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Selfie Check

A few weeks ago I was talking with a coworker how things have changed over time. One of the things we were talking about was how if you want to get recognized, you have to be a self promoter. Unless you are constantly taking selfies and posting them at work, telling everyone what you’re doing, no one will notice your hard work. Social media has not only impacted how businesses advertise, it’s also changed how they recognize a job well done internally. If you want to get promoted to a better position, you have to be a self promoter. It’s the opposite of how I was raised, You can’t just put your head down and work hard to get recognition anymore.

I’m not saying it’s wrong or it’s right. That’s just the world we live in now. When it comes to our Christianity, we can’t let that culture influence us because it’s opposite of Biblical teaching. God still resists the proud and lifts up the humble. The left hand doesn’t need to know what the right hand is doing according to Jesus. There’s a fine line between letting others know your need and showing them the fruit of your ministry and just showing off what you are doing for the recognition of man. One way to know what side of the line you’re on is how you view those you’re ministering to. How do you view them?

Philippians 2:3 says, “Don’t allow self-promotion to hide in your hearts, but in authentic humility put others first and view others as more important than yourselves” (TPT). When we care for people because we feel we’re better than they are and they need our help, it’s self promotion. When we put them first and serve them out of compassion, it’s ministry. We want to make sure our hearts are pure and that we don’t fall victim to the self promotion culture when it comes to ministry. If you’re doing it for self promotion, you have your reward, but if you’re doing it for the Lord, your reward is in Heaven.

Photo by Steve Gale on Unsplash

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Forgiving Offenses

We live in the age of offense where everyone seems to be easily offended by everything. As imperfect people, we are going to offend people and people are going to offend us. In the workplace, in friendships and at church, when you interact with others, you’re given the chance to not see eye to eye with someone. We all have different points of view. We all have different thicknesses of skin. We all have the choice to make room for someone to be human or to hold them to a state of perfection. In this current age, we’re holding imperfect people to a perfect standard when we don’t see eye to eye, and then we crush them when their imperfections show.

In Colossians 3:12, Paul is speaking to the people of God and tells them to clothe themselves in kindness, compassion, humility, gentleness and patience. I like the imagery of clothing yourself with these things. He’s saying, wrap up your imperfections and thin skin with these attributes. These are things that don’t come natural to all of us, but as believers we can adopt these attributes into our lives and learn to incorporate them into who we are. After he gives all of those attributes in one sentence, he makes a special note to add one more to the list. He says, “Be tolerant with one another and forgive one another whenever any of you has a complaint against someone else. You must forgive one another just as the Lord has forgiven you” (GNT).

Forgiveness is the act of releasing someone from something they’ve done to you that has offended or hurt you. As Christians, we must learn how not to have a chip on our shoulder looking for offenses and to learn how to make room for the faults in others. When we get offended, we need to release it. Unforgiveness truly hurts ourselves more than the other person. It can create a root of bitterness within us and affect every area of our life. It causes us to look for payback and to try to hurt the other person in some way. Forgiveness releases us of that burden and keeps our hearts pure before God. When we quit looking to be offended and when we release those who have offended us, we become more Christ-like.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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Seasons Change

One of the things I’ve learned about life is that it’s full of seasons. There are seasons of plenty, dry seasons, seasons of doubt, seasons of pain, seasons of just enough, seasons of recovery, etc. There’s no rhyme or reason as to when they show up or how long they’ll last, but one thing is certain, they do pass. The worst seasons seem like they’ll never end and the good seasons seem to go by too fast. I believe that God will give us what we need for each season, and that each season is a time of preparation.

If God uses seasons to prepare us, then I believe that you can be fruitful no matter what the season is in your life. You can glean from each season of your life things that will grow you and produce fruit for the future. You may be looking at your life right now and see a desert wasteland, but Isaiah 43:19 says that God is about to do something new. He’ll make rivers in the desert so that you can produce fruit and grow. No matter how dark life gets or how abundant your blessings are, God has a design and a purpose to grow you through this season.

Here are some Bible verses on different seasons of life.

1. He will be standing firm like a flourishing tree planted by God’s design, deeply rooted by the brooks of bliss, bearing fruit in every season of his life. He is never dry, never fainting, ever blessed, ever prosperous.

Psalms 1:3 TPT

2. Be cheerful with joyous celebration in every season of life. Let joy overflow, for you are united with the Anointed One!

Philippians 4:4 TPT

3. And don’t allow yourselves to be weary or disheartened in planting good seeds, for the season of reaping the wonderful harvest you’ve planted is coming!

Galatians 6:9 TPT

4. But I keep calling out to you, Yahweh! I know you will bend down to listen to me, for now is the season of favor. Because of your faithful love for me, your answer to my prayer will be my sure salvation.

Psalms 69:13 TPT

5. You’ve so graciously provided for my essential needs during this season of difficulty.

Philippians 4:14 TPT

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Greater Dreams

Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

I recently heard a preacher say, “Our dreams must be greater than our memories.” Immediately that struck a chord with me. As I continued to think on that phrase and ponder it’s implications, I began to think of examples in the Bible where that was true. I thought of several examples, but the one that stood out to me the most came from the book of Exodus. The Israelites had moved to Israel about 400 years earlier to escape the famine, but they never returned to the land God promised Abraham. Now they had become slaves in a land that was not theirs.

In Exodus 6, God spoke to Moses to tell the people that He would deliver them from slavery and would take them to the land He promised Abraham. When Moses told them what God said, they didn’t even listen. Verse 9 says, “They didn’t even hear him – they were that beaten down in spirit (MSG).” The dream of being free had been forgotten, but God wasn’t done. He wanted to revive that dream. He kept at them until they began to dream again. It culminated with them walking out of Egypt and heading for their Promised Land.

It didn’t take long after they were freed for their memories to become greater than their dreams. In Exodus 16, they began to cry out, “Why didn’t God let us die in Egypt where we had lamb stew and all the bread we could eat?” They forgot that dreams require sacrifice. It’s hard work to make a dream become reality. Instead of putting in that hard work to realize the dream, they did something much easier, they remembered how easy it was before. Given the choice of working hard to achieve their dream or to go back into slavery, they wanted the later.

It’s easy to sit in judgement thousands of years later, but are we really that different? We have each been given unrealized dreams that we are no where near accomplishing. Why? Because it’s easier to sit and talk about the vision for our life than it is to accomplish it. It’s not hard to dream. It’s hard to make it a reality. As soon as it gets difficult, we start remembering how “good” we had it before. The dream, even though given by God, gets overpowered by our selective memories of the past. We turn back to go the Land of Ease instead of to the Promised Land.

The dream God has given you will not come without sacrifice. It will not bloom unless it is tended to. It requires you to get up from where you are, to take that step of faith you’ve been afraid of and to move in the direction God tells you to go. It won’t be easy, but nothing good ever is. There will be roadblocks along the way, but don’t let them stop you. Keep the dream God has given you at the forefront of your mind. Don’t entertain old memories. Keep pushing them back until you’ve arrived at your destination. When you get there you’ll be glad you believed in your dreams rather than your memories.

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

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Faith’s Eyes

As Christians, one of the hardest things for any of us to do is to walk by faith and not by sight. I’ve read that 90% of all information we send to the brain is visual. So it’s only natural for our brain to trust what we see instead of what we don’t. I loved the scene from “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” where he has to take a leap of faith off the cliff. He looks down and sees a huge drop that will kill him, but he steps off anyway. He drops about a foot and a hidden ledge catches him. More often than not, that’s how God Call’s us to live.

Abraham in the Bible is a person who believed what God said. His eyes were sending information to his brain that was contrary to what God was telling him. No one could get pregnant at Sarah’s age. In fact, Sarah laughed when she heard that she was going to conceive. It was impossible from their perspective, but they didn’t let that keep them from acting in faith. Less than a year later, Isaac was born. He was a constant reminder to them that God is able to do what He promises no matter what our eyes tell us.

Romans 4:18 says, “Against all odds, when it looked hopeless, Abraham believed the promise and expected God to fulfill it” (TPT). Abraham was human just like us, but he chose which information to believe. I don’t know what impossibility hopeless odds you’re looking at today, but if God promised something other than what you see, choose to believe His Word. You may have to be like the man who told Jesus in Mark 9, “Lord I believe, but help my unbelief.” Learning To look through faith’s eyes is never easy, but it is the only way for believers. Trust God more than what you see.

Photo by Usukhbayar Gankhuyag on Unsplash

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Celebrate Success

I’m the type of person who shuts out the world when I get focused on something. I put my head down and give my attention to what it is I’m concentrating on. Many times I won’t hear anyone talking to me and I won’t talk to anyone else until the job is complete. If I’ve got a todo list, I cross it off when I’m finished and move on to the next thing on the list. The longer the list, the more serious I am. If there are other people around, and they’re not helping, I get frustrated. They can be a distraction from the work I’m trying to do. My attitude can be, “Either help or get out.” Then, when everything is done, I can breathe easy.

I tell you that because that’s how many of us are. We put our head down and work because we have responsibilities, but i want us to look at something today. The most famous parable Jesus told has to be the Prodigal Son. We’ve heard numerous sermons on it focusing on that son, but there are two sons in the story, and i believe Jesus was speaking to that son as much as the other. You see, he was the firstborn and had all the responsibilities on his shoulders. He didn’t go off and party. Instead, he put his head down and worked. Even when his brother returned, he didn’t hear the music or notice workers had left the fields because he was so focused. In fact, he was upset that people were playing when they should have been working.

I love the father’s message to him in Luke 15:32. He said, “It’s only right to celebrate like this and be overjoyed” (TPT). Like him, you and I need to be reminded it’s ok to stop and celebrate successes. Part of the responsibility of the first born is to know when to celebrate. It’s a heavy burden to be the first born, but there’s also a time to rejoice. God wants us to understand that we need to celebrate successes when they come. Life is not just about crossing things off our todo list. It’s about celebrating what God is doing along the way. What has God done for you lately that you need to celebrate?

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Making The Right Choice

If you’re human, you have to make a lot of decisions. There are some small decisions we make daily that don’t really affect much. Then there are those life altering decisions that have to be made and require wisdom, outside perspectives and prayer. Those are the tough ones that you want to make sure you get right. As I face a few of those right now, I can easily fall into the paralysis through analysis trap. That’s where you are so afraid you’ll make the wrong decision that you want more information, but you never have enough information to make a decision. To prevent that, I do a couple of things to help make the right decision.

The first thing is to pray. I ask for wisdom because James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom [to guide him through a decision or circumstance], he is to ask of [our benevolent] God, who gives to everyone generously and without rebuke or blame, and it will be given to him” (AMP). I then ask for signs like Gideon. They’re usually impossible things that only God can do. I’ll usually pray, “Lord, if I’m to choose this, then make that happen by this date. If you don’t answer, that means I should choose the other.” It’s always incredible to watch God do the impossible.

Finally, I look at the situation through the lens of God’s Word. 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). God’s Word will shine a light on a future that’s hidden and guide you along the path God has for you. The more I put God’s Word inside of me, the more it illuminates my life. Decisions are often difficult. I don’t want to make them in the dark or without God’s help. I’ve done these three things for years and have watched God point the way each time. If you’re facing an unknown future right now, try them out and let God guide your life.

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