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God’s Ambassador

I was researching the difference between a diplomat and an ambassador. It shows that a diplomat is an occupation, while ambassador is a title of the highest ranking diplomat. Ambassadors represent their home country and have full authority to represent their government. I only know one ambassador personally. She travels the world building and strengthening ties between different countries and hers. Everywhere she goes, she’s on a mission to connect people with her cause. I’ve watched her tell stories, share videos and answer questions all in trying to get as many people as she can to visit her country and rescue their citizens who are scattered abroad.

Even if you haven’t read the book of Jonah, you know a little about his story. God called him to be an ambassador of Heaven to a city called Nineveh. However, Jonah didn’t want to be an ambassador. He didn’t like the people where God was trying to send him, so he went in the opposite direction. God caused a great storm to envelop the ship he was on until he confessed that he was running from God. They tossed him overboard and he was swallowed by a great fish that God had prepared for him. While in the darkness, he agreed to be the ambassador God called him to be. The fish spit him out and he started out for Nineveh. When he told the people God’s message for them, they repented and were spared from the wrath of God.

2 Corinthians 5:20 says, “So we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His appeal through us; we [as Christ’s representatives] plead with you on behalf of Christ to be reconciled to God” (AMP). You and I are on a mission from Heaven just like Jonah. When you accepted Jesus, you became His ambassador to this world to share His love with them. Your goal is to connect as many people as you can to God so they can be reconciled to Him and receive their salvation. Like my ambassador friend, you must use any means necessary. Share your testimony, show videos of people who may be able to explain the message better than you and answer questions. You speak for Heaven and carry the authority of the Son of God because He lives within you. Don’t take your mission lightly. You have been commissioned and sent. Go and make disciples wherever you go as God’s ambassador.

Photo by RODNAE Productions:

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Soul Care

Proverbs 24:30-31 says, “I went by the field of the lazy man, And by the vineyard of the man lacking understanding and common sense; And, behold, it was all overgrown with thorns, And nettles were covering its surface, And its stone wall was broken down” (AMP). Like many proverbs, this can be taken at face value for what it is. However, many scholars believe it is intended as a parable as well. Some say this is a person who doesn’t take care of his soul. The thorns are bad habits, the nettles are wrong companions and the broken down wall is lack of following God’s plan leaving our lives defenseless. Either way you look at this, there’s something to learn.

In 2 Samuel 11, it was the time when kings went to war. They would go and fight to take each others crops to feed their people. Yet, the Bible says that David stayed home. He was neglecting his duty as king and allowing someone else to do the work. When the battle was all but won, David would show up and claim the victory. In this instance, he was wasn’t where he was supposed to be, nor doing what he was supposed to be doing. He was home walking on his roof when he saw Bathsheba. His spiritual walls were broken down and he sinned. Then, he thought he could cover up her pregnancy, but ended up murdering her husband when he refused to neglect his responsibilities. David’s lack of care for his field and vineyard cost him dearly. Thankfully he repented in Psalm 51 and asked for a renewed heart, steadfast and willing spirit, as well as joy so he could go back to tending his soul.

In Luke 21:36 Jesus warned, “Keep a constant watch over your soul, and pray for the courage and grace to prevail over these things that are destined to occur and that you will stand before the presence of the Son of Man with a clear conscience” (TPT). You and I can’t afford to neglect our soul. We must keep watch over it and tend it. We have an enemy who is seeking to devour us. When we neglect the little things around our soul, we create big problems for ourselves. The people we’re around and the habits we create will either build our defenses or allow them to be broken down. If you find that your walls are broken down and you’ve neglected what matters, be like David. Repent and seek forgiveness from God. He is able to restore the broken places in your life.

Photo by Magda Vrabetz on Unsplash

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Pay Attention

There was a study done to see how well preschool children could pay attention while being distracted. When the distraction was going on, they had to repeat the instructions and reminders several times to keep the kids on task. I’m not sure the study would be much different for most of us. As we mature, we should build the capacity to pay attention even through distractions. Our lives have many distractions trying to pull us away from the things that matter and from what God is saying. Now more than ever, we need to learn to focus and block out distraction, so we can pay attention. “Paying” attention will cost you something, but the return on that investment is invaluable.

Here are some Bible verses on paying attention.

1. So pay careful attention to your hearts as you listen to my teaching, for to those who have open hearts, even more revelation will be given to them until it overflows. And for those who do not listen with open hearts, what little light they imagine themselves to have will be taken away.

Luke 8:18 TPT

2. Pay attention to what you are taught, and you will be successful; trust in the Lord and you will be happy.

Proverbs 16:20 GNT

3. Heed (pay attention to) instruction and be wise, And do not ignore or neglect it.

Proverbs 8:33 AMP

4. If I pay attention to all your commands, then I will not be put to shame.

Psalm 119:6 GNT

5. Then He (Jesus) said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear. By your own standard of measurement [that is, to the extent that you study spiritual truth and apply godly wisdom] it will be measured to you [and you will be given even greater ability to respond]—and more will be given to you besides.

Mark 4:24 AMP

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Hot Pursuit

I know it’s politically incorrect to say this, but as a kid, I used to watch “The Dukes of Hazzard”. Roscoe P. Coltrane was one of my favorites in the show. He always made me laugh. I loved it when the Dukes would speed past him and he would turn on his police lights to chase them. Inevitably he would get on the CB and radio back to Boss Hogg. He would tell him he’s after the Duke boys and utter his famous catch phrase, “I’m in hot pursuit!” That show is where I learned what it meant to be in pursuit of something.

Believe it or not, all of us are in pursuit of things in our lives. Some of us are in pursuit of riches. They’re always looking for a way to make money. Some are in pursuit of love. They need that affirmation of another individual on this planet and we desperately seek it. Others are in pursuit of fame. They leave everything behind in order to make a name for themselves. There are even some who pursue perfection. Whether it’s in sports, work or other areas of life, they want to be perfect at it.

The question is what are you in hot pursuit of? Will it matter for eternity? King Solomon had a thing or two to say about pursuing things. In Proverbs 21:21 he said, “Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor” (NLT). There’s always an end result to our pursuits. Sometimes, they result in good things, and other times we get things that we weren’t expecting. Here, he tells us that we’ll get good things if we will pursue righteousness and unfailing love.

In Matthew 6, Jesus told us to pursue His Kingdom first and His righteousness, and all these other things we desire will be given to us. Is what you’re pursuing for His glory or yours? If we’re seeking things that lift Him up, we are guaranteed good things. Before we get into hot pursuit of things in this life, we need to first think about all the other things we’ll get by pursuing that. For me, I like the idea of finding life, righteousness and honor. I want to be in pursuit of His righteousness and unfailing love.

Photo by Scott Rodgerson 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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Standing Before Kings

Years ago I read the autobiography of Ben Franklin. He was an incredibly gifted person who spent a lot of time learning and developing his sold. He was always testing things and inventing solutions. He was very diligent in his studies and in solving problems. He invented bifocals, rounded glass for street lights, lighting rods, fire departments and so much more. He was the oldest person to sign the Declaration of Independence, which he helped draft. He also was able to stand before five kings.

When Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem, he used around 150,000 workers and it took just over seven years. 2 Chronicles described what it took. People from Tyre were gifted in cutting trees like no one else so they provided the wood. There was a man named Huram-abi who was an extremely skilled in working with gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood and stone. To build such a magnificent building it took many skilled workers who all got to stand before kings.

Proverbs 22:29 says, “If you are uniquely gifted in your work, you will rise and be promoted. You won’t be held back— you’ll stand before kings!” (TPT) Each of us are born with raw talent in something. If we want to rise, be promoted and stand before kings, we must develop that talent. In the same manner, God provided wheat. However, we must harvest it, separate the chaff, mill it and combine it with other ingredients to make life giving sustenance. The same is true with our raw talent. If you want to stand before kings, we must be willing to work at developing our talents.

Thanks to Willian B. for making this photo available on unsplash.

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Faith Of Friends

It’s been said that you become like those you hang out with and that you are the average of the five people you hang out with the most. When you’re growing up, your friends are pretty much chosen for you. They’re limited to kids in your neighborhood or in your class. As you get older, you get to choose the people you have around you. It often depends on where you choose to go or hang out. I’ve had friends in my life who have encouraged me to do some pretty stupid things (and I’ve done them). I’ve also had friends who encouraged me to try some pretty amazing things (and I’ve done those too). Our friends affect our beliefs, our actions and our life.

In Matthew 9, when Jesus had crossed the Sea of Galilee and arrived in Capernaum, a group of people met Him. They had a friend on a stretcher who was paralyzed. Verse 2 says that when Jesus saw how much faith these people had, he told the person on the stretcher to take courage. He then forgave that person’s sins. The religious people flipped out and Jesus asked them which was easier, to forgive sins or to heal someone. Both were impossible for man, but possible for God. He then told the paralyzed person to get up and walk. The man stood up and walked away with his friends. It never mentioned his faith though, only the faith of his friends.

Proverbs 12:26 says, “The righteous person is a guide to his friend, but the path of the wicked leads them astray” (GNT). We are all guiding others around us, and we are being guided by them too. When your faith is low and you need God’s help, will the people around you carry you to Him and believe for you when you can’t? If not, it’s time to find new people because we all face times when our strength and hope are gone. The people we surround ourselves with will either guide us to God or lead us astray. It’s important that we also look in the mirror. Are you the type of friend who would get a stretcher and carry a friend to Jesus when they can’t? God doesn’t just rely on our faith and trust in Him when we need help. He looks at the Faith of the people around us who are praying too.

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Performing Your Ministry

I am one of those people who was born on Saturday and in church on Sunday. My parents served in our church and so did my aunts and uncles. My siblings and all my cousins serve in their churches as well. Several years ago I was struggling with trying to be a lay minister while having a full time job. I went to my pastor and told him I was having a hard time being a part time minister. He chuckled a bit and said, “I’ll tell you the same thing your grandfather told me. There’s no such thing as a part time minister.” Ministry is 24/7 because people need help 24/7. Most of us aren’t ministering all day every day, but we must be ready in season and out of season.

You may be thinking, lThis devotion doesn’t apply to me since I’m not a minister.” If you’ve accepted Jesus as your savior, then you are a minister. Ephesians 4:11 gives us what is referred to as the five fold ministry. There are apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. However, if we go to the next verse, it tells them what their calling is. It says, “And their calling is to nurture and prepare all the holy believers to do their own works of ministry, and as they do this they will enlarge and build up the body of Christ” (TPT). You, and every other believer, are called to do your own works of ministry where you live and work. Your pastors simply can’t do all the ministry necessary to reach the world. That’s everyone’s job.

The New Testament is littered with lay people doing works of ministry. Paul mentions several by name in each of his letters. They have different occupations, but also responsibilities in their local churches and cities to minister. Paul goes on to say in verse 16, “He (Jesus) makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love” (NLT). We are part of the Body of Christ and we all have a role to play. There are no useless parts. If you’re not sure what part you’re supposed to be, seek God, talk to your pastor and take a spiritual gifting assessment. Your church and community need your ministry.

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God Our Provider

One of the names of God that I rely on and call out to often is Jehovah Jireh. It comes from Abraham when he was on the mountain about to sacrifice his only son. Just as he raised the knife, God provided a ram for the sacrifice. He gave God the name Jehovah Jireh because he provides. What He did for Abraham, He still does for us today. He provides for our needs, our salvation, our spiritual armor, our healing and so much more. We must not forget that He is our provider and call out to Him for what we need. Just like a parent provides for their kid, so does God supply us with all our needs. Take time today to seek Him for your needs.

Here are some Bible verses on things God provides.

1. Instead, be concerned above everything else with the Kingdom of God and with what he requires of you, and he will provide you with all these other things.

Matthew 6:33 GNT

2. No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

1 Corinthians 10:13 ESV

3. For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.

2 Corinthians 9:10 NLT

4. You did not have bread to eat or wine or beer to drink, but the Lord provided for your needs in order to teach you that he is your God.

Deuteronomy 29:6 GNT

5. Rain in abundance, O God, you shed abroad; you restored your inheritance as it languished; your flock found a dwelling in it; in your goodness, O God, you provided for the needy.

Psalm 68:9-10 ESV

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Putting Out Fires

When I was a young boy, I learned how to build a fire. I was so excited that I wanted to show my friend. We went into the woods behind his house, gathered wood up and then I built a magnificent fire. What I didn’t know yet was how to put a fire out. We decided to smother it…with hay. That worked great…for a few seconds. Before too long, the fire was getting out of hand. We ran back into his house, past his mom, to get his brother who was two years older than us. We tried again to put it out, but couldn’t. A neighbor saw the smoke and called the fire department. They showed up and got it under control, but not before about an acre was burned.

I tell you that story because so many times we’ve set fire to things in our lives and things are being consumed by it. Every time we try to put it out, it only makes things worse. From the time we are little, we are taught to be independent, to suck it up and to handle our own business. What we forget is that we have a helper who can put out the fires in our lives, but we’re too busy trying to put them out ourselves. Like scared children, we don’t go to the One who can truly help. We go to others to help us, but they can’t resolve the problems we’re facing. All the while, God is there waiting on us to cry out to Him for help.

Psalm 50:15 says, “Honor me by trusting in me in your day of trouble. Cry aloud to me, and I will be there to rescue you” (TPT). God should not be our last resort when things aren’t going right. He deserves and wants to be our first call. He’s more than able to resolve whatever you’re going through, but you must call out to Him and trust Him. If you’re so caught up in what’s going wrong and you don’t have the strength to pray yourself, call on a friend to pray for you. You don’t have to fight the fires in your life by yourself. You have a Heavenly Father who loves you and wants to rescue you.

Photo by Joanne Francis 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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Receiving Nutrients

When my son was little, he did what most kids do. He would see flowers in the yard and pick them for his mom. Then he would come to me to get a cup of water to put them in. He would say, “I want them to live forever and be beautiful.” I would always reply, “if you wanted them to live you should have left them in the ground. The moment you took them out, they began to die.” He would want to know why. After explaining it, he would insist that they would keep living because we had them in water. Plants and flowers need more than water though. They need the nutrients that come from the soil in order to continue to bloom and grow. It was a hard concept for him. It’s also a biblical concept that we must remember as well.

In the book of Judges 13, we read the story of Samson. Before he was born, the Lord told his parents that he should be raised as a Nazarite. He could never drink alcohol, eat unclean food or cut his hair. God also said that he would begin to deliver Israel from the Philistines. His parents obeyed and so did he for a while. He was given super strength as a result. However, instead of delivering the Israelites from the Philistines, he decided to make one of their women his wife. He separated himself from God’s plan for him. Being away from where he was supposed to be, he succumbed to her constant questioning and told her the source of his strength. He did kill many Philistines in his final act, but how much more could he have done if he had followed God’s plan for his life?

In John 15.5, Jesus said, “I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him bears much fruit, for [otherwise] apart from Me [that is, cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing” (AMP). We must choose to remain in Christ if we want to fulfill our purpose. The moment we quit living the way He called us to, we begin to lose our vital nutrients for life. We remain in Him through prayer and reading the Bible as well. The Bible is often referred to as water. There was also a time when the disciples offered Jesus food and He told them that He had food they didn’t know about. That food was found in prayer and doing the will of the Father. We will find spiritual nutrients for our soul by doing the same thing. The good news is that if you haven’t remained in Him, you can be grafted back in to receive all He has for you.

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