Seeking Understanding

What I’ve learned is that most of us seek to be understood, but only a few of us seek to understand. That holds true in our relationship with God. How many times have we used our prayers to try to convince God of something so He’d understand our need. Matthew 6:8 says God knows our need before we even ask. What if we spent our time in prayer seeking to understand God more and His will. His ways are definitely higher than ours, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t seek to understand them. We can ask God to increase our understanding of Him, our situation and others. In the process we will grow and become more like Him.

Here are some Bible verses on seeking understanding.

1. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding.

Proverbs 2:3 NLT

2. The beginning of wisdom is: Get [skillful and godly] wisdom [it is preeminent]! And with all your acquiring, get understanding [actively seek spiritual discernment, mature comprehension, and logical interpretation].

Proverbs 4:7 AMP

3. Wisdom is enshrined in an understanding heart; wisdom is not found among fools.

Proverbs 14:33 NLT

4. Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer.

Daniel 10:12 NLT

5. Now may the Lord move your hearts into a greater understanding of God’s pure love for you and into Christ’s steadfast endurance.

2 Thessalonians 3:5 TPT

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The Plumb Line Of Truth

One of the classes I train has me ask the group, “Is this your truth,” at the end of each section. If someone says it’s not their truth, I’m to engage them to find out why they don’t believe what I just taught. I’m looking for their objection to the truth I’ve presented. My goal is to not just get them to accept the truth, but to go back and implement that truth into their life and job. Our actions are always based on what we believe, so it’s important to know what the truth is before we act.

We live in a world where the lines of truth are constantly being blurred. Over the last two generations, Truth has gone from something we all accepted as a whole to what each of us believes individually. What I’ve learned is that truth is truth no matter what I believe personally. I can choose to not believe in gravity, but that doesn’t stop me from coming back to the ground when I jump. There are still universal truths in our world whether people choose to believe them or not.

I was talking with a man recently about truth, and I brought up Jesus in Pilate’s court in John 18. When Jesus said that He came to testify to the truth, Pilate asked, “What is truth?” (GNT) I wish the Bible would have recorded Jesus’ answer. However, we know from John 14:6 that Jesus said He was the way, the truth and the life. Also in John 1, we read that Jesus is the Word Of God made flesh. He, and the Bible, are our absolute truth in this world. They are the plumb line in a world that has lost its direction.

The reason you use a plumb line in construction is because your eyes can deceive you. In the same way, the Word of God is our plumb line in this world. Our eyes can deceive us, and it can be difficult to determine what the truth is. Psalm 33:4 says, “The words of the Lord are true, and all his works are dependable.” We must know God’s Word if we are going to depend on it and use it as a plumb line to build our lives. Otherwise, we will be like the foolish man who built his house on the shifting sands of what culture believes at the moment. Take time today to hold your life up against God’s plumb line of truth to make sure your life isn’t leaning.

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

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Fighting Bitterness

I’m fascinated by body language and micro expression experts. They look at what’s going on outside the body to determine what’s going on inside the mind. I had always heard that your outside will reveal what’s going on Inside. It’s important for us to control our self talk, which is that voice in our head that’s constantly talking to us. It repeats things it’s heard from others. It tells us how we should be feeling. It also helps us make decisions. I believe this voice is what 2 Corinthians 2:5 is talking about when it tells us to take every thought captive. This voice controls how you see yourself and ultimately your actions.

The story of Ruth is one that draws so many of us in. Naomi, her husband and two boys had to move out of their home to a foreign land because of a famine. Some time after they moved away, her husband died. Her sons married foreign women and about ten years later they died. After a while, she decided to go home with Ruth choosing to go with her. When she arrived back in town, the people were excited to see here and called out her name which means sweetness. She told them to quit calling her that and to instead call her Marah which means bitter. She had allowed her self talk to change her self image to the point that she had become a bitter person. Thankfully God didn’t leave her in that bitter state.

Psalm 73:21-23 says, “When my thoughts were bitter and my feelings were hurt, I was as stupid as an animal; I did not understand you. Yet I always stay close to you, and you hold me by the hand” (GNT). God didn’t leave the author of this psalm in their bitterness either. In verse 26 he penned, “My mind and my body may grow weak, but God is my strength; he is all I ever need.” Your mind may wander and convince you that you’re something other than God created, but He will still woo you and try to pull you from that place. He is your strength to get out of the hole you’re in. He is your strength to fight the negative self talk. And He is your strength to get to where He’s leading you. Your current season is not your destination. Don’t let your self talk convince you that it is. There are greater days ahead.

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Being Successful

Sometimes when I’m teaching a sales skills class I’ll ask people to share their undisputed secret to success in sales. Everyone has a different answer it seems. Some tell me how they never give up. Some say it’s their personal skills. Others talk of determination, relentlessness or positioning. Books have been written, classes have been taught and lectures have been given on the subject, but there’s no one answer really. Because of that people keep looking for it hoping it will make them rich in the process. Yet, some of you reading are thinking, “If I had to make a living in sales, I’d starve!” It’s a good thing there are other ways to make a living.

We typically equate money or winning with success, but that’s not always the case. In Judges 20, eleven of the tribes went to fight the tribe of Benjamin because of an evil they had allowed. The eleven prayed asking God which tribe should lead the fight. God told them Judah should. They marched 400,000 men out to battle and we’re quickly beaten by 26,000. They went back to camp, cried and prayed again asking God if they should fight again. God told them yes, and the same thing happened. A third time they prayed and asked God if they should fight or stop. God told them to fight. They were successful this time, but only after taking some devastating losses in the process.

In Philippians 4:12 Paul wrote, “I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little” (NLT). His secret of living was to be content with whatever season God brought him to. Whether he was winning and had all his needs met or was losing and didn’t have anything, he trusted God through it all. Success in life isn’t defined by wins or losses or even your bank account. It’s found in trusting God to be your source no matter what you’re going through. Can you keep going back to Him daily asking if you’re doing the thing He wants you to? Can you trust Him when you don’t have much? Can you recognize Him as your provider when you do? Can you be content with what you have?

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Choose Peace

Have you ever given a gift to someone that was supposed to make their life easier only to find out they never used it? I came from a family that gave functional gifts rather than luxury gifts. We got each other something that was needed rather than what was wanted. I was always on the look out to see if there was a kitchen gadget, yard equipment or something like that that could make a family member’s life easier. It would have been frustrating to see them struggling to do something while my gift was still sitting in the box. They would have had to make the choice to continue doing it the old way not using the gift.

In 2 Kings 6, Elisha had been supernaturally given the plans of the enemy several times.Elisha sent word to the king of Israel each time to thwart the attack. The king of Aram, who was trying to attack Israel, got word that Elisha was messing up his plans, so he decided to go after Elisha. Overnight they encamped around Elisha. When Elisha’s servant went outside he saw the army surrounding them. He panicked and ran inside to tell his master saying, “Oh no! What are we to do?” Elisha told him to not be afraid because there were more with them than against them. He the prayed, “Lord, please, open his eyes that he may see.” And the Lord opened the servants eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire surrounding Elisha. (AMP).

Jesus told us that we were going to face trouble in this world. It shouldn’t come as a surprise when we’re surrounded. He also said in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; My [perfect] peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [Let My perfect peace calm you in every circumstance and give you courage and strength for every challenge]” (emphasis is added by me) His peace is a gift that we need to choose to use. We use it when we decide to trust what He’s. said over what we’re seeing. We need our eyes opened to know that there are more with us than against us. We need to look beyond the physical aspect of whatever we’re facing in order to trust God allowing His peace to calm us in every circumstance. Choose His peace instead of fear today.

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Tenth Anniversary – Applying God’s Word

This week I’m reflecting on ten years of writing devotions. The most important thing that has happened to me through this process is that I have grown to know God more deeply through His Word. It’s something that each of us as believers need to do. Our daily reading shouldn’t be about quantity, but quality. I’ve learned to read it until I hear from God and see how something applies to my life and yours. The Bible was given to us to train us, to correct us, to real God to us and so much more. The more we dig into it, meditate on it and apply it, the more like Christ we will be.

Here are some Bible verses on the benefits of reading and applying God’s Word.

1. Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.

Joshua 1:8 NLT

2. Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [following their advice and example], Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit [down to rest] in the seat of scoffers (ridiculers). But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And on His law [His precepts and teachings] he [habitually] meditates day and night.

Psalms 1:1-2 AMP

3. Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 NET

4. “God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one can resist God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what.

Hebrews 4:12-13 MSG

5. Yahweh’s Word is perfect in every way; how it revives our souls! Yahweh’s laws lead us to truth, and his ways change the simple into wise. Yahweh’s teachings are right and make us joyful; his precepts are so pure! Yahweh’s commands challenge us to keep close to his heart! The revelation-light of his Word makes my spirit shine radiant.

Psalms 19:7-8 TPT

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3 Questions To Ask Yourself (Tenth Anniversary)

This was the first devotion I wrote for this site.

1.When is the last time you exercised your faith?

I mean really exercised it. I want you to think of how much you make a year. Got the number in your head? Now think of one thing that costs that much. Imagine buying that one thing and then giving it away. It would hurt right?

Mary had purchased a perfume that cost a years worth of wages and poured it out on Jesus’ feet (John 12:3). Doing what God had asked her to do didn’t make sense to her or anyone else at the time. She wasn’t afraid to go big with her faith. God is looking for obedience from us. He wants us to exercise our faith. In order to do that, we must first spend time at the feet of Jesus to know his will and desire for us.

2. When is the last time you gave up what you wanted for the Kingdom?

In John 12:24, Jesus compared Himself to wheat and said because He was going to die, He would produce many others and yield a great harvest. We have to truly learn to die to ourselves and put the kingdom mission above our own mission. If you want to get a great harvest, it starts with dying to yourself.

That is easier said than done. In order to do that, we have to gain perspective. We have to understand God’s plan for the world and accept our role in that plan. Each person has a role. Paul said that some plant, some water and some harvest. Rarely does doing something for God bring you glory and attention. To get a harvest in your life, give up your desires and vision for His. It will be life changing.

3. Are you willing to do something for God without getting recognized for it?

In John 12:27, Jesus knew he was on a mission and he was troubled and distressed over it. He asked Philip and Andrew if He should pray and ask the Father to save him from what was coming. He then recognized that what He had been asked to do was for God’s glory. He submitted to the will of the Father even though He knew that it would bring Him pain and shame.

God sees the whole picture and the full ripple effect of what He is asking you to do. All we see is that we are being thrown into a pond of water that is over our heads. We have to be willing to complete the mission for His glory, not ours. If we have the wrong motivation, fear will keep us from doing what He wants.

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

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Tenth Anniversary: God Is Your Source

This week I’m reflecting on ten years of writing devotions. In the early days of writing, my mind was beginning to be consumed with fear. I felt the pressure of coming up with something to write about each day. I made a list in my phone of possible topics that I would add to. I would ask friends what they thought I should write about. Some mornings I sat there frozen, not knowing what to write, and feeling the pressure of an audience expecting something from me. Doing what God asked me to do was making me miserable and fearful – neither of which come from God.

I went to a writer’s conference hoping to gain insight. When I went to the registration table, they gave me a ticket to have a private breakfast with William Paul Young, writer of “The Shack”. Over breakfast, I explained my predicament. He gently told me that I was approaching God the wrong way. I was looking at Him as a well that could run dry. Instead, God is a never ending river of creativity. He said, “If you go to God’s creative river each day with an empty bucket and pray, ‘God, here’s my bucket. Would you fill it up with what you want to say,’ He will do it. You are going to have to spend time at His feet in order to do that.” Immediately I felt freedom and the fear left me.

What I realized is that God is the source of creativity, not me. I was trying to do what He asked me to in my own strength, creativity and knowledge. That was creating a mental mess. Zechariah 4:6 says, “Not by strength and not by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord who rules over all” (NET). Whatever God has called you to do, He has called you to do it in His strength, not yours. Yes, you must show up and do the work, but you are not the source, He is. Don’t let the fear of your inadequacy take over your mind. Instead, go to God each and every day, recognizing He is the source, and ask Him to fill that bucket with whatever you need to fulfill what He’s called you to. It will free you up and restore the joy of your calling.

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Tenth Anniversary: Redefining Success

Ten years ago today, I wrote and posted to this site for the first time. In those years I have written around 2,600 devotions and over 1,000,000 words. I didn’t start out thinking I’d be writing 10 years later. In fact, I had (incorrectly) assumed that my site would be overwhelmed with clicks and that a publishing agent would be contacting me to write a book simply because I felt God tell me to start writing. In my mind, obedience to God equaled success by the world’s definition. I thought it meant that I would be known for writing and changing lives. Instead, the success in my life has been a closer walk with God and greater understanding of His Word as I’ve spent more time in prayer and contemplation through this process.

Years ago I heard Andy Stanley speak to a room full of ministers at a Catalyst conference. He told us, “Do for one what you wish you could do for many.” We all want to help lots of people, but when they don’t come flocking to us, we get discouraged and give up. That’s where I found myself in the early days of writing. I was obsessing over the number of clicks, subscribers and comments. I wasn’t getting very many. My wife would ask, “But did one person say it spoke to them? If it did, then today’s post was a success.” I had to quit looking at the statistics for my site and focus on that in order to change my mentality. It wasn’t easy because we are a numbers driven society with numbers being the primary indicator of success.

In Matthew 18:12, Jesus asked, “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost?” (NLT) Jesus placed the value and success on the one. Most of the time being obedient to God isn’t going to bring success by the world’s standards. It’s about saving the one. Finding the one. Redirecting the one. Don’t fret if your obedience to God isn’t noticed by the masses. It’s noticed by the One who matters. We need to redefine our idea of success to match God’s. If we don’t do that, we may get discouraged and give up losing the opportunity to rescue the one we were sent after.

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