Monthly Archives: March 2019

Heart Condition

In high school, we had a guy on our basketball team that was 6’8” tall. Before one of our games, I told him, “Go out to the court while the other team is warming up. I want you to reach as high up on the net as you can and then stare down the other team for 30 seconds. After that, turn around and walk back here.” My hope was that the other team would take one look at him and change their game plan. I also wanted the psychological advantage before the game because I knew they would take one look at him and believe he was made for basketball. The truth was he rarely made it onto the court because his coordination hadn’t caught up to his growth spurt.

So many times we judge people by their outward appearance. We make snap judgements about whether we like them or not, whether they’re smart or good at a certain task. Many times we aspire to be like someone based on their appearance or how they present themselves on social media. While we look at how someone looks outwardly, God is more concerned with our hearts. David’s brother had the look of a king, but David had the heart God wanted in a king. If God hadn’t intervened, Samuel would have anointed the wrong man.

In 1 Samuel 16:7 God said, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (NLT). God wants you and I develop a heart that desires to know Him and serve Him. When we make it a priority to get our heart right, God opens doors that we’re closed. His blessings are not based on what we outwardly do, but by the posture of our heart. Spend time today seeking God’s presence in order to know His heart more. The more we know His heart, the more ours becomes like His.

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Motives

Have you ever done the wrong thing for the right reasons? How about the right thing with the wrong motive? It’s funny. You and I tend to judge ourselves based on our motives and intentions while we judge others on their actions. We want others to give us grace when we do something wrong because we intended to do the right thing, yet we escalate when someone almost hits us in traffic. We scream, yell, call them names, honk and then use our vehicle to show them how mad we are. Interesting. We want people to give us the benefit of the doubt, but are we extending it to them?

The hard part for us is that we can’t see people’s motives or intentions. We can only see what they do. God sees both our actions and our motives and He judges us based on our motives. I’ve always heard that sin is less of an action and more of a attitude or motive behind the action. It’s hard to think that way when you think of Christianity as a list of do’s and don’t with God in the sky waiting to smite you for breaking His rules. That’s not who He is. The Bible says His mercy’s are new every morning and His kindness leads us to repentance. He’s not watching your actions waiting for you to mess up. He’s looking at your heart ready to forgive.

Here are some Bible verses on God looking at our motives.

1. Put me on trial, Lord, and cross-examine me. Test my motives and my heart.

Psalms 26:2 NLT

2. And you, Solomon my son, get to know well your father’s God; serve him with a whole heart and eager mind, for GOD examines every heart and sees through every motive.

1 Chronicles 28:9 MSG

3. Every man’s way is right in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs and examines the hearts [of people and their motives].

PROVERBS 21:2 AMP

4. We are all in love with our own opinions, convinced they’re correct. But the Lord is in the midst of us, testing and probing our every motive.

Proverbs 16:2 TPT

5. Don’t hesitate to rescue someone who is about to be executed unjustly. You may say that it is none of your business, but God knows and judges your motives. He keeps watch on you; he knows. And he will reward you according to what you do.

Proverbs 24:11-12 GNT

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The Empty Gym

A couple of years ago, I read about a high school basketball team that went to play another school. When the game started, they noticed that the other team had no fans. It didn’t feel right. The next time they played this team was going to be in their own gym, so the boys put a plan together. They asked all of their fans to show up and cheer for the other team. When the other team showed up, they were surprised to find signs encouraging them and fans who rooted loudly for them to win.

I’ve loved that story from the moment I read it, and I’m proud that it took place in my home state of Texas. I love it because there are times where all of us feel like that other team. It can feel like there is no one on our side. No one to cheer us on. Oh what we would give to have someone encourage us. It’s a difficult thing to be in a position where no one is on your side. It’s tough to keep going to be honest.

I’m sure all of us have felt that way at one point or another. I know I have. David felt that way too. He had been anointed king, but Saul was still on the throne and was out to kill him. Instead of being in the palace, David was hiding for his life in a cave in one of the most inhospitable places on earth. But then, in Psalm 56:9, he reminded himself of something important. He wrote, “I know this: God is on my side” (NLT). When it feels like no one else is on your side, remind yourself that God is.

As Romans 8:31 puts it, if God is for you, who can be against you? No matter what you’re going through in this life, no matter how badly things look, know that God is on your side. He’s cheering for you to succeed. He’s giving you the tools you need to make it through. Even if no one is there to help, God is. I’ve always heard that you plus God equals a majority. You have the King of the universe in your corner rooting for you. This too shall pass, and you will be victorious.

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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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Being Rejected

Years ago, most cities had a local Rejection Hotline phone number you could give out to someone who asked for your number. When the other person would try to call you, they would hear, “Welcome to the Rejection Hotline. You’ve been rejected! The person who gave this to you didn’t want you to have their real number.” It goes on to give some excuses why they might have given that number to you. After that, it says, “Please take the hint, accept that you were rejected and get over it.” It’s comical unless you’re the person on the receiving end. None of us like to be or feel rejected. Being rejected usually stirs up anger, fear and insecurity in us, but it doesn’t have to.

In the book of Samuel, the people of Israel didn’t like Samuel’s sons, nor did they want them as judges over Israel. They went to Samuel and said, “Look, you are getting old and your sons don’t follow your example. So then, appoint a king to rule over us, so that we will have a king, as other countries have” (1 Samuel 8:5 GNT). The Lord encouraged Samuel by reminding him that they were rejecting God rather than him, but I’m sure he felt like it wasn’t that way. God then told him to warn them what having a king would be like and then give them what they wanted.

After he anointed Saul as king, Samuel didn’t go into hiding. Instead he continued to serve them. 1 Samuel 12:23 says, “As for me, the Lord forbid that I should sin against him by no longer praying for you. Instead, I will teach you what is good and right for you to do.” He didn’t go away and let them wander away from God. He continued to pray for them and to help them do what was right. In like 6:28, Jesus said, “When someone curses you, bless that person in return. When you are mistreated and harassed by others, accept it as your mission to pray for them” (TPT). If nothing else, the next time you feel rejected, pray for that person. Chances are they’re not rejecting you, but rather the Spirit of God in you.

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Part Of God’s Heart

I was chatting with a friend at church recently. We were talking about the need for satellite churches around the city. As we were discussing locations that would be good, he brought up a certain area of town. He broke down and began to cry. He said, “We’ve got to get in there and take the Gospel to the people who live there.” I could tell his heart was breaking for that demographic. I believe God has given this man that burden and that’s why it bothered Him so much that there were so few churches in that area trying to reach them. His passion touched me, and it got me to thinking about the importance of anguish in a Christian’s life.

Several years ago, David Wilkerson preached a sermon called, “A Call to Anguish”. It’s one of those sermons I’ve listened to many times because it fires me up. In it, he says, “Anguish means extreme pain and distress. The emotions so stirred that it becomes painful. Acute deeply felt inner pain because of conditions about you, in you, or around you. Deep pain. Deep sorrow. The agony of God’s heart.“ That’s what was going on in my friend, and to be honest, I was a little jealous because I wanted to feel God’s anguish like that.

In 1 Samuel 1, Hannah wanted a son. Every day she was reminded of her barrenness. God put it in her heart to have a child so she went to the Tabernacle to pray. Verse 10 says, “Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord” (NLT). I believe her anguish was born in her heart by God. I believe it’s something every one of us need. If you’re not feeling God’s anguish today for a brokenness in the world, ask God to share part of His heart with you. It’s time we wept in anguish for the things that break God’s heart so we can do something about it.

Take five minutes today to listen to these excerpts from David Wilkerson’s sermon “A Call to Anguish” and ask God to share part of His heart with you.

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Friendships

When life gets hard, you find out who your true friends are. Hard times have a way of weeding out acquaintances and fair weather friends. There are those who will stand by your side through the darkest night and those who will abandon you the moment bad things start coming your way. It’s hard to tell them apart until your faced with adversity. Proverbs 18:24 says, “Some friendships do not last, but some friends are more loyal than brothers” (GNB).

As you read that, I’m sure names are popping in your head. You can think of those who have abandoned you, but you can also think of those who have stood by your side. It’s easy to get mad at those who have fallen by the wayside, but the truth is, you don’t have to be mad at them. You don’t need those kinds of relationships in your life. Let them go and wish them well. Don’t hold grudges against them because it may mess up your lifelong relationships.

We like to think of the parable of the Prodigal Son as a story about returning to God, but I believe it’s also about friendships. When he had his inheritance and was living recklessly, I’m sure he had a lot of friends. When his money ran out and the famine hit, where were those friends? No one offered him shelter. No one offered him money. No one offered him food. He realized that the friendships he developed were poor ones and he thought of home. He realized he hadn’t been a good friend to them.

He learned that friendships and relationships are a two way street. Relationships that are one way, don’t last. He went back to the relationships that mattered and they accepted him back. While hard times can take away friendships that are one way, they can also drive us back to the ones that matter. If you haven’t been the type of person who was loyal to others, ask for their forgiveness and try to work things out. If you’ve found a friend that is more loyal than a brother, reach out to them today and thank them for being in your life.

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Bad Days

It’s easy to praise God on our good days, but what about our bad days? When we didn’t get the news we were hoping for, when we didn’t get the job or when God didn’t answer our prayer the way we wanted Him to. Can you still bless the Lord on those days? Too many times we allow our disappointment to choose our response to God on those days. We must learn to not allow our feelings to dictate our relationship with God.

I’ve learned that God knows what He’s doing more than I do. While I don’t like bad days, I know that they produce more fruit in my life than the good days. They deepen my faith like no other times. It never feels good to be disappointed by not getting the things we want, but we must find a way to bless God anyway. If Job, who was as human as we are, could fall down and worship God on his worst day, we can too.

Here are some Bible verses about bad days.

1. GOD ’s a safe-house for the battered, a sanctuary during bad times. The moment you arrive, you relax; you’re never sorry you knocked.

Psalm 9:9-10 MSG

2. Even when bad things happen to the good and godly ones, the Lord will save them and not let them be defeated by what they face.

Psalms 34:19 TPT

3. I am the Lord; there is no other God. I have equipped you for battle, though you don’t even know me, so all the world from east to west will know there is no other God. I am the Lord, and there is no other. I create the light and make the darkness. I send good times and bad times. I, the Lord, am the one who does these things.

Isaiah 45:5-7 NLT

4. The Lord takes care of those who obey him, and the land will be theirs forever. They will not suffer when times are bad; they will have enough in time of famine.

Psalm 37:18-19 GNT

5. Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “Why, GOD bless that man! GOD hasn’t quite walked out on us after all! He still loves us, in bad times as well as good!” Naomi went on, “That man, Ruth, is one of our circle of covenant redeemers, a close relative of ours!”

Ruth 2:20 MSG

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