Monthly Archives: August 2021

A Challenge To Love

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Who do you know that challenges you to do more for God? There are certain people I look at that cause me to want to do more for God’s Kingdom. One sees a need and immediately jumps in and starts a ministry filling the need. When others jump in and run along side him, he hands off the ministry to one of them and looks for another need. It’s such a stark contrast to how so many people do ministry. I asked him about it once. He said, “All ministry belongs to God so I keep an open hand with it. When people come along side who are more passionate and gifted than I am in it, I give it to them and ask God what’s next.” Something like that causes me to look around with different eyes looking to see what God wants to do around me and through me to do good.

In the Bible, Solomon realized he couldn’t be as good of a king to the people as his father David was. He prayed for wisdom to help him be a good king. Peter and John challenged the early Church to look for opportunities everywhere. The healing of the beggar they were passing by at the Gate Beautiful in Acts 3:6 is a great example. Paul and Barnabas set off on long journeys going where God told them to go in order to spread the Gospel throughput the known world. Each of these people drew their inspiration from someone and also inspired others to lead more productive lives that touched the lives of others. I believe that’s what God is calling us to do even today.

Hebrews 10:24 says, “Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good” (GNT). As believers, we must be concerned for someone other than ourselves. We need to be looking to the fields with eyes that are open and hearts that ask, “Who can I show your love to today, Father?” We need to be encouraging other believers, especially in the times we live in. Send a text today to someone who needs it. Make a meal for a family in need. Show love to someone who clearly has been overlooked by society. There is opportunity everywhere for you to show love and do good, but you must quit looking to your own needs and desires long enough to see it. God has given us as believers a great opportunity in the world today to rise up and show concern and His love. What will you do?

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Running To God

What do you do when you’re stressed, under attack or when everything seems to be going wrong? We all have a fight or flight switch in our brain. When it’s to for flight, where do you go? What do you normally do? I tend to close up, get quiet and go to bed early. My body and brain run through every scenario of how to get out of it or resolve the conflict. I expend lots of energy and brain power thinking about it to the point that it consumes me. I know some people whose response is to complain about it looking for sympathy. Others will try to express it in art to help them process everything. We all go to something to help us cope with the situation. Sometimes that thing we run to is a bad habit or an old sin that we just can’t seem to beat.

When David was under attack, he went on the run to other cities and caves. I’ve been to the area in Israel where he would run to. It’s hot there and there’s not much in that area to sustain life. Every time we go through that area, I look up into the mountains looking for caves wondering, “Is that one that David stayed in? Why would he come here?” However, God used his time on the run to refocus his attention back to where it belonged. A mighty warrior like him could easily think his own might was good enough to save himself, but God reminded him that He was his rock, fortress and sure salvation. David’s faith and trust in God grew while he was on the run because he learned to trust in God’s character during those times.

Proverbs 18:10 says, “The name of the Lord is a strong fortress; the godly run to him and are safe” (NLT). The word “name” here actually translates to “the character of God.” Instead of blaming God for our situation, we need to be trusting in His character. To do that, I think about Lamentations 3:22-23. It says, “The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” I draw comfort from those words knowing that God is not the source of my problems. He’s the source of my refuge and strength from them. He is faithful to grow me through them and to deliver me when the time is right. When troubles come your way, don’t run away from God. Instead run to Him remembering His character that has always sustained you.

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God’s Favor

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Life Giving Wells

When I was in high school, I went on my first mission trip. We went to a small village in Mexico to finish building a church and to host its opening service. About a month before we went, we got word that a donkey had fallen into their well and died. They were unable to get it out for several days. Their water was tainted and undrinkable. When they finally got it out, they had to drain the well and let it fill back up. Until then, they had to find other ways to get water into the village. I remember visiting that well on our visit. We stood around it and marveled how deep it was. I also remember praying over that well that it would continue to provide life giving water to that village.

Wells are a source of life, and so are the words you put into your mind. The Bible says that the power of life and death is in the tongue. It also tells us that we are what we think. It’s important that you and I guard what we allow into our minds. From books, to news, to movies, to people we hang out with, the words they speak are either giving you life or death. They are either edifying you or tearing you down. Their words reverberate in our minds and become the things we think about. We wouldn’t knowingly drink poisonous water, so why would we knowingly put detrimental words into our mind?

Proverbs 13:14 says, “The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, so, no more drinking from death-tainted wells!” (MSG) If we’re going to change our lives, we’re going to have to change what wells we allow ourselves to drink from. We need to be more cautious about what we allow into our minds so that the thoughts we dwell on are life giving ones. If we drink from life giving wells, then we ourselves can become life giving wells for others. Pay attention to the wells you’re drinking from and ask yourself if they’re a death tainted well or a life giving one. Change where your thoughts come from and you’ll change your life.

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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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Walking With Jesus

I grew up in church. My family went every time the doors were open. I don’t remember missing many Sunday’s either. We went to Sunday School each week, children’s church, Vacation Bible School at all the churches and kid’s camp. I even attended a Christian school. I grew up learning, studying and knowing the Bible. When I became an adult, I began to think that my knowledge was adequate and I didn’t need to study or read it as much. My church attendance became a habit instead of a desire. What was adequate quickly turned to arrogance. I didn’t realize that I was slipping away from God because I was relying on my head knowledge of Him. It didn’t take long before I started reaping the consequences of my actions and regret set in.

In Mark 10:17-27 a young man came running up to Jesus. He asked what all he needed to do in order to be saved. Jesus quoted several of the commandments and told him to obey them. The guy, like me, replied that he had been following them since he was young. Verse 21 says, “Jesus fixed his gaze upon the man, with tender love, and said to him, ‘Yet there is still one thing in you lacking. Go, sell all that you have and give the money to the poor. Then all of your treasure will be in heaven. After you’ve done this, come back and walk with me’” (TPT). The man walked away from Jesus in regret instead of with Him. He struggled, like many of us, in moving from a knowledge based obedience into a heartfelt obedience.

It’s good to have knowledge of God’s Word, but it’s more important that it gets into our heart. Psalm 119:11 says, “Your word I have treasured and stored in my heart, That I may not sin against You” (AMP). When we keep His Word in our heads, it can lead to arrogance and regret. When we keep it in our hearts, it keeps us from sinning against Him. Does your knowledge of the Bible and God give you justification for missing daily reading or prayer time? If so, it’s stored up in your head instead of your heart. Knowing about God and what He said is not the same as knowing God and hearing from Him. One leads to regret. The other leads to walking with Jesus as a disciple. When we walk with Him, we become more like Him.

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The Jesus Effect

One of the first rules you learn as a child is that you become like those you hang out with. Someone once said, “Show me your friends, and I’ll show you, you.” We tend to take on attributes, accents and habits of the people we spend time with. I read a study once that showed how kids don’t take on their parent’s accents. They take on the ones of their friends. Think about the people you are around the most. Good or bad, they’ve had an affect on the things you like, the places you go and even the foods you eat. They have changed you as much as you have changed them.

In the book of Acts, the disciples went around preaching and healing people the way Jesus did. They went to the Temple to pray and to educate others on the Scriptures. As they approached the gate one day, a beggar who couldn’t walk asked them for money. Instead of money, they brought him to his feet healed. The religious leaders threw them in jail for it. As they were being questioned the next day about it, Peter spoke up and told them it was done through the power of Jesus’ name. Acts 4:13 says, “The council members were astonished as they witnessed the bold courage of Peter and John, especially when they discovered that they were just ordinary men who had never had religious training. Then they began to understand the effect Jesus had on them simply by spending time with him” (TPT).

Think about that. They saw the effect Jesus had on them simply by spending time with Him. Just like you and your friends have an affect on each other’s lives, our lives are affected by spending time with Jesus. The more time you spend with Him, the greater the effect He will have on your life. We, like the disciples, will become more like Him each and every day. You can be an ordinary person and have an extraordinary change in your life, and in the lives of others, by spending time in prayer, reading the Bible and resting in His presence. Just like anything in the Bible, we have to be the ones to take the first step. The change happens after we make the time to spend with Him.

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Listening In The Gaps

There’s a comedian named Michael Junior who I listen to from time to time. Not only is he funny, he also shares his faith and encourages believers. In one of his shows, he described how he used to think about seven jokes ahead in his act. In between the jokes, while people were laughing, he began to ask God, “What can i give this crowd? What do you want to say?” It changed how he did comedy and the lives of people who go to his shows. God began to point out people in the audience for him to minister to. Sometimes what God spoke to him was for the whole audience. He calls this, “Listening in the gaps.”

Each of us have gaps in our day and in our life. It can be between customers, between reports, between classes, etc. Too often we fill our gaps with music, books, conversation and more. We’ve become good at keeping our mind occupied at all times, which keeps us from being still, listening to God or even asking Him what He’s saying. God is always speaking and He’s always wanting to use us, but we must learn to listen and to ask. In the gaps, we need to say what Samuel said, “Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening” (1Samuel 3:10). When we do that it will change how we give ourselves to others and to do some things we may not have normally done.

Psalms 85:8 says, “Now I’ll listen carefully for your voice and wait to hear whatever you say” (TPT). When you ask God to speak to you, He will. He may ask you to do something you think is crazy or He might ask you to speak life to someone. Whatever it is, remember that we must obey without hesitation. You may never know what is on the other side of your obedience or how you will affect someone’s life. I believe God is calling each one of us to make a difference in the lives of people around us and in our path. In order to do that, we have to be praying and listening in the gaps. Look for where your gaps are today and ask God to speak to you. I’d love to hear back how God used you.

If you’d like to see Michael Junior discuss this, click here.

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Sharing Your Weakness

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Weird Requests

A couple of years ago, my wife and I left visiting with my family a couple of nights before Christmas to go pray for a friend. On our way back to my family’s house, we were approaching the light to turn onto their road when I felt the Holy Spirit say, “Stop right here.” I was about 15 yards back from the light in the middle turn lane. My wife looked at me with a puzzled look and asked, “What are you doing?” I said, “I don’t know. I was told to stop right here.” So we sat there for almost a minute. I rolled my window down to listen. We saw police lights about a mile ahead coming towards us. Just then, a car appeared out of no where traveling at a high speed with no lights on coming up the wrong way to avoid people in their lane at the light. It swerved right in front of us and missed us by inches. It was so fast and close that our SUV shook from the wind of it passing. As we realized if I had been where I was supposed to be, they would have hit us head on.

The Gospel of Luke tells us a story of some fishermen who had been cleaning their nets after unsuccessfully fishing all night. Up walks Jesus preaching to a large crowd. He notices their empty boats and asks if they can take Him out into the water just a bit so He can teach the crowd from there. After He taught the crowd, Luke 5:4 says He told them, “Now row out to deep water to cast your nets and you will have a great catch” (TPT). Peter, the seasoned fisherman, explained that it didn’t make sense and that you fish at night. But then he added, “But if you insist, we’ll go out again and let down our nets because of your word.” When they did, their nets became so full of fish that their nets began to tear. He had to yell for help to the other boat on shore. They had so many fish in their boats that they were on the verge of sinking.

Both of these stories are related. God doesn’t always ask us to do things that make sense. They often go against the way things are normally done. We can argue with God about how it makes us look or we can trust what He’s telling us to do and obey Him at His Word. God asks for obedience from us even when we don’t understand. Sometimes it’s to save our life and other times it’s to bless us or others. As you go about your day, listen to what God is speaking to you. Ask Him for the courage to obey His requests no matter what they are. You and I can only see what’s right in front of us. God sees how everything is connected and into the future. He knows what’s best so we need to obey Him no matter what. You never know what’s riding on your obedience.

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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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Alone With God

I was talking with a friend recently about how technology has been both a blessing and a curse. On the blessing side, we have so much information, entertainment and communication in the palm of our hand. Never before in the history of the world have we had such access, but along with that comes the curse. We’ve lost the ability to be alone to think deeply and to pray. We’re constantly interrupted by it going off, lighting up or us using it out of habit. In times past, people had the ability to process, break down and understand the information they had because they had the ability to truly be alone with their thoughts. That ability also provided them with opportunities to be alone with God.

Exodus 3:1 says, “Now Moses was keeping the flock of Jethro (Reuel) his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb (Sinai), the mountain of God” (AMP). Notice how Moses was in the wilderness alone. It was then that he noticed the burning bush. Verse 3-4 says, “So Moses said, ‘I must turn away [from the flock] and see this great sight—why the bush is not burned up.’ When the Lord saw that he turned away [from the flock] to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, ‘Moses, Moses!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’” Moses turned away from his distraction, and when he did, God called out to him and met with him.

You will even find this pattern with Jesus. Luke 5:16 says, “But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray [in seclusion].” How often do you slip away into seclusion, away from all distractions, and pray? It’s difficult in today’s world. We must be intentional about it. Our minds will give us the fear of missing out or of being out of connection with others, but the truth is that those fears have made us miss out on encounters with God and out of connection with Him. Jesus made it a practice to break away from the crowd and noise of life to be alone with God. With all of our connectedness today, we must be even more intentional about it. God is waiting to meet you, but you must turn away from the things that distract you first and get alone with Him.

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