Monthly Archives: May 2018

Scattering Seeds

One of my prayers this year has been, “Lord, help us to plant seeds in fertile soil so you can maximize the harvest.” If you’re like me, there are ministries all around you who need funding to keep doing what they’re doing. There are ministers and missionaries who require money to fulfill their calling. There are people who need your counseling and time to minister to them and to help get them through a rough patch. Whether it’s time or money, we only have a limited amount of it, and I want to be wise with where I spend either. I want what I give to make the greatest impact possible.

The idea for the prayer came from a parable jesus taught in Luke 8. He spoke of a farmer who scattered seeds all around. Some fell on the side of the path, some fell in the rocks, some fell among the thorn bushes and some in fertile soil. No matter where it fell, things happened that caused the seeds not to produce. Only the seeds planted in fertile soil were able to withstand the things that tried to prevent growth. But verse 15 said, “The seeds that fell in good soil stand for those who hear the message and retain it in a good and obedient heart, and they persist until they bear fruit” (GNT). I love that those seeds persisted through whatever came against them and reproduced more fruit.

You and I are like that farmer. We scatter seeds wherever we go through giving of our time, our resources and our money. I believe that we can have wisdom in where we scatter those seeds and that we can do things to help those seeds persist until they reproduce. A farmer doesn’t just scatter seeds. They water them, enrich the soil with nutrients and pull weeds around them. If we want to maximize the harvest, we need wisdom in how and where we spend our time and money. It’s God who gives the harvest, but He only does that when we give when and where He tells us because only He knows which soil is fertile.

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Do It Again

There’s a story of a group of college students who went to visit the home of John Wesley, founder of the Methodist church. They noticed there were indentions on the floor of his room where he knelt to pray each day. After the tour, the class loaded on their bus. When the teacher counted, there was one missing. He went back through the property looking for the student and found him kneeling in those imprints praying, “Do it again, Lord. Do it again!” The teacher quietly walked up, tapped Billy Graham on the shoulder and let him know they had to leave.

I love that story because Billy understood that if God did it in the past for someone else, He could do it again for him. King David understood that same thing. In Psalm 126, David remembered how God had delivered the Israelites in the past. Then in verses 4-6 he prayed, “And now, GOD, do it again— bring rains to our drought-stricken lives So those who planted their crops in despair will shout hurrahs at the harvest, So those who went off with heavy hearts will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing” (MSG).

What has God done for someone else that you need Him to do for you? God is the same yesterday, today and forever. What He’s done for others, He will do again for you. You need to find your place where there are indentions on the floor, get in them and pray that God will do it again for you. I believe that what we sow in tears through prayer, we will reap as a harvest of blessing. If God hasn’t answered your prayers yet, keep planting those seeds of prayer. He will do it again in time.

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School’s Out

As a kid, this was one of my favorite weeks of the year because it was the beginning of summer. For the next three months, school was out and summer was in session. Eventually i graduated high school and then started taking college courses. They had the option to take summer courses. You could either take a summer break or you could take classes through the summer and finish college early. In either case, the time came when there was no more summer vacation, and it was time to put my education to use.

The same is true of our life with Jesus. If you grew up in church, you probably went to Sunday School or children’s church where they taught you the stories of the Bible. They helped you to memorize Bible verses, learn the books of the Bible and to have fun at church. But just like school, eventually your time ran out and it was time to go to big church. The learning didn’t stop, but the environment changed. It was less about the stories and more about how to apply them to your life.

Colossians 2:7 says, “You know your way around the faith. Now do what you’ve been taught. School’s out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving” (MSG). There comes a time when we need to not just study the Bible, but to apply it in our lives too. What good is knowledge if it’s never applied? Our faith grows and gets stronger when it’s tested and proven. Make today the start of being a Bible doer instead of just a Bible studier. Take one thing you’ve learned, apply it and live it out. Then keep adding to it day by day until you’re living a life of faith.

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The Secret To Life

To me, one of the verses taken out of context the most is Philippians 4:13. We mainly see athletes with it proudly proclaiming that they can do anything through Christ. I’ve heard people use it when they are taking a test, doing something they don’t want to do and when facing insurmountable odds. It sounds great, and it builds confidence, but what if that wasn’t what Paul was talking about? What if Philippians 4:13 is actually the secret to living a life that isn’t rocked by every storm you face?

If we back up a few verses, that’s exactly what we find that it means. Paul wasn’t telling us that we can do anything like win a game or pass a test. He was telling us that we can be content and confident no matter what we face. We can learn to be self confident through Christ in us to make us equal to whatever life throws at us. We don’t have to live a life where our happiness is dependent on how good things are going or how much money we make or how many things we own. The secret to life is being content no matter what.

How is that possible? You can live that way through Christ. I like how the Amplified version breaks down Philippians 4:13. It says, “I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose–I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]” You and I are to find our strength, confidence and contentment in Christ. Our ability to fulfill our purpose doesn’t have anything to do with our physical conditions, but rather our spiritual condition in knowing who we are in Christ. That’s the secret to life.

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Soul Refreshing

Do you ever have those times where you’re spent emotionally, mentally and physically? It often happens when we’ve been worrying, waiting or stressed. You add all that together and it takes a toll on your mind and body. In those times, it doesn’t take much to make you emotional or to overreact to things. It’s human to have those moments, and I think it’s ok that we go through them, but we weren’t designed to live in that state.

When life is piling up and wearing you down, God offers to refresh us and renew us. However, we can’t get that refreshing by focusing on what’s going on in our lives. We get the refreshing from the water of God’s Word. When we put God’s Word into our hearts and minds, then meditate on it, we become refreshed because we start thinking of heavenly things. It gives us a new perspective and allows God to speak into our situation. His Word is an oasis in the deserts of life that we walk through. It’s up to us to stop and take a drink from it in order to be refreshed.

Here are some verses from the Bible on refreshing.

1. Hear my voice according to Your [steadfast] lovingkindness; O LORD, renew and refresh me according to Your ordinances.

PSALM 119:149 AMP

2. I will refresh those who are weary and will satisfy with food everyone who is weak from hunger.

Jeremiah 31:25 GNT

3. The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.

Proverbs 11:25 NLT

4. The law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple.

Psalm 19:7 NIV

5. You’re all I want in heaven! You’re all I want on earth! When my skin sags and my bones get brittle, GOD is rock-firm and faithful. Look! Those who left you are falling apart! Deserters, they’ll never be heard from again. But I’m in the very presence of God— oh, how refreshing it is! I’ve made Lord GOD my home. God, I’m telling the world what you do!

Psalm 73:25-28 MSG

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The Raccoon Trap

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’ve always heard that the best way to catch a raccoon is to create a trap with a shiny coin dangling, and then put a small hole in the side. A raccoon will reach in, grab the coin, and not be able to get his hand out because it’s in a fist. The simple way to get out is to let go, but the raccoon won’t because he wants the coin too badly. I’ve laughed at how stupid a raccoon must be, but then had to stop when the mirror was turned to me.

Each time I hear the story of the raccoon, I wonder what things I’m holding on to that I need to let go of. There was a young man who approached Jesus in Mark 10, and he asked Him what he needed to do to get eternal life. Jesus rattled off several commandments, “Don’t murder, don’t commit adultery, don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t cheat, honor your father and mother” (MSG). This got the young man excited because he had kept all of those. Just then, Jesus added one more to the list.

Jesus said, “There’s just one thing left: Go sell whatever you own and give it to the poor.” The young man’s face dropped, and he went away with a heavy heart. Verse 22 says, “He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and not about to let go.” He got caught in the raccoon trap. He was holding on to things God was asking Him to let go of. In the end, he lost it all because he couldn’t let go. Corrie Ten Boom once said, “Hold everything in your hands lightly, otherwise it hurts when God pries your fingers open.”

What are you holding on to that God has asked you to let go of? It could be hurt, regret, pain, bitterness, or something physical that you own. Whatever it is, it’s best to let go of it before God pries it out. Don’t let those things trap you and keep you where you are. Release them, no matter how important they may seem. You’ll find that God’s freedom is greater than whatever you’re holding on to. I’ve also learned that I have to let go of things before God can give me new and better things. The choice is ours. What’s it going to be?

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Platinum Override

I’ve stayed at a certain hotel chain enough that I’m Platinum Elite with them. One of the privileges that comes along with that status is called a Platinum Override. If I try to get a room in one of their hotels and it’s full, I can request a Platinum Override. They usually keep one or two rooms open for that, but if those are gone, they can bump another guest to make room for me. I’ve had to do that on a couple of occasions when I really needed a room and all the hotels were booked. When I apologize for asking for it, they remind me that I’ve earned that privilege with them.

I love how Philippians 2 talks about Jesus. It reminds us that He is God’s Son and had the privileges that come along with that. Verse 8 says, “Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion” (MSG). Jesus could have played His Platinum Override card when the time came to die, but He didn’t. He endured the suffering because of His love for you and me.

Philippians 2 also reminds us to be like Christ in this manner. We are to live selfless lives that aren’t intent on getting ourselves ahead at whatever cost. Instead, we are to help others get ahead. Verse 4 says, “Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.” Each of us have the ability lend a helping hand to someone else. There’s always someone else who is worse off than we are. Look for them today, put down your Platinum Override card and help them get ahead. In doing so, you’ll exhibit selflessness like Jesus.

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