Monthly Archives: February 2014

Miracle In The Making

I saw God do the impossible last week. A friend called me to get prayer for his wife. She was wanting to go on a mission trip to a country that required a Visa. He told me, “If that Visa doesn’t leave the embassy in Washington, D.C. today, it won’t get here in time for her trip. The embassy is closed because they’re under several inches of snow and it’s not stopping. We know God wants her to go on this trip, but it’s not looking good.” I immediately thought of Jesus’ words, “With man, things are impossible, but with God, all things are possible to him that believes.” We prayed right then for a miracle.

The next day he told me that they called all day and no one answered. She was supposed to leave in the morning and they were still having trouble. I told him the story of my in laws. A couple of years ago they were headed to Mexico. On the way, their truck broke down. They stopped in San Antonio and got it repaired. They continued on their journey only to have the same issue. They stopped and had it repaired again. They crossed the border and the truck started doing it again. The check engine light was on, the truck was sputtering as it had before and they were concerned about going deeper into Mexico.

They prayed and decided to turn around and go back to the border. The moment that they did the U-Turn, the check engine light went off and the truck began to run smoothly. When they got back to the border, they believed that was God telling them not to go on their trip. My mother in law remembered she had gone to the doctor in that town several months before on a previous trip, but had never heard back. She went to the doctor that day and found that he had tried to reach her. Her test had come back that she had early stages of cancer. They were able to get her treatment and kill the cancer.

My message to him, and now you, is that God will speak to us through a donkey (ask Balaam Numbers 22:28), a Chevy or an embassy. If God says, “No,” it’s as good as if God says, “Yes.” Either way, it’s His will. We aren’t to get worked up when things are happening and stop signs get in our way. We are to trust that He sees what we can’t. I told my friend we will keep praying that if she was to go,that God would make it happen. If she wasn’t to go, then He would stop the Visa from getting here. Of course, at that point, it was too late to get it here.

An hour or so later I got a text from him. It said, “God just might be cranking up the miracle machine.” I replied, “Of course He is.” The snow had stopped, they had returned to work, the Visa had been approved and was sitting on the consulates desk. They were missing the UPS envelope to return it to her so it was just sitting there. They couldn’t go get an envelope and UPS refused to take one. My friend called FedEx and they were willing to take one to the consulate. They were able to get the Visa over nighted to the airport first thing Saturday morning so they could pick it up on their way to the gate. She got on the flight and made the trip even though it had been impossible for man.

Whatever impossible situation you’re facing today, God sees it. It may seem impossible to you, but we serve a God who specializes in the impossible. He is not bound by the things that make it impossible for us. He does not panic when things look dim. What He does is crank up his miracle machine and sets things in motion so that we get our miracles at just the right time. When He sets up road blocks or tries to stop us, He knows what lies ahead and the miracle is that He prevents us from walking into a trap by any means possible. His “yes” is as good as His “no”.

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God Is Looking For Nobody

When American Idol first came on TV, it was one of the most popular shows ever. People couldn’t get enough of it. Since that time several shows with the same premise have begun. The draw to reality shows like this is that it gives a nobody the chance to be somebody. It tells us that there’s a chance for each of us to be great, famous or known. It gives us a cut in the line to stardom, to bypass years of plugging away following the normal route. In essence, shows like that give each of us hope that we too will be discovered one day.

As I was reading Paul’s account of Abraham in Romans 4:17-18, it occurred to me that God only uses nobodies. When you look through the scripture and think of the great people of faith, they were nobodies. David was a shepherd minding his own business tending his father’s sheep when God chose him to be king. Abraham was a devoted husband who just wanted to give his wife a child. He was taking care of his possessions when God asked him to move. Mary and Joseph were just two young lovers trying to plan a wedding when God chose them to be the parents of Jesus.

Look at the disciples too. Most were ordinary fishermen, tax collectors and every day blue collar workers when Jesus gave the call to follow Him. Joseph was a teenager who ratted on his brothers one too many times when he was sold into slavery and dragged to a foreign land. He lived his life in obscurity until God chose to make him second in command of one of the greatest civilizations of all time. Moses was an abandoned child, who ran away from his adopted parents and was tending sheep in the desert when he had the burning bush experience.

The somebodies in the Bible all started out as nobodies. They didn’t follow the normal routes to greatness. They were just doing their normal every day routines when God stepped in. The difference between them and others was that they were willing to be obedient to the voice of God. David was willing to tend sheep as the king, Abraham was willing to leave his homeland with no questions asked, Mary and Joseph were willing to be ridiculed for having a child out of wedlock, the disciples were willing to leave everything behind to follow, Moses was willing to go home and face his past. Each person was willing to be obedient when it didn’t make sense.

That’s the difference in being a nobody and a somebody. Blind faith. God is still looking among the nobodies of this world to find somebody who will blindly obey. He’s looking for somebody to be great. He has not changed His methods. Blind obedience is still what He desires from you and me. Being willing to do whatever He asks even when it doesn’t make sense or defies logic is the trait He most admires. You and I have a choice when He comes our way. We have the choice to remain a nobody because we aren’t willing to do what He asks, or we have the choice to obey and be somebody great. What will your obedience look like today?

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Face To Face With Your Past

What happens when your past catches up to you? How do you handle facing the music? Our past mistakes have consequences that we wish we didn’t have to face, especially when we’ve learned our lesson. Jacob, in Genesis 32, was about to come face to face with his past. He was about to meet his twin brother whom he had cheated and knew that the time had come to quit running. He was afraid, paranoid and stressed out. He tried to think of every solution he could to minimize the price he’d have to pay.

Since they were born, he had cheated his brother. In fact, his mom named him Jacob which meant supplanter. thefreedictionary.com defines supplanter as, “One who wrongfully or illegally seizes and holds the place of another.” He lived up to that definition and now he had to face the music. He sent gifts ahead to his brother whom he would meet the next day. He separated all his belongings in case his brother attacked. That way one group would survive. He separated his kids and his wives. But that night, he spent alone because he wanted to beg God for mercy.

He stayed on the opposite side of the Jabbok River from his family. Jabbok interestingly means, “emptying”. I believe that night he emptied himself of all his past sins and begged God for forgiveness and for mercy. While he was praying, an angel met him and they began to wrestle. They wrestled all night long until the morning’s first light. When the angel realized that he couldn’t beat Jacob, he popped his hip out of socket. Jacob still didn’t give up. He knew what would happen if he did. The angel asked to be released and Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you declare a blessing on me.”

The angel asked for his name. He replied, “Jacob [supplanter, schemer, trickster, swindler]!” He told the angel not only his name, but how he had lived up to that name. He had let his name and his past define him. The angel’s blessing was that he would no longer be defined by a past that tricked people. He would now be called Israel [contender with God]. The angel said, “For you have contended and have power with God and with men and have prevailed.” He went from being a deceiver to a person of confidence and strength. He went from a person who hid from his past to a person who had God’s attention.

I asked in the beginning of this devotion what happens when your past catches up to you. For Jacob, it was the start of a new life. He no longer wanted to be the man he was or to be defined by the things he had done. He wanted a fresh start, a clean slate. He emptied himself of everything he had been and God filled him with who He wanted him to be. Today, if your past is haunting you or looming over you, empty yourself of the person who caused all of that. Ask God to bless you and to change who you are. When He does, your future will change too. You will be defined by who God says you are.

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I Choose To Love

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. To celebrate, I’m giving away “Unglued: Making Wise Choices In The Midst of Raw Emotions” 6 session DVD by Lysa TerKeurst. Keep reading to find out how to enter.

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A friend of mine, who has been married for almost fifteen years, was talking with me about love and marriage. She told me that several years ago her husband left her. Instead of moving on, she held onto her love for him and decided to win him back. She tried everything she could think of. Month after month passed and he wouldn’t break. He wanted to be free to do his own thing and told her he didn’t feel it anymore. Even when he dated other women, she hung on to her love for him. Four years went by before he realized that he would never find anyone to love him the way she did.

They started dating again and recommitted their marriage. They’ve been together several years since that separation and their marriage is stronger than ever. I asked her how because I couldn’t understand. Her answer was simple, yet difficult. She said, “I choose to love him. When he makes me mad, I tell him that I choose to love him anyway. When he leaves clothes on the floor instead of in the hamper, I choose to love him. When he forgets important dates, I choose to love him. When we get in heated discussions, I choose to love him. No matter what happens, it’s my choice to love him or to let the other things control my thoughts.”

She gets what a marriage relationship is all about. It’s not about feelings, because those go away. It’s not about looks, because those go away. It’s not about feeling trapped. It’s about making a daily choice to stay in love. It’s about making a choice to fight for the relationship you are in and fighting off the temptations that try to pull you out of it. It’s a choice to find new ways to keep the flame burning. It’s a choice to look beyond the things that drive you nuts and to focus on the qualities you love. It’s not easy to make those choices.

In fact, I tell people who are getting married that marriage is the hardest thing they will ever do in life. They will have to fight for that relationship every day for the rest of their life. They will have to set boundaries to protect their love. They will have to communicate when they don’t want to. They will have to force themselves to eat crow even when they think they’re right for the sake of the relationship. They will have to lose the mentality that they are two separate people and adopt the idea that they are one and a house divided cannot stand. They will have to choose daily to be in love with the same person day after day, year after year, decade after decade. Love is worth fighting for.

No marriage is perfect because it involves two imperfect people. It takes both of them freeing themselves of selfish motives and putting the other’s needs above their own. It takes one person carrying the heavy load while the other can’t or won’t. It takes understanding that marriage is not 50/50, it’s 100/100. Both parties have to give it their all for it to work. Marriage comes down to making the same decision day after day, year after year, decade after decade. Both parties have to choose to love the other more than they love themselves every day, not just on days where Hallmark tells them to. They have to put thought and effort into the relationship 365 days a year. Love is a choice.

If you would like to win the “Unglued” DVD by Lysa TerKeurst, all you have to do is go to my Facebook page here and “like” it. I will randomly pick one person tomorrow (February 15, 2014) who has liked my page. If you have already liked my page and enjoy reading these daily devotionals, you are already entered. Please invite your friends to like my page so they can receive encouragement from God’s Word too.

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The Law of Concentration

Brian Tracy, who is a business consultant and motivational speaker, teaches about many laws of psychology. One of the laws he teaches is the Law of Concentration. It states that whatever you dwell on grows and increases in your life. If you are constantly dwelling on negative things, then negative things will increase in your life. If you dwell on good things, then good things will grow and increase in your life. If we think about things long enough, we’ll look for them. If we look for them, we’ll find them. If we find them, they’ll become part of our life.

As I heard him talk about this law, immediately my mind went to Philippians 4:8. It says, “Friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” Paul knew the Law of Concentration. He knew that many of us spend our days and sleepless nights thinking about things that are counterproductive to our growth in Christ. He knew the temptation to think on negative things instead of positive things because he dealt with it himself.

Paul must have wrestled with thoughts of unworthiness from a past that caused so much pain to families. He took parents away from young kids and either put them in jail or killed them because they were Christians. I’m sure he suffered many sleepless nights wrestling with the consequences of his past. At some point he had to make a decision to continue worrying about the lives he wrecked or to think on the lives he was changing. He had to force out the negative thoughts that kept him from being a minister and force in thoughts that were positive.

He told us that we’d do best to think on these things listed above. Why? Because he knew if we thought about them and meditated on them, they would grow in our lives. If we want the best things and not the worst to grow, we have to think about them. If we want the beautiful and not the ugly things to surround us, we need to think about the beautiful things. If we want to live a life of praise, then we’ve got to think of praiseworthy things. Our minds can only think on one thing at a time and we get to choose what that is. II Corinthians 10:5 tells us to bring every thought captive and teach them to obey Christ because thoughts are powerful and grow things in our life.

What’s growing in your life? Have you noticed the correlation between that and your thoughts? What do you want to grow in your life? What is one thing you can do today to help you think more about that than the negative things that are growing in your life? Your thoughts not only dictate what grows in your life, but they also dictate your attitude. When you think on the positive things, then the peace of God will reign in your life. Worry, fear, anger, hate and jealousy all have to leave when you think on the things above. They can’t stay around. You have the power to kick them out of your life because you have the power to control what things you dwell on. Think on good things from now on.

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Good Is The Enemy

I heard a quote from Jim Collins that resonated with me. He said, “Good is the enemy of great.” The more I thought about it, the more it sunk in how true this statement is. We quit trying to be great because good becomes acceptable. Good leads to satisfaction. Satisfaction leads to contentment. Contentment leads to stagnation, and stagnation is the beginning of the end. We as Christians have grown comfortable living good lives. We have accepted the lie that being good is all we need to be. Jesus didn’t die on the cross so you could live a good life. He died so you could live a great life.

In John 14:12 Jesus said, “The person who trusts in me will not only do what I am doing but even greater things.” When is the last time you saw someone feed 5,000 people with a couple of loaves of bread and some fish? When is the last time you saw someone walk on water? When is the last time you saw someone raise another person from the dead? Jesus said we could do these things and greater things than these. We don’t see or do those things today because we’ve accepted the lie of the enemy that good is enough.

In II Corinthians 6:11-13 Paul chastised the Corinthian church because they were accepting the lie that good was enough. He said, “Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!” Living a good life is living a small life. It’s fenced in to the boundaries that you have set on yourself.

We have to open our lives up to the possibility of fulfilling Jesus’ promise to us. Either we believe He meant what He said or He is a liar and our faith is in vain. The early church was able to do greater things. Christians throughout the ages have done greater things. Where are the men and women today who are doing greater things? Why have we fenced ourselves in with unbelief? Why have we settled for a watered down Gospel that just encourages us to live good lives? You were created to be great! You were made to do greater things!

To leave the good life and enter the great life, we have to be dissatisfied with good. We have to press on in our walk with God. We have to make the sacrifices of spending time with Him instead of our devices. We have to pursue Him the way He pursues us. We have to expect Him to move and work in our lives just like He did in the disciple’s lives. If you don’t believe He can or will do greater things through you, you have allowed yourself and future to be fenced into a small life. Live expansively and start desiring and expecting to be great today. Write out what you believe God will do through you and then say it out loud. Declaring leads to believing. Believing leads to expecting. Expecting leads to performing, and performing is the beginning of living a great life.

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The Garment Still Fits

I was speaking with a friend who is a pastor a while back. We were talking about ministry, living the Christian life and the struggles faced by those who walk away from their faith for a period of time in their life. I shared with them my story and my calling. I talked about how in the past I couldn’t see how God could still use me since my calling came before my falling away. I felt like I needed to be perfect to fulfill the role God had designed just for me and I had wrecked it. For a long time that is what kept me up at night. I knew there was no way God could use me after how I had lived.

They shared with me the story of their child who has walked away after having been raised in church. They told me about the struggles they face, not just as a pastor, but as a parent who has a child not walking in the way they were taught. With tears in our eyes I began to share my journey back and how I’ve come to the point that I believe God can still use me despite my past and how He can actually use that to His advantage. They looked at me and said, “it was no surprise to God that you walked away or came back. He knew what paths you were going to take. He took that into consideration when He designed your robe of righteousness. And you know what? The garment still fits.”

When you look at Ephesians 2:10, you see that we are God’s masterpiece. He has created you and I with a purpose in mind. When a sculptor is creating a piece of art and they come to an imperfection in the stone, they don’t start over. They don’t even try to cut that part out of the stone. They take those blemishes, those imperfection and they incorporate it into the art work. The imperfections that threaten the future of the masterpiece are what make it unique and are what really sets it apart as a work of art. The sculptor starts each project knowing there’s no perfect stone and knows they will have to work with imperfections to make each piece work.

The second part of that verse says, “He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” He knew long ago the life each of us were going to live. He knew long ago each of us would mess up. He knew we would have imperfections, sins, disabilities and doubts. He designed all of that into the plan He made for each one of us. It doesn’t matter if you found out the plan He has for your life before you walked away, after you walked away or are seeking it out. He has built the plan for your life around the things that would happen to you and the paths that you would take. He took all that into consideration and the garment still fits you.

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