Seasons Change

One of the things I’ve learned about life is that it’s full of seasons. There are seasons of plenty, dry seasons, seasons of doubt, seasons of pain, seasons of just enough, seasons of recovery, etc. There’s no rhyme or reason as to when they show up or how long they’ll last, but one thing is certain, they do pass. The worst seasons seem like they’ll never end and the good seasons seem to go by too fast. I believe that God will give us what we need for each season, and that each season is a time of preparation.

If God uses seasons to prepare us, then I believe that you can be fruitful no matter what the season is in your life. You can glean from each season of your life things that will grow you and produce fruit for the future. You may be looking at your life right now and see a desert wasteland, but Isaiah 43:19 says that God is about to do something new. He’ll make rivers in the desert so that you can produce fruit and grow. No matter how dark life gets or how abundant your blessings are, God has a design and a purpose to grow you through this season.

Here are some Bible verses on different seasons of life.

1. He will be standing firm like a flourishing tree planted by God’s design, deeply rooted by the brooks of bliss, bearing fruit in every season of his life. He is never dry, never fainting, ever blessed, ever prosperous.

Psalms 1:3 TPT

2. Be cheerful with joyous celebration in every season of life. Let joy overflow, for you are united with the Anointed One!

Philippians 4:4 TPT

3. And don’t allow yourselves to be weary or disheartened in planting good seeds, for the season of reaping the wonderful harvest you’ve planted is coming!

Galatians 6:9 TPT

4. But I keep calling out to you, Yahweh! I know you will bend down to listen to me, for now is the season of favor. Because of your faithful love for me, your answer to my prayer will be my sure salvation.

Psalms 69:13 TPT

5. You’ve so graciously provided for my essential needs during this season of difficulty.

Philippians 4:14 TPT

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Greater Dreams

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.

I recently heard a preacher say, “Our dreams must be greater than our memories.” Immediately that struck a chord with me. As I continued to think on that phrase and ponder it’s implications, I began to think of examples in the Bible where that was true. I thought of several examples, but the one that stood out to me the most came from the book of Exodus. The Israelites had moved to Israel about 400 years earlier to escape the famine, but they never returned to the land God promised Abraham. Now they had become slaves in a land that was not theirs.

In Exodus 6, God spoke to Moses to tell the people that He would deliver them from slavery and would take them to the land He promised Abraham. When Moses told them what God said, they didn’t even listen. Verse 9 says, “They didn’t even hear him – they were that beaten down in spirit (MSG).” The dream of being free had been forgotten, but God wasn’t done. He wanted to revive that dream. He kept at them until they began to dream again. It culminated with them walking out of Egypt and heading for their Promised Land.

It didn’t take long after they were freed for their memories to become greater than their dreams. In Exodus 16, they began to cry out, “Why didn’t God let us die in Egypt where we had lamb stew and all the bread we could eat?” They forgot that dreams require sacrifice. It’s hard work to make a dream become reality. Instead of putting in that hard work to realize the dream, they did something much easier, they remembered how easy it was before. Given the choice of working hard to achieve their dream or to go back into slavery, they wanted the later.

It’s easy to sit in judgement thousands of years later, but are we really that different? We have each been given unrealized dreams that we are no where near accomplishing. Why? Because it’s easier to sit and talk about the vision for our life than it is to accomplish it. It’s not hard to dream. It’s hard to make it a reality. As soon as it gets difficult, we start remembering how “good” we had it before. The dream, even though given by God, gets overpowered by our selective memories of the past. We turn back to go the Land of Ease instead of to the Promised Land.

The dream God has given you will not come without sacrifice. It will not bloom unless it is tended to. It requires you to get up from where you are, to take that step of faith you’ve been afraid of and to move in the direction God tells you to go. It won’t be easy, but nothing good ever is. There will be roadblocks along the way, but don’t let them stop you. Keep the dream God has given you at the forefront of your mind. Don’t entertain old memories. Keep pushing them back until you’ve arrived at your destination. When you get there you’ll be glad you believed in your dreams rather than your memories.

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Faith’s Eyes

As Christians, one of the hardest things for any of us to do is to walk by faith and not by sight. I’ve read that 90% of all information we send to the brain is visual. So it’s only natural for our brain to trust what we see instead of what we don’t. I loved the scene from “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” where he has to take a leap of faith off the cliff. He looks down and sees a huge drop that will kill him, but he steps off anyway. He drops about a foot and a hidden ledge catches him. More often than not, that’s how God Call’s us to live.

Abraham in the Bible is a person who believed what God said. His eyes were sending information to his brain that was contrary to what God was telling him. No one could get pregnant at Sarah’s age. In fact, Sarah laughed when she heard that she was going to conceive. It was impossible from their perspective, but they didn’t let that keep them from acting in faith. Less than a year later, Isaac was born. He was a constant reminder to them that God is able to do what He promises no matter what our eyes tell us.

Romans 4:18 says, “Against all odds, when it looked hopeless, Abraham believed the promise and expected God to fulfill it” (TPT). Abraham was human just like us, but he chose which information to believe. I don’t know what impossibility hopeless odds you’re looking at today, but if God promised something other than what you see, choose to believe His Word. You may have to be like the man who told Jesus in Mark 9, “Lord I believe, but help my unbelief.” Learning To look through faith’s eyes is never easy, but it is the only way for believers. Trust God more than what you see.

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Celebrate Success

I’m the type of person who shuts out the world when I get focused on something. I put my head down and give my attention to what it is I’m concentrating on. Many times I won’t hear anyone talking to me and I won’t talk to anyone else until the job is complete. If I’ve got a todo list, I cross it off when I’m finished and move on to the next thing on the list. The longer the list, the more serious I am. If there are other people around, and they’re not helping, I get frustrated. They can be a distraction from the work I’m trying to do. My attitude can be, “Either help or get out.” Then, when everything is done, I can breathe easy.

I tell you that because that’s how many of us are. We put our head down and work because we have responsibilities, but i want us to look at something today. The most famous parable Jesus told has to be the Prodigal Son. We’ve heard numerous sermons on it focusing on that son, but there are two sons in the story, and i believe Jesus was speaking to that son as much as the other. You see, he was the firstborn and had all the responsibilities on his shoulders. He didn’t go off and party. Instead, he put his head down and worked. Even when his brother returned, he didn’t hear the music or notice workers had left the fields because he was so focused. In fact, he was upset that people were playing when they should have been working.

I love the father’s message to him in Luke 15:32. He said, “It’s only right to celebrate like this and be overjoyed” (TPT). Like him, you and I need to be reminded it’s ok to stop and celebrate successes. Part of the responsibility of the first born is to know when to celebrate. It’s a heavy burden to be the first born, but there’s also a time to rejoice. God wants us to understand that we need to celebrate successes when they come. Life is not just about crossing things off our todo list. It’s about celebrating what God is doing along the way. What has God done for you lately that you need to celebrate?

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Making The Right Choice

If you’re human, you have to make a lot of decisions. There are some small decisions we make daily that don’t really affect much. Then there are those life altering decisions that have to be made and require wisdom, outside perspectives and prayer. Those are the tough ones that you want to make sure you get right. As I face a few of those right now, I can easily fall into the paralysis through analysis trap. That’s where you are so afraid you’ll make the wrong decision that you want more information, but you never have enough information to make a decision. To prevent that, I do a couple of things to help make the right decision.

The first thing is to pray. I ask for wisdom because James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom [to guide him through a decision or circumstance], he is to ask of [our benevolent] God, who gives to everyone generously and without rebuke or blame, and it will be given to him” (AMP). I then ask for signs like Gideon. They’re usually impossible things that only God can do. I’ll usually pray, “Lord, if I’m to choose this, then make that happen by this date. If you don’t answer, that means I should choose the other.” It’s always incredible to watch God do the impossible.

Finally, I look at the situation through the lens of God’s Word. Psalm 119:105 says, “Truth’s shining light guides me in my choices and decisions; the revelation of your word makes my pathway clear” (TPT). God’s Word will shine a light on a future that’s hidden and guide you along the path God has for you. The more I put God’s Word inside of me, the more it illuminates my life. Decisions are often difficult. I don’t want to make them in the dark or without God’s help. I’ve done these three things for years and have watched God point the way each time. If you’re facing an unknown future right now, try them out and let God guide your life.

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A Call To Repentance

I’m reading through the “Killing Kryptonite” devotional by John Bevere. In it he said, “Repentance means changing our mind so deeply that it changes our personality from the core of our being.” As I read that, i thought about today’s world. Our culture is just the opposite of that. As a society, we celebrate and encourage people to be who you are. The problem with that is that we are encouraging them to identify with their Adamic nature rather than the image of God that is in them. We encourage people to suppress the new creation God is trying to bring out in order to celebrate their sinful nature.

When God called us to repentance, He called us to leave behind our Adamic nature so we can identify with His fingerprint on our life. Repentance means to turn around and go the opposite direction. We are not just called to accept Jesus, but to repent as well. The old life is gone and God turns you into a new creation from the core of who you are. There is a transformation God wants to do in each one of us, but it’s up to us to turn away from the fingerprint of Adam on our life, which is a spiritual cancer that God wants to put into remission. Your transformation starts with salvation then begins when you turn around and walk towards the life God has for you.

Here are some Bible verses on repentance.

1. In the past God tolerated our ignorance of these things, but now the time of deception has passed away. He commands us all to repent and turn to God.

Acts 17:30 TPT

2. I have had one message for Jews and Greeks alike—the necessity of repenting from sin and turning to God, and of having faith in our Lord Jesus.

Acts of the Apostles 20:21 NLT

3. Blessed [forgiven, refreshed by God’s grace] are those who mourn [over their sins and repent], for they will be comforted [when the burden of sin is lifted].

MATTHEW 5:4 AMP

4. Or perhaps you despise his great kindness, tolerance, and patience. Surely you know that God is kind, because he is trying to lead you to repent.

Romans 2:4 GNT

5. You must prove your repentance by a changed life.

Those who repent I baptize with water, but there is coming a Man after me who is more powerful than I am. In fact, I’m not even worthy enough to pick up his sandals. He will submerge you into union with the Spirit of Holiness and with a raging fire!

Matthew 3:8, 11 TPT

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Pastor Appreciation

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.

October is known for many things. It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Liver Awareness Month, Healthy Lung Month, Down Syndrome Awareness Month, Infertility Awareness Month, Spina Bifida Awareness Month, SIDS Awareness Month, Dental Hygiene Month and so many more. It’s also Pastor Appreciation Month. On top of all these other things that you may support, don’t forget to honor your pastor.

I Thessalonians 5:12-13 says, “Honor those who are your leaders in the Lord’s work. They work hard among you and give spiritual guidance. Show them respect and wholehearted love because of their work. (NLT)” Paul knew that being a minister is often thankless work. They give and give, but rarely receive. They don’t do it for the monetary rewards (which usually aren’t much). They do it because when you’re called to serve, nothing else will satisfy.

A simple “Thank you” goes a long way. A card that tells them how they’ve ministered to you works as well. Each of us have different ways we can show appreciation to those who do the Lord’s work. At our church, we showcase a different minister each week. The church shows appreciation through applause and someone makes their favorite dish. It’s a simple way to say thanks and to show our appreciation.

Paul said to honor them which is to show them respect for the work they do. Most church goers don’t see the late night phone calls and texts. They don’t know about the all night hospital visits where they stand next to a family member who needs support. No one stops to think that the same pastor who is there offering support is hurting too as one of their members lays in that bed. They also don’t see the hours of counseling given or the countless prayers that are said on behalf of those in their care. These men and women deserve more honor than we can possibly give.

As we wear our different colored ribbons this month to bring attention to the causes that are near and dear to our heart, don’t forget to give attention to those who give you spiritual guidance. Find ways to say “Thank you” for all they do. Look for opportunities to honor them. They work hard, pray hard and serve hard. A pat on the back or a word of encouragement will put fuel in their tank to keep going. Each of us have been impacted by a minister. It’s time we let them know.

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