Monthly Archives: January 2019

The Spiritual Odds

In Deuteronomy 20, Moses gave the Israelites a reminder that is good for us too. In verse 1 he said, “When you go out to fight your enemies and you face horses and chariots and an army greater than your own, do not be afraid. The LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, is with you!” (NLT) He knew that there would be battles they would face where they were outnumbered, outgunned, and out resourced. He knew that, as people, we would look at those things and be would allow fear to come into our minds.

When I was a kid, my brothers and I would always want to take things to a vote because we knew we had more votes than our parents. My dad would say, “Ok, but our vote counts as one more than yours.” Without knowing it, he was demonstrating what it’s like to have God on your side. It doesn’t matter how many problems you’re up against, you have one more solution than problems because God is on your side.

God wants to remind you today that with Him on your side, you are never outnumbered, outgunned, or out resourced. You don’t have to be afraid of what you’re up against, no matter what the physical odds are. The spiritual odds are in your favor. In Joshua 1:9, God again reminds us of this promise. He said, “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.” So be strong and courageous today. God is with you. There is no need to be afraid. Walk in victory. The spiritual odds are in your favor.

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Throwback Thursday is a 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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Surrounded

Michael W. Smith wrote a simple, but powerful song. It’s lyrics only contain two sentences, but they speak volumes. The song says, “This is how I fight my battles. It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by you.” To me, it’s a great reminder in those moments when I’m overwhelmed, feel alone in the battle and it looks like I’m about to get crushed. When you’re staring down odds that are stacked against you and it feels easier to give up rather than to keep fighting, this song reminds me who I’m really surrounded by. It reminds me that if God is for me, who can be against me.

After the Israelites left Egypt, God decided to set a trap for Pharaoh. He had them turn back and camp at a place that had them appear lost. When Pharaoh took the bait and pursued them, they were trapped against the Red Sea with no where to go. Pharaoh’s army surrounded them and they were afraid. They forgot who they were really surrounded by. In Exodus 14:15, Moses said, “Don’t be afraid! Stand your ground, and you will see what the Lord will do to save you today” (GNT). The Lord split the Red Sea In two and destroyed Pharaoh’s army.

You may feel all alone and trapped by your situation today, but I believe the Lord is telling us to stand our ground. The Amplified Bible describes standing your ground as, “Be Firm, confident and undismayed.” Take your eyes off of the things you feel surrounded by and look at God. He’s greater than anything you’re facing and is surrounding you now. Rest in His presence and stand your ground. Your victory isn’t dependent on you. It’s God who fights our battles, but we must stand firm with the Armor of God found in Ephesians 6. Don’t forget it may feel like you’re surrounded, but you’re surrounded by God.

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Stay On The Sidewalk

We all know that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. I’m a fan of the shortest distance when it comes to getting somewhere. I can be seen walking across the grass instead of using the sidewalks. I don’t like it when the sidewalks go way out of the way to get me where I’m going. The fact is, I wasn’t there when they were deciding on where they were going to be put, so I don’t know the reason behind why they were laid out that way. Usually an architect or an engineer has a purpose behind why they do things and we should trust their judgment.

I like to think of God as the architect of my life. Psalms 37:23 tells us that our steps are ordered by the Lord. To me, that means that God has laid out the sidewalk in my life of where He wants me to go. Just like in life, I sometimes look at the path He’s laid out and wonder, “Why am I going all the way over here when my destination is over there?” I’m tempted to get off the path and to cut through the grass. I’ve learned that God, the architect of our lives, has a purpose behind everything He does. We are to trust Him, and the path He lays out, even when it doesn’t make sense.

When the Israelites left Egypt, Exodus 13:17-18 says, “God did not take them by the road that goes up the coast to Philistia, although it was the shortest way… Instead, he led them in a roundabout way through the desert toward the Red Sea” (GNT). God knew they weren’t ready to fight the Philistines so He took them the long way. God know what you’re ready for and what you’re not ready for. The path He’s taking you on may be the long way around, but trust where He’s leading you, even if you don’t understand why. God has a plan for you and your life. Trust in His plan and follow the steps He orders for you no matter what.

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Seeking God’s Face

One of the things I enjoy doing is going to sports shows to get autographs. There are tables set up all over the place with autographs from just about any athlete on just about anything. It’s cool to look at those and remember those players, but I rarely buy anything on that side of the building. On the other side is a series of tables with athletes sitting at them signing autographs. You have to get tickets months in advance if you’re going to meet the person and get their autograph. For me, that’s the way to go. I love being able to say, “I met Clyde Drexler,” or “I met Craig Biggio and got him to sign this right after he got into the Hall of Fame.” I want to be present and meet the people who’s autographs I have.

The same thing goes when it comes to God’s presence. I love hearing stories of revivals in the past and the miraculous things that happened. I love conversing with people about what God showed them in prayer, but to me, it’s like window shopping at the sports show. I don’t just want to hear about someone else’s experience, i want to meet with God and be in His presence too. There’s a fear many people have of being in God’s presence I think. It’s like the Israelites when they left Egypt. God invited them into His presence, but they sent Moses instead. You and I can’t live or fully grow off of someone else’s experiences. We must learn to get into God’s presence ourselves.

Psalm 27:8 says, “When You said, ‘Seek My face [in prayer, require My presence as your greatest need],’ my heart said to You, ‘Your face, O LORD, I will seek [on the authority of Your word]’” (AMP). God is asking us to seek His presence individually. There’s a cost associated with that. It’s going to cost you time that you could be doing something else. God wants to be first in our lives and to be our greatest need. Until each of us are willing to make Him our greatest need and are willing to pay the price, we’ll be window shopping off of other people’s experiences. Find time today to seek God. Put on some worship music, read your Bible, pray and listen. He’ll meet you there because if you seek, you will find.

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Be Encouraged

As I was reading about Moses delivering God’s message of freedom and deliverance to the Israelites, I came across a verse I didn’t remember. In Exodus 6:9 it says, “So Moses told the people of Israel what the Lord had said, but they refused to listen anymore. They had become too discouraged by the brutality of their slavery” (NLT). That last sentence struck a chord with me. How many of us are so discouraged with how life is going right now that we can’t hear what God is trying to tell us? How many of us are so distracted by everything that’s going wrong that we can’t see what God is trying to do?

I’ve been there. It’s a tough place to be. When you’re where you thought God told you to go and nothing is going right. In fact, things only seem to be getting worse. I understand that place because I’ve been there. Today, I want to bring you some of God’s promises that you need to hear and hold onto. Don’t be so discouraged and distracted today on the things that you miss what God is saying to you. Read these verse. Repeat them out loud if you have to. Then stand on them and believe that God is going to make all these things you’re going through work together for your good.

Here are some promises of God in the Bible to encourage you.

1. Praise the Lord, my soul! All my being, praise his holy name! Praise the Lord, my soul, and do not forget how kind he is. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He keeps me from the grave and blesses me with love and mercy. He fills my life with good things, so that I stay young and strong like an eagle.

Psalm 103:1-5 GNT

2. So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Matthew 6:31-34 NLT

3. The Lord who created you 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.”

Isaiah 43:1-2 GNT

4. He gives strength to the weary, And to him who has no might He increases power. Even youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, But those who wait for the LORD [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] Will gain new strength and renew their power; They will lift up their wings [and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun]; They will run and not become weary, They will walk and not grow tired.

ISAIAH 40:29-31 AMP

5. Energize the limp hands, strengthen the rubbery knees. Tell fearful souls, “Courage! Take heart! GOD is here, right here, on his way to put things right And redress all wrongs. He’s on his way! He’ll save you!”

Isaiah 35:3-4 MSG

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Keep Working

Positive reinforcement is a great tool to encourage people to continue doing what they’re doing. It rewards them for a job well done. Many companies are like mine where they give bonuses if you meet the goals the company sets for you or if you help the company meet their goals. For me, that last one comes once a year. After several months it’s easy to forget several months that I will be rewarded next year if I help the company achieve its goals long term. Sometimes it feels like a chore having to do the things I have to do because I forget about the reward at the end.

In II Chronicles 15, King Asa must have been feeling the same. He was the first king in a while to remember God. He got rid of most of the idols and shrines. He even removed his grandmother from the role of queen mother because of her love for idols. He also defeated armies with over three times as many men. God was blessing him, but he was starting to lose sight of the positive reinforcement that God was using to bless him for doing what he was supposed to do.

The spirit of God came on Azariah and he went to the king to deliver a message from God. In verse 7, he said, “But you must be strong and not be discouraged. The work that you do will be rewarded” (GNT). I believe God is saying that to you and I today. He wants to encourage us to continue doing the work He called us to. I know that we can feel like God has forgotten us as we focus on completing and doing the work He’s given us, but He hasn’t forgotten us. We will be rewarded.

Galatians 6:9 reminds us, “So let us not become tired of doing good; for if we do not give up, the time will come when we will reap the harvest.” God believes in positive reinforcement. He has given us many promises in His Word to keep doing the work even though it gets tiring and mundane. If we will continue to do what He’s called us to, we will reap a harvest and a reward. Don’t quit doing what you’re supposed to be doing. Don’t give up. God sees what you’re doing even if others don’t. He won’t fail in delivering on His promise to you.

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Throwback Thursday is a 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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Unmet Expectations

One of the things I’ve learned is that unmet or unrealistic expectations hurt and often kill relationships. When we’re in any kind of relationship, we automatically create our expectations from the other party and the relationship. If we never communicate those to them, or clarify what we think are their expectations, we will end up disappointed and confused. It’s a shame that so many relationships go south because of this, and worse that we blame the other party for the problem because they didn’t do what we expected them to do, but never clearly told them. If these misfires happen in inter-human relationships, how much more do they happen between God and us.

There are times where I’ve been so sure I’ve heard from God, but I assumed and expected it would happen a certain way. When it doesn’t happen that way, I get frustrated with God and often do something that is not in His plan. Think of Moses. Even though God told him that Pharaoh wouldn’t let Israel go without being forced to, he thought it would happen differently. When it didn’t happen according to Moses’ plan, and things got bad, he got mad and questioned God in Exodus 5:22-23. He said to God, “My Master, why are you treating this people so badly? And why did you ever send me? From the moment I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, things have only gotten worse for this people. And rescue? Does this look like rescue to you?” (MSG)

If things in your life or ministry aren’t happening the way you thought they should after you clearly heard God, hold on. He is at work in you and in the situation. We know that He works ALL things together for our good. Your frustration is simply your unmet expectation of what you thought God was going to do. Go back to God in prayer, submit to His plan and for Him to do things His way. Ask Him to help you see His plan so you understand what He’s doing, how He’s doing it and why. He may not give you those answers, but as one who speaks from experience, the sooner you submit to His plan and His way of accomplishing it, the better off you’ll be.

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