Monthly Archives: January 2018

Quality Time With God

After my wife and were engaged, my dad bought each of us “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. In the book, we read how people give love and receive love. Each of us typically want to be loved in one to two ways. The book goes through the five love languages (physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts and quality time), and it also gives you an assessment to help you know what your love language is so that you and your spouse can keep your love tanks full.

We know from Genesis that we are made in God’s image. I think what that means is that we have a lot of God’s qualities in us. We know that He shows us love, therefore He wants to be shown love. We know that John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave…” he’s also given us the Gifts of the Spirit. I believe one of God’s major love languages is gifts. Abel showed God love by bringing Him the gift of his best lambs and it made God happy.

I also believe God’s other dominant love language is quality time. He loves to spend time with each of us. That’s why prayer is so important. I love Psalm 27. It’s loaded with good stuff. In verse 8 it says, “My heart has heard you say, ‘Come and talk with me.’ And my heart responds, ‘Lord, I am coming’” (NLT). I hear God saying, “Come spend some quality time with me,” to each of us. Do we respond like David?

It’s important to note that we often show love in the way we want to receive it. To keep a relationship healthy, we have to learn to show it in the language of the person we are in a relationship with. Quality time and gifts may not come naturally to you, so you’ll have to work at it. Take some time today to spend some quality time with God. I know you’re reading this as a part of that, but take some time to just sit in His presence so you can hear what He has to say. You’ll be surprised by how your relationship with God changes.

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

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Sanity Break

Years ago I owned a childcare center. As I would go through the new hire orientation, I would let them know how stressful the job could be (Imagine being trapped in a room with 22 two year olds for 8 hours). I would tell them to come to me when they needed a sanity break. Then I would add, “We all get to the end of our rope sometimes. When you get to the knot on the end, that’s when you come to me. Please don’t wait until you’re holding on by the thread below that.”

One day, I was sitting in my office doing paperwork, and I saw a lady quickly go by, grab the doorknob to exit and on her way out say, “Mr. Chris, I gotta have that sanity break now!” My first thought was, “Who’s with your class?” I jumped up and ran to the room to watch the kids. Several minutes later she returned. She apologized for waiting too long, and we began discussing the importance of coming to me before that happened again.

Just like working in that environment, every day stresses add up. Life can be overwhelming at times. We all get to the end of our rope and want to walk out at times. The burdens we carry around with us can often get the best of us too. Jesus understood that, and still does. In Matthew 11:28 jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (NLT). He’s telling us to come to Him before we get to the end of our rope.

His call, “Come to me,” goes out to you and me today. It’s up to us to go to Him and to hand Him the things that are weighing us down. It’s ok to say, “Lord, i can’t carry this anymore. Will you take it? Give me your burden please.” In that moment, when you trust Him to take it, there is a sweet release. Your problems won’t go away, and life will still be coming at you, but you won’t have to bear the weight of it. God cares for you and your situation. He calling to you today, “Come to me.”

Photo by Evan Kirby on Unsplash

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Worth The Wait

My son has entered the complicated LEGO phase. For his last birthday he received several architectural LEGO sets. He’s at the age where he’s in love with the architecture, but he’s not where he can read the instructions, find the right piece and put it the right place. He knows the finished product is going to be cool, but sometimes struggles to wait for it as we try to put it together. I’m often having to remove pieces he’s added, which isn’t easy. He’s learning to wait for the finished product though.

He reminds me of myself as I wait for God to continue to build my life piece by piece. I know the finished product is going to be worth the wait, but I don’t always have the patience. I want to jump in and help. So I add a piece here or there. Sometimes I just take everything and say, “Oh! I see what you’re doing. I got it from here, God.” Like my son, I feel like I’m more independent than I am. I think I’ve got it figured out at times, but I lack the ability to do what only God can do.

King David must have learned this valuable lesson. After being anointed king, he had to go back to the pasture to watch sheep. After slaying Goliath, he still wasn’t made king. I’m sure he wondered when the promise of his future would happen. In Psalm 25:21 he wrote, “Use all your skill to put me together; I wait to see your finished product” (MSG). He learned to wait to see what God was doing and to not jump the gun, even though others around him encouraged him to. He realized waiting on God to complete His work was worth it.

I’m still learning to trust Him, and to wait for the finished product. Maybe you’re there too. What feels like watching sheep is really preparing you for what God has for you. There is a finished product in what God is doing in you. He will be faithful to complete what He began, but we have to learn to let Him work and to use His skill to put us together. Remember that He’s working for your good, and the finished product is worth the wait.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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God’s Overflow

On my first trip to Haiti, we stopped at an orphanage right after we landed in Port au Prince. As we met these children and heard their stories, our hearts were overwhelmed. We also heard how God had called this lady to rescue these children that were stricken with disease and left for dead. As the kids soaked up our love, many of us began to cry. We were overcome with the goodness of God in that moment. As I prayed over the kids and our team, I said, “Lord, I now know what it means to have my cup overflow.”

We all know that David mentioned his cup overflowing in Psalm 23. I had always wondered what that meant. I believe it is when God pours out His goodness into our lives so much that we cant contain all that He’s doing. God is good at blessing us more than we can handle when we are good at giving of our time, talent and resources. When you experience the overflow of God’s blessings, you may have to pray like I did and ask God for a bigger cup.

Here are some Bible verses on God pouring blessings out.

1. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.

Psalms 23:5 NLT

2. The threshing places will be full of grain; the pits beside the presses will overflow with wine and olive oil. I will give you back what you lost in the years when swarms of locusts ate your crops. It was I who sent this army against you. Now you will have plenty to eat, and be satisfied. You will praise the Lord your God, who has done wonderful things for you. My people will never be despised again.

Joel 2:24-26 GNT

3. Blessings accrue on a good and honest life, but the mouth of the wicked is a dark cave of abuse.

Proverbs 10:6 MSG

4. I will make them and the area around My hill a blessing: I will send down showers in their season — showers of blessing.

Ezekiel 34:26 HCSB

5. Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure–pressed down, shaken together, and running over [with no space left for more]. For with the standard of measurement you use [when you do good to others], it will be measured to you in return.

LUKE 6:38 AMP

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Letting Go

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 have a friend who recently asked me, “How do you let go?” He’s had a very rough couple of years. It started with one event and it has snow-balled to the point that it has affected every area of his life. He no longer has an optimistic outlook on life. He’s waiting for the bottom to fall out again. You see, every time he thinks he’s hit rock bottom, something else happens and the bottom falls out. This one event has changed not just his life, but who he is. He struggles with bitterness and he’s holding on to resentment. He doesn’t need or want a shallow answer to his question.

I could only share what worked in my life when I had held on to that kind of pain. My catalytic event was different than his, but I recognized the pain and hopelessness in him. I know all too well the mental battle he is facing. It took years for me to let go even after I finally did hit rock bottom. Everything I did for the next few years was done out of a heart that was still holding on to the pain and trying prove that they had made a mistake. I wasn’t living for something. I was living against someone. There is no peace when you live like that.

It wasn’t until I was reminded of what Jesus said in Matthew 6:15. He said, “If you refuse to forgive others, your Father (God) will not forgive your sins.” I couldn’t find peace in my life because I was holding on to bitterness and I wouldn’t forgive. I had to make the mental choice to forgive and to let it go. I had to go through a mindset change because for years I had let that control my thoughts and actions. When I finally let go, the Prince of Peace came in brought balance back to my life. Thoughts of anger and bitterness no longer controlled me. It was still a fight to keep them out though, so I had to be on constant guard against them.

When I did let go of the things that were holding me captive, I found that my hands were free to receive from God. I also noticed that my motives changed and my outlook did too. I was no longer bound to the mindset that bad things were just going to keep happening and I needed to put my head down and deal with if. I now had a source of peace in my life. When bad things happen now, I hold on to the Prince of Peace instead of the pain and bitterness that the situations could cause.

We each have that choice. We can let events define us and change us, or we can cling to the one who created us. I saw a quote the other day that said, “You won’t know the strength of the anchor until you feel the force of the storm.” Too many times we don’t trust the anchor so we let go of it when the storms come. Bitterness then becomes a sail on the mast of pain. The winds of life blow us around until we crash on the rocks. We have to consciously pull down that sail and cut down that mast because ultimately it’s our choice of what we hold on to. I have decided to put my trust in the anchor, the Prince of Peace, and hold onto it instead of my past.

Photo by Mahir Uysal on Unsplash

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Faith To Believe

Several years ago, we were taking a team on a mission trip. It was going to cost each person around $1,300 to go. We decided to do a couple of fundraisers to help bring the cost down. Since we live in Texas, we decided to sell BBQ plates. After everyone had picked up their plates, we still had several whole briskets left over. I asked the pastor if we could sell it after church the next day. He agreed, so we wrapped it up and put them in the refrigerator.

The next morning, my wife and I went to cut the briskets up. We decided to cut them into chunks of several pounds each rather than to slice it all. As the counter filled up with all these chunks of wrapped meat, my wife looked at me and said, “I hope God honors your faith instead of mine!” I said, “Me too,” as we headed to the foyer to sell them. Within 10 minutes all the brisket was sold, and we raised more money off of it than all the plates combined.

I tell you that because faith is essential to every believer. We need faith to believe God exists, and that He’s forgiven us. Beyond that, we need faith for our prayers to be answered. We need to be able to see in our minds something that doesn’t exist in that moment when we pray if God is going to answer. Many of us are good at asking for what we need, but we’re not good at believing what we are asking for. To me, that’s a critical part of getting your prayers answered.

When Jesus healed people, He almost always told them that their answer depended on their faith. Matthew 9:29 is a typical response from Jesus when someone asked Him for something. It says, “Then Jesus touched their eyes and said, ‘Let it happen, then, just as you believe!’” (GNT) I believe that’s still His response today to whatever you’re praying for. As you pray, begin to see in your mind what you’re asking for, and tell yourself God will answer until you believe it. God answers our prayers according to our faith and belief.

To help you grow your faith, I’ve published a book called “A Devotional Guide to Stretching Your Faith”. You can get the pre-release now on Amazon by clicking here. I’ll officially launch it in the next couple of weeks, but wanted you to be the first to know about it. If you’d like to be on the launch team, email me at chris@devotionsbychris.com.

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Living In Grace

Have you ever failed God by sinning? Did you feel like you let Him and yourself down? If you’re human, then the answer is yes. When we sin, we feel that same shame that Adam and Eve felt in the Garden of Eden. We want to hide ourselves, and cut ourselves off from God for a while. We tend to punish ourselves and beat ourselves up when we mess up. I know that i do all of these things when I sin. Then, a voice reminds me about grace.

Grace is one of those things that the human brain has a hard time understanding. Our whole lives we’ve been conditioned to get punished when we do something wrong. When someone else doesn’t punish us for doing wrong, we tend to punish ourselves mentally. But grace doesn’t do that. It comes and offers God’s unmerited favor of salvation and the covering of sin for free. It’s foreign to how our mind works, but we are called to live by grace through faith.

When Paul was on one of his missionary journeys, a town asked him to speak in the synagogue. Some accepted this grace, and others rejected it. They were used to having to pay for their own sins, and couldn’t accept that someone else had. To those who did accept it, Paul encouraged them. In Acts 13:43 it says, “The apostles spoke to them and encouraged them to keep on living in the grace of God” (GNT). That’s a great word for you and I today too. Keep on living in the grace of God.

The next time you sin or fail God, thank God for His grace, seek forgiveness and ask Him to help you to turn from it. No matter how many times you fail God, His grace will always be sufficient. No matter how bad you sin, the blood of Jesus is strong enough to wash it white as snow. Quit beating yourself up and cutting yourself off from God. Accept what Jesus did for you and keep on living in the grace of God.

Photo by Zac Durant on Unsplash

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