Monthly Archives: January 2021

Remember Who You Are

My favorite Disney movie in the 90’s was “The Lion King”. Every time I watch it, there’s a scene that gets me. Rafiki finds Simba and tells him that he knows who he is. He then tells him that his father is alive and wants to show him. He leads Simba to a creek and has him look at his own reflection. When Simba tells him that it’s just him, Rafiki replies, “Look harder.” When Simba looks past the surface, he sees his father’s reflection in himself. Mutasa then appears in the clouds and tells Simba, “You have forgotten who you are… You are more than what you have become… Remember who you are.” With this, Simba decides to confront his past and to return to who he was meant to be. Once he made the choice to quit identifying with the easy personality that Timon and Pumba offered, and chose to identify with his father’s identity, he was able to be who he was born to be.

In Matthew 5, Jesus was preaching “The Sermon on the Mount” as we call it. He started off with The Beattitudes, and continued clarifying The Law from God’s perspective. It’s a pretty tough sermon to hear, but it’s meant to remind us that God’s desire wasn’t to give us a bunch of regulations to control how we lived. It was about identifying with who we were created to be and how we should live differently. He tells us we are to be salt and light while we are here on earth. At the end of chapter 5, Jesus explains that part of being different is loving our enemies and those who give us a hard time. In the last verse, He says, “In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you” (MSG).

If you’re like me (or even Simba), you forget who you are at times. We get so caught up living in the world that we adjust to its customers, culture and attitudes by reflecting them ourselves. We must remember who we are. We are not of this world, therefore we must live like subjects of God’s Kingdom reflecting our true identity. If there’s no difference in how we live, act and speak, how are we salt and light? Salt is used to enhance flavors isn’t it? Is your life enhancing others? Is it making them thirsty for God? In this sermon, Jesus is reminding us to be the children of God on this earth and to show a better way so that others will see how you live and want to follow God too. There are two identities that we have to choose from: one that will conform to this world and one that will conform to Heaven. As you’re faced with choices today, remember who you really are and choose the one that reflects God’s Kingdom.

Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

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Daily Bread

One of the things that writing every day has done for me is that it has improved my relationship with Christ. In the early days of writing, I would keep a list of topics in my phone that I could write on at a moment’s notice. Some days I would get up, look at that list and draw a blank. Panic would ensue. I began losing sleep because I was always trying to think of what to write about. I shared that with William Paul Young who encouraged me to go to God every day with an empty bucket asking Him to fill it. I learned to seek God in the process, to hear His voice, to study the Bible better and to find daily bread. It became less about what I could write about and more of what God could show me. I haven’t visited that topic list since.

After Jesus fed the 5,000+, He walked on the water to the disciples. The next day, the people He fed searched for Him and found Him. He told them that they on,y sought Him out because they were searching for another miracle, but He wasn’t happy with that. They then referred to Moses who gave the people manna in the desert, and asked Jesus for another miracle. He reminded them that the manna was from God and not Moses. They then asked Him for Heavenly bread to which He replied, “I am the Bread of Life. Come every day to me and you will never be hungry. Believe in me and you will never be thirsty” (TPT John 6:35). Just like the Israelites had to get fresh manna daily, Jesus was requiring us to get a fresh word from Him daily.

I grew up living Sunday to Sunday, sermon to sermon as my spiritual bread. It was good, but I wasn’t satisfied because we aren’t meant to only eat manna once a week. Jesus bids us to come to Him daily, to sit at His feet, to be still and to listen. We need to come with an empty plate, not seeking the spectacular, but the daily bread He offers. It’s difficult at times because of schedules and distractions, but I’ve learned to approach Jesus with the attitude that I’m not going to get up from the table until He’s given me fresh bread. Some days it comes right out of the oven hot and fresh. Other days I have to wait for hours. Christianity was not meant to be lived week to week. It’s a daily walk with God that you and I must be disciplined to do. I can promise you that if you will open His Word each and every day, asking Him to give you daily bread, He will do it.

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Becoming More Compassionate

If you have social media, you’ve probably noticed a couple of different types of people. One airs all their laundry on there for the whole world to see. Another type uses the platform to boast about the bad things they’ve done as if they were a badge of honor. Yet another doesn’t put any of that out there, but you hear the gossip about their life in other ways. I have a confession to make. I tend to judge these people in my heart (and sometimes out loud) based on their behavior. I forget that these things are a result of their brokenness and need for healing, and I steer clear of them or block their posts. I initially don’t see them as a cry for help or grace, and I have to be reminded of that fact often. Hopefully you don’t suffer from this as well.

When I read the story of Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well, I can’t help but think how Jesus knew her dirty laundry and still offered her grace. In John 10:4 Jesus said, “If you only knew what God gives and who it is that is asking you for a drink, you would ask him, and he would give you life-giving water” (GNT). He didn’t make fun of her for having been married five times or shame her because she was living with a man who wasn’t her husband. Instead He offered her forgiveness and healing through His living waters. She went and brought everyone from her town out to meet Jesus. As they approached, Jesus tells his disciples, “You have a saying, ‘Four more months and then the harvest.’ But I tell you, take a good look at the fields; the crops are now ripe and ready to be harvested!”

How many times have you and I looked at the harvest and saw their brokenness as an excuse to withhold grace? We think they’re either too far gone, not ready yet or we don’t feel comfortable sharing with them. We need to remember Jude 1:22-23 when we begin to have these thoughts. It says, “Keep being compassionate to those who still have doubts, and snatch others out of the fire to save them. Be merciful over and over to them, but always couple your mercy with the fear of God. Be extremely careful to keep yourselves free from the pollutions of the flesh” (TPT). What the broken people around us need is the compassion and mercy of Christ. They don’t need our jokes or the names we call them.

Lord, open my eyes to see the brokenness of others and to have compassion. Give me the courage to share your grace with them the way you showed it to the woman at the well. Open my eyes to see the harvest that’s around me today. Use me as an instrument of your grace to save those who are perishing. Forgive me for failing to do this in the past. Amen.

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Even If

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Asking For Help

No matter who you are, you’ll need help at some point in your life. You will face things that you can’t do on your own. If you’re like me, you try to do it alone anyway. My pride says, “You don’t need anyone’s help. You got into this by yourself, you can get out of it by yourself.” I try to project strength instead of admitting my weakness. What inevitability happens is that I end up wearing myself out in the process. One time, I collapsed on the floor and cried out to God, “I can’t do this anymore! Help me.” He replied, “Finally.”

God was waiting on me to look to Him for help, but my pride kept me from it. I had to endure a lot more pain than necessary because I wasn’t willing to admit I needed help. Since that time, I’ve learned to look to Him first when I need help. It doesn’t take long to pray, “God, I can’t do this on my own. I need your help.” It does take humility though, but God honors that. He wants to help us with our daily issues.

David learned this lesson as well. After being anointed king, he was constantly in danger and was running for his life. He learned to quit trying to go at it alone, and to go to God. In Psalm 25:15, he wrote, “I look to the Lord for help at all times.” He didn’t just go to God with some things. He went to Him with all his issues, and God came to His rescue. It wasn’t because David was any different that us. It was because David was humble enough to recognize he needed help from God daily.

Whatever you’re facing today, God stands ready to help. He’s waiting for us to trust His all sufficient grace to help us get through life. Don’t wait until you’re mentally, physically and emotionally exhausted before you cry out for help. Let go of your pride, and look to God for help at all times. It’s not a weakness to admit you need help. It takes strength to overcome your pride and admit it. Once you do, you’ll find that God is willing and able to step in and do what needs to be done.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other 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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Playing Peekaboo

One of the best things to do around a baby is to play peekaboo. You know the game where you get the baby’s attention and then cover your face. When you open your hands to reveal you’re there, the baby sighs relief and often laughs which is contagious and starts the cycle over. Science has shown that this is good for babies. You’re teaching them gross motor skills, social skills, visual tracking and most importantly permanence. When you cover your face, the baby thinks you’re gone, and when you uncover it you suddenly reappear. By playing peekaboo, you’re teaching the baby that even though they don’t see you, you’re still around and can show up at any time. In essence, you’re even laying the groundwork for faith teaching them to believe even when they can’t see.

All throughout Jesus’ ministry, He kept telling the disciples that He was going to be crucified and go away. He told them not to let their hearts be troubled when that happens. He even told them that He would send the Comforter that they wouldn’t be able to see, but He would still guide them into all truths. After His death, He started playing peekaboo with the disciples if you will. He would show up, then disappear over 40 days. Thomas missed out on the first time and famously said, “Unless I see the holes in His hands and put my finger in them, I won’t believe.” Then Jesus showed up again in John 20:29 and said, “Do you believe because you see me? How happy are those who believe without seeing me!” (GNT)

There are times in our lives where it feels like Jesus is still playing peekaboo with us. At moments He feels so close that you can touch the hem of His garment. Then there are times when you feel like He’s gone and your prayers aren’t heard. The truth is He has never left you and He’s teaching you to believe even when you can’t see or feel Him. Hebrews 11:1 says, “To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see.” Jesus is working on building up your permanence of belief in Him so that even when you can’t see Him or feel Him, you can be certain that He’s there and be sure that He hears you. We still have the Comforter with us today who is guiding us and growing our faith in the unseen. Continue to have faith and it won’t be long until He shows His face again.

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Positioned For God’s Presence

In the early 2000’s I became a NASCAR fan. I had watched several races with some friends and fell in love with the strategies involved in winning a race. After watching several races, my friend told me I needed to pick a driver and a team. I decided I like the number 16 Roush-Fenway Ford driven by Greg Biffle. A while later we got tickets to a race weekend and enjoyed the spectacle that was put on. They said Biffle was going to sign autographs on race day, but you had to get there early to get tickets. Traffic prevented that. I watched him sign autographs with several others who didn’t get tickets. I then positioned myself behind the trailer he was signing in. When he came out, I was the only one back there. He signed my hat, got in his golf cart and drove away. None of those other spectators got his autograph because they stayed out front.

1 Samuel 3:1-3 says, “The word of the LORD was rare and precious in those days; visions [that is, new revelations of divine truth] were not widespread.Yet it happened at that time, as Eli was lying down in his own place…and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was” (AMP). I love this story because it points out a truth we so often miss. Eli stayed in his own place and Samuel was staying in the sanctuary. Samuel knew where the presence of God was at the time, and he positioned himself to hear from Him. When God spoke to Samuel, it took Eli a while to understand what was going on because he had been more concerned about his own comfort than hearing from God. He was waiting for God to come to him instead of positioning himself close to God.

James 4:8 tell us, “Come close to God, and God will come close to you” (NLT). There are many times when I wonder where God is and why I haven’t heard from Him. I think we all go through that. Instead of questioning where God is, I’ve learned to question where I am. Have I positioned myself to hear from Him? Am I doing things that draw me closer to Him or am I just sitting around waiting on Him? If it’s been a while since you’ve heard from God, look at where you’ve positioned yourself. Are you in a quiet place in silence waiting on Him? Are you spending time digesting Scripture? God has promised to draw close to us after we draw close to Him. Think back to the things you were doing when you felt His presence most. Are you doing those things still? If so, have they become routine? God’s desire is to meet with us and to speak with us. We must be willing to get in a position and place to hear from Him though.

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Do It Well

I’m taking the day off. Enjoy this previous devotion in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. See you tomorrow.

Whatever you do, do well.
‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭9:10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

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Acting On God’s Word

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Purpose In Problems

It’s easy to believe that God is working things in your favor when things in your life are going right. When things aren’t going according to your plan, it becomes more difficult to believe that. We often see problems and road blocks in our lives as hindrances to God’s plan, but I believe God uses all of them to grow us and to put us on the right path so His plan for our life can be accomplished. God’s plan for our lives rarely takes the path of least resistance.

In the hardest times of my life, I couldn’t see God’s hand working. I was so focused on the pain and the problems that I questioned if God even knew what was going on. I cried out constantly for Him to make it all go away, but He knew what He was doing. He created a raw dependence on Him which led to a deeper, more fulfilling relationship with Him. He understands that hard times bring us closer to Him and make us stronger. In fact, some of His greatest work in our lives happen when we see His hand the least.

Romana 8:28 says, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (NLT). He doesn’t just cause some things to work together. He causes everything in our lives to work together for our good. There is a purpose in problems. There is hope in uncertainty. God is behind the scenes working on your behalf even when we’re blinded by our situation. His plan for our lives will come to pass, and it will be to our benefit. We just have to trust even when we can’t see what He’s doing.

Photo by Inzmam Khan from Pexels

Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other 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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