Monthly Archives: December 2018

Spiritual Resolutions

As we close the door on one year and open the door to another, I think it’s good to have a spiritual resolution for the new year as well. I believe Philippians 4:4-8 provides us with some great things we should resolve to do not just in the coming year, but throughout our life. Verse 4 says, “Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!” (NLT) In 2019, don’t let anything steal your joy. Joy shouldn’t be based on your circumstances, and it’s where you get your strength from. Trust in what God is doing and stay joyful.

Verse 6 says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” Refuse to let worry have a foothold in your life. It uses today’s strength for tomorrow’s problems. Turn your worry into prayer. Let the The things you can’t control push you closer to the One who can control them. Prayer changes our perspective and helps us to let go of the burdens that are too heavy for us to bear. Put them in God’s hands and take His burden which is light.

Verse 7 says, “Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Having peace in your heart, your mind and in your life is a wonderful thing. We were not created to live in turmoil. When we learn to trust a God with our decisions and with the things in our life that we can’t control, we can have God’s peace. Let His peace guide you in the coming year so that you operate in His will for your life.

Finally verse 8 says, “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Choose what to think about. Your thoughts are powerful and determine the direction of your life. Don’t dwell on what could be, but focus on what is true. One true thing I focus on is that God is in control, and nothing that happens in my life is a surprise to Him. 2019 is already history to God. Resolve to make it the year that you trust Him completely and you will experience joy, peace and faith.

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Being Transformed

When i was a kid, one of my favorite toys were Transformers. I loved being able to turn them from robots to cars. I always thought they were clever in how they designed them so that when it was a car, you couldn’t tell it was also a robot. It reminds me of how God is in the business of transforming our lives. Where we see one thing, He sees the potential for another. He is not content to leave us like we are. Our lives were created to be transformed through His Son. In order for that to happen, we have to submit to the changes He wants to make.

Too many times we are wrapped up in our past and who we’ve been that it’s difficult for us to allow Him to transform our lives. Our past prepares us for the future He’s created for us, but we have to be willing to change for that to happen. We can’t allow the pain of the past to prevent us from becoming who we were made to be. We are His workmanship which means He’s not finished with your life. He is continually working on us because He still sees in us the potential to use our lives. In your prayer time today, submit to the transformation He wants to make in your life.

Here are some Bible verses on transformation.

1. And said to them, “Come follow me and I will transform you into men who catch people instead of fish!”

Mark 1:17 TPT

2. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Romans 12:2 NLT

3. “On that great day,” GOD says, “I will round up all the hurt and homeless, everyone I have bruised or banished. I will transform the battered into a company of the elite. I will make a strong nation out of the long lost, A showcase exhibit of GOD ’s rule in action, as I rule from Mount Zion, from here to eternity.”

Micah 4:6-7 MSG

4. All of us, then, reflect the glory of the Lord with uncovered faces; and that same glory, coming from the Lord, who is the Spirit, transforms us into his likeness in an ever greater degree of glory.

2 Corinthians 3:18 GNT

5. This means that God is transforming each one of you into the Holy of Holies, his dwelling place, through the power of the Holy Spirit living in you!

Ephesians 2:22 TPT

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Broken Vessel

I was listening to Tullian Tchividjian speak about the disciples that Jesus chose. He mentioned that Jesus didn’t choose religious or wealthy men. He chose men who had nothing to bring to the table. He also said that God doesn’t need perfect vessels to carry out His will, He needs broken ones. There’s a lot in just those few statements that speaks to me. I think that the 12 men whom He chose to give His life changing message to says a lot about who God is and what He sees in people.

When Jesus chose the disciples, He pretty much walked up to them and said, “Come follow me.” They didn’t ask Him who He was. They didn’t say, “Let me finish doing this task.” They didn’t ask to go say goodbye to family and friends. They dropped what they were doing, left family and friends to follow Jesus. They were chosen because their attitudes were the type that was willing to do whatever God asked without worrying about everything else that typically stops us from doing His will.

These men were not perfect either. Peter had a big mouth. Thomas was a skeptic. Judas was self righteous. Matthew was a tax collector who had cheated people. The list goes on. God does not choose people to carry out His will based on what they offer. He chooses people based on their inabilities. If we could do everything He asked on our own, where would faith come in? If we were confident enough to say what He tells us to say, we would think we were doing it in our own strength. If we had the credentials and expertise, pride would swell up in us. Instead, He finds broken and chipped vessels to put together to do His will so He can get the glory.

Have you limited yourself in what you feel God has called you to do because you don’t have the skills or ability? Have you thought God wanted you to do something that was over your head but turned Him down because you couldn’t do that on your own? You don’t have to have a degree in Public Speaking to share what God has done for you. You don’t have to have a Masters in Anthropology to help the needy. You don’t have to have a Doctorate in Theology to discuss with others what you found in God’s Word. You simply have to be a vessel that’s been broken and ready to use by Him for His purpose and His glory. He will give you all you need to be successful in your calling.

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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.

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Being Quiet

I’ve noticed that when people are nervous, there are those who get real quiet and those who ramble on. I find myself in the later group a lot of times. For me, talking helps me to figure out what I’m thinking and how I’m feeling. It helps me to sort out the problem, but it also keeps me from listening to good advice and can make others around me more nervous. I was once told, “You have two ears and one mouth. You need to listen twice as much as you speak.” That’s something I have to remind myself of quite often.

When it comes to prayer, I can find myself in the same boat. From the time we are young, we learn that prayer is talking to God. What we’re not taught is that it’s listening to God as well. I think God talks as much or more than we do, but we can’t hear Him over our own talking. Being quiet in the presence of the Lord requires discipline. You have to learn to shut down your mouth and your mind. The silence can be deafening at times, but it’s in those moments where we hear God the loudest.

Psalm 37:7 says, “Quiet your heart in his presence and pray; keep hope alive as you long for God to come through for you” (TPT). Many times there is a nervousness that God may not answer our greatest need. If you’re a talker, quiet your mouth. If you’re the quiet type, silence your mind. God doesn’t answer our prayers on our timetable. If we’re listening to what He says, and trust that what He does is always right and for our good, we can have hope in any situation. God is good all the time, and He sees beyond our most pressing need at the moment. Get quiet and still in His presence today, listen for His voice and give Him freedom to answer His way instead of yours.

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The Christmas Story

Then the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all animals, domestic and wild. You will crawl on your belly, groveling in the dust as long as you live. And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”

Genesis 3:14-15 NLT

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel, whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf.

Micah 5:2 NLT

All right then, the Lord himself will give you the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).

Isaiah 7:14 NLT

Desert nomads will bow before him (Shepherds); his enemies will fall before him in the dust. The western kings of Tarshish and other distant lands will bring him tribute. The eastern kings of Sheba and Seba will bring him gifts.

Psalms 72:9-10 NLT

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!

Isaiah 9:6-7 NLT

This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Matthew 1:18 NLT

And because Joseph was a descendant of King David, he had to go to Bethlehem in Judea, David’s ancient home. He traveled there from the village of Nazareth in Galilee. He took with him Mary, to whom he was engaged, who was now expecting a child.

Luke 2:4-5 NLT

She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.

Luke 2:7 NLT

When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” They hurried to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger.

Luke 2:15-16 NLT

After this interview the wise men went their way. And the star they had seen in the east guided them to Bethlehem. It went ahead of them and stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy! They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Matthew 2:9-11 NLT

For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16 NLT

Merry Christmas! God is with us.

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Wrong Assumptions

Have you ever made the wrong assumption about something? If we’re honest, we all have. There was a guy who wanted me to hire him for sales, but he didn’t dress the part for the interview. Everyone else showed up in a suit, but this guy wasn’t even wearing a tie. When I asked questions, everyone sat up, looked me in the eye and gave confident answers. Not this guy. He slouched in his chair and barely looked up at me when answering. He seemed to lack the confidence to be in sales, but he had all the answers I was looking for. My wife suggested it was easier to train him how to present himself rather than to teach someone else the core values I was looking for. I hired him, and he was one of the best hires I ever made.

It’s easy to look at someone and make judgments about them because they don’t measure up to our expectations. That’s what happened to Jesus. He was born in the right town, but the people expected great fanfare for the Messiah. He became a great teacher, but He didn’t teach what they thought He should teach. They assumed He would fight the Romans and free Israel, but when that clearly wasn’t His plan, they assumed He wasn’t the Messiah and crucified Him. They thought they had God’s plan figured out, but their assumptions were wrong. They’re not alone.

We all make incorrect assumptions about who God is and what His plan is. One of the biggest misconceptions is that God is angry and is waiting for us to do something wrong so He can zap us. John 3:16-17 says, “For this is how much God loved the world—he gave his one and only, unique Son as a gift. So now everyone who believes in him will never perish but experience everlasting life. “God did not send his Son into the world to judge and condemn the world, but to be its Savior and rescue it!” (TPT) God didn’t send Jesus to condemn you to Hell. He was sent to reconcile you to God. He loves us so much that He didn’t conform to our expectations, but instead died in our place so that we could live eternally in His place. If you’ve made the wrong assumptions about God, Christmas is a great time, to change your mind.

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The Biggest Gift

A big part of the stress of Christmas is buying gifts. How much should you spend? What do they want? Will I find parking at the mall? Will it be sold out? Will they love it? What if they return it? All these questions create stress in purchasing gifts. Multiply that by how many people are on your list and there in lies the level of your stress. Some people try to avoid all that stress by purchasing everything online. There’s also a stress with that. Will it look like the picture? Will it get here in time? How do you return it if you have to? There are so many things to worry about.

There’s a story in Luke 21 about a widow giving a gift. She might have been stressed too. As she stood in the temple and waited to bring her gift to God, several others made a show about their gifts. Verse one says that Jesus watched as the rich people dropped their gifts in the collection box. I’m sure she was watching too. As others dropped off their bags of money, she stood there with two little coins. She could have been wondering, “Is this enough? It’s nothing compared to the gifts they’re bringing in.” When the time seemed right, she went and gave her small gift to God.

Jesus was still watching when she did. He turned to the others around him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them.” Her tiny gift meant more to God than the extravagant gifts that others brought. Why? Because it was from her heart. She knew that it’s not the size of the gift or the amount of the gift that matters. She knew that even though she didn’t have much, what she had belonged to God. She gave Him what He had given her. Everything. She wasn’t content to give a fraction of what she had because God hadn’t given her a fraction of what He had. She gave everything she had.

When it comes to giving gifts, it’s not the price tag that matters. When it comes to giving to God, it’s not the amount that matters. What matters to God and others is if it comes from the heart. Anyone can give from their surplus. Anyone can give a gift in order to gain the praise of people. It takes a special person to give a gift that matters. It takes a person who isn’t intimidated by the show that others make of their giving to step out and give a gift that matters. Jesus is watching and sees it all. He sees beyond the external side of giving gifts and looks into the heart. He doesn’t measure gifts by the amount, He measures them by the attitude.

This Christmas season, don’t stress over the things that really don’t matter. You should live your life to please an audience of one. Giving gifts is meant to be a joyous occasion. Since the very beginning, God has been a giver. If you look at how God gives and what He looks for in givers, it’s not about excess. He’s never been impressed by that. He is always impressed with those who give from their hearts and who give their all. Don’t be ashamed that your gifts may not be as extravagant as what other people give. Give anyway. The smallest gift is often the biggest gift to God.

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Each year, I take a one week sabbatical from writing to refresh and to spend time with my family. Each devotion this week will be a past favorite. Enjoy and I’ll see you next week.

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