Illogical Obedience

To me, one of the greatest acts of obedience in the Bible was done by Peter. He and his coworkers had fished all night and caught nothing. They were cleaning their nets when Jesus walked up and asked to use his boat for a pulpit to preach from. After the sermon, Jesus asked Peter to go further out to a deep spot and put his freshly cleaned nets back into the water. None of it made sense, but Luke 5:5 says, “‘Master,’ Simon answered, ‘we worked hard all night long and caught nothing. But if you say so, I will let down the nets’” (GNT).

Peter was tired from fishing all night. He had then cleaned and prepared his nets for the next night, and he was ready to go home to sleep. Putting the nets back into the water meant he would have to clean them again. Also, it was proven that you catch more fish at night in shallow areas. Everything Jesus was asking was different than his lifetime had taught him. His way had not worked, but because of what He had seen Jesus do, He was willing to try it. The result was the catch of a lifetime.

If you’ve tried things your way and it’s gotten you nowhere, listen to what God is asking you to do. It probably won’t make sense in the natural, but obedience activates the supernatural. When you’ve tried everything on your own and come up empty handed, try it God’s way. It may not make sense, but if you do it, your miracle will be waiting on the other side of your obedience. You may be exhausted and emotionally spent from doing things your way. You may feel like you’re at the end of your rope. Despite all that, do what God asks anyway and you’ll see Him answer like never before.

Photo by Fred Ohlander on Unsplash

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

To Be Continued

Several years ago, I read the “Left Behind” series of books. I was reading them as they were coming out. After purchasing it on the day it went on sale, I would start reading the new one. Sometimes I would get so caught up in the story that I’d be up until 4 in the morning. Then I’d reach the end of the book. It always seemed to end during a climactic scene. Just when you wondered what was going to happen, you’d turn the page and it would say, “To be continued…” I’d wait a year or so for the next one to come out and repeat the process.

I’ve learned that God is a God of “to be continued.” He’s not finished with the work He’s doing in your life. Sometimes we have to wait a while in eager expectation, but He is faithful to keep working in our lives. Unlike the book series, i never know when He will continue the story and what He’s working on, but I know He’s not done. If you’re in that place today of anticipation and waiting for what’s next, keep holding on. God’s not finished yet. There’s more to come.

Here are some Bible verses on God continuing His work.

1. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Philippians 1:6 NLT

2. Your faithfulness continues from generation to generation; You have established the earth, and it stands [securely].

PSALM 119:90 AMP

3. But GOD ’s not finished. He’s waiting around to be gracious to you. He’s gathering strength to show mercy to you. GOD takes the time to do everything right—everything. Those who wait around for him are the lucky ones.

Isaiah 30:18 MSG

4. Because God is always at work in you to make you willing and able to obey his own purpose.

Philippians 2:13 GNT

5. What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.

Genesis 28:15 NLT

Photo by H E N G S T R E A M on Unsplash

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Be Strong And Immovable

Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

One of the pictures I have in a shoebox somewhere is of me and the neighborhood kids posing by the outline of a fort we made out of Fall leaves. We were so proud of it that we had my mom take a photo of it. We spent a lot of time making that thing, but our efforts were wasted by the first strong wind to blow through. Those leaves kicked up and scattered all over the yard again. We might have rebuilt the thing once or twice more before we gave up realizing that it wasn’t going to last.

Sometimes we can feel that our work for the Lord is like that leaf fort. It feels like our efforts are wasted and unappreciated. Nothing we do seems to last, and we get discouraged. I know what it’s like to invest in someone only to watch the winds of change undo all of the progress. It’s frustrating to watch hours, and dollars appear to go to waste when something we’ve done for the Lord is destroyed or brought to nothing. All of us go through those times where we wonder, “Is this even worth it?”

Paul must have experienced some of those feelings as well. He knew that if he felt that way, others did too. He wanted to encourage those of us who feel that way. In 1 Corinthians 15:58, he wrote, “So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless” (NLT). He wanted to remind us to keep going and that the work we do for God matters.

Whether you teach Sunday School class with kids who don’t appear to be paying attention, lead a small group that has inconsistent members, work the parking lot at church where no one follows your direction, or any other number of unappreciated jobs around the church, keep working enthusiastically. Your labor is not in vain. Keep scattering seeds. The Lord prepares hearts and causes those seeds to grow in due season. Don’t give up. Be strong and immovable because nothing you do for God is useless.

Photo by photo-nic.co.uk nic on Unsplash

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Shock and Awe

I was in high school during the Gulf War. I remember getting to see the first videos of the war starting. Our initial tactic was called Shock and Awe. It was a way to use overwhelming force and incredible uses of power to dominate the enemy, to destroy their will to fight and to change their perception of what the battlefield was. This tactic works very well especially when combined with the element of surprise. It’s no wonder our spiritual enemy uses this tactic against us. How many times have you been hit out of the blue with continuous bad news?

The enemy of our soul hopes to paralyze us using shock and awe tactics, that’s why we always need to be prepared so we can respond the way Job did when Shock and Awe was used against him. In Ephesians 6, we read about the armor God has given us to withstand these attacks. Verse 13 says, “Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet” (MSG).

Because the enemy attacks us this way, the first piece of armor God gives us is the Belt of Truth. We need to know the truth of who we are in Christ so we aren’t paralyzed by fear. Next is the Breastplate of Righteousness that covers our heart. We have to protect our heart because it gives us the will to fight. We are then given foot ware to remind us to keep moving. We can’t stay still in this battle. Our Shield Of Faith helps protect us from all the things the enemy throws at us by trusting in God. The Helmet of Salvation ensures we have a sound mind. The Sword of the Spirit puts us on the offensive using God’s Word. Finally, we can’t forget to pray. It keeps our focus on God, gives us to will to fight and keeps the battlefield in perspective. Using these, you can withstand the enemy’s Shock and Awe.

Photo by Bimo Luki on Unsplash

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Hard Knocks University

When people ask where I went to school, I often say, “Hard Knocks University.” For the longest time, it seemed that life kept knocking me down. No matter what I did, I couldn’t gain ground. In fact, it felt like the bottom kept falling out from underneath me. I learned that the only way to fail Hard Knocks University is to quit. I also learned that the only way to graduate was to get closer to God. The troubles we face in life can either make us bitter or better. We get to choose by how we respond when we keep getting knocked down.

For me, I let it push me closer to God. I found myself praying more asking God for the wisdom to make better decisions. I also started reading the Bible more. I knew there were principles in it that could help with the things I was facing, so I began to consume the Bible looking for answers. What I got was a deeper relationship with God and the promise that He wouldn’t abandon me in my troubles. I began to put my focus on Him instead of my problems, and then I began telling my problems about Him instead of the other way around.

The Psalmist must have graduated Hard Knocks University too. Psalm 119:71 says, “My troubles turned out for the best – they forced me to learn your textbook” (MSG). If you’re in the toughest school around, let it draw you closer to God and His textbook. He probably won’t take the troubles away as quick as you like, but you are guaranteed that He will walk through them with you. Failure can’t be an option, and you don’t want to keep taking the same course. If you want to graduate, you’re going to have to read the textbook. I recommend you start with a chapter in Proverbs each day to get the wisdom you need.

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Using Words Wisely

When I was in the Fifth grade, my lunch time consisted of a group of boys gathered around a table. We would have put down contests and Yo Mamma joke contests. Each day two boys would be chosen, one from each side of the table, and they would trade put downs until one ran out of them or one of them started crying. When one boy won, two more would be chosen and it would continue. I learned to be quick witted from that, but I also learned that putting down others was funny.

We were just kids, but we were finding out how powerful words could be. Just by saying certain things, you could make someone laugh or cry. We were too immature to understand the power of those words and the ability of them to stay in someone’s mind with the potential to define them. I don’t know what happened to the rest of the boys at that table, but I hope they learned how to use words to build others up instead of tearing them down. The words we speak to others are so powerful that we shouldn’t treat them lightly.

Ephesians 4:29 says, “Do not use harmful words, but only helpful words, the kind that build up and provide what is needed, so that what you say will do good to those who hear you” (GNT). This should be the standard we use when talking to others. Before we speak, our filter should ask, “Will these words do good or cause harm?” God is in the business of building people up. As His followers, we need to be doing the same. I’ve still got work to do in this area, but my prayer is that God would help me to use my words wisely so that they provide what is needed, do good to those who hear them and build others up.

Photo by Cole Hutson on Unsplash

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Unselfish Generosity

Organizations, teams, relationships and people groups function best when people look out for each other as much or more than themselves. Problems arise when people are selfish and trying to get their own instead of helping others succeed. A culture of selfishness breeds greed, distrust, back stabbing and division. It’s unhealthy and stunts growth. I believe that’s why one of the characteristics God desires for Christians to have is selflessness. It promotes growth, healing, unity and trust.

God’s desire for you and I is to help others in our journey through life. If you look around you, there are people in your life every day that need a word of encouragement, a helping hand, someone to share their burdens with or your time. If you haven’t seen them, you’re too busy being focused on your own needs. God gave us His selfless love and wants us to show selfless love to others so that we can point them to Him. If you struggle in this area, ask God to open your eyes to the needs of others and to help you show His love. If you pray that way, you’ll not only change the life of others, your life will change too.

Here are some Bible verses on unselfish generosity.

1. So I, the prisoner for the Lord, appeal to you to live a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called [that is, to live a life that exhibits godly character, moral courage, personal integrity, and mature behavior–a life that expresses gratitude to God for your salvation], with all humility [forsaking self-righteousness], and gentleness [maintaining self-control], with patience, bearing with one another in [unselfish] love.

EPHESIANS 4:1-2 AMP

2. And God, who supplies seed for the sower and bread to eat, will also supply you with all the seed you need and will make it grow and produce a rich harvest from your generosity.

2 Corinthians 9:10 GNT

3. But generous people plan to do what is generous, and they stand firm in their generosity.

Isaiah 32:8 NLT

4. Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don’t condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you’ll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity.

Luke 6:37-38 MSG

5. But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.

GALATIANS 5:22-23 AMP

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized