There are some lyrics to a song we sing at church that keep burning inside me. They say, “Set a fire down in my soul that I can’t contain and I can’t control. I want more of you, God.” We had sang that song at church many times before, but on a balcony in Haiti, it became my prayer. As we were having a time of worship in Gonaives, we sang that song and I started listening to the words. I began to internalize what they meant. I began to sing the song with more of a passion than a compulsion.
What does that look like to have a fire set in your soul? What does that feel like to have it burn without bring able to control it? What would happen to me if I truly wanted more of God in my life? Do I really, truly want that and what is the cost? We sing songs and read scriptures a lot without giving much thought to the words we are saying or reading. We rarely dig down deep and plant those words in our heart and mind.
God gives Himself to us to the extent that we allow room for Him. Too many Christians are like the inn keeper in Bethlehem. They have no room for Him, but they want Him, so they put Him in the stable of their lives. He doesn’t just want to be in your stable. He wants the entire inn of your life. He wants to come into every room you have locked up. He wants to fill you up, but you have to make room which means you have to get rid of things.
For me, I want more of Him than I have today. I want to give Him the keys to my inn. I want to kick out the guests of sin, control, security, lack of faith and fear. I want to be like John The Baptist in john 3:30 and say, “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less” (NLT). The only way for that to happen is to set a Holy Fire within that gets rid of selfish desires so I can embrace all He has for me.
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A couple of years ago, God asked us to move to a different church. It was one of the most difficult things to obey. I didn’t want to switch, but we felt Him speaking it to us over and over. We tested it by praying, “God, if this is you, and we’re hearing you right, then let these things happen.” After they happened, I reasoned those things could have “just happened”. We prayed again and asked for more signs, and He gave them. This went on for months because we didn’t want to move. Finally, I agreed to move, but told Him it was only going to be temporary.
It’s a difficult thing to follow God when it’s not when or where you want to go. People don’t understand why you’re picking up and moving. Others feel like you’re abandoning them because they don’t understand why either. We like to think going where God wants us to go is easy, but many times it isn’t. We like having roots planted, but if we are following where God leads, we have to be willing to be transplanted at any given moment.
After the children of Israel left Egypt, they followed God into the desert. Many times they questioned Him and wanted to return to where they came from. Over time, they learned to follow where He led. The Bible says, they followed God’s Shekinah glory wherever and whenever it lead. Numbers 9:22 says, “Whether the cloud stayed above the Tabernacle for two days, a month, or a year, the people of Israel stayed in camp and did not move on. But as soon as it lifted, they broke camp and moved on” (NLT).
They learned what you and I have to learn. We need to follow where God leads us whether it’s for a short while or a long time. If we are surrendered to His plan and purposes, we must always be willing to move. It’s not easy at times, but following where He leads results in growth, blessings and expanded territory. If God is calling you away from where you’ve been, it’s time to break camp and move. You may not know why or where God is leading, but following Him is always the right choice.
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One of the most beautiful sinner’s prayers is found in Psalm 51. David, the man after God’s own heart, is praying in response to having committed adultery with Bathsheba and consequently murdering her husband when she got pregnant. His sin reminds us that none of us are above sinning, no matter how close we are to God. His prayer shows us that we can be made right with God, no matter how far away we feel we are.
In verse 3, he started out, “I recognize my faults; I am always conscious of my sins” (GNT). Each one of us knows ourselves better than anyone. If we are honest with ourselves, we can point out our own faults and know where we are broken inside. Too many of us spend a lifetime trying to cover those up and pretending like we’re fine. When we forget or hide those things, we open ourselves up to walking into sin and failure.
Verse 7 says, “Remove my sin, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” None of us are capable of removing our own sin or healing our brokenness. David trusted God’s forgiveness to be absolute, and we should too. When God forgives us, our sin is gone. We too should let it go and quit living in the shame of our past failures. The stain of our sin is gone. If God has forgiven you, you should forgive yourself too. Your freedom is found in forgiveness from God and self.
My favorite part of this prayer comes from verse 10. David prayed, “Create a pure heart in me, O God, and put a new and loyal spirit in me.” David didn’t like his brokenness. Instead of trying to live with it and defeat it over and over again, he prayed God would heal it. God is more than able to heal our brokenness and create something new in us. Remember, when Jesus forgives us, our old life passes away and all things become new, including our heart. Trust the work that God has done in your life and live in the freedom He gave you.
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I know this isn’t a normal day for a devotion, but I have some exciting news I want to share with you. After writing nearly 1,500 devotions, I’ve finally written a book, and I wanted you to be the first to know!
If your desire is to have a deeper, more productive life of faith, this book is for you. There are 14 devotions with daily challenges to get you to step out in faith. There’s also a bonus section on my website available only to those who get this book.
The book goes on sale this Tuesday, but because you have subscribed to my blog, I wanted to give you the ebook for free. I’ve also discounted the paperback book to my cost. This offer is only good until Tuesday when the book officially goes on sale.
Thanks again for following my site and getting your daily dose of encouragement from God’s Word through Devotions By Chris.
Click here to get it.
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 attended a leadership workshop. On the last day, he and the others were taken to a cemetery and were asked to write their own epitaph. It seems morbid at first, but the instructor was wanting them to to start thinking with the end in mind. It got him to start thinking about what he wanted to be remembered for at the end of his life. When he wrote it down, he started thinking about the things he needed to be doing in his life to make his desired epitaph come true.
One of the things I tell new employees at the company I work for is that everyone is known for something. I ask them, “What will you be known for?” I let them know that no matter what has happened in their past, they have a chance to start over and build their own brand. The brand they build for themselves will determine their success in the company and how far they want to go. Both of these lessons are true for each one of us. We need to be thinking about what we want to be known for and how we want to be remembered.
In II Chronicles 21, Jehoram was king over Judah. He was given a good legacy being from the lineage of David, but he squandered it. In his jealousy, he murdered all his brothers. He also rebuilt the shrines to foreign gods that his father had torn down. Parts of the kingdom revolted during his reign. God then cursed him, had the enemy attack him and gave him a terrible disease. In verse 20 it says, “No one was sorry when he died” (NLT). Can you imagine?
I once heard someone say, “Live in such a way that the preacher won’t have to lie at your funeral.” So what do you want to be remembered for? What legacy do you want to leave behind? Psalm 37:18 says, “The Lord knows the days of the upright and blameless, and their heritage will abide forever” (AMP). What do you need to start doing today to finish your life well and to leave a heritage that will abide forever? It’s not too late or too early to start thinking about the legacy and heritage you want to leave behind.
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When I was in my teens, I was in a scouting program through my church. I had a plan to get my Gold Medal of Achievement (Eagle Scout equivalent) before I turned 18. I had a lot of badges to get. One of them was the Bachelor merit. I had to plan three meals a day for the family, create a shopping list for it, go to the store to get it, prepare those meals, make my bed every day, clean the house, etc. Each merit had a list of activities that had to be done and signed off on before I could earn it.
It taught me to be goal oriented and to work well with lists. The downside of it is I got the mentality of a box checker. I thought all I needed to do to be successful was to check off certain boxes and it would happen. If I wanted to be more spiritual, I just needed to figure out which boxes to check and I’d be good. Do you ever feel that way? Do you think, “What do I need to do to be _________?” It’s the box checker mentality.
A box checker came to Jesus in Matthew 19, and he asked what he needed to do to get to Heaven. Jesus gave him a list of commandments to be checked off. Then in verse 20, he said he had checked off those boxes, and wanted to know what other boxes there were. Jesus told him to sell all he had and follow Him. He and the disciples were perplexed and wondered who could get into Heaven. That’s when Jesus told them that getting into Heaven isn’t about checking boxes.
In verse 26 Jesus said, “With people [as far as it depends on them] it is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (AMP). There is so much in life that isn’t about what we do, but what God does. We want to earn it, but it’s impossible. What do you need to do to get God to love you more? What do you need to do get His favor? We have this mind that says, “If I check off these boxes, then God will …” Jesus was saying go the rich young ruler, and to us, “Quit trying to check boxes.” When we do that, we think we can earn His favor or His grace, but they are gifts freely given. It’s hard to do, but we need to let God do what only He can do because it doesn’t depend on us.
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Recently in our life group we were discussing prayer, when one of our pastors spoke up. He said, “Agreement is the seat of power when it comes to prayer. There is power when we agree with each other in prayer, and even more so when we agree with God.” I’ve found that if you have a body of believers around you, it’s fairly easy to find someone to agree with you in prayer regarding something. I’m called fairly often with a request to pray for something. It’s my honor to agree with someone in prayer. So much so, that I stop what I’m doing and we pray right then.
The harder agreement to be in is the one with God’s will. I don’t always know that, so I end up praying my will and hope it aligns with His. I’ve learned to pray like Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane where I let God know my request, but then say, “Not my will, but yours be done.” That’s a hard prayer to pray if we’re honest, especially when we are praying over a loved one who is fighting for life. Praying for God’s will isn’t about trying to change the will of God, but rather praying for me to accept what God wants to do and to be in agreement with it.
Something I’ve done in my prayer life to help me pray the will of God, is to give him a blank page. I pray, “God, whatever it is that you want to write into my life according to your will, I give you permission. Do what you want, when you want. You know the things I’m praying for. Help me to know the things you want to do in my life and through me. I make myself available to your will.” Be careful praying this prayer. If you mean it, this will unlock the power of agreement with God in your life and things will happen.
In Matthew 18:19, Jesus said, “Again I say to you, that if two believers on earth agree [that is, are of one mind, in harmony] about anything that they ask [within the will of God], it will be done for them by My Father in heaven” (AMP). Because agreement is the seat of power in prayer, make sure you’re bringing someone else along to pray with you on the things that matter most to you. Beyond that, leave room in your prayers for God’s will to take place in your life. When our will conforms to His, it’s a powerful thing.
If something is lost in the house, my wife will tell you I’m not the greatest choice to search for it. I can look everywhere and not find it. Then a minute later, she’ll find it in an area where I looked. What’s the difference? I’m looking at things, and she’s searching for things. Unless there are lights from Heaven shining down on it, and angels singing, I’m not going to find it by scanning the area. When she searches, she’s lifting things up and going through everything.
So many of us search or seek God using my method. As believers, we are to continually seek God’s face and search for Him with our lives. We need to be God chasers who pursue His presence like the pearl of great price. I believe God rewards us and takes us to deeper levels of maturity when we seek out and search Him to know Him better. We can’t be satisfied with a surface level knowledge of who He is. There are greater depths to be searched and only those committed to searching Him out will know them.
Here are some Bible verses on searching for God.
1. But may all who search for you be filled with joy and gladness in you. May those who love your salvation repeatedly shout, “The Lord is great!”
Psalms 40:16 NLT
2. You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 29:12-13 HCSB
3. For thus says the LORD to the house of Israel, “Seek Me [search diligently for Me and regard Me as more essential than food] so that you may live.”
AMOS 5:4 AMP
4. His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us.
Acts of the Apostles 17:27 NLT
5. Seek the LORD and His strength; Seek His face continually [longing to be in His presence].
1 CHRONICLES 16:11 AMP
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