One of the classes I train has me ask, “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. We always act 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. 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. It is 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 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 use it as a plumb line to build our lives on the rock of truth. Otherwise, we will be like the foolish man who build his house on the shifting sands of what culture believes at the moment.
Photo by Marco Ceschi on Unsplash
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve prayed, “Lord, am I on the right path? Is this where you want me? What’s my next step?” I always want to be in the know about the path for my life. I want to be able to see it and know I’m in the right place. Then this week I saw someone post Jeremiah 29:11. It says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (NLT). They then said, notice who knows the plans. It’s not me or you.
That spoke volumes to me since I always want to know the plan. Faith is about trusting the plans God has for me even when I don’t see them fully. I need to trust the steps He gives me, and i need to wait to take them until He says to. My impulse is to be like Abraham where God shows the promise and then I try to get there on my own. We need to learn to trust God’s plan, His timing and His path to get there. I’ve learned there’s less heartache if I do.
Here are some Bible verses on trusting God’s plan and the path to get there.
1. The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.”
Psalms 32:8 NLT
2. People may plan all kinds of things, but the Lord ‘s will is going to be done.
Proverbs 19:21 GNT
3. A man’s mind plans his way [as he journeys through life], But the LORD directs his steps and establishes them.
PROVERBS 16:9 AMP
4. The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand.
Psalms 37:23-24 NLT
5. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6 HCSB
Photo by Nicolas Cool on Unsplash
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.
As we sat around the dinner table last night, the conversation began to focus on Heaven. We went around the table asking who would be the first person we would want to meet in Heaven aside from Jesus. As we discussed different people from the Bible, I decided to post on Facebook asking others who they would like to meet. I was surprised by their answers. Instead of people from the Bible, most came back with family members they had never met. Several spoke of children they had lost through miscarriage.
What I read in their responses was there are so many of us who live our lives with the hope of being reunited and being made complete. Family units will be as they could have been. We’ll be able to see from one end of the family tree to the other. Heaven, for many, will be a great big family reunion. We’ll be joined together with families who were with us here on earth and with fellow heirs of Christ. I don’t know how it will work or how we will be known, but I do know that there is a great cloud of witnesses cheering us on to complete our race (Hebrews 12:1). Those who have gone on before don’t want us to quit.
When I think of eternity and the prize that is waiting, it always encourages me to keep going. Let’s face it, living how God called us to live isn’t easy. It’s difficult to be successful at it in a world that cheers us on to live like them. There are days where it’s just easier to quit running this race than to take another step forward. There are times when things happen that we don’t understand and we want to be angry at God. In those moments when I get frustrated and doubt that God really cares, I think of those who have already made it to Heaven and how I want to see them. I look beyond the pain of today toward what is to come.
Yes, life is full of loss, hurt and pain, but God didn’t leave us without hope. He gave us the Comforter to guide us and to remind us of God’s promises. He gave us the hope of being reunited with lost loved ones. He gave us that cloud of witnesses who are cheering for you to keep going. Can you hear them? Can you imagine them standing all around you wanting you to complete the race? When I doubt or want to quit, I hear those cheers and it encourages me to keep going. They’re cheering for you too. Your family members, unborn children and a host of others will be waiting at the finish line to welcome you home. You just have to keep running even when they’ve gone on before you.
Photo by Nicholas Green on Unsplash
At church, we’ve been singing Michael W. Smith’s song “This is How I Fight My Battles”. It’s a simple song, but it’s powerful. One of the lines says, “It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by you.” As we sing that song, it reminds me of when Elisha’s servant walked outside one morning and saw they were surrounded by an army. He called for Elisha who came outside and said, “Don’t worry about it. There’s more with us than there are with them. Lord, open his eyes to see.” (2 Kings 6:17)
I also think of times in my life where I’ve been surrounded by turmoil, heartbreak and relentless attacks. Even when that period seemed like it would never end, God would surround me with people who would pray for me, encourage me and help me to stay in the battle. When all seemed lost, God never left me. He surrounded me with His presence and His people when the enemy had surrounded me and tried to take me out.
As you read through the Psalms, David felt that way too. He was chased and trapped in caves by King Saul and the army of Israel at times. Other times it was foreign armies hunting him down trying to take him out. He even writes of family and friends who talk behind his back and want to destroy him. Through it all, he cried out to God because he understood that when the enemy comes in like a flood, the Lord lifts up a standard against him (Isaiah 59:19). God surrounds us in our greatest moments of despair.
Psalm 31:21 says, “Praise the Lord! How wonderfully he showed his love for me when I was surrounded and attacked!” (GNT) It’s not time to give up when you are surrounded- it’s time to look up! There are more with you than there are against you. God shows a His great love for us in the moments where we need it most. We have to learn to take our eyes off of the enemy that is surrounding us and look to God who is surrounding them. You are not alone in your fight. You are surrounded by the Lord Of Hosts and the armies of Heaven.
Photo by James Pond on Unsplash
How do you handle stress or bad news? I’m the type of person who replays the situation over and over in my head trying to find a solution. Each time that I don’t find one, the stress seems to get heavier. I begin to feel tired, but I can’t sleep because I’m too worked up. I try to think of something else, but I can’t. My mind fixated on the problem and all of its consequences. I even start to question myself as to why I wasn’t prepared for this. I keep concentrating on the problem until I remember that God knows the answer.
To help my mind make the shift, I play praise and worship music. I love how it invites the presence of God into the place where I am, and how it shifts my attention from how big the problem is to how big God is. From deep within me, I begin to thank God for all He has done in my life, for all He has provided and for all He is going to do. As I do that, i give the responsibility of finding the solution over to Him. I don’t have to have control of the situation or my future because it’s in His hands.
I know that’s easier said than done, but the truth is He is more capable of working out His will in my life than I am. He is able to use whatever it is that’s stressing me out for my good. By giving it to Him, I release myself of the stress of having to find a solution and the fear of making the wrong choice. I spend time reminding God of all the times in my life when He has intervened or taken what I thought was a bad thing and turned into something good. The power of praise and prayer changes everything.
David knew that. In Psalm 30:4 he wrote, “Sing praise to the Lord, all his faithful people! Remember what the Holy One has done, and give him thanks!” (GNT) He then reminds us that mourning may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning. We don’t have to fear what tomorrow will bring when we place it in a His hands. When we learn to pray and give praise in these times, we can wake up joyful because we are trusting our unknown future to the God we know.
Photo by Tessa Rampersad on Unsplash
Several times a year my boss, or one of my peers, comes to observe me doing my job. They take notes on the things they see, and then at the end of the day we discuss what they saw. They usually start with the good behaviors they see, and remind me why those things matter. Then they move into areas where I didn’t execute very well. There are places where I could have been quicker, or that I could have skipped doing without realizing it. Then they make suggestions for my improved performance.
It’s difficult hearing other people’s input on my work, but it’s a necessary step for improvement. They are able to see things that I’m blind to. Sometimes I get caught up doing things the same way, over and over, because i don’t stop to ask, “Is this the best way to be doing that?” Having that outside set of eyes, not only sees those things, but it also gets input on how to do things better. Each of us have areas where we can get better in our lives and in our walk with the Lord.
When Moses had led the children of Israel out of Egypt, he automatically became their judge for disputes. Some times it would take up a whole day just trying to resolve disputes among the people. In Exodus 18, his father in law observed him and asked, “When Jethro saw everything that Moses had to do, he asked, “What is all this that you are doing for the people? Why are you doing this all alone, with people standing here from morning till night to consult you?” (GNT) He then provided him a more efficient way to help others.
As I said earlier, it’s not easy to hear someone else’s opinion on how they think you should be doing things, but I’ve found it helps me to improve. It’s good for each of us to have an accountability partner who can see the things we are blind to. It’s also important to give them the ability to question you without fear. If you’re trying to get to that next level, it often requires an outside set of eyes from someone you trust. Their insights and ability to see your blind spots could be the key to a deeper relationship with Christ or to help you exponentially improve what you’re doing for Christ.
One of my daily prayers is that God would give me peace in my heart, peace in my body and peace in my home. I believe that one of the ways that the enemy disables our effectiveness is through stress. He knows if he can disrupt our inner peace, he can make us ineffective. If he can wear our bodies down, he can prevent us from going where we’re called. If he can create strife in the home, he can stop us. Remember his goal is to steal, kill and destroy.
Having peace doesn’t mean we won’t be in stressful situations, we won’t get sick or that we will have perfect relationships. Jesus had peace in the middle of a storm to the point that He was sleeping while the boat was about to sink. Having peace is trusting God to care for you no matter what the enemy brings. I believe it is a crucial part missing from so many believer’s lives today. We live in a stressful, fast paced world. It’s time we let the Prince of Peace rule and reign in our lives.
Here are some Bible verses on having peace.
1. The Lord gives his people strength. The Lord blesses them with peace.
Psalms 29:11 NLT
2. And God’s peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7 GNT
3. I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world. [My conquest is accomplished, My victory abiding.]
JOHN 16:33 AMP
4. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.
Colossians 3:15 NLT
5. I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.
John 14:25-27 MSG