Monthly Archives: February 2021

Freedom In Releasing

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Exposing Your Weakness

Last week, a mentor of mine posted a video of himself working out. He held a barbell above his head and squatted multiple times. He then moved over to a chin up bar and did several chin ups. After that he went back to the barbells. He repeated the process until he couldn’t go on. I watched as he began to struggle. His arms twitched. He had to refocus and retry a few times as he got wore out. Finally, he stopped and walked off the mat. His caption said, “One thing Crossfit does, it exposes weakness in areas you might have thought you were strong in. But I love it!”

That phrase stuck out to me. Most of us want nothing to do with having our weaknesses exposed. We like to keep them hidden from others and pretend they don’t exist. We like to focus on areas where we’re strong and show that side to the world. We like to put our best foot forward and rarely let others see who we completely are. We’re afraid others won’t like us as much or will look down on us. Fear plays a big role in keeping our weaknesses covered up. Unfortunately, that fear is what keeps us from being more of the person God wants us to be.

Knowing what your weaknesses are and putting them in the open has a lot of benefits. First, knowing your weaknesses gives you direction and focus. It shows you exactly what you need to work on. Just because you are weak in an area of your life, it doesn’t mean you can’t get strong there. Don’t fall for the lie that it’s just who you are or it’s just in your nature. You are only weak in areas of your life to the extent that you allow yourself to be. You have the power to get strong in those areas if only you will push yourself. When you do, you will find other areas of weakness. Simply repeat the process.

Another benefit to exposing weakness is that it opens you up to accountability. As long as you hide your weakness, it will eat away at you and hold you hostage. The moment you expose it and ask others to help, you set yourself free. You are free from the mind games it has played with you and used to keep you down. You are free to work on that area and to get help. When you allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to say to someone else, “Here’s where I’m weak. I need you to hold me accountable and to help me beat it,” you begin to turn that weakness into a strength. You begin to take control over it instead of letting it have control over you.

In Psalm 139:23-24, David prayed, “Investigate my life, O God, find out everything about me; cross-examine me and test me, get a clear picture of what I’m about… then guide me on the road to eternal life” (GNT). David understood this principle. He asked God to test him and to expose his weaknesses so that he could be guided on the road to eternal life. Each one of us have areas of weakness. Each one of us fail God in our lives. But not each one of us dare to ask God to expose it and then to guide us to a deeper walk with Him. Take that first step today and ask God to expose your weaknesses. Then find an accountability partner to help you strengthen that area. You’ll be glad you did.

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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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Turning Fear Into Action

How many times has fear kept you from doing something? All of a sudden those “What if” thoughts flood in, your tongue swells up, you get that acids taste in the back of your throat and then your body won’t move. Your mind says you want to, or you should, but your body doesn’t cooperate. It happens to all of us, especially when we’re called to do something by faith. You feel the nudge to tell someone God loves them or to share your faith, but nothing cooperates and they walk away. Something inside says to give them money, but by the time you convince yourself to grab your wallet, you look up and they’re gone. You hear about going on a mission trip, but you’re waiting to “hear from God” and the deadline passes. We like to say, “Faith over fear,” but the reality is that fear stops us from acting in faith pretty often.

I can’t help but think of the woman with the issue of blood in Mark 5. I can imagine the fear she must have had, the thoughts that told her it was a silly idea or the what if doubts that could have kept her from touching Jesus. But in verse 28, she overcame those fears with another thought, “If i could just touch the hem of His garment, I’ll be healed.” Her need for healing became greater than her fear and propelled her to action, and now she’s forever enshrined in the Bible as a lesson of pushing past fear. She’s an example to each of us in turning fear into action and a reminder that we’re often one step away from receiving what God has for us. She pushed through a crowd and her fears, and we can too.

Hebrews 10:39 reminds us, “But we are certainly not those who are held back by fear and perish; we are among those who have faith and experience true life!” (TPT) Your identity in Christ is rooted in actionable faith, not paralytic fear. To beat that fear, you need to act quickly when the Holy Spirit prompts you to do something. Decide now so there won’t be a debate in your head later. Everything inside you may feel like it’s on fire, but press through and act on the prompting. Have a phrase ready like, “God loves you, “ say it and walk away. If they call out, stick around. You may end up blessing them more. Whatever it is that fear keeps you from, and whenever it starts to paralyze you, remind yourself that as a Christian, you are not held back by fear. We act on faith and experience God’s blessings and true, abundant life because of it.

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Reawakening Hope

About twenty years ago I did some things and went through some that changed my life. I made poor decisions and suffered consequences for them. At one point I was beating myself up over it. I began to get worked up and defeated over one thing in particular. Because of the things I had gone through, the denomination I was a part of at the time had a rule that people in my circumstance could never be in any ministry role. It was devastating. My whole life I had dreamed of one day being in ministry, and now that dream was dead. A friend came over and asked why I was upset. When I told him, he responded, “What makes you think that you, or this denomination, can rescind God’s calling? You don’t have that kind of power!” It was the slap in the face I needed, and I began to hope and believe again that one day that would happen.

In Romans 4, Paul is writing about Abraham, God’s promise to him and how it relates to our faith. Verse 14 says, “If God’s promise is only for those who obey the law, then faith is not necessary and the promise is pointless” (NLT). He explains none of us are capable of keeping God’s Law without messing up and God’s promises are received through faith. Then verse 17-18 says, ”This (Abraham receiving the promise) happened because Abraham believed in the God who brings the dead back to life and who creates new things out of nothing. Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping.” That’s powerful. Even when there was no reason to hope, he kept hoping. That’s truly was faith is.

If you feel like a dream or calling is dead, it’s time to hope and believe again. Your past actions, or your current circumstances, do not have the power to change God’s promises or His calling. We serve a God who brings dead dreams, dead hopes, dead callings, dead you name it back to life. There is nothing that is impossible for Him. We have to push past the lies and what our eyes tell us in order to believe what God promised. We must awaken faith and hope in our heart again and trust that God, who brings dead things to life and creates new things out of nothing, will respond and move on our behalf. It’s not easy, but that’s what faith is. Abraham did it and was rewarded for his faith. I believe God will reward us too when we stand with that kind of faith and begin moving in the direction He called us to.

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Inwardly Strengthened

When I was around six years old, my parents put me in sports at the YMCA. Even though I had been raised in church, that is the first place I remember seeing or hearing the phrase, “spirit, mind and body”. We either used to recite their mission statement at practice or I saw it often. I had to look it up now, but it says, “To put Christian principles into practice through programs that build healthy spirit, mind and body for all.” That’s still a pretty good thing that each of us need to work on. Sometimes we’re concerned about our physical health, but we starve our spiritual health. Other times we focus on our mental health while we neglect our physical health. To be whole and healthy though, we really need to make sure we’re keeping all three healthy and strong.

In Ephesians 3, Paul writes an incredible prayer for the believers in Ephesus, but I believe it’s for us too as he expected his letters to be passed between the churches. In verse 16, he starts this prayer saying, “I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit” (NLT). Here he’s praying for spiritual and mental strength for us. According to the next couple of verses, it’s so that Christ will dwell in our hearts as we trust in Him, our roots will grow down into God’s love to keep us strong and that we will be able to understand how wide, long and high God’s love is. Receiving those things begins with us being empowered in our spirit and mind through the Holy Spirit. No wonder he told Timothy that physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise has so much more (1 Timothy 4:8).

A healthier, stronger, more whole you begins with being empowered inwardly by God’s Spirit. We need to pray this prayer over our own lives often, and also make sure that we’re doing things that will strengthen our inner being. We spend a lot of time and money making sure our physical body is in shape, but we can’t do that at the cost of neglecting our spirit and mind. It’s our spirit that will live forever, not our physical body. As Paul said, both are important and have value, but one is more valuable. Bible studies, devotionals, prayer groups, church services all contribute to being inwardly strengthened, but if you only do it once a week, it will have the same value as going to the gym once a week. It’s time that each of us are empowered inwardly by the Holy Spirit. Once we understand God’s love in a greater way through that empowerment, we can make God’s love known and love others better.

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Recognizing Jesus

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Going Fishing

For three years the disciples followed Jesus. They witnessed people receive their sight having been born blind. They watched leprous skin clear up right before them. They were standing there when Jesus called Lazarus out of the tomb four days after he died. They handed out the five loaves and two fish to the 5,000. They not only saw Jesus walk on water, they saw Him calm the wind and waves. They had countless fireside discussions that you and I will never know about. That’s why I’ve always been baffled by this one thing that happened after the resurrection.

John 21:3 says, “Simon Peter said to the others, ‘I am going fishing.’ ‘We will come with you,’ they told him” (GNT). After all they had seen and done, they went back to their old life. It’s hard for me to comprehend how they could experience everything they did, and then just simply go back to their old life. Had they forgotten that Jesus had told them that from now on they would be fishers of men? How could they go back to being regular fishermen? No matter how perplexing it is, I have to wonder if we are any different.

We may not have seen those miracles as they did, but if we accepted Jesus as our savior, we experienced the power of God in our own life. We felt that initially cleansing feeling and the peace that passes understanding. Yet somehow, many times we go right back to our old way of living. We know we are supposed to be a new creation, but that old life that’s supposed to be dead and buried calls out to us and tempts us to go back. Even though we experienced the power of the resurrection, we sometimes live as though it had no affect on our life.

That life is as fruitless as that night of fishing for the disciples. The great news for us is that Jesus is on the shore calling out to us, “Have you caught anything?” Then He reminds us to cast our nets on the other side. He reminds us to return to Him and to live our life in the power of the resurrection. When we live that way, our nets will be full. Jesus’ words to them that morning were simple: Follow me. That call goes out to us too. Don’t go back to who you once were before you followed Him. If you have “gone fishing” in that old life, you can swim to shore where Jesus is waiting to welcome you back with open arms.

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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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Calling All Workers

I don’t know what it’s like where you live, but around here construction has been booming since Covid started. New homes are being built as fast as they can, existing homes sell the day they go on the market and remodels are happening everywhere. That’s created a couple of problems. The first is that supply and demand has driven the cost of materials sky high. The second is that there is a shortage of workers to do the work. Construction companies are begging for workers. With the lack of workers, jobs aren’t getting done as quickly as they should and people have to wait for months to get their projects done. Every day people are praying for workers so they can complete their jobs.

Not long after Jesus started His ministry, crowds started showing up. They would search for Him early in the morning and stay until late in the evening. He could barely get any rest or time alone. Some days He was so busy He didn’t get to eat. Instead of being overwhelmed at the crowds, He had pity on them. His heart was filled with compassion because of their great need for salvation as well as physical healing. In Matthew 9:38, as He looked at the crowd, He turned to His disciples and said, “Pray to the owner of the harvest that he will send out workers to gather in his harvest” (GNT). He and His 12 disciples were busy every day with the work of God’s Kingdom so much so that John said if all the miracles Jesus did had been recorded, all the books in the world couldn’t contain their stories.

This is where you and I come in. We have two parts in this. One, we are to pray for workers to gather in the harvest as Jesus commanded us to. The other is to recognize we are the workers. Ephesians 2:10 says, “He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing” (MSG). Each of us were created to work in His Kingdom, but few of us are doing the work. He didn’t mean that we should all work at the church. He meant that everywhere you go, and especially at your job, there is a harvest that needs to be brought in. Instead of just praying for workers, we should be like Isaiah and say, “Here am I send me.” There is a harvest ready to be brought in right now, and God is looking for us to step up and do the work He’s called us to.

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Unnoticed Work

Years ago, I was the store manager for a major company. Not long after I took over the store, I needed to hire an assistant manager. My district manager came in and gave me a suggestion of who he thought would be a great fit for the store. I didn’t think they would be a good fit and wanted to hire someone else. He agreed to let me hire the person I wanted. When I approached them about applying for the job, they said they didn’t think I knew them. I replied, “I’ve been seeing your work ethic for years. I’ve watched how you interact with customers and how you’ve respected authority when it’s been in your store.” He replied, “I never thought anyone saw me. I was just being myself.” I agreed and stated that’s why I wanted him to apply.

The day after Jesus was baptized, He began calling disciples to follow Him. Philip was one of the first ones. He went and told his brother Nathaneal that he had found the Messiah. When Nathaneal approached Jesus in John 1:47, Jesus said to him, “Now here comes a true son of Israel—an honest man with no hidden motive!” (TPT) Nathaniel was stunned and said he didn’t think Jesus had ever met him and didn’t know how He knew him. Jesus replied, “Nathanael, right before Philip came to you I saw you sitting under the shade of a fig tree.” That was all it took for him to believe in Jesus and to follow Him.

A lot of ministry and work that people do for God’s Kingdom goes unnoticed. You have to give a lot of yourself, and more times than not you’re criticized more than thanked when it is noticed. I want you to know that God not only knows who you are, He knows you and sees what you’re doing. Don’t quit serving because people don’t see or people criticize. In Matthew 6:3-4, Jesus encourages us, “But when you demonstrate generosity, do it with pure motives and without drawing attention to yourself. Give secretly and your Father, who sees all you do, will reward you openly.” Remember, you’re not doing what you’re doing for man’s approval. God sees your unnoticed work and will reward you openly here or in Heaven. You are known and seen by God. Keep up the good work.

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Being Continually Renewed

One of the things I like to tell people is to choose your attitude or your day will choose it for you. I used to commute to work. Some days it was an hour, and others it would take nearly three. I drove a stick shift and would be sitting in traffic laying on and off the clutch. It was easy to get worked up and upset constantly riding the bumper of someone else while some person (not what I called them 😉) would be trying to weave through stop and go traffic. I then read where people who sit in traffic like that are susceptible to heart attacks. I decided I couldn’t allow myself to get worked up and call people names. I started choosing my attitude no matter how bad traffic was, even if it caused me to be late to a class I was training. I put on soft music and sang along in order to distract my mind. I also reminded myself that there was nothing I could do about the traffic. Some days, I just had to keep reminding myself over and over.

As a believer, there’s often a battle of the mind that has to be won over and over. It’s easy to let my past creep up on me to change my focus from what God’s grace has done to the things I’ve done in my past. That condemning mindset wants to try to tell me I’m not forgiven , I’ve used up too much grace, God could never use me, I’ve done too much, and so on. If i dwell on those thoughts, it would be easy to be unproductive, stagnant in my growth and cold to Christ in our relationship. I realize I’m unworthy of His grace, but I also remind myself that His grace is sufficient and the work has already been done. I have to choose my attitude and renew my way of thinking daily in order to keep growing and receiving God’s grace. I remind myself it’s not about what I’ve done, but what He’s done and is doing in me.

Ephesians 4:23-24 says, “And be continually renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh, untarnished mental and spiritual attitude], and put on the new self [the regenerated and renewed nature], created in God’s image, [godlike] in the righteousness and holiness of the truth [living in a way that expresses to God your gratitude for your salvation]” (AMP). When I’m feeling unworthy or those thoughts creep up, I remind myself of these verses to renew my way of thinking, to remember I’m made in God’s image and to thank Jesus for what He did for me. We all have choose our attitude, how we think and what we dwell on or we can go down some dark rabbit holes that will hold us back from the life we were created to live. If you’re struggling with those thoughts, ask God to help you continually renew your mind so you can be transformed from the inside out.

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