tell you what He wants you to do. No matter how God chooses to speak to you, He will let you know His will if you really want to know it. And do it.

The good news is the promises of God are a revelation of what God’s will is. When you read the promise of salvation, forgiveness, healing, deliverance, provision, wisdom, and all the others; God is letting you know what His will is. When you ask for these provisions of God you’re praying in accordance with His will. Thus, you can be confident that God will hear and answer your prayer.

IF YOU WANT ANSWERS TO PRAYER YOU MUST ASK FOR SOMETHING THAT GOD HAS PROMISED. YOU CAN’T ASK GOD FOR SOMETHING THAT ISN’T HIS WILL. THUS, YOU CAN’T ASK HIM FOR SOMETHING THAT HE HASN’T PROMISED. So a crucial part of getting answers to prayer is knowing in advance what you can ask God for and what you can’t.

Some things, like healing and forgiveness, are understood by every people in every generation of time. It doesn’t matter if you live in the first century or the twenty-first: you know what sickness is and you have need of healing.

But because there are so many different cultures in this world and because each new generation brings new inventions; God couldn’t be specific about everything that He was wanting to give His people. For example, He couldn’t write a  verse  of  Scripture that promised you a new car because those poor saints in the first through the nineteenth centuries just wouldn’t know what a car is. So to clear up any confusions, God decided to lump all these specific provisions in one general word, the word ALL.

Jesus promised us in Matthew 21:22, ALL things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive. The furniture, computer, house, job, vacation, and all the other things you’d like to have are covered in Jesus’ all-inclusive promise.

All things, brethren, applies not only to the things you need: it also applies to the things you desire. Mark 11:24 makes this fact resoundingly clear: Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. Brethren, Jesus couldn’t make it any clearer than this. And His saying it trumps whatever anyone else says to the contrary. According to Jesus,  IT’S GOD’S WILL TO GIVE YOU THE DESIRES OF YOUR HEART! Hallelujah for that! But don’t stop here. Read on cuz there’s more.

Your heart has to be right! I’ll talk about this in my next post. But if you’re righteous and walking close to God, God can trust you with the desires of your heart. THE RIGHTEOUS DESIRE RIGHT OR RIGHTEOUS THINGS. That’s why God isn’t afraid to give them what they desire. Psalms 37:4  makes this truth abundantly clear: Delight thyself  also in the Lord; [find your pleasure or happiness in God; let God be the desire of your life]  and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

Coming Up On My Next Blog In This Series. Having wrong motives or reasons won’t get your prayer answered. Surf on in and let’s get things right.



We all like to be sure about things. We want to know for a fact. We want to be confident. And not just confident, but absolutely confident. Beyond all shadow of a doubt. We hate uncertainty. We don’t like not being sure about things. We do everything in our power to make sure of whatever it is we’re unsure about.

Of course, once some of us get the facts and know the truth, we don’t like the reality that we’re faced with. So we go about deceiving and fooling ourselves into rejecting the truth. We make for ourselves a different truth. A different reality. And we engage in the lifelong, arduous process of convincing ourselves, and others, that we’re right. So we’re back to where we started. We all like to be sure about things. And when we’re not sure we do everything in our power to make sure.

For a lot of us, we take our salvation for granted. We just know, we assume, we’re sure, we’re saved. Period. End of discussion. The question—no, strike that, the matter—isn’t up for argumentation or debate. We’re saved and that settles that.

For others among us, the matter of salvation is a longstanding, if not a life-long, question–a torment, really– about whether or not we’re really, truly saved. How can we know for a fact? How can we be so sure? Our human frailties and sins, coupled with the devil’s constant torments and accusations, have many of God’s dear people tied up in a knot, worrying about whether they’re really saved or not.

I have a 7-part post about how you can know you’re saved. I also blogged about how you can know where you’re going when you die. And how you can know if you really, truly belong to Christ. If you find yourself tormented about your salvation status, please click on the link, study the Scriptures, search your soul, and be very very sure about where you stand with the Lord right now. Your soul is too precious, and eternity is too long, to miss out on Heaven.

In addition to these posts, here’s another way of looking at our salvation from a different perspective—from the perspective of being a part of God’s family.


In Matthew 12:46ff Jesus was teaching and was surrounded by gobs of folks. There were so many that Jesus’ mother and brothers couldn’t get to Him. So they sent a message to Him, asking if He would meet with them. You would think that Jesus would rush out of there and see what was up with the fam. Instead, He stretches His hand towards His disciples and says, Look, here are my mother and my brothers (Matthew 12:49).

Then He goes on to say in verse 50 how we can know, how we can tell, if we’re a part of God’s family: Whoever does the will of My Father who’s in Heaven, is my brother and sister and mother. In other words, short and simple, FAMILY IS WHOEVER DOES GOD’S WILL. If you’re doing God’s will, you’re in. If you’re not, and you don’t ever get around to doing God’s will, then you’re out. IT’S WHAT YOU’RE DOING—WHOSE WILL YOU’RE DOING, YOURS OR GOD’S—THAT DETERMINES WHETHER YOU’RE IN GOD’S FAMILY OR NOT.

I’ll elaborate on this in just a moment. The thing that I find so striking here is that Jesus doesn’t say that His family is everyone who believes in Him. Everyone who gets saved. Everyone who has a conversion experience. Everyone who professes to be a Christian. These are all important and they are the starting point: it’s your entry point to God’s family. You’re at the entrance and you made it into the building called God’s family.

Now what do you do once you’re in the building? Do you stay in? Or do you go back out?

Of course, in this world we’re constantly going into and out of buildings. We don’t spend our entire lives cooped up in one building. We go in and out.

In the building that we call God’s family, getting saved is you getting past the entry doors. You’ve gone through the doors and you’ve entered the building of God’s family. You’re in the family.

Now do you stay in the building or do you go back out into the world and the life that’s outside the building? You see, just because you made it into the building doesn’t mean you’re staying in the building. Many Christians leave the building to go back to the sin that they love; to go back to the world that they still love; to go back to the heathen friends and lifestyles that they just can’t seem to get enough of. Like the one lost sheep who’s left the flock (Luke 15), many Christians are outside the building, sinning, yet they consider themselves inside the building.

Jesus wants you to stay in the building. Getting into the building is great. Jesus isn’t knocking or discouraging that. He’s happy you made it into the building. But Jesus is telling us all that it’s just the start. For the rest of your life He wants you to stay in the building. How do you do that? How do you stay in the building? You do God’s will.

That’s a tough one. We all want our way and will. You can correct me if I’m wrong, but it just seems like that’s how a lot of us live: we live doing what we want. That’s no criticism or put down, believe me, because I’m every bit human like you and, golly, you don’t know how bad I want to have my way! I’m still human and I make mistakes, get in the flesh, and rush out to do my thing without taking the time to ask God for His take because I already have a good hunch what His take is. Not today, God. Not now. This is what I want to do and I’m gonna do it no matter what You say. In the flesh we’re going to make mistakes. We’re going to sin. We’re going to want to have things our own way.

But I’ve got enough sense as a mature Christian and a pastor to know that I’ve got to set my will aside, seek God’s face, learn His will, and do that. Believe me, I do that. I try to do that. To be entirely honest with you, I value one thing more than my will and that’s God’s will. I’m old enough, I’ve gone through the cycle of Christian experience long enough, to know that God’s blessings are found in doing His will. That’s where the happiness and contentment that we cherish and look for are found.

I have a few regrets from past sins and failures that weigh terribly heavy on me. They are a scar  that, upon remembrance, bring a fresh torrent of pain and hurt. I hate this. But seeing that I can’t undo the past, and I can’t entirely, completely forget it either, then such is life for me. I just find a way to set the pain aside and press on. I look for solace and happiness because  they’re all around me just waiting to be discovered, seen, and enjoyed. But without exception, and I mean without exception, all of life’s regrets and pain have come when I was in the flesh. When I did things my way.


So do you want to know if you’re a part of God’s family? Jesus is telling you right here in Matthew 12:50 how you can know for sure. If you’re doing God’s will, you’re in the family.


You stay in God’s family by doing His will. A good place to start is to obey the Bible. The Bible is God’s will. So doing that the Bible says is one way we stay in the family.

Of course, God has a lot of specifics for each and everyone of us. What He wants me to do in any one situation in life may not necessarily be what He wants you to do in the same situation. So what applies to me may not necessarily apply to you.

This is where the Holy Spirit comes in. God speaks to us directly and personally through His Holy Spirit. He gives us the specifics and lets us know what He wants us to be doing right now and for the rest of our lives.

YOU CAN’T OBEY GOD UNLESS YOU KNOW WHAT HIS WILL IS.  I think all of us often assume we know God’s will. My will is His will. But unless we’ve prayed about it and heard from God, we don’t know what God’s will is. And, chances are, we’re not doing it. WE CAN’T DO SOMETHING UNLESS WE KNOW WHAT IT IS WE’RE SUPPOSED TO DO. So praying and learning God’s will is just one half of the equation. The other half is, once you know what God’s will is, are you going to do it? That’s hard—especially when you’ve got your mind set on doing what you want to do.

DYING IS SELDOM EASY OR PAINLESS. I know we’ve got all sorts of pain killers to numb the pain or make it unfelt. But when the vicodin or morphine wears off you’re back to feeling the pain. And boy does it hurt! That’s the way dying is. It’s hard and painful. And no one wants to go through it.

And that’s the way self-dying is. I’m talking about the cross and crucifying self, selfish interests, selfish desires, selfish will. It’s a hard thing to do that many people don’t want to do it. And when they do it, they do it screaming because it’s painful to give up your way to do it God’s way.

Yet, this is exactly what God would have all of us do. Luke 14:27, And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after Me, cannot be My disciple. IF YOU DON’T HAVE THE CROSS WITH YOU, IF YOU’RE NOT PUTTING IT TO USE, IF YOU’RE NOT ON IT, JESUS SAYS YOU CAN’T BE HIS DISCIPLE.

What’s the cross for? The cross kills everyone who’s on it. No one comes down from the cross alive. When you get hung on the cross you’re hung until you’re dead.

So where are you at right now? Are you on the cross or off?

I know we say that all Christians are going to Heaven when they die. Listen. I’m not the Gatekeeper of Heaven. If it was up to me, everybody in church and everybody who’s a Christian will go to Heaven. But this isn’t exactly what God said! Jesus said here in Matthew 12:50 that you’re family only if you do God’s will. Which is to say, if you’re not doing God’s will you’re not family.

Jesus reiterated this condition of doing God’s will in Matthew 7:21-23, Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.  (22)  Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?  (23)  And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Brethren, I don’t know how to make it any clearer to you than this. IF YOU’RE NOT DOING GOD’S WILL YOU’RE NOT GOING TO MAKE IT TO HEAVEN.

Let me hasten to say this doesn’t mean that if you mess up once or twice, or even a lot of times, you’re not going to Heaven. We all are human and imperfect. We’re going to make mistakes. We’re going to mess up. And just because we mess up doesn’t mean we’ve lost our salvation and we’re going to hell. No, God has given us the offer of forgiveness so that we can be forgiven and go to Heaven. Of course, we have to repent of our sins and turn away from them. But the point is, just because you sinned doesn’t automatically mean you’re not in God’s family.

Jesus here is talking about a pattern, a habit, a lifestyle, a way of living where you’re doing your will on a regular basis and not God’s will. Make that a life’s habit and you’re guaranteeing yourself a horrible surprise when you die.

So how can you know, how can you be absolutely sure, you’re in God’s family? If doing God’s will is a habit and lifestyle with you, then you’re in. It’s as simple as that.

If obeying God isn’t a habit and lifestyle with you, and you want to go to Heaven, then guess what you need to be doing: you need to start obeying God. If you don’t want to obey God, but don’t want to go to hell either, then ask God to give you a new heart. Ask Him to change your heart and mind. Ask Him to give you an obedient heart, Ezekiel 36:26-27. As a Christian, I’ve had to pray this prayer a number of times and it’s always worked for me. It’s a prayer that God will answer, Philippians 2:13.

God wants you in His family. If you want in, He’ll bring you in and, with a lot of prayer, crucifixion, teaching, and chastening too!, you’ll have a heart to obey God. That might not seem possible to you right now. But take it from me who’s gone down the road before you, it’s possible to say Not my will, but Thine be done, and to mean it with all your heart. It’s such a refreshing and gratifying stage to be at in life and you, my dear friend, can join me! With God’s help, you can make it! For with Him all things are possible and not even your hard head or heart is impossible for Him to change. If He can’t change you He’s not God. Of course, if you’re not wanting to be changed, then it’s all on you. Either way, God will always be God. If you want changed, God will see to it that you are changed. You have His word and His guarantee on that and He will not fail.