Monthly Archives: March 2019

Living A Purposeful Life

If you’ve ever been to a river, you’ve sent things floating in it. They just go along with the flow, bump into things and get stuck when they run into other debris. If you’ve ever gotten into an inner tube and floated down the river, you know what that’s like. If you’re looking ahead, when you see a downed tree or something else that will stop your progress, you start to paddle until you’re around it. The difference between you and the other objects floating down the river is that you have the option to be proactive and guide yourself. You don’t have to just float along running into everything and then work to get yourself free.

So much of our lives is spent reacting to things that happen to us or around us. What if I told you that’s not how God intended for you to live your life? God’s desire for us is that we would live lives of purpose where we are intentional about the choices we make and how we live. A life of purpose doesn’t spend all its time in a reactionary mode. It looks ahead, plans and makes hard choices so that we are where God wants us, when He wants us there. It’s about knowing what you were created for and living your life according to that purpose. You were made on purpose, for a purpose, so it stands to reason that we should live our lives on purpose.

Here are some Bible verses on living life on purpose.

1. I will run the way of Your commandments [with purpose], For You will give me a heart that is willing.

PSALMS 119:32 AMP

2. So I run with purpose in every step. I am not just shadowboxing.

1 Corinthians 9:26 NLT

3. Set your gaze on the path before you. With fixed purpose, looking straight ahead, ignore life’s distractions.

Proverbs 4:25 TPT

4. Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.

Philippians 2:2 NLT

5. Form your purpose by asking for counsel, then carry it out using all the help you can get.

Proverbs 20:18 MSG

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Getting Rescued

A couple of years ago I joined a concierge service at the airport. With my card, I could bypass all the lines, including the TSA person checking tickets and ID’s, to go straight to the X-Ray machines. It was great. I no longer had issues at the airport. I didn’t have to worry about getting there two hours early or worry about all the TSA drama. It was worry free traveling. It was a lot like many people think life should be like when they become a Christian.

They think that becoming a Christian means you have no more troubles, problems or issues. You can coast through life bypassing all of its issues. If you have a need, simply pray and ask God for it. If you do have problems or unanswered prayers, you must have hidden sin or be out of God’s will. That perception of Christianity is all wrong. Being a Christian doesn’t exempt you from any of life’s problems. It gives you someone to help carry those troubles.

Every Christian can attest that their troubles didn’t stop the day they became a Christian. They didn’t become a perfect person, nor did their life become perfect. In many cases, their troubles increased. When troubles over take my life, I like to remember Psalm 34:19. It says, “The righteous person faces many troubles, but the LORD comes to the rescue each time” (NLT). No matter how many troubles I face or how hard my life gets, I can count on God to come to my rescue.

That doesn’t mean the troubles go away or the devastation they cause in my life disappears. It means that God doesn’t abandon me in those times. He comes to give me strength to endure them. God knows that troubles produce growth, strength and endurance, so why would he keep us from things that produce positive traits? Christians will have troubles, but they don’t have to be afraid of them because God comes to their rescue and uses them to work out His good in their lives.

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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Trusting God’s Word

One of the hardest things for any of us to do is to keep trusting in God’s Word while we wait for Him to answer us according to it. To keep believing when our circumstances don’t change or to keep holding on when things seem to get worse is what faith is. To me, it’s always been about perspective. Can I look through the mountain that’s right in front of me to see God, even though it is high and full of things I can see with my own eyes? Is my faith strong enough to believe what God says more than what doctors say? More than what my situation says? More than the facts say? To me, these are the hardest times to activate my faith, but they’re the times I need it the most.

Our examples of trusting God when circumstances say otherwise are some of the greatest heroes in the Bible. Joseph held onto the dream God gave him for 14 years, even while he sat in prison. David waited 15 years to be king, but he held onto God’s promise even while King Saul was chasing him and he was living in caves. Abraham held onto God’s promise of having a child for 25 years, but he held onto God’s promise even as he and Sarah became too old to have kids. Finally, Noah kept building the ark for more than a century without a drop of rain falling during that time.

These men were as human as you and I. They faced doubts, criticism and fear as they waited, but they trusted in God’s Word above all else. Psalm 130:5 says, “I wait eagerly for the Lord ‘s help, and in his word I trust” (GNT). I don’t know what your present situation is telling you right now, but I know you need to trust what God said more. Keep holding on to His Word and trust it no matter how long He takes, how dark your prison is or how real the facts seem. God’s truth is greater than man’s facts. He is not bound by our laws for He created them. If you’re struggling to keep believing, put more of God’s Word in you. Speak it out loud over and over until it saturates every part of you and you trust it more than anything.

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Recognizing Spiritual Battles

When someone has one thing go wrong after another, I’ll usually ask them, “Have you considered that these may be spiritual attacks that are showing up in the physical?” I’ve learned that spiritual warfare has a way of presenting itself as a physical attack. If we are only fighting in the physical, we will never get the result we need. It’s like washing your car without putting gas in it and expecting it to run because it’s clean. You can’t just take care of the outside. Fighting a spiritual battle in the physical alone is just like that. If you’re going to win, you’re going to have to put some gas in the tank.

We all know the story of David and Goliath. This is a perfect example of a spiritual battle that showed up in the physical. Saul and his men were just looking at the physical side of the battle and were terrified. They were outgunned. David immediately recognized it was spiritual and wanted to fight. In 1 Samuel 17:32 David told Saul, “Your Majesty, no one should be afraid of this Philistine! I will go and fight him” (GNT). Saul tried to put his armor on David, but physical armor is pointless in a spiritual battle.

When David stepped onto the battlefield, he said, “You are coming against me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the Israelite armies, which you have defied.” How did he win? He fought spiritually through the name above all names, he spent time worshiping before the battle and he spent time in prayer. God gave David the victory to show that He is able to save His people physically and spiritually. We have to be willing to stand on the physical battlefield with spiritual authority and fight with the spiritual weapons we’ve been given.

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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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