Monthly Archives: October 2019

The Value Of Grace

I work in an industry where for years we gave our customers free equipment in exchange for a contract. The problem that arose was that our customers didn’t treat the equipment very well. After losing it or breaking it, they would come back and say, “Can you give me another one?” When I would tell them this time they had to purchase it, they would get upset and say, “Just give me another free one.”

I learned during that period that people rarely value what they get for free. I remember valuing my first pair of shoes I paid for. I worked for weeks to earn enough to buy them. I was at an out of town tournament playing basketball with them. One night, someone decided to pull the fire alarm at the hotel. The first thing I grabbed to take with me outside was my shoes. I didn’t care if I lost everything else, I didn’t want to lose those.

Because of this tendency of our human nature, it’s difficult for us to value God’s grace. It is a free gift that affords us salvation. Our minds can’t comprehend how something so valuable could be free, so we often try to earn our salvation by doing things instead of trusting God’s grace. In several of his letters, Paul warns against this kind of thinking. He also warns of the mentality that says, “Since its free, I’ll just do what I want and ask for more.”

I love how in Galatians 2:21, Paul strongly says, “I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless” (NLT). I believe you and I have to fight every day against our minds to not treat God’s grace as meaningless. It’s something we should value highly. The cost was high even though you and I didn’t have to pay it. To treat it as meaningless or to try to earn our salvation is to devalue what Jesus did on the cross. May we ever be grateful for God’s amazing grace and treat it with the value it is worth.

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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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Giving God What’s His

One of the things I like to do with my nieces and nephews is when they turn 16, I take them to dinner. We talk about using money versus making money. We then talk about what they love to do and how they can turn that into income. We also discuss college and the importance of education. The conversation then shifts to giving tithes and offerings. I explain how our offerings are holy to God, and that you and I have a greater need to give than God does to receive it. I believe that if God is the source of my income, my job is just a tool that He uses to provide for us. That also means that everything I own and all my income are His. My tithe and offerings are a holy thank you to Him in return for blessing me.

After that, I ask them if they know the Parable of The Talents. Either way, we turn to Matthew 25:14-30 and read it again. I ask them for their interpretation of it. Of course, like all of us, they focus on the servant who buried his talent and then gave back what was given to him. In the story this man gave back everything that was given to him, yet he got in trouble. What God gives us is able to be multiplied by us. That’s when I pull out a crisp $100 bill and set it on the table as we talk. I explain that this money is holy because it’s my offering to God. I then slide it across and tell them that I’m going to trust them with it to multiply it and we can give a joint offering. The catch is they don’t know when I’m going to return and they’re going to have to spend some of that money to make some.

All of us have a need to give our tithe (10% of our increased income) and offerings to. I believe God’s blessings are in direct proportion to our giving. Malachi 3:10 says, “Bring the full amount of your tithes to the Temple, so that there will be plenty of food there. Put me to the test and you will see that I will open the windows of heaven and pour out on you in abundance all kinds of good things” (GNT). I used to think I couldn’t afford to tithe, but since then I’ve learned I can’t afford not to. We don’t give in order to get. We are to give as appreciation for God supplying our needs. He loves a cheerful giver who isn’t giving begrudgingly. When people ask how much should they give and off of what amount, I ask back, “How much do you want God to bless you?” Giving isn’t just about the amount, it’s about your heart. When we recognize that everything we have it God’s, it’s easy to give Him back what He asks for.

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Renewing Your Focus

One of the traps that I fall into is thinking that if I’m doing what God asked me to, I won’t find resistance from others. I mean if I’m doing God’s will, others, especially Christians should be on board, right? Not necessarily. The things that God calls us to do are often for us alone to do. Other people won’t necessarily see or run with the vision God has given you, and that’s ok. It doesn’t mean you didn’t hear God, or that they’re not. The enemy doesn’t want you to be productive for the Kingdom, nor does he want you to complete the work God has given you to do. He will use whoever and whatever he can to slow you down, discourage you and wear you down so that you lose your zeal, doubt your calling and give up.

Even though God had burdened Nehemiah with rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, and other people had caught on to that vision, it didn’t mean it was going to be easy. The people were joyful and started off strong, but then resistance came. People began to hurl insults at them to keep them from their work. Day in and day out they were verbally attacked. The verbal attacks turned into threats and plots against them to stop the work. They took their eyes off the goal and began to look at the enormity of the project, the size of the mess and lost their joy realizing it wasn’t in their strength to complete it. Nehemiah 4:10 says, “The people of Judah had a song they sang: ‘We grow weak carrying burdens; There’s so much rubble to take away. How can we build the wall today?’” (GNT) They became weary and discouraged like we do.

Galatians 6:9 says, “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.” If you’re getting discouraged because of the grind or the attacks from others in doing what God has called you to, pick your head up and look to the One who called you to it. Keep your focus on the end goal and not on the size of today’s problems. God will strengthen you and give you wisdom in how to handle today’s issues of you ask Him to. Pray for people who will run along side of you, who will catch the vision and who will share the load. Remember how big your God is. He is able to make a way where there seems to be no way. Keep pressing forward with the end in mind and you will reap a harvest for the work you’re doing.

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Finding Your Calling

Earlier this year I was speaking at a chapel service for a Christian school. Afterwards, a girl came up and asked, “How do I know if I’m called to do something for God?” It’s a great question that so many of us want to know, but it’s not the right question. My response was simple, “I believe everyone is called to do something. The question is, ‘What are you called to?’” I then told her that each of us are created on purpose with a purpose from Heaven. I began to ask her what she loves to do and when is her heart broken for things that break God’s heart. God has wired each of us differently and positioned us perfectly to serve purposes that only we can fulfill. He also gives us His burden for brokenness in the world. Our calling lies in it.

Take Nehemiah for example. He was the king’s cup bearer. God had uniquely positioned him with someone who could fund his calling when it came. The story tells us that some Jews had returned from Jerusalem and he asked how the Jews who remained were doing. When they told him that things were in bad condition, his heart broke and he wept for days. God birthed a burden in him. The king sent him to Jerusalem to rebuild it. When he got there, he went to inspect things. Nehemiah 2:12-13 says, “I did not tell anyone what God had inspired me to do for Jerusalem. Then in the middle of the night I got up and went out, taking a few of my companions with me… As I went, I inspected the broken walls of the city and the gates that had been destroyed by fire” (GNT). He then communicated the burden to others and got them on board to rebuild the city.

If you’re not sure what God has called you to, you may have to walk in the broken places of this world to see what God gives you a burden for. Begin to look at the scars of your past and ask Him how He can use those to help others find healing. Look at your life for themes throughout it for clues. God prepares us and positions us to heal the broken in this world. We carry His healing, His hope and His love inside of us and we need to give it away like we’re made of it. Even if you don’t know the specifics of your calling yet, you can start by doing that. Don’t let your lack of knowing what your specific calling is to prevent you from our overarching calling to show God’s love to this world. Look at where God has positioned you today and start there. You’ll find that everywhere you go is someone who needs hope, healing and love.

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Be Ye Kind

One of the Fruits of the Spirit that seems to be ever diminishing in our world today is kindness. With having placed an importance on other fruits, the ability to be friendly, generous and considerate to others, especially those we disagree with, has escaped us. Instead, many of us have adopted the “kill or be killed” attitude as a defense mechanism. That’s the opposite of what Jesus taught. He told us to love our enemies, and to do good to them expecting nothing in return. We are not to repay evil for evil, but are to be kind to even those who are against us. Why? Because we are a reflection of the Father, and the Bible says that it’s God’s kindness that leads us (and our enemies) to repentance.

Jesus even told the Parable of the Good Samaritan. It was the Samaritan who was honored in the story because he showed kindness to his neighbor. If we are on,y being kind to those who like us, how are we any different than the world? The great news is that Holy Spirit is at work in your life. Ask Him to plant seeds of kindness in your heart so He can produce that fruit. Each of us can stand to be more kind to others. In today’s world, that would really cause us to stand out, but it would also help us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. Kindness matters, and so do the eternal destiny of every person around you. God’s desire is that none would perish, so let’s show His kindness to everyone we meet.

Here are some Bible verses on kindness.

1. But instead be kind and affectionate toward one another. Has God graciously forgiven you? Then graciously forgive one another in the depths of Christ’s love.

Ephesians 4:32 TPT

2. This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another.

Zechariah 7:9 NLT

3. But I say to you who hear [Me and pay attention to My words]: Love [that is, unselfishly seek the best or higher good for] your enemies, [make it a practice to] do good to those who hate you, bless and show kindness to those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

LUKE 6:27-28 AMP

4. By our purity, knowledge, patience, and kindness we have shown ourselves to be God’s servants—by the Holy Spirit, by our true love, by our message of truth, and by the power of God. We have righteousness as our weapon, both to attack and to defend ourselves.

2 Corinthians 6:6-7 GNT

5. Let love and kindness be the motivation behind all that you do.

1 Corinthians 16:14 TPT

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God’s Deadline

Several years ago, I attended a conference of authors for authors. One of them spoke on the importance of turning in your work by the deadline. In fact, he spoke of how he tries to beat the deadline by as much as he can. His reasoning was that the longer the editors have his work, the better it will be. Plus, he thought of it as the gift of time to them. He wanted to give them time to do their work instead of making them rush when he turns everything in at the last minute.

Sometimes I wish God had that philosophy! In all my years of praying and needing something from God, it’s never been early. I’ve been sweating it out, praying so hard that I can’t sleep and God showed up just in the nick of time with the answer. I’ve figured out He doesn’t work on my timetable. Many times I felt like He was late in answering my prayers, but it turned out that it was right on time.

There have been times where I’ve prayed for Him to respond because I thought it was critical, but He didn’t. In those moments, I felt crushed, defeated and disappointed. Looking back on those moments, I can see why God didn’t answer. There was something better waiting that I couldn’t see. Though I felt crushed in the moment, overall, God has proved that He will do what is right for my life and just barely beat the deadline.

Micah 7:7 shares my sentiments and confidence in God to do the right thing in my life. It says, “As for me, I look to the Lord for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me” (NLT). Even though I have many seemingly critical prayers that have gone unanswered, I still look to God for help when I need it. I’ve learned to confidently wait for Him to meet a His deadline, not mine, and I know He hears me when I pray.

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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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Building Success

When someone is staring something new, whether it’s a business or ministry, I usually give them the same advice. I tell them, “Start with Timex, not Rolex.” You want to build something that will take a licking and keep on ticking. You also don’t want to over spend. So many times when we’re starting something new, we make it about the sizzle instead of the steak. If you want to build something that will last, take your time, do things right and lay the foundation work first. No, it’s not sexy and it may not get a lot of attention, but if you do the small things right from the beginning, the larger things will take care of themself later. God puts it this way, “If you will be faithful in the small things, I’ll make you faithful over many things.”

In Zechariah 4, the Lord showed him Zerubbabel in a vision. He was the man who would lead the first group of Jews out of Babylonian captivity around 500 BC. This first set of Jews went back under his leadership, and with money collected by all Jews, with a mission to rebuild the Temple. The work was tedious and hard. People tried to disrupt them and stop them, but Zerubbabel kept working and kept the people focused. The Lord reminded him that it wouldn’t be completed by his might or strength, but by the Spirit of the Lord. Then in verse 10, the Lord sends him a reminder, and one to us too. He said, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand” (NLT). It was a reminder to not undervalue the beginning work of laying the foundation.

If we don’t get our foundation right, the rest of the structure is unsound. God is not concerned with whether or not we’re making things attractive enough. He wants us to do them right and to do them well. Whatever you’re starting won’t be a success because of your might or power, but by God’s Spirit. Yes, you should work like it depends on you and pray like it depends on God, but don’t despise the small beginnings. Don’t compare yourself in the beginning stage to where someone else is that has been doing it for a while. Put your head down, do what God called you to and leave the results up to Him. He doesn’t measure success the way we do anyway, so quit trying to build something that’s successful in man’s eyes. It’s not their approval you’re after.

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