Monthly Archives: July 2014

A Blank Check


If someone wrote you a blank check, how much would you write it out for? Would you write it out for millions of dollars so you wouldn’t have a care in the world? Would you write it out to cover your basic needs so you wouldn’t be “greedy”? Would you keep all the money or give some away to others in need? Maybe you would write it all out to an organization that is near to your heart. It’s an interesting question I think. I’ve never been given a blank check nor have I written one. I think it would be cool either way to be a part of something like that.

I’ve been reading “Good to Great in God’s Eyes” by Chip Ingram and in the chapter “Make Great Sacrifices”, he challenges the reader to write a blank check to God with our lives. It seems easy to do at first, but then you start to think about that blank. Will God cash that in for everything you have? Will He just ask for what He needs in this moment? What will it cost you ultimately? With the questions comes fear and fear keeps us from leaving that check blank. It either causes us to put an amount in there, limitations on it or stipulations.

Didn’t jesus tell us that God was a good father? Didn’t He say that if earthly fathers could give good gifts, how much more so our Heavenly Father? Then why are we so afraid to write that check out? Are we afraid He will make us destitute? Psalms 37:5 says, “I have never seen the righteous forsaken nor his seed begging for bread.” So that’s not it. Is it that we think He will send us to some remote part of the world that we’ll hate? I don’t think He’d do that either. He knows that you need to be happy to thrive and do His work.

The truth is that we see our lives as our own and not His. That’s not easy to write and I’m sure it’s not easy to hear. If we truly believed I Corinthians 6:19-20 that’s says, “You are not your own, you were bought with a price”, we’d be willing to write that check out to God. If we truly believed it when we say, “Everything I have belongs to God,” we’d be more willing to give up our possessions for the Kingdom. We would ask God how much He wants us to give instead of just giving Him 10%. We would be willing to relocate wherever He needed us, give up that lucrative salary and do whatever He asked.

As it is, most of us live good Christian lives instead of great ones because we aren’t willing to let go of the temporary things for the eternal things. We aren’t willing to give up our sight so we can walk by faith. I believe the early church turned the world upside down as Acts 17:6 says because they understood what it meant to offer themselves as living sacrifices (living blank checks). They got it that their lives weren’t their own. What if we started living like that? How different would the world be if we wrote God a blank check with our lives? How different would your life be?

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Heaven’s Hound


In the late 1800’s Francis Thompson wrote a open called “The Hound of Heaven”. I know I probably read it in high school, but I can’t remember much more about it than the title. When I think about God and His relentless pursuit of us, I think of that poem. I think of how God isn’t content to leave us alone. He sniffs us out, finds us and chases us until we are His. He wants nothing more than for each one of us to know Him and to be with Him. He goes to whatever lengths He has to in order to get our attention. He risks everything just so we can see His love for us.

Throughout my life, I’ve read and heard about Jesus asking the crowd, “If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do?” He answers the question with, “Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it?” He draws a parallel with God who does the same with us. God isn’t content with 99 sheep in the pen. He’s looking to have every one rescued when they’re lost. He will go and search until He finds that one and brings them back.

I remember as a kid thinking, “I’d leave the one. I’ve got 99 others right here. Why would they leave them to go after one?” It didn’t make sense to me because I never had sheep. I still don’t have them, but I do have pets. Shepherds love their sheep like you and I love our pets. I’ve seen it over and over when someone loses a pet. They post it on Facebook. They put out flyers with “Reward” written at the top. They drive around the neighborhood calling out to that pet. They don’t give up until that animal is home. Why? Because a pet is a member of the family to most people. Imagine how much more they’d search if it was their own flesh and blood.

You and I are not animals. We are members of God’s family. We are made in His image with His craftsmanship. We are members of His family. Romans 8:15 tells us that God has adopted us as His own children. When one of us wanders off or strays, He goes into search mode. He sends out the warnings. He calls out to us in a desperate attempt to find us. He leaves all that He has behind because He would trade it all just to have us back. It doesn’t matter if we did something stupid and that’s why we got lost. It doesn’t matter if we purposefully did it like the Prodigal Son. All that matters to Him is that we get home.

Just like a hound sniffs out what he’s looking for, God comes looking for us until He finds us. He’s given up everything He has to rescue us. He’s paid the reward in advance so that we could go home. He sacrificed His Son to pay the cost of our sin. There’s nothing we could ever do to keep Him from wanting us to go home with Him. There’s no sin strong enough to break the work done on the cross. If you’re lost today, stop and listen. God is calling out to you. He’s looking for you and He won’t rest until you’re where you belong at home with Him.


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Until Victory Is Won

My son always wants to help with whatever I’m doing. If I’m shopping in the store, he wants to be the one to get the item off the shelf. He says, “Here, let me help.” When I’m bringing in the groceries, he wants to carry a bag. Every once in a while he gets one that’s more than he can handle. He’ll say, “It’s too heavy. Help me, Dada.” I’ll reach down and carry the bulk of the weight, but still let him do his part. I’ve been in his shoes before. I’ve had baggage that was too heavy for me to carry on my own. I’ve just haven’t been as eager to ask for help as he has. I think there are many who are in the same boat.

In Exodus 17, the Israelites were traveling from Egypt to the Promised Land. On their way, they were attacked by the Amalekites. Moses had Joshua recruit some men to go fight the Amalekites while he stood on top of a hill holding the staff. As the battle raged on, Moses, Aaron and Hur noticed that as long as Moses had his hands raised, they were winning. When his arms were lowered, they were getting beat. They encouraged Moses to hold his hands up, but after a while he couldn’t do it anymore. He needed help.

It doesn’t say if Moses asked for help or not, but it does say that Aaron and Hur acted on his behalf. They saw a need and improvised to help him out. They grabbed a stone for him to sit on so they could hold up his arms. They stood there until the sun went down and the Amalekites were defeated. Moses named the place Yahweh Nissi which is God My Banner. God gave the victory, but it was won because two people saw another who needed help and lifted him up. They sacrificed their comfort for those who were engulfed in a battle.

If you look around at the people God has placed in your life, there are those who are fighting battles and they’re growing tired. They can’t hold their hands up anymore. They’re struggling and losing the war. God is looking for people like Aaron and Hur who will go to those who need help, hold them up in prayer and sacrifice until their battle is won. By helping them, in turn you are helping others that they are holding up. When Aaron and Hur helped Moses, they had a direct affect on the army fighting below. We never know how far our help really goes.

Whose arms has God asked you to hold up? Who in your life needs you to help them win their battle? It may not be easy for you, but If God is asking you to do it, you’re going to have to make the sacrifices necessary. You’re going to have to spend time holding their hand, standing beside them and lifting them up in prayer. Your role in their battle may not be glorious, but it is vital to their victory. They may not ask you to do it, so you may have to offer it. You also may have to improvise in order to get them through the day. Do your part in holding them up until God gives the victory.


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The Rock Of Help

When I get overwhelmed by circumstances and things going on in my life, I do an exercise in faith. Before I panic, I force myself to remember times when God has come through for me. I try to think of all the times before when things have been hopeless and at the last minute, He answered. Doing that reminds me that God answers at just the right time, that He sees my situation and that He’s been faithful in the past. When I begin to take my focus off of how impossible my situation is and remind myself of how capable God is, my attitude starts to change.

The Israelites were at Mizpah offering sacrifices to God for their sin. I Samuel 7 tells us that all of Israel was there repenting. While they were gathered for offerings, the Philistines decided to attack them. The Israelites were scared, confused and began to panic. Samuel cried out to God on their behalf as he made a sacrifice. Verse 10 says that as he was making the sacrifice, the Philistines showed up for battle. God spoke from Heaven in loud claps of thunder that threw the enemy into confusion. After Israel routed the Philistines that day, Samuel set up a rock and named it “Ebenezer” which means rock of help.

Anytime that Israel was in distress, they simply had to look at that rock and remember that God came through in an impossible situation. It was a reminder that if He did it before, He’ll do it again. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. David knew that too. I wonder how many times he passed by Ebenezer and called out to God. In Psalm 61:2, he wrote, “When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” He wanted to be led to God, but also to that memory that God saves us just in time.

When we get overwhelmed, our prayer shouldn’t be one of panic. It should be that we are led to the rock that is higher than we are. When the enemy comes in like a flood, we need to run to that rock for safety. When we can’t see tomorrow because of all the trouble today holds, we need to remember the God we serve. We need to call to mind the great things He has done in the past and remind ourselves that we are not forgotten. We have not been abandoned. He will come just in the nick of time as He always has.

Don’t make your decisions based on fear. Make them based on the faith that God hears us. Make them based on how He has responded in your life in the past. Your situation may seem hopeless. You may be outnumbered, out gunned and surrounded, but you serve a God who is able. He is able to deliver you from whatever you are facing today. It’s not too late. You’re not too engulfed. You’re not finished. When you’re overwhelmed, run to the Rock of Help. He’s there for you in your time of need.


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Is It Well?

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 “It Is Well” by Mark Dever and Michael Lawrence. Keep reading to find out how to enter.

I was 23 when my mom passed away from cancer. I remember praying every day for her. There were no social media sites around to get tons of people to pray, but there were email lists. I sent emails to everyone on my list asking them to pray for her. I had faith that God would heal her. As I was going about my business at work one day, I answered the phone. My brother told me to get home as quickly as possible. In a panic I began trying to hurry things along. I then realized I hadn’t hung up. I held the phone to my ear to see if he was still on the line. I heard my dad say, “Don’t kill yourself getting here, son. She’s already gone.”

A day or so later, I sat down to write an email to all those who were praying. As I wondered what to write, the words of an old hymn came to my mind. “When peace like a river attendeth my way. When sorrows like sea billows roll. Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, ‘It is well.'” I began to write to the people who had prayed so diligently to thank them for their prayers. I let them know that she had passed, but also that it was well with my soul. As much as I wanted her to be healed, I understood that God’s reasons were better than my own.

We each have a choice when something we really, desperately want to happen doesn’t. We can choose to be bitter at God over it or we can choose to say, “It is well.” It doesn’t mean that I agree with the decision that God made. It simply says, “I trust you, God even when I don’t agree.” We somehow think that our selfish desires are more important than His holy plan for the world. We argue, scream and fight with Him when things don’t go our way. We sometimes see it as Him attacking us or mocking us, but it’s the farthest thing from it. He sees the whole picture from eternity’s perspective. I see a pixel of it from a moment’s perspective.

I don’t know why God does what He does. I don’t know why things happen that hurt us. I simply know that nothing happens in my life without Him knowing about it. He knows what I need to go through today to prepare me to be the person He needs me to be tomorrow. He knows what I need to go through now so I can help someone in the future. I can get through my grief. I can rise from the ashes of a life that has been burned to the ground. I can rebuild what has been torn down. With that in mind, I can find the courage to say, “It is well.”

If you would like to win “It Is Well” by Mark Dever and Michael Lawrence, go to the Devotions By Chris Facebook page here and “like” it. I will randomly pick one person tomorrow (July 26, 2014) who has liked my page. If you have already “liked” my page, you are already entered for this drawing. I would appreciate it if you would invite your friends to like my page so they can receive encouragement from God’s Word too.


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Prayer For My Day

Heavenly Father,

I recognize that you are the King of Kings and The Lord of Lords. You are the creator of a universe so vast that we can barely comprehend it. You speak and galaxies come into existence. Your word is powerful and true. It always accomplishes what you want it to. You can see beyond the farthest star and choose to look into our hearts and lives. Jesus said that not even a sparrow falls without you knowing about it. You are deeply concerned with us and our world.

I know you see the turmoil that this world is engulfed in. There’s fighting between countries, terrorist who are killing innocents, Christians who are being persecuted and so many other evil things going on. It’s easy to look at all of that and be fearful. I pray that you would give me peace. Send your Holy Spirit to comfort me and to remind me of what you have said. You will not leave me or forsake me. You will not leave me abandoned even though the world appears to be falling apart.

I pray that you would help me to see others who are concerned about everything so I can remind them that you are in control. Help me to be an encourager to them. Give me words to speak so that they will have your peace as well. Use me today in someone’s life. Let me speak life into them. Give me words of hope. I don’t want to say anything that isn’t from you, so guide and direct my speech. I yield myself to you and your plan. I know that it is far better than the plan I have.

Thank you for all you’ve done for me. Thank you that you have always provided in my moment of need. I can’t think of a time when you didn’t come through just in time. You have been faithful to me even when I’ve been unfaithful to you. You’ve loved me when I haven’t shown you love. What you give me isn’t conditional on what I do. You freely give all you have because I’m your child. You are an amazing father who cares for me. I don’t say thank you enough for the consistency of your blessings. With all I have in me, I say, “Thank you!”

Watch over me today and protect me. Put people in my path that you want me to be a blessing to. Open my ears to hear your voice and give me the courage to do all that you ask of me. I want to walk by faith and not sight and that takes courage. I’ll step out in faith today if you ask me to. I’ll speak your words to someone in need if you prompt me to. I’ll be your hands and feet to whoever you ask me to because of all you’ve done for me. I love you and praise you.

In Jesus name,



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Beautifully Broken


Have you ever been in a church with stained glass windows on a sunny day? They are so beautiful. I love seeing them in churches especially when the glass tells a story. They will often have pictures of the disciples or the heroes of the faith in their time of need. When the light shines through, the room lights up with all the beautiful colors and you see the detail in the art. It’s amazing. I’ve had the privilege of seeing some of the most beautiful stained glass windows in Europe including Notre Dame and Westminster Abbey.

I’ve never made a stained glass window, but I’ve looked up the process. It takes a lot of time and preparation. Once you have the design of whys you want your art to look like, you then have to determine what colors and shapes it will take to make it the most beautiful. That’s when the process really begins. You then take glass, score it and break each piece. Until it is broken, it cannot become as beautiful as it can be. It’s in the brokenness that it can be put together with the other pieces to create the masterpiece that is planned.

Once the broken pieces broken, it’s then arranged on a marble slab. The pieces are then soldered together with foil. The soldering process is time consuming. It requires that the pieces of glass undergo intense heat and pressure. It may also require more breaking so that the pieces fit together better. It can be a while before you really start to see the progress of what’s happening and it’s not until it is held up and the light shines through it that it’s beauty is revealed.

Our lives are a lot like stained glass windows. God has a beautiful design and plan for each one of us. He sees all the individual pieces that make up our lives, and He knows that it’s not until we are broken in the right places that He can make something beautiful of our lives. We look at the broken pieces and see a mess. We feel the pains of being broken. He looks at them and sees His art. He sees how each broken piece of our life will fit together to create the story of our life.

It takes time, pressure and intense heat to put all of our broken pieces together. We try to crawl off the slab because the process is more than we can bear at times, but if we trust Him, He will be faithful to complete the good work He began in us. Once the process is complete, it’s not until we let His light shine through us that our true beauty is shown. It’s when we let others see the story of how God took a broken life and made something beautiful of it that other begin to appreciate what He’s doing in their life. God takes our brokenness and creates masterpieces. What story does your life tell?


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The Marathon Message


There’s a story about a man named Pheidippides who lived in Greece in the fifth century. After fighting in a battle against the Persians, he ran from the town of Marathon to Athens to announce the outcome of the battle and that the Persians were headed there to attack. He burst into the assembly and shouted, “Victory!” Shortly thereafter, he collapsed and died. To honor what this man did, people now run about the same distance he did in Marathons. They push their bodies to run over 26 miles as fast as they can.

I’m reminded of the race that you and I are in. Paul told us in I Corinthians 9:24-26 that we need to run our race in order to win. He said that it’s for a temporary crown, but for an eternal one. He then finishes off by saying, “I run with purpose in every step.” Pheidippides ran with purpose as well. He knew that he had to get the message to Athens. He knew there would be trouble if he didn’t. I’m sure he was tired and sore from fighting all day in heavy armor, but he still ran. With every step, he thought about the message he had been given.

What about us? Are we running every step of our race thinking about the message we carry? There is no life too ordinary or too complicated that it is not our responsibility to carry and deliver His message. II Corinthians 4:7 says, “We carry this precious message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives.” Paul recognized that each one of us who have received Christ have this message in us. There’s no life to ordinary that you can’t share “Victory” with someone else. There are too many people who need to hear the Good News we carry for us to remain still and silent.

Eventually we will all get to the finish line. We will all have to stand before God and give an account of how we ran our race. Will the story your life tells be one where you kept the message bottled up and hidden or will it be one where you gave your all in this race so that others may know? If it’s the first of the two, the good news is that your race is not over. There is still time to run your race with purpose. There is still time for you to pick up the pace and to finish strong. When you get to the finish line, you want to be able to shout, “Victory!” And then be able to say like Paul did, “I’ve run hard right to the finish, believed all the way. All that’s left now is the shouting – God’s applause.”

Don’t get caught up in running for the applause of man. That’s the temporary crown that fades. The applause of God is what matters. The way to get the applause of God is to run this race for His glory, not our own. It’s to make His name known and not our own. This treasure that we have inside of us was meant to be shared. The message of Christ’s victory at the cross must be shouted in the assembly until all have heard. Until then, how can we rest? How can we live our lives without purpose? It’s why we were created. It is our purpose.


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Do You Hear Your Soul?


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 “The Priest’s Graveyard” by Ted Dekker. Keep reading to find out how to enter.

I got to meet Ted Dekker and hear him speak at the Re:Write Conference. He shared his thoughts on writing, but more importantly, he shared about his faith. He played one of those videos where it starts on earth looking at a microorganism and pans out all the way out to space and somehow ends up back on earth again. While it was playing, you could hear the faint sound of “Yahweh” being called out. I started paying more attention to that than the video itself. Ted then talked about how our souls cry out to God.

In Psalm 84:2, the psalmist wrote about his soul crying out. In Psalm 42, he wrote that his inner self thirsts for God. I believe our souls want badly to connect with God. They want to hear from Him. I think that’s why there’s such a feeling of contentment when you are in a prayer meeting or a worship service when you can feel God’s presence. Your soul is being satisfied and recharged while you’re in His presence. It’s thirst for being with God is quenched.

We tend to be pretty good at satisfying our physical thirst, but not always our spiritual thirst. We care for our physical bodies more because we are more in tune with it. Our spirit has needs as well, but often we just disregard it or tune a deaf ear to hearing it cry out for Yahweh. David was in tough with his soul. He could sense that it was calling out, that it was thirsty. He decided to be led by His spirit rather than His flesh. I believe that’s one of the main reasons that he was known as a man after God’s own heart.

When Jesus was on the garden before the crucifixion, His soul was crying out to God. He asked the disciples to pray with Him. He invited them to let their souls cry out as well. Instead, they fell asleep. They tended to their body’s needs instead of their spiritual needs. In the Message, Jesus told them, “There’s a part of you (soul) that’s eager, ready for anything in God. But there’s another part of you (flesh) that’s as lazy as an old dog sleeping by the fire.” We fault the disciples for sleeping all the time, but don’t we do the same thing? Don’t we listen to the weaker part a lot?

David spoke to his soul to wake it up, to challenge it or to cheer if up. If you find yourself listening to the part that doesn’t want to do anything for God, speak to your soul. Find the place where you can quench its thirst for God. Fasting is a great way to do that. It denies the weaker part of your body and feeds your soul. Do a one day, two day or three day fast. It doesn’t have to be 40 days. If you find you’re lacking the ability to do what God asked you to do, quit feeding your flesh and start feeding your soul. It’s ready to do all that God wants you to do. You just have to start listening to it.

If you would like to win “The Priest’s Graveyard” by Ted Dekker, go to the Devotions By Chris Facebook page here and “like” it. I will randomly pick one person tomorrow (July 19, 2014) who has liked my page. If you have already “liked” my page, you are already entered for this drawing. I would appreciate it if you would invite your friends to like my page so they can receive encouragement from God’s Word too.


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Living A Significant Life

I’ve never met anyone who said, “I don’t care if my life doesn’t matter.” Each of us in some way want our lives to matter. We want to live significant lives. We want to make a difference. When we die, we want the world to be different because we were here. I believe that’s how most of us, if not all of us think about our lives. When we feel like we are making a difference, we are riding high. We feel most insignificant when we don’t think anyone notices us or that we aren’t making a difference. We feel worthless when we aren’t appreciated. Our feelings are tied to how significant we think our lives are.

If we want to live significant lives, we should see what God says about it. James 4:10 says, “Humble yourselves (feeling very insignificant) in the sight of The Lord, and He will exalt you (He will lift you up and make your lives significant) (AMP).” So the way to really live a significant life is to feel insignificant in the sight of The Lord. It’s when we humble ourselves before God that He can begin to do something significant with us. Until then, we are out seeking to live a significant live to get the glory ourselves.

When we humble ourselves, we let God know that we understand we are nothing without Him. We show Him that we recognize that all we have is given to us by Him. Being humble in His sight is understanding that our talents, our jobs, our income, our skills are all a gift from Him. It’s not because of anything we’ve done. It’s not because we are self made people. Our lives can only become eternally significant when we stop and recognize that He is the source of everything we have. When we recognize that, we won’t be out seeking glory for ourselves. We’ll be doing things for His glory.

It’s hard for us to think that way because it’s the opposite of what we know in this world. Our culture says that we should promote ourselves, get all the praise we can, get recognized at every opportunity in order to feel significant. But God says it’s not until we feel insignificant that we can be significant. He says if we seek out praise for ourselves, we have our reward. We then have to choose, are we after a temporary praise from people or are we after the eternal praise from God? The significance of your life rests in how you answer that question. Charles Studd wrote, “Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”

If you’re living your life to be significant so people will know your name, your memory will be gone not long after you die. If you’re living your life so people will know His name, what you do will be remembered for eternity. Our search for living significant lives begins and ends with being humble in the sight of The Lord. He can’t lift us up until we’ve recognized our lowly estate. If you truly want to leave the world different than when you came, do everything for God’s glory, not your own. Seek to make Him known instead of yourself. That’s how you live a significant life.


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