Monthly Archives: April 2020

Patient Endurance Video

Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.

Hebrews 10:36

If you have trouble watching the video, click here.

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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Rebuilding

I remember when my son was younger and tried to build the tallest towers with his blocks. He would get to a certain height every time and the tower would fall. He would get upset, but try again over and over. I kept waiting to see if he would learn from his mistakes. I then told him to use the larger blocks at the base. He tried it, but it still fell before it achieved the height he wanted it to. After several attempts and high frustration, I then told him to make the base bigger. He didn’t understand, so I showed him. He didn’t like that because we didn’t have enough blocks to make the tower high enough then. I told him he could do this and have a shorter tower that would stand or do it the other way and it would keep falling. Either way, the only way to make it work was to build the foundation right.

Have you ever tried to build something that failed or didn’t last? I’m talking about a life, a family, a marriage or business. No matter what you did, it would fall apart. Did you learn from it or did you just get frustrated and blame everyone else? When my tower fell, I did those things, but I also looked inwardly. I knew there were things about myself that needed to change when I got the opportunity to try again. I also prayed for wisdom in how to be a better husband, and later a better father. I asked God to help me be the husband my wife needed instead of asking Him to make her the wife I needed. I asked for wisdom in how to be the spiritual head of the house and to help me lay the foundation for a marriage and family to last.

Proverbs 24:3 says, “Through [skillful and godly] wisdom a house [a life, a home, a family] is built, And by understanding it is established [on a sound and good foundation]” (AMP). We acquire skill and wisdom from learning through our mistakes. We have to seek help and instruction from others who have the wisdom or skill we need. Neither of these things come without a lot of work. It also takes humility to admit we don’t know everything. Our desire to succeed in these areas we want to grow must be greater than our pride. It’s not weakness to admit you need help. It’s not weakness to admit you can’t do it on your own. It’s wisdom that seeks out more knowledge and skills in being able to build a life, a marriage, a family or business that lasts. If everything has fallen apart, seek wisdom in how to rebuild. God often uses destruction in His creative and growth purposes. He can use your failures as stepping stones to success.

Photo by La-Rel Easter on Unsplash

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A Good Shepherd

Part of what I do for a living is leadership development. If you’ve worked for very long, you can think of leaders that you’ve admired and have helped you, and you can think of some that were only looking out for themselves. I’ve had leaders in my life who would ask me, “What’s next for you and how can I help you get there?” They were proactive in helping me reach my goals, gave me tools to succeed and showed the way. Their door was always open because they understood that when you’re leading people, you need to be accessible. One of the key things I talk to leaders about is the importance of visibility. It lets others know you’re there. It conveys that you’re in this together as well. People work harder for someone who is in the trenches with them and organizations accomplish more.

John Maxwell, one of the world’s leading gurus on leadership, says, “Leadership is influence. Nothing more. Nothing less.” That means if you have people in your life who look up to you and are influenced by you, you’re a leader. Yes, you. Many of us don’t think of ourselves as leaders, but the truth is that we’re all leading someone. Are you the kind of leader that’s admired or one that only looks out for themselves? The Bible talks a lot about shepherds, and we mainly associate them with pastors, but really, it’s about leaders. We don’t need to skip over those verses thinking they don’t apply to us or use them against our pastors. Instead, use them to look in the mirror to see how you’re doing with those you’re influencing.

Proverbs 27:23 says, “A shepherd should pay close attention to the faces of his flock and hold close to his heart the condition of those he cares for” (TPT). If you’re going to pay close attention to the face of your flock, or those who look up to you, you’re going to have to turn towards them and look them in the eye. If you’re going to know the condition they’re in, you’re going to have to take time to check in with them and listen to them. God has placed people in your life that you are a steward of. When’s the last time you checked in on them or had a face to face conversation (virtually counts)? The Christian life is not meant to be lived alone. Look around, reach out to someone and see how you can help them. We’re all in this together, and we all need encouragement and motivation at times. Be the shepherd others want to follow.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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Where’s Your Trust?

Have you ever been in trouble or had a personal crisis? What’s the first thing you did? Sometimes we look at the situation and feel like it’s hopeless. Whenever I feel this way, I get stressed out and my mind goes into overdrive trying to find a solution. I can’t sleep because getting out of it is all I can think about. Other times, I feel like I need more information to help me. If I consume enough news or articles on the subject, I think I can make myself feel better by knowing more about it. Other times, I think back to how I got in the situation, and I think, “If only I had done this or that, I wouldn’t be here right now.” I can get lost replying my choices trying to think my way out of it. What I forget to do at times is to stop and pray about it.

When I was a kid, praise and worship songs at church were Bible verses put to music. One of those songs I remember was Psalm 20:7. We would sing, “Some trust in horses and some in chariots, but we will trust in the name of our God.” It’s a reminder of who to trust in times of trouble. In battle, people would look at the number of chariots they had or horses to feel confident in victory. Their hope was in their own Abi,ties and things they had purchased or built. David reminded himself, and the nation, that while those things look great from an earthy perspective to get you out of trouble, the battle is the Lord’s. He is the one who gives victory and makes rivers in the desert.

Psalm 50:15 says, “Honor me by trusting in me in your day of trouble. Cry aloud to me, and I will be there to rescue you” (TPT). Before this verse, God reminds us how great He is. Then He says this so that we will not trust in our own strength or abilities in times of trouble. God is the only one who is able to rescue us out of impossible situations and bring us victory when things look like certain defeat is on the horizon. Honor Him by trusting in Him, remembering that the battle is the Lord’s. Call out to Him in prayer, day and night rather than stressing out about the situation. God is a God who rescues and makes everything work together for your good. We may have to endure seasons of trouble, stress or impossible looking situations, but don’t let those things take your eyes off of God. He is at work. Put your hope and trust in Him.

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

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Know Peace

When I was younger, there was a bumper sticker that was pretty popular among Christians. It read, “No God, no peace. Know God, know peace.” I loved the word play there, but I loved the message even more. So many of us struggle trying to find internal peace. We want our chaotic lives and busy minds to find peace. We want the rest that peace brings because a lack of peace in our lives is tiresome.

Each night, I pray over my family that God would give us peace in our hearts and in our minds. I pray that our home would be a place where peace dwells. I know personally the importance of having that peace and a place of peace. I’ve found that we can have peace in our storms, our trials, and in chaos. It starts with knowing God and trusting that He is in control. Once you arrive at that place, you will find peace.

Here are some Bible verses on peace.

1. But give great joy to those who came to my defense. Let them continually say, “Great is the LORD, who delights in blessing his servant with peace!”

Psalms 35:27 NLT

2. Don’t worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart. And God’s peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7 GNT

3. Peace I leave with you; My [own] peace I now give and bequeath to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [Stop allowing yourselves to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourselves to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.]

John 14:27 AMPC

4. I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.

John 16:33 NLT

5. But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge].

Galatians 5:22-23 AMPC

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

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Homesick

Have you ever been homesick? Or maybe you’ve been traveling or have been out and about, and just wanted to get home. Home is where we relax, unwind, and rid ourselves of our cares. It’s where we dress down and are our most true selves. It’s the place that smells the most familiar to us, and it’s where we truly rest. They even say that home is where the heart is. I think Dorthy had it right, there’s no place like home!

I recently went through “How’s Your Soul?” by Judah Smith. One of his first points is that while we are good at having that place called home for ourselves, our soul is looking for home as well. When God created man, he was loveless until God breathed into his nostrils. Judah says that our soul is really borrowed breath from God, and that it finds its home when we use that breath to praise God. That’s why worshiping God makes our soul feel the way it does. It’s when our soul gets to be home.

Think about David for a minute. He was chased by Saul for years. He lived in caves in one of the most inhospitable places on earth. If you’ve read the Psalms, you know that man was homesick both physically and spiritually. He longed for the courts of the Lord as much as he longed for being home. He even said that it was better to spend one day in God’s house than thousands elsewhere (Psalm 84:10). Why? Because that’s where his soul was at home. Even if he couldn’t physically be home, he wanted to have his soul at home.

I believe all of us are the same way. Our soul longs to be home. I think we misinterpret the signals inside a lot of times, especially if our soul has never been home. In Psalm 90:1, David wrote, “Lord, through all the generations you have been our home!” (NLT) If your soul is homesick, God is where you’ll find the peace you’re looking for. In Him is where you will find your truest self, and that place where you can rest. You don’t have to be homesick anymore. Spend time with God worshipping Him and loving Him today and let your soul be at home.

Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen 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.

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Soul For Sale

In 2006, Hemant Mehta listed his soul for sale on eBay. He was an atheist who didn’t believe he had a soul. In exchange for the sale, he offered to go to 50 services of whichever religion the purchaser wanted. To make sure a millionaire didn’t purchase it, he said all the money would go to an atheistic cause. Jim Henderson, a pastor in Seattle was interested and won the auction. His idea was to send him to different churches, take notes on his observations and feelings and then write up an article on each one on how he felt that church either pushed him closer or further away from Christ. A publisher saw the articles and expanded it by flying him to churches all over the US. After visiting all the churches, Hemant remained an atheist, but is open to their being a god with scientific proof.

When I first heard Jim Henderson tell this story and how he wrote a book called “Jim and Casper Go To Church”, I was intrigued. As I heard the story, I thought, “There definitely is a lot we can learn from an outsider about how we reach them.” Another part of me thought, “That’s interesting, but is it right? How can you buy someone’s soul?” I read Psalm 49:7-9 that says, “Not one could give God the ransom price for the soul of another, let alone for himself. A soul’s redemption is too costly and precious for anyone to pay with earthly wealth. The price to pay is never enough to purchase eternal life for even one, to keep them out of hell” (TPT). Even though a pastor paid over $600 to Hemant, and the guy went to many churches, he remains lost.

Then I started thinking about how many people don’t list their soul on eBay, but it’s still “for sale”. In our search for significance and worth, we sell our soul looking for meaning. We try to earn our salvation rather than except the free gift that was too costly and precious for anyone but the Son of God to pay for. We’re living for “likes” and followers because we haven’t fully trusted in the worth God has assigned to us. We desire man’s approval rather than God’s, yet God has deemed you valuable enough to sacrifice everything to have a relationship with you. Your life has meaning and purpose, and anything short of giving it to God fully will result in an empty feeling of, “There has to be something more,” no matter how much success, followers or worth you get from others.

No one, but Jesus, could give a ransom for your soul. No one but Jesus can help you fill that void that you’re missing. There is something in each one of that is searching for our true identity. My pastor calls it a holy homesickness. Your soul wants to find the rest that only being at home can give. We sell our soul to things in exchange to satisfy that feeling, but it will never go away until you give your life wholly to the only one who could ever pay the price for your soul. Finding religion isn’t enough. Christianity is about a relationship between your soul and God and finding the rest that it’s looking for. The freedom isn’t found in the rituals or do’s and don’t’s. It’s only found in accepting that Jesus paid it all for you and in surrendering your will for His plan for you. Your soul has been purchased already and paid for, but you must accept it and trust in what He has done.

Photo by 🇨🇭 Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash

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