Monthly Archives: September 2021

Having Enough

Every year, Americans spend over $80 billion on lottery tickets. It’s hard not to spend money on a ticket when lottery prizes are upwards of $300 million. However, nearly 45% of lottery winners go broke within 3-5 years. The problem is that we are trying to get wealth without earning it. When that happens, we don’t have an understanding of money, thinking it is an endless supply. You can search for “The lottery ruined my life” to see the countless stories of people who are worse off after having won the lottery than before. I also think there’s a heart problem here for most people. Who are you trusting to care for your needs? God or the lottery?

Each of us have prayed The Lord’s Prayer thousands of times. In it we pray, “Give us this day our daily bread.” It’s interesting that Jesus taught us to ask for daily bread, but we are always seeking more bread. When the Israelites were in the desert, God told them to gather just enough manna for one day. If they gathered more than a day’s worth, it rotted and became full of maggots. God has always been about making sure we have enough. He’s not against us getting rich or trying to make more money, but He is concerned with our motives. Are we trying to replace Him as the source for our lives?

In Proverbs 30:8-9, there is a great prayer by Agur. He prayed, “Empty out of my heart everything that is false— every lie, and every crooked thing. And give me neither undue poverty nor undue wealth— but rather, feed my soul with the measure of prosperity that pleases you. May my satisfaction be found in you. Don’t let me be so rich that I don’t need you or so poor that I have to resort to dishonesty just to make ends meet. Then my life will never detract from bringing glory to your name” (TPT). We need to find our satisfaction in Jesus, understanding that He gives us our daily bread. Jesus said that when we seek His Kingdom first, all these other things would be added to us. Is He enough in your life? Are you satisfied with Him? Or are you trying to replace the need for Him?

Photo by Travis Essinger 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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Filling Your Mind

Have you ever thought of your mind as a gas tank? It can be full or empty, and what you fill it with shows up in your life. Proverbs 4:21 says, “Fill your thoughts with my words until they penetrate deep into your spirit” (TPT). Solomon was teaching this principle to his son. The same applies to us. When we fill our thoughts with God’s Word, we put truth into our mind that cleanses it. We also give the Holy Spirit the opportunity to bring back to our remembrance what God spoke and promised. His truth then becomes what we stand on in hard times, what we think about and what we speak. If you’re struggling in your thought life, begin filling your mind up with the Word of God.

Once your mind is full of God’s Word, it’s time to begin meditating on it. Meditating is simply keeping that verse or story at the forefront of your thoughts. It’s breaking it down, looking at individual words in it and thinking about how it applies to you. As you do that, you begin to change healing for your mind and body. Proverbs 4:22 says, “Then, as you unwrap my words, they will impart true life and radiant health into the very core of your being.” God’s Word is life to all who find them and unpack them. Your thoughts are so powerful that they can manifest in sickness or healing in your body. It’s important that we put God’s Word in our mind and then unwrap their meaning for ourselves.

The next verse, Proverbs 4:23, tell us what happens next in this thought process. It says, “So above all, guard the affections of your heart, for they affect all that you are. Pay attention to the welfare of your innermost being, for from there flows the wellspring of life.” After your inside is healed, you will then begin to bring life to others. You speak life. Your thoughts have the power to shape your life despite your circumstances, and they have the power to bring life and healing to others. All this starts with you filling them with God’s Word rather than what someone else said. What you think about matters and reflects in your life. Choose carefully what you fill your mind with.

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Speak To Your Storm

How do you respond when your world is shaken? Fear? Panic? Calling out to Jesus? Blaming Jesus? Does it drive you to a vice or coping mechanism? None of us are exempt from having our world shaken and turned upside down. Our response when that happens is what matters. I’ve let those times push me away from God, cause me to be cold towards Him and find coping mechanisms to deal with the pain. I usually try to repair the situation myself first, and if I can’t (or make things worse), I then go to God. In the long term it’s boosted my faith. However, I believe God uses life altering moments to give us an opportunity to exercise our faith.

In Matthew 8:23-27, Jesus and the disciples get into a boat, after a long day of performing miracles, to cross the Sea of Galilee. Jesus was exhausted and fell asleep while the disciples rowed. Verse 24 says, “Suddenly a violent storm developed, with waves so high the boat was about to be swamped. Yet Jesus continued to sleep soundly” (TPT). The Greek word for “violent” in this text is the same word used for earthquake. Their world was being shaken and Jesus was asleep giving them the opportunity to exercise their faith after watching Him perform miracles. Instead they turned to fear and panic. They woke Him up and He calmed the storm. Jesus asked why they had so little fear implying that they could have spoken to the storm and calmed it themselves.

When’s the last time you spoke to the storm? It’s good to turn to Jesus in our time of need, but He’s also given us the authority to speak to our storms in His name. Luke 10:19 says, “Now you understand that I have imparted to you my authority to trample over his kingdom. You will trample upon every demon before you and overcome every power Satan possesses. Absolutely nothing will harm you as you walk in this authority.” It’s time you and I began to walk in the authority that has been given to us. Storms are designed to take the training wheels off, not to get us to rely on them more. Speak with the authority of Jesus’ name into your storm, trust God to do His part and walk in faith believing He will answer. Your life shaking storm should cause faith to rise up, not fear.

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Work Hard

One of my favorite lines from Marin Luther’s “I Have A Dream” speech always challenges me. He said, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, “Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.'” Each time I hear that or read it, it pushed me to make sure that I’m doing things to the best of my ability or not. A bad boss or a job I don’t like shouldn’t keep me from doing my job well. Whatever God has given me to do at that time is what He needs me to do my best at.

Paul wrote something similar in Romans 12:6. It says, “In His grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well” (NLT). We each have different gifts and different responsibilities given to us by God. Paul goes on to say that if you have the gift of prophesy, then do it with as much faith as God has given you. If you are called to serve others, then do it well. If you are to encourage others, be encouraging. He lists multiple in this passage and after each one, he encourages us to use it to the best of our ability and to use it in love. We don’t need to compare ourselves to each other because we’ve been given unique gifts to fit our life and the people we’ve been called to serve.

He starts to conclude his thoughts on this in verse 11 by saying, “Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.” Whether you like your gifts or where God has placed you right now, you should be working hard and enthusiastically as unto the Lord. When we do our jobs or activities for a person, we can let our attitude towards them affect our performance. When we do it unto the Lord with our whole heart, then excellence becomes a natural byproduct. We must remember that our work ethic represents Him as well. What we do and how well we do it is a reflection of Him because we bear His name. So whatever you’re called to do right now, do it as Michelangelo painted, Beethoven played and Shakespeare wrote. Do it with all your might and enthusiastically unto the Lord.

Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash

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Letting God Speak

Did you know one of the greatest ways you can show someone you love them is by listening to them? When we actually listen, we communicate to the other person that we value them. It also works the same way in our relationship with God. More often than not, our prayer time is God listening to us (communicating love), rather than us giving Him time to speak. It’s time we communicated love back to God by giving Him time to speak to us each day.

Here are some Bible verses on listening to God.

“If you really knew God, you would listen, receive, and respond with faith to his words. But since you don’t listen and respond to what he says, it proves you don’t belong to him and you have no room for him in your hearts.”

‭‭John‬ ‭8:47‬ ‭TPT‬‬

“Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.”

‭‭Revelation‬ ‭3:22‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him!’”

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭17:5‬ ‭NASB2020‬‬

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

‭‭John‬ ‭10:27‬ ‭GNT‬‬

“Come to me with your ears wide open. Listen, and you will find life. I will make an everlasting covenant with you. I will give you all the unfailing love I promised to David.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭55:3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Thanks to Timothy Eberly @timothyeberly for making this photo available freely on Unsplash


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Developing Life Flavors

One of the things I enjoy doing is cooking. One of the things I’ve learned is that foods taste better if you take the time to develop the flavors. That means that instead of adding onion and garlic later, I may start with them and let them sauté a bit in order to bring out more flavor. When I create a sauce to cook in, I may let it simmer a little longer so that it reduces. Doing that will intensify the flavor. To turn a recipe into a beloved dish, you have to take the time to develop and bring out the hidden flavors with heat and time. It’s more than simply adding ingredients.

I believe our lives are the same way. God wants to create amazing flavors in our lives that point others to Him. To do that, it requires Him to do things differently than our recipe. It also requires us to be put in the fire, sometimes longer than we care to be there. It’s really our choice how we respond. Do we give Him the freedom to bring out the flavors that are locked inside of us? Or do we allow those times to produce a bitter flavor that turns people away from us and Him? God’s desire is that each one of us would have complex, well developed flavors so that we’re not just another Christian.

James 1 tells us to consider it joy, even a gift, when trials and challenges come at us from all sides. In that pressure cooker, it releases hidden flavors into the world. In verse 4 he writes, “So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way” (MSG). When things aren’t going right and life is coming at you hard, don’t run away. God is at work in you and pulling out flavors that were locked away and hidden before. He’s not going to allow these problems to overwhelm you. He knows what you can take and how long you can stay there. Trust His judgement and let Him do His Work in your life.

Photo by samer daboul 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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Listening To His Voice

Several years ago I read a book called “While Shepherds Watch Their Flocks” by Dr. Timothy Laniak. The author lived with nomadic shepherds in the Middle East in order to gain a greater understanding of what Biblical shepherding was all about. In one chapter he discussed the position of the shepherd in relation to the sheep. There are times when the shepherd is out front leading them, and other times when he’s behind them pushing them forward. When the sheep are an open area, the shepherd is out front. The sheep follow for protection and provision. When they’re traveling through a low visibility area, the shepherd will go behind the sheep to keep them moving. The ones in front feel the pressure of the movement to move forward.

In John 10, Jesus was using shepherds to teach the people about Himself in a manner they could relate to. He called Himself the Good Shepherd. He talked about being the gate as the shepherd. They would have understood the shepherds put the sheep in a pin at night and the shepherd sleeps in the doorway to protect them. He talked about how when dangers come, hired hands run, but the shepherd stays. He then discussed how the sheep know His voice and listen when it’s time to leave the pen. Verse 4 says, “When he has brought all his own sheep outside, he walks on ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice and recognize his call” (AMP).

Is Jesus out front leading you or is He pushing you from behind right now? Are you listening to His voice as He guides you? There are a lot of competing voices out there trying to get your attention. Jesus said His shepherd know His voice and listen to Him. They know Him and He knows them (verse 27). We must be tuned into His voice each day in order to go where He leads. Whether you have low or high visibility right now for your direction, take time each day to be still and quiet your mind. Pray, “Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening.” Then wait in silence until you hear Him. He’s speaking to you constantly, trying to lead you, but you must listen for His voice and recognize His call. The more you sit quietly in His presence, the more you will hear Him speak to you.

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More Than A Conqueror

I’ve never been a gamer, and am not to this day. I was a teenager before we got a Nintendo. It was over ten years ago when we got a Wii. I’ve only really played that with my nieces and nephews. The game of choice has been Mario Cart. I can usually compete with them, but rarely win. Sometimes I’m so far back, the game gives me the bullet to help catch me up in the race. My favorite surprise to get in the game though is the invincibility star. No matter what comes at me, or who wrecks into me, the bounce off and wreck. The problem is that it only lasts for a few seconds and then I’m able to be wrecked again. It would be great if there were invincibility stars in life we could pick up.

I love Romans 8. If there was one chapter in the Bible that summed it all up, it would be that one. As you get towards the end of that chapter, Paul starts listing things that we face in life. He asks if tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger or swords can separate us from the love of Jesus. He goes on to list more things we face like death, life, angels, principalities, threatening things in the present, threatening things in the future, the powers that be, heights, depths, or anything created. All of these represent trials, situations or circumstances that we go through and can overwhelm us or make us feel abandoned by God. He assures us that going through these things doesn’t diminish God’s love for us. Not only that, they don’t have the ability to conquer us.

After talking about half these, and before listing the rest, in verse 37 he writes, “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors and gain an overwhelming victory through Him who loved us [so much that He died for us]” (AMP). His love for us is like that invincibility star. It give us the power to have overwhelming victory no matter what we face or what attack we’re under. It didn’t say we wouldn’t feel the weight or the pressure of these circumstances. It simply assures us that they don’t have the power to defeat us or to separate us from the love of Jesus. You may be getting attacked from all sides today and feeling the weight of the world. Just remember that you’re not alone and that through Jesus, you are more than a conqueror who will gain an overwhelming victory.

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Spilling God’s Love

One of the toughest things Jesus told us to do was in Matthew 5:44. He said, “I say to you, love your enemy, bless the one who curses you, do something wonderful for the one who hates you, and respond to the very ones who persecute you by praying for them” (TPT). I have to tell you, that goes against everything that I want to do in those situations. The easiest thing to do is to hate the person who hates you, curse the person who curses you, yell at the person who hates you and to fight anyone who comes against you. That’s the way I’m wired anyway. The things Jesus is asking us to do here goes against my nature.

I believe God asks us to act this way because we are to be a reflection of Him and who He is. When we are full of ourselves, and someone does something to us, it’s who we are on the inside that spills out onto them. When we replace who we are with who God is inside us, our reactions change. Everywhere we go, we will be spilling God’s love onto anyone who runs into us. The hardest part of being a Christian, is getting rid of all my selfish desires so that I can be filled with more of who He is, but that is God’s desire for each one of us. It’s a constant battle, but it’s one our spirit must be victorious in.

For many of us, we view God as the person we are when someone cuts us off on the road. He’s angry and out for payback. What Jesus said gives us insight into what God is like. Psalm 145:8 does as well. It says, “You’re kind and tenderhearted to those who don’t deserve it and very patient with people who fail you. Your love is like a flooding river overflowing its banks with kindness.” God isn’t angry and out to get us when we mess up. Like a good father, He’s kind and does everything He can to help us succeed at being more like He is. He’s patient with us in our failures as well. As we get to know Him more, He will become increasingly more evident in our life through our responses to people.

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I’m taking the day off from writing. I hope you enjoyed this previously published devotional.

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Trusting God’s Timing

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