Monthly Archives: January 2020

Standing Your Ground

I used to love playing King of the Hill. The struggle to maintain your position while people try to knock you off balance was fun for me. You’d have to brace yourself when you saw someone coming at you. The other thing you had to be good at was deflecting them as they hit you. Using their momentum against them was always to securing your spot on the hill. Inevitably you’re knocked off the spot, and then someone else occupies what was once yours. When that happens, it’s time to go on the offensive so you can take it back. It’s the classic game of standing your ground.

As Christians, our enemy roams around like a lion trying to intimidate us so we will back down and give up ground. Sometimes he comes at us with a full on assault doing everything he can to get us to give up ground, but like Jesus, we can hold our ground during these times by using the Word of God. We are to hold up our shield of faith in God’s Word when these attacks come. We need to use the whole armor God gave us to stand up to the devil when he is trying to take ground. It also takes a strong will and determination to stand up and say, “No more! I refuse to give up this land. You cannot have it!” I believe the Holy Spirit, who is our sword, gives us the courage and the strength to stand up and fight back. We have all authority through Jesus’ name, so stand up to the devil, resist his advances and he will flee.

Here are some Bible verses on standing your ground.

1. So then, surrender to God. Stand up to the devil and resist him and he will turn and run away from you.

James (Jacob) 4:7 TPT

2. Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your family of believers all over the world is going through the same kind of suffering you are.

1 Peter 5:8-9 NLT

3. With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.

1 Corinthians 15:58 MSG

4. Wickedness does not give security, but righteous people stand firm.

Proverbs 12:3 GNT

5. Put on the full armor of God [for His precepts are like the splendid armor of a heavily-armed soldier], so that you may be able to [successfully] stand up against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil.

Ephesians 6:11 AMP

Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Stand Strong

One of my favorite people in the Bible is Gideon. I’m reminded of his story so often because I find myself in need of all the lessons it teaches. In Judges 6, the Bible explains that times were bad in Israel. The Midianites were destroying crops, killing animals and harassing the Israelites. There wasn’t anything anyone could do to stop them. The Israelites lived in fear because of all the bad things that were happening. If they had grain, they had to thresh it in hiding. If they had goats, they had to keep them hidden. Anything in the open would be taken.

Gideon was threshing his grain in the bottom of a wine press so no one would see him. An angel appeared and called out to him, “Mighty hero, The Lord is with you.” Gideon, who was hiding because he was afraid of the Midianites, didn’t think twice about the angel calling him a hero. What caught his attention was that the angel said, “The Lord is with you.” He took a double take at the angel and must have thought this guy didn’t know much. How could he say that when so many bad things were happening?

He confronted the angel and asked, “If The Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?” Have you ever felt that way? When everything in life is going wrong and you feel abandoned by God. It’s an uncomfortable place. A dark place. Fear of the future grips your mind. You find yourself constantly worrying about things that you have no control over. You feel like God has forgotten you or worse, abandoned you in need. Your mind tells you that God doesn’t care. That He doesn’t see you in your pain.

In this verse, the angel reminds us that God’s presence in our lives isn’t proven by our circumstances. Our lives can be falling apart and God can still be with us. We’ve somehow come to believe that God is with us when things are good and has abandoned us when times are bad. His presence is with you no matter what. He is with you even when you can see His hand or feel His presence. He is with you when your life is so dark that you can’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. He is not only with you, He’s preparing you for greatness in those times. Greatness doesn’t come from an easy life. It’s forged in the darkness and in the fire.

Whatever you are facing today, I say to you, “Mighty hero, The Lord is with you!” You may not feel like a hero, but you’re still standing through everything. You may not feel like The Lord is with you, but He has never left your side. He has been standing next to you through everything you have faced and everything you will face because He will not abandon you. He will not forsake you. He will not forget you. He will deliver you when the timing is right. He will lead you to better times when you have learned all He wants to show you in the dark. Stand strong today because The Lord is with you.

Photo by Javier García on Unsplash

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.

5 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Keep Failing

Several years ago I decided I was ready for the next step in my career. I wanted to be the General Manager of a retail store. I put on my suit, rehearsed answers of my achievements, thought of people I had helped get promoted and confidently walked into the interview. The District Manager followed the script for a little while then said, “I hate these questions. They don’t really tell me anything. Tell me about a time when you failed.” I sat there with a blank face. My heart was pounding. I thought, “A failure? Why does he want to know about my failures? Is he trying to keep me from the job?” As I searched for a good failure, I asked him to repeat the question. I gave him a failure when everything turned out good, but he wasn’t satisfied. He wanted one where I crashed and burned because he wanted to see how I responded to it.

Our past failures are something that so many of us try to hide. In fact, we are so afraid of failure that we typically won’t ever put ourselves in a position to fail at doing something. We try to stick with what we know so we’re always succeeding. What I’ve learned, and the point my District Manager was trying to find out if I knew is that failure is the greatest teacher. It is also the path to grace. If we never fail, we have no need for grace. If we never try to do something beyond our abilities, we also keep our faith small by never trusting God to do something through us. God rarely calls us to do things that we can do in our own strength and abilities because He knows pride is always knocking on our door waiting to take credit for our successes. But, when we do things beyond our abilities, it forces us to seek and rely on Him.

James 1:5 says, “And if anyone longs to be wise, ask God for wisdom and he will give it! He won’t see your lack of wisdom as an opportunity to scold you over your failures but he will overwhelm your failures with his generous grace” (TPT). God doesn’t ridicule our failures. He’s not waiting to strike us down when we fail either. He sees them as opportunities to grow us and to lavish His grace on us. When we’re called to something greater than our abilities, seek His wisdom first, then step out in faith and do it. If you fail, it doesn’t mean you didn’t hear God or that He didn’t come through for you. It quite often means you and God have two different definitions of failure and success. Don’t let what you think is a failure keep you down. Get back up, trust His grace and keep walking in faith because to keep playing things safe is truly a failure.

Photo by Julian Dutton on Unsplash

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Rule #1

If you’ve ever run a race, or at least watched a race, you know that the number one thing you shouldn’t do is look over your shoulder behind you. Why? First, when you look back, it creates wind drag and slows you down. Secondly, it’s hard to run in a straight line if you’re looking back. When you step out of your lane, in most races, it will disqualify you. Thirdly, and I think most importantly, it creates a negative mindset. What is driving you to look back? Fear. You’re afraid that someone else is gaining on you. That mentality distracts you from running your own race. You are no longer running to win. Instead, you are running to avoid losing, and that’s not the purpose of running a race.

In Philippians 3:13-14, Paul uses this same imagery when he compares living the Christian life to running a race. He wrote, “No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (NLT). Paul is reminding us that we are all in a race, and rule number 1 is to forget the past and don’t look back. The enemy tries to give us a negative mentality that tells us our past disqualifies us from serving God, being used by God or that we are not even worth being used by God. He wants you to think that way so that you will focus behind you on who you were rather than who you are becoming.

His encouragement for us is to press on and to keep our eyes on the prize even though you aren’t going to become the perfect Christian. Not one of us are capable of living this life without sinning or failing God, but we can’t let that keep us from running our race and looking forward. Those words “press on” are intentional. It means we keep going even when things are hard. We keep trusting in God’s grace for our sins and in His strength when we are struggling to advance. Our future is not in our past. It’s in Him, so we need to look ahead and keep our eyes on Him. Our heavenly prize is waiting for us, so we need to take captive every thought that tries to get us to look backwards. Don’t let them get a foothold in your mind. You are destined to win, empowered by His grace and will be victorious through Him.

Photo by Austris Augusts on Unsplash

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Revolutionary Love

One of the things that so many people struggle with early on and into marriage is to put their spouse’s needs above their own. From the time we’re born until we’re married, life is about us. We make our decisions based on our needs and wants. We become selfish unknowingly. Part of the process of learning to be married is learning to quit being selfish and to focus on the other person in the relationship as well as who you are as one. Many times it’s hard for people to learn, and instead of learning to put their spouse’s needs ahead of their own, their selfish nature learns how to manipulate their spouse into taking care of their needs. In that situation, it’s hard for love to bloom because only one person’s needs are met. Deep love is the process of putting others ahead of yourself.

Think of what Jesus did. John tells us that creation was made through Him. Philippians tells us that He was equal with God, yet in an act of love, He chose to humble Himself, and become human. While He was here, He didn’t claim the privileges of being the King of Kings. Instead, He didn’t even have a place to lay His head. When they crucified Him, He didn’t call on 10,000 angels to come rescue Him from the cross. Out of love for us, He put our need for salvation ahead of His own needs and endured a humiliating death. He gave us the example of what love is and what love does. Philippians 2:4 says, “Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand” (MSG).

The kind of love Jesus showed is the kind we are to show as His followers. We are to have His mindset. Just like marriage, there’s a process we must go through as believers where we put aside our needs and learn to look outward to the needs of others. Salvation isn’t just about the decision to make Jesus lord of your life. It’s learning to be like Him. It’s leaving your selfish, sinful nature and its thinking behind and adopting the mind and mentality of Christ. WWJD bracelets we’re supposed to help us to remember that, but instead they became a joke. If we truly ran everything we did through the filter of “What would Jesus do,” how would our lives change? Better yet, how would this world change? When Jesus said the world would know us by our love, He was talking about us showing love the way He did. When we learn to love like that, it’ll be revolutionary.

Photo by Craig Birrell on Unsplash

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Maturing In Faith

Years ago I had an early childhood development center. One of the things that was always confusing for me was when there were parents who didn’t want their children to mature and grow up. Sometimes they struggled with weaning their child. Sometimes they would break down and cry when it was time to move from the baby room to the toddler room. One of the biggest struggles, especially if it was their last child, was to get them to potty train their child. That’s the final stage of babyhood into childhood to many. After that, their child would be more independent of them, but that’s what growing up is. The more you mature, the more you can do things on your own and take responsibility.

Let’s translate that into our Christian walk. Many of us have been saved for years, but we haven’t weaned ourselves off of milk and onto meat. Some of us are still crawling when we should be running. The Church’s responsibility is to grow you into maturity so you can take responsibility for your relationship with Christ. As we mature, it’s up to us to feed ourselves daily through reading the Bible. We have to grow our relationship through prayer and seeking God. Maturity in Christ should be the goal each of us have. The great news is there’s always room for every one of us to grow more. There’s always a deeper relationship to be had with God. There’s more to learn too, but it falls on us to want to mature and then to do the things necessary to grow.

Here are some Bible verses on maturing in the faith.

1. And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].

Romans 12:2 AMP

2. Now, those who are mature in their faith can easily be recognized, for they don’t live to please themselves but have learned to patiently embrace others in their immaturity.

Romans 15:1 TPT

3. I press on toward the goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature [pursuing spiritual perfection] should have this attitude. And if in any respect you have a different attitude, that too God will make clear to you.

Philippians 3:14-15 AMP

4. So clean house! Make a clean sweep of malice and pretense, envy and hurtful talk. You’ve had a taste of God. Now, like infants at the breast, drink deep of God’s pure kindness. Then you’ll grow up mature and whole in God.

1 Peter 2:1-3 MSG

5. Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.

Ephesians 4:11-13 NLT

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

A Living Sacrifice

Do you know someone who says they’ll do something, but when it comes down to it, they rarely do? Maybe their intentions are good, but once they see what it’ll cost them in time, labor or money they back out. All of us at some point have been guilty of promising to do something and then failed to follow through. That’s because lip service is easy. Our mouths often write checks they can’t cash. The problem is that we do that to God more than anyone.

Being a Christian is more than the initial prayer we prayed at salvation. We have to shed our old life because Christ has given us a new life. We go from having self led lives to Spirit led lives. In Romans 12:1, Paul wrote, “So then, my friends, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: Offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated and pleasing to Him. This is the true worship that you should offer” (GNT).

God is asking us to sacrifice ourselves as worship to Him meaning that we should give Him our whole life. It’s very costly to be a follower of Christ. I’m reminded of David when he wanted to offer s sacrifice to God at Araunah’s threshing floor. David offered to buy it in 2 Samuel 24, but Araunah offered it to David for free as well as the wood and the oxen for the sacrifice. In verse 24 David replied, “I will not offer the Lord my God sacrifices that have cost me nothing.” He understood that a sacrifice to God should be costly.

It cost us nothing to say words with our mouths, but it cost us everything to offer our lives as sacrifices. I once heard someone say that the problem with living sacrifices is that they keep crawling off the altar. It’s time each of us started offering God more than lip service and offered Him ourselves. If we want to live like new creations, we’ve got to take up our cross daily, sacrifice our selfish desires to it and follow Jesus as a living sacrifice.

Photo by Ihor Malytskyi on Unsplash

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized