Monthly Archives: September 2018

Fighting Discouragement

Discouragement is something that each of us face. Whether we got bad news, things aren’t going the way we planned or we’re facing an uphill battle, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. In those times we may wonder why we should even try. Discouragement really takes away our will to move forward or even to put up a fight. It causes us to see defeat before the end is even near. What it doesn’t take into account is the favor of God who is willing and able to do abundantly more than we could ever ask or think. With Him all things are possible.

In those moments, I remind myself to do whatever I can do, then let God do what He can do. If I want God to show up, I need to show up too. The Bible is full of hope in hopeless situations. All that God required of them was to not be discouraged or give up. When the Israelites walked around Jericho, the walls fell. When David walked onto the field of Battle and put a stone in a sling, the giant fell. When Peter stepped out of the boat, he didn’t fall. Whatever you’re facing today, meet it with faith and determination instead of discouragement. Let God show up and do what only He can do.

Here are some Bible verses about not getting discouraged.

1. So I say to my soul, “Don’t be discouraged. Don’t be disturbed. For I know my God will break through for me.” Then I’ll have plenty of reasons to praise him all over again. Yes, living before his face is my saving grace!

Psalms 42:11 TPT

2. Therefore we do not become discouraged [spiritless, disappointed, or afraid]. Though our outer self is [progressively] wasting away, yet our inner self is being [progressively] renewed day by day.

2 CORINTHIANS 4:16 AMP

3. David continued to address Solomon: “Take charge! Take heart! Don’t be anxious or get discouraged. GOD, my God, is with you in this; he won’t walk off and leave you in the lurch.”

1 Chronicles 28:20-21 MSG

4. This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Joshua 1:9 NLT

5. But now don’t be discouraged, any of you. Do the work, for I am with you.

Haggai 2:4 GNT

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This Little Light

When you were little, I bet you sang this, “This little light of mine. I’m going to let it shine. This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine. Don’t let Satan blow it out. I’m going to let it shine. Don’t let Satan blow it out. Im going to let it shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let us shine.” Good times right? I hope this song gets stuck in your head today because it carries a simple, but powerful truth: You have God’s light in you! Think about that. In the midst of any dark situation, you are filled with God’s light. Don’t hide it under a bushel.

Speaking of the light God placed in us, John 1:5 says, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it” (NLT). As a kid, I was worried that Satan could blow it out, but now I know that darkness can’t extinguish it. That means that there’s nothing the enemy can bring against you that will put out the light God put in you. You can walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and not have your light put out. You can be in a hole that either you dug or that life has thrown you in, and your light will still shine.

Today, I was looking at some pictures from the International Space Station. It had pictures of Italy, Spain and several other countries at night. All throughout those photos, there were spots of light. It’s a great visual example of what God is doing. He knows that where there is light, darkness has to flee. Darkness is simply the absence of light. It can’t put out light. It can only exist where there is no light. Just like those photos showed lit up areas in the middle of the night, so should our lives light up the darkness around us.

When we accept Christ, we have the true light living in us. Therefore, wherever we go, darkness has to flee. Whether your light is small and dim or big and bright, it chases darkness away. I know there are days when my light doesn’t feel very powerful, but even on my weakest days, the light in me is stronger than any darkness. In Matthew 5, Jesus said we are like a city set on a hill that can’t be hidden. If you’ve ever seen a city on a hill at night, you know what He’s talking about. Go be that light to someone today – God knows someone needs your light in their life.

Photo by Leon Contreras on Unsplash

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Evicting Shame

Have you ever had someone in your life who constantly reminds you of your past mistakes? Sometimes it’s a spouse, a friend or a family member, and sometimes it’s your own voice in your head. They seem to bring them up at the most inopportune moment. No matter what you do, because of them, it’s like you can never move on. You’d like to move on and forget it ever happened, but they’re there to make sure you never forget. It’s difficult to move forward when you’re constantly looking backwards. Your past becomes like a ball and chain that impedes your progress.

That’s what shame does. I believe many of us live with it constantly holding us back. “No one will accept you if they knew about… You can’t go back to church now. You’ve been gone too long. You don’t deserve to be happy. How can you call yourself a Christian?” Shame is a master manipulator who hits below the belt in an effort to kill our desire for growth. Understand this: SHAME IS NOT FROM GOD! These voices and thoughts are not God speaking to you. He loves you and wants you to succeed and grow and move forward. He wants to set you free from shame, and it starts with you refusing to listen to that voice.

I love Zephaniah 3:17. It says, “The LORD your God is in your midst, A Warrior who saves. He will rejoice over you with joy; He will be quiet in His love [making no mention of your past sins], He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy” (AMP). God is a warrior who is fighting for you to win this battle. He loves you and doesn’t bring up your forgiven past. He rejoices over you and delights in you because you are His child. That’s who God is. It’s time to kick the voice of shame to the curb and to embrace God’s voice. Anytime those other thoughts come in, push them out. Don’t entertain them. Open your Bible and replace them with what God really says. You are forgiven. You are accepted. You are loved.

Photo by Radu Florin on Unsplash

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Letting God Lead

Fifteen years ago today, I hit rock bottom in life. I was fired from my job and had no path forward. It was the last straw in losing pretty much everything over a six month period. I was at the bottom of a dark hole with no way out. I had no direction in life or purpose. I had just been through six months of hell and i wasn’t sure i wanted to continue living. I went home, laid on my living room floor in the fetal position and wept. I told God that i couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t go on. I was emotionally drained and was out of strength. I couldn’t find anything to hold onto in life. That’s when I heard God say, “Finally! Are you ready to try things my way?”

It was a crucial moment in my life. Everything I had built had crumbled, but I determined with God’s help, I would claw my way out of that hole. It took a lot years, a lot of prayers and a lot of faith, but God lead me away from that place in life. Up to that point, I had been fighting Him and His desires for my life. I was living how I wanted, but agreed to do things His way. I held onto a promise He gave me that said my ending would actually be a beginning, and if I trusted Him, He would lead me into more joy than I had ever known. Fifteen years later, He has continued to fulfill that promise.

Psalm 32:8-9 says, “I hear the Lord saying, ‘I will stay close to you, instructing and guiding you along the pathway for your life. I will advise you along the way and lead you forth with my eyes as your guide. So don’t make it difficult; don’t be stubborn when I take you where you’ve not been before. Don’t make me tug you and pull you along. Just come with me!’” (TPT) I believe God is close to every one of us trying to lead us down His path for us, but too many of us fight Him like i did. God wants to take you where you’ve never been to experience what you can’t imagine, but you have to let Him lead. You have to put down the reins and give Him control. Are you willing to do that starting today?

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

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Rise Up

Today’s devotion is a guest post from my wife.

When I was younger, I thought I was Holy and pure. Looking back, I can see it was a lot of self righteousness. I was full of myself which meant there was not much room for Jesus in my life. You see the more there is of me in my life, the less there is of Him. The less there is of me, the more there is of Him, and that corresponds to how much grace I give as well. We live in a world that desperately needs grace, but many of us can’t give it because there’s not much grace in us to give. It’s time for us to rise up, be vocal about the Jesus who lives inside of us, but because of where society is, we back down.

I believe we stay quiet because we are afraid of how we will be attacked by others for our beliefs. 1 Peter 5:8 says that devil roams around like a roaring lion. He isolates us, pretending to be a lion, making us think we will be devoured, but what we forget is that we have the Lion of Judah on our side. He is our protector, our defender and the one whom we should get courage from in today’s world. If He is for us, who can be against us? Yet, even though He is standing with us, we fear what the world will do, so we stay silent.

Psalm 59:16 says, “But I will sing about your strength; every morning I will sing aloud of your constant love. You have been a refuge for me, a shelter in my time of trouble” (GNT). It’s time for us to not be afraid to show the love and grace of Jesus to others. It’s time for us to be free to speak about our faith. The more we love Jesus, the more we should love others. That love should be overflowing from our lives and spilling on to those we come in contact with. If we want the world to change, we need to be showing and sharing His love because it covers a multitude of sins. We can’t be stingy anymore with His love and we can’t stay silent because of our fear of today’s society. We must break out of the silence that society has forced us into, speak out for what’s right, give grace freely and live out loud.

Photo by Ray Grau on Unsplash

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The Importance Of Rejoicing

If you grew up in church, you’ve heard the phrase, “Rejoice in the Lord.” You’re probably not sure what it is, how to do it or why, but the Bible consistently tells us to do it. It simply means to find your contentment in the Lord no matter what you’re going through. I believe it’s one of the greatest tools God gave us to fight with when the enemy attacks your mind. His goal is not to get you to worship him as much as it is to create discontentment between you and God. If he can get you to blame God for the bad things in your life, then you won’t rejoice in the Lord. Paul said it best in Philippians 4:12, “I have learned this secret, so that anywhere, at any time, I am content” (GNT).

You don’t have to pretend that you like your situation to rejoice in the Lord. You have to recognize that all things work together for your good, and that God can use anything to develop and grow you. There is purpose in pain, strength in struggles and peace in the unknown when you’re content with God. To rejoice in the Lord during those times, I play praise and worship music constantly and I spend time praying and reading the Bible. That helps me to focus on God instead of my problems, and that strengthens my relationship with Him. It’s not easy to rejoice in the Lord sometimes, but it is necessary.

Here are some Bible verses on rejoicing.

1. Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, take pleasure in Him]; again I will say, rejoice!

PHILIPPIANS 4:4 AMP

2. My beloved ones, don’t ever limit your joy or fail to rejoice in the wonderful experience of knowing our Lord Jesus! I don’t mind repeating what I’ve already written you because it protects you.

Philippians 3:1 TPT

3. I will be glad and rejoice because of your constant love. You see my suffering; you know my trouble.

Psalm 31:7 GNT

4. But insofar as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, keep on rejoicing, so that when His glory [filled with His radiance and splendor] is revealed, you may rejoice with great joy.

1 PETER 4:13 AMP

5. Yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!

Habakkuk 3:18 NLT

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Powerful Promises

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.

When we were in Nazareth, Israel, a tour guide reminded us, “It was here that Jesus began His ministry. It was in the synagogue of Nazareth that Jesus stood up and read the first several verses of Isaiah 61.” It says, “The Sovereign Lord has filled me with his Spirit. He has chosen me and sent me To bring good news to the poor, To heal the broken-hearted, To announce release to captives And freedom to those in prison. He has sent me to proclaim That the time has come When the Lord will save his people And defeat their enemies. He has sent me to comfort all who mourn, To give to those who mourn in Zion Joy and gladness instead of grief, A song of praise instead of sorrow” (GNT).

What Jesus said next angered them, but will prove to be powerful to you and me. In Luke 4:21, Jesus said, “The Scripture you’ve just heard has been fulfilled this very day!” (NLT) What should have been an exciting moment in history ended with them trying to throw Jesus off a cliff. He wasn’t just telling them He was the Messiah, He was telling them He was bringing healing and restoration. Think about what Jesus was saying would be fulfilled. He would be bringing good news to the poor, healing the broken-hearted, freeing us from our prisons, saving us from sin and enemies, comforting those who mourn and bringing joy to those who grieve.

Jesus said that starting that day He began fulfilling that Scripture. He wasn’t just going to do those things for a short while. He came to do it long term. That’s great news for you and me. When we find ourselves in need of healing or restoration, there’s no need to wait for a future date. He’s willing and able today! We don’t have to stay in the prisons of our own devices. He’s here to liberate us. We don’t have to live a life of grief. He gave us the Comforter and plants joy deep in our heart. I believe today is the day you can enjoy that promise and experience all that God has for you.

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