Monthly Archives: July 2022

Being Shepherded

One of the things we lose context for in a modern society is the idea of being shepherded. We use the word sheep as a means to put someone down, yet the Bible constantly refers to us as sheep and God as the shepherd. There is great trust between the shepherd and the sheep. He makes sure the sheep are cared for, fed and protected. When one runs off, the shepherd goes after it. There is a unique relationship there that is incredible. It’s the same relationship God longs to have with us. He wants to watch over you, protect you and make sure you’re well fed, but you must submit to His shepherding in order to receive the benefits the Shepherd offers.

Here are some Bible verses on God as your shepherd.

There once was a shepherd with a hundred lambs, but one of his lambs wandered away and was lost. So the shepherd left the ninety-nine lambs out in the open field and searched in the wilderness for that one lost lamb. He didn’t stop until he finally found it. With exuberant joy, he raised it up, placed it on his shoulders, and carried it back with cheerful delight!

Luke 15:4-5 TPT

2. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep [the protector and provider].

John 10:2 AMP

3. I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me,

John 10:14 NLT

4. The Lord is my Shepherd [to feed, to guide and to shield me], I shall not want.

Psalms 23:1 AMP

5. You were like sheep that had lost their way, but now you have been brought back to follow the Shepherd and Keeper of your souls.

1 Peter 2:25 GNT

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How many times do we come to crossroads in our lives? When they come up, I imagine the ending scene of “Castaway” where Tom Hanks character is sitting at one. He gets out of the car with his map and looks at all directions in front of him when a lady pulls up and says, “You look lost. Where are you headed?” He replies, “I do? I was just about to figure that out.” She then tells him where each road heads, gets back in her truck and drives off. We can get advice on which path to take at the crossroads, but ultimately, it’s our decision to make, so we must choose wisely. It’s not wise to stay there long, but it is good to seek God for the right decision before you choose.

Jeremiah 6:16 says, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls.’” (NLT) Being at a crossroads is an unsettling and stressful place. It has the potential to be a moment of great change in your life and you want to make the right decision. That’s why the Lord says in this verse that we are to ask others for godly advice. Which is the old, godly way? Which way does God want me to take? When I ask and can’t find an answer to those questions, it’s good to fast and to seek God for peace in the path He wants you to take. Peace doesn’t mean there won’t be a difficult road ahead. It means that you will have the assurance that no matter what happens, you’re on the road God told you to take.

It would be nice if the roads were marked and the choice were easy, but that’s rarely the case. If you happen to make the wrong choice, and you don’t have peace, fail fast. Don’t let pride keep you on the wrong road. Turn around and go down the one that gives rest to your soul and peace in your heart. God has a plan for your life, and Psalm 37:23 says that the Lord orders our steps and He delights in the details of our life. Don’t be afraid to seek His will asking Him to show you or to seek godly counsel from others who have been there or who can pray with you. God has a peace that passes understanding in these times and will use it to lead you down the right road.

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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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Run To Win

I live in an area that has annual marathons and Iron Man competitions. They shut down major thoroughfares so that these athletes can compete and push themselves. I’ve enjoyed going to the events to cheer on people as they run past me. I’ve even been to the finish line at the final hour of the day as the Iron Man athletes finished their race. Aside from the traffic, you can always tell when one of these races are happening. At restaurants and stores, there are tons of people walking around with well deserved medals around their necks that say, “Finisher”. I try to congratulate them when I see them. They worked hard, trained, showed up, competed and ran their race. After all these years, I’ve never seen a medal that says, “Winner”. Only one person gets to wear that one.

In today’s world, we have apps and coaches that can help you finish the race. That’s what most people train for. They want to say they ran the course and finished the race. In Biblical times, they didn’t have those things, nor did they give out awards for finishers. Only one person won the wreath. Only one person was recognized for their efforts. Because of that, people ran in the races in order to win, not just finish. There’s a different type of training involved when you’re running to win versus running to finish. There’s another level of intensity involved when it comes to the mindset of winning. It takes greater discipline and focus when you train to win. That’s the type of life you and I are called to live.

1 Corinthians 9:24 says, “Surely you know that many runners take part in a race, but only one of them wins the prize. Run, then, in such a way as to win the prize” (GNT). In your Christian life, have you been running in order to finish or to win? Have you just been doing what it takes to get by? We live in a time where we must have the mindset that we’re running to win. We have to discipline our body, mind and spirit in such a manner that we are running to win this race. There’s another gear inside you that you haven’t used yet. As Philippians 3:14 says, we must press on towards the mark for the high calling of God. We are called to run as though we were going to win. It’s time to find that next gear and go!

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Looking Down The Road

When I was younger, I had a really cool sports car. It liked to get up and go, and I had a heavy foot. It wasn’t long before I was caught going over the speed limit. I went to the judge and asked to take defensive driving so that it wouldn’t go on my record. I took the class from a friend’s dad who taught them on Saturday’s. I was embarrassed to be there, but I did it. However, I didn’t learn my lesson. Less than a year later I was back. Over lunch, he said, “Let me tell you a little secret. You need to start looking 30 seconds up the road instead of right in front of you. If you learn to do that, you’ll make better decisions and see things before they’re right in front of you.”

In Matthew 4, we read where Jesus was tempted by the devil. The devil tried to get him to turn stones into bread, to jump off the Temple to prove He was God’s son and bow down to him in exchange for the world’s kingdoms. In each case, Jesus refuted him with the Word of God. Satan was trying to get Jesus to go for things in the moment to satisfy the human nature of wanting things now. Because Jesus knew the Word of God, and was guided by the Spirit, He didn’t go for what was right in front of Him. Instead, He looked down the road at the purpose for which He was sent, trusted God’s Word and made the right decision.

Psalm 119:105 says, “Truth’s shining light guides me in my choices and decisions; the revelation of your Word makes my pathway clear” (TPT). Others versions will say it is a lamp to your feet and a light to your path. Knowing God’s Word is critical for us believers. One of the ways it helps us is to help us look forward down the path, so we can make the right decisions. It’s light shines on our present situation as well so that we can see what’s really going on and choose wisely. The wisdom and perspective it gives will help us in all areas of our lives. In order to put it in our mind and heart, we must study it, learn it and memorize it. God has given us all we need in it, but it’s up to us to open it up and use it to help us in our present and down the road.

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A Sound Mind

In 1 Kings 18 and 19, Elijah called for a showdown between the prophets of Baal and God. He called down fire from heaven to burn up the offering, caused it to rain and supernaturally outran King Ahab’s chariot. Jezebel, Ahab’s wife then said she was going to kill him and he ran for his life. He went about 400 miles south to Mount Sinai looking for God to reveal Himself like He did to the Israelites when they left Egypt. An angel asked him, “What are you doing here?” God then causes a great wind to come, an earthquake and afire, but He wasn’t in them. He then whispered showing His Word, even in a whisper is more powerful than anything. God asked him once again, “What are you doing here?”

This story is pretty crazy to me. How do you experience and operate in the power of God, and then run for your life like Elijah did? Fear. Fear causes us to doubt God no matter how close to Him we are or what gifts we operate in. It causes us to look at situations instead of to the One who can solve them. Fear is very powerful, but it’s no match for God’s still, small voice. Thankfully God is patient with us the way He was with Elijah. When we quit running and start listening, God will calm our fears and give us direction. If Elijah hadn’t let fear take over, He would have learned that God was going to destroy Ahab and his family. He could have saved himself a lot of pain and time if on,y He had run to God instead of away.

2 Timothy 1:7 says, “For God will never give you the spirit of fear, but the Holy Spirit who gives you mighty power, love, and self-control” (TPT). Some version translate “self-control as “a sound mind”. If you’re running away emotionally, spiritually or physically today, know that your fear is not of God. He wants to give you a sound mind so you can see clearly. He wants to handle your situation, but you have to quit running and follow what He says. He may direct you to fight, to get help or He may just whisper into your situation. You need to put on the Helmet of Salvation and pray to seek God’s will in whatever is causing fear. Quit running, trust God and receive a sound mind from Him.

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Listen to the words of this song and ask God to give you a sound mind in exchange for your spirit of fear.

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Be Strong

In John 10:10, Jesus told us that the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy. Then James 4:7 tells us that we can resist him and he will flee. We don’t have to be overpowered by the enemy in whatever way he comes against us. We have the power of the Holy Spirit that makes us strong enough to resist, push back and overcome our enemy. Over and over we are told to be strong throughout the Bible. We have a choice in whether or not we rely on God’s power that resides in us. He gives us the strength to resist the enemy and to receive all that God has for us. Don’t be a pushover. Stand up and be strong trusting in Him!

Here are some Bible verses on being strong.

1. May you be made strong with all the strength which comes from his glorious power, so that you may be able to endure everything with patience. And with joy give thanks to the Father, who has made you fit to have your share of what God has reserved for his people in the kingdom of light.

Colossians 1:11-12 GNT

2. 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.

Joshua 1:7 NLT

3. Be strong. Take courage. Don’t be intimidated. Don’t give them a second thought because God, your God, is striding ahead of you. He’s right there with you. He won’t let you down; he won’t leave you.

Deuteronomy 31:6 MSG

4. In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [draw your strength from Him and be empowered through your union with Him] and in the power of His [boundless] might.

Ephesians 6:10 AMP

5. Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.”

Isaiah 35:4 NLT

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Actions Speak Louder

How many times have you told someone, “Actions speak louder than words”? Probably too many times to count. A pet peeve that we all share is someone who says one thing and does another. It speaks to their credibility and your ability to trust what they say. I’m sure we can all think of examples right now of times we’ve encountered this in others. The sad thing is that it happens in the Church as much as anywhere. That’s why the book of James in the Bible is pretty much about just that.

We’re all familiar with “Don’t just be a hearer of the Word, but a doer also,” and “Faith without works is dead.” James continues this theme throughout his book to remind us that we can’t just talk like Christians, we must live and act like Christians. James 3:13 says, “Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts” (MSG). As he wrote, it speaks to our reputation.

Living well can be translated into living honorably. People around us should be able to trust what we say. Proverbs 22:1 says, “A sterling reputation is better than striking it rich.” What is your reputation among other believers? Are you someone they can count on? Are you a person that has an honorable reputation among your local group of believers? What about your reputation among non-believers? To me, this one is of utmost importance. How can anyone accept our faith if the way we live our life is in opposition to what we profess to believe?

I was always told that integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is looking. What I’ve learned is that there is always someone looking. People are always watching us as believers. Our lives should reflect what we say we believe. I’m not saying you have to live perfectly because that’s impossible, but you do have to live honorably. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. So let’s not have dead faith. Let’s be doers of the Word and live a life that acts out the faith we profess.

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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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Finding Joy

Corrie Ten Boom and her sister Betsy were sent to a German concentration camp during World War II for hiding and smuggling Jews. They were taken to Ravenbruck and faced some pretty inhumane conditions. Women were packed in their barracks stacked on three high bunk beds where they used rotten hay for cushion. The conditions were so unsanitary that it was overrun with lice. Betsy reminded Corrie to be thankful in all circumstances, but Corrie said she’d never be thankful for the life. Her tune changed not long after when her tormentors refused to come in their barracks because of the lice. This provided them the opportunity to pray, read the Bible and share the Gospel. Corrie found a way to be thankful even for lice.

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Be joyful always, pray at all times, be thankful in all circumstances. This is what God wants from you in your life in union with Christ Jesus” (GNT). This trifecta seems impossible at times, especially when we’ve been given life shattering news. However, God isn’t asking us to be thankful for all circumstances. It’s to be thankful in all circumstances. Thankfulness is always possible. It just matters how we look at our circumstances. A thankful heart looks for the goodness of God despite what the current outlook is. It clears all the confusion and the distractions when we turn our focus to God. He is the only one who can give us strength and grace in every circumstance. That is what allows us to pray at all times.

Finally, don’t confuse happiness with joy. Happiness is dependent on your circumstances, joy is not. Happiness is a reaction while joy is a lifestyle born from possessing inner peace that passes all understanding. Joy is your strength to endure whatever you face (Nehemiah 8:10). It is critical in this life and why the author mentioned it first. If you lose your joy, you’ve lost your strength to pray and be thankful because you’ve quit trusting in God. Joy trusts God even when the outcome is unsure and looks unfavorable. God holds your life in His hands. No matter what you face, it will never separate you from His love (Romans 8:38). Joy gives us an eternal perspective in temporary bodies. Because of it, we can keep our eyes on Jesus, pray at all times and find a way to be thankful.

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God’s Word Protects Us

Having both spent time in early childhood development, my wife and I decided early on in our child’s life that we wouldn’t be counting to three before we disciplined him. Every kid that knew that had three strikes before timeout, took all three strikes. We decided that we preferred immediate obedience. Some people questioned us on it. Our response was always the same. If my child is running toward the road, and we see a car coming but he doesn’t, we need him to stop immediately instead of at three. It appeared we were being harsh, but in reality, we had his life in mind when we decided on how we wanted him to obey.

In the Garden of Eden, God put Adam and Eve. He gave them all kinds of freedoms and responsibilities. He gave them what they needed and took care of them much like a parent. He even gave them rules to follow. Like us, He expected immediate obedience without a three strike limit. That’s when Satan came to twist God’s Word and cause disobedience. He made them doubt God’s punishment for their disobedience, and they fell for it. God’s instructions were to protect them, but they decided to go against it. They paid the immediate and long term consequences because of it.

Psalm 119:114 says, “You’re my place of quiet retreat, and your wraparound presence becomes my shield as I wrap myself in your Word!” (TPT) David understood that God’s Word was meant to shield us from harm and the consequences of sin. He knew if he wrapped himself in it and hid it in his heart, it would protect him. The same is true for us. We may not understand why God won’t let us do whatever and live however we want, but we must obey trusting that he sees the car in the road that we can’t. Immediate and constant obedience is how we protect ourselves and receive the full blessings God has for us.

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The Lies Of Pride

Have you ever been at an event where it’s pretty much over and it’s time to clean up, but no one is helping? You pick up the chairs and tables. People move out of your way, but no one helps. Then you get down to the last few and people all of a sudden want to help. You say, “Don’t worry about it. I got it,” but I side you’re a little mad. Your thought process inside is that at this point, you want credit for doing the whole thing so later when you tell the story, no one helped you. It’ll get you more sympathy from whoever you tell it to, plus their rage at the lack of someone helping. That’s pretty much human nature to act and think that way, but it’s also prideful because you’re seeking full credit.

Pride is strange that way. It masks itself so that it doesn’t look like itself. In 2 Kings 5, Naaman had leprosy and wasn’t sure what to do about it. His servant girl that he had taken from Israel told him about Elisha. When he went to visit him, Elisha didn’t even come out to greet him. Instead he sent his servant out to tell him what to do. This hurt his pride. What’s more is that Elisha instructed him to simply dip in the Jordan seven times and he would be healed. Now his pride was on full display because he refused to do such a simple task for his healing. His servants convinced him to do it. When he got over his pride, he dipped in the water and was healed.

1 Peter 5:6-7 says, “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” (NLT). Why are these two verses together? Because pride is often what keeps us holding onto our pain, worries and burdens. We like the sympathy we get and we’re too stubborn to ask for help with them. We’ll just handle it ourselves! However, God wants us to humble ourselves, admit we have cares, problems and worries so that He can help us. It takes getting over our pride in order to ask for help. It takes humbling ourselves to give them to Him. Don’t spend another day believing the lies of pride. Do what God asks and get your healing. He’s ready to take them from you and carry your burdens if only you’ll let Him.

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