Monthly Archives: November 2021

Saying Yes

I was just talking with some friends about Bob Goff’s book “Love Does”. If you haven’t heard of him or this book, I’d encourage you to check it out. To me, Bob is a Christian “Yes Man”. He views each interaction and request from someone as an opportunity for Jesus to show up. The book is a collection of stories from his life where he simply said yes in certain situations and incredible things happened. It challenged me to want to do more for others and God’s Kingdom. It’s prompted me to say yes to more things giving the Holy Spirit more opportunities to do things through me.

I love reading Paul’s letters to the Early Church. Not only are they great instructions for us on how to live, they also include a list of people who were examples of Christian character. He mentions how they opened their homes to him, made clothes for the poor, welcomed him in, some visited him in prison and encouraged him. These people he mentioned were just ordinary people who did what they were promoted to do because of their faith. They could have easily found an excuse to not do those things, but because they did, they’re mentioned in the Bible.

2 Thessalonians 1:11 says, “So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do” (NLT). You are called by God to do the things He’s prepared you to do. Your faith is constantly prompting you to do things. Have you been listening to it and obeying or have you been making excuses? The more we say yes to those promptings, the more we allow the Holy Spirit to accomplish things through us. You don’t have to be a Bob Goff, but you do need to live the life God is calling you to. It starts by saying yes to things He is prompting you to do.

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Sharing A Burden

When I talk to leaders, I often have a conversation with them about the difference between empathy and sympathy. Empathy is the ability to understand what someone else is feeling because you have been there yourself. Sympathy is acknowledging what someone else is feeling even though you haven’t experienced it yourself. They are slightly different, however Empathy can be much stronger because you can have a deeper emotional connection. Just because you haven’t experienced it yourself though, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t express sympathy. In both cases, you’re working to share the emotional load of another person.

Galatians 6:2-3 says, “Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important” (NLT). This commandment is given to all of us to help one another in whatever burden someone else is carrying. I’ve seen many believers back away from a situation because they couldn’t empathize with that person. The load of their situation was crushing them, but no one came to their aid. This where sympathy comes in. It can express itself by simply sitting with that person. Your physical presence tells them they’re not alone thereby taking some of their burden off of them.

Each of us have our own problems, but we are better and stronger when we carry them together. From the beginning God said it was not good for us to be alone. He built us for connection and to help each other. If you look around today, you will see someone in your path who is struggling to carry a heavy burden. Whether you can empathize or sympathize with them, it’s important to let them know they’re seen and they’re not alone. If you think back to a time when you were burdened down, you will remember how desperate you were for some acknowledgment that would give you hope and strength. Today, you have that opportunity to be that for someone else. Don’t miss that opportunity, and in doing so, you will fulfill the law of Christ in loving your neighbor.

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Being Productive People

Galatians 5 tells us that the Holy Spirit produces fruit in our lives. James 1 tells us that the difficulties and trials we face produce character in us. Have you ever wondered what it is that you’re to produce? God created us to be productive. In many of Jesus’ parables, He compares us to gardens or seeds. In each of them, the ones that produced were promoted. The ones who didn’t produce were thrown out. It’s important to know that we are not to live idle lives. Instead, we should be producing many different things. We were created to be productive people.

Here are some Bible verses on things we’re to produce.

1. So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.

James 2:17 NLT

2. Then you will be able to live as the Lord wants and will always do what pleases him. Your lives will produce all kinds of good deeds, and you will grow in your knowledge of God.

Colossians 1:10 GNT

3. A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.

Luke 6:45 NLT

4. Therefore produce fruit that is worthy of [and consistent with your] repentance [that is, live changed lives, turn from sin and seek God and His righteousness]. And do not even begin to say to yourselves [as a defense], ‘We have Abraham for our father [and so our heritage assures us of salvation]’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children (descendants) for Abraham [for God can replace the unrepentant, regardless of their heritage, with those who are obedient].

Luke 3:8 AMP

5. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.

John 15:2 NLT

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3 Reasons To Be Thankful

When is the last time that you stopped what you were doing and truly thanked God for all he’s done for you? In I Thessalonians 5:18, it tells us that no matter what your circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks. Even if nothing seems to be going your way right now, there is reason to give thanks. 

Having a thankful heart is a mindset that you have to create. We are not naturally thankful creatures. You need to practice being thankful with others and with God. When you truly make being thankful a part of your life, you will find that your attitude, your outlook and your perspective will change for the better.

Here are some reasons I have found to give thanks.

1. For salvation

Each of us should be eternally grateful for what Jesus did on the cross for us. There is nothing that we could ever do to earn our way to Heaven. It is only because God loved us so much that He sent His son to die for our sins that we have that ability. I don’t have to spend my life hoping and trying to be good enough one day. The price for my sin was paid for by Jesus.

I love how 2 Corinthians 9:15 says it: “Now thanks be to God for His gift, precious beyond telling, His indescribable, inexpressible, free gift!” We have a very good reason to be thankful today. You do not have to spend eternity separated from God if receive His son into your life.

2. For God’s faithfulness

I’m thankful every day that God’s faithfulness doesn’t rely on my own faithfulness. 2 Timothy says that even if we are faithless or are untrue to Him, He remains faithful and true because He cannot deny Himself. What God has promised He will do, He will do no matter what. 

One of my favorite promises in scripture is found in Philippians 4:19. I remind myself of this scripture when things aren’t going my way. It says that God will supply all of my needs according to His riches. I often want Him to supply all of my wants, but He has promised to take care of my needs. I have air in my lungs, a place to sleep and food to eat. That is something to be thankful for.

3. For what He has done

How many times have we prayed and asked God for something and He’s done it? Too many to count I’m sure. I often thank Him for the big things when He does them, but what about the little things? Have we thanked Him for a good night’s sleep, help on a test, safe travels or for food to eat? We constantly petition God in prayer and rarely thank Him.

When He healed the 10 lepers in Luke 17, only one came back to thank Him. Jesus asked him where the other 9 were. How was it that only one came back for something as big as a life giving healing? I want to live my life like that one who came back and worshipped Him and thanked Him.

I know it’s hard to do sometimes. I’ve been at points in my life where it seemed I had nothing to be thankful for. The truth is that I had a lot to be thankful for, but I wasn’t looking for it. Wherever you are today, stop and give thanks to God. You will find that it will change you when you live with a grateful heart.

What is something you’re thankful for today?

Thanks to Adam Winger @awcreativeut for making this photo available freely 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.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Areas Of Improvement

James 1:19 says, “Understand this, my beloved brothers and sisters. Let everyone be quick to hear [be a careful, thoughtful listener], slow to speak [a speaker of carefully chosen words and], slow to anger [patient, reflective, forgiving]” (AMP). Chances are that you’re doing well in at least one of these areas, but struggle at being good in all three. I’m not always quick to listen. I like to guess where you’re going with something and get to your conclusion before you do. The problem with that is when we’re not quick to listen, we’re telling the other person that we don’t value them enough. Being quick to listen is important for us as believers because we need to listen to what God’s Word and the Holy Spirit have to say as well, and for the same reason.

Being slow to speak can be difficult, especially if we don’t have much of a filter between what we think and what we say. Proverbs 17:28 says, “Even a [callous, arrogant] fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; When he closes his lips he is regarded as sensible (prudent, discreet) and a man of understanding.” Being slow to speak changes how people perceive us. It’s tough to do, especially when we’re the type who listens in order to respond rather than to understand. Being slow to speak also gives us the opportunity to listen more. Before responding, ask yourself if that really needs to be said and if it edifies or builds up the listener.

Finally, being slow to get angry can be tough, especially when we view people through a filter of pains from our past. When we go from a 3 to a 10 quickly, we say and do things we later regret. This one can be difficult to learn, but it starts by getting better at the first two. When I listen well, and give the other person the opportunity to say everything and listen with the intent of understanding, with a patient, reflective and forgiving heart, anger slows down. The Holy Spirit is at work in each of working to produce these three things in each of us. If you’re not good at all three, don’t despair. Ask God to help you so that you can be a better representation of Him. We’re all under construction and have areas God is working on. Spiritual maturity comes from allowing the Holy Spirit to daily help us get a little bit better at following Him.

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Seeking God’s Desires

Have you seen those videos where a parent offers a piece of candy or something sweet to a toddler and asks them not to eat it? A friend of mine did this recently. They put a piece of candy on the night stand with their two year old looking at it. They told him, “Mommy is going to get something in the other room. Don’t eat that until I get back. Ok?” She walked out of the room for about 30 seconds to a minute. This kid could hardly take his eyes off the candy while she was gone. He licked his lips a couple of times, looked at the door , looked back at the candy and waited? It was fun to watch. Im not sure I could have waited!

John the Baptist was a unique and incredible guy. Despite his looks, diet and living conditions, he amassed a huge following. He preached a powerful message of repentance and it caused many hearts to turn back to God. Not long after he baptized Jesus, the crowds began to grow around Him as well. Even some of John’s followers left him to follow Jesus. Some of his other followers began to get jealous that the crowds around Jesus were larger than theirs. John quickly responded that he had told them he wasn’t the Messiah. Then in John 3:30 he told them that Jesus must increase and he must decrease.

There’s a constant battle in all of us very similar to both of these stories. We have a strong desire pulling us toward what we want and a spirit inside pulling us toward what God desires. 1 Peter 4:2 says, “So live the rest of your earthly life no longer concerned with human desires but consumed with what brings pleasure to God” (TPT). It’s tough to do. John had the right heart and attitude that we should have. We must remember that life is not about us or our desires. We have to live with eternity in mind and choose to let God’s desires and plans increase in our life instead of our own. Matthew 6:33 reminds us to seek first the Kingdom of God. When we do that, everything else falls into place.

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Divine Disruptions

How do you respond when your plans get disrupted? How do you feel when things don’t go according to the way you thought they were? At times, we follow God’s leading in our life, thinking it’s going to go one way, when things happen and they go another. It drives me nuts when that happens. I’ve already played everything out based on the information I have from the Holy Spirit, but then I find out that I don’t have all the information. He often has a different plan than the one I have. He has other motives that I don’t know about. So when He disrupts what I think is the plan, I often don’t recognize that it’s Him. Instead of rolling with the changes, I often push back.

In Acts 8, the Early Church was growing rapidly until Saul came on the scene and started persecuting Christians. People had to move away from their homes to escape. One person that did that was Philip. He went to Samaria where Jews were hated. He preached the Gospel and revival broke out. So many people were getting saved and healed that Peter and John went there and took over Philip’s ministry. An angel then told him to go down the road from Jerusalem to Gaza. There he encountered an Ethiopian reading Scripture. He explained it to him and he got saved. After baptizing him, the Spirit caught Philip away and transported him to Ashdod instead of Gaza where he thought he was supposed to go. That was a seven hour walk away.

In each of these cases, the plans Philip had were disrupted or changed. Because of the persecution, the Gospel spread around the world. Because he followed God’s leading after his ministry was taken from him, aN Ethiopian took the Gospel to Africa and established the Church there. Romans 8:28 says, “So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together for good, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose” (TPT). Whatever disruption you’re facing right now could be from God. Even if it’s not, God can work it out for good and for His purposes. Instead of throwing a pity party, ask God what He needs from you in this time. Who knows the ripple effect of what God can do through you when you submit to His will instead of your plans.

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Being Faithful

One thing we all hope to hear one day is, “Well done, good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:21).” The word “faithful” to me is key in this sentence. There are so many things that are entrusted to us by God that we must be faithful over. We can’t just manage what He’s given us. We need to be dedicated and devoted to growing them. Remember the Parable of the Talents”? To be faithful over something is more than burying it in the sand. God has called us to be faithful to Him, our life in union with Him and to these things He has entrusted to each one of based on our abilities.

Here are some Bible verses on being faithful.

1. Whoever is faithful in small matters will be faithful in large ones; whoever is dishonest in small matters will be dishonest in large ones.

Luke 16:10 GNT

2. And don’t be intimidated by those who are older than you; simply be the example they need to see by being faithful and true in all that you do. Speak the truth and live a life of purity and authentic love as you remain strong in your faith.

1 Timothy 4:12 TPT

3. When he arrived and saw how God had blessed the people, he was glad and urged them all to be faithful and true to the Lord with all their hearts.

Acts 11:23 GNT

4. Be faithful to pray as intercessors who are fully alert and giving thanks to God.

Colossians 4:2 TPT

5. So until I come, be diligent in devouring the Word of God, be faithful in prayer, and in teaching the believers.

1 Timothy 4:13 TPT

What has God called you to be faithful over?

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Restoring Your Courage

One of the words God uses over and over in the Bible is courage. He wants us to be courageous when doing what He asks. One of my favorite passages is in Joshua 1. Verse 7 says, “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the instructions Moses gave you. Do not deviate from them, turning either to the right or to the left. Then you will be successful in everything you do” (NLT). Success starts with being strong and courageous, but what does it mean to have courage?

The simple definition is strength in the face of pain or grief. It’s the ability to keep going when things aren’t going the way you thought they should. It’s the most difficult thing to have when you need it the most. If you’ve lived life at all, you’ve been discouraged. You’ve lost battles you thought you should have won. You’ve suffered defeat after defeat and wondered where the strength comes from to keep going. How do you find courage in those times?

In those moments, I simply prayed that God would just help me to take the first step, which was survival. We often think of courage as this great thing, but I believe it’s found in facing a new day, taking one more step or breathing one more time. It says, “I’m not going down. I’m not giving up!” Where do we get that courage from in those moments? As I’ve said, I found it in prayer and through God’s help.

Psalm 3:3 says, “But you, O Lord, are always my shield from danger; you give me victory and restore my courage” (GNT). God will restore your lost courage and give you the victory when you ask. Quit worrying about trying to win the war, and focus on getting courage from God to win today’s battle. Keep God’s Word in your heart, and be careful to obey it. Then, as Joshua 1:7 says, you will have success and victory.

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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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A Forward Looking Perspective

Unfortunately, one of the promises Jesus gave us was written in John 16:33. He said that we would have trouble in this world. Yet somehow we always seemed surprised when we encounter troubles and set backs. I’m one of the biggest offenders. I like things to happen on schedule, the way I planned them, with no disruptions or issues. When things happen that mess up my plans, or I run into a period when nothing seems to go right, I lose my calm demeanor. I complain, and I let people and God know I’m not happy. My focus switches from long term to immediate, and in doing that, I lose my eternal perspective as well. In those times, I allow my troubles to block my view of God.

Consider Abraham. Hebrews 11:8 reminds us that God called him to leave his home where he had grown up and where his family was. God didn’t even tell him where he was going. He just said that He would show it to him. He and his wife Sarah lived in the land God promised him as a foreigner all his life. There was even a famine in the land that God took him to which forced him to leave for a period. Verse 10 says, “Abraham was confidently looking forward to a city with eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God” (NLT). Even when things didn’t happen the way he thought they should or in his timing, he kept looking past his troubles to God’s promises.

In 2 Corinthians 4, Paul starts out by saying they were pressed on every side by troubles, but they were not crushed. He continues talking about how constant his troubles are and that he keeps going and pushing forward. Then in the final verse of the chapter he writes, “So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” He is teaching us to keep an eternal perspective by looking past our current situation. We must rely on God’s promises when things are going wrong. Our faith in what God says should give us the strength to persist even in times of trouble. Don’t allow today’s issues cause you to lose sight of tomorrow’s fulfilled promises.

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P.S. Jesus also promised in John 16:33 that He has overcome this world and its troubles.

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