Have you ever had to borrow someone’s car that was nicer than yours? How did you drive it? For me, I had my hands at 10 and 2 the whole time. I took extra caution because I didn’t want to wreck it. If it had been my car I was driving, I would have just used one hand on the wheel and been less cautious when driving. Why is that? I think it’s more to do with the ownership of it than the familiarity. If I wreck it, then it was mine to wreck. It’s a whole different story if I wreck something that belongs to someone else.
Now think about the decisions you make regarding your life. For many of us, we treat them like we do driving our own car. It’s our life and our decisions, so if I mess it up, at least it was my life that I messed up. With that kind of thinking, we tend to make quick decisions with less thought than we would if we were giving that advice to someone regarding their life. Can I challenge that link of thinking for a minute? Your life is not your own. You were bought with a price, so it is no longer your life you live, but Christ’s. Sound familiar? Check out 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 if not.
Thinking about that, let’s look at Proverbs 28:25. It says, “To make rash, hasty decisions shows that you are not trusting the Lord. But when you rely totally on God, you will still act carefully and prudently” (TPT). Are you trusting the Lord with your life? Do you believe that it belongs to Him? Then we need to take our time with the decisions we make regarding it and seek His wisdom. It’s time we started treating our lives like they belong to someone else. God created you with a purpose and has a plan for you and your life. Today, instead of making decisions like it’s your life, ask God what His plan is for you.
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While watching the recent lunar eclipse online, I learned some new things from the astrophysics who were giving a play by play. One of the things was that from the time you see the sun touch the horizon, until it goes down, you are not really seeing the sun. You are actually seeing a reflection of the sun that has already dipped below the horizon. Because of air density and the curvature of the earth, it creates a mirage that reflects an image of the sun back above the horizon. So when you’re watching a sunset with the sun going below the horizon, you’re actually looking beyond the horizon.
I think that’s pretty cool because until that point, i thought we could only see as far as the horizon. When you read Hebrews 11, you read about the great heroes of our faith. They were the men and women who trusted God without seeing what He was talking about. That’s really what faith is. If you could see what you believe in, it’s not really faith. Trusting God is following where He leads before there is anything there to see. It’s truly looking beyond your visual limitations and seeing into the future.
Hebrews 11:13 says, “These heroes all died still clinging to their faith, not even receiving all that had been promised them. But they saw beyond the horizon the fulfillment of their promises and gladly embraced it from afar” (TPT). What has God been asking you to do that’s beyond your current vision? It may be over the horizon, but if He’s asking you to move towards it. Trust the vision of what you truly can’t see at this moment, and start acting in faith. The life God has called us to is always beyond the horizon. It’s up to us to trust in what He can see more than what we can see.
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I was sharing my story with someone and they made a remark about the encouragement I received from the people around me during that time. I agreed and told him I wouldn’t be around if it hadn’t been for those people who showed up and helped me through those times. We never know how important it is to someone when we show up in their time of need or say the right words when they need to hear them most. Those things provide the fuel people need to keep going when they’re ready to give up.
If you Google The word “encourage”, it means, “to give support, confidence or hope to someone.” You and I are told many times to encourage other believers and people around us. God knows that each one of us need words of encouragement to help us get through life. It doesn’t take a lot of effort or time to give encouragement to someone, and it can make a world of difference. Look around you today and offer encouragement to someone even if you’re not sure they need it. Doing it will brighten someone’s day and show them God’s love.
Here are some Bible verses on encouraging others.
1. A soothing tongue [speaking words that build up and encourage] is a tree of life.
PROVERBS 15:4 AMP
2. And so encourage one another and help one another, just as you are now doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 GNT
3. The words of the godly encourage many, but fools are destroyed by their lack of common sense.
Proverbs 10:21 NLT
4. Our counsel is that you warn the freeloaders to get a move on. Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet. Be patient with each person, attentive to individual needs. And be careful that when you get on each other’s nerves you don’t snap at each other. Look for the best in each other, and always do your best to bring it out.
1 Thessalonians 5:13-15 MSG
5. Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love.
Hebrews 10:24 TPT
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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.
How do you respond to road blocks and set backs? Do you believe the non-scriptural platitudes that say, “God doesn’t close a door without opening a window”? Do you give up and just sit there? Maybe you look for another route and roll with the punches. Each of us respond in different ways when we’ve done the ground work for things in our lives only to have it stopped suddenly. I believe how we respond matters.
In Genesis 26, Abraham had already died and his son Isaac was a full grown man. Isaac planted crops and God blessed them. Whatever he did, God put His hand on it and made him successful. With that success came jealousy from others who were not as blessed. The Philistines went around and filled his wells with dirt, and their king made him uproot his family and move because of their jealousy.
When Isaac moved away to other places he had taken his flocks before, he realized what they had done. Isaac and his father had dug many wells throughout the land to give water to their family and flocks. Now, all those years of work had been undone. He could have looked for other wells that didn’t belong to him, but that wasn’t right. Genesis 26:18 says, “He reopened the wells his father had dug, which the Philistines had filled in after Abraham’s death. Isaac also restored the names Abraham had given them” (NLT).
When what you’ve worked for gets destroyed by someone else, don’t just walk away or give up. Put the work back into it and re-dig your wells. It’s going to take work. It’s going to take determination. Your desire to be successful and blessed has to be stronger than your desire to give up. Isaac didn’t quit or look for God to open a new well. He grabbed a shovel, started digging, and restored what the enemy had closed. That’s the response we should give to set backs and roadblocks in our lives.
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When I was younger, we sang a song at church from Isaiah 43:1-2. In it, the Lord says, “Do not be afraid—I will save you. I have called you by name—you are mine. When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you. When you pass through fire, you will not be burned; the hard trials that come will not hurt you” (GNT). Most of our songs were verses in the Bible back then. This one always made a string impression on me though.
One of the things I picked up on this verse was that it says, “When you go through,” not, “If you go through.” Every one of us will have times in our lives when we will go through waters so deep that we can’t touch the bottom anymore. We are all going to face difficulties that sweep us away like a rushing river. There are times when we will have hard times where things will get heated. But the promise of God first to us in this verse is that God will save us because He knows us by name.
Saving us doesn’t mean we won’t suffer loss, go through hardship or face difficulties. As I mentioned, this verse guarantees we will will. The difference is that you and I will not be overcome by the things that life brings against us. These things that happen should build our trust and faith in God because it’s in those times that our faith is proven and strengthened. In those times we find out what our faith is made of and how strong God truly is because we rely on Him so much. Don’t be afraid of these times. You belong to Him, and He knows you by name.
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I’ve been through times and situations where I’ve wondered where God was. When I’m neck deep in problems and my prayers don’t seem to be reaching Heaven, I start to think God doesn’t hear me, or worse, that He doesn’t care. Have you been there? It’s a rough place to be. There have been moments where I’ve been desperate that if God didn’t show up, I didn’t know how I was going to be able to go on. When I look back, I can see God’s hand and how He was growing my faith, but in those moments, I felt alone and that God had forgotten me. That’s a tough place to be emotionally and spiritually.
I have a friend who says, “God is the God of the eleventh hour and fifty-ninth minute.” It’s not that He doesn’t hear us, see us or know where we are. It’s that He has His own time table. I also believe that many times He uses people to answer our needs, but we aren’t always very responsive to His promptings. We usually wait to do what He asks us to do because we’re unsure we’re hearing Him correctly. If you can’t see Him moving, it doesn’t mean He doesn’t care or that He’s sitting back doing nothing while you’re going down.
I love Isaiah 40 because it reminds us of the greatness of God, especially when we’re doubting Him. Toward the end, He speaks to Israel, but the message is to us as well. Verses 27-28 say, “Why would you ever complain, O Jacob, or, whine, Israel, saying, “ GOD has lost track of me. He doesn’t care what happens to me”? Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening? GOD doesn’t come and go. God lasts” (MSG). If you’re in one of those moments, take your eyes off your problems and look at the consistency of who God is. Remember that He’s there, He Sees you and He’s growing your faith.
Photo courtesy of Images by Chauvin on Instagram.
I believe it was Coach Wooden who said, “When opportunity knocks, it’s too late to prepare.” The window for an opportunity that shows up in our life is usually very brief. You won’t have time to do all the prep work necessary and seize the opportunity in most cases. We should always be ready by doing the prep work ahead of time. The problem is that human nature doesn’t want to put in the work when there’s not even an opportunity on the horizon. Those who have done the work ahead of time are the ones who make the most of every opportunity that comes their way.
I believe that God presents every one of us with opportunities that we should be prepared for. How can we give to a need if we haven’t saved any money? How can we answer spiritual questions if we haven’t studied the Bible? How can we tear down strongholds if we haven’t fasted? How can we be prepared for His return if we don’t have enough oil in our lamps? There are so many things that I believe God can do through us if only we would spend the time laying the groundwork of preparation.
Proverbs 24:27 says, “First plant your fields; then build your barn” (GNT). We need to make sure we are doing things in the proper order in our life. Too many times we want the barn without taking time to til the soil and plant. That’s not how things work. If you want God to use you in a certain way, there are things you need to be doing today to prepare for it. Be faithful in the preparation and God will trust you with the opportunities that He has for you. Don’t delay. Start today.
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