Monthly Archives: October 2018

Worried Heart

Worry. It’s something that everyone deals with. Whether it’s about paying the bills this month, will we find true love, the end result of an illness, or any number of things, we all worry. I love that dictionary.com defines worry as, “To torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts.” Worry is nothing more than self torture. It’s allowing our mind to put us into a debilitating prison where our mind thinks of every negative thing that may happen in a situation. Worry only looks at the negative outcomes.

If you’re a worrier, take heart. God wants to free you from that torment. I John 3:20 says, “God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves” (MSG). Not only does He know you better than you know yourself, He knows your future. There is nothing that is going to happen to you that He doesn’t already know about. I learned several years ago to trust that worrying didn’t solve the problem or change the future, so I began to hand my worry to Him.

I Peter 5:7 says, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” (NLT). I admit it was difficult to learn to hand them off to Him because I didn’t know what to think about or do since all I knew was worry. But that’s where Philippians 4:6 came into play. It says, “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life” (MSG).

Worry never changed the outcome of anything, but prayer has! Quit tormenting yourself and start praying to God about it. Release it to Him because He is greater than your worry and your problems. He wants to trade peace for your suffering. He wants to give you a lighter burden, but you have to be willing to exchange worry for it and leave it with Him. God cares deeply about you and the things you’re going through. Trust Him to do what’s best and give Him your worry. Give no place in your mind to anxiety and debilitating worry. Be free.

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Difficult Relationships

I once heard someone say, “Everyone is a blessing. Some when they come into your life and others when they leave.” I also saw a meme that said, “I love my coworkers. Some I love to be around and some I love to avoid.” Right now you probably have some people in mind who you’d like to avoid and others whom you wish would be a blessing and exit your life. It’s only human to have conflict with some people. You’re not evil for having those thoughts.

In Acts 15:37-41, we read how the great apostle Paul and his ministry partner Barnabas had a heated argument and disagreement. It says they parted ways, the believers prayed blessings on both of them and that every place they went, they left the church stronger and more encouraged than before. This split came after the Holy Spirit had said in Acts 13:2 to set apart Paul and Barnabas to do the work of the ministry together. God put them together for a season and then blessed their parting.

Here’s the deal. Ephesians 5:20 says, “Always give thanks to Father God for every person he brings into your life in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (TPT). God has a reason for each person He brings into your life, whether you like them or not. Instead of praying for them to leave your life, try thanking God for them and asking Him to accomplish in your life what He needs to through that relationship. It’s no accident you’re together for this season. A time of departure may be on the horizon, but if God is going to bless both of you after, you’ve got to learn to be thankful for them first.

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A Messy Life

Sometimes it’s easy to know what the right thing to do is, but it’s very difficult to do it. In my own life, I’ve found that I’ve passed on doing the right thing because my pride got in the way. Other times I didn’t do the right thing because my flesh wanted it and I gave in. In any of those cases, I can tell you that it’s created a mess. I’ve found that when I get into a habit of choosing the wrong thing, my life becomes a mess and it takes a while to make things right.

One of things I like to tell my son is, “You know the great thing about a mess? They can always be cleaned up.” No matter how much of a mess our life can be, it can always be cleaned up. It can take years sometimes, but once we determine to add God to the equation, miracles happen. I believe that messes are the incubators for miracles. When things look so bad that there’s no way out, He can make a way.

The person who wrote Psalm 119 was a person who made some messes in his life and didn’t want to make any more. In verse 31 they prayed, “Lord, don’t allow me to make a mess of my life, for I cling to your commands and follow them as closely as I can” (TPT). They understood that it takes prayer, knowing God’s Word and following no matter what to keep from creating messes. If you’ve made a mess already, it can be cleaned up with God’s help and choosing to do the right thing going forward. If you want to prevent future messes, continue to follow God’s Word. It has all the instructions you need.

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Standing Firm

When I go on vacation, I prefer beach vacations. I enjoy getting in the ocean and fighting with the waves. I’ll usually walk out to where the waves are crashing and then lean into them with my shoulder. It’s a challenge to me to see if I can remain standing when the waves are hitting me. Sometimes I lose my footing and the wave crashes down on my head. I usually have to take a minute to get my bearings, and once I do, I head back out into the waves to continue testing myself to see how long I can stand firm against an endless supply of waves.

I like to think of that as a metaphor for life. Sometimes it can seem like we’re standing right where the waves crash and it’s all we can do to continue standing. There are times when the enemy comes in like a flood against us and it can be overwhelming. If you and i will trust in God’s promises, we can stand firm against anything that comes against us. We may get knocked down every now and then, but that’s all right. We just need to get back up, find our footing again and continue standing firm no matter what life brings.

Here are some Bible verses on standing firm.

1. So submit to [the authority of] God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him] and he will flee from you.

JAMES 4:7 AMP

2. Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.

Ephesians 6:11 NLT

3. Be alert, stand firm in the faith, be brave, be strong.

1 Corinthians 16:13 GNT

4. You can’t find firm footing in a swamp, but life rooted in God stands firm.

Proverbs 12:3 MSG

5. So now, beloved ones, stand firm, stable, and enduring. Live your lives with an unshakable confidence. We know that we prosper and excel in every season by serving the Lord, because we are assured that our union with the Lord makes our labor productive with fruit that endures.

1 Corinthians 15:58 TPT

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Surrender

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.

White flag. Tap out. Give up. Submit. Yield. Say, “Uncle.” Throw in the towel. Surrender. I don’t know anyone who likes to do it. Surrendering is admitting defeat. It’s embarrassing really. I, like you, don’t like to give up. I don’t like to face defeat. It goes against everything in me. Maybe you’re the same. When all the odds are against you, do you play a theme song to pump you up? Maybe it’s “The Eye of the Tiger” or “This is my Fight Song” or whatever, but when it plays and pumps you up to keep you from surrendering and giving in.

In the prophet Jeremiah’s day, Jerusalem was under siege and there was very little hope. God was pronouncing His judgement against the people who had turned their back on Him. They refused to repent so God was sending them into captivity. The king secretly went to Jeremiah to ask what he should do. Jeremiah told him if he wanted to live, he needed to surrender. In Jeremiah 38:19, the king responded, “But I am afraid to surrender” (NLT). He was too afraid of how he would appear if he surrendered, so he disobeyed and it cost him his freedom.

Romans 8 tells us that the flesh and the spirit are at a constant war with each other. The flesh wants to do things its own way, and the spirit wants us to follow God’s way. For so many Christians, it’s a daily struggle and a guess as to which side will win. As Jesus said in the Garden of Gethsemane, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” More times than not, our flesh wins because we fail to surrender to God’s plan for our lives. Surrender is so foreign to our flesh that we fight against what the spirit is trying to accomplish in our lives.

In Luke 14:33, Jesus put it this way, “Likewise, unless you surrender all to me, giving up all you possess, you cannot be one of my disciples” (TPT). If we truly want to be God’s disciples, we have to be willing to surrender all we have for all He offers. According to Romans 8:13, when we surrender to what the spirit wants, we will live. You and I are given the same choice that the king of Israel had. Don’t make the same mistake he did. Surrender and live.

What is God asking you to surrender today in order to be His disciple?

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Trusting God’s Goodness

If you have kids or have been to the grocery store when kids are in it, you’ve probably seen some fits. Kids know what they want, but they don’t always know what’s best for them. When the parent doesn’t give into their desires, they know how to create a scene. It’s somewhat humorous, as long as it’s not your kid! We tend to act the same way towards God when there’s something we want and He refuses to give it to us. When we don’t understand why, we pitch a fit and cause a scene. It’s a good thing God is patient with us and loves us through these struggles.

One of the hardest things to understand as a Christian is why certain prayers go unanswered. There have been times in my life where I’ve desperately prayed and cried out to God for a specific answer to prayer and He didn’t answer the way I thought He should. I felt let down and disappointment in God. I even got mad at God over it. In my childish emotional state, I screamed out, “I’ll never as you for another thing!” I didn’t realize at the time that would hurt me more than Him. I don’t like it when God doesn’t answer the deepest desires of my heart, but through those times, I’ve learned to look at the consistency of who God is and know He did what was right even though I couldn’t see it.

Romans 8:28 says, “So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives” (TPT). When I don’t understand His slow response or answer opposite of what I’m asking for, I think of this verse. I remember that my life is a tapestry that He is making, not me. I can only see the under side of it, which doesn’t always make sense. I’ve seen His work in the lives of others, so I trust that He is doing the same for me. One day I’ll see the other side of the work He’s doing and understand why things didn’t go according to my will. Until then, I’ll trust in His decisions knowing His overarching goal is to bring good into my life.

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Selfie Check

A few weeks ago I was talking with a coworker how things have changed over time. One of the things we were talking about was how if you want to get recognized, you have to be a self promoter. Unless you are constantly taking selfies and posting them at work, telling everyone what you’re doing, no one will notice your hard work. Social media has not only impacted how businesses advertise, it’s also changed how they recognize a job well done internally. If you want to get promoted to a better position, you have to be a self promoter. It’s the opposite of how I was raised, You can’t just put your head down and work hard to get recognition anymore.

I’m not saying it’s wrong or it’s right. That’s just the world we live in now. When it comes to our Christianity, we can’t let that culture influence us because it’s opposite of Biblical teaching. God still resists the proud and lifts up the humble. The left hand doesn’t need to know what the right hand is doing according to Jesus. There’s a fine line between letting others know your need and showing them the fruit of your ministry and just showing off what you are doing for the recognition of man. One way to know what side of the line you’re on is how you view those you’re ministering to. How do you view them?

Philippians 2:3 says, “Don’t allow self-promotion to hide in your hearts, but in authentic humility put others first and view others as more important than yourselves” (TPT). When we care for people because we feel we’re better than they are and they need our help, it’s self promotion. When we put them first and serve them out of compassion, it’s ministry. We want to make sure our hearts are pure and that we don’t fall victim to the self promotion culture when it comes to ministry. If you’re doing it for self promotion, you have your reward, but if you’re doing it for the Lord, your reward is in Heaven.

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