Monthly Archives: January 2022

Imperfectly Perfect

Almost all of us have something we don’t like about ourselves. We can be very critical of ourselves and often see ourselves in a negative light. Whether it’s aN imperfection, a defect, a tick or impediment, it’s important to remember that God doesn’t see that the same way you do. We often see these things as limitations or as distractions, but God sees past those things we dislike about ourselves. He even has a way of wanting to use us for His purposes that may even expose that thing we struggle with. What we see as a hinderance, He sees as an opportunity for us to trust Him and rely on Him rather than ourselves.

In Exodus 4, God is calling Moses to be His spokesperson to Egypt on behalf of the enslaved Israelites. One slight problem though: Moses has a speech impediment. He stutters. He uses that to try to disqualify himself from being used by God. It doesn’t work. In verse 9, God says, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say” (NLT). Notice how God doesn’t heal the impediment. He has the ability to, but He doesn’t. He wanted to use Moses despite the issue, and He wants to use you too.

Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” You are His masterpiece, imperfections and all. What you see as an imperfection, He sees as a priceless work of art that is able to be used for His purposes. We must learn to see ourselves the way He sees us. We can give excuse after excuse to Him about how He has the wrong person or how these imperfections limit our ability to be used by Him, but His purpose will prevail. What you see as a limitation, He sees as an opportunity to trust Him. You are not defective. You are a masterpiece created with a purpose. Like Moses, we need to submit to it despite our “flaws”.

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Let Your Light Shine

The Bible starts off with the story of creation. It describes that the earth was full of darkness. Then God said, “Let there be light.” All throughout the Bible God is associated with light. In John 1, Jesus is described as the Light of men. Then it says that His light shines in the darkness of this world, alluding to the darkness of sin. On the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 5, Jesus tell us that we are now the light of the world. We are still surrounded by darkness and our light is just as necessary as it was in the beginning. Wherever you go today, let your light shine bright so that others can find hope and salvation.

Here are some Bible verses on being the light.

1. The people who live in darkness will see a great light. On those who live in the dark land of death the light will shine.

Matthew 4:16 GNT

2. Jesus once again addressed them: “I am the world’s Light. No one who follows me stumbles around in the darkness. I provide plenty of light to live in.”

John 8:12 MSG

3. For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.

Ephesians 5:8 NIV

4. But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

1 Peter 2:9 NLT

5. You are the light of [Christ to] the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.

Matthew 5:14 AMP

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Finding Your Encourager

I’ve always heard that each of needs someone in our life who is mentoring us to help pull us up to that next level. I’ve also heard that each of us needs to be mentoring someone who needs help getting to where we are now. What I really don’t hear much about is having someone in your life who is at the same place in life as you. All three roles are important, but I think this role is the most important. This is the person you do life with. They’re the one who is in the trenches with you when life gets ugly. They’re the one who won’t let you give up because they know your potential and challenge you to fight another day. They’re also the one that sharpens you by disagreeing with you at times to help you see through other lenses than your own.

This kind of relationship isn’t easy to have, which is why many of us don’t look for one. This person is more than a friend. They’re a pusher. Friends usually avoid conflict of any kind with you and keep the peace. This person isn’t afraid to speak the truth in love that you need to hear. They’re not going to disappear when times get tough or be too busy when you fail. They hold a mirror up to you, not to embarrass you, but to challenge you to be all that God created you to be. They don’t just cheer you on either. They remind you of why you do what you do.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble” (NLT). This isn’t just talking about a friend. This is talking about your encourager, the one I’m describing. If you haven’t identified your encourager, ask God to show you who it is. Look at the Kingdom connections around you and find that person. If you know who it is, thank God for putting them in your life. Make sure they know you’re thankful too. They’ve helped you succeed when you’ve felt like quitting and stood by you in the hard times. In return, be the encourager that they need as well and fill that role in their life because we all need that person in our lives.

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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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Break The Mold

If you grew up in the United States, you more than likely had some Play-Doh at some point. My mom actually made ours. That stuff was and is one of the greatest tactile learning experiences. It’s soft and squishy, yet satisfying to play with. They make all these different toys to play with it. My son has one where it’s a head and you fill the teeth with the Play-Doh. There’s another one I’ve seen where you put the Play-Doh in the top and pull down a lever. The Play-Doh is then squeezed out all these different shaped holes. It doesn’t matter what the shape or mold is, Play-Doh will fill it and take that shape.

In 1 Samuel 8, Israel demanded a king. Up until that point, God had been their leader since He led them out of Egypt. He used people like Moses and Joshua, then judges and prophets to guide them. They didn’t like that they were different from all the other countries of the world. They went to Samuel and told him they wanted to be like world. He prayed and God granted their request, but He warned them first about what would happen. Verses 19-20 say, “The people paid no attention to Samuel, but said, ‘No! We want a king, so that we will be like other nations, with our own king to rule us and to lead us out to war and to fight our battles’” (GNT). They wanted to be like Play-Doh and take the shape of the mold of the world around them.

Romans 12:2 warns you and I of this same mentality. It says, “Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes” (TPT). Paul is warning us not to be like Play-Doh where we are being squeezed into the mold of this world. We are called to be set apart. To live differently. God has always wanted His people to be peculiar. Our flesh wants us to blend in and be like the world, but God has so much more for us if only we will let Him be our guide rather than the world. The Holy Spirit in you is greater than the world and the molds it wants you to fit into. He empowers us to live outside of this world’s mold. It’s time we break the mold of living like the world and live Spirit led lives.

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Finding Peace In Problems

I remember growing up in church watching people equate hardships to being out of God’s will. There was a family that joined our church’s ministry staff, and they seemed to run into problem after problem. Their car broke down, their house had issues and so on. I remember standing in their living room hearing the father say, “We must have missed God. He’s trying to tell us this isn’t where we’re supposed to be. Otherwise we wouldn’t be having so many issues.” I was shocked. I thought they were a perfect fit for what we needed. They used Jonah as an example of why things were going badly. I could have bought it if they had gone the opposite of where they felt God calling them. I tried to explain that hardships and problems don’t mean you’re not in God’s will.

David was a person whom God had anointed to be king. He was in God’s will as he waited to ascend to the throne. He didn’t try to kill Saul and take it before God gave it to him. Yet, somehow, he was on the run for years. He fled Israel to get away. He had to pretend to be insane so the Philistine king wouldn’t kill him. He then ended up in the cave of Adullum. It was a dark time in his life. 1 Samuel 22:2 says, “Everyone who was suffering hardship, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was discontented gathered to him; and he became captain over them. There were about four hundred men with him” (AMP). Instead of being sent angels or people to comfort him, God sent people who were going through the same thing. That’s not what he pictured when he thought of being king, but that’s what God had in mind to prepare him for the throne.

In that cave, David wrote Psalm 34. Verse 19 is one of my favorites in this chapter. It says, “Many hardships and perplexing circumstances confront the righteous, But the Lord rescues him from them all.” You and I are not promised sunshine and rainbows in God’s will. We’re going to face difficulties. We’re going to be in some dark caves so to speak. God doesn’t promise us a life without hardship and pain. Instead, He promises to rescue us from the cave and those problems. Also, the answer may not look like what you think it should. God knows where we are, what we’re facing and what we need. Cry out to Him, listen for His voice and follow where He leads. His will isn’t a place of perfect peace. It’s a place where we have peace no matter what we’re facing.

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The Place Of Preparation

The story of Joseph in Genesis is one of my favorites. As a late teenager, his brothers beat him up, threw him in a pit and sold him into slavery. The brothers told their dad that he was killed by wild animals. God was with Joseph through the trials he endured giving him favor with the people he met. Things were going well with Potiphar, but his wife wanted Joseph. When he refused her, she accused him of trying to rape her. Without a trial he was sent to prison for life. Many years later the pharaoh’s wine bearer and baker joined him in prison. For a long time, Joseph waited on them. They both had a dream one night, Joseph interpreted them and they came true. It was two more years before Joseph would be freed from prison and placed second in command to pharaoh.

After nearly twenty years since his brothers sold him, they traveled to Egypt looking for food. Joseph recognized them, but they didn’t recognize him. They were hungry and out of options. They begged Joseph for food, but we’re treated harshly by him. After accusing them of being spies Joseph put them in prison for three days. He released all but one as an incentive to get them to bring their other brother to Egypt. When Jacob found out, he was distraught. In Genesis 40:36 he said, “You have bereaved me [by causing the loss] of my children. Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and you would take Benjamin [from me]. All these things are [working] against me” (AMP).

Many times as God is working out His plan in our life, things appear to be working against you. For years nothing seemed to be going right for Joseph. For years Jacob grieved his son and then ran out of food. In those moments, the feelings of doubt, fear and that everything is against you are normal. In the case of Joseph and Jacob, they were in a place of preparation. We don’t see them curse God or even question Him. I’m sure they spent many sleepless night crying out to God wondering why. However silent God might have been, they stayed faithful in that place and God honored it. He honors our faithfulness as well. The place of preparation can be dark, lonely and hopeless, but while everything seems to be working against you, God is working things out for your good.

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Restoring What’s Broken

Because of sin, every one of us are born into this world with brokenness. It takes a different form in each of us, and the longer we live, the more brokenness we can experience. Different interactions and circumstances can cause that brokenness to spread and effect more parts of our lives. It began in the Garden of Eden, but so did the cure. God promised to restore our relationship with Him by sending us His only Son. Even though that’s primarily what we think of Him restoring, He’s capable of restoring so much more than our broken relationship with Him. He wants to restore every part of your life.

Here are some Bible verses on the things God can restore.

1. I have suffered much, O Lord; restore my life again as you promised.

Psalms 119:107 NLT

2. But you, O Lord, are always my shield from danger; you give me victory and restore my courage.

Psalm 3:3 GNT

3. Restore our fortunes, Lord, as streams renew the desert.

Psalms 126:4 NLT

4. Restore joy to your loving servant once again, for all I am is yours, O God.

Psalms 86:4 TPT

5. This prayer made in faith will heal the sick; the Lord will restore them to health, and the sins they have committed will be forgiven.

James 5:15 GNT

This is a small sampling of things listed in the Bible that He restores. Ask Him to restore your broken places today.

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The Bread Of Life

Not long ago, I read the story of a fisherman who was forced to move because of a house fire. In the move, he asked his aunt to hold onto his good luck charm, which he had kept under his bed for over 10 years. He took her a 75 pound pearl that his boat anchor had caught on all those years ago. Each day, he would touch it before going fishing hoping it would bring him luck so he could catch a lot of fish. It turns out, as he’s struggled to make a living for the past ten years, he’s been sleeping over a $100,000,000 pearl! He had no clue what’s its value was as the world’s largest gem quality pearl.

That story reminds me of Jesus feeding the 5,000 in Mark 6. There were hungry people and it was getting late. The disciples asked if they should spend 200 silver coins to buy food for everyone. That’s when, in verse 38, Jesus asked them, “How much bread do you have?” (GNT) They went to check and came back to tell Him, “Five loaves.” Jesus then had them seat everyone. He broke the bread and the two fish they had, fed all 5,000 men (plus women and children), then took up 12 baskets of leftovers.

When Jesus asked how much bread they had, they had already seen Him heal the blind, raise the dead, cure leprosy, and so much more. In fact, they had just returned from being sent out to the towns and villages performing miracles themselves. They knew the power of God was with Jesus and had flowed through them, but it never crossed their mind to ask for a miracle for a crowd. Until this time, with the exception of the wine in Cana, most miracles had been for individuals. But to me, the question of how much bread they had was Jesus testing them.

They had more than five loaves. They had the Bread of Life with them and not one of them thought to include Him in the number of loaves of bread. Whenever you add Jesus to whatever you have, you will always have more than enough. We can’t stay in the same mindset they had. We can’t look at physical problems expecting spiritual results unless we are willing to add in the Bread of Life to the equation. We can’t see through blocked roads, huge obstacles, or insurmountable odds because we’ve been keeping Jesus under our bed as a good luck charm. He’s worth more than $100,000,000. He’s the answer to your struggles. Give what you have to Him and watch Him multiply it.

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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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Trust God Anyway

To me, one of the worst feelings in the world is the feeling of being helpless. When everything seems to be going against me and there’s nothing I can do to stop it, there’s a sense of fear and desperation. In those times, all my efforts to help myself, or to get myself out of it, are fruitless. Many times when that happens, the harder I try to get out of the situation, the worse it gets. It’s that feeling where you’re stuck in the mud and the more you push the gas, the worse you get stuck. My feelings and thoughts quickly turn negative, and if I’m not careful, those feelings and thoughts can dictate my actions. We all face times like these, even the heroes of the faith who are in the Bible.

David often found himself in desperation. You can see how his thinking affected him and his actions. In Psalm 28, he’s going through a helpless situation. In verse 1 he prays, “I pray to you, O Lord, my rock. Do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you are silent, I might as well give up and die” (NLT). At this point, he’s not even sure God is going to come help. His fear is causing him to doubt just like our fear does to us. If we trust our feelings over our faith, life can feel a roller coaster. Emotions were given to us to help us gauge a situation. They were meant to be what we trust in. They often lie and manipulate us. We must learn to trust God over our emotions and over how they’re making us feel about our situation.

In verse 7, David moves his trust his emotions to God. He reminds himself, “The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” When we switch where we place our trust, our emotions follow. We need to trust God with all of our heart instead of our emotions. He sees what you’re going through, and He will not abandon you in it. He doesn’t always remove us from the situation or give us the answer we’re hoping for. The question is, will you trust Him anyway? Will you have faith that whatever it is, He can turn it for your good? It’s not easy to do. However, where you place your trust will determine how well you come through it.

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Following God’s Plan

One of the things that bothers me is when someone asks me for advice on how to handle something, and then they don’t take the advice. I’ve shown them what to do, but they either didn’t want to do the work, like the things I told them or had someone else tell them something different to do. Either way, when they’re still stuck in the situation and come back for help, my mind wants to turn them away. However, somewhere in the exchange, my compassion overrides my pride and I try to direct them to the right path out of their situation. A lot of times they didn’t get in the situation overnight, and they’re not going to get out of it overnight, no matter how badly they want to.

I find myself doing the same thing to God though. I run to Him with my problem or circumstance i want out of. He directs me to His Word, but i don’t always like the prescription. Instead of listening, i try other things, other ideas or anything besides what His path out of it is. It’s amazing how many times we all go to God with a problem, sometimes of our own doing, seek His path out of it, and then tell Him what we’re going to do. What we’re really saying is, “God, i know you have a plan for me, but i want to do it this way. Will you please bless it and let me do this my way?” How can we expect God’s blessings when we’re telling Him what we’re going to do instead of seeking His plan and path?

David, who was known as a man after God’s own heart didn’t approach God that way. In Psalms 25:4 he prayed, “Direct me, Yahweh, throughout my journey so I can experience your plans for my life. Reveal the life-paths that are pleasing to you” (TPT). If we want to experience all the blessings God has for us, we’re going to have to submit to His plan and walk on His path. God has no problem revealing His plan and path for how our lives should go. It’s up to us to obey and to stay on that path. When we get off of it is when we experience a lot of pain. Staying on God’s path doesn’t mean you’re not going to experience hardship, pain or set backs. It means you’ll have His blessings, guidance and protection through them. He has a plan and a path for you, but it’s up to you to stay on it and follow it.

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