Monthly Archives: July 2021

Love And Restoration

I grew up in the age of televangelists. I was a teenager when Jimmy Swaggart and Jim Bakker fell from grace as we called it. I remember them being all over the news for their failures. I also remember the Church joining in with the world in taking them down. Days before the news broke, these men and their ministries were held in high esteem by many. Then immediately they were cast out. The same thing happened to singers Marabeth Jordan from First Call and Michael English. They were pulled from the radio, their CD’s taken out of stores and they were shunned. I remember thinking, “What if King David had been treated this way? We forgive him, but not these people.” Michael felt the reaction so heavily that he ended up homeless and on drugs. I’m not sure what the exact response is, but rejection isn’t it.

In John 8:1-11, the religious leaders paraded a woman into the Temple area where Jesus was sitting. “Teacher,” they said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. In our Law Moses commanded that such a woman must be stoned to death. Now, what do you say?” (GNT) If this had been in our time, we would have started throwing the stones, but Jesus wasn’t so quick to pick up a stone. Instead, He drew in the dirt as He considered His response. He straightened up and said to them, “Whichever one of you has committed no sin may throw the first stone at her.” One by one they dropped their stones and walked away. He drew in the dirt some more, then looked up at her and asked if anyone was left to condemn her. “No one, sir,” she answered. “Well, then,” Jesus said, “I do not condemn you either. Go, but do not sin again.”

Jesus provided a great example of love and restoration. Galatians 6:1 says, “My friends, if someone is caught in any kind of wrongdoing, those of you who are spiritual should set him right; but you must do it in a gentle way. And keep an eye on yourselves, so that you will not be tempted, too.” Instead of walking around with stones in our hands looking to take out brothers and sisters who fail, we need to be looking for ways to use those stones to repair their foundations. We forget that we’re in the restoration business and not the demolition one. Demolition is fun because it’s quick and easy. The work of restoration is long and tedious, but that’s what we’re called to do. Who have you been withholding restoration from? Who have you thrown rocks at? We’re all guilty of it, but it’s not too late to change. If Jesus is able to forgive them, we must be willing to as well. We are His vehicle for restoration of their lives. Let’s act like it.

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Being Teachable

One of the things I’ve learned is that if you’re going to grow, you must be teachable. People who think they know it all have placed a lid on their growth. The ones who are humble enough to realize they don’t know what they don’t know are often the people who ask questions that seek understanding. They want to learn more so they can get better at something. They seek out people who know more than they do in the area they want to grow in, ask questions and then apply what they’ve learned. Application is a huge part of growth. It’s what takes the knowledge you’ve been given and does something with it. If you’ve been taught something new and don’t do anything with it or change how you do things, then you may not be as teachable as you thought.

Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, was a serious scholar. He had one of the brightest teachers who poured everything into his students. Even though he had all that knowledge and was very strict in obeying the Law, he was missing the point. Jesus met him on the way to Damascus to show him His will for him. Paul spent the next several years relearning everything in the Scriptures with his new perspective. Once he understood what God wanted him to do, he did it faithfully until he died. He served God with complete devotion, and wrote letters to the churches of that day explaining the Scriptures and helping them follow Jesus with the same devotion.

In Psalm 86:11 David prayed, “Teach me, Lord, what you want me to do, and I will obey you faithfully; teach me to serve you with complete devotion” (GNT). It’s a prayer each of us should pray as we seek to grow and follow Jesus more closely. Like Paul, God will reveal to us His will and give us understanding of Scriptures. He wants us to know His will for our lives so we can obey Him and fulfill our purpose. It starts with us being teachable and asking Him to show us. Just like before, knowledge is great, but growth happens in the application and obedience. Both David and Paul were people like you and me. They had flaws and failures, but what sets them apart from most is that they were always seeking to know more of what they didn’t know about God and how to serve Him more faithfully. I believe their teachability is why God revealed so much to them and why God used them to write so much of the Bible. Imagine what God could do through you if you were that teachable.

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Planting Seeds

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The Keys To Life

When it comes to keys on a key ring, I’m a minimalist. I’ve got my car key and a key to an office. I don’t even have a house key on there. I’ve got friends though who have lots of keys on their key chain. They’ve got a key for every door in their life on their key ring. I’m not quite sure how they remember what key goes to what, but they know. Every key on their ring has a purpose. What’s great about keys is that they open locked doors. So when I read that there is a key to life, I immediately paid attention.

Deuteronomy 30:20 says, “You can make this choice by loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life” (NLT). The first key to opening the locked doors in your life is loving God. Jesus said that this is the greatest commandment of them all. It’s the master key if you will. When we love God with all our heart, our soul, our mind and our strength, our purpose in life becomes clear and doors open.

The second key is often the toughest for us. It’s to obey God in whatever He tells you to do. I believe in simple obedience. I expect it from my son and God expects it from us. It’s the faith to simply act on what God says without always understanding why. We have to trust that God sees the bigger picture of not just our life, but all lives and how they’re connected. Our obedience never just affects us. It has a ripple effect across His Kingdom.

Finally, is to commit ourselves firmly to Him. We’ve got to get past our commitment issues and cling to God through thick and thin. Just like we make a vow at our wedding, we need to make a similar vow to God. For better or worse, in sickness and in health, until death unites us. We can’t allow ourselves to be seduced by the things of this world causing us to break that vow. We must fully commit to Him. When we do these three things, I promise you that locked doors will open because these are the keys to life and blessings.

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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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Never Stop Learning

A couple of years ago I read a Mark Twain quote that really got me thinking. He said, “The person who does not read has no advantage over the person who cannot read.” In our world, the average person only reads one book in their entire adult life after leaving their highest form of education. It’s like we learned enough to get a job and that’s it. We either don’t have time, don’t like reading or don’t care enough to increase our knowledge in certain areas. No matter what it is, when we fail to continue learning through reading, we fail to even learn new things about God.

Several years ago I read “Primal” by Mark Batterson. In it, he breaks down the greatest commandment found in Luke 10:27. “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind” (NLT). Loving God with all your mind is to never lose your sense of wonder with Him. Romans 11:33 says, “Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge!” We could try to learn about Him more each day and never even scratch the surface of knowing God fully. Does that mean we shouldn’t try? No! We must learn to love God with all our mind, to search Him out and to be hungry for more knowledge of Him.

Proverbs 18:15 says, “The spiritually hungry are always ready to learn more, for their hearts are eager to discover new truths” (TPT). Are you spiritually hungry to know more of God or have you lost your desire? Our spiritual growth is dependent on knowing Him more and searching out the Scriptures. When we’re no longer spiritually hungry to know Him more, we fail to love Him with all our mind. We fail to meet the potential He built us with. We must stir up our hungry to know Him more by recognizing we don’t know everything about Him or enough about Him. God wants us to search Him out, to know Him more and to grow closer to Him, but we must do our part and recognize that we have a part to play in this. We must search Him out, find ways to increase our knowledge of Him and discover new truths for ourselves. You may never know Him fully while living here, but we shouldn’t let that stop us.

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Listening To God’s Voice

If you’re like a lot of people, you have this voice in your head that can be quote negative. Whether it’s your own voice, someone else’s or the enemy’s, it can be loud and obnoxious at times. It tries to drown out all other voices of reason and even the truth. It tells you that you’re not good enough, not smart enough, not appealing enough, will never amount to anything, that you’re going to fail, that God is mad at you, etc. You know the voice I’m talking about and what it says to you. It may have been speaking to you for so long that you’ve begun to believe it and doubt what the truth of what God says. It’s much more difficult to hear His whisper over this voice, but it’s there speaking the truth to you.

In 2 Kings 18, Hezekiah had been king of Judah for about 14 years. He had done everything God asked of him when the Assyrians attacked and captured al, the fortified cities of Judah except Jerusalem. The king of Assyria sent his highest officials to King Hezekiah to take all the go,d and silver. When they arrived, the stood outside the walls and taunted them. He assured them that no one was coming to help. He told them that God had told him to come attack them because God had abandoned them, so trusting in Him was pointless. If they would just surrender, life would be better. The officials begged them to speak in a language the people didn’t understand, but they instead spoke Hebrew to try to get them to not listen to their own king. When they left, Hezekiah went into the Temple to seek God’s voice on the matter. He knew God had the final say.

In 2 Kings 19:6 Isaiah spoke God’s words and said, “Do not be afraid because of the words that you have heard, with which the servants of the king of Assyria have reviled (blasphemed) Me” (AMP). He went on to say that the Assyrian army wouldn’t shoot a single arrow against them, but this first part is what we need to remember. Do not be afraid of the words you’re hearing from that voice in your head. They may make sense, sound logical and be believable, but it’s the voice of God you need to be listening to. His voice does not bring fear or shame. Declare Psalm 85:8 today. It says, “I will hear [with expectant hope] what God the Lord will say, For He will speak peace to His people, to His godly ones.” Choose to listen and believe what God says over the other voices in your head. He’s the one speaking the truth and peace to you.

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More Faith

There are times when I feel like I have the type of faith that can move mountains. There are also times when I feel like my faith is much smaller than a mustard seed. Sometimes I read verses like John 14:13 where Jesus tells us to ask for whatever we need in His name and He’ll give it to us, and I think, “What if I ask and you don’t answer?” Hen I think, “What if I don’t ask at all? What happens then?” Having the faith to believe sometimes feels like the gas gauge on my car. Sometimes it’s full, and other times it feel empty. Either way, I believe God honors the faith we do have, but He’s also encouraging us to have more.

In Mark 9, Jesus came down from the Mount of Transfiguration to find his disciples arguing with some teachers of the Law. When he asked them what they were arguing about, a man pushed forward and said he had brought his son to be freed from demons, but the disciples couldn’t do it. Jesus asked for the boy, and Ashe approached, the demons threw him into a fit. The man begged Jesus to help them if He possibly could. Jesus responded, “Yes, if you yourself can! Everything is possible for the person who has faith” (GNT). To that, the father answered, “I do have faith, but not enough. Help me have more!” Jesus cast the spirit out and the boy was healed.

Faith is a partnership between us and God built on trust and communication. Jesus wanted to partner with this father’s faith for his boy, but the man felt he needed more. He is a lot like several of us doubting our faith isn’t enough. Jesus was able to use what faith he did have to free his son. Later, when the disciples asked why they couldn’t cast it out, Jesus told them, “Only prayer can drive this kind out. Nothing else can.” It’s a reminder to us to look at our prayer life when our faith feels small. How much quality time are we spending with our Heavenly Father? I’ve found that the more time I spend with Him in prayer, the greater my faith is. You and I can have more faith, but it comes through prayer and reading the Bible.

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Safety And Security

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The Door Of Hope

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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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Uncomfortable Moments

One of the things my wife and I feel is our duty as parents is to help to help our son become a mature adult one day who is equipped to handle life. To do that, we often give him the opportunity to make tough decisions. We help him think through rewards and consequences of those decisions to help him build a foundation of decision making principles. Instead of being grateful, he complains. He asks, “Why do you always make me have hard choices?” We answer, “Because life is full of hard choices. The sooner you learn how to make them, the better your life will be.” He is too young to understand that right now, but as parents, we want our child to have the tools necessary for maturity. We don’t mind putting him in tough positions that make him uncomfortable because we know that he will need those skills down the road.

Because you and I are full functioning adults on this planet, we forget that we are in a similar relationship with our Heavenly Father. You and I are His children, and His goal for us is spiritual maturity. Just like a good parent, He will often force us out of our comfort zone to teach us dependence on Him, to produce character or to prepare us for the future. It’s never convenient, sometimes painful, but always productive. His concern is for our growth more than our comfort. He will do whatever is necessary to help us become more like Him. We can complain asking, “Why,” or we can endure and grow.

Isaiah 30:20 says, “The Lord will make you go through hard times, but he himself will be there to teach you, and you will not have to search for him any more” (GNT). God doesn’t abandon you when the going gets tough. He’s right there with you teaching you if you’re listening. The more difficult the situation is, the more of His grace you get to experience. It is always sufficient for your circumstances. I’ve found that going through the hard times have drawn me closer to Him rather than farther away. As C.S. Lewis said, “God whispers in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain.” He loves us enough to do what it takes to help us hear Him, to know Him and to grow in Him. Don’t discount the hard times. God may just be using them to help you know Him more.

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