Monthly Archives: May 2022

Looking On The Inside

In 1 Samuel 15, King Saul chose to listen to the people he was leading rather than God. Because of his continuous disobedience God tore the kingdom from him to give to someone who was better than him. As Samuel mourned for Saul, God told him to go to Bethlehem to anoint a new king from Jesse’s house. When Jesse’s firstborn went in front of Samuel, he looked at his height and build. He immediately thought, “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed.” Then in 1 Samuel 16:7, God replied, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (NLT).

In the next chapter, King Saul and the Israelites are ready for battle with the Philistines when Goliath steps out. He challenged them to a one on one fight to determine the winner of the battle. Looking at his outward appearance and hearing his words, Israel became fearful. For forty days this happened until David showed up. Instead of seeing an intimidating, undefeatable giant, he saw victory through God’s strength. He offered to fight, but people laughed at him. When he went onto the battlefield, even Goliath laughed because he was looking at the outward appearance of things. David won the battle that day because he knew who God was and he stepped onto the battlefield risking everything and giving God the chance to show up.

1 John 4:4 reminders us, “The Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” I don’t know what giant you’re facing or how your situation looks. I do know that God is greater than it and more powerful. It’s time you quit looking on the outside of the situation and started looking inside of you. God does not give you fear. He gives you power (2 Timothy 1:7). If you’re feeling outmatched and overwhelmed with defeat on the horizon for certain, step aside for a minute, pray and remember who is within you. Through Christ Jesus we have victory and nothing we face is too big for Him. Your giant is small and helpless compared to Him. Quit looking on the outside and start looking on the inside.

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Celebrate Freedom

Most countries have some sort of day each year where they honor fallen soldiers. In the United States we have Memorial Day. Whatever country you’re in, this day is not really a day of celebration as many believe. It’s a somber day to stop and honor those who have fallen in battle. It’s a time where we should contemplate the cost of freedom that we enjoy. Many of us live our lives in freedom, but take it for granted. We forget the price that was and is being paid by those who stand up against those who want to take it away.

In a room in Jerusalem some 2,000 years ago, Jesus was having is final meal with His disciples. They didn’t understand the significance of the moment they were in, but they recorded what happened for us. It started off with Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. It wasn’t that much longer that He picked up some unleavened bread, blessed it’s and broke it symbolizing how He was about to be broken for our freedom from sickness. He then passed around the cup of wine for them to drink symbolizing His blood that would be poured out to give freedom from sin.

Luke 22:19 says, “Then he took a piece of bread, gave thanks to God, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in memory of me’” (GMT). As Christians, we celebrate a different kind of Memorial Day each time we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. We can’t let it become just a ritual we participate in. We are to remember the price that was paid for our freedom each time we take it. If Jesus has set you free, then you are free indeed and have much to be thankful for each time you participate in Communion. As they say, “Freedom is not free.” Someone paid for you to have it whether physical or spiritual.

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Being God’s Child

Often the way we see our earthly father is how we see our Heavenly Father. When we project that on Him, it affects how we approach Him. We are His children after all. When we accept Jesus, we are adopted into God’s family. As adopted children, it’s important that we get to know Him and trust Him. He is good to us and greater than any earthly father you had. In order to grow our relationship with Him, we must move past any insecurities our earthly fathers created in us. We must discover for ourselves that He is love. We can run to Him in times of need, get comfort when we are sad and just be held in His arms when we feel overwhelmed. You may be an earthly adult, but you are spiritually His child.

Here are some Bible verses on being God’s children.

1. For you [who are born-again have been reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, sanctified and] are all children of God [set apart for His purpose with full rights and privileges] through faith in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:26 AMP

2. So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.

Ephesians 2:19 NLT

3. Beloved, we are [even here and] now children of God, and it is not yet made clear what we will be [after His coming]. We know that when He comes and is revealed, we will [as His children] be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is [in all His glory].

1 John 3:2 AMP

4. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.

Romans 8:14-16 NLT

5. To show that you are his children, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who cries out, “Father, my Father.” So then, you are no longer a slave but a child. And since you are his child, God will give you all that he has for his children.

Galatians 4:6-7 GNT

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Change = Growth

I once heard the story of a newly wed couple who were hosting all of their family in their home for the first time. The young lady was so excited to be cooking for her mom and grandmother. While she was preparing the meal, her husband noticed she cut off about a third of the roast and put it away before starting. Her husband asked her why she did that. She replied, “I don’t know. That’s how my mom always did it.” They found the mom and asked her why they cut off a third of the roast. She replied, “I don’t know. That’s how my mom always did it.” All of them went to where the grandmother was and asked her why she cut off a third of the roast. She replied, “Because I never had a pot big enough for an entire roast.”

For over 40 years, the next two generations had been doing what was previously done just because it had always been done that way. They didn’t even know why. How many things do we do in life without knowing why and just because that’s how it’s always been done? How much have we wasted because we were so resistant to change that we never questioned the way we do things? That’s really what the problem is. We don’t like change so we never question why things are done a certain way.

God isn’t opposed to change. In fact, He’s all for it. In Isaiah 43:18-19, God said, “Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand new” (MSG). God understands that change is how we grow. He wants to do something brand new in our lives, but we’re too busy going over the past and how things have always been. God said to get your mind out of the past and into the present. He understands that change is a part of creation. He just wants us to be willing to go through that change so He can do something new in our life.

What changes has God been trying to make in your life, but you’ve been too caught up in the past to allow Him to do it? Why have you really been opposed to the changes He wants to make in your life? Change is His way of keeping you close to Him. When you get caught up in doing things the way you’ve always done them, you remove yourself from a life of walking by faith. Instead, you are walking by routine. God wants to challenge you and to grow you. He can only do that through change. He can only get you to walk by faith if He can get you out of the past. What can you do today to embrace the change God wants to do in 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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Deep Roots

Where I live, there are lots of trees. Two of the most common ones are pine trees and oak trees. Pine trees are evergreens and oaks are deciduous. When it comes to burning wood, lines are considered a soft wood and oaks are hard. Another important fact is that the roots of pine trees go down deep while the roots of the oak stay near the surface. It’s a common sight to see a large, strong oak tumbled on its side after a storm. It doesn’t matter how healthy it is, if it’s roots aren’t very deep, it can’t stand during a strong windstorm. Christians are a lot like these two trees.

There are a lot of believers who stay true to their profession of faith in all areas of life, while there are others who are good at it on Sundays, but change around non-believers. They haven’t yet reconciled their private faith with their public life. There are some believers that no matter what they go through, their hearts remain soft before God. Others go through difficult seasons and their hearts harden towards God blaming Him for their struggles. Some believers realize that Jesus is their source of righteousness. They learn to depend on Him for everything. Others feel like it’s their works that create righteousness. They spend more time focused on doing rather than learning and growing. This mentality creates a shallow root system.

In Colossians 2:7, Paul reminds us, “Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness” (NLT). We need to be like that first person who builds their life on Christ letting out roots dig deeper into Him. Our lives should be aiming for maturity in faith and a deeper relationship with Him. When that happens, our hearts will remain soft and no matter what storms come, we won’t be blown over. The depth of your roots in Him matters. Focus on building your faith and trust in Him and His grace will be sufficient for whatever you face.

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Symbiotic Encouragement

There are at least three types of relationships we need to have in our lives. If you don’t have these, you need to make them. The first one is where I’m the encourager. There are certain people in my life that need encouragement when they call or want to meet. Then there are the people who encourage me when I need it. Finally, the most important one is the one where you mutually encourage each other. These relationships are symbiotic and benefit both parties involved. It’s important that you identify who fit into these categories in your life. We all need to both encourage others and to be encouraged.

David and Jonathan had the symbiotic type relationship. They loved each other dearly, looked out for each other and encouraged one another. They learned to put the other’s needs ahead of their own, thereby bringing value to each other. In 1 Samuel 23, Jonathan’s father Saul was chasing David to kill him. Saul wanted Jonathan to succeed him as king, nut Jonathan valued David more than the position. In verse 16 it says, “Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God” (NLT). They then renewed their pact of encouragement to each other and Jonathan went home.

Who is that person in your life? Who is the one who comes running in your time of need? Who is it that when you both walk away from conversations you feel better? Chances are the two of you are intentional about your conversations and meetings. In Romans 1:12, Paul was looking forward to going to Rome to meet with the believers. He wrote, “When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.” Encouragement is born from intentionality. It doesn’t just happen. Be praying that you would be an encourager, that there would be someone in your life who encourages you and most importantly that you would find a person to share symbiotic encouragement with.

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Dirty Laundry

Have you ever got a stain in your clothes? Did you try to get it out immediately or let it sit until you washed it? I’ve done both. I’ve also sat at the washing machine with it trying every combination known to man to trust it so it would come out. There have been stains that no matter what I tried, I couldn’t get them out. I finally have to give up, throw it in the washer and hope it comes out. Doing that is often how we approach sin in our lives. We see the stain and try everything to remove the consequences it leaves on our lives. They’re like stains that everyone can see. No matter what you or I do though, we can’t remove the guilt from it. Only God has that ability.

In 2 Samuel 11, it says that the annual time for kings to go to war had come around. Instead of going with the army, King David stayed home. He sent someone else to fight his battles. While he was home, he saw a beautiful woman and sent for her knowing she was married. She became pregnant after their encounter. David tried every combination known to man to remove the stain, but nothing worked. He then had her husband murdered to try to cover it up. God wasn’t pleased and sent the prophet Nathan to call him out and to bring judgement. Immediately 2 Samuel 12:13-14 says, “Then David confessed to Nathan, ‘I’ve sinned against God.’ Nathan pronounced, ‘Yes, but that’s not the last word. God forgives your sin’” (MSG). Nathan continued to tell him he would still face consequences.

In his repentance, David wrote Psalm 51. In verses 1-3 he prayed, “Generous in love—God, give grace! Huge in mercy—wipe out my bad record. Scrub away my guilt, soak out my sins in your laundry. I know how bad I’ve been; my sins are staring me down.” Confession and repentance are the keys to removing the stains sin leaves behind. Forgiveness is admitting you’ve done wrong and repentance is changing your way in order to not do it again. While God doesn’t always remove the consequences of our actions, He does forgive them. No matter how stained your life is, it’ll wash clean with God’s forgiveness. Quit trying to remove the guilt and stains yourself. Give your dirty laundry to God.

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Seeking Understanding

What I’ve learned is that most of us seek to be understood, but only a few of us seek to understand. That holds true in our relationship with God. How many times have we used our prayers to try to convince God of something so He’d understand our need. Matthew 6:8 says God knows our need before we even ask. What if we spent our time in prayer seeking to understand God more and His will. His ways are definitely higher than ours, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t seek to understand them. We can ask God to increase our understanding of Him, our situation and others. In the process we will grow and become more like Him.

Here are some Bible verses on seeking understanding.

1. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding.

Proverbs 2:3 NLT

2. The beginning of wisdom is: Get [skillful and godly] wisdom [it is preeminent]! And with all your acquiring, get understanding [actively seek spiritual discernment, mature comprehension, and logical interpretation].

Proverbs 4:7 AMP

3. Wisdom is enshrined in an understanding heart; wisdom is not found among fools.

Proverbs 14:33 NLT

4. Then he said, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day you began to pray for understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your request has been heard in heaven. I have come in answer to your prayer.

Daniel 10:12 NLT

5. Now may the Lord move your hearts into a greater understanding of God’s pure love for you and into Christ’s steadfast endurance.

2 Thessalonians 3:5 TPT

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The Plumb Line Of Truth

One of the classes I train has me ask the group, “Is this your truth,” at the end of each section. If someone says it’s not their truth, I’m to engage them to find out why they don’t believe what I just taught. I’m looking for their objection to the truth I’ve presented. My goal is to not just get them to accept the truth, but to go back and implement that truth into their life and job. Our actions are always based on what we believe, so it’s important to know what the truth is before we act.

We live in a world where the lines of truth are constantly being blurred. Over the last two generations, Truth has gone from something we all accepted as a whole to what each of us believes individually. What I’ve learned is that truth is truth no matter what I believe personally. I can choose to not believe in gravity, but that doesn’t stop me from coming back to the ground when I jump. There are still universal truths in our world whether people choose to believe them or not.

I was talking with a man recently about truth, and I brought up Jesus in Pilate’s court in John 18. When Jesus said that He came to testify to the truth, Pilate asked, “What is truth?” (GNT) I wish the Bible would have recorded Jesus’ answer. However, we know from John 14:6 that Jesus said He was the way, the truth and the life. Also in John 1, we read that Jesus is the Word Of God made flesh. He, and the Bible, are our absolute truth in this world. They are the plumb line in a world that has lost its direction.

The reason you use a plumb line in construction is because your eyes can deceive you. In the same way, the Word of God is our plumb line in this world. Our eyes can deceive us, and it can be difficult to determine what the truth is. Psalm 33:4 says, “The words of the Lord are true, and all his works are dependable.” We must know God’s Word if we are going to depend on it and use it as a plumb line to build our lives. Otherwise, we will be like the foolish man who built his house on the shifting sands of what culture believes at the moment. Take time today to hold your life up against God’s plumb line of truth to make sure your life isn’t leaning.

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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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Fighting Bitterness

I’m fascinated by body language and micro expression experts. They look at what’s going on outside the body to determine what’s going on inside the mind. I had always heard that your outside will reveal what’s going on Inside. It’s important for us to control our self talk, which is that voice in our head that’s constantly talking to us. It repeats things it’s heard from others. It tells us how we should be feeling. It also helps us make decisions. I believe this voice is what 2 Corinthians 2:5 is talking about when it tells us to take every thought captive. This voice controls how you see yourself and ultimately your actions.

The story of Ruth is one that draws so many of us in. Naomi, her husband and two boys had to move out of their home to a foreign land because of a famine. Some time after they moved away, her husband died. Her sons married foreign women and about ten years later they died. After a while, she decided to go home with Ruth choosing to go with her. When she arrived back in town, the people were excited to see here and called out her name which means sweetness. She told them to quit calling her that and to instead call her Marah which means bitter. She had allowed her self talk to change her self image to the point that she had become a bitter person. Thankfully God didn’t leave her in that bitter state.

Psalm 73:21-23 says, “When my thoughts were bitter and my feelings were hurt, I was as stupid as an animal; I did not understand you. Yet I always stay close to you, and you hold me by the hand” (GNT). God didn’t leave the author of this psalm in their bitterness either. In verse 26 he penned, “My mind and my body may grow weak, but God is my strength; he is all I ever need.” Your mind may wander and convince you that you’re something other than God created, but He will still woo you and try to pull you from that place. He is your strength to get out of the hole you’re in. He is your strength to fight the negative self talk. And He is your strength to get to where He’s leading you. Your current season is not your destination. Don’t let your self talk convince you that it is. There are greater days ahead.

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