Monthly Archives: June 2018

A Lasting Foundation

When I look back on the time in my life where I hit rock bottom and lost just about everything, I see a picture of me laying down in the rain. There is wood and other things thrown about the yard from what used to be the life I had built. As I was talking to God about it one day, I was lamenting on how I had lost everything. That’s when God pointed out what I was laying on. It was the foundation of my life. Everything else may have been stripped away, but I could always rebuild on a firm foundation, especially one that had weathered the storm.

Every one of us build our life out of things and on a foundation. Every one of us will face storms in life. What we’ve built our life out of and on will determine how well we weather those storms. Jesus told us to be wise by building our lives on the rock so that we would have a good foundation for those times. That rock He told us to build on was the truth of God’s Word. All of Heaven and earth will pass away, but His Word will remain. Be wise and build your life on what will last.

Here are some verses on having a good foundation.

1. “If you work the words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who dug deep and laid the foundation of his house on bedrock. When the river burst its banks and crashed against the house, nothing could shake it; it was built to last. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a dumb carpenter who built a house but skipped the foundation. When the swollen river came crashing in, it collapsed like a house of cards. It was a total loss.”

Luke 6:48-49 MSG

2. In that day he will be your sure foundation, providing a rich store of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge. The fear of the Lord will be your treasure.

Isaiah 33:6 NLT

3. Through [skillful and godly] wisdom a house [a life, a home, a family] is built, And by understanding it is established [on a sound and good foundation].

PROVERBS 24:3 AMP

4. But the solid foundation that God has laid cannot be shaken; and on it are written these words: “The Lord knows those who are his” and “Those who say that they belong to the Lord must turn away from wrongdoing.”

2 Timothy 2:19 GNT

5. When the storms of life come, the wicked are whirled away, but the godly have a lasting foundation.

Proverbs 10:25 NLT

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The Wrong Boat

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.

In one of the classes I teach, I have people introduce themselves and tell me a hobby they have outside of work. It provides opportunities for connection early in the class as well as information I can tie back to throughout the day. Yesterday, while training this class, a guy answered that he liked to play music. I followed up with, “What kind?” He responded with, “Worship. I’ve felt called to lead worship since I was young, but I’ve been too scared to step out and do it.” He admitted in front of our group what so many of us Christians are afraid to say.

God’s call on our life can be scary. I think it’s supposed to be. If it were anything less than scary, we’d do it without hesitation. The problem with that is we would think it was done in our own ability. We need to understand that we are simply vessels to be used by Him. It is He who performs the work, we simply provide the channel. Our inability to do whatever He called us to is His greatest opportunity to do something amazing.

God sees in us what we cannot see. Peter was just another uneducated fisherman when Jesus called Him. He didn’t posses the ability to start the Church. He didn’t have the business acumen to take twelve men, start a worldwide movement and grow it. He didn’t have the boldness to stand in front of thousands to preach. He knew what fear was and it got the better of him from time to time. He denied Jesus and his calling in the same night.

The fear that he failed in his calling caused him to go back to fishing when he should have been preaching after the resurrection. He went back to what he knew instead of stepping out in faith to be the rock he was called to be. Jesus didn’t leave him in that boat though. He went to the waters edge in John 21, but they didn’t recognize Him. He called out to them, “Have you caught any fish?” They replied, “No.” Jesus called out, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you’ll catch some.” As soon as they did, the net teemed with fish. Peter recognized the man as Jesus and swam to shore.

Jesus reaffirmed to Peter that day what his role was. He didn’t worry about his failures or inabilities. He worried about his love for Him. Jesus knew that if he truly loved Him, he would obey his calling. He didn’t leave Peter in the wrong boat catching the wrong kind of fish. He reiterated that he was to be a fisher of men from now on. I think that call goes out to you in whatever boat you’re sitting in today. Maybe you’re reading this in the place where you can accomplish things in your own strength. It’s the boat of what is familiar and easy to you. But God has more for you.

I encourage you today to recognize the fear that is paralyzing you and keeping you from your calling. If God called you to do something, it’s His strength and ability that will accomplish it, not yours. Release the fear that sent you back into the boat of the familiar and do what God has called you to do. Faith is about trusting God to do what He said He would do. It’s not about you doing things and giving Him credit. Don’t let fear hold you back another minute. Get out of the wrong boat, and step into the life you were called to lead.

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Fanning The Flame

I consider myself somewhat of an expert when it comes to building campfires. I spent years in a scouting program, and I know to build a fire it requires three things: oxygen, fuel and heat. One of my favorite things to do on a camp out is to restart the fire in the morning from the embers. I move back all the ashes, find a small ember, add some kindling and blow on it. It doesn’t take long before I get a roaring fire and can start cooking breakfast. To me, there’s just something cool about starting that fire from the embers. It reminds me that it doesn’t take much to get a fire going.

When I read 2 Timothy 1:6, I think of starting that fire in the mornings. It says, “That is why I remind you to fan into flame the gracious gift of God, [that inner fire–the special endowment]” (AMP). Paul was reminding Timothy, and us, that each of us have God-given gifts inside of us that we have to keep going. They may be embers right now, but they can be fanned into a great flame. Just like a campfire, they need oxygen, fuel and heat in order to keep growing and to stay ablaze.

The heat comes from God. He’s the one who put the gifts in you. It’s up to you to add the fuel. The kindling required to ignite it is spending time in prayer and reading God’s Word. The oxygen needed to keep it going is putting your gifts into practice. When we neglect the gifts in us, we choke out the flame by cutting off its oxygen. God has created you for a purpose and has given you the tools you need to accomplish that which He created you for. It’s up to you to breathe new life into them and fan into flame those gifts.

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Being A Fountain Of Life

Recently I was talking to a group of people on the Importance of the words you use when talking to yourself. Many times when we mess up, we pound ourself on the head and say something like, “Stupid!” It’s not good to do that. The more you say something, the more it gets into your subconscious. The more it gets in there, the more you believe it, and we always act according to what we believe. So it’s critical that we are intentional about the words we use because they determine our success in life.

It’s also a good habit to consider the words we use when we talk to others. Are we more apt to lifting up or putting down? This one is tougher for me to follow. It’s natural for me to quickly take a shot at someone rather than to intentionally build them up. It requires using a filter and repetitively replacing positive words for the negative ones. Proverbs 10:11 says, “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life and his words of wisdom are a source of blessing” (AMP). Are the words you use a fountain of life to yourself and others?

There really is the power of life and death in the tongue. According to James, none of us will ever tame it completely. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to make sure we are a fountain of life, wisdom and blessings. The words you use today towards yourself and others are important. You can choose from millions of words to speak into someone’s life including your own. Choose to speak life. Choose to be a blessing rather than a curse. Watch and see how your words can change someone’s day or how they see themselves. The life you change just might be your own.

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Being Faithful Now

In sales psychology, there’s a saying: The greatest predictor of future behavior is past behavior. In history, you’ve heard it said as, “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Being human, we don’t like change. Whether that’s the change in our environment, change in our processes or change in our behavior. Because we are opposed to change, we get the same results in our life over and over again. We wonder why we keep falling into the same trap, why life doesn’t get better or why we can’t break a cycle. It’s because we haven’t changed any behavior. If you want to change your future, do something different in your present.

God entrusts each one of us with gifts, talents, income and other things. He’s watching to see what we do with them. Are we someone who cultivates these things, hoards them or wastes them? If you’re looking at someone else’s gifts, talent or money, and you’re thinking, “If only I had what they have, things would be different,” you’re deceiving yourself. Yes, it might be different for a while, but in the end, you’d be back to where you are because of your behavioral patterns. When God looks to give you more of whatever you want, He looks at what you’re doing now with what He’s entrusted to you.

Luke 16:10 says, “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities” (NLT). Every one of us have the opportunity to get greater things and responsibilities, but it depends on what we’re doing with what we have now. We have to quit focusing on future desires and be faithful with what we have if we want more. Don’t despise small beginnings. Instead be faithful in them and God will see He can trust you with more. God looks at our heart more than our outward actions. Pray that God would help you to be faithful in what you have now so He can trust you with more later.

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Seeking Advice

In 1 Kings 12, Solomon’s son Rehoboam became king. The people asked him to lighten the load that his father had put on them. He asked for time to talk to advisors and would answer. He went to his father’s advisors first. They agreed he should lighten the load so the people would be loyal. Then he went to his friends who were younger. They advised him to make things harder. He rejected the advice of the older people, and the nation revolted. The kingdom split in two and he only ruled a small portion of Israel.

We all need advice from time to time, even Solomon did. Who we listen to determines how life is going to go for us. Good advisors don’t just tell us what we want to hear. They give us wisdom and see things we can’t. The best advisors are people who are older than us because they’ve been down the road and know where the road bumps are. Ultimately, every decision we make is ours, and we have to bear the responsibility for those choices. So when you’re looking for advice, lay down your pride and get it from people who are wiser than you.

Here are some verses on getting advice.

1. Sensible people accept good advice. People who talk foolishly will come to ruin.

Proverbs 10:8 GNT

2. People who despise advice are asking for trouble; those who respect a command will succeed.

Proverbs 13:13 NLT

3. Without consultation and wise advice, plans are frustrated, But with many counselors they are established and succeed.

PROVERBS 15:22 AMP

4. Fools are headstrong and do what they like; wise people take advice.

Proverbs 12:15 MSG

5. Pride leads to conflict; those who take advice are wise.

Proverbs 13:10 NLT

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Right Now

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.

Do you ever find yourself letting your mind wander through all the possible outcomes of a situation? Before you know it, you can lose a couple of hours or even a day. I’ve been known to lose sleep just thinking about all the “what if’s”. When I was at a dead end in life and was forced to file bankruptcy, I couldn’t find any outcome that was positive. I was worried sick over how hard the next seven years were going to be. I couldn’t stop thinking of all the implications of it, not to mention the embarrassment. I got caught up in an endless cycle of thoughts that were detrimental to my well being.

God knows all too well how our minds work. I think that’s why Jesus dealt with those of us who are constantly living in the future of “what if’s” instead of in the present what is. In Matthew 6:34, Jesus said, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. (MSG)” He was very plain in that verse and His words hit home with someone like me.

When I give my attention to the “what if’s”, I take away from what God is doing in this very moment. I lose sight of the reality that He is creating in my life right now. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow. I have no clue how my current situation will end, but God does. He knows all too well what tomorrow will bring and what I need to do today in order to prepare for it. When I worry about the possibilities, I miss out on what He’s showing me right now in order to help me tomorrow. That’s why He wants me to give my entire attention to what He’s doing today, not what He’s going to do.

In the second part of that verse, Jesus assures us that God will help us with what comes next. He’s not going to let you walk into a trap and then abandon you. He’s not going to hang you out to dry when times get tough. People may do that, but God never will. Jesus said that He will help you with whatever hard things come up and will be there for you when you need him. Deuteronomy 3:18 says, “The Lord your God goes with you, He will never leave you nor forsake you.” I don’t know what hard thing you’re facing today, but God does and He’ll help you deal with it. Don’t use today’s energy worrying about tomorrow’s problems. God is with you right now, using whatever it is to produce things in your life that won’t grow any other way. Trust His plan and lean on His strength.

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