Stay On The Path

I recently took my son on a father / son camping trip with other men from our church. On Saturday morning, several kids started walking down a path and my son wanted to go with them. We were a couple of hundred yards behind them, but caught up about 15 minutes later. We crossed streams, logs and hilly terrain. About 30 minutes into it, one of the boys said, “We should go back the way we came.” I pointed out that we could hear the voices of the others and told him that we were close to the camp.

About 30 minutes later, we still hadn’t reached the camp. We could still hear them, but we seemed to be circling them. I couldn’t find a clear path to get to the camp. After going down a steep hill and finding ourselves at yet another stream to cross, I said, “You’re right. Let’s go back the way we came.” As soon as we turned around, I heard some rustling in the bushes not far away. It was his father who had come to look for him. He took us through some bushes to the path we couldn’t seem to find and led us to camp.

I can tell you from personal experience that I feel the same way on the path God has for me. A lot of times, it feels like I’m going nowhere. It’s long, hilly and has me cross some streams. There are times that I feel like I should be on another path or that I should turn around. The advice I get from others tells me to turn around, yet I can hear the voice of God say, “Continue on this path. I’ll lead you to where I’m taking you.” I keep going even though I can’t see where I’m going.

If you’re there with me, I want to share a scripture with you out of Deuteronomy 5. Verse 33 says, “Stay on the path that The Lord your God has commanded you to follow. Then you will live long and prosperous lives in the land you are about to enter and occupy.” If God has put you on a path, don’t let your mind or others tell you to get off of it. I know you may not see the end of it or where it’s going. It may be through some tough terrain, but God has you on that path for a reason. You will get to where He’s leading you when He wants you to get there. You will gain the experience He needs you to have as you follow the path.

In the end, He’s leading you to your promised land. He’s leading you to a place where you will flourish. God has a plan for your life and for the path that He has placed you on. He didn’t promise it would be easy. He promised that He wouldn’t leave you. He didn’t say that there wouldn’t be times where you wanted to give up. He promised to send the Holy Spirit to comfort you. He didn’t say you’d always know what was next. He said that His Word would be a lamp to your feet and a light to your path. Stay on the path God put you on and trust Him to get you where He wants you.

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10 Scriptures About Rest

1. On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. (Genesis 2:2 NLT)

2. So leave us alone and let us rest! We are like hired hands, so let us finish our work in peace. (Job 14:6 NLT)

3. Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. (Psalms 91:1 NLT)

4. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. (Psalms 23:2 NLT)

5. Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] (Matthew 11:28 AMP)

6. So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. ” (Hebrews 4:7a NLT)

7. It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones. (Psalms 127:2 NLT)

8. For I have given rest to the weary and joy to the sorrowing.” (Jeremiah 31:25 NLT)

9. For they gave me respite from labor and rested me and refreshed my spirit as well as yours. Deeply appreciate and thoroughly know and fully recognize such men. (1 Corinthians 16:18 AMP)

10. For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. (Hebrews 4:10 NLT)

Enjoy your Labor Day. I hope you get a well deserved break and get to rest.

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The Chair

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It’s Free Friday! Today is the day you let go of the things in your life that keep you down or hold you back from all God has for you. To celebrate, I’m giving away a copy of “Faith: Back To The Basics” by Tracy M. Sumner. Keep reading to find out how to enter.

I had a friend who took a philosophy class in college. For her final, the professor put a wooden chair on a table and said, “Prove this chair exists.” She sat there wondering what to write. She could see the chair with her eyes, but that wasn’t good enough. She could hear it as it slide onto the table, but that wouldn’t prove it. She could touch it, but he wanted verifiable data. She got close enough to smell the pine wood that it was made from, but that still didn’t prove anything. If she had licked it, she could have tasted the varnish on it, but even that wouldn’t do it. She finally wrote on her paper, “What chair?”

My friend couldn’t prove that chair existed because she went about it the wrong way. I would have sat in it. If I had fallen, it wouldn’t have existed. If it had held me up, it would have been proof of its existence. There are people in this world who try to prove God exists by means of their five senses. You can’t do that. You have to trust in Him and act in faith, just like sitting in that chair before you can really know He exists. You have to put Him to the test.

Faith requires more than your five senses. It requires trust and belief. It requires that you act on it. When you start your car, you are acting in faith that all the moving parts under the hood will simultaneously work together to provide power to move you from point A to point B. Your faith gets exercised and strengthened each time you go to turn it on. Our faith in God is very similar. We can’t use our five senses to prove He exists, but we trust and believe it as much as we believe that car will start because He’s proven Himself to us in the past.

Hebrews 11:1 in the Amplified version says, “NOW FAITH is the assurance, the confirmation, the title deed of the things we hope for, being the proof of things we do not see and the conviction of their reality, faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses.” God is not revealed to our senses. He reveals His Spirit to our spirit. He calls out to the deepest part of us. We can choose to ignore it because it can’t be scientifically verified or we can choose to have faith in something we can’t see, but have experienced internally and know to be true.

If God was visible as a being, it wouldn’t require faith to believe He exists. But He isn’t, so it requires faith and that’s what God requires of us. Hebrews 11:6 says, “It is impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that He exists and that He cares enough to respond to those who seek Him.” One version says that he rewards those who seek Him. You can only prove God exists when you put your trust in Him. You will only believe when you let go of your five senses and put your trust in what you can not perceive through them. How do I know? One day I quit asking, “What chair,” and I sat down.

If you’d like to win “Faith: Back To The Basics” by Tracy M. Sumner, then leave a comment on this post of how you’ve found God to be real in your life. Tomorrow, August 30th, 2014, I will randomly choose a winner from one of the people who comments today. If you haven’t done so, be sure to sign up to receive these devotions by email and like my Facebook page here.

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The Signet Ring

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I’ve come across a few places in the Bible were a signet ring was used. One of the first places was in Genesis when the Pharaoh took off his signet ring and gave it to Joseph. He made him second in command, and gave him all the authority of Pharaoh through that ring. In Esther, the King gave Haman to give him authority to destroy the Jews. The King later took it back and gave it to Mordecai. In the New Testament, we see the father give the ring to the prodigal son when he returned. It was symbolic in saying, “This is still my son. He has my authority to do things in my name.”

In Haggai 2:23, God said to Zerubbabel that He would set him as a signet ring. He said, “I will set you as a signet ring, the sign of my sovereign presence and authority.” The King of Kings basically gave Zerubbabel all His authority. Instead of giving him a ring, He told him, “You are my ring. You are my authority. You are my presence on earth. You bear my mark and will leave my imprint on everything you touch.” It was very significant that God did this.

A signet ring was important. It had the seal of the king engraved on it. With it, he sealed or stamped letters to prove it was his word. It also represented authority. Anyone that the King would give that ring to had his authority. Whatever they said or did, it was as if the King himself had declared it. The ring had executive authority and power. It was not to be taken lightly by anyone who wore it. So I find it interesting that instead of giving Zerubbabel a ring, God said he would be as one.

Let’s fast forward to when Jesus was on earth. He spoke to His disciples in Luke 10:19 and gave them all authority. He in essence gave them His signet ring. Then, just before He ascended in Matthew 28, He reminded them, “All authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to me.” It wasn’t just some of it or most of it. He has all of it. He then sent them out with what’s known as the Great Commission giving them the authority to use His name as their authority.

You and I have been given that authority as followers of Christ. We are His signet ring on this planet. We have the authority of the King, but we don’t always act like it. I believe it’s time we did. If the enemy has come against you, invoke the authority of the name of Jesus. If you need something to accomplish His will, use your God given authority through Jesus. You are a child of the King of Kings. Start acting like it. You shouldn’t live your life with a defeated mindset. You should have a victorious, over coming mindset because that’s what you’ve been given. Go and use your authority wisely today.

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A Lover Of God’s Presence

On my last trip to Haiti, our group sang a song by Jesus Culture called “I’m a lover of your presence”. The part in the song that stands out to me says, “I’m a lover of your presence and it’s all I wanna be.” I can still hear our voices calling out into the night sky to God how much we love His presence. It became my prayer then and I still pray it today. I don’t want to live a day without walking in God’s presence. I know it’s possible and that God wants that relationship with us too.

Adam walked in God’s presence each night in the garden. Abraham lived in God’s presence according to genesis 24:40. Enoch also walked daily with God. Moses spent so much time in God’s presence that his face became bright. He had to wear a veil because it was too bright for the people to look at him. David loved God’s presence so much they he wanted to build a house for Him to dwell in. Peter spoke of the times of refreshment that come from the presence of The Lord. The Bible is full of examples of people who spent time in God’s presence.

If they can do it, you and I can do it. You may be thinking, “Yeah, but those were saints and holy men in the Bible. I’m just me.” Each of the people I listed above and the many more that you will find in the Bible who spent time in God’s presence were ordinary, flawed people just like you and me. The difference was that they took time to be in God’s presence each day. They knew they were unworthy of it, but they trusted God’s grace enough to enter His presence.

They knew that when they stood before God, in His presence, even their hidden sins would be exposed. Yet they entered it anyway. Why? Because they knew that the only way to get sin out of their life is to expose it to God. They knew that it was a good thing to get it out. But somehow, our minds think that we shouldn’t enter His presence because of our sins. We use that as an excuse to stay away from His presence. We cannot buy into that lie!

That’s just like people I know who won’t go to the doctor. I ask them why they won’t and they answer, “Because every time I go, they find something wrong.” They see it as a negative thing when a doctor finds something wrong. I see it as a good thing. If there’s something wrong in me, I want to find it quickly and have it dealt with. Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away. Dealing with it does. Being in God’s presence forces us to deal with what’s wrong in our lives. We should want to have Him find what’s wrong so we can get forgiveness and move into a closer relationship with Him. Find time today to spend in His presence.

If you’d like to listen to the song on YouTube, you can click here.

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God’s Hands

I love hidden camera shows. I enjoy watching different people’s reaction to the same event. I think people are more themselves when they don’t know a camera is rolling. Usually when I think of hidden camera shows, it involves doing something funny or messes with the mind of the unsuspecting person. But I saw one recently where a guy used a hidden camera to capture how people treated him disguised as a homeless man asking for money. As you would expect, he was mainly ignored. Some told him to get a job. Then there were those who gave.

What they didn’t know was that he wasn’t homeless and that he had a surprise for them. When they gave, he thanked them, then gave them their money back and then a $20 bill on top of it. It was touching to watch their reactions when he blessed them back. One lady asked, “Why?” He looked at her, smiled and said, “Because you deserve it.” She quickly replied, “No I don’t.” He insisted she take it because he wanted to help out the givers.

It reminded me of Proverbs 3:27. It says, “Never walk away from someone who needs help; your hand is God’s hand for that person (MSG).” I couldn’t help but to think of not just homeless people who have needed my help, but others who have and I walked away with the ability to help, but not the will. So many times God places people in our path to see how we will react when we think no one is watching. We forget that He always watches us and that all we have is his anyway. He’s just looking to see if we are willing to let go of what’s not even ours to give to someone who needs it more than we do.

I’ve learned to ask God each day to show me the people He puts in path that need my help. I’ve started to carry a little cash that I can give if called upon by God. I want to be prepared to be the hand of God to those people God instructs me to give to. If I never plan or prepare to give, it will never happen. If it never happens, I not only miss out on blessings, but the people who were counting on God to meet their needs can begin to lose faith. Our obedience (or disobedience) always has consequences. We can be the reason for hope in the lives of others if only we were willing to look past how things appear on the surface.

In your prayer time today, ask God to show you who needs your help. Ask Him to let you be His hands to someone in need. You may say, “But I’m one of those people in need.” There’s always someone whom you can help. There’s always someone who is worse off than you are. Be willing to be obedient and to help them and watch how God blesses you. When we give sacrificially, God is bound by a promise to open up the windows of Heaven and pour out blessings you can’t contain. Whether you have a little or a lot, it belongs to God anyway. Go be His hands today.

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The Land Of Promise

My three year old son surprised me the other day. We were sitting down talking and he wanted to get my attention so used both hands to grab my face to look at him. He said, “Joshua 1:9, Dada.” It took me a minute to figure out what he was talking about, but then I remembered it was his memory verse a few weeks back. I thought for a second how they had taught him, then I recited it to him, “Do not be afraid. God is with you.” He smiled and said, “Yeah. God is with you. Joshua 1:9.”

What a great promise to us to hold on to. The full verse says, “This is my command – be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For The Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” This was God speaking to Joshua before he entered a land of giants and walled cities that he was to conquer. It was 40 years earlier that he had been there as a spy and was outvoted 10-2 because the people were afraid of what they saw. I’m sure the ones who were scared told their kids what the Promised Land had in it. They might have been afraid of what their future held.

Like them, you may be looking at your future and are starting to feel scared. There are uncertainties, giants even huge walls up around the things you feel like God has called you to. When you look at those things, you may be wondering, “How can I accomplish that?” The path to it may be unclear. There may be huge obstacles in your way. But if God has called you to do it, there are no walls high enough that He can’t push down. There are no walls thick enough that He can’t break. There is no enemy strong enough to keep you away from all He has promised. He just needs you to step out in faith.

That’s the hard part. The scary part. When that fear arises that wants to keep you from doing what God called you to, go back to Joshua 1:9. God commanded us to be strong and courageous. He didn’t merely suggest it. He told us not to be afraid or discouraged by the obstacles in our way because He is with us. He doesn’t expect us to do these things in our own strength or abilities. He will do the work as long as we are willing to cross the Jordan and enter the Land of Promise. Our step of faith pushes back fear and activates God’s strength. Don’t hold back because of fear. Go and conquer all that God has for you.

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