Monthly Archives: July 2014

The Marathon Message

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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?

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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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Mercy And Restoration

Every time I read about King David in the Bible, I come away with a deeper respect for him. In II Samuel, life was going good for David. He was king and had just brought his son, Absalom, home to set aside their differences. Instead of being grateful, Absalom stole the hearts of Israel, betrayed his father and took the kingdom away from him. David had to flee his beloved Jerusalem to keep from being killed. As he was taking one last look from the summit of the Mount of Olives, he was met by the servant of Mephibosheth.

Mephibosheth was Jonathon’s son and King Saul’s grandson. David had taken him in and let him eat from his table. When David asked the servant where he was, the servant said, “He stayed behind to reclaim his grandfather’s kingdom.” I’m sure that hurt David after all he had done for him. David said, “In that case, you get everything he owns.” As David turned to continue on his exile, another man related to Saul started yelling curses at David and throwing rocks at him. He yelled out, “Get out of here you murderer, you scoundrel! The Lord is paying you back. You stole his (Saul’s) throne.”

One of David’s men grabbed his sword and asked permission to cut off his head. David screamed, “No! Who asked your opinion?” He then told them that his own son is trying to kill him. Why shouldn’t a member of Saul’s family have even more reason to? Instead of killing the man who was taunting him, throwing rocks at him and made him weary, he let him be. He showed mercy. He showed great restraint in dealing with everything that was going wrong.

We each have people in our life who have betrayed us. We have people who use words like daggers and stab us in the back. We have people who get under our skin and wear us out. It’s nothing new. It’s been happening for millennia. David showed us a different way to handle them. He showed us that there is another option. In II Samuel 16:12, David said, “Perhaps The Lord will see that I’m being wronged and will bless me.” He knew that if he lashed out in anger, he removed the chance of blessing. He wanted to leave the door open for God to help him.

How do you respond to the people who won’t leave you alone? Do you fight back? Do you get into endless arguments? Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but harsh words stir up anger.” It could be that your response is keeping you in that perpetual cycle. If you want to change the circumstance, change your response to it. Show mercy instead of anger. Have patience instead of lashing out. Open the door for God to bless you instead of slamming it shut. Show love instead of hate. Give back blessings instead of curses and watch what God does. It may take a while, but God will restore you like he did David.

By the way, David did get his kingdom back. It turned out Mephibosheth’s servant was lying. David took half of the belongings back and gave them to Mephibosheth. He then let him continue to live in the palace. The man who cursed him, apologized and was forgiven. All of this was done because David did not sin when he was losing everything. Keep your head up. God sees what you’re going through. He sees the attacks and has not forgotten you. He will restore you.

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Restoring Your Connection

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A lot of the work I do for my employer is away from the office. In order to be able to connect to our intranet, I use a virtual private network (VPN). I have to plug in a special code along with my log in codes after I connect to the internet. Once that happens the VPN goes to work and I get a message that says, “Connection has been restored.” At that moment, my emails begin to download and I can access all the information on our severs that I need. I can start working again

Peter described us as aliens or sojourners here on this earth. Our real home is in Heaven. We are away from where we belong, yet we still have to connect with God. He tells us that we are to keep away from worldly desires that wage war against our souls. We must stay connected with God while we are here on earth so that we can receive His messages to us. We must stay in constant communication with Him so that we have everything we need in order to fulfill what He has called us to do.

So many Christians live their lives without being truly connected to God. They don’t read their Bible, they don’t pray or seek His face. It’s not that they don’t want to. It’s that everything else in their life seems to eat up all of their time. I know what that’s like because I’ve lived a lot of my Christian life like that. When times got tough, I wasn’t connected and I was overcome by my situation. It wasn’t until that point that I truly cried out to God for help. I had no way out. I was desperate. I asked for forgiveness and my connection with Him was restored.

From that time on, I have had to fight with my schedule to make sure I stay connected. I have to carve out time that won’t be interrupted. If we don’t make God a priority in our lives, we will lose that all important connection with Him. We will wander through this life without direction or purpose. We will be busy all the time yet have nothing to show for our busyness. It’s in stating connected to God that we find our purpose. It’s in that quality time that we spend in His Word that we receive His messages to us. It’s in prayer that we cast our cares on Him and take on His burden.

We are all sojourners. We are travelers through this world. It’s the responsibility of each one of us to find ways to connect with God while we are here. Don’t get so caught up in living on the road that you fail to pray and get into His Word. The things of this world are temporary. If we aren’t connecting with our Heavenly Father, we get deceived into thinking they are the things that matter for eternity. Ultimately, it’s our relationship with Him that decides our eternity. It should have the highest importance in our lives. If you’ve lost that connection with Him, there’s no time like the present to get on your knees and restore it. The power is in your hands.

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Listo Para Cristo

On one of my previous trips to Haiti, as we were beginning our final decent into Port au Prince, one of the young ladies on our team looked over at me and said, “Listo para Cristo.” If you’re unfamiliar with Spanish, she literally said, “I’m ready for Christ.” What she was saying was that she was ready to see Him and to be used by Him on that trip. She was opening herself up to His will in her life. That’s a great way to live and really should be the mantra for our lives each day.

When I think of bring ready for Christ, I think of the parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25. They were all waiting for the groom to show up for the marriage feast. When he was delayed, they fell asleep. At midnight, the cry rang out that he was coming. Five of them realized that they didn’t have enough oil for their lamps. The other five were ready for whatever. They had extra just in case he was delayed. The five without oil left to buy more, but while they were gone, he showed up. The five who were ready went in with him. Jesus concluded that parable with, “You, too, must be ready.”

Not only do we have to be ready for Him to come, we must be ready to do what He asks when He asks. Romans 12:13 says, “When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them.” Being ready doesn’t mean when the need arises, you go get everything you need. It means you are prepared beforehand. You need to be mentally prepared to help anyone that God lays on your heart to help. Pray and ask God to keep your eyes open to those who may need your help today. That’s the first step in being ready.

Another step in being ready is to have some funds ready to be disposed of in order to help. I know a man who carries a hundred dollars in his wallet at all times for the sole purpose of giving it away. He wants to be ready to meet the needs of anyone God brings into his path. What he’s doing is not just being ready, he’s putting extra oil in his lamp so that he is ready for whatever. I know a hundred dollars is a lot for many. Pray and ask God how much you should keep on you in order to be ready. You never know when God is going to put someone in your life who needs you to buy some gas, get some groceries, pay for their lunch or to just sit down and listen to them.

Listo para Cristo is a way of life. It’s how God wants each of us to live. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that no matter what your circumstances are, there is always someone who has it worse than you. We are without excuse when it comes to being ready to help others. We have the opportunity right now to do something to get ready to be used by Christ. You can begin by praying and asking God to use you. Then have something on you to give out. It can be cash, it can be a gift card, a stroller you don’t use, a bag of canned goods or anything that God puts on your heart. If you’re going to be used by God in the future, the time to get ready is now.

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Loving God

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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 “CrazyLove: Overwhelmed By A Relentless God” by Francis Chan. Keep reading to find out how to enter.

I’ve lived in and been to parts of the world where marriages are still arranged. Marriages aren’t based on love, but on socio-economic classes. In order for the man to marry the woman, he gets a check list of things he has to do before they are allowed to marry. The thought is that if he can complete a checklist, he can take care of their daughter. Love can happen, but it’s not required for the marriage to work.

As far out as that sounds to us for marriage, we try that in our relationship with God. We think God is concerned with a checklist. Do this. Don’t do that. Thou shalt not… But the reality is that God wants a relationship with us based on love rather than a checklist of do’s and don’t’s. He wants us to fall in love with Him the way that He has fallen in love with us. He wants us to be so deeply in love with Him that everything we do is an outpouring of that love. He wants us to be thinking of Him just like He thinks of us.

If you’ve ever been in love, you know what that feeling is like. Everything you do should be for the betterment of the relationship. Are there times where you mess up and do something wrong? Of course, but that doesn’t mean you don’t love that person. When you mess up, you apologize and make things right so that the relationship can continue. It’s the same way with our relationship with God. We may mess up, but because of our love for Him, we apologize, ask for forgiveness and repair the relationship.

Love does what it takes to make sure the relationship is healthy no matter who is at fault. In our sin, we damaged the relationship with God. Adam hid in the garden and we try to hide still. But God, in His love for us, did what it took to repair the relationship. He extended an olive branch and built a new bridge in place of the one we burned down. He didn’t do it so He could give us a checklist of things to do. He did it because He loves each one of us and wants to have an intimate relationship with us. He gave all He had when we had nothing to give. He came to us when we couldn’t go to Him. He offered forgiveness when all we had done was offend.

God wants each one of us to see how much He loves us and is willing to do for us. He wants us to voluntarily love Him back. He knows that for our relationship with Him to work, we are going to have to love Him rather than fulfill a checklist. Jesus said that he who is forgiven most, loves most. He didn’t say that he who checks off the most boxes will have the greatest relationship. Your life should be lived out of love for Him. Your decisions should be made with love in mind. What can you do today to show God love rather than finding a box to check? When you make that change, you’ll see a deeper walk with Him.

If you would like to win “Crazy Love” by Francis Chan, go to the Devotions By Chris Facebook page here and “like” it. I will randomly pick one person tomorrow (July 12, 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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