Monthly Archives: June 2022

Living Intentionally

When it comes to getting things done, my son can be slow at times. I’ve tried hurrying him up by using words, clapping, and singing. Sometimes they work, but usually it’s only for a short time. Ive learned to use a timer with him. When he sees the clock and how much time he has left, he focuses and gets the job done. All of a sudden, he gets an urgency to make things happen. By the way, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. I often need something like that to give me an urgency to get things done.

My middle initial is “P”. When people ask what it stands for, my go to response is, “Procrastinator”. If something isn’t urgent and important to me, it can fall into my “I’ll get it done later” list. That just means I’ll keep putting it off until it becomes urgent and important. That’s not the best way to do things though. If we constantly focus only on what’s urgent and important, we are failing to live our lives with intentionality. We do need an urgency to get things done, but if we are intentional about doing the right things, our lives won’t be a constant fire drill.

The writer of Psalm 90:12 wrote a prayer to God that says, “Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom” (NLT). He was praying, “God, give me a timer to help me get things done. Help me to grow in wisdom so I can be intentional about getting the right things done.” He was probably a lot like many of us who struggles with procrastination and focusing on what’s important. He wanted God to remind him how short life is and to help him grow in wisdom so he could be intentional.

What is it that we pray for? Is it more time to get things done? We could be praying for wisdom to get the right things done on time. God doesn’t need us to be in a constant fire drill. That only burns people out and doesn’t guarantee that the right things get done. He wants us to have wisdom so we can be urgent about the things that matter. If you’ve been praying the first prayer above, let me encourage you to change that prayer. Ask God for wisdom and to help you live intentionally. Watch what a difference that makes in your life.

Photo by Wil Stewart 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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Divine Encounters

When I was around 18 years old, a young man came into our church on a Sunday night and sat on the back row. I was bothered that no one went up to him. After service, I made my way to him and introduced myself. He was looking for a church with people his age. We became fast friends and were nearly inseparable. A few years later, I ended up saving his life. Our friendship grew to the point he had me over one Thanksgiving. At that lunch, I got to know his cousin who became my wife. Both of our lives were changed that night when I made the decision to go say hello.

In 1 Samuel 25, David heard a man named Nabal was sheering his sheep. Knowing he would be celebrating with a feast, David sent some men to greet him and to remind him that he and his small army had been protecting his shepherds and flocks. Nabal returned the favor by insulting David and his men, sending them away with nothing. David decided to kill him and was on his way when Nabal’s wife Abigail rushed to meet him with food. They’re encounter saved her husband’s life and kept David from having blood on his hands when he would become king. In verse 32, David said to her, “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, who sent you today to meet me!” (GNT) She later became his wife and trusted advisor.

I believe God gives us opportunities for divine encounters that can change the course of our lives. It’s something I often pray for. We never know what direction our lives will take when we step out in faith following the prompting of the Holy Spirit. We have opportunities each day to be a blessing to someone else changing their trajectory. We also have opportunities to meet people who will help us get to where we’re being led. I never want to miss those divine encounters, so I’m constantly on the look for them. Make sure you take time today to ask God to order your steps and to lead you into the path of a divine encounter where you can mutually benefit the people God brings into your life.

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Arm Yourself

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “You don’t bring a knife to a gun fight.” It’s hard to win a fight when you don’t have the right weapon or worse, no weapons at all. You couldn’t survive that way. Somehow, many of us lose sight that we’re in a war daily with principalities and spiritual forces (Ephesians 6:12). We’re constantly under attack, and when we aren’t armed or blind to the battle, we tend to give up ground. We also can’t afford to let fear keep us on the sidelines. We must equip ourselves daily, be ready for battle and fight on behalf of ourselves, our family and others so that we gain ground rather than lose it.

I love the story of David and Goliath because it’s a great representation of the spiritual battles we face. The army of Israel had everything they needed to defeat Goliath, but fear kept them on the sidelines for forty days. They tried to give David the wrong armor and weapons which would have cost him the battle. Thankfully he was wise enough to know what weapon he needed to win. He stepped onto the battlefield with confidence in God rather than his abilities. He then ran toward the giant sling in hand. When the giant fell, his faith and the faith of others around him grew.

Romans 13:14 says, “But take up the weapons of the Lord Jesus Christ, and stop paying attention to your sinful nature and satisfying its desires” (GNT). God has provided us with armor and weapons, but we must put them on and take them up. I like to go through the physical motions as I put them on. I’ll pray, “Lord, today I put on the Helmet of Salvation… Finally, help me to wield the Sword of the Spirit to win victory for my family.” I do the physical act of a spiritual process to remind myself that I’m dressed for battle and ready to stand against whatever comes my way. Through Christ Jesus, and His weapons, you and I can defeat whatever we’re facing today, but you need to arm yourself first.

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Hearing “Well Done”

Have you ever participated in a stewardship campaign? That fancy church talk for raising money for the building fund. If your pastor has talked about stewardship, chances are they’re talking about giving money. I even talk to all my nieces and nephews about the importance of giving tithe and offerings. We spend a lot of time discussing stewardship in regards to money, but what about stewarding relationships? What about stewarding our possessions that God has blessed you with? What about stewarding your gifts?

Jesus told many parables regarding stewardship. In some the workers were the stewards of a vineyard (Matthew 21). In it the owner went away and entrusted the vineyard to the workers. At the harvest he went to collect, but they refused to pay no matter who he sent to collect. In another parable, the owner gave the workers talents of silver (Matthew 25). When he came to collect, two had grown their silver and one didn’t. He spoke this in verse 21 to the two, “Because you have been a faithful steward to manage a small sum, now I will put you in charge of much, much more. You will experience the delight of your master, who will say to you, ‘Enter into the joy of your Lord!’” (TPT)

Everything you have has been given to you by God to steward, including your life. How are you doing with that? Are you working on improving the relationships He’s entrusted to you? Are you tilling the ground to produce more out of them? What about your gifts? Are they still just raw talent you haven’t refined? What about your money? Are you using it wisely? What about your life? Are you just meandering through aimlessly? The list of questions goes on, but only you can answer them. In each of the parables, God comes to collect the surplus of what the workers were stewards of. He’ll ask us too what we did with what He gave us. If you want to hear, “Well done,” you’re going to have to be a good steward.

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Joined Together

I’ve always loved that we are described as being the Body of Christ. Each of us have a role to play that’s different from the other. One of the things we must learn is to focus on our part and quit trying to tell the other parts to act and do things like us. We all have different functions and purposes that reach certain people. I believe we can work together despite our differences. I’ve seen it done in a church I was on staff at. We had over twenty denominations and fifty nationalities who functioned together as one church under one pastor. It was an incredible experience where we learned from each other, respected each other and worked together under our common bond. We have more in common than we do differences. Let’s focus on that and on doing our part in the Body of Christ and let Him be the head.

Here are some Bible verses on being in the Body of Christ.

1. Under his control all the different parts of the body fit together, and the whole body is held together by every joint with which it is provided. So when each separate part works as it should, the whole body grows and builds itself up through love.

Ephesians 4:16 GNT

2. All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.

1 Corinthians 12:27 NLT

3. For no one ever hated his own body, but [instead] he nourishes and protects and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members (parts) of His body.

Ephesians 5:29-30 AMP

4. Let your heart be always guided by the peace of the Anointed One, who called you to peace as part of his one body. And always be thankful.

Colossians 3:15 TPT

5. In the same way, though we are many, we are one body in union with Christ, and we are all joined to each other as different parts of one body.

Romans 12:5 GNT

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Getting In God’s Face

My son is competitive like most kids. He wants to be first everywhere we go. The problem is that he doesn’t always know where we are going. Sometimes when he gets a few steps ahead, I turn and he keeps going straight. I’ll usually make a noise to let him notice. He then runs over and tries to stay in front. With each turn, I remind him that I’m the one who knows where we are going, and that he should follow.

There are other times when he’s just trying to keep my attention. If I’m trying to do something, he’ll get in my face. If I direct my attention elsewhere, he moves to try to stay in my face. Sometimes it makes me laugh how hard he tries to get and keep my attention. The truth is that it’s a picture of how we are to be with God. Sometimes we forget to be like children, which is what Jesus told us to be like.

I believe God is looking for us to be in His presence. He’s not wanting us to be out in front of Him trying to guess where He’s leading us, and He’s not just wanting us to be somewhere in His vicinity. He wants us to go get in His face, and to be where He is looking. Psalm 116:9 says, “I walk in the Lord’s presence as I live here on earth!” (NLT) The Psalmist understood what God desires from each of us, and that is to walk in His presence.

The word “presence” in its original meaning, is the word for face. So to walk in the Lord’s presence is to walk where He’s facing. In order to do that, we need to be constantly looking at Him to make sure we are going the same way He is. We have to spend time in prayer throughout the day constantly grabbing His face and attention. It’s what children who love their parents do. God is not annoyed by us in trying to do this. He is honored when we walk in His presence.

Photo by Szilvia Basso 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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Becoming Better

You can’t have the promises of God without going through the processes of God. Some processes are giving of tithes and offerings. Other processes can be difficult seasons. Those to me are the hardest ones to go through. They’re not as simple as give and it shall be given unto you. Many times these seasons are something God walks us into without asking us. There’s also no time limit to them or clear outcomes. However, when God takes us through these seasons, we can be sure He is with us and will produce something in us that makes us better.

David was a young shepherd when he was anointed king. He at least knew what the promise was before going through the process. For the next 15 years, he would go through more downs than ups. He would be forced to live in caves surrounded by outcasts. He would face many sleepless nights fearing for his life. For a while he even had to live in the country of his enemy. His wife and kids were kidnapped along with the wives and kids of his army. He faced a mutiny after that. After years of struggling, he finally became king. The process changed him from one who could watch a few sheep into one who could lead millions.

Psalms 66:12 says, “You’ve allowed our enemies to prevail against us. We’ve passed through fire and flood, yet in the end you always bring us out better than we were before, saturated with your goodness” (TPT). What God allows to happen in our life is often part of His process. He uses the darkest most painful times to either change us, push us closer to Him or to help us be able to empathize and connect with another person. God is always working in our lives to make us more like Him. When going through the hardest times, we can hold onto Romans 8:28 which reminds us that ALL things work together for our good. Keep going through the process. His promises are on their way.

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Understanding Spiritual Principles

I read recently that you can understand almost every spiritual principle through understanding farming. I grew up hearing that you reap what you sew, but there’s so much more. There’s faith that when you plant it, things are growing where you can’t see. There’s understanding the right soil and the right season to plant in. The list goes on and on. The more I learn and understand the concepts of farming, the better steward I can be with the spiritual realities God has entrusted to me. These concepts were obvious to people until we became a modern society where we get our produce from a store.

Think back to Genesis 3. Adam and Eve took the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. They had access to everything, but they squandered it trying to take a shortcut. What was Adam’s punishment? Verse 17 says, “And he said to the man, ‘You listened to your wife and ate the fruit which I told you not to eat. Because of what you have done, the ground will be under a curse. You will have to work hard all your life to make it produce enough food for you’” (GNT). What if his punishment was really about teaching him and us how to better manage and appreciate spiritual principles? Instead of leaving him in the dark, God created a way to understand Him better through having us work the land.

What lesson has God been trying to teach you? What concept has He been trying to get you to understand. I’m pretty sure you can better understand it through farming. Most of Jesus’ parables were about some form of farming. God wants us to learn more about Him and to understand spiritual realities better so He can entrust more to us. Take some time today to ask God to open your eyes to see what He’s showing you. God wants you and I to grow closer to Him and He’s given us the blueprint. We need to seek better understanding from Him so He can help us to be better stewards of all He’s entrusting to us. Don’t shy away or try to take the easy route. Lean in and learn from Him and His Word.

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Pursue Godliness

You associate names like Bernie Madoff, Jeff Skilling and even Martha Stewart with financial crimes. They are all people like you and me. They were in pursuit of wealth, and they never had enough. All of them resorted to trying to gain more in an unethical manner. It didn’t matter to them how they got it or who they had to hurt, as long as they got it. Their pursuit of money was all that mattered to them. In the end, each of them paid a high price for that. Some people still feel they didn’t pay enough.

In 1 Timothy 6:9, Paul warns Timothy and us, “But those who [are not financially ethical and] crave to get rich [with a compulsive, greedy longing for wealth] fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction [leading to personal misery]” (AMP). He follows this up with the famous verse that tells us the love of money is the root of all evil. But then just after that, he tells us what we should be pursuing. Verse 11 says, “But as for you, O man of God, flee from these things; aim at and pursue righteousness [true goodness, moral conformity to the character of God], godliness [the fear of God], faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness.”

What are you in pursuit of? What are you motivated to get? If it’s money and wealth, ask yourself why. If it’s for the sake of having more, more will never be enough. In Matthew 6:19, Jesus told us not to store up material wealth here. He wasn’t saying you shouldn’t have a savings account. He was reminding us that we need to pursue things that last for eternity because where our treasure is, our heart is, and where our heart is matters. Wealth and money in and of themselves are not evil, but the pursuit of them can be. Instead of spending all of our energies pursuing them, focus on living a life that honors God and pursue the godly traits Paul gave us. You’ll end up with more than enough in eternity.

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Live Your New Life

Spring always reminds me of new life. With new life comes beautiful things. You and I have have been given new life as well. God has forgiven and forgotten your past. He’s separated it as far as the East is from the West. Don’t give space to the enemy who wants to condemn you for your past. You were given a fresh start. A new opportunity to live through the power of the Holy Spirit in you. Keep growing in this new life and bear the fruit of the Spirit. Let your new life be the catalyst for others to find their new life too.

Here are some Bible verses on your new life.

1. Let us give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Because of his great mercy he gave us new life by raising Jesus Christ from death. This fills us with a living hope, and so we look forward to possessing the rich blessings that God keeps for his people. He keeps them for you in heaven, where they cannot decay or spoil or fade away.

1 Peter 1:3-4 GNT

2. Arise [from spiritual depression to a new life], shine [be radiant with the glory and brilliance of the Lord]; for your light has come, And the glory and brilliance of the Lord has risen upon you.

Isaiah 60:1 AMP

3. He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them.

2 Corinthians 5:15 NLT

4. For since we are permanently grafted into him to experience a death like his, then we are permanently grafted into him to experience a resurrection like his and the new life that it imparts.

Romans 6:5 TPT

5. Your life in Christ makes you strong, and his love comforts you. You have fellowship with the Spirit, and you have kindness and compassion for one another.

Philippians 2:1 GNT

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